Lars Nilsen Dahle was a Norwegian Lutheran missionary and mission leader. Born in Hen, Romsdal, Dahle studied at a teachers’ college, at the Stavanger School of Mission, and at the University of Oslo (Christiania). In 1870 he was ordained and sent by the Norwegian Missionary Society (NMS) to Madagascar. He taught at the theological seminary in Antananarivo from 1871 to 1887 and was also superintendent of the mission from 1876 to 1887. He then became secretary general of the NMS and also taught at the Stavanger School of Mission until 1920. Dahle was learned and conservative and had a powerful personality. When he finished his 50 years of service, the NMS had become the largest missionary society in Scandinavia. Lord Balfour, speaking at the Edinburgh missionary conference in 1910, referred to Dahle as follows: “It seems to me, in summing up the lessons of this Report, the words of my Norwegian friend stand out as the quintessence of good sense and guidance.” At Antananarivo in 1877 Dahle published Specimens of Malagasy Folk-Lore, a collection of myths, proverbs, riddles and ballads. In 1893 he published a comprehensive eschatological study. Together with W. E. Cousins he completed a new translation of the Malagasy Bible. Dahle was named a Knight of the Order of St. Olav and was a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and of the Jena Wissenschaftgesellschaft.
Nils E. Bloch-Hoell
Lars Dahle, Tilbageblik paa mit liv (Memories), 3 vols. (1922-1923).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.