Discourse on Universal History


This work is a translation into Arabic of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet’s history of the world, Discours sur l’histoire universelle (Discourse on universal history), in which the author argues for the divine right of kings. Bossuet’s book, originally published in 1681, is regarded as a classic statement defining the monarch as the embodiment of the state. Bossuet wrote the book for the benefit of the crown prince of France and based his argument on an interpretation of Biblical history. The work was translated by ‘Abd Allah al-Bustāni. It was commissioned for translation and publication by Bishop Yūsuf ibn Ilyās al-Dibs, primate of Lebanon and president of al-Da’irah al-‘Ilmiyah (The Scientific Society). It is difficult to understand why the bishop selected this work, since the political circumstances of the Ottoman Levant of the late-19th century differed radically from 17th century France. He may have endorsed it for its edifying content and judged it appropriate for teaching in schools under his authority. The work was printed at the Catholic Press in Beirut in 1882, which at the time was administered by Bishop al-Dibs. ‘Abd Allah al-Bustāni was a Maronite Catholic writer and teacher of Arabic. Little is known of Shakir al-‘Awn, whose name appears on the title page as co-translator.

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Subject Date

Publication Information

Catholic Press, Beirut


Title in Original Language

خطاب في التاريخ العام

Type of Item

Physical Description

344 pages ; 24 centimeters

Last updated: July 21, 2014