Prologue

 

God, by means of Your power, I begin this book which concerns Your HUNDRED NAMES.

[1] Since the Saracens attempt to prove that their Law is a gift from God, on the grounds that the Qur’­an is so beautifully written that nobody could produce its like, as they say, I, the unworthy Ramon Llull, shall endeavour, with God’s assistance, to bring forth this book, wherein lies subject matter superior to that of the Qur’an, in order to indicate that just as I am able to write a book containing subject matter superior to that of the Qur’an, it is [also] possible for someone else to write this book in as beautiful a style as the Qur’an [itself]. And this I do so that somebody may contend against the Saracens that the Qur’an is not a gift from God, despite its being beautifully written. We assert, on the other hand, that this book, and all good itself, is a gift from God, as it is only right to say.

I beg our Holy Father the Pope and the Lord Cardinals, therefore, to translate it into the best Latin style, for I would not be able to so do, since I lack knowledge of Latin grammar. And if within this book I err against the faith in any respect, I will submit to its being corrected by the Holy Roman Church.

[2] The Saracens state that in the Qur’an there are ninety-nine names of God and that whoever might know the hundredth such would know all things, for which reason I am writing this book concerning the Hundred Names of God, which names I know. Yet, even so, it does not follow that I know all things; so I am writing this in order to censure their false opinion. And in this book, I make use of many names which are more applicable to God than some of those which the Saracens apply to Him.

[3] The method I intend to follow in this book is to speak naturally with respect to the names of God which pertain to Him absolutely; and concerning those names which pertain to Him as regards creation, to speak in terms of what pertains thereto in respect of both God and creation.

[4] In each of the Hundred Names of God we intend to include ten verses, which may be chanted in the manner of the Psalms; and this we do because the Saracens chant the Qur’an in their mosques, for which reason these verses may be chanted according to the manner used by the Saracens.

[5] This book is useful for contemplating and knowing God, and for proving the Christian faith, as is apparent therefrom, and it is a book offering great consolation and pleasure.

[6] In this book it has been necessary to employ certain Latin words, without which we would have been unable to write it in as beautiful or worthy manner.

[7] The first name of God is God, the second is Essence, and so on, as is apparent from the rubrics.

[8] Since God has lent power to words, stones and herbs, how much more so, then, has He lent such to His names! I counsel you, therefore, daily to say the Hundred Names of God and to carry them with you in written form.

[9] When you have said a chapter, utter the following words of praise, in which is contained God’s Essence, His Dignities and divine Persons, as well as Christ’s humanity and Our Lady’s virginity:

Praise and honour to the Essence of God and to His divine Persons and Dignities. And let us remember and love Jesus of Nazareth and the Virgin Mary, his mother.

[These words of] praise [are] to be chanted in the manner of the Gloria Patri.

[10] We make these verses rhyme in the vernacular so that they may more easily be learnt by heart. Yet we do not mind if there are more syllables in certain verses than in others, for we permit this in order that we may include superior subject matter within this book. And it is more difficult to include such subtle subject matter, as is present in this book, within rhyming verse than it is to write the Qur’an in the style in which it is written.