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KEY Commentary Side Textual Bibliographic Scriptural
I. Composition

The humanist Desiderius Erasmus published for learned readers a bilingual edition of the New Testament: a corrected text of Latin facing the Greek, the latter circulating in print for the first time. The Greek NT had been printed at Alcalá in 1514, but Erasmus released his version first, at Basel in 1516, followed by revised editions in 1519, 1522, 1527, and 1535. Inspired to address a lay audience, the reformer William Tyndale resolved to make the first English translation of the Bible from the original languages. Because of strictures against the Lollards in the late 14c and the Lutherans in the early 16c, Tyndale went into self-imposed exile in the Low Countries in 1524. Using the third edition of Erasmus' Greek NT and Luther's German translation (both 1522), he published the first complete English NT in 1526 and a major revised edition in 1534. Using a Hebrew Bible from Venice (1488, 1517) or Alcalá (1522), Tyndale published his English translation of the Pentateuch in 1530 and Jonas in 1531. After his execution for heresy in 1536, his translation of Joshua through 2 Chronicles was published posthumously in 1537. While Tyndale was cut off before fulfilling his dream of translating all of Scripture, he rendered half the Hebrew Bible and all the Greek New Testament into clear and vivid English.

The English bishops and king were not responsible for Tyndale's death outside Brussels, but they restricted the importation of his biblical, polemical, and exegetical works from the Continent. On 24 October 1526, Cuthbert Tunstall, then Bishop of London, published a list of prohibited books which included Tyndale's 1526 NT and his Introduction to Paul's Epistle to the Romans printed separately (Foxe 4.667). Ten days later, on 3 November 1526, these same books and others were banned by William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury (Wilkins 3.706–7). Tunstall further commissioned Thomas More on 7 March 1528 to read heretical works and to dispute them in the vernacular (Ep. 160 in More, Correspondence 386–88). While More read Cochlaeus' Latin digest of thirty-six sermons by Luther (CWM 6/2.544 and n3), as well as Tyndale's English translation of the NT, Tyndale published the tracts of Mammon and Obedience in May and October 1528. Then in June 1529, More, the pseudonymous author of Responsio ad Lutherum (December 1523), published A Dialogue Concerning Heresies, addressed, not so much to Protestant leaders, as to Catholic layfolk.

For the reader still affectionately united to the Church of Rome, Dialogue has its charms: the study and arbor in Chelsea where the dramatis persona of More as Mentor advises the Messenger; the miracle of childbirth granted to the young couple from St. Stephen's Walbrook (Bk. 1, Ch. 10); the Vulgate version of Ps. 67.7, qui facit vnanimes in domo (CWM 6/1.166/28, 191/21, 253/31–32); and the extended family of the Fathers and the saints who constitute "the comen corps of crystendome" (CWM 6/1.413/30).

For the reader separated from Rome by the Reformation, Dialogue is hardly convincing, not the least because More does not come to grips with major Protestant issues. He devotes over half of Bk. 1 to post-apostolic miracles and more than half of Bk. 2 to veneration of saints, concerns which were marginal to his own Christocentric piety. The tolerant author of Utopia defends the religious prosecution of Thomas Bilney (Bk. 1, Ch. 2; Bk. 3, Ch. 2–5) and Richard Hunne (Bk. 3, Ch. 15). More does not discuss Tyndale on vernacular Scripture until Bk. 3, nor Luther on the bondage of the will until Bk. 4. On the other hand, the Messenger, who is attracted by Reformation criticisms of medieval Catholicism, anticipates the development of the Anglo-American tradition of civil liberties. He affirms that Christ "wolde neuer haue any man compelled by force and vyolence to byleue vpon his fayth" (CWM 6/1.32/3–4); and "And better were yt the fauty to be quytte / than the fautles to be punysshed" (CWM 6/1.265/26–27). More as Mentor overwhelms the Messenger, if not the critical reader, with affable rhetoric.

It is surprising to learn that the dialogue form was used in religious controversy, not only by More, but by Augustine, the Protestant Ulrich von Hutten, and the Catholic Thomas Murner. Whatever your religious persuasion, you must be wide awake when reading Dialogue Concerning Heresies. Little harm is done by wrongly attributing the bawdy tale of the shrine of St. Valery to More instead of the Messenger (Bk. 2, Ch. 10). But you will be lost in the labyrinth if you let go of the argument on faith and works in the cross-questioning of a Lutheran sympathizer (Bk. 4, Ch. 11). In this dialogue-within-a-dialogue More as Mentor tells the Messenger about the interrogation of Robert Forman by church authorities who frequently repeat the words of the accused to him (CWM 6/1.379/17–399/10). More does not return to this ecumenical form until he writes Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation in the Tower.

Meanwhile, the secular government showed alarm at Tyndale's activities . A royal proclamation published before 6 March 1529 (Old Style) prohibited his Genesis, Deuteronomy, and Practice of Prelates (TRP no. 122). Another, of 22 June 1530, condemned Tyndale's Mammon and Obedience as well as the Bible in English, French, and German (TRP no. 129). In Prelates (1530), Tyndale indirectly refers to More as the author of Supplication of Souls (F5, K2v) and Dialogue Concerning Heresies (K2v). After the latter attacked the 1526 NT, Tyndale undertook a defense of his translation and its underlying theology of justification by faith in his terse [A]nswere vnto sir Thomas Mores dialoge. On 26 January 1531, Stephen Vaughan, undercover agent for Henry VIII in Antwerp, wrote to the king that he could "neither get a copy of his answer to More, . . . nor ascertain whether it is published" (LP 5, no. 65). Two months later, on 25 March 1531, Vaughan reported some success to Cromwell: "I obtained a copy of the third part of Tyndall's book against my Lord Chancellor's book. I have been obliged to rewrite it; and when that is done, I will jointly write the other part in a fair book, and send them to the King. The three parts filled three quires of paper thoroughly written" (LP 5, no. 153). O'Donnell believes that these "three parts" refer to Tyndale 's creed (later the six gatherings of A—F), Answer to Bk. 1 and 2 (approximately the four gatherings of G—K), and Answer to Bk. 3 and 4 (approximately the seven gatherings of L—R). On 18 April 1531, Vaughan wrote again to Cromwell that he was shipping a fair copy of part ofTyndale's Answer to More (LP 5, no. 201), and on 20 May 1531, Vaughan reported to Henry VIII that it was too late to stop publication (LP 5, no. 246).

The Yale editors believe that Vaughan sent Cromwell the last third (CWM 6/2.557), but more probably he sent the first third of Answer (pp. 5–78). This opening section is striking for the clarity and force of its arguments, so much so that Jared Wicks has aptly named it the "Foundational Essay." Here Tyndale advances his own agenda and does not merely respond to More's priorities, as he does in the later two-thirds of the work. Vaughan's description of the excerpt best fits the Foundational Essay: "It is but a third or fourth part of his whole work, but comprehends the pith of the other parts, in which he answers every chapter of my Lord's book with the grounds he has laid in the first part. I will also write and send the second part with all convenient speed" (LP 5, no. 201). Vaughan's reference to "a third or fourth part of his whole work" arguably means a percentage of the whole, while his reference to "first" and "second" means parts in order of succession. Why would Vaughan forward Tyndale's Answer to Bk. 3 and 4 and not the Foundational Essay? A secret agent would be eager to convey, not fragments of shrapnel but the blueprint of the warhead.

This pre-publication excerpt from Tyndale's Answer may have prompted More to reinforce the second version of Dialogue with five major additions (CWM 6/2.556–58). In Bk. 1, these include six folio pages in defense of images (CWM 6/1.39/26–47/22), a passage in defense of miracles (CWM 6/1.90/1–29), and some lines on Peter 's recognition of Christ's sonship (CWM 6/1.143/15–29). In Bk. 4, there are three new folio pages on Gregory's defense of images (CWM 6/1.355/28–359/33), and more than a folio page on the meaning of Jas. 2.19 (CWM 6/1.386/18–388/34). The Yale editors argue that More made these additions after reading the last third of Answer, especially the reference to Gregory in Answer to Bk. 4 (184/2–6). But More could have been responding to the first third, which has three sub-sections on images (57/26ff, 63/26ff, 68/6ff), and glances at miracles (e.g., 25/3). Vaughan sent the partial manuscript of Answer on 18 April 1531; William Rastell published the second edition of Dialogue in May 1531 (CWM 6/2.554); Simon Cock brought out the printed version of Answer about July 1531 (CWM 8/2.1081). But whether it was the last or the first third of Answer that influenced the second edition of Dialogue, the heart ofTyndale's argument beats in the Foundational Essay. The Answers to Bk. 1 through Bk. 4 contain mere capillaries.

From the time of its publication, there has been some debate about the authorship of Answer to More. In An apologye made ... to satisfy w. [sic] Tindale . . . (1535) STC 14820, George Joye claimed that John Frith wrote Answer and published it in Amsterdam not Antwerp: "Frith wrote tindals answers to More for tindale / and corrected them in the prynte / and printed them to[o] at Amelsterdam . . ." (Eir-v, quoted by CWM 8/3.1234). In 1937 J.F. Mozley (200–1) reported Joye's assertion but suspended judgment. In 1964 William A. Clebsch took Joye's words literally and supposed that Frith had drafted the refutations of Bk. 1–4 while Tyndale had composed the Foundational Essay. In 1973 Louis A. Schuster agreed with Clebsch's position and cited one instance where Answer refers uncharacteristically to Tyndale in the third person (CWM 8/3.1234n3). Richard Marius in 1984 (CWM 7.cxxiv) and Carl R. Trueman in 1994 accepted as probable Clebsch's conclusion about Frith's partial authorship of Answer.

On the other hand, Clebsch himself noted that in A disputation of purgatorye (Antwerp, 1531) STC 11386.5, Frith had twice credited Tyndale with writing against More about error in the church: "William Tyndall hath declared aboundantly in a treatise which by Goddes grace you shall shortly haue"; "a woorke that William Tyndal hath written agaynst M. More" (Clebsch 96 and n35 citing Whole Works 46, 56; modern spelling in Wright 174, 196). But in 1978 N.T. Wright countered that "in Tyndale's Answer the flow of statement and refutation proceeds as a rapid fire argument, whereas in Frith's Purgatory the replies are far more discursive and drawn out" (Wright 11). Recalling Tyndale's rage over the several changes of "resurrection " in his 1526 NT to "life after this" in Joye's 1534 NT, Wright added, "Joye's personal animosity against Tyndale accounts fully for the fact that Joye may well have intended to slight him" (Wright 11).

Like Wright, O'Donnell believes that Frith did not write the last two-thirds of Answer to More. First, the writer of Answer claims authorship of Obedience and of the 1526 NT. He argues against intercession by the saints in Answer to Bk. 2, Ch. 8: "I haue answered you vn to that and manye thynges moo in the obedience and other places" (119/12–13). He defends his English NT in Answer to Bk. 3, Ch. 9: "For if he wold haue any wyse man to beleue that my translacion wold destroye the masse any other wyse then the latine or greke texte / he shuld haue alleged the place and howe" (148/24–27). Admittedly, the writer does not assert authorship of Mammon in Answer to Bk. 4, Ch. 11: "And when he allegeth S. Iames / it is answered him in the mammon" (201/29–30). Perhaps he avoided the active, "I answered him," and chose the passive, "it is answered him," because Mammon is a translation and expansion of a sermon by Luther (148/22n).

Second, Mozley (345) claimed that Tyndale never speaks of himself in the third person. But Mozley made this observation when commenting on a Lollard tract, A compendious olde treatyse . . . (Antwerp, 1530) STC 3021, not Answer to More. Also, Tyndale might refer to himself in the third person when countering a polemic which frequently does so. In Answer to Bk. 3, Ch. 8, Tyndale simply quotes More, "And when he sayth Tindale was confederatt with Luther that is not trueth" (148/21–22). In twice responding to Bk. 4, Ch. 16, the writer parodies More's language on Tyndale: "he sware not nether was there any man that required an oth of him" (214/ 1–2); "he entendeth to purge here vn to the vttermost of his power and hopeth that deeth wyll ende and fynish his purgacion" (214/16–18).The one example cited by Schuster (CWM 8/3.1234n3), from Answer to Bk. 3, Ch. 13, bristles with the active verbs typical of Tyndale , "There [More] biteth / sucketh / gnaweth / towseth / and mowseth tindale" (152/3–4).

Third, where Clebsch argued that Answer does not quote the 1526 NT verbatim, other scholars note that Tyndale habitually makes ad hoc translations of Scripture in his independent works. Donald J. Millus (166) judges that Tyndale made a new translation for his Exposition of the Fyrste Epistle of Seynt Ihon, cf. Mozley 203. Stephen J. Mayer (327–29) concludes that Tyndale follows Luther's NT rather than his own in writing An exposicion vpon the .v .vi .vii chapters of Mathew (72/18–19n).

Frith may have culled arguments out of More's Dialogue Concerning Heresies for Tyndale, but he did not actually write the last twothirds of Answer. It is more likely that Frith shared his knowledge of the Fathers with Tyndale, perhaps even recommending Unio Dissidentium (188/3, 213/22), a patristic anthology on Reformation themes. Schuster (CWM 8/3.1237n2) thought that Frith might have contributed the passage from Gregory to Answer (184/2n). Frith will write A boke . . . answeringe vnto M mores lettur (Antwerp, 1533) STC 11381, but Tyndale wrote An answere vnto Sir Thomas Mores dialoge (Antwerp, 1531) STC 24437.

As for Confutation of Tyndale, has it ever had more than a dozen readers in any generation? Confutation is both the longest work by More (CWM 8/3.1260) and the longest religious polemic in English (Ackroyd 299). The reformers protested it was too long, as More himself admitted in his next book, The Apologye: "For they fynde fyrste for a great fawte, that my writyng is ouer longe, and therfore to[o] tedyouse to rede" (CWM 9.5/7–8). More explains that Confutation is repetitious because he intended each chapter to stand on its own so the inquirer would "not nede to rede ouer any chapyter but one . . ." (CWM 9.10/1–2). How many laymen could afford to buy the two bulky folios?

A Catholic reader of Confutation will sift through bushels of sand to find a few nuggets of gold. It is inspiring to read More's prayers for his readers (CWM 8/1.142/3–9), for Tyndale (8/1.130/9–14), for Barnes (8/2.920/35), and for the reformers in general (8/1.249/4, 438/37–439/1). A Rabelaisian list of infinitives and nouns wittily mimics the polemic of reformers against papists (CWM 8/1.59/13–22). We finally arrive at the best part with Bk. 8, the last section of Confutation published in More's lifetime. More devotes nearly twenty folio pages of Chaucerian humor to the rout of Friar Barnes by two laywomen. The Merchant's Wife (CWM 8/2.883/28–896/27, 903/19–905/18) defends the necessity of a visible church, and the Hostess of the Bottle (CWM 8/2.896/34–903/14) rejects arbitrary salvation and damnation.

A Protestant reader of Confutation will discard the flints lurking in the soil. Besides offering prayers for their conversion, More curses the Lutherans (CWM 8/1.453/26–27) and Tyndale (CWM 8/1.471 /36–37). He twice objects to Tyndale's vivid diction by asking, "[Y]f all Englande lyste now to go to scole wyth Tyndale to lerne englyshe . . ." (CWM 8/1.187/26–27, cf. 8/1.212/12–13). The answer to this rhetorical question is "Yes" because of the large influence of Tyndale 's biblical translations on the KJV. The worst part comes at the beginning of Bk. 5, halfway through Confutation, where More as hammer of heretics foretells their future, "And for heretikes as they be / the clergy dothe denounce them. And as they be well worthy, the temporaltie dothe burne them. And after the fyre of Smythfelde, hell dothe receyue them / where the wretches burne for euer" (8/2.590/3–7).

If Tyndale ever read Confutation, he would have been pleased by the care with which it reprints Answer from the Preface through the first five of his six major topics in the Foundational Essay (5/1–54/ 12; CWM 8/1.41/5 to 8/2.805/38). The Yale edition records virtually all the substantive variants between Answer and Confutation, occasionally remarking on the fidelity of More's transcription (8/3.1491, 1495, 1514). Yale might have praised Confutation for reproducing an entire sub-section (52/18–54/12; CWM 8/2.773/13 to 774/37) with one minor variant: "readynge in bokes" (53/24) given as "redynge of bokes" (CWM 8/2.774/16). Yale's most negative judgment targets More's verbosity: "Without impairing Tyndale's content, More snips a few phrases from the extended passage with mock light-heartedness and makes his point quickly—a noteworthy deviation from his usual practice" (8/3.1574). As textual editor, O'Donnell here notes the few places where Confutation weighs a puzzling word in Answer, where Confutation adds or omits a clause, and where a theological difference prompts a variant. Rather than crush Answer to More, the thousand pages of Confutation preserve the major articles of Tyndale's creed.