I’m labouring away on translating the 7th Dialogue with a Persian of Manuel II Paleologus, the work that was the pretext for all those Moslem attacks on the Pope. I’m beginning to get an idea of the context of the quotation; “what did Mohammed bring into the world that was not evil.”
The whole dialogue is addressing a single question: which is the best Law? — that of Moses, that of Christ, or that of Mohammed. Both sides agree that Christ added to the Law of Moses; that Mohammed added his stuff on top of both. So the question is whether the additions made were an improvement.
Both sides agree that Christ’s additions improved the Law of Moses. But the learned Persian asserts that the Law of Christ is impractical for ordinary people, and the additions of Mohammed make it tolerable and practical. Manuel is having none of this; which of them, he asks, is not in fact an evil?
That was the real context.