Olivetan, Pierre Robert
Olivetan, Pierre Robert a leader in the French Reformation; and one of the first translators of the Bible into French, was born at Noyon towards the end of the 15th century. We are told that it was he who, in advising Calvin, his relative, to examine into the questions then controverted, introduced him to the cause of the Reformation. Says Merle d'Aubigne, "Olivetan seems to have been the first who so presented the doctrine of the Gospel as to draw the attention of Calvin" (comp. Maimbourg, Histoire du Calvinisme, p. 53). Olivetan certainly was one of the first to spread the new religious doctrines in Geneva, where we find him in 1533. Once, hearing a preacher denounce Luther in the pulpit, Olivetan interrupted the speaker, and undertook to refute him, thus creating a disturbance which nearly cost him his life and led to his being banished from the territory of Geneva. He retired to Neufchatel, where he commenced his French translation of the Bible, probably at the suggestion of Farel. Olivetan, who was less thoroughly acquainted with Hebrew than is asserted by Beza, and not very proficient in Greek, made great use of the translation of Lefevre d'Etaples, just published at Antwerp; but he carefully compared that translation with the original texts, and interpreted some passages in a different manner. His French version appeared under the title of La Bible qui est toute la Sainte Ecriture (Neufchatel, 1535, 2 vols. fol.). This edition was published at the expense of the Waldenses, from a MS. said to have been written by Bonaventure des Perriers. A second edition, printed at Geneva, was corrected by Calvin, and thus Olivetan's labors became the foundation of the Genevan Bible. Olivetan, obliged to leave Switzerland, went to Italy, and died at Ferrara in 1538. It was rumored that he was poisoned at Rome during a short stay he made in that city. See Richard Simon Hist. crit. du Vieux Testament, p. 342; Lailouette, Hist. des Traductions Frang. de
l'ciriture Saiute, ch. ii; Senebier, Hist. Litter. de Geneve, 1:153; Haag, Lat France Protestante, s.v.; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 38:635; Merle D'Aubigne, Hist. of the Ref. 3:365 sq.; Brit. Qu. Rev. April, 1865, p. 420.