linguistic hero

I’m not very good at reading biographies: it’s not a genre that I’m very keen on.
Although having said that, any time I have read a biography in the past couple of years, I’ve been surprised at how much I did get out of it. More of that another time, maybe.

But one person who I really only learnt to admire through reading his biography was William Tyndale, the first person to translate the Old Testament and the New Testament directly from their original Hebrew and Greek into English. He was eventually (1536) betrayed and executed, but he left an amazing legacy. His biographer is David Daniell, and one of the people singing the praises of the book in the blurb or inside the front cover made a comment to the effect that his treatment of Tyndale left you respecting him, the biographer, nearly as much as the man biographed. He does seem to care about Tyndale, whether his person or his work, and in addition he has an enthusiasm for the skilful arrangement of words and ideas which can only come from an insight which I wish I shared. And which by that clumsy sentence I have shown myself not to share.

A snippet from Tyndale’s preface to his New Testament:

… ye see that two things are required to begin a Christian man. The first is a steadfast faith and trust in Almighty God, to obtain all the mercy that he hath promised us, through the deserving and merits of Christ’s blood only, without all respect to our own works. And the other is, that we forsake evil and turn to God, to keep his laws and to fight against ourselves and our corrupt nature perpetually, that we may do the will of God every day better and better.

It’s published by Yale University Press (also available from Amazon etc).

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