Title page of Olivetan’s Bible
by Joshua Horn
This article was originally posted here. It is part of the series, blogging the Reformers.
Pierre Olivétan was born in France in 1506. He was three years older than his cousin and friend, John Calvin, the famous reformer in Geneva. He knew Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He was converted to Protestantism by Calvin. He was one of the first to bring the gospel to Geneva, and was expelled from the city along with William Feral and others. It was Feral who convinced him to translate the Bible into French. His translation was published in 1535, with a preface by Calvin. It was the first translation into French from the original languages. This translation was very influential in the Reformation. Olivétan died suddenly in 1538 at 32 years of age. Some said he died by poison, but this is probably not true. Calvin was very sad when he heard of his death. D’Aubigne said of Olivétan, “Pierre Robert Olivétan … was gifted with a solid mind, great perseverance in the discharge of his duties, unshaken fidelity to his confections, and a holy boldness when it became necessary to combat error.” 1
1 J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 2000) volume 1, book ii, p. 388