Olivetan [1503–1538]


Olivetan, which means “Midnight Oil,” was a nickname acquired because of his habit of studying late into the night. His real name was Pierre Robert, and he was Calvin’s cousin. According to Beza, Olivetan was the one who set the evangelical fires burning in Calvin’s heart.
Although they knew each other in Calvin’s hometown of Noyon, the cousins became more intimately acquainted while studying in Paris and Orleans. Already a Protestant, Olivetan aroused the suspicions of the authorities, and he was forced to flee to Bucer’s Strasbourg in 1528.
In 1532, the Waldensian Christians of Italy’s Piedmont area decided to join the Reformation. Olivetan visited the Waldensians and was commissioned to translate the Bible into French. When Calvin fled France and arrived in Basel in 1535, Olivetan was there placing the finishing touches on this pioneering work. Calvin may have assisted his cousin in the final phase of translating the New Testament. He did write a Latin and a French preface to the pioneering work, which clearly reflected, for the first time, his evangelical convictions.
From 1533 to 1535, Olivetan helped to win Geneva to the Reformation, that city where his younger cousin would spend the greater part of his life. Olivetan returned to Italy and the Waldensians where he died at the early age of 32. The cousins seem to have been rather close, for Olivetan left his library to Calvin.

Lefevre D’Etaples [ca. 1455–1536]

In his formative years, Calvin became aware of the native French reform movement, spearheaded by the great biblical scholar, Lefevre D’Etaples. Lefevre began an intensive study of the Bible and came to the conclusion that the Scriptures must be the sole source of authority. He ...

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