The editio princeps of the complete Bible in Arabic, owned by an 18th century Franciscan linguist in Cairo

[Biblia arabica]. Biblia Sacra arabica, Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda Fide iussu edita. Ad usum ecclesiarum Orientalium. Additis è regione Bibliis latinis vulgatis. [Al-kutub al-muqaddasah bi-al-lisan, al-'Arabi ma'a al-nuskhah al-Latiniyah al-'ammah al-matbu'ah ...].

Rome, Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, 1671.

Folio (348 x 232 mm). 3 volumes. (16), 331, (1), 472 (but: 468), (8) pp. (4), 505, (1), 526, (8) pp. (errata bound in after preliminaries). (4), 208, 283, (1), (146), (4) pp. Titles with identical woodcut title borders. Slightly later uniform marbled calf on six raised bands, second and third compartments with red and green gilt stamped morocco labels, all others richly gilt. Block-printed floral endpapers in two colours. All edges red.


First edition: the editio princeps of the complete Bible in Arabic. Work on this translation began as early as 1625 under the direction of the Lebanese bishop of the Maronites, Sergius Risius (Sarkis el-Rizzi, 1572-1638), and Filippo Guadagnoli (1596-1656); it was later completed by Abraham Ecchellensis (1605-1664) and Luigi Marracci (1612-1700). "The preface relates how Sergius Risius started the work of translation in 1625. The reader is warned that he will find many colloquialisms not sanctioned by the grammars. The text is unvocalised […] Of interest are the woodcut Bible book headings, first crude and angular in the Pentateuch, then in a more fluent style for the Historical Books, and even sometimes in outline in the Prophets. In the Gospels almost one half of a column is taken up by them, and in the N.T. Epistles they cover one half-page over two columns" (Smitskamp, p. 338).

Numerous errors in pagination, especially in the first and second volumes, but complete with the often lacking errata leaves. A good copy, appealingly bound.


Formerly owned by the German oriental scholar and Franciscan priest Arsenius Rehm (1738-1808), who lived in Egypt between 1769 and 1776, with his handwritten ownership, dated Cairo, 1771 ("Ex Libris Fr. Arsenii Rehm Parochi Nat. gallica Cairi in Egypto Anno 1771"). Later in the Franciscan abbey of Frauenberg at Fulda, Hesse, where Rehm worked after his return to Europe (titles and final leaves have the stamp and handwritten ownership of the monastery, whose library was dispersed by the Franciscan Province in 2021).


Half title and title of volume 3 contemporarily reinforced with some loss to borders. Lightly and evenly browned in places due to paper stock; vol. 1 has a brown stain in the upper corner of a few preliminary leaves, vol. 2 shows a worm track in the upper blank margin of a few leaves. Minor rubbing to binding, else fine.


Schnurrer 334. Smitskamp, PO 375 (without the errata leaves). Darlow/Moule 1652. OCLC 32957139.

Art.-Nr.: BN#63727 Schlagwörter: , , ,