Is there any valid source for the claim that Voltaire' house has been used by the Bible Society? I heard this many times, but I've never read a valid source for it.


Apparently it is not true:

There is an apocryphal story that his home at Ferney was purchased by the Geneva Bible Society and used for printing Bibles, but this appears to be due to a misunderstanding of the 1849 annual report of the American Bible Society. Voltaire's chateau is now owned and administered by the French Ministry of Culture.

Source: Wikipedia

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    Dang, I thought it would be a day without wholly wikipedia sourced answers. Oh well +1, fearless and inventive.
    – Peter Turner
    Jan 18 '12 at 15:04
  • @PeterTurner: I did it from memory. :) Jan 18 '12 at 15:28
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    I've read that voltaire owne two houses. One in Geneva, one in France. The one in Geneva would be the one used by the Geneva Bible Society. Jan 19 '12 at 12:45
  • Some of the details may not be true, but there appears to a be a kernel of truth from which the story grew that you have not uncovered. Dec 18 '14 at 17:45
  • -1 That snippet of text is no longer in that Wikipedia article. CTRL+F it and see.
    – LCIII
    Dec 18 '14 at 18:08

While the exact details may not match the most popular versions of this story - the house being used (ie on an on-going basis) by an actual Bible Society - there is evidence of a kernel of truth from which this story came.

This evidence is found in the wikipedia article on Voltaire's* home in Geneva from 1755 - 1760 "Les Délices" (See in particular the paragraph:"After Voltaire"), which cites an article in reference to the question, by Rev. W. Acworth (1836) from "The Missionary Register." (mouseover reference 6 - which contains a clickable link to the full article in GoogleBooks.)

The article verifies some of the details used to the 'refute' the original story (that this home was never used or owned by a Bible Society per se and is currently being used as a museum dedicated to Voltaire's life and works). This source asserts that the home WAS owned by the President of the Evangelical society of Geneva and used during this period as a repository for Bibles:

I went through Geneva, and was much refreshed by meeting the Committee of the Evangelical Society ... The room where Voltaire's plays were acted ... had been converted into a sort of Repository for Bibles and Religious Tracts. - Rev. W. Acworth (1836). "Bible Notices in Switzerland and Italy". The Missionary Register (London: L & G Seeley) 24: 352

*a nom-de-plume; real name: François-Marie Arouet

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    You've found a good source - great! You're yet to write a good answer with it however - less about your search and more about what the actual supporting evidence is (as well as exactly what it supports). Dec 18 '14 at 17:38
  • bruised reed TKU! Will do...
    – Beagleburt
    Dec 18 '14 at 17:46
  • To be honest, I think there was still a little lacking in your answer after you'd tried editing it. I've taken the liberty of editing to include the relevant evidence (as in actually quoting it rather than just linking to it) and it's actual implications. If you think this editing is too extreme and you'd like to roll-back to your previous version (to either re-work or leave as it is) you can access a "Roll-back" option by clicking on the edit history to return it to it's previous version. Dec 19 '14 at 5:14

I don't think we can determine the truth about one of Voltaire's houses being used to print Bibles, only what sort of website considers it a fact. Here is a reference that quotes wiki and explains that there was a second house -- actually in Geneva. Feel free to believe or disbelieve this version, as you prefer, since this site doesn't have any references.

The Voltaire home that the 'Geneva Bible Society' purchased

was the house in 'Geneva, Switzerland;

NOT the one in Ferney, France.

In Geneva, he bought a large estate (Les Délices) and this is the one used to distribute Bibles.

It is not known if the Wikipedia statement is to "to deceive intentionally" or by ignorance. We would have to think they know the difference between the Homes in France and Switzerland.

FACT: The French Ministry of Culture operates the house in France!

FACT: The Geneva Bible Society operates the house in Geneva.


The following article, by a non-believer, is mentioned at the link above:

http://www.nzarh.org.nz/journal/2004v77n1aut.pdf (see toc for article about Voltaire's house)

This appears to be somewhat carefully researched, although I didn't check his references. If it is correct, none of Voltaire's houses were used by Bible societies. The article suggests the story may have originated due to a hotel Gibbon, from which many Bibles were sold, being mentioned in a book in the same sentence as Voltaire.

  • The same report that lists two houses says that Voltaire was driven out of Geneva by the Christian reformer Jean Calvin. That would be quite a trick since Calvin died decades before Voltaire was born. It does not aide the Truth to pass on false stories to make a true point.
    – user14689
    Aug 16 '14 at 20:32
  • @ken, thanks for the comment. The error you mentioned was within brackets and a quoted section, anyway, but I did look at the pdf file listed next to it. From that, I conclude the main point was probably NOT true.
    – Bit Chaser
    Aug 16 '14 at 22:43

Apparently, the house in Geneva was used for storage and distribution of Bibles. The house in Ferney, France was not used for storing or printing Bibles, but the presses of the nearby printers who printed his works while he lived there were used to print Bibles. That functions just as well for irony and poetic justice. Here are two links to articles that give the sources. https://crossexamined.org/voltaires-prediction-home-and-the-bible-society-truth-or-myth-further-evidence-of-verification/ also see this: https://bellatorchristi.com/2019/03/18/voltaires-prediction-home-and-the-bible-society-truth-or-myth/

  • Welcome to Christianity SE. Please see the Tour and the Help (both bottom left, below) as to the purpose and functioning of the site. +1 for a good reference.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 30 '20 at 17:49

The oft-repeated story goes that within fifty years after his death, in an ironic twist of Providence, the very house in which Voltaire once lived and wrote was used by the Evangelical Society of Geneva as a storehouse for Bibles and Gospel tracts and the printing presses he used to print his irreverent works was used to print Bibles.

An article "VOLTAIRE’S PREDICTION, HOME, AND THE BIBLE SOCIETY: TRUTH OR MYTH? FURTHER EVIDENCE OF VERIFICATION" was posted at crossexamined on 18th August 2019. It was largely a result of the research done by a Pastor Dr Daniel Merritt. I give a few extracts of this article:

In August 1836, only fifty-eight years after Voltaire’s death, Rev. William Acworth of the British and Foreign Bible Society saw with his own eyes Voltaire’s former residence in Geneva, Switzerland, Les Delices, being used as a “repository for Bibles and Religious tracts.” The house at this time was occupied by Colonel Henri Tronchin (1794-1865), who served as the president of the Evangelical Society of Geneva from 1834-39. The Tronchin family had long had associations with Voltaire that could be traced back to the 18th century. One of Henri Tronchin’s ancestor’s, Francis Tronchin, [had been] Voltaire’s doctor. The Tronchin’s were prominent and wealthy residents of Geneva and even helped finance Voltaire in the publishing of some of his works.[7]

While the Tronchin family [were] prominent and wealthy citizens of Geneva, they were not predominantly spiritual. However, though it is not known exactly when, Henri Tronchin came to faith in Christ and embraced Protestantism. .....

A superb organizer and a great leader, he helped found the Evangelical Society of Geneva (c1833). He served as president of the Society from 1834 to 1839. Born 100 years after Voltaire, and occupying the former home of the infamous infidel, Tronchin used the spacious house to store Bibles and Gospel tracts. Rev. William Acworth of Queens College, Cambridge, appointed an agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1829, was an eye witness to the stored Bibles and Gospel tracts.[8]

In The Missionary Register for 1836 of the BFBS, Acworth is recounting his travels in the spread of the Gospel. Having traveled over 2,000 miles in France on the business of the Society, in the summer of 1836 his travels took him to Switzerland in August of that year. Acworth recounts:

I went through Geneva, and was much refreshed by meeting the Committee of the Evangelical Society, with whose proceedings and objects I was so much gratified, that I wrote to this Society to make a liberal grant of 10,000 copies of the French Scriptures to promote the objects of that Society. Our committee have only granted 5,000; but I have no doubt they will, err long, send the other 5,000. Before I left Geneva, my friend observed. “Probably you will like to see the house where Voltaire lived, and where he wrote his plays.” Prompted by the spirit of curiosity, so characteristic of an Englishman, to visit the house of the celebrated infidel, I was about to put on my hat to walk into the county, when he said, “It is not necessary you should put on your hat” and he introduced me over the threshold of one room to another, and said, “tis the room where Voltaire’s play were acted for the amusement to himself and his friend.” And what was my gratification in observing that that room had been converted into sort of Repository for Bibles and Religious Tracts. Oh! my Christ Friends, that the spirit of infidelity had been there, to witness the results of other vaticinations [acts of prophesying] respecting the downfall of Christianity! I know that Voltaire said, that he was living “in the twilight of Christianity” but blessed be God! It was the twilight of the morning, which will bring on the day of universal illumination.[9]

Only fifty-eight years after his death the former home of Voltaire in Geneva, Switzerland, was indeed serving as a storehouse for Bibles and Gospel tracts. While the Evangelical Society of Geneva did not actually purchase the house, Henri Tronchin, president of the Society, resided in the house, and used some of the rooms to store Bibles which Voltaire so vehemently opposed!.... Yes, an ironic twist of divine Providence.

Let it also be noted, only sixteen years after Voltaire’s death, in 1794, the presence of the Bible began making in-roads in the town where he spent the last eighteen years of his life, Ferney, France. On the very printing presses which Voltaire employed to print his irreverent works was used to print editions of the Bible and which were printed on [the very] paper that “been especially made for a superior edition of Voltaire’s works. The Voltaire project failed, and the paper was bought and devoted to a better purpose [of printing Bibles].

For the full article which contains several cross references to its sources see:-



in order to find a sufficient answer, please read the research from this article. https://pastorbrianchilton.wordpress.com/2019/03/18/voltaires-prediction-home-and-the-bible-society-truth-or-myth/

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    Welcome to ChristianitySE, Minh. Link Only Answers are generally not acceptable at SE sites. Please take the time to explain in a paragraph or two what it is at that article that you feel answers the question. Also, please visit the [tour[, [help[, [ask[ and How to Answer to get a better idea of how to get the most out of this format. Feb 10 '21 at 21:06
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    – Glorfindel
    Feb 10 '21 at 21:31

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