Category Archives: BiblioIranica

Islamic Transformations of the Classical Past

Casagrande-Kim, Roberta, Samuel Thrope & Julia Rubanovich (eds.). 2018. Romance and reason: Islamic transformations of the classical past. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Within a century of the Arab Muslim conquest of vast territories in the Middle East and North Africa, Islam became the inheritor of the intellectual legacy of classical antiquity. In an epochal cultural transformation between the eighth and tenth centuries CE, most of what survived in classical Greek literature and thought was translated from Greek into Arabic. This translation movement, sponsored by the ruling Abbasid dynasty, swiftly blossomed into the creative expansion and reimagining of classical ideas that were now integral parts of the Islamic tradition.

Romance and Reason, a lavishly illustrated catalogue accompanying the exhibition of the same name at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, explores the breadth and depth of Islamic engagement with ancient Greek thought. Drawing on manuscripts and artifacts from the collections of the National Library of Israel and prominent American institutions, the catalogue’s essays focus on the portrayal of Alexander the Great as ideal ruler, mystic, lover, and philosopher in Persian poetry and art, and how Islamic medicine, philosophy, and science contended with and developed the classical tradition.

Contributors include Roberta Casagrande-Kim, Leigh Chipman, Steven Harvey, Y. Tzvi Langermann, Rachel Milstein, Julia Rubanovich, Samuel Thrope, and Raquel Ukeles.

Trends in Iranian and Persian Linguistics

Korangy, Alireza & Corey Miller (eds.). 2018. Trends in Iranian and Persian linguistics (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 313). Berlin: De Gruyter.
This set of essays highlights the state of the art in the linguistics of Iranian languages. The contributions span the full range of linguistic inquiry, including pragmatics, syntax, semantics, phonology/phonetics, lexicography, historical linguistics and poetics and covering a wide set of Iranian languages including Persian, Balochi, Kurdish and Ossetian. This book will engage both the active scholar in the field as well as linguists from other fields seeking to assess the latest developments in Iranian linguistics.
See the table of contents here.
  • Toon van Hal: “The alleged Persian-Germanic connection: A remarkable chapter in the study of Persian from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries”
  • Shinji Ido: “Huihuiguan zazi: A New Persian glossary compiled in Ming China”
  • Adriano V. Rossi: “Glimpses of Balochi lexicography: Some iconyms for the landscape and their motivation”
  • Martin Schwartz: “On some Iranian secret vocabularies, as evidenced by a fourteenth-century Persian manuscript”
  • Agnès Lenepveu-Hotz: “Specialization of an ancient object marker in the New Persian of the fifteenth century”
  • Lutz Rzehak: “Fillers, emphasizers, and other adjuncts in spoken Dari and Pashto”
  • Youli Ioannesyan: “The historically unmotivated majhul vowel as a significant areal dialectological feature”
  • Zohreh R. Eslami, Mohammad Abdolhosseini, and Shadi Dini: Variability in Persian forms of address as represented in the works of Iranian playwrights”
  • Hooman Saeli and Corey Miller: “Some linguistic indicators of sociocultural formality in Persian”
  • Behrooz Mahmoodi-Bakhtiari: WSpoken vs. written Persian: Is Persian diglossic?”
  • Lewis Gebhardt: “Accounting for *yek ta in Persian”
  • Jila Ghomeshi: “The associative plural and related constructions in Persian”
  • Shahrzad Mahootian and Lewis Gebhardt: “Revisiting the status of -eš in Persian”
  • Arseniy Vydrin: “‘Difficult’ and ‘easy’ in Ossetic”
  • Z. A. Yusupova: “Possessive construction in Kurdish”
  • Carina Jahani: “To bring the distant near: On deixis in Iranian oral literature”
  • Katarzyna Marszalek-Kowalewska: “Extracting semantic similarity from Persian texts”

Essays on Persian Poetry in Honor of Dick Davis

Seyed-Ghorab, Ali-Asghar (ed.). 2018. The layered heart: Essays on Persian poetry, a celebration in honor of Dick Davis. Washington, D.C: Mage Publishers.
The Layered Heart : Essays on Persian Poetry is published in celebration of the poet and scholar Dick Davis, dubbed “our pre-eminent translator from Persian” by The Washington Post. Edited by Ali-Asghar Seyed-Ghorab, Associate Professor of Persian at Leiden University, the volume includes twenty-one essays about Persian culture and literature, ranging from classical Persian poetry to modern literary topics. Written by foremost scholars in the field, each of the essays is original and ground-breaking either in content or in methodology, while together they encompass a broad sweep of Iranian history, from pre-Islamic times to the present. They offer a fascinating, multi-faceted view of the Persian classics – from poetry in praise of wine, and the portrayal of love in Persian-European medieval romances, to an examination of Ferdowsi’s monumental epic, the Shahnameh, its connection with the Persian oral tradition and its later reception in Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Europe. Modern topics include an analysis of Lahuti’s letter poem to Joseph Stalin, published for the first time in Persian and English, the celebrated novel My Uncle Napoleon, and trends in poetry before and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Table of Contents
  • Ehsan Yarshater: “Voyages in Literature”
  • Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak: “Continuity and Creativity: Models of Change in Persian Poetry, Classical and Modern”
  • Saeed Honarmand: “Between the Water and the Wall: The Power of Love in Medieval Persian Romance”
  • Christine van Ruymbeke: “Wretched King Mobad Loses the War of Love”
  • Asghar Seyed-Ghorab: “Of Love and Loyalty: The Middle English Floris and Blancheflour and the Persian Warqa and Golshāh”
  • Kamran Talattof: “What Kind of Wine Did Rudaki Desire? Samanids’ Search for Cultural and National Identity”
  • Paul Losensky: “Song of the Cupbearer by Mohammad Sūfī Māzandarānī”
  • Saghi Gazerani: “Zahhak’s Story and History”
  • H.E. Chehabi: “Wrestling in the Shahnameh and Later Persian Epics”
  • Sunil Sharma: “Heroes, Husbands, and Rhino Hunters: Sekandar and Bahram Gur in the Shahnameh”
  • Abbas Amanat: “Shahnameh-ye Naderi and the Revival of Epic Poetry in Post-Safavid Iran”
  • Reza Shaghaghi Zarghamee: “From Scythia to Sistan: Reconciling the Shahnameh and Herodotus to Discover the Origins of the Rostam Legend”
  • Olga M. Davidson: “On the Sources of the Shahnameh”
  • Franklin Lewis: “Shifting Allegiances: Primordial Relationships and How They Change in the Shahnameh”
  • Charles Melville: “The Shahnameh in India: Tārīkh-i Dilgushā-yi Shamshīr Khānī”
  • Margaret A. Mills:  “Kok Kohzad in Afghanistan: Local Knowledge and Shahnameh Characters”
  • Firuza Melville: “Side-Saddle Tazmin, or, the Post-Shahnameh for Victorian Children”
  • Natalia Chalisova: “Poet and Ruler: The Case of Dāstān-e gol, Lahuti’s Poem for Stalin”
  • Fatemeh Shams: “From Revolution to Silence: The Political and Literary Life of Qaysar Aminpur”
  • Saeedeh Shahnahpur: “Literature Beyond Borders: Modern Persian Novels in English Translation, The Case of Pezeshkzād’s My Uncle Napoleon”
  • John Walbridge: “Astrolabe Hunting in the Punjab”

Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Oral Texts and Testimony

Stewart, Sarah. 2018. Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Oral texts and testimony (Part 1: Urban contexts: Kerman, Tehran, Ahwaz, Esfahan, Shiraz), vol. 1. (Iranica, GOF III/NF 17). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Voices from Zoroastrian Iran (Volumes I and II) is the result of an oral studies research project that maps the remaining Zoroastrian communities in Iran and explores what has happened to their religious lives and social structures since the Revolution of 1979 and the establishment of the Islamic Republic.
Interviews included in Volume 1 are with Zoroastrians from the urban centres of Tehrān, Kermān, Ahvāz, Shirāz and Esfahān. Participants refer to community leaders, historical figures, local events, teachers and religious texts that have shaped their views and understanding of the religion. They also address the impact of recent history upon their lives. The religion itself is presented as understood by those interviewed, drawn largely from the interpretations of Iranian scholars and scholar-priests, as opposed to those of predominantly western scholars. A chapter in the book is devoted to a survey of the main Iranian Zoroastrian religious observances as well as some popular customs. As a result of the new Constitution, the return to shari ‘a and the eight-year war with Iraq that followed the Revolution, the relationship between Zoroastrians and the state changed. The new political environment began to shape the religious and social identities of the next generation through Zoroastrian institutions such as the anjomans (councils) as well as those established by the government of the Islamic Republic.
The interviews for this book span a period of living memory that reflects both pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. The views expressed are informed by the changes that took place during that time and throw light on subjects as diverse as education, emigration, conversion and religious reform. The vol. 2 is planed to come out in 2019.
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Background and Context: Religion
  • Chapter 2 Devotional Life: Customs and Observances
  • Chapter 3 Background and Context: Society
  • Chapter 4 Kermān
  • Chapter 5 Tehrān
  • Chapter 6 Ahvāz, Shirāz and Esfahān
  • Conclusions

Read the detailed table of contents here.

Zoroastrian and Ancient Iranian Astral Science

Brown, David. 2018. The Interactions of Ancient Astral Science. with contributions by : Jonathon Ben-Dov, Harry Falk, Geoffrey Lloyd, Raymond Mercier, Antonio Panaino, Joachim Quack, Alexandra von Lieven, and Michio Yano. Bremen: Hempen Verlag.

Why and when did ancient scholars make the enormous effort to understand the principles and master the mathematics of foreign astral sciences? This work provides a detailed analysis of the invention, development and transmission of astronomy, astrology, astral religion, magic and medicine, cosmology and cosmography, astral mapping, geography and calendrics and their related mathematics and instrumentation in and between Mesopotamia, Egypt, the West Semitic areas, Greece and Rome, Iran, India and China. It considers the available textual evidence from the most ancient times to the seventh century CE. The author has worked the contributions of eight internationally renowned scholars into what amounts to a new history of the oldest sciences. The result is a challenging read for the layperson and a resource for the expert and includes an extensive index to the entire volume. It provides a new typology of cultural interactions and, by describing their socio-political backdrop, offers a cultural history of the region. In particular, astral science in the Hellenistic period west of the Tigris is completely re-evaluated and a new model of the interactions of Western and Indian and Iranian astral sciences is provided.
Two chapters of this book deal with different aspects of Ancient Iranian Astrology and Astronomy. The chapter Iranian Astral Science (P. 456-481) by the main autor himself, which refers to the following subjects:
  • The Elamites
  • The Persians
    • Persian Astral Science (other than the Calendar)
  • The Seleucids
  • Seleucid-Iranian Astral Science
  • The Parthians
    • Parthian Astral Science
    • The Sasanians
And the next chapter:
Panaino, Antonio. 2018. On Iran’s Role in the Transmission of Ancient Astral Science and the Ramifications thereof. Pp. 482–514.
This chapter discusses following subjects:
  • The Problem
  • The Iranian astral divinities and their astronomical role
  • The Stars and the Peg of the Sky
  • The Planets and the Astral Cords of Wind
  • The multicultural legacy of Sasanian astronomy and astrology

Achaemenid Seal and Monumental Art

Drawing of a lenticular seal from Tomb 33, Prosymna. Athens (after Sakellarakis 1982, no. 27)

The recent volume Friedhelm Pedde & Nathanael Shelley (eds.), Assyromania and More. In Memory of Samuel M. Paley (Marru. Studien Zur Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 4), . Münster: Zaphon. contains two chapters of hight interest for Iranian and Achaemenid Studies:

Zoroastrian and Iranian Studies from Ravenna

Panaino, Antonio, Andrea Piras & Paolo Ognibene (eds.). 2018. Studi iranici ravennati II (Indo-Iranica et Orientalia). Milano: Mimesis Edizioni.
This Conference Proceedings volume contains 15  contributions which were presented at the second international conference of Iranian Studies in Ravenna, Italy.
Table of Contents:
  • Amir Ahmadi: “An Indo-Iranian Initiation-Based Masculine Society?
  • Fabio Eugenio Betti: “Tradizione classica e cultura sudarabica. Osservazioni sulla statua bronzea di Lady Bar’at”
  • Stefano Buscherini: “Chess and geometric progressions: a link between Dante and the Persian tradition”
  • Davlatkhoja Dovudi: “Nachodki bucharchudatskich, sasanidskich i omejjadskich monet v Tadžikistane i istorija ich izučenija”
  • Anna Michieletto: “La comunità diasporica curda del Monte Amiata: rapporto con le origini e col territorio”
  • Paolo Ognibene: “Studi sull’epos dei Narti. Il ruolo dell’elemento magico nella struttura fantastica del racconto”
  • Martina Palladino: “Alcuni spunti di riflessione sui Maga Brāhmana”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Vecchie e Nuove Considerazioni sul Millenarismo iranico-mesopotamico ed il Chiliasmo giudaico-cristiano”
  • Andrea Piras: “Spandyād’s lance and message. Some Remarks about the Imagery of Shooting Weapons”
  • Céline Redard: “La tentation de Zarathuštra”
  • Micol Scrignoli: “duruj-, drauga-, draujana-: dallo studio delle valenze semantiche attestate all’individuazione della triade iranica nella lingua antico persiana”
  • Galina N. Vol’naja: “K voprosu ob iranskich vlijanijach na Central’nom i Severo-Vostočnom Kavkaze (na primere bronzovych pticevidnych prjažek «tipa Isti-Su»)
  • Antonio Panaino: “The Souls of women in the Zoroastrian Afterlife”
  • Paolo Delaini: “Conoscenze mediche sulla fisiologia della gravidanza nel mondo iranico di età tardoantica”
  • Andrea Gariboldi: “La dottrina di Mazdak tra influssi “occidentali” e religioni orientali

Zoroastrian Mythology: Cows and Bulls in Ancient Iran

Pirart, Eric. 2018. Mythologie zoroastrienne: vaches et taureaux en Iran. Paris: Editions L’Harmattan.
Éric Pirart rassemble ici les données de l’eschatologie générale mazdéenne. La rigueur philologique et la mythologie comparée sont les deux outils mis en oeuvre dans l’approche de la tradition zoroastrienne qui est fragmentaire. L’examen des mythes grecs qui mettent en scène un taureau fournit-il ainsi quelques clés dans l’interprétation de textes iraniens singulièrement lapidaires. Vaches et taureaux, chez les peuples conducteurs de troupeaux, étaient au centre de l’imaginaire et de la métaphysique.

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.

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.

Features:

  • 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