Weird Bibles 7: Tyndale in original pronunciation
The British Library has published David Crystal’s recording Tyndale’s translation of St. Matthew’s Gospel. (I found the cheapest price – about $14 – by ordering from bookdepository.co.uk from a UK proxy). This goes perfectly with the British Library’s splendid edition of Tyndale’s New Testament in original spelling. (The British Library edition being in standard type, is much easier to read than the facsimile edition published by Hendrickson.) (From a review in the Contemporary Review: “Forget the fourth Harry Potter book, the publishing sensation of this year is the second edition of William Tyndale’s New Testament first published in 1526. This is an original spelling edition edited for the Tyndale Society by W. R. Cooper and published by the British Library. […] It has, astonishingly, in its first week, outsold Joanne Rowling’s Goblet of Fire in the British Library bookshop.)
I’ve written before about David Crystal’s “Original Pronunciation Movement” – and while I have some issues with Crystal’s web business practices, I’m very happy to see this edition – even though it seems to run against the usual raison d’être for audio Bibles: to make the Bible more accessible to a wider audience. In contrast, this is an audio Bible as a performance, pronounced in a dialect of English that has not been spoken for centuries. This work gets us closer to hearing Tyndale’s literary genius as a contemporary might have heard him.
Tyndale was midway between Chaucer’s Middle English and Shakespeare’s Early Modern English. While it is easy to find recordings of Beowulf or Chaucer or even Shakespeare in original pronunciation (and these are merely exemplary recordings – there are many more available), recordings of Tyndale in original pronunciation are much rarer – this is the only example I am aware of!
Many of our previous “weird Bibles” posts have had at a least a hint of opprobrium about them; but not in this case. This original pronunciation audio edition is now my favorite recording of the New Testament in English, replacing my previous favorite.