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QUR'AN; Arabic & Latin; MARRICCI, Ludovico (ed.)

Alcorani textus universus.

Ex correctioribus Arabum exemplaribus summa fide, atque pulcherrimis characteribus descriptus, aademque fide, ac pari diligentia ex Arabico idiomate in Latinum translatus; Apposititis unicuique capiti notis, atque refutatione: His omnibus praemissus est Prodromus Totum priorem Tomum imples, In quo contenta indicantur pagina sequenti.

Padua: Typographia Seminarii, 1698 Stock Code: 115141
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First edition of Marracci's Qur'an, "the greatest pre-modern European work of Qur'anic scholarship" (Burman). The second volume, "Refutatio Alcorani", comprises the second obtainable edition of the original Arabic, a Latin translation considered "by far and away the best translation of the Qur'an to date" (Hamilton), and an analysis and refutation of each surah, and is preceded by the second edition of Marracci's extensive prefatory work, the Prodromus ad Refutationem Alcorani, which was first published in 1691 and includes a life of Muhammad. Marracci's edition was the first to print the entire Arabic text with a Latin translation alongside it, an apparatus, and a polemical refutation. Unlike the 12th-century Latin translation of Robert of Ketton, Marracci does not rearrange the Qur'anic verses or render free translations of them.

The first Arabic edition of the Qur'an was printed in Venice c.1530 and survives only in a single copy: it is thought the entire print-run was ordered to be destroyed. In 1694 the second Arabic edition was published by Abraham Hinckelmann, a Lutheran pastor in Hamburg, though lacked a translation or any form of commentary beyond the introduction. Hinckelmann's version was chiefly intended for German scholars of the Arabic language. The printing of Marracci's Latin translation alongside the Arabic original was hugely significant in spreading knowledge of Islam to the vast numbers of European readers who could not read Arabic; it formed "part of a vast war effort with the aim of restoring the intellectual and theological glory of the Church of Rome and the memory of the Vatican as Europe's foremost centre of Oriental studies" (Elmarsafy, The Enlightenment Qur'an, online).

"Marracci, an Italian priest of the order of the Chierici regolari della Madre di Dio who was also professor of Arabic at La Sapienza as well as confessor to Pope Innocent XI, divided the text of the Qur'an into manageable sections which he presented to his readers first in carefully vocalized Arabic, and then in his new Latin translation, followed by a series of notae that address lexical, grammatical and interpretive sic problems. Like most other Latin Qur'an translators, Marracci often includes material drawn directly from Muslim commentators but his careful notes generally also supply far more explanatory material By virtue of its extensive notes on the text throughout, Marracci's enormous edition provided his European readers with the Qur'an accompanied by much of its traditional Sunni interpretation" (Burman).

A cache of manuscripts unearthed in the library of Marracci's order in 2012 has since verified his claim to have translated the Qur'an four times before committing it to print. The result was a landmark of Arabic scholarship that finally ended the dominance of Robert of Ketton's translation. It was translated into German in 1703 and formed the basis of George Sale's influential English edition of 1734.

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2 volumes in one, folio in sixes (346 x 225 mm). Contemporary vellum, sometime rebacked and relined, raised bands, compartments lettered in gilt, sides decoratively panel-stamped in blind, red sprinkled edges.


Woodcut head- and tailpieces, figurative initials.


Complete with all sectional title pages and the 2 leaves of errata to the rear. Book label ("HB") and detailed pencilled collation to front pastedown. Vellum faintly soiled, short superficial splits to head of front joint and foot of rear, old thumb-tags to fore edge of section-titles in the Prodromus and to title of the Refutatio Alcorani, minute hole intermittently appearing in fore margins (probably from the papermaker's mould), the text never affected, sporadic pale foxing to margins, the occasional minor spot or mark. Prodromus: title and sig. A1 browned and marginally restored, contemporary inked marginalia to pp. 38-9, small hole to Pars tertia sig. A2 costing one word on the recto. Refutatio Alcorani: old pencilled marginalia to pp. 7, 84 & 87, contemporary inked marginalia to pp. 22, 83 & 352, sigs. A3-B1 dampstained, pale tide-mark occasionally appearing in upper outer corners, spreading in final few leaves, closed tear to lower outer corner of sig. 2D3, the text spared. A very good copy, tall, crisp and imposing, with deep impressions of the Arabic types, and of the appealing woodcuts.


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