Français / French Bible History: updated 3/2/2016 Useful Resources
**List: French Ministry
"French is spoken by more than 50 million people in Europe, in-
cluding, besides the French, 4 million Walloons (the French
speakers of southern Belgium), and a million more in western
Switzerland, Monaco, the Channel Islands, and areas of Luxem-
bourg and Italy adjacent to France. At least 6 million Africans
speak French, one million in Algeria and the rest scattered
throughout the more than 20 African countries in which
French is the official language. In the New World, 4 million
French Canadians, 1 million in the United States, and others in
French Guiana and the Caribbean bring to a total of more
than 65 million the number to whom French is the mother
tongue. Although English has now ousted French from its
former position as the most favored international language,
a position maintained for three centuries, French remains a
language of considerable cultural prestige. Including its use in
French possessions and former colonies in Africa, southeast
Asia, Oceania, and areas of French cultural influence (e.g.
Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Near East, and Central and South
America), French may be known as a second or acquired
language by an additional 150 million people.
The oldest French documents date from the 9th century and
show the middle stages of the development of Gaulish vernacular
Latin into modern French. A number of Old French dialects
developed, many of which still prevail. (See French: Amiens
Picard.) However, the dominance of Parisian usage as the French
literary idiom has exerted a standardizing effect, and now
difficultly of communication is encountered only in the most
markedly rural areas of France. Other noteworthy forms of
French are the creolized tongues - Haitian, Dominican, and
Mauritius Creoles (q.v.) and the petit nègre of West Africa.
The history of the Bible in France begins long before the advent
of printing (introduced in France at Lyons about 1472). Although
translations had probably been made earlier, the oldest extant
manuscripts give 12th-century versions of the Psalms, Kings,
Revelation, and fragments of John. A few examples of the
Waldensian versions of that period, which caused great con-
sternation in the [RCC] Office of the Inquisition, still exist as well. In
the 13th century a translation of the complete Bible was made by
a company of translators in Paris.
However, a history of the French printed Bible must begin with
[traditionalists at Paris]. ...(as it was known,
although it was not a complete Bible) were published before the
middle of the 16th century.
The first printed French Bible was a product of the Renaissance
rather than the Ref.ation. It was prepared by the noted
humanist and scholar, Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples. On the basis of
the Bible Historiale, he completed a translation of the entire
Bible. His New Testament, published in 1523, was adjudged by
the French clergy to smack menacingly of Protestantism and,
although Lefèvre himself enjoyed the patronage and protection
of Francis I, his Bible had to be published in Antwerp. The first
product of the French Ref.ation was the Bible of Olivetan, a
modest but very competent scholar who was kinsman to John
Calvin Calvin himself wrote for it the Latin preface and an
introduction to the New Testament. He took a large part in
later revisions of the original Neuchâtel Bible of 1535. Another
of the revisions of Olivetan's version, brought out by Robert
Stephanus (Estienne) at Geneva in 1553, is the earliest entire
Bible to contain Stephanus' division of the text into chapters and
verses, a system still in use. These early French versions, and
manuscript and printed, are of particular interest to the English--- 1000 Tongues [Info only: Lefèvre's Bible was still Rom. Cat.]
speaking reader because of the close relation of the early
English court, nobility, and clergy to corresponding bodies in
northern France. It is known that manuscript Bibles in French
and Norman French circulated in England long before the in-
vention of printing. In fact, this influence may be said to last into
the 16th century, for Henry VIII's copy of Lefèvre's Bible (now
in the British Museum) has been shown to have contributed
much matter, in the shape of woodcuts, chapter headings, and
marginal notes, to the second English printed Bible, known as
"1535 Bible Wingle, Neuchâtel
Translated by Pierre Robert Olivetan, a cousin of Calvin. This was
the first French Protestant Bible. Olivetan personally revised the text
for editions of 1536 (N.T.) and 1540. A revision by Calvin appeared
in 1552. This was the first text to use R. Stephanus' division into
numbered verses."--1000 Tongues [Info only]
"1560 Bible H. Estienne, Geneva
The French Geneva Bible, a revision of Olivetan, either by Calvin
or under his direction. In 1588 an edition reworked by C. B. Bertram,
with the aid of Theodore de Bèze, was published. Numerous other re-
visions appeared during the 16th and 17th centuries."--1000 Tongues [Info only: 1669 Genève NT, http://www.nehemie.org/download2.php?f=bible_geneve_nt.pdf]
"1696 New Testament Halma, Utrecht
1707 Bible Desbordes, Amsterdam
A revision of the French Geneva Bible by David Martin, a French
Protestant minister who left France in 1685 and undertook the transla-
tion at the request of the Walloon Synod."--1000 Tongues [Info only: 1744 Martin Bible, http://www.nehemie.org/download2.php?f=bible_martin.pdf]
"1703 New Testament J. L. de Lorme, Amsterdam
Translated by Jean Le Clerc, Protestant professor at Remonstrant
Seminary."--1000 Tongues [Info only]
"1718 New Testament Amsterdam
Translated by Isaac de Beausobre and Jacques Lenfant, French
Protestant pastors who had taken refuge in Berlin."--1000 Tongues [Info only: Huguenots.]
"1724 Bible Amsterdam
Translated on the basis of the French Geneva Version, by Jean-
Frédéric Ostervald. A revision by the translators was published in 1744.
This popular Bible is still in use."--1000 Tongues [Info only: Ostervald Version 1909 Mark 1:2 o.k.]
"1839 New Testament 1861-1862 Old Testament
Translated by Louis Gaussen, Louis Burnier, and Henri de la Harpe.
The N.T. was a revision of Olivetan."--1000 Tongues [Info only]
"1842 New Testament 1848-1849 Bible Society for the
Promotion of Christian Knowledge, Paris
A revision by a committee, which included H. T. Luscombe and
A. J. Matter. The text relies heavily on Martin and Ostervald."--1000 Tongues [Info only]
"1858 New Testament Paris
Translated by Eugène Arnaud, Reformed pastor of Les Vans."--1000 Tongues [Info only]
**File: French--Other Bible History
"The French have a great history of Received Text Bibles,
including the Olivetan Bible and the Ostervald Bible.
There appear to be two Received Text French Bibles available
The David Martin French Bible was released in 1699. It was
based upon the Received Text and the English Geneva Bible
1588. An 1855 revision is available today. It can be obtained
from the Association of the Biblique International, Box 225646,
Dallas, Texas, 75222.
A 1996 revision of the Froussard edition of the Ostervald
edition of 1881 is in print today. It can be obtained from
Bearing Precious Seed-Milford and Bethel Baptist Church of
The 1996 revision was done by My. C. H. Boughman.
Both versions still need a final purification process.
Many Baptist mies. use the French Louis Segond
translation. This is far from being a reliable Received Text
translation. The Trinitarian Bible Society publishes a "revised"
Louis Segond--a few verses have been changed to reflect the
Received Text. According to a 2006 email from Paul Rowland,
the Trinitarian Bible Society is working on a revision of the
David Martin Bible comparing it with the King James Bible.
The web-site www.kingjamesfrancaise.com contains a
translation of the King James Bible into French. This
translation is not in print yet.
French Canadian my., Dr. Yvon Geoffrion is basing
most of his ministry working upon a new translation of the
Bible into French. He is a doctrinally sound fundamental
He is using a French translation done in the early 1800s as a
base. It was translated by 30 men over 40 years. It was the
product of an evangelical revival. It was printed in Lousanne,
Switzerland and is sometimes called the Lousanne Version.
The Dean Burgon Society is involved with a new French
Traditional Text Translation. H. D. Williams describes the
project this way.
"The DBS published 60 copies of the initial French edition for
Pastors Mario Monette and Serge Leclerc of Quebec. We
uploaded the French Bible for printing on 7/29/10. After
receiving the copies, they distributed them around the world to
competent appropriate French speaking individuals. We have
asked for a report related to the responses, issues, corrections,
etc. from the reviewers, but we have not received it to this date.
However, they have inquired recently about the cost of a
finished edition to be printed in Korea.
I might add that the French pastors visited in NJ with Dr. Waite--PS
prior to the DBS agreeing to publish the initial edition. At that
time a conference call was set up with Dr. Waite, myself, and
Daniel Waite. We quizzed the pastors for about 2-3 hours on
their theology, translation principles, proper texts, etc. We
reviewed how they handled many passages that had been
translated inappropriately in the past in various translations,
including many CT readings. Their answers were very
satisfactory and it seemed they had corrected the incorrect
passages in the Ostervald French Bible related to CT readings.""
"Le Nouveau Testament de notre Seigneur Jesus- Christ, traduit en francois sur l'original grec. Avec des notes literales, pour ‚clairir le text. Par. Mrs. de Beausobre et Lenfant. (Amsterdam, P. Humbert, 1741)"
http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008963400 [Info only: two Huguenot divines, Isaac de Beausobre (known for his groundbreaking Manichaean studies) and Jacques L'Enfant (chaplain to the Electress Dowager Palatine at Heidelberg, and a prolific historian);]
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