Christopher Hitchens errors concerning the deaths of John Wycliffe and Myles Coverdale

Simon Peter SutherlandThe late and somewhat outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens in his popular book “God is not great” made many claims from both history and the present and from historical texts, religious texts and books regarded as sacred by many, out of which he attempted to dismatle the walls of religion brick by brick by applying the written content towards his criticism based upon his logic and interpretation of which his claims towards history. It is clear that his understanding of religious narratives have impacted the lives of many modern atheists and religious folk today.

Hitchens certainly wrote a book in which he attempted to grind his axe against all things religious and Christian. Yet the problem is that many folks regard this book as somewhat dynamic and excellent, yet many of them are ignorant of the clear cut errors of Hitchens work.

One such error is in his claim that devout Christian men such as John Wycliffe, Myles Coverdale and Tyndale were all burned alive at the stake.

In his book, “God is not great” Hitchens writes the following, quote; “Devout men like Wycliffe, Coverdale, and Tyndale were burned alive…”

This is simply not accurate at all. Although he was correct that Tyndale was burned, he was not burned alive, on the contrary, Tyndale was strangled first, then his body was burned and the facts remain that early English Bible translator John Wycliffe was not burned alive at all, but suffered a stroke on 28 December 1384 during a service at Lutterworth Church and died the last day of that month. Wycliife was not burned alive at the stake.

Likewise, early Bible translator Myles Coverdale was not burned alive as Hitchens claimed but died on 20th January 1569 at London of natural causes.

What is clear to me is that Hitchens was so intent on lashing out in a war of words against all thing religious, that his own bitterness towards Christianity is demonstrated by his total lack of ability to even present accurate research into the historical facts behind one of the religions which he was so vehemently attacking.

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  1. #1 by Brett on February 17, 2013 - 8:53 AM

    Yes, it appears that none of the three men listed were burned alive for their ‘sin’ of translating the bible. However, surely being strangled then burnt is still as bad (Tyndale)? Then we have the posthumous conviction of Wycliffe for ‘heresy’ with his remains were dug up and burnt. I think the point of the work was to point out how the church always tried to keep the bible written in an obscure language so that the ‘everyday’ person was denied real access to it. However, that the Christian churches behaved abominably for centuries is beyond question or doubt. I’m just glad that we live in an age where I can state that I don’t believe a word of any bible to be the word of god and that no religious nutter will condemn me to death (as was the case for most of the past few thousand years!)
    Best regards
    Brett

    • #2 by Simon Peter Sutherland on February 18, 2013 - 10:49 AM

      The Church has got a lot to answer for and It will.

      Thank God for tolerance.

      S

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