The Qur’ān

By Richard Bell

First Edition (1939)

The Qur’ān

Richard Bell, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1939
“Preface The necessity for a new translation of the Qur’ān which would present the results of critical study came home to the author as an urgent task more than twelve years ago, in the course of the preparation of his lectures of The Origin of Islam. He...


Richard Bell (1876–1952) was a Scottish minister of The Church of Scotland for 14 years, later appointed Lecturer in Arabic at Edinburgh University. Bell had graduated from the Edinburgh University in Semitic studies and first worked on Arabic mathematical manuscripts but gave that up for the translation of the Quran. Bell was preoccupied with showing how Christianity influenced Islam, especially with the structure and composition of the Quran - this is clearly evident from a collection of lectures entitled “The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment”. Bell published his Quran translation in two volumes between 1937 and 1939, rearranging almost everything in a system of dotted lines, boxes and numbering. This makes the text somewhat confusing and hard to follow. Bell admits later on to this fact, and that the arrangement of the Quran in chronological order remains a complicated problem which must be left to others to solve. The translation is based on the Arabic Text of the Quran from the 1834 edition by the German orientalist Gustav Flügel. Like most translators around that time, the translation relied heavily on al-Bayḍāwī’s Quran commentary. Bell’s translation did not gain much popularity, mainly due to the fact the translation is more preoccupied with the origins of the Quran in Christianity and theories about what Muslims did to the text of the Quran, and in the process neglected the Quran Text itself.

About the author

Richard Bell

  • Born: Dumfries, Scotland, 1876
  • Died: 5, May 1952
  • Full name: Richard Bell
  • Other names: Bell, Richard R. Bell
  • Creed: Christian


Richard Bell’s Quran translation was only printed twice, in 1937/1939 and 1960. In 1991, his commentary of the Quran appeared in two volumes, but was severely criticized by scholars and shortly after remained by the publisher not long after publication.

  • 1937 ——— The Qurʼān : translated, with a critical re-arrangement of the Surahs. Vol. I (WorldCat)
  • 1939 ——— The Qur'ān : translated, with a critical re-arrangement of the Surahs. Vol. II : Surahs XXV-CXIV. (WorldCat)
  • 1960 ——— (second print) The Qurʼān. Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark. (WorldCat)
  • 1991 ——— Edited by C. Edmund Bosworth: A commentary on the Qur'ān. Vol. i. Surahs I–XXIV. Vol. ii. Surahs XXV–CXIV. Manchester: University of Manchester (WorldCat)---