This is a brief presentation of the mid-seventeenth-century illuminated Judeo-Persian copy of Nizāmī’s Khosrow and Shīrīn from the collection of the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem. The Khamsa of Nizāmī Ganjavi (d. 1209) is one of the most famous medieval Persian love stories and one of the most admired poetical works ever written in the Persian language. Khosrow and Shīrīn (composed 1175/6-1191) is the second book in the Quinary and recounts the tragic love story of the Sasanian king Khosrow II Parviz and the Armenian princess Shīrīn. Nizāmī’s poetry, in addition to other works of Persian classical masters, was regarded by the Jews of Iran as an integral part of their literary and cultural heritage. Over the years these renowned poetical works were largely transliterated into Judeo-Persian and copies of the texts can be found in various public and private collections. The manuscript in question and other illuminated Judeo-Persian manuscripts clearly testify to their owners and patrons’ awareness of long-established Persian artistic tradition and cultural conventions, representing Jewish-Persian encounter in text and image.
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.
After the fall of the Sassanian Empire and with it the gradual decline of Middle Persian as a literary language, New Persian literature emerged in Transoxiana, beyond the frontiers of present-day Iran, and was written and read in India even before it became firmly established in cities such as Isfahan on the Iranian plateau. Over the course of a millennium (ca. 900-1900 CE), Persian established itself as a contact vernacular and an international literary language from Sarajevo to Madras, with Persian poetry serving as a universal cultural cachet for literati both Muslim and non-Muslim. The role of Persian, beyond its early habitat of Iran and other Islamic lands, has long been recognized: European scholars first came to Persian via Turkey and British orientalists via India. Yet the universal popularity of poets such as Sa’di and Hafez of Shiraz and the ultimate rise of Iran to claim the centre of Persian writing and scholarship led to a relative neglect of the Persianate periphery until recently. This volume contributes to the scholarship of the Persianate fringe with the aid of the abundant material (notably in Tajik, Uzbek and Russian) long neglected by Western scholars and the perspectives of a new generation on this complex and important aspect of Persian literature.
Table of contents
Persian Language and Literature Beyond Iran and Islam (J. R. Perry)
PERSIAN LITERATURE IN THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT
Chapter 1: Establishment of Centers of
Indo-Persian Court Poetry (Alyssa Gabbay)
Chapter 2: Teaching Of Persian In South Asia
Chapter 3: The Persian Language Sciences in
India (J. R. Perry)
Chapter 4: Persian Historiography in India (B. Auer)
Chapter 5: Persian Literature of the Parsis in
India (J. K. Choksy)
Chapter 6: Ismaili Literature in Persian in
Central and South Asia (F. Daftary)
Chapter 7: Persian Medical Literature in South
Asia (F. Speziale)
Chapter 8: Inscriptions and Art-Historical
Writing (Y. Porter)
PERSIAN LITERATURE IN ANATOLIA AND THE OTTOMAN REALMS, POST-TIMURID CENTRAL
ASIA, TAJIKISTAN, MODERN AFGHANISTAN; JUDEO-PERSIAN LITERATURE
Chapter 9: Persian Literature in Anatolia and the Ottoman Realms (S. Kim)
Chapter 10: Persian Literature in Central Asia under Uzbek Rule (Ertugrul Ökten)
Chapter 11: Tajik Literature (K. Hitchins)
Chapter 12: Persian Literature in Modern Afghanistan (R. Farhadi And J. R. Perry)
Chapter 13: Judeo-Persian Literature (Vera Basch Moreen)
The article discusses the attitude towards Christians, Muslims, and the “foreign sciences” based on one of the only extant polemical texts written in Early Judeo-Persian—a passage from an unpublished commentary on story of Ḥannah preserved in the National Library of Russia (RNL Yevr.-Arab. I 4608). In addition, the article attempts to define the relation of this commentary to the broader intellectual environment of the medieval Jewish world. A close examination of this passage reveals a possible connection to Karaite exegetical work written in Judeo-Arabic during the tenth century, particularly those of Yefet ben ʿEli. Therefore, the article may serve as a case study of intellectual contact and transmission of knowledge between different Jewish groups in the Islamicate world.
The present work provides a historical overview of Jews living on Iranian soil and offers studies dealing with specific facets of their centuries old cultural heritage. Divided into two separate but closely related parts, the book consists of eight chapters. Part one, History and Community, includes four chapters that throw light on the history of Iran’s Jewish minority from the 8th-century BCE through the 20th century. The second part, Cultural Heritage, investigates some specific features of Jewish culture and tradition in Iran. These include Judeo-Persian literature and poetry, a typical Judeo-Persian treatment of a Jewish canonical text, and the character of Jewish education in pre-modern Iran.
PART ONE: HISTORY AND COMMUNITY
Chapter 1: Jews on Iranian Soil: From the 8th Century B.C.E. through the Mongol Period in the 13th- 14th Centuries C.E.
Chapter 2: Iranian Jews in the Course of the 16th-20th Centuries
Chapter 3: The Jewish Communities of Iran at the Turn of the 20th Century
Chapter 4: Iranian Jews in Palestine-Israel: History and Communal Aspects
PART TWO: CULTURAL HERITAGE
Chapter 5: Judeo-Persian Literature
Chapter 6: The 15th-16th Century Poet ‘Emrani
Chapter 7: The Mishnah in Judeo-Persian Literature: The Case of the Tractate Abot
Chapter 8: Jewish Education in Pre-Modern Iran According to Contemporary Sources
Issue 26 of the Bulletin of the Asia Institute will be published in December. The information on this issue is not yet available on the journal’s website, but the content has been circulated. We are publishing the table of content based on a request by the journal.