The Libro de las Profecias of Christopher Columbus

The Libro de las Profecias of Christopher Columbus

The Libro de las Profecias of Christopher Columbus

The Libro de las Profecias of Christopher Columbus


"Perhaps the most important single volume on Columbus ever published in English. The authors' classification of Columbus's piety as 'evangelical' will be controversial but is exactly right He as as cosmopolitan in his piety as in his cosmography. This is a marvelously well-written and organized study that has all the authority of deep scholarship." -Leonard Sweet, president, Union Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio

The book in which Christopher Columbus explains his vision to his king and queen is now available for the first time in English. Columbus compiled the Libro in 1501-1502 after returning in chains from his third voyage to the New World. He hoped that his notebook of biblical prophecies would inspire King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to finance a fourth trip for him, one that would allow them to fulfill millennial prophecies of becoming monarchs of the New Jerusalem Though historians and biographers agree that the document is authentic, until now it has been available only to multilingual scholars. Even those with access to the work paid it slight attention, viewing it as an unimportant excursion into fanaticism that occurred late in the explorer's life. The commentators argue that apocalyptic thought played a significant role in Columbus's grand scheme throughout his life and that biblical prophecies were a major factor motivating his explorations, backing their claims with analyses of his intellectual and cultural background, the apocalyptic thought in Spain at the time, and other writings by his contemporaries The Libro de las profecías was compiled under the direction of Columbus by his thirteen-year-old son Ferdinand, his close friend Father Gaspar Gorricio, and other clerics. It is reproduced in this handsome volume, with the original Latin and Spanish texts and the English translation on facing pages, as the second title in the Columbus Quincentennary Series. Delno C. west, a research fellow at the Center for Theological Inquiry at Princeton, is professor of history at Northern Arizona University. He is coauthor of Christopher Columbus: The Great Adventure and Joachim of Fiore: A Study in Spiritual Perception and History.


This coauthored book is unusual in that the two authors have never met. I had been studying the Libro de las profecιas since 1984 when I learned through the National Endowment for the Humanities staff that August Kling was working on a translation of that document before his death in the spring of 1986. Subsequent conferences with Mrs. Marjory Kling led to an agreement to coauthor this book using Dr. Kling's translation and notes. Although I never met Dr. Kling, I came to admire his abilities as a researcher and linguist, and his insights into the Admiral of the Ocean Sea's spirituality.

Born on 26 July 1927 in Schenectady, New York, August J. Kling was educated at Wheaton College, Princeton Theological Seminary, McGill University, and the Universities of Mexico, Edinburgh, Paris, and Vienna. Although a longtime parish pastor, early in his professional career he developed an interest in the lives of prominent scientists who were noted Christians. These studies led him to focus on the life and work of Christopher Columbus, whose extant documents, especially the Libro de las profecιas, reflect a deep Christian commitment. In 1984 Kling left the parish ministry to devote full time to his research interests.

Both authors owe many debts to colleagues and sponsors of this project. Both wish to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Texts and Translations, for grant funds to complete this project and Dr. James McCord and his excellent staff, Kate Levan and Patricia Calvo, at the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, New Jersey, for financial, moral, and intellectual support. Also, I would like to thank my university for continued interest in this project expressed by sabbatical leave, released time from teaching, and funds from its Organized Research Committee.

Further, I wish to express my deep thanks to academic friends who helped with this project. Dr. Francisco Morales Padrón was always available to share his incredible knowledge of Columbus and the New World Encounter and eventually presented me with a gift of the newly published exact facsimile of the Libro de las profecias (Collección tabula Americae, Madrid, 1984). Drs. Juan Gil . . .

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