Bible translations into French

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Bible translations into French date back to the Medieval era. After a number of French Bible translations in the Middle Ages, the first printed translation of the Bible into French was the work of the French theologian Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples in 1530 in Antwerp, Duchy of Brabant, Habsburg Netherlands. This was substantially revised and improved in 1535 by Pierre Robert Olivétan. This Bible, in turn, became the basis of the first French Catholic Bible, published at Leuven in 1550, the work of Nicholas de Leuze and François de Larben. See also the Douay–Rheims Bible whose New Testament was published in 1582, and Old Testament, in two volumes, in 1609 and 1610 by the University of Douai. Finally, the Bible de Port-Royal, prepared by Antoine Lemaistre and his brother Louis Isaac Lemaistre, finished in 1695, achieved broad acceptance among both Catholics and Protestants. Jean-Frédéric Ostervald's version (1744) also enjoyed widespread popularity.

Among Catholics, the most notable contemporary French translation is La Bible de Jérusalem, available in English as The Jerusalem Bible, which appeared first in French in 1954 and was revised in 1973. This translation, and its concise footnotes and apparatus, has served as the basis for versions in many other languages besides French.

Many Francophone Protestants now use the Louis Segond version, which was finished in 1880, and revised substantially between 1975 and 1978. The Revised Louis Segond Bible is published by the American Bible Society. In 2007 the Geneva Bible Society published an updated edition of the Segond text called Segond 21. It is described by its sponsors as "L'original, avec les mots d'aujourd'hui"[1] ("the original, with today's words").

Another modern French Bible is the Bible du Semeur (Bible of the sower), finished in 1999. This is a more thought-for-thought translation than Segond's, and it uses a more contemporary language. It is published by Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society). Another similarly translated Bible which is used by French readers is the Bible en français courant, published in 1987 by the Alliance Biblique Universelle.

The chief Jewish version of the Hebrew Scriptures in French is La Bible du rabbinat français, which was finished in 1906 and was revised in 1966.

André Chouraqui has published a version designed for use by both Jews and Christians; though Jewish himself, he included the New Testament.

Jehovah's Witnesses have translated their Bible into French under the name La Bible.Traduction du monde nouveau (New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures); formerly it was called Les Saintes Écritures. Traduction du monde nouveau.[2]


Translation Genesis (Genèse) 1:1–3 John (Jean) 3:16
Louis Segond (LSG) Au commencement, Dieu créa les cieux et la terre. La terre était informe et vide: il y avait des ténèbres à la surface de l'abîme, et l'esprit de Dieu se mouvait au-dessus des eaux. Dieu dit: Que la lumière soit! Et la lumière fut. Car Dieu a tant aimé le monde qu'il a donné son Fils unique, afin que quiconque croit en lui ne périsse pas, mais qu'il ait la vie éternelle.
La Bible du Semeur (BDS) Au commencement, Dieu créa le ciel et la terre. Or, la terre était alors informe et vide. Les ténèbres couvraient l'abîme, et l'Esprit de Dieu planait au-dessus des eaux. Et Dieu dit alors: Que la lumière soit! Et la lumière fut. Oui, Dieu a tant aimé le monde qu'il a donné son Fils, son unique, pour que tous ceux qui placent leur confiance en lui échappent à la perdition et qu'ils aient la vie éternelle.
Bible en français courant (BFC) Au commencement Dieu créa le ciel et la terre. La terre était sans forme et vide, et l'obscurité couvrait l'océan primitif. Le souffle de Dieu se déplaçait à la surface de l'eau. Alors Dieu dit : « Que la lumière paraisse ! » et la lumière parut. Car Dieu a tellement aimé le monde qu'il a donné son Fils unique, afin que quiconque croit en lui ne soit pas perdu mais qu'il ait la vie éternelle.
La Bible (NWT) Au commencement, Dieu créa le ciel et la terre. La terre était informe et déserte, et l’obscurité couvrait les eaux; et la force agissante de Dieu se déplaçait au-dessus des eaux. Et Dieu dit : « Qu’il y ait de la lumière. » Et il y eut de la lumière. Car Dieu a tellement aimé le monde qu’il a donné son Fils unique, afin que tous ceux qui exercent la foi en lui ne soient pas détruits mais aient la vie éternelle.

Chronological list[edit]

The following list was translated from the French Wikipedia article Traductions de la Bible en français

Manuscript translations[edit]

Printed translations[edit]

15th century[edit]

  • 1476, Nouveau Testament. Printed by Barthélemy Buyer in Lyon, translated from the Vulgate.
  • 1487, Bible of Jean de Rély. Printed for the first time in Paris and reprinted at least ten times in the fifty years that followed. It is an illustrated Bible, published from a late manuscript of the Bible historiale of Guyart des Moulins.

16th century[edit]

  • 1523, Nouveau Testament by Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples
  • 1528, Ancien Testament by Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples. From the Vulgate, printed in Antwerp 1530, 1534, 1541. Revised by Nicolas de Leuze (Antwerp, 1548). This is the first complete translation of the Hebrew scriptures into French.
  • 1535, Bible d'Olivétan: first translation made from the original Hebrew and Greek It introduced the expression l'Éternel (the Eternal) to render the Tetragrammaton. Pierre Robert, called Olivétan, who was probably a cousin of John Calvin, wrote the Latin preface. The translation is accompanied by numerous scholarly notes. The New Testament follows the Textus Receptus.
  • 1543, Cinquante psaumes avec mélodies: anonymous translation of Psalms by Clément Marot.
  • 1551, Bible of Sebastian Castellion: translated from the Hebrew and Greek. Condemned by John Calvin.
  • 1560, Bible de Genève of Jean Calvin: follows the Bible d'Olivétan
  • 1588, Revision of the Bible de Genève by Theodore Beza and Corneille Bertram.
  • 1550‑1608, Bible de Louvain: essentially a revision of the Bible of Lefebvre d'Étaples.
  • 1566, traduction de René Benoist: from the Vulgate (Paris). Suspected of Calvinism, it caused numerous controversies.

17th century[edit]

18th century[edit]

  • 1702, New Testament of Richard Simon, an Oratorian who devoted his life to many works of exegesis and critical research on the Bible text. He was knowledgeable in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic (the language spoken by Christ), and traditional Jewish methods of exegesis.
  • 1707, La Sainte Bible by David Martin: revision of the Bible de Genève accompanied by notes. Available online at Martin 1707
  • 1741, Bible of Charles de Cène, a pastor and refugee in the Dutch Republic
  • 1736, revision of David Martin's bible by the pastor Pierre Roques
  • 1744, revision by Jean-Frédéric Osterwald of the Bible de Genève.

19th century[edit]

  • 1820–1824, Sainte Bible (traduction nouvelle), by Antoine Eugène Genoud (also known as the abbot of Genoude), Paris, Imprimerie royale.
  • 1831–1851, La Bible, Traduction Nouvelle by Samuel Cahen: Jewish Bible, Hebrew and French bilingual edition.
  • 1843, Sainte Bible by Jean Jacques Bourassé and Pierre Désiré Janvier, also called Bible de Tours, translated from the Vulgate. Published in 1866 in a deluxe version illustrated by Gustave Doré, re-edited in 1985 by Jean de Bonnot.
  • 1846, translation of the Gospels by Felicite Robert de Lamennais. It is this text that was read by, notably, Victor Hugo and Arthur Rimbaud.
  • 1847, Ancien Testament, H.-A. Perret-Gentil: in 2 volumes, following the Hebrew text
  • 1855, Revision of La Sainte Bible of David Martin
  • 1859, La Sainte Bible of John Nelson Darby (originator of dispensationalism): from the Greek and Hebrew. Darby also translated the Bible into English and German. Very literal.[3]
  • 1860, Ancien Testament by Lazare Wogue: with the collaboration of Ben Baruk de Crehange, or B. Mosse of Avignon
  • 1872, the Nouveau Testament by Jean-Hugues Oltramare: who has the distinction of giving in his notes all Greek variants in Nestle-Aland and weighing them
  • 1872, Ancien Testament by Pierre Giguet: translated from the Septuagint
  • 1873, La Sainte Bible by Jean Baptiste Glaire, commentary by F. Vigouroux: translated from the Vulgate
  • 1874, L'Ancien Testament by Louis Segond
  • 1877, Nouveau Testament selon la Vulgate : translated into French with notes by Jean Baptiste Glaire.
  • 1877. La Sainte Bible by Ostervald
  • 1880, Le Nouveau Testament and La Bible by Louis Segond : the original version is no longer readily available since it underwent a revision in 1910 (after the death of Louis Segond). The new version (Segond-1910) was (and still is) the most widely used by French Protestants[3]
  • 1881, Bible de Reus by Edouard Antoine Reus, inspired by German translations.
  • 1881, Sainte Bible by Antoine Arnaud, from the Vulgate, intended for seminarians
  • 1885, Ancien Testament by John Nelson Darby (originator of dispensationalism): from Hebrew and without scientific pretensions but with the desire to render the original language as literally as possible.[4]
  • 1886–1896, Bible rationaliste by Eugène Ledrain: from the Hebrew and Greek texts, Paris.
  • 1887, Les Saints Évangiles, traduction nouvelle: by Henri Lasserre. Received an imprimatur
  • 1899, L'Ancien et le Nouveau Testament with a French translation in the form of a paraphrase by R.P. de Carrières and commentary by Ménochius of the Jesuits
  • 1900, La Bible annotée translation and commentary of the Old Testament; collective work by a group of theologians in Neuchatel, under the direction of Frederic Godet (translation by Felix Bovet)

20th century[edit]

  • 1902, La Bible du Rabbinat by Zadoc Kahn, with numerous collaborators. Published as a bilingual Hebrew–French edition.
  • 1910. Bible Louis Segond.
  • 1923, Bible Crampon. Chart of liturgical readings from the Epistles and Gospels, maps and plans.
  • 1976, Traduction œcuménique de la Bible (TOB). Ecumenical Translation of the Bible by Catholics and Protestants.
  • 1978. Segond Révisée (Colombe) (SER)
  • 1995, Les Saintes Écritures. Traduction du monde nouveau. The Bible is based on English 1984 edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Produced and Published by Jehovah's Witnesses.[5]
  • 1996. Bible Ostervald. A revision of the Ostervald text, popular among francophone Protestants in the 19th century.
  • 1997, La Bible en Français Courant (FC). In 1982, the Universal Biblical Alliance published the first edition of the Bible in fluent French. Here is a new edition today with a carefully revised text.
  • 1998, La Bible de Jérusalem. French translation done under the leadership of the École biblique de Jérusalem seeking exegetical rigor as well as an elegant style. 1998 revised text with Imprimatur.
  • 1999, La Bible du Semeur.[6]

21st century[edit]

  • 2001, La Bible, by André Chouraqui. A translation which attempts to transcribe the play on words or the etymology of the words of Biblical languages.
  • 2002, La Nouvelle Bible Segond.
  • 2010, Traduction oecuménique de la Bible (TOB 2010). Ecumenical Translation of the Bible by Catholics and Protestants.
  • 2013, La Bible : traduction officielle liturgique coordinated by Father Henri Delhougne, O.S.B., with numerous collaborators.
  • 2017, Bible Parole de Vie (PDV). Word of Life version.
  • 2018, La Bible. Traduction du monde nouveau. The Bible is based from the English 2013 revision of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. This newly revised edition includes the use of more modern and understandable language, appendixes, and many more. Produced and Published by Jehovah's Witnesses.[7]
  • 2019, Nouvelle Français Courant (NFC), revision of the Bible en français courant

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Revised New World Translation Released in French". JW.ORG. 20 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Versions de la Bible en français". Alliance biblique française. March 2007.
  4. ^ Bible Darby, édition 1980, Éditions et publications chrétienne, préface, page V.
  5. ^ "La Bible française : histoire d'un combat". (in French). 12 August 1997. p. 18.
  6. ^, Copyright Information
  7. ^ "Caractéristiques de la Traduction du monde nouveau (édition révisée de 2018) | TMN". JW.ORG (in French). 20 July 2018. pp. 1850–1853.

Further reading[edit]

  • Delforge, Frédéric. La Bible en France et dans la Francophonie: histoire, traduction, diffusion. Paris: Publisud; Villiers-le-Bel, France: Société biblique française, 1991. ISBN 2-86600-465-5 (Publisud), ISBN 2-85300-916-5 (S.B.F.)

External links[edit]