Volume 1



The Obedience of a Christen Man (edited by Susan M. Felch and Clare Costley King'oo)

The Obedience of a Christen Man

William Tyndale, The Obedience of a Christen Man (1528), title page.

Folger Library Shelfmark: STC 24446. Used by permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Tyndale published The Obedience of a Christen Man in 1528 immediately following a series of disastrous peasant uprisings in Germany. While it urges Christians to obey legitimate authorities, the text encompasses the breadth of Tyndale’s arguments against the Church of Rome and in support of Protestant doctrines. Admonitions to obedience on the part of children, wives, servants, and subjects constitute less than ten percent of the text. Tyndale dedicates the remainder to a range of issues. He urges those who rule (e.g., parents, husbands, masters, landlords, and king) to conduct themselves as God’s representatives on earth. He defends his view that the Bible should be translated into English and asserts the primacy of a literal reading of the text, while allowing for other kinds of reading when the scripture itself resorts to similitude. He severely criticizes the authority of the Roman pope and exposes injustice and corruption at all levels of English society. Obedience is a compendium of Tyndale’s thought that combines acute religious, political, and social analyses with a view to reforming the England of King Henry VIII, prior to his break with the Church of Rome.