Study Italian from the Bible: Genesis 1, verses 1-5

The Italian name for the Bible is la Bibbia. The Bible is divided into books; in Italian, a book of the Bible is called un libro. The first book of the Bible is called Genesis, or Genesi in Italian. (The stress in Genesi is on the first syllable: Gènesi.)

Il libro della Genesi is divided into chapters, and each chapter is further divided into verses. In Italian, a chapter is un capitolo, and a verse is un versetto.

diodati
Giovanni Diodati

You will begin your study with il libro della Genesi, capitolo 1, versetti 1-5 (the Book of Genesis, chapter 1, verses 1-5). Your study will be of the 1821 version of the translation produced by Giovanni Diodati and first published in 1607. You will find a link in the index where you can read this Bible online.

I have translated the verses rather literally into English to help you grasp the sense of the Italian text.

Verses 1-5 read as follows:

1Nel principio Iddio creò il cielo e la terra.

2E la terra era una cosa deserta e vacua; e tenebre erano sopra la faccia dell’abisso. E lo Spirito di Dio si moveva sopra la faccia delle acque.

3E Iddio disse: Sia la luce. E la luce fu.

4E Iddio vide che la luce era buona. E Iddio separò la luce dalle tenebre.

5E Iddio nominò la luce Giorno, e le tenebre Notte. Così fu sera, e poi fu mattina, che fu il primo giorno.

Genesi 1:1-5 (Diodati 1821)

Versetto 1

Nel princìpio (in the beginning) Iddìo creò il cièlo (God created the heaven) e la tèrra (and the earth).

Iddio and Dio both mean God. This version of the Bible uses Iddio, which derives from il dio. Il cielo is the Italian word for sky; it also equates to the heavens used in literary English. Creò is the third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of the verb creare (to create); you will find the passato remoto used frequently in the Bible.

Versetto 2

E la tèrra èra ùna còsa desèrta e vàcua (and the earth was a vacant and empty thing); e tènebre èrano sópra la fàccia dell’abìsso (and darkness was upon the face of the abyss). E lo Spìrito di Dìo (and the Spirit of God) si movéva sópra la fàccia délle àcque (moved upon the face of the waters).

Deserto means deserted, empty. Vacuo is a literary equivalent of vuoto, meaning empty. Tenebre is a feminine, plural noun; the stress is on the first syllable: le tènebre. L’abisso is the abyss, the deep. Moversi means to move (oneself); Italian also uses muoversi. Remember to say lo spirito, because this noun begins with sp.

Versetto 3

E Iddìo dìsse (and God said): Sìa la lùce (let be the light)! E la lùce fu (and the light was).

Disse is the third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of the verb dire (to say). In sia la luce, the present subjunctive sia comes from the verb essere, to be. It translates to let be. Fu, also from the verb essere, is its third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation. E la luce fu literally means and the light was (that is, and there was light).

Versetto 4

E Iddìo vìde che la lùce èra buòna (and God saw that the light was good). E Iddìo separò la lùce dàlle tènebre (and God separated the light from the darkness).

Vide is the third-person singular, passato remoto conjugation of the verb vedere (to see). With the verb separare (to separate), use da to express separating one thing from another: separare la luce dalle tenebre (to separate the light from the darkness), separare il buono dal cattivo (to separate the good from the bad).

Versetto 5

E Iddìo nominò la lùce Giórno (and God named the light Day), e le tènebre Nòtte (and the darkness Night). Così fu séra, e pòi fu mattìna (thus it was evening, and then it was morning), che fu il prìmo giórno (which was the first day).

The verb nominare means to name, to call.