Bible Translation

Giovanni Diodati, Italian Bible Translator

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Giovanni Diodati was born in 1576 in Geneva, Switzerland (though some authorities trace his birth to Italy) and died there in 1649. His family were Protestant refugees from papal persecutions in Italy. Giovanni grew up speaking both Italian and French, and was trained in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. It is reported that he was so adept at Hebrew that Theodore de Beza hired him to teach Hebrew in the Academy in Geneva when Diodati was only 21 years old. He was both a noted preacher and an active academic for his entire life, and labored long and hard for the souls of men. His most notable achievement was the single-handed translation of the whole Bible into Italian, the first edition appearing in 1607 (and consulted by the KJV translators), the second, heavily annotated edition appearing in 1641. Diodati did for Italian speakers what Luther did for the Germans in the 16th century and Jerome did for Latin speakers a millennium and more earlier—he gave them the whole Bible in their own language. His translation remained unrivaled as the Bible of Protestant Italians for centuries, and is still in print in up-dated editions. Later, Diodati produced a complete revised French version (1644) which met with considerably less success, due to opposition from the pastors of Geneva, who favored the Geneva French Bible of 1588.

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