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The Bible in English: Its History and Influence [Hardcover]

David Daniell
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1, 2003 0300099304 978-0300099300 First Edition
The greatest of the earlier translators of the Bible into English, William Tyndale, died in 1536 as a martyr for his work. Immediately after him, however, translations proliferated: the Bible has now been translated into English from its original Greek and Hebrew more than 3000 times. This is the extraordinary story of the Bible in England from approximately the fourth century, and its later translation into English in Britain and America to the 21st century. Biblical scholar David Daniell charts the profound impact successive versions of the Bible have had on the people and communities that read them. He explains the work of major translators, the history of influential translations including Coverdale's, the Geneva Bibles and the King James Bible, and how greatly Americans have contributed in the late-20th century, especially after the American Revised Standard Version. Encompassing centuries of change - from a time when no-one except priests had knowledge of the Bible beyond traditional stories mixed with saints' lives, through later years when ordinary people were steeped in Biblical doctrine and language, to the present when popular knowledge of the Bible, we are told, has disappeared - this text reveals how the endeavour of translating the Bible into English has changed religious practice, the arts, society and even the English language itself.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"an enormous and exhilarating work of scholarship that sweeps through the centuries" Godfrey Smith, The Sunday Times "a fascinating and enlightening read... Because of Daniell's scholarship and freshness of approach, this book will be of interest to all students of English literature" Sidney Brichto, The Spectator" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David Daniell is Professor Emeritus of English at University College London. He is the editor of Tyndale's translations of the Bible, Tyndale's Old Testament (0 300 05211 1, [pound]30.00*) and Tyndale's New Testament (0 300 06580 9, [pound]10.95* pb.), and the author of William Tyndale: A Biography (0 300 06880 8, [pound]8.99* pb.).

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 962 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300099304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300099300
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A revolution in understanding the English language September 16, 2005
Format:Hardcover
Is it possible to recommend a book of almost a 1,000 pages? Can it be worthwhile to buy a book that long? Should anyone really read the whole thing?

Yes, yes, and no. I strongly recommend this book, because it literally contains revolutionary new information about the development of the English language, and about perhaps the greatest period of literary creativity in the history of English--roughly 1550 to 1650. David Daniell, a Shakespeare scholar by training, persuasively demonstrates how William Tyndale's translation of the New Testament from the original Greek into brilliantly vivid English, and half the Old Testament from Hebrew (all he could complete before he was strangled and burned at the stake), triggered a great burst of literary creativity (and political revolution) in England. Note that Tyndale was killed in 1536, a generation before Shakespeare's birth in 1564. During that period, Tyndale's translation was smuggled into England and provided the language, images and ideas for the brilliant generation of literary geniuses in the latter sixteenth century. In short, modern English was invented by the two Williams, Shakespeare and Tyndale. 99.9% of all educated people only understand the importance of Shakespeare--and he was actually the second William.

I've read Christopher de Hamel's "The Book: A History of the Bible", Benson Bobrick's "Wide as the Waters", and Alister McGrath's "In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Version". None of these books tell so clearly the story that Daniell has to tell. Daniell solves the old mystery of how a committee could produce such an excellent result as the KJV: by essentially plagiarising Tyndale. 90% of the KJV is taken from Tyndale's translations of the same passages.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books of all time January 31, 2006
Format:Hardcover
The Bible in English Its History and Influence, David Daniell's comprehensive work, is an exhaustively researched study about the difficult work of translation into the vernacular, for Britain and then America, from the fourth century to the present time. "If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the scripture than thou dost." Tyndale's famous words to an unknown clergyman were a vanguard of the Protestant Reformation and the reason for the drive to translate the Bible into English. Power to the ploughboy! He was to learn to read and understand scripture for himself; biblical literacy would not only empower his spiritual growth but his intellectual life as well, for once that ploughboy could read his Bible, he could read almost anything else. Literacy and the arts blossomed in the Reformation Era. Daniell painstakingly chronicles the major impact Bible translations have had on English speaking peoples, their culture, literacy, and language. His scholarly work spans the centuries: from a time when the priest only had knowledge of scripture, and the parishioner was patronized with a few traditional Bible stories and hagiography, through the Protestant Reformation when Biblical literacy was so widespread obscure scripture references peppered the popular literature of the day, to the present era when the average university student is unsure if a familiar phrase is from Shakespeare or the Bible.

David Daniell, a noted Shakespeare scholar, is Emeritus Professor of English, University College, London, as well as Honorary Fellow, Hertford and St.Catherine's, Oxford.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Those Who Truly Care March 29, 2004
Format:Hardcover
The size of this book will discourage many people from even picking it up, which is a shame. Christians in the United States purport to love the Bible, but an appallingly small number actually read it, fewer study it, and fewer still know its story. Daniell's fine book tells the compelling story of the translation of the testaments into the English language -- pointing out in detail how this process changes the very meaning of that being translated. His story offers a reality check on the uncritical allegiance many Christians have to scriptural infallibility. Everyone interested in truly understanding how the Bible came to be the number 1 best seller of all time should read this book. Uneven in some places, somewhat patronizing and arrogant in others, Daniell nonetheless provides a valuable introduction to the English Bible.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful work! November 13, 2004
Format:Hardcover
What I had thought would be a book I "ought to read" became a book I "had to read." Far from the dry, scholarly exposition I expected, Daniell writes in a clear, patient, conversational tone that made this book an excellent read.

In addition to his exhaustive research and clarity, the author is not afraid to stand up for his own personal beliefs (which are nearly always incontrovertible). Each of these little nuggets caused me to take a look at my own faith, which I found reinforced time and time again.

Daniell seems to have two causes - accuracy of translation and worship of the Almighty. When, occasionally, these two concepts come into conflict, it seems that Daniell would rather err on the side of majesty than clarity. I can't say that I totally disagree. In many attempts to make the Bible more accessible, translators (and paraphrasers) have made it less meaningful - have "cheapened" the majesty of God, if you will.

For not only recounting the history of the translation of the Bible into English, but by placing each version in a historical context (the chapter on Handel's "Messiah" is fascinating!), Daniell raised his work from the level of a reference work to that of a history that is well worth reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent History of the Bible in English
Mr. Daniell's history of the English Bible in English is an excellent read. Keeps your interest through out the book.
Published on June 27, 2010 by Jay D. Fry
3.0 out of 5 stars Use of secular term
On the third page of his introduction to The New Testament 1526 edition by William Tyndale, David Daniell uses the non-christian term, CE (Common Era) instead of the Christian... Read more
Published on September 20, 2009 by Miz B
5.0 out of 5 stars The best history of the English-language Bible I've read so far
This is a thick volume, as well it should be. It covers what the author states to be some 3,000 versions of the Bible in English, some 1,500 of which have been produced in the last... Read more
Published on May 3, 2006 by R. Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - not mixed with silly
This book reads like a documentary - so if that's not your cup of tea, it might be a hard read. I'm a good way through it and it's been interesting and informative so far. Read more
Published on October 22, 2004 by John Elway
3.0 out of 5 stars a mixture of interesting and silly
This book is worth reading for the subject, but if you are a Christian or an American (or both) the author can be tiresome. Read more
Published on January 7, 2004 by jennal24
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb work on a book that changed the world!
The bible in its different English language editions changed the world - from the Tyndale translation (written about by this author in his excellent earlier biography of Tyndale),... Read more
Published on October 18, 2003 by C. Catherwood
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