Hertford Tyndale Lecture

One of the principal aims of the Society is to rescue William Tyndale from centuries of neglect. No one could accuse Thomas More, however, of neglecting William Tyndale. Indeed, Tyndale exercised More to the extent of over half a million words in print. Yet, while More's attacks on Tyndale are now judged to be misrepresentation on a tabloid scale, it is important for paid-up Tyndalians to be reminded of (or, even, introduced to?) the context of More's theological standpoint. William Tyndale and Thomas More was the title of the lecture given by Sir Anthony Kenny, as the third annual Hertford Tyndale Lecture, on Friday 25th October 1996, in the Examination Schools in Oxford, and introduced by Sir Walter Bodmer, Principal of Hertford College.

Sir Anthony presented a wide ranging review of the doctrinal controversies surrounding the publications of Martin Luther and Thomas More. A close study then followed of several of the works of dispute that raged between More and Tyndale, including More's Dialogue Concerning Heresies (1529); Tyndale's An Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue (1531); and More's Confutation of Tyndale's Answer (1532). Sir Anthony charted the style and skill of More's invective, as well as discussing the more common charges of turgid verbosity. relentless digression and telling lies (Repetition, Deviation but, alas. no Hesitation). It also became clear from Sir Anthony's review of the texts that, on occasion. Tyndale and More were well matched in malice when doctrinal debate sank to sacrilegious squabbling. Work has begun (including the efforts of the Society) to encourage the study of Tyndale's translations, and Sir Anthony's lecture demonstrated that any understanding of Tyndale's non-translation works will require a careful approach to More's theological position.

The difficulties of balancing the subtleties of religious politics with those of language were further illustrated for us through Sir Anthony's own experience of translating sections of the New Jerusalem Bible from the French into English. Sir Anthony also explained some of the problems inherent in having many translators contributing to a single work. Sir Anthony's comparisons of quotations from different bible translations, including the New Jerusalem Bible, provided detailed examples of several of the theological and linguistic issues he had raised. We were also reminded of the need to be constantly alert to the complex choices that inevitably lie behind all bible translation, whether from the sixteenth or the twentieth centuries.

Sir Anthony Kenny's presence as speaker in Oxford was especially welcome, as it marked another measure of continuity for the Tyndale Society. It was during a Reception in January 1995 that Sir Anthony, then as Chairman of the British Library Board, announced the formal inauguration of the Society which was to build on the developments of the Quincentenary Trust. That event took place to the backdrop of Let There Be Light, the Tyndale exhibition which is now on tour in the United States.

The Hertford Lecture in Oxford was followed by drinks in the Old Hall at Hertford College, and dinner presided over by Sir Walter Bodmer. Once again, the Society extends our grateful thanks for the continued support and generous hospitality of Hertford College.

Rochelle Givoni

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