Good Friday – the Easter story Anne Boleyn would have read

As I explained in yesterday’s article on Maundy Thursday, Anne Boleyn owned a copy of William Tyndale’s 1526 English translation of the New Testament. She kept a copy of it open in her apartments and encouraged her ladies to read it.

On Good Friday, I am sure that Anne would have sat and read the accounts of Christ’s crucifixion, so I thought I’d share the account from John’s gospel, chapter 19, as translated from the Greek by Tyndale, starting from the Roman soldiers putting the crown of thorn’s on Christ’s head. I have modernised the spelling:

“Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers wound a crown of thorns and put it on his head. And they did put on him a purple garment, and said: hail king of the Jews. And : and they smote him on the face. Pilate went forth again and said unto them: behold I bring him forth to you that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth wearing a crown of thorns and a robe of purple. And Pilate said unto them: Behold the man. When the high priests and ministers saw him, they cried saying: crucify him, crucify him. Pilate said unto them. Take ye him and crucify him: For I find no cause in him. The Jews answered him. We have a law and by our law he ought to die: because he made himself the son of God.

When Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, and went again into the judgment house and said unto Jesus: whence art thou? But Jesus gave him none answer. Then said Pilate unto him. Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee and have power to loose thee? Jesus answered: Thou couldest have no power at all against me except it were given unto thee from above. Therefore he that delivered me unto thee is more in sin. And from thence forth sought Pilate means to loose him: but the Jews cried saying: if thou let him go thou art not Caesar’s friend. Whosoever maketh himself a king is against Caesar.

When Pilate heard that saying he brought Jesus forth and sat down to give sentence in a place called the pavement: but in the Hebrew tongue Gabbatha. (It was the Sabbath even which falleth in the easter feast and about the sixth hour>. And he said unto the Jews: Behold your king. They cried away with him, away with him, Crucify him. Pilate said unto them. Shall I crucify your king? The high priests answered: we have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him unto them to be crucified.

And they took Jesus and led him away. And he bare his cross, and went forth into a place called the place of dead men’s skulls (which is named in Hebrew Golgotha) where they crucified him. And with him two other: on ether side one, and Jesus in the midst. Pilate wrote his title and put it on the cross. The writing was Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews. This title read many of the Jews. For the place where Jesus was crucified was near to the city. And it was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Then said the high priests of the Jews to Pilate: write not king of the Jews: but that he said I am king of the Jews. Pilate answered: what I have written, that have I written.

The soldiers when they had crucified Jesus took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part, and also his coat. The coat was with out seam woven upon through and through. And they said one to another: Let us not divide it: but cast lots who shall have it That the scripture might be fulfilled which sayeth: They parted my rayment among them, and on my coat did cast lots. And the soldiers did such things indeed.

There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple standing whom he loved, he said unto his mother: Woman behold thy son. Then said he to the disciple: behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her for his own.

After that when Jesus perceived that all things were performed, that the scriptures might be fulfilled: he said: I thirst. There stood a vessel full of vinegar by. They filled a sponge with vinegar and wound it about with hyssop, and put it to his mouth. As soon as Jesus had received of the vinegar, he said: It is finished and bowed his head and gave up the ghost.

The Jews then because it was the sabbath even that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day (for that sabbath day was a high day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken down. Then came the soldiers and broke the legs of the first and of the other which was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear thrust him into the side and forth with came there out blood and water.

And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true. And he knoweth that he sayeth true that ye might believe also. These things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled: Ye shall not break a bone of him. And again another scripture sayeth: They shall look on him whom they pierced.

After that Joseph of Arimathea (which was a disciple of Jesus: but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take down the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave him licence. And there came also Nicodemus which at the beginning came to Jesus by night and brought of myrrh and aloes mingled together about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesu and wound it in linen cloths with those confections as the manner of the Jews is to bury. In the place where Jesus was crucified, was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man laid. There laid they Jesus because of the Jews sabbath even, for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”

You can click here to read how Good Friday was commemorated in Tudor times.

Notes and Sources

  • Tyndale, William (d. 1536) The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by William Tyndale The Martyr, The Original Edition, 1526Gould & Newman, 1837.

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