Beyond the Sacred Page: The Tyndale Translation

By Jack Cavanaugh

Grand Rapids, Ml

Zondervan. 2003. 336 pp. $10.99, ISBN 0-310-21575-7

Cavanaugh is the author of more than a dozen historical fiction novels, including Glimpses of Truth, which dramatizes the story of the Wycliffe translation. He strives to be historically accurate, inter-weaving whatever can be documented with his otherwise imaginary account.

In this case, he begins with the capture and confinement of Tyndale at Vilvorde, Belgium, and then follows the desperate attempts of one Pernell Foxe to stop the smuggling of Tyndale’s translation into England. What complicates the picture is that Pernell’s beloved wife, Meg, stumbles upon a copy of the forbidden book (in England) which powerfully changes her life. Its words comfort and soothe her troubled mind like nothing else, yet she struggles over whether to allow her discovery to become known to her husband who has devoted himself to its total annihilation. Meg can’t bring herself to give up the book — but how long can she keep her secret from Pernell?

Swept up in the turbulent world of sixteenth-century England and King Henry, the VIII, where Tyndale’s English New Testament had been outlawed as heresy, Meg is about to align herself with those who risk their lives to read and distribute God’s Word. This becomes a thrilling espionage game of cat and mouse with a shocking discovery that threatens to shatter both a career and a marriage, giving the reader a front row seat in the court of Henry VIII, where politics and religion mean life and death.

A three-page, “Note from the Author” concludes the book and reveals what aspects of the story are historically accurate. For those drawn to historical fiction (which this reviewer is not), this will prove to be an electrifying read.