Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tremellius, John Immanuel
TREMELLIUS, JOHN IMMANUEL (1510–1580), Hebraist, son of a Jew of Ferrara, was born in that city in 1510. Between 1530 and 1540 he pursued classical studies at the university of Padua, where he made the acquaintance of Alexander Farnese, afterwards Paul III. He was converted to Christianity about 1540 chiefly through the persuasions of Cardinal Reginald Pole, who stood his godfather. In the following year, while teacher of Hebrew at the monastic school at Lucca, the persuasions of the prior, Peter Martyr [see Vermigli, Pietro Martire], led him to embrace protestant opinions. On the publication of the papal bull of 21 July 1542 introducing the inquisition into Lucca, Tremellius left Italy in company with Martyr and proceeded to Strassburg, where, at the end of the year, he commenced to teach Hebrew in the school of Johann Sturm. At a later date he also obtained a prebend in Strassburg Cathedral (Nasmith, Catalogue of Corpus Christi College MSS. p. 112). The conclusion of the war of Schmalkald, disastrous to German protestantism, drove Tremellius to seek a refuge in England. In November 1547, on the invitation of Archbishop Cranmer, he and Peter Martyr took up their abode at Lambeth Palace. At the end of 1549 he succeeded Paul Fagius as ‘king's reader of Hebrew’ at the university of Cambridge, and on 24 Oct. 1552 he obtained a prebend in the diocese of Carlisle (Strype, Eccles. Memorials, 1822, II. i. 323, 324, ii. 53; cf. Lansdowne MS. ii. 70). He lived in much friendship with Matthew Parker and Cranmer, and stood godfather to Parker's son (Strype, Life of Parker, 1821, i. 59). On the death of Edward VI he retired from England, and, after visiting Strassburg, Bern, Lausanne, and Geneva, at the end of 1555 he was appointed tutor to the young children of Wolfgang, duke of Zweibrücken or Deux-Ponts, a post which he exchanged on 1 Jan. 1559 for that of head of the gymnasium at Hornbach. In the following year Wolfgang, who had embraced Lutheranism, took umbrage at Tremellius's Calvinistic opinions, deprived him of his post, and sent him to prison. On his release in 1560 he proceeded to Metz, and during that and the beginning of the next year was employed in negotiations between the French and German protestants. On 4 March 1561 he was appointed by Frederic III, count palatine, himself a Calvinist, professor of Old Testament studies at the university of Heidelberg. After receiving the degree of doctor of theology he was enrolled a member of the senatus on 9 July. About 1565, while the university was closed on account of the plague, he paid a visit of some duration to England as an envoy of the elector, and resided with Parker for nearly six months (Cabala sive Scrinia Sacra, 1591, p. 126; Corresp. of Matthew Parker, Parker Soc. pp. 332–3). The elector Frederic died in 1576, and his successor, Louis VI, being a strong Lutheran, expelled Tremellius from Heidelberg, depriving him of his post in the university on 5 Dec. 1577. He sought an asylum in Metz, and ultimately was employed by Henri La Tour d'Auvergne, duc de Bouillon, to teach Hebrew at his newly founded college at Sedan. He died in that town on 9 Oct. 1580, his will being dated 31 July of that year. In October 1554 he married a widow named Elizabeth, an inhabitant of Metz, by whom he had two daughters and a son.
The great work of Tremellius was the translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Syriac into Latin, accomplished during his residence at Metz. Although his version was far from faultless, it evinced very thorough scholarship, and for long, both in England and on the continent, was adopted by the reformers as the most accurate Latin rendering. With some alterations it even received the sanction of the universities of Douai and Louvain. Tremellius was assisted in his task by Franciscus Junius or Du Jon, but the latter's share in the work was limited to translating the Apocrypha. In 1569 Tremellius published a folio edition of the New Testament at Geneva, containing the Syriac text and a Latin translation in parallel columns. This was followed between 1575 and 1579 by the issue at Frankfurt of a Latin translation of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha in five parts. They were reprinted in quarto at London in 1579–80 with the Latin rendering of the New Testament of 1569 as a sixth part. Numerous later editions appeared both in London and abroad. In London the Old Testament and Apocrypha were published in quarto in 1581 and in 1585 with Beza's version of the New Testament. A folio edition followed in 1592–3 and a duodecimo in 1640. In 1585 a quarto edition of the New Testament was issued containing the translations of Tremellius and Beza in parallel columns. A separate edition of the Psalms was printed in 1580, 16mo.
Besides his translation of the Bible, Tremellius published: 1. ‘Catechismus Hebraice et Græce,’ Paris, 1551, 8vo: a translation into Hebrew of Calvin's Catechism; this was reissued as ‘Liber Institutionis Electorum Domini,’ Paris, 1554, 8vo; and an edition was published at Leyden with the further title ‘Catechesis sive Prima Institutio aut Rudimenta Religionis Christianæ Hebr. Græce et Latine explicata,’ 1591, 8vo. 2. ‘In Hoseam prophetam Interpretatio et Enarratio I. Tremellii,’ Heidelberg, 1563, 4to. 3. ‘Grammatica Chaldæa et Syra,’ Paris, 1569; published both separately in octavo and with his New Testament in folio, and dedicated to Parker. On account of the dedication his name was included in the ‘Index Expurgatorius.’ 4. ‘Immanuelis Tremellii Specularius,’ Neustadt-an-der-Hart, 1581, 4to. He also edited Bucer's ‘Commentaria in Ephesios’ (Basle, 1562, fol.), and wrote a Hebrew letter prefixed to the ‘Rudimenta Hebraicæ Linguæ’ of Anthony Rodolph Chevallier [q. v.], Geneva, 1567, 4to. A manuscript copy of Tremellius's ‘Epistolæ D. Pauli ad Galatas et ad Ephesios ex Syriaca lingua in Latinam conversæ’ is preserved at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[Becker's Immanuel Tremellius, 1890 (Berlin Institutum Judaicum, Schriften No. 8); F. Butters's E. Tremellius, eine Lebenskizze, 1868; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 425–7; Tiraboschi's Storia della Letteratura Italiana, 1824, vii. 1583–1584; Adamus's Vitæ Theol. Exterorum principum, 1618, p. 142; Tanner's Bibliotheca Britannico-Hibernica; Gerdes's Specimen Italiæ Reformatæ, 1765, pp. 341–3; Fuller's Abel Redevivus, ed. Nichols, 1867, ii. 45–6; Ames's Typogr. Antiq., ed. Herbert, pp. 1058, 1059, 1071; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iv. 22; Corresp. of Matthew Parker (Parker Soc.), p. 332; Junius's Opera Theol. 1593, ii. 1789–1806; Nouvelle Biogr. Générale, 1856; Historia Bibliothecæ Fabricianæ, 1719, iii. 323–34; Saxe's Onomasticon Literarium, 1780, iii. 326; Freher's Theatrum Virorum Eruditione Clarorum, i. 248; Blount's Censura celebriorum Authorum, 1710, pp. 723–5; Nicéron's Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire des Hommes illustres, 1739, xl. 102–7.]