Jacques Ellul was born in Bordeaux, France, on January 6, 1912, to Marthe Mendes (Protestant ; French-Portuguese-Jewish) and Joseph Ellul (initially an Eastern Orthodox Christian, but then a Voltariandeist
by conviction ; born in Malta of an Italo-Maltese father and Serb
mother). As a teenager he wanted to be a naval officer but his father
made him study law.