Achaemenid Grants of Cities and Lands to Greeks

Kholod, Maxim. 2018. Achaemenid Grants of Cities and Lands to Greeks: The Case of Mentor and Memnon of RhodesGreek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 58, 177-197.

The first grant probably consisted of Ilium, Cebren, and Scepsis and vicinity, while the second was either in the same part of the Troad or in the coastal region between Adramyttium and the Caicus.

Source of the abstract: GRBS.

A Unified Gospel with Exegetical Comments in Classical Persian

Hassanabadi, Mahmoud, Carina Jahani & Robert Crellin (eds.). 2018. A Unified Gospel in Persian: An old variant of the Gospels along with exegetical comments by Yahyā Ibn Ayvaz-e Tabrīzī-ye Armanī (Studia Iranica Upsaliensia 33). Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

Today we are accustomed to thinking of the Bible as a single entity, i.e. as ‘the Bible’, a well-defined corpus containing a set number of books. In late antiquity and in the Middle Ages, however, the situation was much more fluid. This fluidity showed itself not only in the fact that parts of the Bible would often circulate independently, but also in that Bible texts were often known in vernacular languages both in direct translations, but also in interlinear glosses and poetic paraphrases. It is in this context that the Unified Gospel is to be seen. Unifications of the gospel texts are often called Diatessaron (through the four), and, although this name has not been used for the Persian text presented in this book, it can still be seen as belonging to the Diatessaron tradition.

The Unified Gospel presented here was compiled in Persian by a certain Armenian who calls himself Yahyā Ibn Ayvaz-e Tabrīzī-ye Armanī. The actual time of the compilation cannot be determined from the existing manuscripts. The main manuscript for this edition is kept in the National Library and Archives of Iran. It was finalized on 9 Rajab 1111 A.H. (corresponding to 31 Dec. 1699) by a scribe named Khusraw, son of Bahrām. Other manuscripts, which are introduced in detail in the Persian introduction, have also been taken into account in this edition. In addition to the actual Gospel texts, there are numerous exegetical comments by the compiler, which are of great value for a deeper understanding of how the text was interpreted in former times. The language also shows certain archaic features, both in the vocabulary and the syntax, which indicate that the original work most likely dates to pre-Safavid times.

It is not entirely clear for whom this Unified Gospel in Persian was produced. The compiler finds that the people of his time had turned away from God and instead sought worldly affairs, spending their time reading stories and poems full of deceit and darkness instead of reading the Gospel. The Gospel was not available to them in Persian, a language of which they had better knowledge than the languages into which the Gospels had already been translated. This was the reason why the compiler/translator undertook the work which resulted in the present manuscript, which is particularly valuable due to the large number of comments to the Bible text added by the compiler.

Spiritual Elite Communities: Mandaeans, Yezidis, Ahl-e Haqq, Druze and Alawis

Jong, Albert de. 2018. Spiritual Elite Communities in the Contemporary Middle East. Sociology of Islam 6(2). 116–140.

This article claims that we are in need of alternative ways of modelling religious diversity in the Middle East. This region is characterized by a high level of religious diversity, which can only be partly explained by the persistence of religions that were already in existence when Islam arose. Many communities came into being since the Islamization of the area. The communities addressed in this article therefore include one pre-Islamic tradition, the Mandaeans, and five communities that crystallized (much) later: the Yezidis, the Ahl-e Haqq, the Druze, the Alawis, and the (Turkish) Alevis. These have often been discussed in conjunction with each other, in ways that are historically and conceptually problematic. A focus on two characteristics these communities share—endogamy and a “spiritual elite” structure—makes it possible to discuss the processes in which these communities have come into being, have crystallized, and relate to the wider Islamic setting in a new light. Three communities have continued to distance themselves from Islam, and three have been in a constant process of negotiating their relation with more mainstream versions of Islam. This has consequences for the maintenance, or gradual dissolution, of religious pluralism in the Middle East.

The Aggada of the Bavli and Its Cultural World

Herman, Geoffrey & Jeffrey L. Rubenstein (eds.). 2018. The Aggada of the Bavli and its cultural world (Brown Judaic Studies 362). Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies.


Essays that explore the rich engagement of the Talmud with its cultural world

The Babylonian Talmud (Bavli), the great compilation of Jewish law edited in the late Sasanian era (sixth-seventh century CE), also incorporates a great deal of aggada, that is, nonlegal material, including interpretations of the Bible, stories, folk sayings, and prayers. The Talmud’s aggadic traditions often echo conversations with the surrounding cultures of the Persians, Eastern Christians, Manichaeans, Mandaeans, and the ancient Babylonians, and others. The essays in this volume analyze Bavli aggada to reveal this rich engagement of the Talmud with its cultural world.


  • A detailed analysis of the different conceptions of martyrdom in the Talmud as opposed to the Eastern Christian martyr accounts
  • Illustration of the complex ways rabbinic Judaism absorbed Christian and Zoroastrian theological ideas
  • Demonstration of the presence of Persian-Zoroastrian royal and mythological motifs in talmudic sources
I. The Mesopotamian Context
  • Sara Ronis: A Demonic Servant in Rav Papa’s Household: Demons as Subjects in the Mesopotamian Talmud
  • Reuven Kiperwasser: Narrative Bricolage and Cultural Hybrids in Rabbinic Babylonia: On the Narratives of Seduction and the Topos of Light
  • Yakir Paz: “Meishan Is Dead”: On the Historical Contexts
  • of the Bavli’s Representations of the Jews in Southern Babylonia
II. The Sasanian Context
  • Geoffrey Herman: “In Honor of the House of Caesar”: Attitudes to the Kingdom in the Aggada of the Babylonian Talmud and Other Sasanian Sources
  • Jason Mokhtarian: Clusters of Iranian Loanwords in Talmudic Folkore: The Chapter of the Pious (b. Ta‘anit 18b-26a) in Ιts Sasanian Context
  • Shai Secunda: Gaze and Counter-Gaze: Textuality and Contextuality
  • in the Anecdote of Rav Assi and the Roman (b. Baba Meṣiʿa 28b)
III. The Syriac and Christian Context
  • Jeffrey L. Rubenstein: Martyrdom in the Persian Martyr Acts and in the Babylonian Talmud
  • Simcha Gross: A Persian Anti-Martyr Act: The Death of Rabba bar Naḥmani in Light of the Syriac Persian Martyr Acts
  • Michal Bar-Asher Siegal: “Fool, Look to the End of the Verse”: b. Ḥullin 87a and Its Christian Background
IV. The Zoroastrian Context
  • Yaakov Elman: Dualistic Elements in Babylonian Aggada
  • Yishai Kiel: First Man, First Bovine: Talmudic Mythology in Context
  • David Brodsky: Mourner’s Kaddish, The Prequel: The Sassanian Period Backstory That Gave Birth to the Medieval Prayer for the Dead

From Ancient Near East to Early Islamic History

Schmidtke, Sabine. 2018. Studying the Near and Middle East at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1935–2018 (Gorgias Handbooks). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press.
The history of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study dates back to 1935, and it is the one area of scholarship that has been continuously represented at the Institute ever since. The volume opens with a historical sketch of the study of the Near and Middle East at the Institute. The second part of the volume consists of essays and short studies by IAS scholars, past and present, covering fields such as the ancient Near East and early Islamic history, the Bible and the Qurʾān, Islamic intellectual history within and beyond denominational history, Arabic and other Semitic languages and literatures, Islamic religious and legal practices, law and society, the Islamic West, the Ottoman world, Iranian studies, the modern Middle East, and Islam in the West.

The Ancient Near East and Early Islamic History

  • GEOFFREY HERMAN: “There we sat down”: Mapping Settlement Patterns in Sasanian Babylonia
  • FRANCESCA ROCHBERG: The Near Eastern Heritage in Greco-Roman Astronomy
  • DAVID F. GRAF: Arabia before Islam
  • G. W. BOWERSOCK: The Rise and Fall of a Jewish Kingdom in Arabia
  • HENNING TRÜPER: Entanglements of Classics and Orientalism in the History of Philology, and of Princeton University, circa 1900
  • MURIEL DEBIE: For a Different History of the Seventh Century CE: Syriac Sources and Sasanian and Arab-Muslim Occupation of the Middle East
  • STELIOS MICHALOPOULOS: Trade and Geography in the Origins and Spread of Islam
  • CARLO SCARDINO: New Insights into the Continuation of Ancient Science among the Arabs
  • D. G. TOR: The Empire Strikes Back: The Restoration of Caliphal Political Power in the Medieval Islamic World

The Bible and the Qurʾān

  • KONRAD SCHMID: Who Wrote the Torah? Textual, Historical, Sociological, and Ideological Cornerstones of the Formation of the Pentateuch
  • STEFAN SCHORCH: Is a Qibla a Qibla? Samaritan Traditions about Mount Garizim in Contact and Contention 95  SABINE SCHMIDTKE: Muslim Perceptions and Receptions of the Bible
  • ROBERTO TOTTOLI: Editing the Qurʾān in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Europe
  • GEORGES TAMER: The Concept of Time in the Qurʾān 118
  • G. W. BOWERSOCK: The Voice of God

Islamic Intellectual History Within and Beyond Denominational Borders

  • SONJA BRENTJES: Visualization and Material Cultures of the Heavens in Eurasia and North Africa
  • KHALED EL-ROUAYHEB: Rethinking the Canons of Islamic Intellectual History
  • SABINE SCHMIDTKE: The People of Justice and Monotheism: Muʿtazilism in Islam and Judaism
  • KELLY DEVINE THOMAS: The Necessity of a Historical Approach to Islamic Theology: Tracing Modern Islamic Thought to the Middle Ages
  • GARTH FOWDEN: Abraham and Aristotle in Dialogue
  • FRÉDÉRIQUE WOERTHER: What Makes an Orator Trustworthy? Some Notes on the Transmission of Aristotle’s Rhetoric in the Arabic World and Its Interpretation by al-Fārābī
  • FRANÇOIS DE BLOIS: Aristotle and Avicenna on the Habitability of the Southern Hemisphere
  • EMMA GANNAGÉ: Physical Theory and Medical Practice in the Post-Avicenna Era: Yaʿqūb b. Isḥāq al-Isrāʾīlī on Properties (Exploratory Notes)
  • FRANK GRIFFEL: Was Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī an Averroist after All? On the Double-Truth Theory in Medieval Latin and Islamic Thought
  • SAMER TRABOULSI: The Challenges of Druze Studies

Arabic and other Semitic Languages and Literatures

  • MAURICE A. POMERANTZ: Chasing after a Trickster: The Maqāmāt between Philology and World Literature
  • BILAL ORFALI: Employment Opportunities in Literature in Tenth-Century Islamic Courts 243SEBASTIAN GÜNTHER: “A Glimpse of the Mystery of Mysteries”: Ibn Ṭufayl on Learning and Spirituality without Prophets and Scriptures
  • GEOFFREY A. KHAN: Aramaic and Endangered Languages 262GEORGE A. KIRAZ: Dots in the Writing Systems of the Middle East
  • WILL HANLEY: Unlocking Middle Eastern Names

Islamic Religious and Legal Practices, Law and Society

  • ZOLTAN SZOMBATHY: Jurists on Literature and Men of Letters on Law: The Interfaces of Islamic Law and Medieval Arabic Literature
  • MARION KATZ: Law, Ethics, and the Problem of Domestic Labor in the Islamic Marriage Contract
  • HASSAN ANSARI: The Shiʿite Interpretation of the Status of Women 300ANVER M. EMON: Islamic Law and Private International Law: The Case of International Child Abduction
  • VANJA HAMZIĆ: A Renaissance Interrupted? Debating Personhood through a Sexual Act in the Twelfth-Century Christianate and Islamicate Worlds 308MARGARET S. GRAVES: Say Something Nice: Supplications on Medieval Objects, and Why They Matter
  • BIRGIT KRAWIETZ: Ten Theses on Working with Demons (Jinn) in Islamic Studies 331BABER JOHANSEN :The Invisibility of Paternal Filiation: The Power of Institutions versus Scientific Proof in Roman and Muslim Law
  • RAINER BRUNNER: Joseph Schacht and German Orientalism in the 1920s and 1930s

The Islamic West and Beyond

  • MARIBEL FIERRO: The Other Edge: The Maghrib in the Mashriq
  • DEVIN J. STEWART: Identifying “the Mufti of Oran”: A Detective Story
  • MERCEDES GARCÍA-ARENAL: Castilian and Arabic: The Debates about the Natural Languages of Spain
  • PATRICK J. O’BANION: Peace and Quiet in Castile: Baptized Muslims, Feudal Lords, and the Royal Expulsion
  • VALERIE GONZALEZ: The Hermeneutics of Islamic Ornament: The Example of the Alhambra

The Ottoman World and Beyond

  • AMY SINGER: Edirne/Adrianople: The Best City in Greece 390
  • JANE HATHAWAY: The Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Imperial Harem
  • EMINE FETVACI: Persian Aesthetics in Ottoman Albums
  • YÜCEL YANIKDAĞ: Syphilis as Measure of Civilization and Progress? Ottoman-Turkish Responses to European Medical Discourses on the General Paresis of the Insane
  • PETER B. GOLDEN: The Construction of Ethnicity in Medieval Turkic Eurasia 420RON SELA: Tamerlane’s (Fictitious) Pilgrimage to the Tombs of the Prophets
  • ADAM SABRA: Building a Family Shrine in Ottoman Cairo

Iranian and Persianate Studies

  • ANDREA PIRAS: The Shaping of the Holy Self: Art and Religious Life in Manichaeism
  • HASSAN ANSARI: Patricia Crone’s Contribution to Iranian Studies
  • DANIEL J. SHEFFIELD: Lord of the Planetary Court: Revisiting a “Nativist Prophet” of Early Modern Iran
  • RUDI MATTHEE: Nādir Shāh in Iranian Historiography: Warlord or National Hero? 467NEGIN NABAVI: The Birth of Newspaper Culture in Nineteenth-Century Iran
  • VERA B. MOREEN: A Brief History of Judeo-Persian Literature

The Modern Middle East and Islam in the West

  • ISRAEL GERSHONI: Liberal Democratic Legacies in Modern Egypt: The Role of the Intellectuals, 1900–1950
  • BERNARD HAYKEL: ISIS and al-Qaeda—What Are They Thinking? Understanding the Adversary
  • THOMAS HEGGHAMMER: Jihadi Weeping
  • NOAH SALOMON: For Love of the Prophet: A Reply
  • ILANA FELDMAN: Living in a Humanitarian World: Palestinian Refugees and the Challenge of Long-Term Displacement
  • DIDIER FASSIN: The Multiple Figures of the Witness in Palestine
  • CATHERINE ROTTENBERG: Hagar: Jewish-Arab Education for Equality, Creating a Common Future in Israel
  • JOAN WALLACH SCOTT: La Nouvelle Laïcité and Its Critics: Preface to the French Translation of The Politics of the Veil



War and peace in the Iranian world

Jullien, Florence (ed.). 2018. Guerre et paix dans le monde iranien: revisiter les lieux de rencontre (Cahiers de Studia Iranica, 62). Peeters.

Ce volume est le fruit du programme de recherche «Guerre et paix en monde iranien. Revisiter les lieux de rencontre» (2015-2017) de l’Unité Mixte de Recherche “Mondes iranien et indien” et de conférences données dans le cadre d’un atelier lors du deuxième congrès du Groupement d’Intérêt Scientifique “Moyen-Orient et Mondes musulmans” (juillet 2017).

Table of contents:

  • Wouter F. M. HENKELMAN: Precarious gifts: Achaemenid estates and domains in times of war and peace
  • Christelle JULLIEN: La piété du Perse “barbare”. Modélisations chrétiennes en milieu sassanide
  • Maria SZUPPE: Les “Nôtres” et les “Autres” dans la conquête qezelbāsh du Khorāsān : propagande et Realpolitik dans l’État safavide naissant
  • Rika GYSELEN: Une cohésion culturelle par l’image ? Le concept air-terre-eau chez les artistes sassanides
  • Johnny CHEUNG: Maintenir la paix religieuse entre les membres musulmans et yézidis des tribus kurdes
  • Florence HELLOT-BELLIER: Violence et solidarités en Azerbaïdjan iranien avant et pendant la première guerre mondiale
  • Anne-Sophie VIVIER-MURESAN: Sanctuaires “partagés” : lieux de tensions ou de rencontres ?
  • Florence JULLIEN: Des chrétiens engagés pour la paix entre la Perse et Byzance. L’ambassade du catholicos Īšōʿyahb de Gdala
  • Denis V. VOLKOV: War and Peace in the Other and the Self: Iran through the eyes of Russian spies. The case of Konstantin Smirnov (1877-1938) and Leonid Shebarshin (1935-2012)
  • Jean-Pierre DIGARD: Meurtre, répression et réparation en milieu tribal iranien (Bakhtyâri, 1973-1974)

Aristotle and Avicenna on the habitability of the Southern Hemisphere

de Blois, François. 2018. Aristotle and Avicenna on the habitability of the Southern Hemisphere. In Sabine Schmidtke (ed.), Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1935-2018, 188-193. Piscataway: Gorgias Press.

The history of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study dates back to 1935, and it is the one area of scholarship that has been continuously represented at the Institute ever since. The volume opens with a historical sketch of the study of the Near and Middle East at the Institute. The second part of the volume consists of essays and short studies by IAS scholars, past and present, covering fields such as the ancient Near East and early Islamic history, the Bible and the Qurʾān, Islamic intellectual history within and beyond denominational history, Arabic and other Semitic languages and literatures, Islamic religious and legal practices, law and society, the Islamic West, the Ottoman world, Iranian studies, the modern Middle East, and Islam in the West.

Robert Adam Pollak’s versified translation of Šāhnāme

Firdausi, Abu’l-Qasem. 2018. Schahname. Das Buch der Könige. 4 vols. (Ed.) Nosratollah Rastegar. (Trans.) Robert Adam Pollak. With an instroduction by Florian Schwarz. 4 vols. Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag.
Das Schah­name oder „Buch der Könige“, verfasst um das Jahr 1000 im Osten Irans, ist ohne Zweifel das bedeu­tendste epische Werk in persi­scher Sprache und darf zu den wich­tigsten epischen Werken der Welt­li­te­ratur gezählt werden. Es erzählt die Geschichte der Herr­scher Irans seit den mytho­lo­gi­schen Anfängen bis zur Erobe­rung des Sasani­den­reichs durch die musli­mi­schen Araber im 7. Jahr­hun­dert.
Im 19. und frühen 20. Jahr­hun­dert erschienen Vers­über­set­zungen des Schah­name in mehreren euro­päi­schen Spra­chen, darunter eine voll­stän­dige italie­ni­sche Vers­über­set­zung des Orien­ta­listen Italo Pizzi und die eben­falls voll­stän­dige engli­sche Über­set­zung der Brüder Arthur und Edmund Warner. Deut­sche Vers­über­set­zungen wie dieje­nigen von Adolf Fried­rich von Schack und durch den Orien­ta­listen und Poeten Fried­rich Rückert blieben jedoch Torsos.
Erst­mals wird hier eine deut­sche Vers­über­set­zung der soge­nannten histo­ri­schen Teile des Schah­name (Bücher 20-50) von Fird­ausi vorge­legt. Der Urheber dieser meis­ter­li­chen Über­tra­gung ist der öster­rei­chi­sche Schrift­s­teller und Jurist Robert Adam Pollak (1877–1961). Pollaks Über­set­zung zeugt von seinen exzel­lenten philo­lo­gi­schen Quali­täten und seiner großen wissen­schaft­li­chen Sorg­falt, die den Text zu einem weiteren Meilen­stein in der Erfor­schung und Rezep­tion des Schah­name macht.
Bei der Heraus­gabe der maschi­nen­schrift­lich mit hand­schrift­li­chen Ergän­zungen vorlie­genden Über­set­zung von Robert Adam Pollak (des 4-bändigen Typoskripts) wurden von den Heraus­ge­bern nur notwen­dige Eingriffe in seinen Text vorge­nommen. Pollaks proso­disch oder durch Reim bedingte und daher hier und da vari­ie­rende Lesungen der Lemmata wurden soweit wie irgend möglich in der von ihm gewählten Form belassen bzw. vorsichtig ange­passt, um den poeti­schen Klang seiner Über­set­zung nicht zu zerstören.
Der voll­stän­dige Schah­na­me­text beginnt mit der Einlei­tung Fird­ausis (ca. 237 Doppel­verse), gefolgt von 50 über­lie­ferten Königs­büchern (52.000–55.000 Doppel­verse), die man inhalt­lich einteilen kann in: a) präh­is­to­ri­scher, mythi­scher Teil (Bücher 1-13), b) halb­his­to­ri­scher Teil (Bücher 14-19) und c) histo­ri­scher Teil (Bücher 20-50). Dieser letz­tere Text­teil, den Pollak als Vorlage für seine Über­set­zung nahm, umfasst die über­lie­ferte Geschichte der Herr­schaft Alex­an­ders über den Iran (331–323 v. Chr.), die Herr­schafts­pe­riode der Parther-Arsa­kiden (247 v. Chr.–226 n. Chr.) und die umfang­reiche Geschichte der Sasaniden (226–651 n. Chr.), schlie­ßend mit einer in ihrer Echt­heit und ihrem Umfang strit­tigen Satire gegen den ghaz­na­vi­di­schen Herr­scher, Sulṭān Maḥmūd (reg. 999 bis 1030 n. Chr.).
Mit der Über­set­zung Robert Adam Pollaks wird der umfang­reiche histo­ri­sche Teil des epischen Meis­ter­werkes Fird­ausis den deutsch­spra­chigen Inter­es­senten in poeti­scher Form zugäng­lich gemacht. Nunmehr sind die Grund­steine für eine voll­stän­dige deut­sche Ausgabe gelegt worden, die neben Rückerts und Pollaks poeti­schen Über­set­zungen auch die poeti­sche Über­tra­gung Adolf Fried­rich Graf von Schacks »Helden­sagen des Firdusi« berück­sich­tigen könnte.

Designs on the Past: How Hollywood Created the Ancient World

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2018. Designs on the past: How Hollywood created the ancient world. Edinburgh University Press.

In the period 1916-1966, during its so-called Golden Age, Hollywood developed a passion for the ancient world and produced many epic movie blockbusters. The studios used every device they could find to wow audiences with the spectacle of antiquity.

In this unique study, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones shows how Hollywood carefully and skilfully created the popular modern perception of the ancient world. He analyses how producers, art directors, costumiers, publicity agents, movie stars, and inevitably, ‘a cast of thousands’ literally designed and crafted the ancient world from scratch.

This lively book offers a technical as well as a theoretical guide to a much-neglected area of film studies and reception studies that will appeal to anyone working in these disciplines.


Volume eight of “Anabasis“, edited by Marek Jan Olbrycht is out now. Several papers and reviews of this issue are related to ancient Iran:

Continue reading ANABASIS. STUDIA CLASSICA ET ORIENTALIA Volume 8 (2017)

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