1727 Rare Arabic New Testament
1727. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. [London.] tubi a fi sanah masihigyah.1727. First edition. 4to (20 x 26cm) 463, pp. complete with final blank, printed in Arabic.
Excellent binding with original boards and modern spine in calf.
Light wear to extremities.
This rare Arabic edition of the New Testament was printed in London in 1727 by the ambitious young printer Samuel Palmer (1692-1732), known in particular for employing Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) as a compositor in 1724-5. The prestigious project to print both this and an Arabic edition of the Psalms was carried out for the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge.
Begun in 1721 the endeavour proved a costly, complicated and time-consuming affair for Palmer, with the type-founder William Caslon (1692-1766) being employed specially to produce a new Arabic font. The Arabic text was edited by the scholar and translator Solomon Negri (1665-1727), a Syrian Christian who, following employment as a librarian in Paris and teacher of Arabic in Rome, arrived in London in 1715.
He was encouraged by the pietist Anthony William Boehm (1673-1722) to teach Arabic to German orientalists at Halle and through these connections was later engaged by the SPCK to work on this edition of the New Testament in Arabic, the first proposals for which were published as An extract of several letters relating to the great charity and usefulness of printing the New Testament and Psalter in the Arabick Language; For the benefit of the poor Christians in Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Egypt, and other Eastern countries. With a proposal for executing so good an undertaking . (London, 1720). Despite the fact that this edition was printed in 10,000 copies only a small number appear to have survived.
This is thought to be on account of almost the entire print run having been exported for distribution amongst Christians in the Levant, with only a small number of copies retained in London for circulation amongst European orientalists and scholars.
A rare book and significant landmark in Arabic printing in England. Darlow & Moule 1655; Schnurrer 344. ESTC lists only 4 locations in America.