The article presents the edition and translation of an Early Judeo-Persian (EJP) private-commercial letter that was probably written around the late 10th or early 11th century C.E. It is the best-preserved and, with 51 lines, the longest from the ca. 25 EJP documents that were found in the Cairo Genizah. It is written in a cursive form of the Hebrew script and shows typical EJP archaic and dialectal features, as compared to the contemporaneous Early New Persian works that were written in Arabic script. Today, the letter is kept in Cambridge University Library as part of the Taylor-Schaechter collection.
Introducing Judeo-Persian writings, this original collection gives parallel samples in Judeo-Persian and Perso-Arabic script and translations in English. Judeo-Persian writings not only reflect the twenty-seven centuries of Jewish life in Iran, but they are also a testament to their intellectual, cultural, and socioeconomic conditions.
Such writings, found in the forms of verse or prose, are flavored with Judaic, Iranian and Islamic elements. The significant value of Judeo-Persian writing is found in the areas of linguistics, history and sociocultural and literary issues. The rhetorical forms and literary genres of epic, didactic, lyric and satirical poetry can be a valuable addition to the rich Iranian literary tradition and poetical arts. Also, as a Judaic literary contribution, the work is a representation of the literary activity of Middle Eastern Jews not so well recognized in Judaic global literature.
This book is a comprehensive introduction to the rich literary tradition of works written in Judeo-Persian and also serves as a guide to transliterate many other significant Judeo-Persian works that have not yet been transliterated into Perso-Arabic script. The collection will be of value to students and researchers interested in history, sociology and Iranian and Jewish studies.
Table of Contents
Part I Formation and History of Judeo-Persian
1. An Overview of Iranian Jewish Intellectual History
2. Thematic Contents of Judeo-Persian Literature: Literary Genres in Judeo-Persian Poetry
Yasharpour, Dalia. 2021. The Prince and the Sufi: the Judeo-Persian rendition of the Buddha biographies (The Brill Reference Library of Judaism 62). Leiden: Brill.
The Prince and the Sufi is the literary composition of the seventeenth-century Judeo-Persian poet Elisha ben Shmūel. In The Prince and the Sufi: The Judeo-Persian Rendition of the Buddha Biographies, Dalia Yasharpour provides a thorough analysis of this popular work to show how the Buddha’s life story has undergone substantial transformation with the use of Jewish, Judeo-Persian and Persian-Islamic sources. The annotated edition of the text and the corresponding English translation are meticulous and insightful. This scholarly study makes available to readers an important branch in the genealogical tree of the Buddha Biographies.
This book offers a comparative study between a number of Talmudic and Middle Persian narratives. The present work seeks first and foremost to examine Talmudic narratives in their Iranian context, and secondly to examine the Talmudic background of Iranian narratives where applicable. The first and second chapters will offer an analysis of the alteration of historical and Biblical figures in the Bavli (the Babylonian Talmud) based on the influence of Iranian mythical and historical figures, while the third chapter will provide an account of how Iranists can learn from Talmudic studies. Here we suggest that a Talmudic narrative may have encouraged Zoroastrian priests to compose an extensive work of religious literature, namely the Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag, an idea which will be further explored in the appendix.
Azadeh Ehsani has a PhD in religion from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada (2018) and an MA in ancient languages and culture of Iran with a focus on Middle Persian (Pahlavi) from Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies University in Tehran, Iran (2005).
The Talmud’s Red Fence explores how rituals and beliefs concerning menstruation in the Babylonian Talmud and neighboring Sasanian religious texts were animated by difference and differentiation. It argues that the practice and development of menstrual rituals in Babylonian Judaism was a product of the religious terrain of the Sasanian Empire, where groups like Syriac Christians, Mandaeans, Zoroastrians, and Jews defined themselves in part based on how they approached menstrual impurity. It demonstrates that menstruation was highly charged in Babylonian Judaism and Sasanian Zoroastrian, where menstrual discharge was conceived of as highly productive female seed yet at the same time as stemming from either primordial sin (Eve eating from the tree) or evil (Ahrimen’s kiss). It argues that competition between rabbis and Zoroastrians concerning menstrual purity put pressure on the Talmudic system, for instance in the unusual development of an expert diagnostic system of discharges. It shows how Babylonian rabbis seriously considered removing women from the home during the menstrual period, as Mandaeans and Zoroastrians did, yet in the end deemed this possibility too “heretical.” Finally, it examines three cases of Babylonian Jewish women initiating menstrual practices that carved out autonomous female space. One of these, the extension of menstrual impurity beyond the biblically mandated seven days, is paralleled in both Zoroastrian Middle Persian and Mandaic texts. Ultimately, Talmudic menstrual purity is shown to be driven by difference in its binary structure of pure and impure; in gendered terms; on a social axis between Jews and Sasanian non-Jewish communities; and textually in the way the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds took shape in late antiquity.
Rubanovich, Julia & Geoffrey Herman (eds.). 2019. Irano-Judaica VII: Studies Relating to Jewish Contacts with Persian Culture throughout the Ages. Vol. VII. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East.
The volume includes twenty-three papers, arranged in five thematic parts, which reflect the variety of subjects the volume encompasses. Part One deals with the topics of law, ritual and eschatology in Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Part Two is devoted to the textual patterns and transmission in Avestan and Middle Persian sources. Jewish-Iranian historical and literary interrelations through the centuries, including the literary perception of Jews in Persian literature and Iranian folklore, are the focus of Part Three. The articles in Part Four highlight specific patterns of permutations that Jewish, Zoroastrian, Manichaean, and Christian motifs, themes and concepts undergo while migrating from one religious and social milieu to another. The fifth and the last section of the volume is devoted to Judaeo-Persian language and literature: a Hebrew text and early Judaeo-Persian translation of a large portion of the seventh chapter of Jeremiah are presented and analyzed for the first time; the Jewish reception of a Persian classical text is discussed, and the literary legacy of two medieval Judaeo-Persian poets, Shāhīn and ʿImrānī, is further investigated.
Table of Contents
Part One: Law, Ritual and Eschatology in Zoroastrianism and Judaism
Almut Hintze: “Defeating Death: Eschatology in Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity”
Maria Macuch: “A Pahlavi Legal Term in Jesubōxt’s Corpus Iuris”
Benjamin Jokisch: “Cultural Intertwinedness and the Problem of Proving Reception. A Case Study on Late Antique Foundations: ruwānagān, heqdēsh, piae causae, and waqf“
Yaakov Elman: “Samuel’s Scythe-handle: Sasanian Mortgage Law in the Bavli”
David Brodsky: “‘Thought Is Akin to Action’: The Importance of Thought in Zoroastrianism and the Development of a Babylonian
Part Two: Textual Patterns and Transmission in Avestan and Middle Persian Sources
Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: “Observations on the Form of Avestan Texts in the Context of Neighboring Traditions”
Mihaela Timuș: “Les raisonnements taxinomiques dans le Dēnkard 3″
Dieter Weber: “Christlich-jüdische Spuren in Pahlavi-Dokumenten des 7. Jhs. n. Chr.”
Yaakov Elman: “The Hērbedestān in the Hērbedestān: Priestly Teaching from the Avesta to the Zand”
Part Three: Jewish-Iranian Historical and Literary Interrelations through the Centuries
Domenico Agostini: “Luhrāsp and the Destruction of Jerusalem: A Note on Jewish-Iranian Syncretism”
Geoffrey Herman: “Back to Bustanay: The History of a Legend”
Julia Rubanovich: “On Representations of Jews in Medieval Persian Epic Poetry”
Orly R. Rahimiyan: “The Image of the Jew in Iranian Folklore”
Part Four: Texts and Motifs: Between Interaction and Polemics Reuven Kiperwasser “ʻThree Partners in a Personʼ: The Metamorphoses of a Tradition and the History of an Idea”
Yishai Kiel: “The Usurpation of Solomon’s Throne by Ashmedai (b.Giṭ. 68a-b): A Talmudic Story in Its Iranian and Christian Contexts”
Sergey Minov: “Jews and Christians in Late Sasanian Nisibis:
The Evidence of the Life of Mār Yāreth the Alexandrian“
Samuel Thrope: “Therefore He Himself is the Demon, Lord of Hell: On Manichaean and Zoroastrian Anti-Judaism”
Part Five: Judaeo-Persian Language and Literature
Gilbert Lazard: “La dialectologie du persan préclassique à la lumière des nouvelles données judéo-persanes”
Shaul Shaked: “A Fragment of the Book of Jeremiah in Early Judaeo-Persian”
Vera B. Moreen: “Reflections on a Judaeo-Persian Manuscript of Rūmī’s Mathnavī“
Nahid Pirnazar: “Observations on the Epic Legacy in Judaeo-Persian Poetry”
Vera B. Moreen: “Shāhīn’s Interpretation of Shira and Haʾazinu“
Alex Tal: “Between Jews and Gentiles in Talmudic Babylonia: Reading between the Lines”
Friedmann, Yohanan & Etan Kohlberg (eds.). (2019). Studies in honor of Professor Shaul Shaked. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences.
The present volume is based on lectures delivered at a symposium organized by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities on the occasion of the eightieth birthday of Professor Shaul Shaked, who became a Member of the Academy in 1986.
This volume of the peer-reviewed, open access Mizan: Journal for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations presents several articles (and a provocative postscript) centering on the theme of “New Perspectives on Late Antique Iran and Iraq.” The articles featured here originated with a pair of conference panels convened in 2016. The first was held during the summer of 2016 at the Eleventh Biennial Iranian Studies Conference at the University of Vienna, August 2–5, 2016; the second followed in the fall of that year, convened during the 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association held in Boston, November 17–20, 2016.
ToC – Touraj Daryaee: “How the Sasanians Saw the Late Antique World: A Persianate View of the Interconnectedness of Eurasia” – Isabel Toral-Niehoff: “Al-Ḥīra: An Arab Late Antique Metropolis in Sasanian Iraq” – Shai Secunda: “East LA: Margin and Center in Late Antiquity Studies and the New Irano-Talmudica” – Teresa Bernheimer: “The Revolt of Qaṭarī b. al-Fujāʿa (d. 79/698) and the Kharijite Revolts of Early Islamic Iran: Social Change between Late Antiquity and Early Islam” – Rahim Shayegan: “On Diachrony in Sasanian Studies” – Jason Mokhtarian: “Religious Polemics in Sasanian Writings” – Thomas Carlson: “The Long Shadow of Sasanian Christianity: The Limits of Iraqi Islamization to 950” – Mimi Hanaoka: “Authority and Identity in Early Medieval Persianate Islamic Historiography: Methologies for Reading Hybrid Identities and Imagined Histories”
In this study I examine the linguistic and theological contours of the term (tôrâ) in Ezra-Nehemiah—particularly the identification of with the law () of God promulgated by Ezra (Ezra 7:14)—through the lens of Old Persian and Avestan notions of “the law set down (dāta)” by Ahura Mazda and revealed through Zarathustra. While the basic notion of divine revelation of laws through the mediation of Moses emerges already in preexilic biblical texts, I posit that the innovative link drawn by the authors of Ezra-Nehemiah between the Old Persian and Avestan term dāta (via Aramaic ) and the Hebrew reflects a broader and more comprehensive impact of Avestan traditions, mediated by Achaemenid ideology, on the construction and conceptualization of Mosaic in Ezra-Nehemiah. Weighing in on the ongoing debate over the range of imperial authorization of local legislation and cult in Judea, Egypt, and Asia Minor, I argue that the Achaemenids, who were probably involved in certain aspects of the codification and canonization of textual, legal, and theological manifestations of Zoroastrianism, functioned as agents (whether actively or passively) in facilitating and reinforcing the adaptation by the Babylonian-Judean scribes of Avestan notions of divine revelation of the law and scriptural unity linked to personal authority.