La Bibbia. Translated by Giovanni Diodati. [Geneva: Johann Tornesius], 1607.
Large quarto. 1348 pages (, 847, ; 178,  blank leaf; 314,  blank leaf), 10 x 6¾ inches. Roman and italic; text in double columns with arguments, chapter headings and marginal notes, and references on all sides. Large woodcut printers device of a man sowing and Tornesius motto and anagram "son art en Dieu"; titles to the Apocrypha and New Testament within ornamental borders; Apocryphal books not noted in the table of contents. Contemporary blind-stamped pigskin over beveled wooden boards. § DM 5598. § CD-ROM: 6.8, fol. bBb1r.
Giovanni Diodati (15761649) was a gifted linguist, well-suited for the task of translating the Bible. The child of Italian parents who had fled religious persecution and settled in Switzerland, he was bilingual in Italian and French. As a young man he studied Greek and Hebrew at the Genevan Academy founded by Calvin. At the age of 21, he was invited by Theodore de Bèze to join the Hebrew faculty of the Academy (later the University of Geneva). He translated the Bible into Italian (1607) and into French (1644).
The translation shown here is the first edition of his Italian Bible. There were several translations of the Bible into Italian before Diodati, but his is significant because it is the first Protestant Italian Bible. Antonio Bruciolis 1530 translation of the New Testament and 1532 translation of the entire Bible also claimed to have gone back to the original Greek and Hebrew texts, but Brucioli seems to have relied heavily on the Latin of Santi Pagnini and Erasmus. Moreover, although Brucioli was critical of the church, he remained a Catholic. Diodatis version was done by a Protestant for Protestants, specifically Calvinists. Ironically, it was his tendency not to stray far from the familiar Vulgate in phrase or cadence, despite the use of Hebrew and Greek sources, that made Diodatis version successful. In a modernized form, Diodatis remains the Bible of Italian Protestants today.
The Bible is divided into chapters and verses and there are no notes. Poetry is translated as if prose in this edition, but Diodati made metrical translations of the Psalms for his second edition (1641), probably in response to the need for versions that could be sung in worship services.
Diodati served as a minister for both Italian and French communities in Geneva from 1608 until his death. He was chosen to represent Geneva at the Synod of Dort in 1618, but does not appear to have been among the participants.
Literature: McComish 1989, 167208.