Good Friday – the Easter story Anne Boleyn would have read

Posted By on March 30, 2018

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.

15 thoughts on “Good Friday – the Easter story Anne Boleyn would have read”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    Reading these words in the vernacular that Anne did and knowing what a new experience that would have been for many really puts into perspective how blessed I am to live in a country where I can read those same words and not be persecuted or worse. Many died fighting for that right. Something that we Christians take for granted today. There are still places in the world where many of our brothers and sisters are not allowed this privilege.

  2. Christine says:

    I wonder if in her chambers with her ladies Anne sat down and had one of them read out the story of the crucifixion or if she read to them, she was very pious and I imagine on Good Friday that would have happened, then she and Henry would have gone to church and listened to the sermon, it is indeed a blessing as Michael says, that we have the freedom to practice our own religion without fear of persecution, England in the 16th century was divided by Catholics and Protestants and each believed theirs was the true religion, the Protestants suffered under Mary then the Catholics suffered under Elizabeth, in the great old houses there are still little priest holes where the catholic priests would hide in and pray in safety, happy Easter Claire and family, Banditqueen and Michael and all the other posters on here, iv got my Lindt bunnys and my luxury hot cross buns from Marks and Spencer, hope you all have a good scoff too.!

    1. Sara says:

      You are wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I love hot cross buns and Lindt top!

  3. Mary the Quene says:

    “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.”

    This gives me chills. . .

    1. Claire says:

      Yes, that bit hit me too.

  4. Banditqueen says:

    Happy Easter, Claire and Tim, Christine and Michael and Globerose and everyone here. Yes, it is indeed a privilege to read the words in the common tongue. The old traditional services still exist, despite attempts over the years to abolish them and it is a good thing. We don’t creep to the Cross, but walk and kiss the crucifix and we have the Passion Gospel and remember the death and Resurrection of Jesus. In old Catholic countries today the Passion is reconstructed. It must be a very moving experience. Happy Easter to all.

    1. Claire says:

      Happy Easter BQ! In our nearest town, they have a schedule of processions for the whole of Semana Santa (Holy Week). We didn’t make the 7am crucifixion on Calvary (the town actually has a hill above it with a permanent cross on it) but we did make the midday ceremony. It was held on the hill and included taking Christ down off the cross, putting him on a stretcher and then processing him around the town. There were then further processions later in the day, but, instead we went to our village misa (mass). At mass, the priest uncovered the crucifix a bit at a time (it had a purple cloth on it) and then people could go up and kiss it. We then had a procession around the village. Village girls, dressed in black and with special veils on, carried a miniature Virgin Mary, followed by men carrying a huge cross with Jesus on it, then a huge statue of the weeping Virgin Mary was carried. We stopped at various point around the village for the band to play. It was wonderful to take part in it.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Thank you for sharing that Claire, it sounds beautiful and moving. I was looking at your pictures from last year on the Tudor Society, very emotional. Thanks for sharing. Very kind of you. Hope you all have a good Easter.

      2. Sara says:

        I can picture all you describe, and only wish I could find a church that did that here in the states. I am protestant, but honestly feel that we aren’t that much different when it comes to the basic Christian principles and beliefs. I may be wrong, it’s just my personal observation over the years. I grew up in a predominantly Catholic and Jewish city 5 miles outside Boston proper and visited Catholic churches and a synagogue with friends.

    2. Roland H. says:

      At my Anglo-Catholic church where I serve as an acolyte, we still ‘creep’ to the Cross following the traditionalist Roman Catholic practice.

      After it’s unveiled by the priest, the Crucifix is placed upon a purple pillow. We take off our shoes in penitence, and we genuflect 3 times as we approach to venerate.

  5. Christine says:

    I think its lovely that some old European countries still have festivals and some date back hundreds of years, I witnessed a wedding in Spain once and the wedding party spilled out onto the street, it was lovely to watch, in Italy too they have festivals celebrating this and that, not particularly holy ones, but it must give you a sense of being involved in something so wonderful and exciting.

    1. Sara says:

      I so agree with you! Over the years we have lost some of our traditions that involve much pomp and circumstance . I think those ceremonies would be very inspirational.

  6. Nancy Smith says:

    Hi, Claire. I can’t believe that it’s less than 2 months since the Anne Boleyn Experience. Are any of the old group coming along on this trip? The reason for this email is that I was wondering if any one was going to bring along their Tudor dresses and dress up the night that we eat in the castle dining room. I have 3 that I haven’t worn yet (a burgundy dress, a brown and gold dress and a black and white dress) and I’d like to bring one of them with me. On a sad note, I had to have little Anne Boo-Lynne put to sleep on September 8 (the day before I left for England last year). She had cancer, an over active thyroid, and trouble standing on her hind legs. The vet said that while we could keep her alive we were fighting a losing battle with all of things that were wrong with her. She was a nice little cat and I miss her. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing you on May 16 for the tour! See you then!

    1. Banditqueen says:

      Sad to hear about the loss of your little cat, Nancy, it is so sad when a pet dies or has to go to sleep, as they are very much part of the family. I still miss my pussy who passed a few years ago, but I say goodbye every night in the garden where she is. They are so loving and entertaining and good to be around. So very sad for you.

      Hope you enjoy the Anne Boleyn experience.

    2. Claire says:

      Hi Nancy,
      Time is flying! I’m so looking forward to it!
      Philippa has done all the organising but I think that there are three or so people from previous tours. I’m not sure whether any of them are taking dresses. I’m not taking mine as I won’t have room in my case but do feel free to bring yours as you always looked fabulous.

      Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that. I know just how that feels and it’s awful. Love to you xx

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