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AUGUST 6, 2019

France Branch Office Opens New Bible Museum

On July 25, 2019, a new Bible museum opened at the France branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses, located in the town of Louviers, approximately 100 kilometers (62 mi) from Paris. The museum theme is “The Divine Name and the Bible in French.”

An original copy of the 1535 Olivétan French Bible

The museum brings together many rare and important French-language Bibles. One of the most significant is an original copy of the 1535 Olivétan French Bible, also known as the “La Bible de Serrières.” The Olivétan is the first complete Protestant translation of the Bible in French. It is also the first French-language Bible to be translated from the original languages. It had a profound effect on later Bible translations, including the 1537 Matthew’s Bible in English, the Geneva Bible in English, and the Geneva Bible in French. Other rare original Bibles on display include a 1541 third edition of the Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples French Bible, the 1541 Latin Pentateuch and the 1545 Latin Bible produced by Paris printer Robert Estienne, and the 1557 French Bible by Lyon printer Jean de Tournes.

A 1541 Latin Pentateuch (top left) and a 1545 Latin Bible produced by Robert Estienne (bottom center); a 1557 French Bible by Jean de Tournes (top right). The arrows on the pages point to God’s name, Jehovah, in the Bible text

The Olivétan, the Latin Pentateuch and Latin Bible by Estienne, and the Jean de Tournes Bible all contain the divine name, Jehovah. These Bibles were originally donated to the Museum Department at the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Warwick, New York. They supplement the existing Bible collection of the France branch office.

Enrique Ford from the Museum Department comments: “This new Bible museum at our office in France tells the fascinating story of the Bible in the French language. It also draws attention to the undeniable place of God’s name, Jehovah, in the Bible. We continue to search for rare and interesting Bibles that we may display at our museums around the world.”