William Tyndale and Erasmus on How to Read the Bible: A Newly Discovered Manuscript of the English Enchiridion

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British Library MS Additional 89149, newly discovered in 2015 at Alnwick Castle, is a previously unknown translation of Erasmus’ Enchiridion militis Christiani into English. Dated 1523, it now represents the earliest surviving English translation of any work by Erasmus. This article presents detailed verbal evidence that associates the vocabulary of imitatio in the translation with William Tyndale’s hermeneutic work on scripture, including his New Testament of 1525–1526. It thus offers the strongest evidence to date of Tyndale's hand in the English Enchiridion, long the subject of scholarly enquiry. It also provides a fresh interpretation of Tyndale’s engagement with Erasmian humanism, and his position on disputes over literal and figurative senses in early Protestantism. At the heart of this is the distinctive English word ‘counterfeit’, the meanings of which are traced through a range of medieval and Renaissance sources, from Chaucer onwards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-52
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 The Author(s)


  • Bible
  • Erasmus
  • allegory
  • hermeneutics
  • imitation
  • literal sense

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