My Bible: David Daniell
Chair: Marion Cohen
In this session, David Daniell, biographer of William Tyndale, gave a highly entertaining introduction to how Hebrew entered the English Bible through the work of William Tyndale in the 16th century. Daniell, an unashamed admirer of the Tyndale Bible, demonstrated how Tyndale developed a dramatic and poetic translation that was at once faithful to the Hebrew original and, in the majesty of its language, actually added to its rhetorical power.
Dr Daniell, an expert on Shakespeare, Buchan and the English Bible, is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of London and an Honorary Fellow of two Oxford colleges. He curated the Tyndale exhibition held at the British Museum in 1994, marking the 400th anniversary of Tyndale’s birth. He is the author of a number of books, mainly on Shakespeare but also on the English Bible. He published a new edition of Tyndale’s Bible in 1989 and a biography of Tyndale in 1994 (both Yale University Press). His most recent book is The Bible in English (Yale University Press 2003).
“There have been several thousand translations into English of all or parts of the Bible in the last four, almost five, centuries. That is a figure that always staggers people. The Bible in English has been the world’s bestseller since the early 19th century and the qualities of that English should matter. Some of the translations are noble. Some of those 3,000 are trash. Some, even among the greatest sellers, with one of them topping 10 million though claiming to be from the original text, are fraudulent.”
“William Tyndale not only knew Hebrew, he loved Hebrew. He also loved English and he found that they went together wonderfully. He wrote passionately about that. But, before I come to it, let me give me an example of Tyndale at work. Where, in Genesis I, English people in church, and only in church, may have just caught, mumbled by the distant priest with his back to them, the words fiat lux et lux erat
, now Tyndale’s words, presently spoken down the church ringingly to their faces, were ‘Let there be light and there was light ’. Incidentally, we all see that phrase everywhere, every day.”
Experience the event as it happened:Transcripts