BEZA, Theodore

BEZA, Theodore
A French Protestant biblical scholar, Reformed diplomat, and theologian who served as a professor at John Calvin's* Geneva Academy from 1558 to 1595, Theodore Beza made major contributions to New Testament textual studies and was a creative formulator of Reformed doctrine. He produced a critical edition of the Greek New Testament text, further developed Calvin's doctrine of pre­destination, and became, after Calvin's death in 1564, his successor as leader of the Genevan church and of the Reformed movement.
Beza came from an old French Catholic family in Vezelay in Burgundy and while being educated under M. Melchior Wolmar, a Protestant, came into con­tact with John Calvin, who was a frequent visitor to his tutor. From 1535 to 1539 he studied law in Orleans in preparation for an ecclesiastical career. Mov­ing to Paris in 1540, he published some minor literary works and, after formally renouncing Roman Catholicism in 1548, moved to Geneva and married Claudine Denossos. In 1549 he was appointed professor of Greek at Lausanne and in 1558 accepted Calvin's offer of a professorship at the Geneva Academy. Despite his academic responsibilities, he remained active in the affairs of the French Reformed church, participating in the 1561 Poissy colloquy between Catholics and Huguenots, and in 1562, when civil war broke out, he sought help from German Protestant rulers. He participated in numerous theological controversies, on the nature of free will with Sebastian Castellio, against Laelius Socinus on the doctrine of the Trinity, and against Lutheran ubiquitarians on the nature of the Eucharist.
His first major theological work was De haereticis a civili magistratu puniendis (Heretics to Be Punished by the Civil Magistrate), written in 1554 to defend the actions of the Genevan magistrates in condemning Michael Servetus* to death by public burning for denying the doctrine of the Trinity. In 1559 he published a defense of Reformed beliefs in his Confession de la foi chrétienne (Confession of the Christian Faith), a confession that was swiftly translated into Latin (1560) and various European languages. As a result of ongoing disputes with the Lutherans on the nature of the Eucharist, Beza produced a series of apologetic works between 1559 and 1593 on the question of Christ's spiritual presence in the Sacrament. In 1574 his Du droit magistrats (The Right of Mag­istrates) argued, against accepted medieval political tradition, that subordinate government officials had the authority to depose a tyrannical ruler. However, his major academic contribution was in the field of biblical studies. His edition of the New Testament, first published in Latin with annotations in 1556 (with the Greek text included in the 1565 edition), went through five editions during his lifetime. Beza intended this edition to replace that produced by Desiderius Erasmus,* which he regarded as textually and doctrinally defective. Beza's New Testament text was based on the text produced by Henricus Stephanus (Henri Estienne) in 1550 and included variants from hitherto-unknown manuscripts such as the Codex Bezae. He also published an edition of the Psalms left in­complete by Clement Marot.* Beza's Scripture text was widely used in Europe and served as a primary source for the translators of the Authorized King James Version.
I. D. Backus, The Reformed Roots of the English New Testament: The Influence of Theodore Beza on the English New Testament, 1980. J. S. Bray, Theodore Beza's Doctrine of Predestination, 1975.
Iain S. Maclean

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

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  • Beza, Theodore — (1519 1605)    French Protestant reformer    Theodore Beza was born in Burgundy, France, in 1519. Beza was honored as a Latin poet and wit. His family secured him an income as a clergyman, but he had become sympathetic to Protestantism and… …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

  • Beza, Theodore — ▪ French theologian French  Théodore de Bèze   born June 24, 1519, Vézelay, France died October 13, 1605, Geneva, Switzerland  author, translator, educator, and theologian who assisted and later succeeded John Calvin (Calvin, John) as a leader of …   Universalium

  • Beza, Theodore — (1519–1605)    Theologian.    Beza was born in Vézelay, Burgundy. His family had intended him for the priesthood, but at the age of twenty nine he formally embraced Protestantism. At the invitation of John calvin, he became Professor of Greek at… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Beza, Théodore de — ► (1519 1605) Teólogo francés. Hombre de confianza de Calvino, le sucedió en 1564 al frente de la Iglesia calvinista. Es autor de una biografía de Calvino (1564) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • BEZA, THEODORE —    a French Protestant theologian, born in Burgundy, of good birth; professor of Greek at Lausanne; deputed from Germany to intercede for the Huguenots in France, persuaded the king of Navarre to favour the Protestants; settled in Geneva, became… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Beza, Theodore — (1519–1605). Swiss reformed theologian who succeeded John Calvin as leader in Geneva. He is remembered in biblical studies for having discovered a 5th cent. MS of the gospels and Acts (‘Codex Bezae’), which he presented in 1581 to the University… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • BEZA, Theodore — (1519 1605)    author of the first critical edition of the text of the NEW TESTAMENT and important CALVINIST theologian …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Beza — Beza, Théodore de …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Theodore Beza — (Théodore de Bèze or de Besze) (June 24, 1519 ndash; October 13, 1605) was a French Protestant Christian theologian and scholar who played an important role in the early Reformation. A member of the monarchomaque movement who opposed absolute… …   Wikipedia

  • Theodore de Beze — Théodore de Bèze Théodore de Bèze auch: Theodor von Beza (* 24. Juni 1519 in Vézelay, Burgund; † 13. Oktober 1605 in Genf) war ein Genfer Reformator französischer Herkunft. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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