The Qurʼan in the Earliest Printed Version, with the Life and Teachings of Muhammad and Other Works


This volume contains the first-ever printing of the Qurʼan, presented in the 12th-century Latin translation by the English scholar Robert of Ketton. This translation was commissioned by Abbot Peter the Venerable of the monastery of Cluny in France, who was also responsible for monasteries in Spain. Islam was still a strong presence in Spain in the 1300s, although Muslim control of the Iberian Peninsula was waning. When this edition was printed 400 years later, Islam was again a pressing concern for Christian authorities: in 1529 the Ottoman Turkish sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, had besieged Vienna. A notable feature is the preface by Martin Luther, who found a manuscript of Ketton’s translation and arranged for its printing. Luther wanted Christians to be informed about Islam so that they could refute its theological positions, “for the propagation of the Christian faith and of Holy Mother Church.” Luther was criticized for this publication by critics who maintained that even printing the Qur’ān for polemical purposes was a dangerous acknowledgment of its religious significance. In addition to the translation of the Qur’ān itself, the volume contains “the refutations by many of the most worthy Arabic, Greek, and Latin authors, together with a foreword by the most excellent theologian, Martin Luther,” making it the most comprehensive set of materials on the subject available in the West at the time. These writings include Confutatio legis latae Saracenis a maledicto Mahometo (Refutation of the law enacted by the curse of the Saracens, Mahomet) by Ricoldo da Montecroce (circa 1243–1320), with a parallel Greek translation; Historiae de Saracenorum sive Turcarum origine, moribus, nequitia, religione, rebus gestis (History of the Saracen or Turkish origin, behavior, wickedness, religion, and history), prefaced by Luther; and the Greek original and Latin translation of Contra Mahometicam fidem Christiana & orthodoxa assertion (Against Mohammedanism and a Christian Orthodox faith assertion) by John VI Cantacuzenus, Emperor of the East (1292–1383).

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Johannes Oporinus, Basel

Title in Original Language

Machvmetis Saracenorvm Principis eivsq́ve svccessorvm vitae, ac doctrina, ipséqve Alcoran

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

860 pages ; 30 x 20.5 x 6 centimeters

Last updated: April 6, 2015