The generations of the Bible are called “writers” of the new translation

Read and write with the Bible: A new translation of the Bible generations called “writers”.

University of Lorraine – Writing Laboratory
French University Institute

June 5, 6, 7, 2024

Deadline: May 15, 2023

The Bible, a new translation, published by Bayard Publications in 2001, represented an unprecedented work in French. Under the initiative of the Catholic writer and publisher Frederick Boyer, the translation of each biblical book was entrusted to a pair or even a trio of translators, a writer and a biblical scholar. The project manager’s ambition is, among other things, to break the lexical and stylistic habits of the French Bibles, as he explains in the introduction to this new translation: “Modern literary creativity requires us to abandon the ‘monolingual’ translations of the Bible. The French language, the homogeneity of genres and writings”. In principle, entrust the translation to pairs working in dialogue and constant negotiation: contrary to the criticisms made by Henri Meschonnic, it is not a matter of the writer rewriting the interpreter word for word in “literary” French.[1] – is motivated by two main reasons. Obviously, it is about justifying a new translation of the Bible in living French, as in the books that came out in 2000. But the multiplicity of translators and this creates the multiplicity of their styles. responds to the multiplicity of biblical books: no unifying principle is assumed for translation, neither formal (such as turning poetic books into free verse, poetic books into prose), nor lexical or semantic. As a result, a surprising object emerged in September 2001, a Bible unlike any other in its methods or results, accompanied by an energetic press campaign that provoked reactions, to say the least.[2]. But twenty years from now? Has this “Bible, a new translation” succeeded in establishing itself as a literary translation of the Bible? Did it change the reception of the Bible in French-speaking literary circles? What effects has the company had on the trajectory of the writers and biblical scholars who have collaborated with it? These are some of the directions our symposium would like to explore at the intersection of literary and stylistic studies, interpretation, and sociology of literature.

* What is the generation of participation in the work of “The Bible, a new translation” (now BNT) regarding the production of writers?

Does the work of the writers participating in BNT bear witness to the legacy of co-translational work in the writing itself? If so, what forms does this generation take? Thematic interest in the Bible? Redefining style? For example, the cases of Emmanuel Carrère and Jacques Roubaud testify to very different modalities: while each continues to devote part of his writings to the biblical universe kingdom Where Under the sun), Carrère examines the fate of the early Christians through fiction, while Roubaud incorporates Ecclesiastes’ thoughts into his questions and develops a constant search for the spatialization of poetry through the prism of biblical poetry. But Carrère also exhibits kingdom Mark’s style and dialogue with the commentator Hugues Cousin to his style, esp Rival.

By multiplying the examples, it will be a question to see how this contamination or feeding of the biblical style can occur in literary writing, which not only results from diligent reading of the Bible, but also . the exceptional fact of co-translational practice that requires a constant redefinition of the stylistic features of biblical texts.

* Twenty years after its first publication, what is the reception of BNT in academic and literary circles?

The reception of the BNT in the press and in Catholic circles led to excellent research by the sociologist Pierre Lassave in 2005 and 2006: it is not this side of the reception that concerns us with the fate of this translation. and literary circles, more than two decades after its publication. Has Frédéric Boyer’s ambitions to create a literary Bible been followed? Has this translation applied itself in the market, in classrooms as a reference literary translation? If it achieves some success, we nevertheless note that it is rarely used in the classroom, perhaps for the very reasons that make this translation a real case of translation: its differences with the translation habits of French Bibles make it a fascinating literary object. per se, but when it comes to reading biblical texts culturally, apart from the extreme moderns involved in understanding biblical intertextuality among, say, French writers.

* Has BNT allowed us to redefine what it means to translate the Bible?

The least advantage of BNT is that it does not cause real disruption in the habits and unthought of biblical translation: the need for backward compatibility in the bias of book-to-book translation diversity; sacred ecclesiastical vocabulary questioned (baptism, resurrection, faith, etc.); the use of classical French syntax, where both Hebrew and Greek respond to very different logics of language and style. This involves asking two questions:
– Are the innovations of BNT really innovations? Henri Meschonnic’s work on typographic white actually preceded him by a good two decades.
– what remains of BNT’s inventions after the surprise effect has passed? Did it corrupt the representatives of biblical scholars and create emulators?

We can also be interested in the blind spots of BNT: in some cases, for example, the lack of reflection on inclusive language, which is one of the points around innovations in biblical translation across the Atlantic.

Proposals for maximum one-page articles should be sent to and stephanie.bertrand@univ-lorraine by 15/05/2023, together with a bio-bibliography.

steering committee
Claire Placial (University of Lorraine)
Stephanie Bertrand (University of Lorraine)
Margaux Coquelle-Roëhm (Poitiers University)

Scientific committee
Stephanie Bertrand (University of Lorraine)
Pierre Lassave (CNRS/EHESS)
Jean-Jacques Lavoie (University of Quebec at Montreal)
Gilles Philippe (University of Lausanne)
Claire Placial (University of Lorraine)
Christelle Reggiani (Paris Sorbonne)

Writers and scholars who have confirmed their participation
Frederick Boyer
Olivier Cadiot
Jean Jacques Lavoie

Selected bibliography

BNT and its interpreters

The Bible, New TranslationParis / Montreal, Bayard / Médiaspaul, 2001.

Frederick Boyer, The Bible, our exileParis, POL, 2002.
Jacques Roubaud, Under the sun. the vanity of empty thingsParis, Bayard, 2004.
“Roubaud and Gohélet”, an interview with Philippe LanconSalvationSeptember 6, 2001.
Jacques Roubaud, “The Strangeness of the Text,” in New Ways of Interpretation. By reading Song of Songs, XIX Congress of the Catholic Association for the Study of the Bible (Toulouse, September 2001), collected studies under the direction of Jacques Nieuviarts and Pierre Deberge, Paris, Editions du Cerf, 2002.
Emmanuel Carrere, kingdomParis, POL, 2014.

in BNT

Anne-Marie Aitken, “The Bible is at risk of translation. Interview with Jacques Brault and André Myre”, Connections, No. 673, 2001, p. 28-31.
Jean-Marie Auwers, “The Bible Reconsidered. About the New Translation of the Bible” Leuven Theological Review, No. 32, 2001, p. 529-536.
Christian Boyer, “The New Bible Translation and Postmodernity,” religious, No. 31, 2005, p. 151-172.
Pierre Lassave, “The Tribulations of the Bible in the Media,” Archive of the Social Sciences of Religions, No. 134, April-June 2006, p. 9-35,
Pierre Lasave, The Bible: A Translation of the Covenants. Study of the literary eventParis, Harmattan, 2005.
Claire Placial, “The Bayard Bible Known as ‘Scribes’ (2001): Between the Construction of Literary Meaning and Interpretive Meaning”, From the wordn° 7, edited by Florence Lautel-Ribstein, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2019.
Sherry Simon, “And especially not the last … The Bible under the direction of Frédéric Boyer, translated by 48 commentators and writers, Bayard – Médiaspaul, 3186 pp.,” Spiral, No. 182, 2002, p. 6-7.


Chaudier Stéphane, “Has Echenoz (Really) Changed His Style? », Jollin-Bertocchi Sophie and Linarès Serge (eds.), Change the style. Evolutionary Writing in the 20th and 21st Centuries, Brill/Rodopi, “Mistitle”, 2019, p. 229-243.
Jollin-Bertocchi Sophie and Linarès Serge (eds.), Change the style. Evolutionary Writing in the 20th and 21st CenturiesBrill/Rodopi, “Mistitle”, 2019.
Philip Giles, Why does style change?Brussels, Les Impressions Nouvelles, “Reflections made”, 2021.

[1] To see Translation ethics and politics, Paris, Verdier, 2007, p. 31-32 and Misrepresentation of the Bible in philosophy, Paris, Bayard, 2004, p. 109-110
[2] Opinions in Catholic circles, if only to mention them, are very conflicting: Jean-Marie Ouersin (“The Bible Revisited. On the New Translation of the Bible”, Leuven Theological Review, 32, 2001, p. 529-536), notes the interest of corrupt translations, opposes the judgment of Paul-Marie Guillaume: “The Bayard Bible is a literary work, it is not a Christian Bible, much less a Catholic one” (” The “Bible Bayard” ”, Kephas, January- March 2002).These reactions are admirably summarized in The Troubles of the Bible in the Media by Pierre Lassave. Archive of the Social Sciences of Religions, No. 134, 2006, p. 9-35.

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