Il Nuovo ed eterno Testamento di Giesu Christo

Autore: TEOFILO, Massimo tr. (1509-1587)

Tipografo: Jean de Tournes and Guillaume Gazeau

Dati tipografici: Lyon, 1556

Formato: in ottavo

Italian Protestant Bible


Two parts in one volume, 16mo (112x75 mm). 500, [4], 377, [7] pp. Title printed in black heightened with liquid gold and set within an arabesque title border. 97 woodcuts (including 5 repetitions) by Bernard Salomon which first appeared in the 1554 edition of the De Tournes Bible. Arabesque tail- and head-pieces. Small italic types, from a font attributed to Granjon. Collation: a-z8 aa-hh8 ii4 A-Z8 aa8. On the front pastedown the bookplate of Marcel Desjardin with his initials and the motto “Cy est mon amy le moins fol”. Early 17th-century dark brown morocco, gilt spine with four raised bands, panels within double gilt fillet with four corner-pieces, gilt edges (upper corner of the front panel slightly rubbed). Old repair to title-page verso and following page slightly affecting the title-page border. A very good copy in an elegant sober binding.

SECOND EDITION of the Italian translation of the New Testament by the Benedictine monk Massimo Teofilo, whose name appears only in a note to the reader at the end of the volume. The first part includes the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles; the second includes the letters of St. Paul, the canonical Epistles and the Apocalypse of St. John.

The first edition was published at Lyons in 1551 without the name of the printer; the latter has since been identified as the typographer Jean Frellon, who printed on behalf of the Italian bookseller Pietro Perna (cf. L. Perini, La vita e i tempi di Pietro Perna, Rome, 2002, pp. 400-401). A third edition was issued in Lyons by Sébastien Honorat in 1565.

The present edition reprints the text of the 1551 Lyons New Testament – and specifically that of its primitive stage, i.e. without the Calvinist text Come Cristo è il fine della legge –, but omits the name of the translator from the title page. It retains, however, Teofilo's dedication to Francesco de' Medici on pp. 4-6 (cf. E. Barbieri, Le bibbie italiane del Quattrocento e del Cinquecento: storia e bibliografia ragionata delle edizioni in lingua italiana dal 1471 al 1600, Milan, 1992, pp. 341-342).

Teofilo's translation is based on the original Greek text as well as on the Latin version of the Bible edited in Zurich by H. Bullinger. According to some scholars, Teofilo was also influenced by the vernacularization of Antonio Brucioli. In 1559 Teofilo's translation was put into the Index of prohibited books by Paul IV; around the same time it is also found recorded in the Postremus catalogus of P.P. Vergerio and in the papers from the trial against Girolamo Donzellini (cf. J.M. De Bujanda, a cura di, Index de Rome, 1557, 1559, 1564: les premiers Index romains et l'Index du concile de Trente, Sherbrooke 1990, pp. 129 and ff.).

Teofilo's New Testament, his Le semenze de l'intelligenza del Nuovo Testamento, and Cornelio Donzellini's Le dotte e pie parafrasi sopra le Pistole di Paolo all appeared in Lyons in 1551 and are closely linked to one another from a textual and interpretative point of view. They represent the expression of a reformist group present in Venice around 1550, which, beside Teofilo and Donzellini, also included Lucio Paolo Rosello and Zuane de Honestis. The group, which was influenced by the teaching of Swiss reformers like Bullinger and Calvin, aimed to spread the ideas of the Reformation, demonstrating a strong will to propaganda and a certain doctrinal eclecticism. It has recently come to light that the text Il fine di tutta la scrittura del Nuovo Testamento raccolto sotto brevità, present in all editions of Teofilo's tranlsation (found here on pp. 7-11 of the first part), is nothing but a translation of the second part of the Summa totius Sacrae Scripturae, which was published for the first time, together with the New Testament, in the edition of Erasmus' Opera omnia issued by Froben in 1540 (although the Summa is not attributable to the great humanist from Rotterdam). Previously translated by Brucioli as well, this text becomes, in the hands of Teofilo, even more pro-Protestant, as the latter adds expressions taken from the Confessio Augustana and the Institutio Christianae religionis, and clearly underlines how justification happens only for the merits of Christ and not for those of men (cf. A. Del Col, Il Nuovo Testamento tradotto da Massimo Teofilo e altre opere stampate a Lione nel 1551, in: “Critica storica”, 15, 1978, pp. 138-171).

Massimo Teofilo (Masi) was born in Florence in 1509. In October 1527, after the death of his father, he became a Benedictine monk. His course of studies included the learning of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. He completed his humanistic education in Milan. A correspondent and a friend of the monk Denis Faucher, abbot of Lérins, Teofilo completed his translation of the New Testament between 1548 and 1550, probably in Venice and Parma in the monastery of S. Giovanni Evangelista, of which he became prior. He was presumably already in contact at that time with the publishing network of the bookseller Pietro Perna, then active in Strasbourg, Lyons, and Basel, from where he spread books by reformed authors in Venice and Bergamo.

After Il Nuovo ed eterno Testamento di Giesù Christo nuovamente da l'original fonte greca, con ogni diligenza in toscana tradotto, Teofilo published Le semenze de l'intelligenza del Nuovo Testamento, a catalogue of essential words for the reading and understanding of the New Testament, and the Apologia overo Difesa sopra la sua tradozzione del Nuovo Testamento in volgare e di tutte l'altre Sacrosante Scritture volgarezate, both published in Lyons by Frellon in 1551.

In 1556 Teolifo lived for a while in the Florentine abbey of his order, before moving to Subiaco as abbot and then to the abbey of S. Benedetto al Polirone near Mantua. In 1557 he became abbot of the abbey of Florence. Prosecuted by the Roman Inquisition, he was eventually acquitted of the charge of heresy thanks to the intercession of some confreres, but as a consequence of the trial his activity as translator and editor ceased. In 1574 he appears to have been at Campore in Liguria, in relations with the Farnese court of Parma. Teofilo died in Piacenza in the monastery of S. Sisto in 1587 (cf. M. Morviducci, Un erasmiano italiano: il fiorentino Massimo Teofilo, in: “Benedictina”, XXIII, 1976, pp. 89-104; see also Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, LXXI, 2008, A. Olivieri).

Edit 16, CNCE 5959; Adams, B-1787; É. Picot, Les Français italianisants au XVIe siècle, Paris, 1906, I, pp. 177-179; L. Perini, Ancora sul libraio-tipografo Pietro Perna, in: “Nuova Rivista Storica”, 51, 1967, p. 376, no. 80; R. Mortimer, Harvard College Library, French 16th Century Books, Cambridge (MA), 1964, I, 84; Darlow-Moule, 5590; Barbieri, op. cit., nr. 67; A. Cartier, Bibliographie des éditions de Jean de Tournes, Paris, 1937, p. 412, nr. 325.