ACADEMIE BULGARE DES SCIENCES. INSTITUT D'ETUDES BALKANIQUES. ETUDES BALKANIQUES, N 1, 2003
DUALISTIC IDEAS IN THE WORKS OF WILLIAM TYNDALE*
Tyndale – the covert dualist
It is already the 21st century but new discoveries are still made in the history of the Middle Ages and sometimes established views are changed. William Tyndale is one such phenomenon the conception of which will seemingly become richer with time. The observation of David Daniell that “he has reached more people than even Shakespeare”(1), has good grounds considering the quantities in which the Authorised Version of the Bible, which is based on Tyndale’s translation, has spread across the world. Tyndale'’ translations enriched the English language with the “sounds and rhythms” and he himself became a sculptor of the language, going on to create “unforgettable words, phrases, paragraphs and chapters”(2).
While supporting the opinion of David Daniel on principle, this author also naturally retains the right of his own concept of the issue with some nuances. It seems to me that the first quality level of the English language was created by the circle around John Wycliffe with the translation of the New Testament. William Langland’s Piers Plowman (c. 1360, text A) is practically contemporary to that undertaking, sharing the philosophy of dualism and using its imagery. In other words, just as the foundations of a rich and expressive English language
*William Tyndale (c. 1494 - 1536) was the author of the first comprehensive and quality translation of the Bible in English and that not from the Vulgate but from Greek and Hebrew. It was for this work and for his dauntless criticism of the Catholic Church, which did not allow preaching in native languages that Tyndale was burnt on the stake as a heretic in Brussels in 1536. One can judge how topical the significance of Tyndale’s work is by the fact that, to quote The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907-1921), it is agreed on all hands that the English of the Authorised Version is, in essentials, that of Tyndale. (Vol. IV, p. 48)
1Daniell, D. William Tyndale. A Biography. Ed. Yale University Press. New Haven&London, 2001, p.2.
were laid in the Langland-Wycliffe period, to which one should add the brilliant contribution of Chaucer (particularly the 1392-1395 period when he wrote the main part of the Canterbury Tales)(3), the English literary language emerged in all its richness and glory in the Tyndale-Shakespeare period. Chaucer is no mechanical addition here. There are grounds to pay attention to the information indicating such sympathies in the founder of modern English literature for it is also known that he translated the Roman de la Rose in which Cathar moods are a proven presence. In addition we know what honour Chaucer paid to Pierce Plowman in his Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. Then again, should one turn back to the linguistic contribution of Wycliffe himself then one should quote Herbert Workman who wrote that “Wycliffe’s Bible was one only, not by any means the most widely read, or the standpoint of influence on the English language, the most important”(4).
One should point out that this paper has a strictly specified subject, i.e. the presence of hitherto unstudied dualistic ideas in the work of Tyndale. In other words, this is not a biographical or critical literary study but an ideological and theological analysis or, more specifically, a case study of the history of ideas. Such analysis allows one to outline:
· the origin of certain ideas and images;
· their transfer from their place of origin to the host country, and
· their interpretation adequate to a certain age.
Then again Bogomilism with its West European branches of Patarenes, Cathars, Beguins and Lollards is probably the most outstanding example of transcontinental, Pan-European proiliferation and interaction between cultures. It was for such an approach that Dimitry Obolensky appealed even in the first edition of his excellent book on the Bogomils: “the study of the Bogomil movement has its own, and by no means negligible, part to play in the investigation of the cultural and religious links between eastern and western Europe, the importance of which is increasingly perceived at the present time.”(5)
So what is our starting point? A thesis that William Tyndale stepped on Bogomil-Cathar philosophy in his motivation for the translation of the Scriptures, as well as in many of his interpretations of mainly New Testament material. Now lets move on to the facts. It is well known that Tyndale communicated with Luther, but in the thinking of the Englishman there is definitely something more specific than the influence of the head of the German Reformation. For example, one discerns Tyndale’s own renditions in relation to the parable of the dishonest manager in St. Luke, which also impressed his authoritative biographer, David Daniell. Daniell compares Luther’s famous Ein Sermon dem unrechten Mammon Lu.XVI with the manner in which Tyndale treats this parable in The Wicked Mammon. To quote David Daniell “Luther’s printed sermon occupies only six leaves in quarto; Tyndale has six times as much…Moreover, Tyndale alone sets out the whole parable – Luther’s text is only the final verse…”(6)
3 By the way, according to R. Vaughan, Chaucer adopted many of Wycliffe’s doctrines. Vaughan, R. The life and the opinions of John de Wycliffe, D.D. London. MDCCCXXXI, v.II, p.437, see also v.I, p.137
4Workman, H. The Dawn of the Reformation. IV. The age of Wyclif, L., 1901, p.203.
5 Obolensky, D. The Bogomils: a Study in Balkan Neo-Manichaeism. Cambridge. 1948, p.VII
6 Daniell, D. William Tyndale. A Biography, p. 161
This preference turns one’s attention to the fact that the same parable
from St. Luke is an important part of The Secret Book of the
Bogomils. It explains the beginningof Satan’s treachery and the
corruption of the angels who followed him. It explains how Satan became
the impious lord of this world. In other words, for Tyndale this story
acquired nearly the same importance it had in The Secret Book of
One should mention here that such notable dualistic definitions are not an isolated phenomenon in English literature. When he wrote that he had called his Cain a mystery, Byron added that he had done so in accordance with the old “very profane” mysteries and moralité. And in Cain Lucifer reigns together with Jehovah:
· Lucifer: No we reign
Together; but our dwellings are asunder.”
· …To the great double mysteries! The two
Principles! (Byron’s italics)(10).
It seems that dualism was a certain trend in English literature and since Byron himself confided from where he had borrowed the dualistic theme and imagery, it is our turn now to reveal how it is present in Tyndale and how he chanced upon it.
7 Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures together with the Practice of Prelates by William Tyndale, Martyr 1536. Cambridge, M.DCCC.XLIX, p.190
8 Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine World c.650-c.1405. Selected sources translated and annotated by Janet Hamilton and Bernard Hamilton. Manchester & New York.1998, p.100. The original reads: Ό δυο αρχάς λέγων καί πιστευων ειναϊ, άγαθήν τε καί κακήν, και άλλον φωτός ποιητην και άλλον νυκτός, άλλον άν[θρώπ]ων και άλλον αγγέλων και των - λοιπών ζώων, άνάθεμα έστω. Theophylacti Constantinopolis patriarcha epistola – in: Гръцки извори за българската история. Т.V., София, 1964, с. 186.
9 De duobus autem principiis ad honorem patris sanctissimi, volui inchoare…in: Livre des deux principes. Introduction, texte critique, traduction, notes et index de Christine Thouzhellier. Paris. 1973, p.160
10 Byron, G. Complete poetical works. Oxford. 1970, p.p. 536,537.
The dualistic views of the reformer find an even more comprehensive expression when he voices another important idea of Bogomils and Cathars, i.e. that this world is the kingdom of the devil. Acknowledging the power and the great hold of the devil on people’s souls, Catholics and Orthodox Christians adamantly define the world and the creatures as God’s creation while the dualists regard it as the creation and kingdom of Satan. This, too, is why Presbyter Kosmas reproaches them: “They should also be condemned because they call the creator of the sky and the earth father, but regard his creation as one of the devil.”(11) Now here we find the same thinking expressed through the words of Tyndale: “Seeing we are conceived and born under the power of the devil, and we are hiss possession and kingdom (italics G.V.), his captives and bondmen…”(12) We shall recall here yet another element of harmony with the dualists in the above phrase: Tyndale obviously shared their opinion that conception as essential to the flesh is subordinate to the devil.
Comparisons with dualistic theology
Of course, these dualistic definitions in the works of the reformer are not placed one next to the other, nor do they comprise a comprehensive and consistent exposé. It seems that, as he was aware the dualist philosophy should be concealed, Tyndale made a fragmentary intertextual presentation, making it accessible to insiders, to those who had previous knowledge about it or who spread it secretly amongst sympathisers. This, by the way, is an old Bogomil method to which Euthymius of the Periblepton (11th century) devoted plenty of space but before that was described by Presbyter Kosmas (10th century): “ostensibly they do everything to avoid being distinguished from orthodox Christians”, which attracted people “to approach them” and to think that they are “orthodox and capable of guidance to salvation”(13). The explanation is simple – on the one hand, as K. Radchenko has explained, it was an established Bogomil habit to mix canonical with non-canonical literature to enable the heretics to push their philosophy through without trouble. On the other, Bogomils and Cathars were communities of non-violence, they had no means to defend themselves and consequently used such mimicry. Tyndale himself said that “to lie also, and to dissemble is not always sin”.(14) Tyndale’s method was so successful that not only his opponents but his researchers as well failed to discern the dualistic presence. Consequently, we shall hereafter bring these fragments to the fore and connect them in that comprehensive dualistic exposé they form. This will be accompanied by comparisons with well-known Bogomil and Cathar formulas in order reveal to what extent they overlap with Tyndale’s theses. For example, Tyndale repeatedly used the definition “good man” , which what Bogomils and Cathars called their dualist
11 Презвитер Козма. Беседа против богомилите – в: Стара българска литература 2.Ораторска проза. София.1982, с.49
12 Doctrinal Treatises and Introduction to Different Portions of the Holy Scriptures by William Tyndale, martyr, 1536. Cambridge. M.DCCC.XLVIII, p.47
13Презвитер Козма. “Беседа против богомилите”, с.3114 Tyndale, W. An Expositions upon the V,VI, VII Chapters of Matthew, Antwerp, 1533,
leaders: “good men”, “boni homines”, “boni christiani”, “perfecti”. Now let us make the direct comparison we need. The Cathars said “and thus they call themselves good Christians, good men and holy”.(15) Tyndale, in turn, used “good and learned man”, “a Christian man is a spiritual thing and hath God’s word in his heart”(16), “and God make thee a good man”(17). On a single page of his Doctrinal Treatises he mentioned the root “perfect” four times exactly in the sense of achieving the dualist status of spiritual elevation: “For perfecter (italics G.V.) we be, the greater is our repentance, and the stronger is our faith. And thus, as the Spirit and doctrine on God’s part, and repentance and faith on our part, beget anew in Christ, even so they make us grow, and wax perfect, and save us unto end, and never leave us until sin be put off, and we clean purified, and full formed, and fashioned after the similitude and likeness of the perfectness of our Saviour Jesus…”(18) One finds a constant usage of the same definition with the Lollards (good man, good woman, true man, homo fidelis, perfit man). According to studies of this author which carry abundant evidence the Lollard communities definitely professed the dualist philosophy. The scope of this paper does not permit us to go into more detail so we shall give an unequivocal answer: yes, the Lollards were the last, most western branch of the Bogomil-Cathar heresy(19).
Just as Bogomils, Cathars and Lollards say that the state “good man” and “perfect” is acquired through the act of consolamentum, by the descent of the Holy Spirit on the ordained Tyndale describes the same sacrament as more powerful than papal ordination: “but prayer as when we say God make you good man, Christ put his spirit in thee…”(20)
Dualism as reformation potential
The next major chapter in the parallels between Bogomil-Cathar theology and Tyndale’s interpretations pertains to the problems of direct communication between believers and God (respectively the Scriptures):
· on the denial of saints and icons
· on the denial of service
· on the denial of confession
· on the role of the priest
15bene tamen se vocabant boni christiani, boni homines et sancti – in: Döllinger, Ign. v. Dokumente vornehmlich zur Geschichte der Valdesier und Katharer herausgegeben. t.II.München. 1890, S.195
16 Tyndale, W. The Obedience of a Christian Man. London. 2001, p.118
17 Ibidem, p.113, p.129
18 Doctrinal Treatises and Introduction to different portions of the Holy Scriptures by William Tyndale, martyr, 1536. CUP. M.DCCC.XLVIII, p.27
19 In Bulgarian: Василев, Г. Български богомилски и апокрифни представи в английската средновековна култура. София, 2001. In English: Vasilev, G. Bogomils and Lollards. Dualistic motifs in England during the Middle ages – in: Etudes Balkaniques. Sofia. N3/1993; Vassilev, G. Traces of Bogomil Movement in English – in: Etudes Balkaniques. Sofia. N3/1994. The first two articles and a review of the book in English can be found at www.geocities.com/bogomil1bg.
20In comparison we suggest the expression quod heretici vestiti essent Spiritus Sanctus from Döllinger, Ign. t.II, s.195 and Tyndale’s expression in The Obedience…, p.113
The Bogomil position regarding the saints is categorically negative, as Euthymius of the Periblepton put it succinctly: “The blasphemers say no one is or should be called holy; only God is holy”. (21). Tyndale’s opinion is equally unequivocal: “Take Christ from the saints and what are they? What is Paul without Christ?”(22) Or “…not the saints, but God only receiveth into eternal tabernacles, is so plain and evident, that is no to declare, or prove it.”(23)
One should underscore here the complete coincidence between the Bogomils of Euthymius of the Periblepton and Tyndale. The former say “only God is holy” and five centuries later their British follower repeats “but God only receiveth into eternal tabernacles”. The personal nuance with Tyndale is that he is inclined to a little concession: he is ready to take the saints for an example only(24), naturally not as mediators between God and believers. Once the cult of the saints is removed there is no longer need to revere their icons, or as Presbyter Kosmas wrote “the heretics do not revere the icons and call them idols”.(25) Tyndale is a bearer of the same attitude, calling the reverence of icons “false faith, superstitiousness and idolatry and damnable sin”.(26)
He enhances the reprimand, objecting in God’s name against the depiction of God’s images: “for nothing bringeth the wrath of God so soon and so sore on a man, as the idolatry of his own imagination”.(27) By the way, Bogomil-Cathar criticism of the icons and particularly Tyndale’s last phrase are also in harmony with some texts in the New
Testament “It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf.” (Heb 9:24). He we encounter a tendency to which we shall return later in this study. Although they had a philosophy complicated by Manichaeism and Gnosticism, the dualists practically strove to identify themselves with the early Christian communities with evangelical type of conduct. And considering that the Bulgarian Bogomils and the Cathars, representatives of mitigated dualism, reinstated the reverence of the cross and called themselves fashioned after the manner of Christ, one can see that the activity and the spiritual efforts of these communities constituted a spontaneous return to the initial form of Christiantiy. This is essentially an example of reformation, of shedding the depravity amassed in the church as an institution.
Rejection of liturgies logically follows the rejection of icons. The Bogomils, as Presbyter Kosmas wrote, considered them “many worded” maintaining that it was not “the apostles who established liturgy and communion, but John Chrysostom.”(28) A similar opinion that the Roman Church's priesthood is not this one that Christ ordained to his apostles we read in the "Twelve conclusions of the Lollards" (1395).(29) One should recall here that the critical expression “many worded” corresponds to Matthew 6:7: “In your prayers do not babble as pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard.” One finds similar views and
21 Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine World…, p.161. Greek source: Λέγουσιν οι ασεβεις, ότι άγιος ούτε εστιν ούτε οφείλει λέγεσθαι, αλλά άγιος εις εστιν ό θεός (Ficker, G. Die Phundagiagiten. Leipzig. 1908, S.76)
22 The Obedience, p.145
23 The Parable of the Wicked Mammon. Antwerp.1528, p. 66
24 The Obedience, p. 142
25 Презвитер Козма. “Беседа против богомилите”, с.33
26 The Obedience, p.143
27 The Obedience, p.145
28 Презвитер Козма. “Беседа против богомилите”, с.50, с.36
29 Fasciculi Zizaniorum. Ed. By Walter W. Shirley. London. 1858, p.360
definitions in Tyndale: “Subdeacon, deacon, priest, bishop, cardinal, patriarch and pope, be names of offices and services or should be, and not sacraments.”(30)
In other words, the superfluous and profuse ecclesiastic bureaucracy was not in service of the sacraments, did not contribute to the spiritual development of the people, did not Christianise. William Tyndale pointed out that the hearing of mass, matins and evensongs, and receiving of holy water, holy bread and the bishop’s blessing and so
forth(31) did not make one love one’s neighbour more, be more merciful or more thirsty for the spiritual. This seems to launch the thesis of the Bogomils (according to the letter
of Euthymius of the Periblepton) “what is a priest” (32) some thing useless, but in this case developed in lengthier form. At this point, by the way, Tyndale added his own commentary, according to which the priest should be the elder and more experienced preacher, as it had been in early Christian communities, which in turn was also to be the image of contemporary church(33). A definition in this sense Tyndale often makes in his Table of the Book: “in Greek called presbyter, in Latin senior, in English an elder” and “priest is to say an elder”.(34)
To the Bogomils and the other dualists God is the sole recipient of personal confession. In this case, too, we have many observations to make. According to the 15th century Summa contra haereticos, Cod. Monac. Lat. 544, the dualists thought believers confessed their sins directly to God and received forgiveness from Him(35). This, too, was the opinion of the Lollards, featured in the 15th century Norwich heresy trial records: “the same Margaret claims confession is made only before God and no other priests.”(36) William Tyndale also literally rejected the opportunity for a priest to be “a mediator between God and us”.(37)
One also finds the respective coincidence in the other, the public variant of dualist confession. We know that Bogomils and Cathars also practiced the so-called collective confession, a 14th century description of which we can again in F. Döllinger’s collection of documents: “This confession is preferred in public where the prelate holds the Scriptures above his head while the rest lay their right hands with prayer”.(38) Tyndale’s definition of the two models of confession repeats the dualistic in both spirit and letter: “Confession, not in the priest’s ear (for that is but man’s invention), but to God in the heart and before all the congregation of God”.(39)
30 The Obedience, p.110
31 The Obedience, p.139
32Christian Dualist heresies…, p.161. The original reads: Ανατρεπουσιν οι αθεοι καί την ίερωσύνην λέγοντες , ότι καί τί εστι πρεσβύτεος; τουτο περιττόν εστιν . (Euthimii coenobii Peribleptae epistula invective contra phundagiagitas sive bogomilos haereticos) – in: Die Phundagiagiten, S.76
33The Obedience, p.111
34 Priest is to say an elder – in: The Obedience, p.197
35 Dicunt etiam haeretici: quod homo vadit ad confessionem, jam compunctus est et contritus pro peccatis suis et statim Deus dimissit ei peccata sua. in: Döllinger Ign., S.282.
36 quod oraciones non sunt effundende ad sanctos sed ad solum Deum, qui solus audit orantes. – in: Tanner, N.(Ed.) Kent Heresy Proceedings 1511-12. Kent Archeological Society. 1997, p.2
37 The Obedience, p.111
38 Haec confession fit publice praelato tenenti librum evangeliorum super caput eius; reliqui dexteram apponunt cum orationibus – Cod. Alderspa.184.(membranac) – in: Döllinger Ign., S.295
39 An Exposition upon the V, VI, VII Chapters of Matthew. Antwerp. 1533, p..477
The practice according to which the actual function of the priest is above all either in the sermon or in leading collective confession, or in spiritual guidance makes these activities also achievable by the ordinary but spiritually elevated man. This is the common stance of the Bulgarian and the European dualists, of the Lollards, Wycliffe and Tyndale, and it offered outlets for religious activity of women.
Our British colleague Margaret Aston has pointed out quite correctly that ‘in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, as earlier,” Cathars, Waldenses and generally “unorthodoxy offered women outlets for religious activity that were not to be found in the established church.”(40) Thus this tradition was introduced and spread by the Bogomils even in the 10th century, as Presbyter Kosmas wrote. The letter of Euthymius of the Periblepton mentions the heretic leader Churila who split with his wife because of the Bogomil requirement for abstinence from marriage and made her a “mock abbess”.(41) When discussing the place of women in the Lollard community, Margaret Ashton pointed out that there women used to study, read and preach the Scriptures and were some sort of evangelists, although she couldn’t take it upon herself to say definitely whether women were given the role of priests(42).
It seems to this author, however, that we can rely on the records of the heresy trials in Norwich, where several heretics categorically stated that “every trewe man and woman being in charite is a priest”.(43) Margaret Ashton herself quoted the same thesis voiced by Wycliffe. Such categorical positions give grounds to assume that, although we do not know a name of a Lollard priestess to this day, such a document could be discovered one day, particularly as there are numerous recordings of the phenomenon of “perfect” Cathar women in Provence. In addition, Döllinger’s collection features a 14th century document of the Inquisition in Provence, according to which “Perfect” Cathar women officiated at the supreme sacrament of the dualists, consolamentum, i.e. baptism in the name of the Holy Spirit(44).
Since precedents abound so much they could possibly have found their concrete expression somewhere in England too. In addition, one should not forget that preaching God’s Word, public reading of the Scriptures in the native tongue and their explanation are the real priestly functions according to the dualists. In other words, the role of evangelist, which Margaret Ashton agrees was granted to Lollard women, means acting like a priest according to the dualists. The question is whether English women heretics had the right to give consolamentum, the supreme unction. The fact that this has not been recorded does not mean a negation in itself since the abundant archives on the Lollards to the best of this author’s knowledge do not feature a description of consolamentum. The reason seems understandable – the Lollards hid their dualistic essence (and consolamentum was their supreme sacrament) and rather presented the structure and creed of their church , defending them as direct conformity
40 Aston, M. Lollards and the Reformers (Images and Literacy in Late Medieval Religion). London. 1984, p.49.
41Christian Dualist Heresies..., p.159. Greek text: την γυναικα αυτου κατελειπεν ποιήσας αυτην ψευδαββαδίαν – in: Ficker, G. Die Phundagiagiten. Leipzig, 1908, p.66
42 Aston, M., op. cit., S.49
43 Tanner, T. Heresy trials in the Diocese of Norwich, 1428-31. London,1977, p.57. And also: every good man and good woman is a prest. Ibid., p.147
44 Döllinger, Ign. op. cit, S.165
to the Scriptures in order to generate respect in the official church. Nor did the Inquisition surmise that the English heretics were a continuation of the continental dualistic heresy.
About a century later Tyndale in turn placed the high sacrament “to bind and loose” (which according to the Catholic doctrine proceeds from the Pope) in the hands of “every man and woman that know Christ and his doctrine"”(45) In other words, his continuity with the dualists is doubtless because he shared the then extremely unusual for Orthodoxy or Catholicism idea of female clergy, which today too bother the Orthodox and the Catholic churches.
As the reader can see for himself, nothing external has been introduced here and only thoughts and images of Tyndale have been used. One could, however, pose the question whether the stress is not laid extremely on some of his separate views and whether they actually have the weigh they are allotted? Such focusing in our case is not only allowed, it is a necessary process as we can thereby reconstruct actual material which had the meaning of at least concealed narrative. Besides, although it is concealed, the narrative is of primary not secondary significance. Therefore to distinguish it – which has not been done so far – is an important academic task. As one can see, it bore the personal, confessional and functional philosophy of the reformer. Things become much clearer when the new narrative is related to two important religious discussions, which the British colleagues in most cases treat as a product of English national life. True, they are part of the cause of the national church, but in their foundation they were imported from the dualist movements in eastern and western Europe.
At places – for example in The Obedience of a Christian Man – Tyndale did not launch any sharp discussion involving transubstantiation obviously with the intention of
concealing his negation. In his Doctrinal Treatises he compared various fundamental views on the issue ending exactly in the spirit of the dualists and directly expressing his negation. To him the idea of transubstantiation is false: “through the eyes and other senses perceive nothing but bread and wine…and thereof, no doubt, came up this transubstantiation through false understanding”.(46)
And, of course, transubstantiation is defined as a papal mistake: “The pope confirming transubstantiation did purchase his own gain to the overthrow of the right use of Christ’s sacrament.”(47) In the place of the idea of transubstantiation Tyndale raised an extremely free interpretation of his. To him the cup of the New Testament should be understood as the cup holding the blood of Christ: “this cup is ‘my blood of the New Testament’”, or even more directly “my blood of the New Testament”(48). This, however, is in harmony with the Bogomil metaphore recorded by Euthymius Zygabenus: “: The ‘new wine’ they say is their teaching”.(49)
One should also mention that Tyndale’s refusal of Eucharist with “the blood of Christ” harks of the Bogomils’ early objections to the cross, i.e. the memory of Christ’s suffering
45 Practice of Prelates by Wylliam Tyndale, martyr, 1536. CUP, M.DCCC.XLIX, p.284
46 Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures together with the Practice of Prelates by William Tyndale, Martyr 1536. Cambridge, M.DCCC.XLIX, p.-p. 221-222
47 Doctrinal Treatises and Introduction to different portions of the Holy Scriptures by William Tyndale, martyr, 1536. CUP. M.DCCC.XLVIII, p.373
49 Christian Dualist Heresies…, p.202. The original reads: Οινον μεν καλουσι νέον την διδασκαλιαν εαυτων – in Die Phundagiagiten, S.109
cannot be accepted as His symbol. “Now the testament is, that is his blood was shed for our sins; but is impossible that the cup or his blood should be that promise,” wrote Tyndale(50). In essence he emulated the style and the words of the Bulgarian dualists: “But how can we bow to it? Because the Jews crucified His son on it the cross is most hated by God. That is why they teach their own to hate it, not to bow before it, saying thus: If anyone murdered the prince on a cross of wood could that wood be beloved of the king? The same is true of the cross and God.”(51)
One could also add another borrowing. The Bogomils and the Cathars were authors of a sarcastic attitude familiar in the Middle Ages against the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic belief that the body of Christ is in the Eucharist. Here we shall quote it according to Bernard Gui’s 13th century Manual of the Inquisitor: “The body of Christ, they say, is not there (in the Eucharist – author’s note), for if we assume it could be compared to the greatest mountain then the Christians would have eaten it all by now; the Eucharist is born of straw, passes through the tails of stallions or mares. In other words when the flour is cleansed of this filth through the sieve it goes down to the end of the stomach and excreted through the dirtiest organ. That is why it is impossible, they say, for God to be there.”(52) Now here we have the similar phrase – and with the same image of the horse at that – pronounced by Tyndale on the same occasion: “If thou bring a bowl of blood and set it before God to flatter him, to stoke him and curry and claw him, as he were a horse, and imaginest that he had pleasure and delectation therein, what better makest thou of God than a butcher’s dog?”(53) One should explain here that such detailed quotation does not aim to recall the emotions and the character of the discussion between the dualists and the Catholic Church. It provides on principle two proofs on principle of the relation between the dualists and Tyndale not in ideas alone, but in imagery, style and sustainable individual vocabulary. In other words we have one and the same theology, born in Bulgaria and transferred to England, expressed in the 16th century with an almost identical vocabulary. The study of these details is a procedure of comparative analysis, whose evidential powers increase with the respect for detail, for cliché images and expressions. In the Middle Ages they were typological indicators, something akin to the fixed epithets in Bulgarian folk songs.
Here we shall quote a series of examples of traditional dualist criticism against the official church starting from the Bogomils, passing through the Cathars and Lollards, and preserving a very characteristic imagery also shared by Tyndale. This criticism pertains to:
· the church itself
· the liturgies and sacrifices.
One should also add here the enrichment of this criticism by the dualists in western Eurrope during their battle with the Vatican. It contained the following new items:
50 Doctrinal treatises, p.379
51Презвитер Козма, Беседа против богомилите, с.34
52 dicentes quod non sit ibi corpus Christi, quia si esset ita magnum sicut unus maximus mons, jam christiani comedissent totum: item, quod illa hostia nascitur de palea et quod transit per caudas equorum vel equarum, videlicet quando farina purgatory per sedatium; item, quod mittitur in latrinam ventris et emitter per turpissimum locum, quod non posset fieri, ut aiunt, si esset ibi Deus. – in: Gui, B., op. cit., p.26
53 Expositions and Notes, p.215
· the pope was declared Anti-Christ and his prelates – servants of Satan
· the idea of Purgatory was rejected
· as was that of indulgences.
Now lets discuss these one by one, starting with the rejection of the official church.
The words with which Presbyter Kosmas said the Bogomils denied the official church were the following: “The churches they consider crossroads and the liturgies and other services in them – many words.”(54) Euthymius Zigabenus added: “They think that Herod is our Church, which tries to murder the Word of truth born among them.”(55) Because in the case of the Cathars the conflict with the Catholic church was more severe and the persecutions more systematic, this negation was graded. On the one hand they declared their community the true and benign church “benignam, quam dicunt esse sectam suam”, while the church of Rome was bad, the “mother of fornication, the great Babylon, mistress and basilica of the devil, synagogue of Satan”.(56) The formulations of the Lollards were equally categorical and sometimes even more temperamental. The parchment maker John Godesell declared at the heresy trials in Norwich (1428-1431) that the Pope was “Anti-Christ and the head of the dragon mentioned in the Scriptures and that the bishops and other prelates of the church were followers of Anti-Christ, and the mendicant orders – the tail of the dragon.”(57)
Such, too, are Tyndale’s position and language. At first he pointed out that preaching was the essence of the first Christian churches (the dualists practiced this extremely modest churchgoing without any special church building) and declared that the church is not material but spiritual: “The Churches at the beginning were ordained that the people should thither resort, to hear the word of God there preached only, and not for the use wherein there now are.”(58) By the way this type of “internal worship” has was expressed in another way by the well-known Bogomil instruction how to pray: ‘When you pray, go into your room’. They say that the room is the mind…(59)
This Bogomil instruction was literally reproduced by Tyndale: “Of entering the chamber and shutting the door to… the meaning is, that we should avoid all worldly praise and profit, and pray with a single eye and true intent according to God’s word.”(60)
This is a paraphrase of Matthew 6: 6: “But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your
54 Презвитер Кузма. Беседа против богомилите, с.50
55Christian Dualist Heresies…, p.195. The original reads: Ήρώδην δε νοουσι την καθ’ ήμας εκκλησίαν , πειρωμένην ανελειν τον παρ αυτοις γεννηθέντα λόγον της αληθείας –in: (Euthymii Zigabeni de haeresi bogomilorum narration) Ficker, G. Phundagiagiten. Leipzig.1906, S.103
56 appellant matrem fornicationum, Babilonem magnam, meretricem et basilicam dyaboli et Sathane synagogam. – in: Gui, B. Manuel de l’inquisiteur. T.I. Paris, 1926, p.10
57 papa est Antechristus et caput draconis dе que fit mencio in sacra Scriptura, et quod episcope et ecclesiam prelati sunt corpus draconis , et quod fratres mendicantes sunt cauda draconis.”episcope ac alii ecclesiarum prelati sunt discipuli Antechristi.” – in: Tanner, N. Heresy trials in the Diocese of Norwich, 1428-31. London. 1977, p.61
58 The Parable of Wicked Mammon. Antwerp. 1528, p.106
59 Christian Dualist Heresies…, p.199.Συ δε όταν προσεύχη φασίν εισελθε εις το ταμιειον σου∙ ταμιειον λέγουσι τον νουν. - in: Phundagiagiten, S.107
60 Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures together with the Practice of Prelates by William Tyndale, Martyr 1536. Cambridge, M.DCCC.XLIX, p.79
Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.” This is the “private” churchgoing of Bogomils, Cathars and Lollards and Tyndale actually followed the prescriptions of the Scriptures verbatim.
After he outlined the image of the true modest church of direct communication with God in the heart of man Tyndale took up the fiery criticism of the dualists against the Catholic church. Even in the Table of Contents of his books one finds expressions like “Pope… a sure token that the pope is antichrist.”(61) The quoted subtitle of Tyndale’s An Answer unto Sir Thomas More is reproduced in nine variants bearing a similar antipapism. One even find the attack “the pope is the whore of Babylon”(62), which is yet another literal coincidence with the Cathars anti-Catholic speeches. The Catholic prelates are presented as a greedy group “whose God is their belly”(63), as “murderers” and “liars”(64). Destitute of the truth they corrupt minds. Tyndale used the vocabulary of the Cathars and Lollards to attack donations and indulgences: they “beguile God’s word…to establish their wicked tradition”(65), “with such glosses corrupt they God’s word, to sit in the consciences of the people, to lead them captive, and to make a prey of them: buying and selling their sins to satisfy their unsatiable covetousness”(66). And that this truly was the language of Cathars and Lollards one can see from a quotation of the same polemic vocabulary set down in the minutes of the 15th century trials in Norwich. Margery Baxter , probably the most outstanding defendant at the trial, claimed that the bishop of Norwich and his ministers were “members of the devil who spread the false indulgences given them by the pope” and that indulgences taught the simple people “damnable idolatry”(67). One could ask here whether similar rhetoric couldn’t have been used in other circles. The answer is unequivocal: in the Middle Ages only the dualists took the liberty of polemicising temperamentally against the Catholic church openly and consistently, in the course of several centuries. They always felt theirs was a separate large world, they had an idea of the scope of their presence, particularly as they saw it under God’s direct guardianship. It is only in their case that such a line of conduct was amassed and passed down from generation to generation with the respective emotional vocabulary which, by the way, was also taken from critical New Testament passages against the heathens and the Pharisees. Thus it became a sort of auto-characteristic feature which can hardly be mistaken.
Naturally, one can sense the time and ‘couleur locale’. In the case of the Bogomils it is clear even in their Secret Book that they regarded this world as Satan’s creation and therefore as hell. In western Europe, however, a new element entered this explanation:
61 The Independent Works of William Tyndale. An answer vnto sir Thomas More. Dialogue. Washington, 2000, p.100
62 Expositions and notes, p.298
63 The Obedience, p.144
64 Expositions and notes, p.243, p.244
65 The Obеdience, p.119
66 The Obedience, p.p.119-120. And also: They compel us to hire friars, monks, nuns, canons, and priests, and to buy their abominable merits, and to hire the saints that are dead to pray for us… Ibid., p.142
67 Norwicensem episcopum, et eius ministros, qui sunt membra diaboli, ante istud tempus nisi papa transmisset ad istas partes illas falsas indulgencias…que indulgencia induxit populum simplicem ad ydolatriam maledictam. – in: Heresy trials in the Diocese of Norwich, p.46. And here is Robert Harryson’s position: Robert said of indulgences and pardons to be of noon effecte nor profit. – in: Kent Heresy proceedings…, p.4
the Cathars and their affiliates were forced to give their own answer as to the location of Purgatory and what it was as Purgatory was invented by the Catholic church. The earliest answers belonged to Bosnian Patarenes since they were the first to have direct contact with Catholic influence: “they say there is no Purgatory”(68). Their opinion was recorded in the minutes of a 1387-1388 heresy trial in North Italy: “there is no other purgatory nor other hell but this world”(69). This was also the opinion of the Lollards tried at Norwich, with the added warning that “there was no purgatory but only in this world, and aftir that a man was decessid he shulde go straight to heven or to hell” (70).
And while the above-mentioned objections against purgatory seem rather doctrinal in the sense that the dualists who expressed them considered that this world was actually purgatory or declared it an unreal, made up construction that did not correspond to God’s creation, two centuries later Tyndale denounced the avaricious aspect of purgatory. He described it as a zone invented as a result of the commercial and power-lusting ambitions of papacy: “but have created them a Purgatory, to reign also over the dead and to have one kingdom more than God himself hath”(71). This artificial kingdom acted as a customs office for untold riches were collected through it from the relatives of the deceased who paid generous sums for the expurgation of the souls in Purgatory and their “ascent” to heaven(72). There were also elements of “economic” or rather anti-corruption criticism of purgatory on the continent. I. Döllinger quoted a document, according to which, in addition to denying the existence of purgatory, the heretics claim donations are unclean, good only for the priests who ate tem and lived in luxury(73).
Tyndale was nevertheless rather more global, closer to the idea of modern times and civic society: he rejected purgatory not so much with theological arguments as denouncing it as a totalitarian scheme, and open tool of unprecedented social dictum and manipulation, of economic exploitation through which the clergy take away “faith, hope, peace, unity, love and concord then house and land, rent and fee, tower and town, goods and cattle, and the very meat out of men’s mouths. All these (the clergy – author’s note) live by Purgatory.”(74) The pope and his pardons is grounded on Purgatory, Tyndale giving the cross of Christ as an alternative to that rapacious theology(75). A powerful gesture indeed, which summed up Tyndale’s idea of a national church where all could read the Lord's Prayer in their mother tongue; where all should know that churchgoing was above all preaching God’s word spread by modest servants, a church whose sign Christ and the holy cross were. In fact this was the image of early Christian communities.
68 Item dicunt, non esse purgatorim. – in. Racki, Fr. Prilozi za povjest bosanskih patarena. Starine. U Zagrebu. 1869 /1/, s.139
69 …non est purgatorium nec infernos nisi in hoc mundo – in: Döllinger, Ign., op. cit., S.267.)
70Kent Proceedings…, p.46
71The Obedience, p.91
72 The Obedience, p.100)
73 Purgatorim negant…omnia suffragia ecclesiae subsannant, dicentes quod oblations ad altare pro defunctis bonae sint, scil. ad pascendu sacerdotes ut eo lautius comedant at luxuriasius vivant. – in: (Incipit Summa de haeresibus) Döllinger, Ign. op. cit., S.298
74 The Obedience, p.155
75 The Obedience, p.154
By returning to the cross Tyndale surpassed the tradition of clandestine heretical communities and offered an open, general national church reformed in the best of dualist spirit and practice. Although the example we have quoted are unequivocal evidence of Tyndale’s predilection for dualist theology he wanted the edifice of his church to be one for all society, for the entire nation. The return to the cross, in fact, is a trend of internal evolution of Bogomilism and the Cathars, which was discerned by authors like A. Solovjev, Dmitri Obolensky, Rene Nelli and Stefan Lazarov, among others.
Tyndale’s determination to elevate the significance of the cross corresponded to that trend, but it also emerges as his personal initiative in England when one recalls that the bulk of the Lollard defendants at Norwich (1428-1431), who were obvious staunch supporters of absolute dualism, rejected the cross. One can also discern Tyndale’s new attitude to the cross in the fact that he used imagery and rhetoric whereby the Bogomils denied the cross but without the very act of rejection. Therefore Tyndale was also a reformer in the hard wing of dualist tradition, suggesting that it come out of its self-isolation and converge with the institutionally and historically established Christianity but yet to shed corruption and other deformities by reform. Considering that most of the texts used by Tyndale stem from the books and formulas of absolute dualists, his officially declared reverence for the cross overcomes some internal dualist dogmas, which sound like extreme speculation to the general public.
In this sense Tyndale’s position was an expression of humanism, of liberation from the faith of dogma and ossified perception, of toning down excess confrontation. This was a return of Christianity to its calling to be the moral and motivation of love open to all, to that divine bounty, which can be called individual emotional life and individual imagination in the perception of the Word.
At the same time the reproach he levied against the Catholic church were rather the result of doctrinal disagreement for he saw a tendency of dehumanism there although he did not use this term. Above all he claimed that by using a foreign language the church terminated the process of Christianisation, of spreading the teaching of Christ and familiarising people with it, which meant the introduction of love. Without the native tongue there was no connection to Christ or complete appreciation of His kindness: “How shall I prepare myself to God’s commandments? How shall I be thankful to Christ for his kindness?”(76) In addition, by corruption the church underwent a process of mammonisation, which was an antipode of Christianisation, and introduced the fashion of greed(77). As a type such criticism was a position modern for those times for Tyndale saw evil not only in the mythological figure of the Devil but also in socially removable roots like the implantation of greed, of the bad passion for plentiful, excessive wealth as an end in itself, of the easiest corruption of people. One could add that this view is topical today, for after the fall of the communist dictatorship consumption, i.e. the modern form of mammonisation, remains the main internal problem of western society.
76 The Obedience, p.90
77 An Exposition upon the V,VI, VII Chapters of Matthew, Antwerp, 1533, p.104
The Bulgarian example in the two English translations of the Scriptures
Now that we have seen that the philosophy of William Tyndale shared fundamental Bogomil-Cathars doctrinal positions it is pertinent to ask how, by what ways the dualist philosophy actually reached him. On the one hand things are complicated because he lived in the 16th century, his connections with the familiar writings of dualist culture were indirect and he was, so to say, a third generation dualist. What we have in
mind as the first generation of dualists on the Albion the German-speaking heretics described by W. Novoburgensis who were branded in Oxford in 1166. To this author the second generation consisted of Wycliffe and the 14th century Lollards with their abundant literary work. Naturally such periodisation is conditional and can only be finalised with the addition of new data. For example, Henry Knighton quoted Higden in his Chronicle and wrote: “Mony of the heretikes Albigense, commyn into Ynglonde, were brent in lyfe”. It was difficult for this author to decipher the exact date of this report exactly because it retold Higden and I based myself on the context to date it in 1209(78).
On the other hand the high degree of presence of clearly defined dualist these in Tyndale’s works cannot be explained without systematic contacts with the dualistic heritage in England or in Europe. I would like to mention here four of the many cases on which this relation was discussed. In 1906 W. Summers saw undoubted continuity between the English Reformation and Wycliffe’s work(79). Eighty years later Charles Nauert Jr. saw the possible relation between Tyndale and the Lollards as an occasion to underscore the national character of Tyndale’s work and to extract him from the notion that he was “merely an English disciple of the Saxon reformer”(80). David Daniell also assumed such closeness stating that “his memory was still green” at the time when Tyndale studied at Oxford. Daniell added that in 1520 “Lutherans as well as Lollards were now sought out for punishment”(81).
The conviction that Tyndale communicated with Wycliffe’s work – and that means with Lollard writings – is most powerful (and I thing quite rightly so) in D. Smeeton(82). In addition to the quantitative indicator, Smeeton also discerned a visible conceptual continuity: “In view of the recent availability of critical editions of certain Wycliffite writings, it is possible to examine Tyndale’s writings in light of parallel passages from Wycliffite literature. It would be difficult indeed to show that
78 Albigenses haeretici veneruunt in Angliam, quorum aliqui comburebantur vivi as well as the English version Mony of the heretikes Albigense, commyn into Ynglonde, were brente in lyfe – in: Chronicon Henrici Knighton vel Cnitthon Monachi Leycestrensis, Ed. By J. R. Lumby, D.D. London. vol. I, 1889, p.p.190,191
79 Summers, W.H. The Lollards of Chiltern Hills (Glimpses of English Dissent in the Middle Ages). London.1906, p.28: The Reformation of the sixteenth century was the inevitable resultant of series of forces which had been at work a century and half before in the life and teachings of John Wycliffe, for six years the rector of Buckinghamshire.
80 Nauert, G. Jr. Editor’s preface in: Lollard themes in the Reformation theology of William Tyndale (Sixteenth Century Essays&Studies, vol.6), 1986, p.11
81 Daniell, D. Op. cit., p.31,94
82 Almost half a dozen times Tyndale likewise invoked the name of Wyclif always in a positive reference. –in: Smeeton, D.D. Lollard themes in the Reformation theology of William Tyndale (Sixteenth Century Essays&Studies, vol.6), 1986, p.75
Tyndale used a particular version of a particular tract, but compatibility, approach, language and general theological themes could certainly be indicated”(83).
In the opinion of this author, Tyndale was not only familiar with Wycliffe’s writings and work, but he also meted it the significance of apostolic example, which he himself wanted to follow. In other words, he quoted Wycliffe as his predecessor in the national anti-Catholic cause: “Wycliffe preached repentance into our fathers not long since. They repented not, for their hearts were indurate, and their eyes blinded with their own pope-holy righteousness”(84). The measure of Tyndale’s commitment to Wycliffe was so great that he supported him where the attacks against Wycliffe were most severe. Tyndale rejected the accusations that the ideas of his predecessor were among the causes of the peasant revolts: “These hypocrites laid to Wycliffe’s, and do yet that his doctrine caused insurrection”(85). By the way, by using the word “doctrine” Tyndale indicates that he had comprehensive knowledge of Wycliffe’s system of ideas.
One should suppose that a more detailed study of the sources Tyndale used to create his dualist philosophy will also reveal other connections, some of which might prove continental. Here we have to answer the next question: if Wycliffe’s influence on Tyndale is visible how do we prove this was a dualist influence. Because of the limited scope of this paper we cannot present the existing detailed evidence, we shall only say that there is a study clarifying the Bogomil-Cathar views of John Wycliffe(86) Here we shall only mention as an indicative illustration Wycliffe’s well-known thesis of Deus debet obedire diabolo(87), which is a rather precise translation of the Bogomil view that the devil the “impious curator” of this world(88).
Naturally, as a thinker with an impressive individual presence already far beyond the initial substratum of ideas Tyndale had his own peculiar features. Thus, although he repeatedly expressed a dualistic preference for the New Testament and although the examples in his works predominantly came from the New Testament, unlike the dualists he accepted the use of the Old Testament. Like the Bogomil-Cathar assertion that the God of the Old Testament was cruel and unjust, that that was Satan, Tyndale judged the Old Testament quite critically: “The old, cruel and fearful testament, which drew people away…”(89) Respectively, he expressed a strong preference for the New Testament: “but this new and gentle testament, which calleth again, and promised mercy to all that will amend…”(90) In his own interpretation Tyndale did not bring the contradictions between the two testaments to a break, but rather defined the Old Testament as a sort of antechamber to the New Testament. The Old Testament is a “covenant…made between God and the carnal children of Abraham,
83 Ibidem, p. 34. Note: The term “Wycliffite literature” denotes texts created in the circle of Wycliffe’s followers and disciples
84 Doctrinal treatises and introductions to different portions of the holy scriptures by William Tyndale, Martyr 1536. Cambridge. M.DCCC.XLVIII, p.458
85 Ibid., p. 224
87 XXIV conclusions Wycclyf damnatae Londoniis in synodo – in: Fasciculi Zizaniorum. London. 1858, p.278
86 Vassilev, G. John Wycliffe, the Dualists and the Cyrillo-Methodian Version of the New Testament – in: Etudes Balkaniques. 2001, N1, p.p.99-118
88 Презвитер Козма. Беседа против богомилите, с.43
89 Doctrinal treatises, p.364
90 Ibidem, p.455
and Jacob, and otherwise called Israel”, while the New Testament is “a new covenant…that Christ’s blood is shed for our sins”, i.e. this was a way for spiritual elevation of man. Thus we can also see that Tyndale adopted the official doctrine of redemption(91), while the Bogomils and Cathars did not.
The dualist theology is softened in yet another important case. Cathars, Bogomils and Lollards rejected the baptism with water, asserting that true baptism was with the Holy Ghost(92), with the Word, with Christ’s passion and blood(93). While placing baptism with the word higher Tyndale avoided rejection of baptism at the font and preserved its significance as preparatory to baptism with the Word: “The washing without the word helpeth not: but through the word it purifieth and cleanseth us”. Of course, he
did not forget to define baptism in Christ’s blood as the true baptism: “The washing preacheth unto us, that we are cleansed with Christ’s bloodshedding”(94). Thus he did not engage in conflict with important items in the official church tradition but introduced his own additional interpretation instead.
Now we shall make an aside here to say that, regardless of his critical discussion with the Catholic church and the perseverance with which he denied, for example, transubstantiation, Wycliffe also in other cases tended to take into account to some extent official rituals, for one can see from both his works and his conduct that his objective was to reform the church institution not to bring it down. He assumed images of God could be used providing it was known they were just images and not a presence of God in the material itself: “If it is said that God and the stone are one, then this is heresy and should be denied”(95). Thus the occasion for magical devotion is taken away from the icon and it is interpreted as a symbol, which brings about contemplation of God. Such an interpretation made a contact between believers connected with the official church and those in the Lollard communities. Therefore, both Wycliffe and Tyndale, each by his own means, had the identical initiative to establish a national church with reformation material borrowed from the dualists.
Tyndale also modernised the term “perfect” which denoted the Bogomil leader. With the English the achievement of this state by the special ceremony of consolamentum becomes rather redundant, it being enough for one to devote oneself to spiritually elevating knowledge: “The principal of Scripture perfectly learned, all the rest is more easy”(96). From initiation of the elect it becomes an appeal and way for spiritual growth achievable by man. Those were the changes of the time and thinking of Tyndale – some purely dogmatic points of dualist theology were left behind to pass to the idea for a more unencumbered development of personality, of individual thinking and expression achievable by the means of education, culture, literary work and discussion. In fact that was a sort of evangelical humanism, the beginning of a Christian renaissance. One should recall here that his criticism of purgatory
91 …all good things are thine already purchased by Christ’s blood. – in: The Wicked Mammon, p.64 Or: Christ’s blood only putteth away all the sin that ever was… Ibidem, p.72
92infunditur gracia Spiritus Sancti…in: Heresy trials, p.95
93baptized in the blood of Crist… Ibidem, p.146
94 The Obedience, p.109
95 Est, ita quod sit sensus quod deus et lapis penitus et omnino sunt unum et idem, tunc est sensus hereticus…” in: Wyclif, J. Miscellanea Philosophica. vol.II. London. 1905, p.104
96 Doctrinal Treatises, p.27. And also: …a good and learned man. –in: The Obedience…, p.118
featured a similar aspect: purgatory was a prejudice, a mystic invention and a usury system to the enlightened, the educated with a broad view of the universe. One can even discern traits of Erasmus’ Encomium moriae in the satirical barbs levelled at purgatory.
One can also see the genetic link between Bogomil-Cathar tradition and Reformation noted by an author closer to our time. In 1879 L. P. Brockett of the American Baptist Church, who used the freshly accumulated research material on Bulgarian dualists with great insight, declared the Bogomils were forerunners of Protestantism in his brochure The Bogomils of Bulgaria and Bosnia(97). But if such global thinking is difficult for a large portion of the present-day British colleagues there are certain obvious outlines that cannot be overlooked.
We shall take the liberty here to make the following conclusion: the two key translations of the Scriptures into the English language, the two momentous efforts to generate reform in the official church – that of Wycliffe in the 14th century and that of Tyndale in the 16th – were motivated by Bogomil-Cathar philosophy and were accompanied by the introduction of elements of its practice. As John Foxe beautifully put it “over England’s long night of error and superstition and soul-crushing despotism God had said “Let there be light and there was light” with Tyndale’s work(98). The Bulgarian example of direct communion with the New Testament lay at the root of that work, of that enlightenment.
I would like to say that further work on clarifying Tyndale’s hidden theology will probably enriched the information presented here. It will also definitely introduce more nuances and precision in detail. For example, one can say that although the Wycliffe-Tyndale influence is clearly visible, in certain nuances it seems they are representatives of two different trends in dualist philosophy. According to hitherto studied material, Wycliffe rather leaned towards the ideas of the Bulgarian Bogomils who had “their own church of Bulgaria, believe in and preach a good omnipotent God without beginning (or end), who created the angels and the four elements. And they say that Lucifer and his accomplices sinned in the heavens”(99). I would support this statement with Wycliffe’s repeated quotation of the myth of Christ descending in hell and vanquishing it, a myth to which the Bogomils had a special predilection and which they borrowed from the Nicodemus Evangelion included in the list of Bogomil literature. Tyndale’s formulation in his Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures Together with the Practice of Prelates: “God and devil are two contrary fathers, two contrary fountains, and two contrary causes: the one of all goodness, the other of all evil.” overlaps with another tendency of dualism – that of absolute dualism preached by the Drugutia church, which reads “they believe and teach two gods, two lords without beginning or end, one good and one evil”(100). At the same time it
97 L.P. Brockett. The Bogomils of Bulgaria and Bosnia (The Early Protestants of the East. An Attempt to Restore Some Lost Leaves of Protestants History). Philadelphia, 1879
98 Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World. Westwood. New Jersey, 1985, p.358
99…qui habent ordinem suum de Bulgaria, credunt i predicant tantum unum bonum deum omnipotentem sine principio, qui creavit angelos et IIIIor elementa. Et dicunt quod Lucifer et coplices sui peccaverunt in celo. – in: Dondaine, A. Hiérarchie cathare d’Italie – in: Archivum fratrum Praedicatorum. Roma. XIX(1949), p.310
100 …qui habent ordinem suum de drugonthia, credunt et predicant duos deos sive sine principio et sine fine, unum bonum et alterum malum penitus.”Ibidem, p.309
can be seen that Tyndale obviously read the Homily of Epiphanius, which also describes the scene of Christ’s descent into hell, although Tyndale showed a preference for another equally impressive passage there and wrote: “Christ is in thee, and thou in him, knit together inseparably”(101). This is an almost exact translation of the well-known phrase from the Homily of Epiphanius: “Thou art in me, as I am in thee – we are a primeval indelible face”(102).
One last professional requirement presupposes that we indicate the degree to which this subject has been studied so far. One can definitely say that, with the exception of some 19th century authors, the idea of the dualist heresy being transferred from the continent has not been raised among modern British medievalists. The philosophy and practice of the Cathars have been presented exceptionally well in Malcolm Lambert’s The Cathars(103), one of the best works on this subject so far, although it does not outline a connection between the European proliferation of the Cathar movement and Britain. Dualist formulas sound strange and incomprehensible to our British colleagues. As the otherwise excellent scholar of the Lollards James Gairdner wrote about Wycliffe’s fundamental dualist thesis “God, as he strangely put it, ought to obey the devil” (i.e. the devil rules the earthly world”(104). Some threads have been marked by the observant pioneer in this matter, W. Summers, who mentions Knyghton’s information as well as one or two cases propitious for research(105). These, however have been abandoned completely by present-day English medieval studies.
Finally, I should like to add another observation proving the salutary efforts of Tyndale Society to update the view on the reformer in a broader European circle. Commenting in the article The Authorised Version the translations of the Bible by the English reformers, including Tyndale’s Bible (1525), The Catholic Encyclopedia summed it up: “That there was much good and patient work in them, none will deny; but they were marred by the perversion of many passages, due to the theological bias of the translators; and they were used on all sides to serve the cause of Protestantism”(106). One could reply that this was written a century ago and one should not be so demanding. Regrettably, this text has been placed in the Online Edition www.newadvent.org/cathen/02141a.htm, copyright 1999 by Kevin Knight. To me as a witness on the side it is unacceptable for accusations of “profaned” Scriptures, rampant in such a benighted manner in the Middle Ages, to be transferred in the 21st century. Particularly as the translations of the Holy Writ are imposing, sometimes tragic national causes.
At that, emotions aside, one should recall the self-assessment of The Catholic Encyclopaedia regarding the alternative to Reform Catholic English translation: “and
101Doctrinal treatises, p.79
102 Ευ γάρ εν εμοί καγω εν σοι, έν και αδαιίρετον υπαρχομεν προσωπν. - in: L'Homélie d'Epiphane surr l'ensevelissement du Christ/édition par A. Vaillant/. Radovi Staroslavenskog instituta. Zagreb, 1958, p.77
103 Lambert, Malcolm. The Cathars. Oxford&Malden(USA),1998
104 Gairdner, J. Lollardy and Reformation. v.I., L.1908, p.14.
105 Summers, W. Our Lollard Ancestors. London. 1904, p.26. Summers, W. The Lollards of Chiltern Hills(Glimpses of English Dissent in the Middle Ages). London.1906, p.9106The Catholic Encyclopedia, Robert Appleton Company Volume II. 1907, p.141
although accurate, was sadly deficient in literary form”. Or add the words of Yaroslav Pelikan describing the damages done by extreme reliance on the Latin version of the Bible and unfamiliarity with the Greek: “An inability to read Byzantine Christian writers (not to mention the New Testament) with any real expertness in the original language led Thomas Aquinas astray into a dependence on misinterpretation of Eastern Christian theology, and therefore into a distortion of the differences between it and the Western church on so fundamental point of dogma as the Filioque.”(107) It seems to me that here a more adequate approach on the modern publishers of The Catholic Encyclopaedia would be to find a way to add the 2001 apology Pope John Paul II made to those persecuted with the fire and the sword by the Catholic Church.
I owe also gratitude to Professor Emeritus David Daniel, Oxford, who attracted my attention to this exceptionally interesting theme by sending me his publications, especially his remarkable book William Tyndale. A Biography. I am particularly grateful to Associate Professor Valerie Hotchkiss who ensured I had the best conditions to work in October 2001 at the first-class theological Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, of which she is happily the head. I also extend my gratitude to Mrs. Janet Hamilton and Professor Bernard Hamilton for sending me their excellent collection of selected sources (translated and annotated by them) Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine World c.650-c.1405. The Greek citations of Theophylact Lecapenus, Euthymius of the Periblepton and Euthymius Zigabenus in this article are given in their translation.
107 Pelikan, Y. with Valerie R. Hotchkiss and David Price. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, Bridwell Library, SMU, Dallas. 1996, p.7