Liber Psalmorum Davidis regis, et prophetae. Ex Arabico idiomate in Latinum translatus. A Victorio Scialac Accurensi, & Gabriele Sionita Edeniensi Maronitis, è Monte Libano, philosophiae, & sacrae theologiae professoribus. Recens in lucem editus munificentia illustrissimi, & excellentiss. D.D. Francisci Savary de Breves, [...]


Tipografo: Ex Typografia Sauariana, excudebat Stephanus Paulinus

Dati tipografici: Roma, 1614

4to (215x150 mm). [8], 474, [6] pp. Collation: [π]4 [A]4 B-Mmm4 Nnn6 [ππ]2. The last two leaves contain the Arabic and Latin errata corrige. Woodcut coat-of-arms of the dedicatee, the King of France Louis XIII, on the title page; François Savary de Brèves' coat-of-arms above the colophon on l. Nnn6r. Text printed in two columns with Arabic-Latin parallel text. Slighlty later vellum over boards, spine with morocco lettering piece, marbled endpapers and edges (light stain on the front panel, corners worn). Some quires browned, light scattered foxing, small burn hole skillfully repaired to l. [π]3 with loss of a few words, tear repaired to pp. 267-268. A very good genuine copy.

First edition of this adaptation of the Psalms set in Arabic and in the Latin version of the Maronite friars Victorius Scialac and Gabrielis Sionita. The edition was printed in about 3000 copies, most of which were used for a 1619 re-issue with only the title page changed.

The cutting and founding of the types, designed by François Savary de Brèves (1560-1628), were done in Rome, in collaboration with Stefano Paolini, an experienced printer formerly at the Typographia Medicea who later became the first director of the Propaganda Fide press. Their clarity and elegance that allowed an extensive vocalisation helped this edition to achieve an immense popularity among oriental scholars throughout Europe. It is believed that the type design was based on a calligraphical manuscript from Qannubin preserved in the Bibliotheca Vaticana. The Psalms' text is based on a manuscript that Savary de Brèves had bought in Jerusalem. Both the Arabic text and the translation by the Maronites Scialac and Sionita occasionally departs from the Vulgate; nonetheless the long imprimatur was signed, among the others, by the influential Cardinal Casare Bellarmino, whose Arabic catechism remain the only other work published by the Typographia Savariana in Rome. The types have survived and are now in the archives of the Imprimerie Nationale in Paris.

“In a recent study Duverdier has shown how Savary de Breves, Ambassador of France in Constantinople from 1584 to 1606, in a crusading spirit conceived the idea of an Oriental press, so that, with the printing of religious works in Syriac and Arabic, the Christian minorities in the Levant would be better prepared to understand and accept the Roman church when their political liberation was near. He has Arabic and Syriac type cut during his stay in Rome (1608-1614) with which first Bellarmin's Catechism in Arabic was published in 1613. An Arabic Psalter was begun at the same time and published a year later. The Arabic typeface for this edition was probably cut by Sottile or another Italian craftsman, and is closely modeled after a Vatical manuscript of the Psalter” (Smitskamp, Philologia Orientalis, 33).


Darlow & Moule, 1641; Lüthi, 198; Fück, 56; Ebert, 18088; J. Balagna, L'imprimerie arabe en occident, Paris, 1984, p. 55f.