Godfrey Rolles Driver

Godfrey Rolles Driver

Godfrey Rolles Driver CBE, FBA (20 August 1892 – 22 April 1975) was an English Orientalist noted for his studies of Semitic languages and Assyriology.[1]

Driver was born in Oxford, England, son of the noted English Bible scholar Samuel Rolles Driver, and educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford (1911-1915) where he won the Pusey and Ellerton and Senior Kennicott Hebrew Scholarships and the Gaisford Prize for Greek prose (1913) and for Greek verse (1916).

After serving in World War I, with tasks as varied as hospital work, postal censorship, and intelligence, in 1919, he was named Fellow and classical tutor in Magdalen College, Oxford. He remained at Oxford for his entire career, ultimately as Professor of Semitic Philology, and produced a steady stream of scholarly articles on subjects including vocabulary of the Old Testament, and words and texts in the Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Syriac languages.

He directed the translation of the Old Testament for the New English Bible from its inception in 1949, completed and first published in 1970.

Selected works

  • Letters of the first Babylonian dynasty, OECT III, 1925.
  • Studies in Cappadocian Tablets, Paris, 1927.
  • Semitic Writing: From Pictograph to Alphabet, 1948 (Schweich Lectures for 1944).
  • The Babylonian Laws, with J. C. Miles, Oxford, 1952-1955.
  • Aramaic Documents of the Fifth Century B.C., Oxford, 1954 (Abridged and Revised edition 1957).
  • Canaanite Myths and Legends, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1956.
  • The Judaean scrolls: The problem and a solution, Oxford: Blackwell, 1965.


  1. ^ J. A. Emerton, 'Driver, Sir Godfrey Rolles (1892–1975)'. In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.


  • D. J. Wiseman, "Obituary: Sir Godfrey Driver", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 160–163 (1976).

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