I had a long chat this afternoon with my sister who is just back from Geneva. In between paragliding and hiking she slipped in a visit to the Museum of the Reformation in Geneva which opened in April 2005. One of the exhibits was about Louis Gaussen, the Swiss pastor, who, in 1840, so clearly articulated the Doctrine of Théopneustie, the doctrine that scripture is God-breathed.
Reading up on Gaussen I came upon an exemplary site on all the French translations of the Bible – La-Bible.net with an article on the history of Bible translation in French. Finally I am able to catch up a bit on the translations of the reformation in Suisse-Romande.
So here is Gaussen’s core teaching on the inspiration,
- Gaussen’s defense of the full and detailed inspiration of Scripture by God is one of the principal works on this subject by any Christian theologian. He advocates what has come to be called the “organic” view of inspiration, a word that unfortunately conveys little information to the reader’s mind. His view, based firmly and completely on Scripture itself, is that God not only controlled which words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs were to be set down as Scripture, but also controlled all human history so that at the exact time chosen, the author of those words would be properly prepared and available to write the words that God dictated to him. The result is an exact statement of God’s thoughts in human language, language perfectly adequate to express divine thoughts.
Reading up on Gaussen I came upon an exemplary site on all the French translations of the Bible – La-Bible.net with an article on the history of Bible translation in French. Finally I am able to catch up a bit on the translations of the reformation in Suisse-Romande. Here is a description of Gaussen’s Bible,
- Motivated by the conviction that the Scriptures communicate the very mind of God, a group of Piétistes Protestants set to work under the direction of Louis Gaussen then Louis Burnier. The translation principle is that of a concordance (cohérence) pushed to the extreme: each time that it can, the same Greek word is rendered by the same French word. Certain not very comprehensible passages, are not artificially illumined by a translation which would aim at glossing over the difficulties of the original text. Certain words, come into the language
What is fascinating is that while this work did not have a wide readership itself, it provided a foundation for a later Bible, the Louis Ségond Bible, which became a classic version. This Bible of Lausanne was not a revision, but a scholarly concordant Bible, not really fit for wide use but nevertheless a effort which contributed to later representation of the scriptures in French.
Let’s not forget that while translations have connections over time, there is also tremendous crossover between languages. Think of the connections between Luther and Tyndale, or Gaussen, Darby and Eberfelder, Bible translation stew. The Good News Bible that had so many international connections and many more.