(c. 1455-1536)
Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples, a Renaissance humanist dedicated to the pursuit of authenticity, blazed the trail that led from Renaissance to Reformation. His contemporaries, including Desiderius Erasmus,* Martin Luther,* and John Cal­vin,* praised him for his accurate translations of and commentaries on the text of the Bible.
Born in Etaples, France, Lefevre went to Paris as a student, graduated with a master of arts in theology, became an ordained priest, and then taught philos­ophy and mathematics at the College du Cardinal Lemoine until 1508. In his earnest pursuit of authenticity, which he located at the source, Lefevre fearlessly criticized scholars at the University of Paris for their complacent use of corrupt Aristotelian texts. To remedy the situation, Lefevre dedicated himself to pre­paring critical Latin translations of Aristotle's works in 1492.
His diligence as a scholar and teacher quickly earned Lefevre a reputation of being first among contemporary men of letters. It was a reputation reaffirmed not only by his translations, commentaries, and annotations of the Aristotelian corpus but by the prodigious number of carefully edited volumes he produced on mathematics, philosophy, the Hermetic writings, the works of Dionysius the Areopagite, and the texts of mystical authors like Ramon Lull, Jan van Ruys-broeck, and Nicholas of Cusa. As his career advanced, Lefevre became increas­ingly interested in biblical exegesis. In 1507 Lefevre published a critical edition of De fide orthodoxa (The Orthodox Faith) by John of Damascus, and in 1509 he argued for the primary of Scripture in his Quincuplex Psalterium (Fivefold Psalter). With its five different Latin versions, including Lefevre's own revision of the Vulgate, the Quincuplex Psalterium was a pioneering essay in textual criticism and practical hermeneutics.
For the remainder of his life, Lefevre expended tremendous energy writing scriptural commentaries and translating the Bible into French. He also encour­aged and directed the publication of numerous other scholarly projects devoted to the exposition and translation of the Scriptures. In spite of efforts by his adversaries at the Sorbonne to censure his ideas, Lefevre continued to strongly advocate a number of reforming doctrines, such as justification by faith and not works, that he had developed independently through intensive study of the Bible. Lefevre's rigorous scholasticism earned him many enemies, but the powerful patronage of Francois I* and Marguerite de Navarre* enabled him to live the remainder of his life, from 1526 onwards, free from political and religious per­secution.
P. E. Hughes, Lefevre: Pioneer of Ecclesiastical Renewal in France, 1984.
Whitney Leeson

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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