Category Archives: Books

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.

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.

A Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts

Péri, Benedek. 2018. Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Islamic Manuscripts and Books 16). Leiden: Brill.

The Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences was established in 1826. Its collection of Persian manuscripts is the most comprehensive set of its kind in Hungary. The volumes were produced in four major cultural centres of the Persianate world, the Ottoman Empire, Iran, Central Asia and India during a span of time that extends from the 14th to the 19th century. Collected mainly by enthusiastic private collectors and acknowledged scholars the manuscripts have preserved several unique texts or otherwise interesting copies of well-known works. Though the bulk of the collection has been part of Library holdings for almost a century, the present volume is the first one to describe these manuscripts in a detailed and systematic way.

Benedek Péri is the head of the Department of Turkic Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Specialized in the history of classical Persianate literary traditions, he has widely published on various aspects of Persian, Chaghatay and Ottoman literature.

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


Aramaic Magic Bowls

Siam Bhayro, James Nathan Ford, Dan Levene & Ortal-Paz Saar. 2018. Aramaic magic bowls in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin. Descriptive list and edition of selected texts (Magical and Religious Literature of Late Antiquity 7). Lieden: Brill.

The collection of Aramaic magic bowls and related objects in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin is one of the most important in the world. This book presents a description of each object and its contents, including details of users and other names, biblical quotations, parallel texts, and linguistic features. Combined with the detailed indices, the present volume makes the Berlin collection accessible for further research. Furthermore, sixteen texts, which are representative of the whole collection, are edited. This book results from an impressive collaboration between Siam Bhayro, James Nathan Ford, Dan Levene, and Ortal-Paz Saar, with further contributions by Matthew Morgenstern, Marco Moriggi, and Naama Vilozny, and will be of interest for all those engaged in the study of these fascinating objects.

Continue reading Aramaic Magic Bowls

The Chapters of the Wisdom of My Lord Mani

Iain Gardner, Jason D. Beduhn & Paul Dilley. 2018. The chapters of the wisdom of my lord Mani. Part III: Pages 343-442 (Chapters 321-347) (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 92). Leiden: Brill.

The Chapters of the Wisdom of My Lord Mani, a Coptic papyrus codex preserved at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, describes Mani’s mission, teachings and debates with sages in the courts of the Sasanian empire during the reign of Shapur I; with an extended account of his last days and death under Bahram I. The text offers an unprecedented new source for the history of religions in Late Antiquity, including interactions of Manichaean, Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist traditions in Iran, remarkably transmitted into the Mediterranean world as part of Manichaean missionary literature. This is the first of four fascicles constituting the editio princeps, based on enhanced digital and multispectral imaging and extended autoptic study of the manuscript.

Jason BeDuhn, Ph.D. (1995), Indiana University, is Professor of the Comparative Study of Religions at Northern Arizona University. He is the author of The Manichaean Body (Baltimore, 2000) and Augustine’s Manichaean Dilemma (Philadelphia, 2010/2013).

Paul C. Dilley, Ph.D. (2008), Yale University, is Assistant Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Monasteries and the Care of Souls in Late Antique Christianity: Cognition and Discipline (Cambridge, 2017).

Iain Gardner, Ph.D. (1983), University of Manchester, is Professor of the History of Religions at Sydney University. He has published widely on Manichaean studies, and edited many original papyri in Coptic, notably on behalf of the Dakhleh Oasis Project.