The Whole Workes of W. Tyndall, John Frith, and Doct. Barnes, three most worthy Martyrs, and principall Teachers of this Churche of England, collected and compiled in one Tome togither, before beyng scattered, & now in Print here exhibited to the Church …
London: Printed by John Daye, and are to be sold at his Shop under Aldersgate, 1573.
Folio in fours and sixes: 28 x 19.7 cm. , 478, [18, index], , 3-172, [4, index], , 183-376,  pp. Collation: A4, B4(-B4), C-Y4, Aa-Yy6, AA-BB6, CC6(±CC3), DD-EE6, FF-GG4, HH6(-HH1), II-XX6, YY4, *AAa4, AAa6(-AAa1), BBb-QQq6, RRr4. Leaf CC3 is a cancel. Leaves B4, HH1 and AAa1 have been cancelled, as called for.
FIRST EDITION, printed by John Day.
A fine copy with some minor tears and stains (see below), some small wormholes and a few short worm-trails. The edges of general title slightly frayed and lightly browned at the edges (and a little loose). Final leaf lightly soiled and with small light dampstain in the lower margin; minor stain in inner margin of K6, paper flaw in text on AA2 with small hole, clean tear in bottom margin of IIi3, entering text but no loss. Paper flaws in blank lower margin of AA6 and BB1-2; CC4 clean tear in gutter, no loss; KK1-3 dusty in top margin. Bound in contemporary blind-stamped calf over wooden boards (lacking straps, hinges cracked and repaired (but tender), small wormholes, minor losses.
First edition, edited by John Foxe, of the works of William Tyndale (translator of the Bible into English; the most important English reformer of Henry VIII’s reign), John Frith (formidable polemicist who, even while imprisoned and weighed down with chains, continued to dispute questions of faith with Thomas More, and was ultimately burned for his radical Protestantism) and Robert Barnes (Christian humanist in the Erasmian mold, friend of Martin Luther, ambassador for Henry VIII and, ultimately, like Frith, a martyr for his Protestant views.)
Foxe has included brief lives of the three men drawn from his Book of Martyrs. The works of Tyndale occupy the better part of the volume. Illustrated with three woodcut architectural title pages and three large woodcuts. The first two woodcuts, of the martyrdoms of Tyndale and Barnes, were taken from Foxe’s “Actes and Monuments”, but the last, an allegorical “lively picture describyng the authoritie and substance of Gods most blessed word, weyghing agaynst Popish traditions”, first appears here.
‘We have great cause to geeve thankes to the high providence of the almighty God, for the excellent arte of Printing, most happely of late found out, and now commonly practised every where, to the singular benefite of Christes Church … Wherfore such Printers in my mynde, are not to be defrauded of their due commendation, who in pretermitting other light triflyng pamflets of matter unneedful, and impertinent, little serving to purpose, lesse to necessitie, doe employe their endeavour and workemanship chiefly to restore such fruitfull workes and monumentes of auncient writers, and blessed Martyrs: who as by theiry godly lyfe, and constant death, gave testimonie to the trueth …’ (Preface).
In the second edition of his Actes and Monuments (1570), Foxe had promised his readers an edition of the works of Tyndale, Frith and Barnes. His aims were twofold, apologetic and pastoral – to demonstrate the logic of embracing the gospel, and to offer spiritual guidance: ‘Briefly, whatsoever thou art, if thou be yong, of John Frith: if thou be in middle age, of W. Tyndall: if in elder years of D. Barnes, matter is here to be founde, not onely of doctrine to enforme thee, of comfort to delyte thee, of godly ensample to directe thee: but also of special admiration, to make thee to wonder at the workes of the Lord’ (‘Epistle or Preface’).
Tyndale’s works fittingly head and dominate the volume; they were first collected here and were not reprinted until the nineteenth century. The introductory biographies by Foxe largely taken from the Actes but with some new additions (such as the ‘few notes touching [Tyndale’s] private behaviour in diet, study [etc.]’).
“Tyndale was in the vanguard of the popular English Reformation. His books, especially The Wicked Mammon, The Obedience, and his expositions of Romans, gathered to a head the widespread revulsion at the corruptions and superstitions of the church as it then was, all of which are clearly described. Scripture had to be the base for these judgements, and it was spelt out with clarity and excellent scholarship, from the original languages. From the great release that justification by faith brings to the sinner, Tyndale showed, always in the language of the New Testament, that central to a Christian's life were not curious rituals and practices, but the promises of God. He was passionate in his wish that England could be a Christian state under a Christian prince, free from the intrusions of a totally alien system stemming from the bishop of Rome.
“The great change that came over England from 1526, the ability of every ordinary man, woman, and child to read and hear the whole New Testament in English, accurately rendered, was Tyndale's work, and its importance cannot be overstressed. The Vulgate was incomprehensible to the ploughboy and most of his familiars throughout the land. Now all four gospels could be read, often aloud, in their entirety, and the whole of Paul. A useful definition of the popular reformation is ‘people reading Paul’. There is no shortage of evidence of the gatherings of people of all ages, all over the country, to read and hear these English scriptures—and reading meant, so often, reading aloud.
“Tyndale as the first translator of Hebrew into English stands up well to informed scrutiny. His understanding of New Testament theology, and how it related to the Old Testament, pointed forward. He left Luther behind. His fresh appraisals from the Greek effectively liberated New Testament theology in English, allowing the possibility of reinterpretation in every generation, as had clearly happened in the life of the early church.
“Tyndale's gift to the English language is unmeasurable. He translated into a register just above common speech, allied in its clarity to proverbs. It is a language which still speaks directly to the heart. His aims were always accuracy and clarity. King James's revisers adopted his style, and his words, for much of the Authorized Version. At a time when European scholars and professionals communicated in Latin, Tyndale insisted on being understood by ordinary people. He preferred a simple Saxon syntax of subject–verb–object. His vocabulary is predominantly Saxon, and often monosyllabic. An Oxford scholar, he was always rhetorically alert. He gave the Bible-reading nation an English plain style. It is a basis for the great Elizabethan writers, and there is truth in the remark ‘without Tyndale, no Shakespeare’. It is not fanciful to see a chief agent of the energizing of the language in the sixteenth century in the constant reading of the Bible in English, of which Tyndale was the great maker.”(David Daniell, ODNB).
ESTC S117761; STC 24436; Luborsky & Ingram. Engl. illustrated books, 1536-1603, 24436; McKerrow & Ferguson 76