Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 337 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The Gospels attributed to the four evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, translated into Persian by Flemish Carmelite monk Pierre de la Mère de Dieu (1612–1672), who apparently completed it in Isfahan at the request of his superior between 1650 to 1655. French traveller Jean Chardin (1643-1713), author of Voyages de Monsieur Chardin, probably acquired this volume in Isfahan while residing there between 1673 to 1677, some twenty years after completion of the translation.
Incipit: (beginning) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): کتاب نسبت عیسی مسیح ابن داود بن ابراهیم از ابراهیم بوجود آمد...
Explicit: برگ ۱۳۶ر (folio 136a): ترجمه‌‌ٔ این چهار کتاب انجیل بظهور آمد بدست پادری پدرو عبدالرب عیسی از جماعت پادریان پابرهنه مشهور بجماعت راه بانان کوهکرمل.
Colophon: No colophon.

The explicit gives the name of the translator as a Carmelite ‘Pādirī Pidrū’ (Padré Pedro). For a biographical account of the translator, see Chick. It remains unclear whether the author personally copied this manuscript. For another Persian translation of the Gospels held in the Rylands, see Persian MS 976. Regarding the annotations in the manuscript, Michael Kerney observes ‘There are also some other notes in a handwriting I have seen before — of the same scholar nea who became posessed of one of the Orfi Díwáns after Reland [Adrian Reeland, 1676–1718]’ (see Kerney ms handlist, p. 128).

Language(s): Persian
Title: انجیل مقدس حضرت عیسی المسیح فراخور المکتوب متی الرسول
Incipit: انجیل متی که در شهر فلستین بزبان عبری گفته شد و انطاقیه بسریانی نبشتند
Title: انجیل مقدس حضرت عیسی المسیح موافق نوشته مرقس شاگرد آغاز انجیل مرقس که در شهر

بطرس رومیه بزبان فرنگی نبشته است

Title: انجیل مقدس حضرت عیسی المسیح موافق نوشته لرقا یک از هفتاد و انجیل لوقا که

دو شاگرد حضرت عیسی بزبان یونانی در اسکندریه نوشت

Title: انجیل مقدس حضرت عیسی المسیح فراخور المنقول بدست یوحنا الرسول

انجیل یوحنا یکی از دوازده حواریون که در شهر افسوس بزبان رومی گفته شد

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 136 folios, 4 fly leaves (ff. ii + 136 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 242 × 155 mm.
Dimensions (written): 155 × 88 mm.
Foliation: Unfoliated.


Undetermined. Catchwords on the lower-left corners of the b sides throughout..


Written in i1 column with 14 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with shikastah ligatures, and red subheaders.

Marginalia: Occasional notes in various hands, with those in Latin indicate the beginning of each Book.
  • Folio 1b signed by Jean Chardin.
  • A number ‘1.Æ’ which partially appears under Hindley's bookplate, may pertain to Chardin's library (full number confirmed by Rylands' Imaging).
Bookplates and Labels: The left pastedown: John Haddon Hindley, Howell and Stewart, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘2/H’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 557’ with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘311’ written aside.


Sewn unsupported at two stations. Edges trimmed, with endband omitted. Covered in full red goatskin leather over pasteboards, with flush-cut edges and defined joint, but without a flap (type III binding per Déroche). Board interior lines with domenstically manufactured marbled paper (abrī). Spine subsequently rebacked in the mid 19th century in similar red goatskin leather.

Board margins ruled in

Binding in good condition, with some abrasion to the edges of the boards.


Origin: Probably composed, if not completed, in Isfahan; undated, but likely finished between 1655 and 1675 CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Probably acquired in Isfahan by French traveller Jean Chardin (1643–1713), who signed folio 1b, while residing there between 1673 to 1677, some twenty years after completion of either the work or this manuscript. He then evidently thereafter returned with the volume to Britain. After his death, his surviving family members sold his library, mainly through the firm of James Levi that same year; however, this volume does not appear in that catalogue. Chardin possibly also sold the volume before his death.

Subsequently acquired by Chetham Librarian John Haddon Hindley (1765–1827), who possibly offered first it for sale in 1793 (see Hindley catalogue), but then after whose death the London firm of Howell and Stewart sold many of his manuscripts.

Probably purchased from Howell and Stewart by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) for his library at Randalls Park, Leatherhead.

After Bland's death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in June, 1866, paid in two instalments of £450 and £400, and then moved to Bibliotheca Lindesiana at Haigh Hall, Wigan.

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands (1843–1908) in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford (1847–1913).

Bequeathed by Enriqueta Rylands (1843–1908) in 1908 to the John Rylands Library, Manchester.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s, concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2022 with reference to the volume in hand.


To book an in-person or online appointment to consult the manuscript, visit Using the Special Collections Reading Rooms. For any other enquiries please email uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk.


    H. Chick, A Chronicle of the Carmelites in Persia: The Safavids and the Papal Mission of the 17th and 18th Centuries, Vol. II (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1939): pp. 807–808, 974.
    J. Emerson, 'Chardin, Sir John' Encyclopædia Iranica Vol. V, Fasc. 4 (1992) pp. 369-377.
    H. Ethé, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office, Vol. I (Oxford: Printed for the India Office by H. Hart, 1903) cols. 1473–1474, nos. 2713–2714 [BL IO Islamic 2475 and 2693].
    J. H. Hindley (London: , ), p. 56, no. 1375.
    . R. Hodgson, '"Spoils of Many a Distant Land": The Earls of Crawford and the Collecting of Oriental Manuscripts in the Nineteenth Century'. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 48 No. 6 (2020): pp. 1023, 1038 n66.
    Howell and Stewart A Second Supplement to Howell and Stewart's Catalogue of Oriental and Oriento-Biblical Literature for 1828: Including the Valuable Printed and Ms Collection of the Rev. J. H. Hindley and Other Additions of Rare and Curious Works; Also an Appendix of Miscellaneous Literature 295 Holborn London (London: Thomas White printer Johnson's Court, 1828) .
    K. Mushār, Fihrist-i Kitāb'hā-yi Chāpī-i Fārsī, Vol. I, Pt. 2 (Tehran: Chāpkhānah-ʼi Urzhang, 1350 SH [1971– CE]), p. 221.
    S. Rafiee-Rad, 'Persian Manuscripts in Samuel Robinson’s Collection in The John Rylands Library', Manuscripta: A Journal for Manuscript Research, Vol. 61, No. 2 (2017): pp. 260–262 [Rylands Persian MS 976].
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I (London: British Museum, 1879), pp. 1–2 [BL Or. 1419, Add. 19431 and 19532].
    E. Sachau and H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Vol I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), col. 133, nos. 1835–1840 [Bodleian Pococke 241, Ms. Laud Or. 2, Or. 189 and 587, Hyde 12, and Elliott 13].
    K. J. Thomas and A. A. Aghbar, A Restless Search: A History of Persian Translations of the Bible. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2015.
    K. J. Thomas and F. Vahman, 'Bible vii. Persian translations of the Bible' Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. IV, Fasc. 2 (1989), pp. 209–213.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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