David Daniell: The First Tyndale Forum And What Followed

On the evening of Sunday 24 April 1994 a ceremony during Evensong in the Chapel of Hertford College Oxford marked the unveiling of the Tyndale window. This splendid stained glass memorial had belonged to the Bible Society at their London address since the nineteenth century, and when the Society left London, Hertford College was able to raise donations to acquire it. The unveiling, and accompanying sermon, were by the Bishop of Oxford.

At three o'clock that afternoon, in the Old Library at Hertford, an Open Forum met under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Pickering. An invitation had been sent through the Quincentenary Trust Newsletter to anyone who might be interested. Present were Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman, Principal of Hertford College; Mr Anthony Smith, President of Magdalen College; Baroness James of Holland Park; Professor Gerald Hammond of the University of Manchester; Professor David Daniell of the University of London; Professor R.E. Asher of the University of Edinburgh; Professor Anne Hudson, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford; Professor John Day, St Olaf College, Minnesota; Canon John Oates of St Bride's, Fleet Street; Canon Bill Andrew of the Bible Society; Dr Joseph Bettey, University of Bristol; Dr Peter Newman Brooks, Robinson College, Cambridge; Mrs Gillian Graham, Hon. sec. to the Trust; Miss Joan Johnson, historian; Mr John Barnett. playwright; Mrs Dorothy Daniell; Miss Rochelle Givoni; Mrs Priscilla Frost of Oxford Conference Management; Miss Sue Thurgood; Mr Peter Baker, Bursar, Hertford College; Mr Graham Hall of Timeline Heritage Tours, and Mrs Marion Hall.

An account of the proceedings by Mrs Gillian Graham was circulated with the following Quincentenary Trust Newsletter. In brief, the aim of the Forum was to consider the formation of a Tyndale Society, with a Tyndale Journal; the founding of a Tyndale Research Fellowship; the subsidy of Tyndale facsimiles; the promotion of a regular Tyndale Conference; 'and finally, and crucially, the matter of fundraising for all these projects'.

Out of the Forum came the formation of the Tyndale Society, with Professor Daniell as Chairman, Mrs Priscilla Frost as Secretary, and Miss Rochelle Givoni as assisting with financial administration, to take effect immediately after the Quincentenary year. It was agreed to establish a Journal [now Reformation] with Professor Gerald Hammond as editor; to establish an annual Tyndale Lecture; to be committed to future biennial conferences, and to fundraising, particularly with the aim of founding research posts.

The Oxford International Tyndale Conference was held 5 - 10 September 1994 at Hertford and Magdalen Colleges. Over 120 people from 12 countries heard 12 major lectures and 24 shorter papers. The Conference included a service of thanksgiving for the life of William Tyndale in the Chapel of Hertford College, a visit to Little Sodbury Manor and to North Nibley to attend John Barnett's play The Ploughboy's Story, and a panel discussion on translating the Bible. The final plenary session of the Conference, on the afternoon of Friday 9th September 1994, attended by over 100 delegates, constituted the second Open Forum. Matters discussed included the need for the Society to have an international body of Governors: the breadth of interest the Journal would represent; the possibility of a modern critical edition of Tyndale's Bible translations; and whether Conferences should be triennial or biennial. It was agreed that in the years without a Conference, the Society should organise whole-day events. After discussion of where Conferences should be held, Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman said, to applause, that Hertford College would always he glad to be host.

Before, and throughout, the Quincentenary year, Mrs Gillian Graham achieved miracles in collecting information about so many events, across the UK and in other countries, and circulating regular newsletters. At the end of the year. her mailing list numbered over 2,000 names. Tribute must be paid to her for her extraordinary achievement in this work. The British Library's special Tyndale exhibition, 'Let There Be Light', which opened on the 27th September 1994, had a total of over 40,000 visitors before it closed on 19th February 1995.

The Tyndale Society was formally inaugurated at a reception hosted by the British Library, in and around the 'Let There Be Light' exhibition, on the evening of Tuesday 31 January 1995, in the presence of 130 supporters. Sir Anthony Kenny, Chairman of the British Library Board, declared the Society to be in existence, and Professor David Daniell read messages from the Archbishop of Canterbury; from Lord Runcie, Dame Veronica Wedgwood and Baroness James, Patrons of the Trust; from Lord Coggan, and the Rt. Hon. Enoch Powell, MP; from Canon John Oates, St Bride's Fleet Street; from Professor Jean Aitchison, Oxford; from the Catholic University of Leuven (Guido Latré), the English Church in Geneva (Valerie Offord), and the Institute for Basic Epistemological Research at Paderborn in Germany (Professor Carsten Peter Thiede), and from Borken-Gemen in Germany (Hans-Jorg Modlmayr); from Berkeley California (Dr Anne Richardson), from the Catholic University of America, Washington DC (Sister Anne O'Donnell); St Olaf College, Minnesota (Professor John Day) and the University of Wisconsin (Professor Andrew Maclean); from the University of Western Ontario (Professor Peter Auksi); from the Victoria University of Wellington, N.Z. (Professor David Norton) and from the Baptist Theological College of Western Australia (Dr Richard K. Moore); from Tokai University, Japan (Professor Mokoto Noda); and from the Arise and Shine Evangelistic Association, Pensacola. Philippines (Dr Dirk Wood). A special greeting was treasured from Africa, from Dr V.S. Carrington ('Tony') Tyndale, descendant of William Tyndale's brother Edward.

Professor Daniell outlined some future events which the Society is arranging: continuation of the successful British Museum lectures on other premises; the next Oxford Conference, 2 - 7 September 1996; fundraising events in the House of Lords, the Jerusalem Chamber and in Gloucestershire: lectures on translating the Bible by Dr. Michael Weitzman and others; a possible exhibition in Stationers' Hall in July; development of the audio and visual material; developments of the language work: and events in Gloucestershire. where Tyndale is the focus of the county's cultural events in 1995. He appealed for 1,000 members in 1995.

Tribute must be paid to the foresight and enterprise of the Director, John Nicoll, and editor and designer, Gillian Malpass, at Yale University Press, Hampstead, London. As far back as 1987, they commissioned the modern-spelling edition of Tyndale's 1534 New Testament. The success of this led to the commissioning of Tyndale's Old Testament, and then the biography by David Daniell. There is an important sense in which their imaginative commitment made a base on which so much work that followed could be built.

Valid XHTML 1.0!