Translation of the Bible into French
Pierre Robert, also known as Olivétan, was born in Noyon around 1506 and was Calvin’s cousin. He studied in Orleans, and went to Strasbourg to study Hebrew with Bucer. He then dedicated himself to teaching.
In 1532, at the Chanforan synod (Vaudois valley of the Piedmont region), the Waldensians, under Guillaume Farel’s influence, decided to adhere to the Reformation. They also decided to publish a Bible in French. Farel gave Olivétan the responsibility of the translation. It took him two years to accomplish the task. This was the first time the original texts in Hebrew and Greek had been translated into French. [glossry_exclude]Works of such scholars as Lefèvre d’Étaples were of great help to Olivétan. His Bible was printed in Neufchatel in 1535 and the introduction was written by Calvin, at the time only 25 years old.
The apocryphal books were printed in this Bible but a note specified that “they were considered as legitimate neither by the Hebrews nor by the Church as a whole” (qu’ils ne sont point reçus ni tenus comme légitimes tant des hébreux que de toute l’Église).
- Olivétan, traducteur de la Bible, Colloque Olivétan, Éditions du Cerf, Paris, 1987
Pierre Valdo (1140-1217) and the Waldenses
Pierre Valdo started the Waldenses movement, which spread throughout southern Europe.
Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples (1450-1537)
Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples was a theologian who founded the “Cenacle of Meaux” and was the first to translate the Bible into French.
Jean Calvin (1509-1564)
A generation after Luther, the Frenchman Jean Calvin became the organiser of the Reformation : he organised the Church, shaped the doctrine and defined the role of the Church in state government.
Guillaume Farel (1489-1565)
Farel was the reformer of French-speaking Switzerland, precisely in the Neuchâtel area. He was a preacher but also an organiser and author of a liturgy in French.
Martin Bucer (1491-1551)
He was born in Alsace, was a humanist and tried all his life long to safeguard the unity of the Church.
16th century translations of the Bible into Latin and French
During the 16th century, numerous translations of the Bible were made into Latin and French.
Humanism and translations of the Bible into the vernacular
The 16th century was a turning point in the history of the Bible ; it was widely distributed due to the invention of printing. Humanism advocated a return to the original manuscripts in Greek or Latin for classical literature, and also to the original Hebrew or Greek texts for the Bible. As the Bible was translated into the vernacular, it became accessible to more and more people.
Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)
Zwingli, a pastor and theologian, based the Reformation on Bible study. In his opinion the Reformation comprised fighting social injustice.