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William Tyndale studied many languages over the course of his life, and became a gifted linguist. An associate once commented that Tyndale was"so skilled in eight languages – English, Latin, Greek, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Hebrew – that whichever he speaks, you might think it is his native tongue!"
Tyndale's English New Testament translation was the first to take advantage of the new medium of the printing press, allowing for wide distribution. The first completed copies began appearing in England in 1526, and were immediately banned by Henry VIII, the Catholic Church, and the Church of England. Bishop Tunstall ordered all copies that could be found to be gathered and burned at St. Paul's Cross in London, an act that would become a regular occurrence, leading to the destruction of the majority of Tyndale's New Testaments. The Bibles continued to flow in, so Bishop Tunstall solicited a merchant in Germany to purchase all remaining copies. Unbeknownst to him, the merchant was a friend of Tyndale's. He arranged a lucrative sale of the remaining first editions that would finance a better and much larger production than otherwise would have been possible. Many of the first edition copies that survived this time were literally read to pieces.