enter image description hereRobert of Ketton's Latin Translation of Quran (4:157):

seque Christum Mariae filium Dei nuncium peremisse perhibent. Sed nequaquam eum, imo sui similem suspendentes interfecerunt. profites etiam se suae caedis authores, cordibus suis non minimam ambiguitatem inde gerunt. Sed eum nullatenus interfecerunt

My translation:

And they say that they killed Christ son of Mary, God’s messenger. But by no means they killed him. On the contrary they hanged similar of him. You declare that they are the performers of his murder. Therefore in their hearts they do not have any uncertainty. But by no means they killed him.

I'm not certain about my translation, specially of profites etiam se suae caedis authores.

2 Answers 2


Like fdb said, it should be 'profitentes' instead of 'profites'.

Nicolaus Cusanus cited Ketton's translation like this: "Profitentes etiam se suae caedis authores cordibus suis non minimam ambiguitatem inde gerunt, [sed eum nullatenus interfecerunt]" (https://books.google.nl/books?id=mQ-KDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA46).

Translation by Hagemann and Glei: "Selbst wenn sie sich als Anstifter seiner Ermordung erkennen, haben sie in ihren Herzen nicht geringe Zweifel; [getötet jedoch haben sie ihn keineswegs.]"

Note also that 'non minimam ambiguitatem' is not translated as 'not the least/smallest bit of doubt', but rather as 'not (very) little/small doubt', i.e. litotically: 'considerable doubt'. A Google search for 'non minimam' seems to confirm that it tends to mean the same as 'non parvam'.

So it would be: "Even when declaring themselves to be the instigators of his murder, they have no little doubt in their hearts about it; [yet by no means did they kill him.]"

This is an adequate paraphrase or summary of the Arabic:

وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ لَفِى شَكٍّ۬ مِّنۡهُ‌ۚ مَا لَهُم بِهِۦ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ إِلَّا ٱتِّبَاعَ ٱلظَّنِّ‌ۚ [وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينَۢا]

Which in Marracci's more literal Latin is translated: "& profectò qui discordes fuerunt circa eum; esset ne ipse, an alius similis ipsi; certè fuerunt in dubitatione de hoc (de vera morte ejus) non fuit illis de hoc ulla scientia, sed tantùm sectatio opinionis. [Et non occiderunt eum verè]" (https://books.google.nl/books?id=IQdRAAAAcAAJ&pg=RA1-PA171, under verse 156).

So the Quran's "وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ" ("and indeed those who differ in this matter/concerning him") and Marracci's "& profectò qui discordes fuerunt circa eum" correspond to Ketton's "Profitentes etiam se suae caedis authores".

  • 1
    How peculiar, by the way, that precisely where we would expect the letters 'ten', between 'profi-' and '-tes', we find the number 10 in the margin. Robert of Ketton was English, and the spelling 'ten' for the number 10 has been around since Middle English.
    – Jasper May
    May 11, 2020 at 20:56
  • Probably It is not the case. That 10 is the line number and this book was published in Basel, 1550. archive.org/details/case_bp127_l3_1550/page/n155/mode/2up
    – Ali Nikzad
    May 12, 2020 at 13:51
  • Probably not, no. I just thought it was an interesting coincidence.
    – Jasper May
    May 12, 2020 at 14:24

Presumably you have looked at this:

وَقَوۡلِهِمۡ إِنَّا قَتَلۡنَا ٱلۡمَسِيحَ عِيسَى ٱبۡنَ مَرۡيَمَ رَسُولَ ٱللَّهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَـٰكِن شُبِّهَ لَهُمۡ‌ۚ وَإِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ لَفِى شَكٍّ۬ مِّنۡهُ‌ۚ مَا لَهُم بِهِۦ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ إِلَّا ٱتِّبَاعَ ٱلظَّنِّ‌ۚ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينَۢا

“profites” does not make any sense to me. Perhaps a printer’s error (or abbreviation?) for “profitentes”. Translate then: “claiming therefore that they are the authors of his killing”. There is nothing remotely resembling this in the Arabic original.


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