Conrad Pelican was born in Rouffach, in the German province of Alsace in the year 1478. He was schooled at home until he was 13, when his parents sent him to Heidelberg. After a year and four months of study he returned home and entered a monastery. He later, however, returned to Heidelberg and then moved to Tubingen where he studied liberal arts. He also studied Scholastic theology and Hebrew. At Basel he was made Doctor of Divinity. The Pope, impressed with his learning sent a legate to bring him to Rome. On the way there, Pelican became very ill and returned to Basel.
While there, he came across some of Luther’s books, and through consulting with some godly men, Pelican began to be enlightened of popish errors. His distaste for Roman errors grew so strong that he was persecuted as a Lutheran. About this same time the senate of Basel appointed him, with Œcolampadius, lecturer in divinity where he began first reading on Genesis, then on Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
In 1526 Zwingli was able to have Pelican brought to Zurich. In Zurich, Pelican renounced his monkish life. He married and had a son. Because he was currently reading on Samuel, he named his son Samuel. After his wife died, he married a second time, but had no children by his second wife.
After Zwingli died, Bullinger and Bibliander replaced him. Bibliander astonished his hearers for his excellent linguistic skills which he applied to his lectures on Isaiah, and for the fact that he had such skills at the age of 23. Pelican was requested to print all of Bibliander’s lectures with annotations. The lectures were on every book of the Bible except Revelation. In order to make the commentary complete, Pelican included Sebastian Meyer’s commentary on Revelation.
Pelican translated many books out of Hebrew which were printed by Robert Stephens. He held the post of professor of Hebrew at Zurich for 30 years. He was revered for his great learning, his indefatigable labors and his sweet and holy demeanor. He died on Easter Sunday 1556 at the age of 78.