BIBLE, Gospels, Arabic. Evangelium Sanctum Domini nostri Iesu Christi conscriptum a quatuor Evangelistis Sanctis. Rome: in Typographia Medicea, 1590 (colophon 1591).
2° (350 x 240mnm). Title in Arabic and Latin, text in Arabic, pages paginated in Arabic numerals, 149 woodcut illustrations in the text from 68 blocks, colophon in Arabic and Latin. (Some leaves rather browned.) Late 19th-century half vellum and marbled boards, red calf lettering piece, uncut.
First edition of the Gospels in Arabic, edited by J. Batista Raymund from the Alexandrine Vulgate taken from a 13th-century manuscript. Darlow & Moule 1636; Adams B1822.
This is also the first book printed at the Typographia Medicea, a press founded by Ferdinando de' Medici at the request of Pope Gregory XIII for printing oriental languages. Ironically, while it is a beautifully-produced volume with fine illustrations by Antonio Tempesta and an elegant type designed by Robert Granjon, the illustrations may have hindered its ultimate purpose -- the spread of the Gospels in the Orient -- since the Koran forbids the contemplation of images (cf. Mortimer).