in Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia,
Egypt, and other Eastern Countries.
Printed by J. DOWNING, in Bartholomew-
Close near West-Smithfield, 1725.
WE whose Names are under-written, being sincerely desirous to preserve and propagate the Christian Faith among our Brethren in Syria, Palestine, Arabia, and other Eastern Countries from whence We first received it; in which Parts (being under the Turkish Dominion) the Use of Printing is not allow'd; and believing that the Publishing of the New Testament in Arabick is the most proper and effectual Means of answering so good an End, have thought our selves obliged to encourage an Impression thereof; And therefore We do earnestly recommend it to the Clergy, and other [3/4] well-disposed Persons in Our respective Dioceses, to promote so useful and pious an Undertaking.
E. Cov. & Lich.
Ric. St. David's.
From Mr. Salomon Negri, Native of Damascus in Syria, dated March 28. 1720. To a Member of the Society at London for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
AS you was pleased to desire me to communicate my Thoughts concerning the Necessity and Usefulness of a new Edition of the New Testament in Arabick, for the Use of the Eastern Churches, and to set down in Writing some of my Reasons on that Head, I have endeavoured to satisfie [5/6] you herein to the best of my Power, as far as the narrow Limits of a Letter would permit.
THERE are several Considerations which clearly shew the Necessity of such a pious Undertaking.
First, The Want of Printing Presses in the Eastern Countries, makes Books very scarce and dear, much beyond what the poor Christians can afford to purchase them at, having much ado to pay the Tributes and Impositions laid on them by the Government they live under, and to supply the common Necessaries of Life; so that there are but very few in a Condition to buy Books, for their Instruction and spiritual Improvement.
Secondly, the few Printed Copies still extant, either of the whole New Testament, or of Part of it, are very hard to be got, and those also at a dear Rate. The Four Evangelists Printed in Folio at Rome, Anno 1591. with a Latin Translation interlined and Cuts, is the most beautiful Edition, as well as the most correct, but is so scarce that it is sold at an exorbitant Price: An Edition of the whole Bible, Printed at Rome by Order of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide, in 3 Vol. Folio, 1671. may be had indeed; but as it was made from the Vulgar Translation by the Maronites, (a People little versed in the true Knowledge of the Arabick Language) all understanding Men among the Eastern Nations have rejected it; besides, this Edition is distributed only among those of the [6/7] Romish Communion, and is therefore sent by the Congregation from Rome, to their Missionaries in the Levant. The Edition of Erpenius, which takes in the whole New Testament, is not only very faulty, but suspected not to have been Printed from a Copy generally approv'd; and as very few even of these were at first Printed, they are become very scarce. The beautiful Edition of London, extant in the Polyglot Bible, cannot be of common Use, by Reason of the Bulk, and extraordinary Price. Several Parts of the New Testament have been Printed separately in different Countries of Europe, but they can be of no great use to the Eastern Nations, because, besides their being incompleat, very few copies have reached them, except a small Number in the Hands of the Romish missionaries.
If we therefore consider that the Constitution of the Country allows of no Printing, and that the necessitous and distressed Condition of the Christians does not permit them to purchase any Copies of those Editions now extant, which are scarce, dear, too large, or otherwise faulty and inconvenient; and the little Success the two Editions at Rome have had, the first, by Reason of the Cuts and Figures therein, which the Eastern Nations have an Aversion to; and the second, by Reason of the Badness of the Impression, and the Meanness of the Language, (being even indecent in some Places) it will abundantly appear, that there is a Necessity of an [7/8] Edition more exact and faithful, as well as more commodious in Respect of Size.
THE Necessity and Usefulness of so laudable a Design will further appear, if we consider the Language in which the Edition is proposed to be published, the Extent of the Country in which it is spoke, and the many Nations and People who may by this Means have the Opportunity of Reading the Holy Scriptures, and thereby of reaping great Benefit to their Souls.
THE Excellency of the Arabick Language is undoubted, in what Light soever you will be pleased to consider it: As this is the Language the Alcoran is writ in, it extends to all those Countries where the Mahometan Religion is professed, and even beyond those Countries, among many of the Heathen. It is the common Language of the greatest Part of Africa, of a considerable Part of Asia; and in the Turkish Dominions, where it is not generally spoke, it is nevertheless taught in the Schools, and studied by men of letters, as Latin is in Europe, where also it is read in several Universities.
BUT to fix some Limits for the Prosecution of this Design, which is chiefly intended for Poor Christians destitute of Books, necessary for their spiritual Edification: I'll only mention those Countries where the greatest Number of Christians are settled: namely, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt. In all these Countries there are great Numbers and Communities of Christians, to whom [8/9] such an Edition will be useful
YOU may easily judge by this, SIR, how useful a better Edition of the Arabick New Testament would be, especially if it were accompanied with the Psalter, what happy Effects, by the Blessing of GOD, it might produce among those several Nations, and how readily it would be received by them.
I should no go on to give you my Thoughts as to the Execution of this Design, how it might be order'd in a manner that may answer the pious Intention of those, who, out of a Christian Zeal, would be willing to undertake and encourage this Work, and effectually promote the spiritual Good of those for whom it is intended; and likewise as to the Choice of the Copy from which such a new Impression may be made, the Characters and Letters, and Form of the Volume, and other Particulars relating to the Accomplishment thereof: But I thought it would be Time enough to enter on a further detail of Particulars when you shall have acquainted me that it [9/10] has pleased GOD to dispose your Society to come to a Resolution in Favour of so good an Undertaking.
GIVE me Leave only, for the present, to suggest in a few Words, my Thoughts as to the Manner of securely dispersing the Copies among so many Nations, which I think was one of the Difficulties you started to me: The best Method, in my humble Opinion, would be, to reserve Part of the Edition in London, as shall be thought fit, and to send from Time to Time a Number of Copies bound, with a suitable Recommendation, to the English Consult at Aleppo, (which of all Cities is the best situated for this Purpose) who, with the Assistance of the Chaplain, might easily order and regulate the dispersing of them: The Chaplain will readily charge himself with a Commission to agreeable to his own Character, and so charitable, honourable, and glorious to the British Nation: He will be the more disposed to undertake this Work, having, as I have been inform'd, design'd to make himself Master of the Arabick, whereby he will have the Opportunity of conversing and corresponding with Persons of all Ranks: Instructions accordingly may be sent him from hence to make himself known to the Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria; the Patriarch of the Nestorians, who resides at Nineveh; and the Patriarch of the Copts, at Grand-Cairo; and to furnish them with a sufficient Number of Copies, answerable to the Extent of their respective Patriarchates; and to communicate to those Prelates, as likewise to the Archbishop of [10/11] Aleppo, the Intention of the Benefactors in England, and recommend to them the distributing of the said Copies.
MY hearty Prayers are, that GOD would be pleas'd to incline the Rich and Charitable of this Kingdom, to take such Resolutions in this important Affair, as may most effectually promote his Honour and Glory, and the Good and Welfare of our Fellow-Christians.
I remain, SIR,
Your most humble Servant,
Extract of a Letter from the Reverend Mr. William Averst, Chaplain to his Excellency Sir Robert Sutton, late Ambassador from his Majesty to the Ottoman Porte, dated April 27. 1720. To a Member of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
SIR Robert Sutton received your Letter, with the inclosed Proposal relating to the Arabick Testament, which he has order'd me to tell you, he looks upon as a Thing which may do a great deal of Good in the Eastern Countries; and is of Opinion, that the Turks will not hinder its being dispersed.
Extract of a Letter from the Reverend and Learned Dr. Humphrey Prideaux, Dean of Norwich, to his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, dated May 20. 1720.
THE Arabick Language is spoken not only in Arabia, but also through all Mesopotamia, Erac, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt; Africa, as far as Fez, Morrocco, and the Atlantick Ocean.
IN Arabia, and all the Northern Coasts of Africa, there are not any Christians, except such Slaves as have been taken Captive by the Corsairs, to whom an Arabick New Testament can be of no Use, the Arabick not being their Language.
IN Erac, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, there are still remaining several Inhabitants of the Christian Religion, divided into the several Sects of Nestorians, Eutychians, Monothelites, and Melchites, to whom an Arabick New Testament would be of great Use, and it would be a Work of great Charity to furnish them with it; for there being no Printing in those Parts, all the Copies that they have there of the Bible are in Manuscript, which being very dear, and private Christians being there under the Oppression of Mahometan Governments, very poor, few of them [12/13] have wherewith to purchase any of those Copies; and therefore most of them are without the Scriptures, and know no further thereof than what they hear read in their publick Assemblies.
THAT Arabick Version of the New Testament, which is published in the London Polyglott, is the properest for this Purpose; but whether there be a Font of Arabick Letters in England fit for this work, is more than I know, but I think there is not; and if so, there must then be a new Font cast, and new Punchions and Matrices must be made for it, which will much augment the Charge; but if this Work goes on, and there be a Necessity for such a new Font, Care must be had, that the Pattern be taken from the fairest Characters: For those that use the Arabick Language in the East, are very nice in their Writing; and those Books from our Western Presses, which in their Types come nearest to their fairest Writing, are most acceptable to them: And the Roman Arabick Psalter being on this Account approved by them beyond all their Prints, I have therefore herewith sent it to your Grace, to be used as there shall be Occasion.
Extract of a Letter from the Reverend Dr. Samuel Lisle, Fellow of Wadham College in Oxford, and sometime Chaplain to the Honourable Turkey Company at Aleppo, dated May 26. 1720. To the Secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
HAving been absent a Month from Oxford, on my Return Home I found your Letter of the 3d Instant, together with a Proposal about publish a new Edition of the New Testament in Arabick, of which you inform me, that the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge desire my Opinion.
THE Usefulness of such a Work will be evident from considering the great Numbers of Christians who use this Language, and the very mean Translation which is at present in their Hands; all which is so fully set out in Mr. Negri's Proposal, that I have nothing to add to it, unless, by Way of corroborating his Evidence, to observe to you: That as all the Natives of the Turkish Empire, South of M. Amanus, of whatsoever Religion or Rite they are, speak the Arabick as their Mother Tongue; so this Language is become so universal, that even the Greek Clergy themselves in Syria and Palestine, (some of the Bishops excepted, who were born and [14/15] educated on the Coast of Asia minor, or in Europe) understand no other Language, have quite lost the Greek; so that they for the most Part read the Scripture, and the Offices of the Church, in Arabick. And the Christians in Aleppo only, are reckon'd to be no less than Fifteen Thousand of the Greek Church, beside those of other Communions; and in every considerable City of Syria their Numbers are proportionable.
IT being necessary therefore that these People should have the Scripture in Arabick, if they read it at all; I am very glad that the Society have taken it into their Consideration to assist their Christian Brethren in the Performance of so necessary a Duty. For, without some such Assistance, I scarce see how 'tis possible for them to have the Scripture in their Hands. I need not go about to represent the miserable Circumstances of the Eastern Christians, and the Weight of the Infidel Yoke under which they groan; the World already knows their State too well, to need any Information from me. It will be sufficient to say, that the Poverty of the Christians in the East, and the Difficulty of Procuring Copies of the Scriptures in that Country, where Printing is not in Use, do both unhappily concur to keep those People without any Knowledge of the Scriptures, but as they now and then hear some few Portions of them read in their Churches. And I will leave you, SIR, to judge, what Ignorance, and Corruptions, and Superstitions, are like to follow upon such a Want. And these Difficulties are [15/16] really so great, that the present Patriarch at Aleppo, a Person never to be named without Honour) endeavouring to relieve, as much as in him lay, these Necessities of his People, did formerly procure a Printing Press from Europe, which he erected in his own House, and began to print Copies of their Liturgy: But it soon appeared that this was a Work of too much Expence and Burthen, even for the Magnanimity of this extraordinary Person to support it; insomuch that he was forced to desist from that Undertaking: And as the Press has lain still for some Years; so it does not seem to me ever likely to be set on Work again; and the People must ever continue without the Use of the Scriptures, unless they are reliev'd by some such Method as is now proposed to the Society; and upon which, I beseech GOD to bestow his Blessing. I have said so much in another Place about the Method of Executing this Proposal, that I will not add any Thing to it here.
An Extract of a Letter from the Reverend Mr. Edmund Chishul at Waltham-Stow, sometime Chaplain to the Honourable Turkey Company at Smyrna, dated May 28. 1720. To a Member of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
IN Answer to the Enquiry you are pleased to make concerning the Subject of Mr. Negri's Letter, my Opinion as well as my Wishes are entirely the same with his: He has very truly set forth the Numbers of Oriental Christians using the Arabick Tongue, their unhappy Darkness for Want of Copies of the New Testament, and that absolute Inability they are under, either to print themselves, or to purchase an Impression elsewhere.
IT would therefore be an Act highly worthy the Care and Piety of the Society, if where the Alcoran reigns in Arabick, the Gospel, by their Charity, might be spread in the same Language.
THE Method of dispersing it from Aleppo, is very rightly projected by Mr. Negri; and as to the Manner of Printing it here, I presume to suggest no further, than that it be done from the most approv'd Version, upon good Paper, with exact Corrections of the Press, and without any Manner of Preface, or Recommendation: which last Circumstance is necessary for its being received readily by the Christians of the East.
An Extract of a Letter from the Reverend Mr. George Lewis, who was several Years Chaplain to the Honourable East-India Company at Fort-St. George in the East-Indies, dated July 18. 1720. To the Secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
BEING inform'd that the Society have some Thoughts of Reprinting the New Testament in the Arabick Language, and being likewise desired to give my Sentiments of that Undertaking, in Compliance therewith, I think I may affirm for Truth, that in the Eastern Parts of the Turkish Dominions, viz. from Damascus in Syria, to the Confines of Persia, there are great Numbers of Christians, whose Native Language is Arabick; Many of the Inhabitants of those great Cities, Mosul [or Nineveh], Baghdad [or Babylon], and Bassora on the Euphrates, professing Christianity, and all speaking Arabick. I may likewise observe, that, in all those Countries, the Art of Printing is either not known, or else not put in Practice; and the Books they have being all Manuscripts, must consequently be very dear: And therefore the distributing a large Quantity of Testaments in Arabick among those Eastern Christians, who are generally poor, must be a signal Benefit.
 AS to the Mahometans, (tho' I cannot promise much from them) nevertheless if some Copies of this Edition happen to fall into the Hands of the Learned among them, they may conceive better Thoughts of the Christian Religion than now they have.
AND I judge this a proper Season to set this Work on Foot, while Mr. Negri is in England, whose Skill in the Oriental Languages is well known, especially in the Arabick, which, as a Native of Damascus, is his Mother Tongue, and of which, having been a Professor in Places of Note for a great Part of his Life, he must be esteemed a compleat Master, and therefore no Person that I know of, fitter to have the Care of this Edition, whenever it shall be undertaken.
An Extract of a Letter from the Reverend Mr. Gennadius, Archimandrite [or Abbot], Superior of the Convent of Greeks at Alexandria in Egypt, and Chaplain to His Czarish Majesty's Resident and Subjects at London, dated October 7, 1720. To a Member of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
I HAVE been informed by a Friend, That there are several worthy Persons of your Acquaintance here in London, who design to Print the New Testament and Psalter in Arabick, to be distributed among the Christians who speak that Language in Levant; as your Friends in Germany have some Years printed the New Testament in the Ancient and Modern Greek, for the Benefit of the Grecians.
I can't express to you the Joy which I felt, when I heard that such a Design was beginning to be put in Execution.
IN Truth, SIR, it will be a noble Benefaction to all the poor Christians of every Nation, that groan under the Oppression of the Infidel Hagarenes, of which I have been an Eye-witness, having been educated in Egypt, where I have been about 20 Years Superior of the Convent at Alexandria.
 I know for certain, That at Grand Cairo, and in all the Towns which are under the Jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Alexandria, all the Christians born in that Country speak no other Language; and at their Publick Worship, they read the Epistle and Gospel, and other Parts of Divine Service, in Arabick; and only Part of it is said in Greek. They speak Arabick in all the Countries from Egypt through Gaza and Jerusalem, to Nablos or Samaria; and in all the Country of Syria, as Damascus, Tripoly, Mount Lebanon, Beelbeck, (or the ancient Heliopolis) Antioch, and all the Countrey round, till you come to Euphrates; all the Inhabitants of those vast Countries generally speak no other Language than the Arabick.
THIS makes me believe, that such a Present cannot fail of being very acceptable, considering that they have as much need of it, as we had of your Charity of the New Testament in Greek; and we think our selves obliged, every Time we read it, to pray to God, that the Benefactors, who presented us with that Edition, may be worthy of his Kingdom.
I doubt not but the Arabian Christians will be in the same Disposition, when they shall receive such a Present, as will occasion to them an inexpressible Joy; since it is not in their Power to be at the Expence of Buying very dear Manuscripts; nor have they the Privilege of the Art of Printing.
 THESE Things are all so well known to you, that I need say no more, but only to pray, that GOD Almighty would give those Gentlemen abovementioned the Power to execute what they have purposed, for the Glory of our Lord JESUS CHRIST; and that He would render us all worthy of his Kingdom. Amen.
I am entirely at the Service of
Archimandrite of Alexandria, &c.
Translated from the Greek by me
Bartholomew Cassanno, Nephew
of the said Archimandrite.
A Letter from the Reverend and Honourable Dr. Brydges, Archdeacon of Rochester, and some time Chaplain to the Honourable Turkey Company at Aleppo; To the Secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
I AM very glad the Society have got over the Objection that was started in relation to an Edition of the New Testament and Psalter in Arabick; which, if I mistake not, was founded upon a Suggestion, that it would be of little or no use to the Inhabitants of Palestine, and those Countries for whose Instruction it was chiefly intended, few (if any) of the common People being able to read Arabick.
I assure you, SIR, that when I liv'd in those Parts, there were publick Schools not only at Aleppo, Antioch, Damascus, Tripoly, Sidon, Jerusalem, &c. but in most of the considerable Villages thereabouts, where Children were taught both to read and write Arabick; and I don't doubt but there are so still; [23/24] And the earnest Desire those poor people have expressed for a new Edition of the Scriptures in their Language, makes me think there would have been no Colour for that Objection, if this charitable Design had taken Effect some Years ago.
Nov. 28, 1720.
A Letter from the Reverend Dr. Samuel Lisle, Fellow of Wadham-College in Oxford, and some time Chaplain in the Honourable Turkey Company at Aleppo; To the Secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
I HAVE the Honour to concur with Dr. Brydges in the Testimony he has given concerning the Establishment of Schools in those Countries, for whose Benefit the Edition of the New Testament and Psalter is intended.
 GOD be praised, the Christian Clergy of those Parts have not so abandoned the Care of their Flocks, as not to teach them to read: And if they should, of themselves have been disposed to so much negligence; yet the very Example of the Mahometans, who every where take this Care of their Youth, would admonish them of their Duty in this Respect: And as the Society very well know, that the Tenth Canon of the second Nicene Synod (which the Greeks esteem as a General Council) declares it to be the Duty of some of the Clergy to teach Schools, telling them, that They received the Office of Priesthood for this Purpose: So I assure you, as a Matter of my own Knowledge, that in all the Cities where I have been able to make any Observations, some or other of the Clergy are appointed to teach Children to read; and I have heard the same of the other Cities where I have never been; which I think I have Reason to believe, because I am sure Schools are taught even in considerable Villages.
AND though (after all) I do not presume to say, that Reading is so common in the East, as it is in England; yet I think I may venture to assure the society, that neither they, nor any one else, ought to have any Doubt that there are vastly greater Numbers of Christians in the East, [25/26] who are both able and desirous to read the New Testament in Arabick, than they will be able to supply with Books.
St. Paul's Church-Yard,
Novemb. 29, 1720.
For Printing the
New Testament and Psalter
THE Society (at LONDON) for Promoting Christian Knowledge having considered the Great Charity and Usefulness of Printing the New-Testament and Psalter in Arabick, for the Benefit of the poor Christians of the Eastern Nations in Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt; out of Gratitude to GOD for the inestimable Happiness enjoy'd by the British Nation, in having the Holy Scriptures in common Use among them, and for the Regard due to the Posterity of those, to whom the Sacred Oracles were at first committed; have agreed to print the New-Testament and Psalter in Arabick, for the Benefit of the said Christians, as soon as they [27/28] shall be enabled thereunto by the charitable contributions of their Members, and other well disposed Persons; And, in order to it, have desired the Persons hereafter mentioned, to receive such Benefactions as may come to their Hands for that Purpose.
Bartholomew Beale, Esq; at Heathouse near Ludlow in Shropshire.
The Revd Mr. Arthur Bedford, Chaplain at Asks's Hospital, London.
John Bennet, Esq; in Chancery-Lane.
The Revd Mr. Archdeacon Benson, in Albemarle-Street.
The Revd and Hon. Dr. Brydges, Archdeacon of Rochester, in Dover-street.
The Revd Mr. Denne, Vicar of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch.
Sir Daniel Dolins, Knt. At Hackney.
Thomas Greene, Esq; at Kensington.
The Revd Mr. Dean Harris, Clerk of the Closet to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
Benjamin Hoare, Esq; in Fleet-street.
Robert Holford, Esq; in Bedford-row.
Edward Jennings, Esq; in Little Lincolns-Inn-Fiels.
The Revd Dr. King, Master of the Charter-House.
The Revd Mr. King, at Topsham in Devonshire.
 The Revd Dr. Lisle, Chaplain to His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.
Henry Lovibond, Esq; in Little-Lincolns-Inn-Fields.
The Revd Dr. Mayo, at St. Thomas's-Hospital in Southwark.
John Meller, Esq; in Bloomsbury-Square.
Sir John Philipps, Bart. In Bartlet's-Buildings, Holborn.
The Revd Mr. Soley, Chaplain to the Ld. Bishop of Winchester.
The Revd Dr. Stanley, Dean of St. Asaph, at Amen Corner.
Mr. Archdeacon Tenison, Prebendary of Canterbury.
Mr. Lewis Thomas, Merchant on Tower Hill, London.
William Tillard, Esq; at Bridgwater-Square.
The Revd Dr. Wilkins, Chaplain to His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.
Robert Witham, Esq; Treasurer of St. Bartholomew's Hospital.
The Revd Mr. Ziegenhagen, Chaplain in Ordinary to his Majesty's German Chappel.
26 May, 1725.
THE Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, in Pursuance of the foregoing Proposal, printed 1721, have collected about a thousand Pound; by which Means, they have been enabled to procure
2 NEW Fonts of Arabick Types, viz.
ONE from the Polyglott Matrices;
ANOTHER of a letter Size, called an English-Body, made on Purpose for this Service; And
6250 Psalters printed from a Copy, sent from Aleppo, as approved by the Patriarch of Antioch; of which 2025 were bound, and send by the last Turkey Fleet to Scanderoon.
THE Society are now taking Measures for putting the New Testament into the Press, as soon as a Judgment can be made, what Fund can be depended on; it being necessary to print off as many Copies of the first, as [30/31] of the last Sheet, and this is likewise to be printed from a Copy sent from Aleppo, approv'd by the Patriarch of Antioch.
IN Regard, therefore, that this Impression is undertaken for furnishing the Eastern Christians with the Gospel, upon the Reasons given in the foregoing Letters; and that the same is approved by both the Archbishops, and all the other Bishops of the Kingdom, who were at London, when their Lordships sign'd the Recommendation hereto prefixed; it is hoped, so Christian a Design will not want Encouragement in a Protestant wealthy Countrey; and that the Giver of all Good will bountifully reward those, who shall have any Share in promoting a Work so much tending to his Glory, and the eternal Welfare of our Christian Brethren of the Eastern Nations.