The first Gospel printing in the interlinear Arabic and Latin version

[Biblia arabico-latina - NT - Evangelium]. Evangelium Sanctum Domini nostri Jesu Christi conscriptum a quatuor evangelistis sanctis.

Rome, Typographia Medicea, 1591.

Folio (220 x 334 mm). 9-462, (2) pp. With 149 text woodcuts by Leonardo Parassole after Antonio Tempesta. Early 20th century half vellum.


The first Gospel printing in the interlinear Arabic and Latin version, prepared at the same time and printed by the same press as the first Arabic-only Gospel. These were the first works ever produced by Ferdinando de' Medici's "Medicea" press, founded by Pope Gregory XIII to spread the word of Christ in the Orient. Supervised by the able scholar Giovambattista Raimondi (1536-1614), its strength lay in oriental, especially Arabic, printing. After Raimondi's death, the press relocated to Florence.

The Arabic text is printed in Robert Granjon's famous large fount, generally considered the first satisfactory Arabic printing type; as all early printed editions of the Arabic Gospels, it is based on the Alexandrian Vulgate (cf. Darlow/M. 1636). The Latin version is by Leonardo Sionita. The work begins with page 9, without a title page or any preliminary matter at all: "the intended prefatory matter was apparently never published" (Darlow/M.); these first eight pages were not supplied until the 1619 re-issue.

Light browning as common; a light waterstain to the margin of the first leaves, but a good, fairly wide-margined copy. Provenance: handwritten ownership "C. R. Lies" (?), dated Rome, 1931, on upper pastedown; later bookplate of Guy Evans.


Darlow/Moule 1637. Mortimer 64 (note). Streit XVI, p. 866, no. 5138. Ebert 7198. Graesse II, 531. Nagler XX, 326. Not in Adams.