Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Sword of the Spirit: The Story of William Tyndale by Joyce McPherson (A Review)

I'm so delighted to see a new children's biography by Joyce McPherson, published by Greenleaf Press.  Her newest title is The Sword of the Spirit: The Story of William Tyndale.  The Reformation Era is my favorite time period to study in World History, and Tyndale's is a fascinating story about the translation of the Bible into English at great peril.  Tyndale studied Hebrew under Martin Luther, constantly fled persecution by the English government, and was eventually betrayed by a friend, arrested, and executed as a martyr for the gospel in 1536.  His dying prayer? "Lord, open the king of England's eyes..."  Two years later, King James authorized The Great Bible, largely Tyndale's work, for use in the Church of England.

I am most familiar with Tyndale through Scott O'Dell's novel The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day, which I've taught as literature in our co-op a few times.    Most of our reading selections this coming school year will wrap around The Mystery of History Volume 3: The Renaissance, Reformation, and Growth of Nations (1455-1707) that we will be using for history.  That's why I'm so glad to now have a well-researched factual account of his life written for children ages 10 and up. (Independent reading level is 5th/6th grade.)  Beyond the fact that I want my children to be versed in this essential history, I find I myself am more easily able to grasp the concepts at this level.  This is not a dry theology book, but a story with vivid descriptions of people, place, and plots.  Sprinkled through the book at the start of each chapter are key quotes from either Tyndale or another theological giant.  Here is one quote from his prologue to the 1525 New Testament in English:
"When the gospel is preached to us, he (God) openeth our hearts, and giveth us grace to believe and putteth the spirit of Christ in us, and we know him as our father most merciful, and consent to the law, and love it inwardly in our heart, and desire to fulfill it, and sorrow because we cannot... the blood of Christ hath obtained all things for us of God."
I first read A Piece of the Mountain, the author's biography of scientist Blaise Pascal, back in the late 1990's, when my sister passed it along to me.  Later, after I met Joyce at the Florida home schooling convention, we realized we (along with her husband) had been classmates in AP American History in high school in Virginia as well as friends from the Christian fellowship there.  Since then, I've read her biographies River of Grace (theologian John Calvin), Artist of the Reformation (Albrecht Durer), and Ocean of Truth (scientist Sir Isaac Newton).  

As a home schooling mother of 9, Joyce has an amazing grasp of European history, helped by the fact that she is also fluent in French.  You will also love her amazing Homeschooling Toolbox on-line, which is full of over 100 free worksheets, charts, flash cards, notebook materials, booklists & tips on getting started in home schooling.  I'm looking forward to digging in there!

Grace and peace to you and yours,

Virginia Knowles

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