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Olivétan, Pierre Robert


Reformer and biblical scholar; b. Noyon, c. 1506; d. Ferarra, 1538. Olivétan was a relative of John Calvin, with whom he was associated at the University of Paris and in the publication of his French version of the Bible. A reformer, he fled from Paris to Orléans and in May of 1528 was studying Greek and Hebrew in Strassburg. He may have preceded Guillaume farel in teaching Reform doctrines in Geneva, but he was soon expelled (1532). At Neuchâtel he was employed by the sect of the waldenses in the Piedmont valley, for whom he prepared a French translation of the Bible. The work La Bible qui est toute la Saint Escriture appeared at Neuchâtel in June of 1535, with a preface by Calvin and a notable introduction by "the humble little translator," who lays the book at the feet of Christ's body, the Church. Calvin credits Olivétan with a lively and penetrating mind; E. Doumergue calls him for his eloquence and humor "un Rabelais évangelique"; H. Kunze pronounces him "a rationalist philologian." He used Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples's earlier translation with scholarly discretion.

Bibliography: É. doumergue, Jean Calvin, 7 v. (Lausanne 18991927) 1:117125. h. kunze, Die Bibelübersetzungen von Lefèvre d'Étaples und von P. R. Olivétan (Leipzig 1935). J. courvoisier, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 195765) 4:1627.

[j. t mcneill]

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