The French Bible: How it Revolutionized the Huguenot World
Before 1523, only clergymen and those few lucky enough to be literate in the classical languages had any hope of reading Scripture for themselves. Many were interested, but few pursued the idea, both because they did not know how and because the idea of laymen reading the Bible for themselves was viewed as dangerous. Those who might have gotten their hands on a Latin translation would have doubtless been just as lost in the words as if they were reading an ancient Greek manual on horse-grooming. When Protestant thought first swept through Europe, Latin-alone was no longer acceptable.
1523 was a revolutionary year, though, considering the speed and excitement with which the Reformation gained momentum, nearly every year in the sixteenth century might be considered such. This was the year when Martin Luther’s future wife Katharina von Bora fled convent life; when the words of Christ became available to the German people; when the first Lutheran martyrs were killed for believing in “faith alone.”
Suddenly, when a French Bible appears, the masses of French men and women who were open to Protestant thought were given a beautiful gift. No more were the words of Scripture a jumble. Instead they read: ‘Car c’est par la grâce que vous âtes sauvés, par le moyen de la foi. Et cela ne vient pas de vous, c’est le don de Dieu.’ (For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God). Protestant followers read this new French Bible voraciously. They interpreted. They memorized. They cherished. They thrived. And nothing could separate them from the love of Christ. Even death itself.
(c) 2012 Joyously Saved