French Versions of the Holy Scriptures

French Versions Of The Holy Scriptures.

I. We may gather from the conciliar edicts prohibiting the use of translations of the sacred books in the vulgar tongue that such existed as early as the beginning of the 13th century (Acta Concil. Tolos. c. 14, ap. Mansi, 23:197; comp. those also of the Synod of Tarragona in 1234, and Beziers in 1246), and even as early as 1199, Pope Innocent III had heard that "evangelia, epistolas Pauli, moralia Job, et plures alios libros in Galileo sermone," were in use among the Albigenses (Epist. ed. Baluzej 1:432); but we are very much in the dark as to the character of these translations, or the source whence the emanated. Writers on the Waldensian Church assert the existence of translations in the Romance dialect possessed by that church anterior to the 12th century (Monastier, History of the

Vaumdois, page 73; Henderson, The Vaudois, page 248; Gilly, The Romaunt Version of the Gospel of St. John, etc., Lond. 1848); but the evidence on which this is advanced does not stand the test of a thorough scrutiny. In the Nobla Leyezon, which contains the religious belief of that church, there are several citations of Scripture, but there is no evidence that these are made from any extant version; and, at any rate, this work cannot be placed earlier than the end of the 12th or beginning of the 13th century (Hallam, Hist. of Literature, 1:26). Walter de Maies says that, during the pontificate of Alexander III (1159-1181), he was present at a synod at Rome where certain Waldensians presented to the pope a book written in the Gallic tongue, "in quo textus et glossa Psalterii plurimorumque, legis utriusque librorum continebatur" (De Nugis Cusial. page 64, Camden Society ad.; Usher, De Chr. Eccles. Success. in Opp. ed. Elrington, 2:244); but it is doubtful whether any part of this was in the vernacular except the gloss, which in a translation would be of little use. That Peter Valdo himself possessed a vernacular translation of the Scriptures has been asserted; but, when examined, this tradition resolves itself into the fact that he requested a grammarian, Stephanus de Ansa, to supply him with a translation of the Gospels and other books of the Bible, "et auctoritates sanctorum;" but whether it was a "textus cum glossa," or "sententia per titulos congregates," the witnesses leave uncertain. From what Reiner says (ap. Usher, 1.c.), "Cum esset [Valdus] aliquantulum literatus, Novi Testamenti textum docuit eos vulgariter," the presumption is that no vernacular version existed, but that Valdo in preaching translated for his hearers, i.e., probably gave them the glosses which Stephanus had collected for him. Trithemius, however, expressly says, "Libros sacrum scripturae maxime Novi Testamenti sibi in linguam Gallicam fecit transferri" (Ann. Hirsaugiens. ann. 1160, 1:442). The MSS. of the Waldensian versions preserved at Zurich, Grenoble, Dublin, and Paris are not of an earlier date than the 16th century, nor can the version they present claim any high antiquity. That vernacular versions of the N.T., and portions of the Old, existed among the so-called Sectaries of the south of France from an early period does not admit of doubt, but we are not in eicunietanceis to, say anything definite concerning them. Dr. Gilly (page 22) has called attention to the curious fact that an English ecclesiastic in 1345 disposed by will of a copy of the Romance Bible, "Bibulam (Bibliam?) in Romanam linguam translatam" (Publications of Surtees Soc. for 1836, 2:10). In the library of the Academie des Arts at Lyons there is a Codex containing the N.T. in Romance, to which is appended the liturgy of the Cathari, indicating its origin among them (Gieseler, Church Hist. 3:409). In the north of France also we have some clear traces of vernacular copies of the Scriptures. A translatian of the four books of Kings in the dialect of the north of France (langue d'Oil) has been, published (Paris, 1841, 4to) by M. Leroux de Lincy, who attributes it to the 12th century. M. Reuss has examined ands described in the Revue de Strasboury (4:1 sq.), a Codex preserved is the library of that city, which contains in the name dialect, somewhat varied, the Pentateuch, Josishum, and Judges, with the Glossa ordinaria et interlinearis, SEE GLOSS, and the rest of the historical books of the O.T., with the Psalter without the gloss. As respects the translation said to have been executed, cir. 250, for Louis IX, that of Du Vignier (cir. 1340), that of De Sy (1350), and that of Vaudetar (1372), we can say nothing more than that tradition asserts that such did once exist.

Of translations of parts of Scripture, chiefly the Psalters, into the more modern French, a large number exist in MS., of which a copious list is given by Le Long in his Bibliotheca Sacra. About the year 1380 a translation was undertaken by comimand of Charles V of France, by Raoul de Prailles, of which more than one copy exists. Le Long gives a description of a Codex containing it, with some extracts, by way of specimen, of the languages; and there is another MS. of it in the British Museum, of which a full description is given in the Bibliotheca Lansdowniana, page 284 sq. The version in these codices does not go beyond Proverbs.

II. Emerging from these obscurer regions of inquiry, we conce to those versions which have been printed, and of which it is possible to give a certain account.

1. That of Guiars des Moulins, an ecclesiastic of Picardy. Taking as his basis the Historia Scholastica of Peter Comestor, a digest of the Bible History with glosses, he freely translated this; adding a sketch of the history of Job, the Proverbs, and probably the other books ascribed to Solomon; substituting for (Comestor's history of the Maccabees a translation of this from the Vulgate, and in general conforming the whole more closely to the text of the Vulgate than Comestor had done. The Psalms, Prophets, and Epistles were not in the work as at first issued, and it is uncertain whether the Acts were not also omitted; all these, however, were added in later copies. Many MSS. of this work exist, the most important of which is at Jena. An edition of this Bible, as completed by different hands, was issued from the press by order of Charles VIII, about the year 1487, edited by the king's confessor, J. de Rely, and printed by Verard, Paris, 2 volumes, fol. Twelve editions of this, some at Paris and some at Lyons, appeared between 1487 and 1545. This is called La Grande Bible, to distinguish it from a work entitled La Bible pour les simples gens, which is a summary of the history of the O.T., and of which several undated editions have been examined. Previous to the edition of 1847, an edition of the N.T., of the same translation as that found in the completed works of Guiars, but not by Guiars himself, was printed at Lyons by Barth. Buyer, fol., and edited by two Augustinian monks, Julien Macho and Peter Farget: it is undated, but is referred to the year 1478, and justly claims to be the Editio Princeps of the French Scriptures.

2. In the year 1523 appeared at Paris, from the press of Simon de Colines, an anonymous translation of the N.T., which was often reprinted, and to which, in 1525, was added the Psalter, and in 1528 the rest of the O.T. (together 7 volumes, 8vo), the last portion being issued at Antwerp, in consequence of attempts on the part of the French clergy to prevent its appearance. Tradition ascribes this version to Jacqimes le Fevre d'Etaples, who had before this distinguished himself by a Latin tranlsation, of Paul's epistles, and by exegetical works on the Gospels and Epistles; and there is no reason to question the justice of the ascription. This version is made from the Vulgate, with slight variations in the N.T., where the author follows the Greek. The complete work appeared in one volume fol., at Antwerp, in 1530, and again from the same types in 1532. It was placed in the papal Index in 1546; but in 1550 it was reissued at Louvain in fol., edited by two priests, Nicolas de Leuze, and Franz van Larben, who corrected the style, and struck out all that savored of what they deemed heresy. Of this corrected version many editions have been issued.

3. The first French Protestant version was prepared by Pierre Robert Olivetan, a relation of Calvin, and was printed at Serrieresn, near Neufehatel, in Switzesland, in 1535, fol. Of this edition very few copies remain. It was reprinted at Geneva in 1540, at Lyons in 1541, and, with a few emsendations from the pen of Calvmin, again at Geneva in 1545. In 1551 a thoroughly revised edition, with the addition of some of the apocryphal books by Beza, and a new translation of the Psalms by Bude, was issued at Geneva. It has often been reprinted since. An edition for the use of the Vaudois, and for which they subscribed 1500 golden crowns, was printed at Neufchatel in 1556. This translation was made for the O.T. from the Latin version of Santes Pagninus, sand for the N.T. after the versions of Lefevre and Erasmus. In its first form it was very imperfect, and even after the revisal of Calvin, and the emendations of subsequent editors, it remainedhbehind the requirements of an authorized version.

4. To remedy the defects of Olivetan's version, and to produce one more suited to the wants of the age, the Venerable Company of Pastors at Geneva undertook a thorough revisal of the work, with the special aid of Beza, Goulart, Fay, etc., and under the editorial care of Cornelius Bertram. This appeared in 1588. In this revision, יהוָֹה, which in all the other Protestant versions is rendered by a word equivalent to Lord, is throughout translated L'Eternel. Revised editions have been issued by theVenerable Company in 1693, 1712, 1726, 1805, and of the N.T. in 1803; the last two very much modernized in style. This claims to be the most elegant of the French versions, but it is far from being an adequate rendering of the original.

5. The Bible of Diodati, Genesis 1644; of Desmarets, Amst. 1669; of Martin, Utr. (N.T.) 1696, (Bible) 1707, 2 volumes, fol.; of Roques, Basle, 1744; Osterwald, Amast. 1724; Neufch. 1744, are revisions of Olivetan's text undertaken by individuals. Of these, Osterwald's is the most thorough, and may be viewed as occupying the place in the French Protestant Church of an authorized version, though Martin's is the one most esteemed by the score orthodox of its members, while that of Desmarets is, sought by those who attach much value to fine paper and printing. A carefully revised edition of Osterwald's Bible, with parallels by the Reverend W. Mackenzie, has been issued by the French Bible Society, Paris, 1861.

6. Of avowedly new translations from the original by individuals may be mentioned that of Seb. Chastillon (Castalio), 2 volumes, fol., Basle, 1555, in which the translator aimed to impart classical elegance to the style, but which was universally regarded as neither conveying the just sense of the original, nor being in accordance with French idiom; that of Le Clerc, 2 volumes, 4to, Amst. 1703, in the interests of Arminianism; that of Le Cene, published after his death in 2 volumes, fol., Amst. 1741, deeply marked by Socinian leanings; and that of Beaessobre and L'Enfant, 2 volumes, 4to, Amst. 1718. This last is by much the best, and has been repeatedly reprinted. SEE BEAUSOSBRE.

7. Of Roman Catholic versions of the Bible, the first is that of Rene Benoist, a member of the theological faculty at Paris, which appeared in 1566. It was condemned by Pope Gregory XIII in 1575, and involved the author in much trouble because of its supposed Protestant leanings. It is, in fact, only a slightly altered transcript of the Geneva Bible. A revised edition, conformed to the Vulgate, was proposed and issued by the divines at Lsouvain. Four translations of the N.T. had appeared before this, viz. that of Claude Deville, 1613; that of Jaques Corbin, an advocate of Paris, 1643; that of Michel de Marolles, abbe of Villeloins, 1649; and in 1666 that of Denys Amelotte, a priest of the oratory, whose hatred of the Jansenists and desire to damage their version, then in the press prompted him to a work for which he was wholly unfit, and the blunders of which drew down on him the unsparing criticism of Richard Simon, a priest of his own order. Marolles had begun a translation of the O.T., but it was suppressed after the printing had proceeded as far as Leviticus 23. A translation of the N.T. by the theologians of Louvain appeared in 1686; of this only a few copies exist. All theses are made from the Vulgate. So also is the famous Jansenist translation begun by Antoine Lemaitre, and finished by his brother Isaac Louis Lemaitre de Sacy, aided by Antoine Arnauld, P. Nicole, etc. The N.T. was first published in 2 volumes, 8vo in 1667, and subsequently the O.T., nominally at Mons, but really at Amsterdam. It is variously styled the version of Mons, the version of Port Royal, but now commonly the version of De. Sacy. Many editions of it have appeared, with and without notes; the best is that of Fosse and Beaubrun, Par. 1682, 3 volumes, 8vo; a beautifully illustrated edition was issued at Paris in 1789- 1804, in 12 volumes, 8vo. It was with an edition of this version, altered so as to be more conformed to the Vulgate, that Quesnel published his Reflections, 1671-80. The translation of Calmet, in his Commentaire Litteral et Critique, Paris, 1724, may be also viewed as a revised edition of the Mons Bible. Antoine Godeaus, bishop of Grasse, published a translation made from the Vulgate, in 2 volume, 8vo, Paris, 1668. It holds a middle place between a literal version and a paraphrase. The translation of Nic. Legros was published anonymously at Cologne in 1739, and afterwards with his name in several editions. Of the N.T. a translation, from the pen of Richard Simon, appeared anonymously in 1702 at Trevoux. This version was charged by Bossuet with Socinian leanings, and was condemned by Cardinal de Noailles. Of the translation by Huren, 1702, and that by the Jesuits Bouhours, Tellier, and Bernier, between 1697 and 1703, it may suffice to make mention.

8. In our own day several versions of the Psalms have appeared in France. A translation of the whole Bible from the Vulgate, by Eugene Geronde, in 23 volumes, 8vo, appeared at Paris between 1820 and 1824. This has frequently been reprinted, and has excited much attention, some of the journals vehemently commending it, while by others it has been no less severely criticised. The latest appearance in this department is the translation of the Gospels by La Mennais, 1846, the style of which is admirable, but the notes appended to it are in the interest of Socialism. But the most important work of this kind is undoubtedly the translation from the Hebrew of the O.T. by S. Cahen, La Bible: Traduction Nouvelle avec l'Hebreu en regard, etc. Par. 1832-39, 18 volumes, 8vo. (Le Long, Bibliotheca Sacra; Simon, Hist. Crit. du N. Test. 54:2; Brisnet, Manuel de Libraire; Horne, Introduction, volume 2, part 2; Reuss, Gesch. des V.T. section 466, etc.; and in Herzog's Real-Encyklop. s.v. Romanische Bibelubers.; Darling, Encycl. Bibliogr. 2:99 sq.).

 
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