|Birth Date:||Sun, Dec 31, 1673|
|Death Date:||Mon, Mar 02, 1744|
|Main places of activity:||
Barbeyrac was the foremost French translator of classical natural law treatises, such as those authored by Hugo Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf and Richard Cumberland. He also translated the religious works of John Tillotson from English.
He thouroughly considered all the editions of the volumes he translated before choosing his main source, and added several annotations and modifications in order to recontextualise the original texts. Besides being a widely appreciated cultural mediator, Barbeyrac directly engaged with the theoretical concepts he translated, creating new knowledge to be transmitted through his work, to the point of being defined an "activist translator, a political adjustor of his source" (Saunders).
Barbeyrac's translations can be seen as a cohesive intellectual project, where the liberal and latitudinarian moral theology of Tillotson constitutes the foundations of Barbeyrac's reinterpretation of the canonical texts of natural law. Strongly influenced by Locke, Barbeyrac reformulated Pufendorf's texts in order to purge them of Hobbes' negative judgement of human nature and moderate their original post-Westphalian and statist meaning. He thus furnished a reading that suited the context of the Huguenot diaspora of which he was part, reasserting his case for religious toleration. In so doing, Barbeyrac ideally combined Grotius and Pufendorf by minimising their differences in a conscious anti-Hobbesian attempt to conciliate Pufendorf's secularised natural law with sociability and individual liberty of conscience.
Barbeyrac's reading of natural law theories constituted a source of inspiration for modern republicanism and was widely influential during the American and French revolutions.
secondary bibliography references
P. Meylan, Jean Barbeyrac (1674–1744) et les débuts de l'enseignement du droit dans l'ancienne académie de Lausanne. Contribution à l'histoire du droit naturel, Lausanne, F. Rouge & Cie S. A. Librairie de l'Université, 1937.
T. Hochstrasser, "Conscience and reason: The natural law theory of Jean Barbeyrac",The Historical Journal, 36, n°2 (1993), pp. 289-308.
G. M. Labriola, Barbeyrac interprete di Pufendorf e Grozio: dalla costruzione della sovranità alla teoria della resistenza, Naples, Ed. Scientifica, 2003.
F. Lomonaco, 'Natural Right, Liberty of Conscience and "Summa potestas" in Jean Barbeyrac', in S. Pott, M. Muslow and L. Danneberg, eds., The Berlin Refuge, 1680-1780: Learning and Science in European Context, Brill, Leiden, 2003, pp. 137-152.
D. Saunders, The Natural Jurisprudence of Jean Barbeyrac: Translation as an Art of Political Adjustment, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 36, n°4 (2003), pp. 473-490.
G. P. Baldwin, 'The Translation of Political Theory in Early Modern Europe', in P. Burke and R. Po-chia Hsa, eds., Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 101-124 (esp. pp. 107, 120-123).
F. Palladini, Die Berliner Hugenotten und der Fall Barbeyrac. Orthodoxe und ‘Sozinianer’ im Refuge (1685-1720), Leiden, Brill, 2011.
M. Pälvärinne, 'Translating Grotius's De jure belli ac pacis: Courtin vs. Barbeyrac', Translation Studies, 5, n°1 (2012), pp. 33-47.
Id., 'Jean Barbeyrac, traducteur et homme de lettres', Unpublished PhD Thesis, Helsinki University, 2018.