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Eutychii Aegyptii, Patriarchae Orthodoxorum Alexandrini, Scriptoris, ut in Oriente admodùm Vetusti ac Illustris, ita in Occidente tum paucissimis Vsi tum perraro Auditi, Ecclesiae suae Origines

Selden, John. (Ed. & Trans.)

London. Excudebat Richardus Bishopus. 1642
The first edition of the first book printed in England to make extensive use of Arabic type.

' ... it can be considered as the first Arabic book to be printed in England.' (Geoffrey Roper).

Eutychius of Alexandria (877 - 940), i.e. Sa'id Ibn Batriq, was a doctor, appointed Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria in 932 and one of the first Christian Egyptian authors to write extensively in Arabic. His most important work was the 'Nazm al-Jawhar' (the Row of Jewels) and it is an excerpt from that work that is presented here. This critical edition, presented in the original Arabic and with a Latin translation together with extensive analytic commentary, was prepared by John Selden (1584 - 1654), the remarkable polyglot academic (he was competent in, or at least familiar with, Latin, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Chaldean, Samaritan, Aramaic, Farsi, Ge'ez, Old English, German, French, Spanish and Italian), antiquarian, historian, jurist and parliamentarian (he had long served as an MP and in different constituencies but at the time of publication was one of the two MPs representing Oxford University in the Long Parliament). Selden's selection from Eutychius' text treats of the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the early Christian church while his extensive commentary in Latin with additional extensive quotation from a variety of Arabic, Greek, Hebrew and Latin sources includes a list in Arabic of the first 307 Alexandrian Patriarchs. Selden's preface gives details of Eutychius and his life and medical practise, surveys Arabic manuscripts in Europe - he mentions scholars such as Erpenius - and relates how he purchased the manuscript he relied on for this edition from William Corderoy. Corderoy, like his fellow merchant Richard Hill, both merchants of the Levantine Company at Aleppo, were often the source of books for scholars; Edward Pococke, a friend and protegée of Selden's, procured the Gospels in Farsi for the English Polyglot through the pair. Pococke, the first Laudian Professor of Arabic at Oxford, was also responsible for another edition of Eutychius printed in 1656 by Henry Hall and paid for by Selden who did not live to see it published.

Although Arabic type had been used prior to Selden's 'Eutychius' - and the earliest method had been via woodblocks inserted among metal type - it had been confined mainly to individual letters, short passages or quotations and had, at least until the mid-1630s been of very poor quality. William Stansby used Arabic metal type for the first time in England for Selden's 'Mare Clausum' (1635) and it was used again - this time by Bishop, the printer of Eutychius, who had bought Stansby's business - for the second edition of Selden's 'De Successionibus In Bona Defuncti' (1636) and his 'De Iure Naturali' (1640) but all three of these books used the type sparsely and irregularly with only the 1636 book including even a page. By the time of the printing of the present book, the compositors were more familiar with the type and it is used here extensively. As per Roper: 'Its [the Eutychius'] Arabic content was thus much more substantial than the previous items [i.e. the aforementioned books], and it can be considered as the first Arabic book to be printed in England.'

'The provenance of the type used by Stansby [the same type used by Bishop for the printing of the present book] is a mystery. It is in the style of the early seventeenth-century Dutch scholar-typographers Raphelengius and Erpenius, but it is of a smaller size than the former's Arabic face, and differs in detail from the latter's, which it nevertheless closely resembles. It may perhaps be a copy of the Erpenius face, probably imported from the Netherlands; but this must remain a matter for conjecture until further research is done and more evidence is found.' (Geoffrey Roper).

'During a lifetime of scholarship, legal practice, and public service, Selden amassed an extensive collection of books and manuscripts. A story circulated that he had revoked an original intention to bequeath these to the Bodleian Library, Oxford, but this was false. By the terms of his will the library was to receive his collection of Greek and Oriental manuscripts, selected Latin manuscripts, and his remaining Talmudic and rabbinical books. Most of these were forwarded by his executors to the Bodleian in 1659, although in the interim some had been lost. Among the 8000 volumes which arrived safely, some had belonged to Jonson, Donne, and Cotton; they remain there today.' (DNB).

[Wing 3440; Brunet II, 1117; see Geofffrey Roper's 'Arabic Printing and Publishing in England before 1820', published in 'British Society for Middle Eastern Studies', Vol. 12, No. 1, 1985].
pp. (i), XXXVIII, 184. Small 4to. (200 x 152 mm). Printed title in red and black, manuscript '1642' in blue ink beneath Roman numerals and the same date in blue ink in Arabic numerals at right, 13 leaves with Selden's 'Praefatio' with elaborate woodcut head-piece and four-line intital, 6 leaves with Eutychius' parallel text in Arabic and Latin with headline in red and black, decorative woodcut head- and tail-pieces, decorative Arabic initial 'ya' with woodcut border and four-line initial to Latin text and Selden's detailed and extensive 'Commentarius' with elaborate woodcut head-piece and decorative 7-line initial, one woodcut of a Roman coin in the text, final leaves with 'Interserenda' with woodcut head-piece, errata to final leaf verso between type rules. Printed text in Latin and Arabic throughout with occasional Greek and Hebrew, using Roman, italic, Arabic, Greek and Hebrew types; manuscript correction in sepia ink, 'tum' for 'ac' in line 27 on pg. 183. Contemporary full vellum with Yapp edges, manuscript title in sepia ink to spine, later paper label with location details (?).

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