'Antichrist', wrote William Tyndale in 1528, 'is not an outward thyng, that is to say a man that should sode[n]ly appeare with wonders as our fathers talked of him. No, verely, for Antichrist is a spirituall thing. And this is as much to say as agaynst Christ, ye one that preacheth against Christ.' 1 This description of Antichrist marked a departure from the traditional mediaeval legend, which was based upon the prophecy of a single future figure of evil. 2 The image of Antichrist as a permanent and spiritual presence in the world was to become a central feature of English Protestant polemic, and one that was to exert a powerful influence over the interpretation of the history of the church. Antichrist was not an individual yet to come, but a spiritual force of evil which was already active in the world, and recognizable in the events of the past. In the polemical debate over the authority of Scripture and tradition, both sides were in agreement that truth was to be identified with antiquity, with the result that innovation was by definition error. 3 For Protestant polemicists, however, antiquity was not enough to confirm that the doctrines of the Catholic church were the faith of the true church. Truth and error could be identified only by reference to the Bible, the embodiment of the unchanging divine will. It was not history that engendered right 116understanding of Scripture, but Scripture that offered the means of interpreting the past. In the words of John Bale, 'yet is the text a light to ye cronicles & not the cronicles to the texte'. 4