Giustiniani, Agostino°

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GIUSTINIANI, AGOSTINO ° (Pantaleone ; 1470?–1536), Italian Orientalist and Hebraist. Born in Genoa, Giustiniani, a friend of Erasmus, *Pico della Mirandola, and Sir Thomas More, taught in Bologna, and in 1513 wrote a kabbalistic work inspired by J. *Reuchlin's De verbo mirifico and De arte cabalistica. He then made a bold, but unsuccessful, attempt to publish the first modern polyglot Bible, of which only the first part, Psalterium octaplum (Genoa, 1516), appeared. This contained the Hebrew text of Psalms, the Targum, an Arabic translation, two Greek and two Latin translations, and a commentary based largely on rabbinic sources. On Psalm 19:5 there is a curious marginal allusion to Christopher *Columbus (Giustiniani's Genoese compatriot) and his voyages of discovery, which is the first such allusion in Hebrew literature. Although this Psalter, dedicated to Pope Leo x, was well received, it did not enjoy great commercial success, and the project then came to an end.

In 1514 Giustiniani was made bishop of Nebbio in Corsica, but political considerations led to his acceptance of the chair of Hebrew in Paris. From 1517 until 1522 he taught at the new College of the Three Languages, founded by Francis i, and published various works, including an edition of R. David *Kimḥi's Hebrew grammar (Liber Viarum Linguae Sanctae, Paris, 1520?), and Rabi Mossei Dux seu Director dubitantium aut perplexorum (Paris, 1520), a Latin version of the Guide of the Perplexed of *Maimonides. The latter, which Giustiniani produced with the aid of Jacob *Mantino, was marred by its reliance on faulty texts. Many of his kabbalistic writings appeared in the De arcanis catholicae veritatis (Ortona, 1518) of P. Columna *Galatinus. Giustiniani bequeathed his library of rare books and manuscripts to Genoa. Little is known about the last years of his life. In 1536, on a trip to Corsica, he was lost at sea.


Steinschneider, Cat Bod, 5 no. 1564–66; C. Roth, The Jews in the Renaissance (1959), 124 f., 155; F. Secret, Le Zôhar chez les Kabbalistes Chrétiens de la Renaissance (19642), 30 ff.; idem, Les Kabbalistes Chrétiens de la Renaissance (1964), 99–102.

[Godfrey Edmond Silverman]