Category Archives: Publications

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




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)

The Mandaean religion and the Aramaic background of Manichaeism

Ionuţ Daniel Băncilă. 2018. Die mandäische Religion und der aramäische Hintergrund des Manichäismus: Forschungsgeschichte, Textvergleiche, historisch-geographische Verortung. (Mandäistische Forschungen 6). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Mandaeism, the only surviving Gnostic religion, reflected, recorded, evaluated and thus transformed various religious traditions of different identities. Although a “Mandaean identity” did not develop until after the Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia, one can assume that “Mandaean ideas” were already present in various Aramaic-speaking groups in Mesopotamia.
In his study of the Mandaean religion, Ionuţ Daniel Băncilă asks whether traces of “Mandaic thoughts” can be found in Manichaeism, the second major Gnostic religion in the region. He examines this question in three different methodological approaches: A detailed look at the history of research on the subject shows to what extent previous attempts to explain the relationship between Manichaeism and Mandaeism were subject to the cultural fashions of different epochs; the text-comparative part of the study examines motifs in Manichaeism that can be identified as “Mandaic ideas” on a philological-literary critical basis. In a third part, the Mandaean understanding of history is critically examined and an attempt is made to explain the relations between the two religions geographical and historical vantage point.

Table of Contents


The Persian Dictionary Sorme-ye Soleymānī

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2018. The Persian Dictionary Sorme-ye Soleymānī (Early 11th/17th Century) and its manuscript in the library of the Oriental faculty of St. Petersburg State University (MS.O 174). Manuscripta Orientalia 24 (1). 61–67.

This article aims to study the manuscript of the Persian dictionary Sorme-ye Soleymānī (“The Kohl of Soleymān”) from the collection of the library of St. Petersburg State University (MS.O 174), which is the only known manuscript containing the full text of dictionary. In other available manuscripts of this dictionary, the prologue and epilogue of the text are missing. The importance of this manuscript is inclusion of the date of the dictionary’s composition as a chronogram in the epilogue. In addition to an analysis of the beginning and ending pages of the text, a critical edition of the prologue and epilogue of this manuscript is provided in the appendices.

Intercalary Months in Achaemenid Elamite Documents

Stolper Matthew W. 2018. Intercalary months in Achaemenid Elamite administrative documents from Persepolis. In C. Jay Crisosotomo, Eduardo A. Escobar, Terri Tanaka, & Niek Veldhuis (eds.), The scaffolding of our thoughts: Essays on Assyriology and the history of science in honor of Francesca Rochberg, 296–316. Leiden: Brill.

Surveys current evidence from the Persepolis Fortification Archive and the Persepolis Treasury Archives on intercalation: terminology, usage, attestations.


Bīsotūn and the French Enlightenment

Potts, Daniel Thomas. 2018. Bīsotūn and the French enlightenment. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 1–32.

This study examines a little-known case of Enlightenment knowledge transmission centred on the rock-cut monument of Darius I at Bīsotūn in western Iran. It discusses a report on the monument published by the cartographer and historian Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville, which originated with the Decalced Carmelite monk Emmanuel de Saint-Albert (born Jean-Claude Ballyet); who transmitted it to Isaac Bellet, a doctor involved in secret negotiations in Constantinople; who in turn sent it to Louis, Duke d’Orléans, in Paris; who passed it on to d’Anville. The collison of scholarly interest, political service and scientific personality offers a fascinating case study of the Enlightenment ‘republic of letters’ in action.

The article is available on

Greco-Persian Relations 499-490 BC

Stronk, Jan P. 2016/2017. From Sardis to Marathon. Greco-Persian relations 499–490 BC: A review. Part one: Up to and including the fall of EretriaTalanta 48-49, 133-184.

The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, which was commemorated at Athens on 6 Boedromion (and at present celebrated on 12 September), may be regarded as one of the defining moments in the history of the ancient polis of Athens. The battle was the culmination point of developments that started about the middle of the sixth century BC, but really took shape shortly after 500 BC. In this paper, which will be published in two parts, we shall follow various circumstances and actions involving the Achaemenid Empire (briefly described as Persia) and Greek poleis which ultimately led to the Battle of Marathon. As the Persian sources available in order to draw a more comprehensive picture of those occurrences at the end of sixth and the first decade of the fifth centuries BC relating to the Greco-Persian controversies than can be obtained from Herodotus’ account alone.His story remains to this day the main literary source for most People investigating the events in that period. In this first part, we shall discuss the occurrences up to and including the fall of Eretria. In the second part, due to appear in Talanta 51(-52), we next pay attention to the Battle of Marathon and its implications.

Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients

Kleber, Kristin, Georg Neumann & Susanne Paulus (eds.). 2018. Grenzüberschreitungen. Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des alten Orients. Festschrift für Hans Neumann zum 65. Geburtstag am 9. Mai 2018 (DUBSAR 5). Münster: Zaphon Verlag. Unter Mitarbeit von Christin Möllenbeck.

Vierzig Beiträge in deutscher, englischer und französischer Sprache sind dem Assyriologen Hans Neumann (Universität Münster) gewidmet. Korrespondierend mit den breit gefächerten Forschungen des Jubilars bieten sie einen aktuellen Überblick über Themen der Assyriologie, der Vorderasiatischen Archäologie und der Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients.

With contributions by Bruno Jacobs and Daniel Potts on Achaemenids and Elamites, respectively.

Continue reading Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients

A Proposal for the Identification of the Sasanian commander Mermeróēs

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. 2017. A new proposal for the identification of the Sasanian commander Mermeróēs of Byzantine sources: Šāpur of Ray from Mehrān. In Mitko Panov (ed.), The Byzantine missionary activity and its legacy in Europe, 93–98. Skopje: Euro-Balkan University.

Šāpur of Ray, known also as Mermeroes in Procopius’ and Agathias’ narratives, was the spāhbed in the battles of Dara (June 530) and Satala (summer 530). In 542 he was dispatched by Xusrō I Anōšīrvān (r. 531–579) against the Byzantine fortress of Dara. In 548 Šāpur of Ray was sent at the head of a large army to relieve the fortress of Petra in Lazica, which was under siege by a combined Byzantine-Lazic force. He died of his illness at Mtskheta in the summer of 555. According to Ṭabarī at the time of Sukhrā’s fall, Šāpur of Ray was supreme Commander of the land (iṣbahbadh al-bilād). If we allow identification of Sukhrā and Siāwoš, the last commander of Iranian army with the title of Artēštārān sālār, then we must state that, after removing Sukhrā, Šāpur of Ray also held a high military rank until the military reforms of Xusrō I Anōšīrvān.