Abstracts

 

PIER GIORGIO BORBONE 

POLYGLOT BIBLES AND THE PERSIANTE WORLD

The first printed polyglot Bible including Persian versions of biblical books was “London Polyglot” edited by Brian Walton in 1654-1657. The Pentateuch, the Psalms, and the Gospels were published in Persian, with a Latin translation and critical notes. But serious interest in publishing the Bible in Persian – both the Old and the New Testament – arose about sixty years before, in Rome, when the Typographia Medicea included among its aims and projects the edition of a polyglot Bible. In fact, the only published book were the Arabic Gospels (1590-91), but the search for biblical manuscripts in several languages, to be employed as sources for the edition, produced an invaluable collection of books which still exists; many of them are preserved now at the Biblioteca medicea laurenziana in Florence. Besides, in the same library copies of the originals prepared for printing are preserved: they offer an opportunity to see how the work was done. A former patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Ignatius Naʿmatallah, a mathematician and orientalist, Giovanni Battista Raimondi, travellers and diplomats, Giovanni Battista and Girolamo Vecchietti, with others, were involved in the venture. The talk will present this project, the reasons for including Persian among the biblical languages, and the practicalities of the preparation of the text, according to the manuscript evidence found in Florence and elsewhere.

ANGELO MICHELE PIEMONTESE

GIOVANNI BATTISTA VECCHIETTI’S PERSIAN SCHOLARSHIP

 Giovanni Battista Vecchietti (born in Cosenza on December 22, 1552) was a pupil of the eminent philosopher Bernardino Telesio, became a fellow of the Florentine Accademia degli Alterati and played an active part in various fields, notably diplomacy, scientific research and knowledge of Persian language and literature. Vecchietti, as well as his younger brother Girolamo, found in Egypt and elsewhere valuable Persian manuscripts on behalf of Giovanni Battista Raimondi who directed the Medici Oriental Press (Rome, 1584-1614). G. B. Vecchietti, as papal envoy to Persia (1585-1587), met the Safavid Shah Muhammad Khudābanda at Tabriz and went to Qazvin, Kashan, Isfahan, Shiraz, Hormuz, also collecting some precious Persian manuscripts. Vecchietti came back to Rome (June 1589), delivering both the Persian royal letter and his own translation to Pope Sixtus V. As a private scholar, Vecchietti traveled all over Persia and in India (1599-1606), collecting important Persian manuscripts, especially the set of Judeo-Persian biblical volumes, which he began to edit in Arabic characters, with the help of native Jewish experts and local copysts. G. B. Vecchietti aimed at editing the whole “Persian Bible”, to be printed in Rome, but such a life-work was unfulfilled because of hard events. He died in Naples on 8 December 1619.

FRANCIS RICHARD 

JUDEO-PERSIAN MANUSCRIPTS OF G.B. VECCHIETTI AT  BIBLIOTEQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE”

The presence of a significant number of Judeo-Persian manuscripts in the collections of the BnF, thirteen of those collected by GB Vecchietti during his second trip to Persia and India (1590-1609), can be explained by the both by the close links between Florence and France in the 17th century and by the interest shown by Colbert and his librarians in rare religious texts. Vecchietti had discovered during his trip to Agra, where he had participated in the research work for ancient Persian versions of the Bible undertaken by the Jesuits, several Jewish communities in Persia, and especially in Lâr which had been the capital of a small independent kingdom where money was minted. It was especially on his return in 1600-1601 that he was able to collect Judeo-Persian biblical manuscripts in Lâr, thanks to his links with Rabbi Abraham Zabolon, himself a native of Lâr, and in Hamadân. He had them transcribed in Arabic characters by his secretary-copyist Shams ud-din Khunjî in order to prepare a possible edition in Rome. It is possible, however, that the manuscript containing the book of Tobit was received during its first visit to Lâr. The list of texts collected by the Italian traveler shows the scope of a project which was unfortunately abandoned following the interruption, for lack of patron, of the Medicean Typography.

RONNY VOLLANDT 

JUDEO-ARABIC BIBLE

The total number of manuscripts containing Arabic versions of the Bible, as estimated for the lack of a comprehensive clavis, amounts to about ten thousand items.  This corpus, if we may call it so at all, is quite diverse. It encompasses books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, as well as those of the New Testament. In addition, one will also find a prominent number of deutero-canonical books. Of these manuscripts, part persisted time as intact codices, while a not insignificant part only survived in a fragmentary state or as objects of reuse, today kept in public or ecclesiastic collections all over the world. Their time of production ranges from the 9th to the 20th centuries. Furthermore, some Arabic versions are of Jewish provenance, others Christian or Samaritan. Each group created and maintained a clearly distinctive corpus of biblical translations into Arabic, based on the various source texts (the Masoretic Text, as well as Greek, Syriac, Coptic, and Latin versions).

In this contribution, I seek to offer a status quaestionis of research in the Arabic Bible. As a field of academic research, much is still in the state of disarray. Many questions, as to the origins of biblical versions in Arabic, their various text types, their Vorlagen and translation strategies, their geographical, chronological and denominational distribution, as well as to the ways they were produced, disseminated and consumed, can only be answered tentatively. Still, the field lacks basic tools, as a comprehensive bibliography or an inventory of manuscripts. In particular I attempt to focus on the Arabic versions of Tobit.

 

BRIAN BREGE 

BOOKS, GUNS, AND DIPLOMACY: THE VECCHIETTI BROTHERS BETWEN IRAN, INDIA AND THE MEDITERRANEAN. 

 The extended travels, cultural curiosity, and linguistic expertise of the brothers Giovanni Battista and Girolamo Vecchietti that enabled them to operate as agents of cultural exchange were inextricably intertwined with the globally ambitious policies pursued by the post-Tridentine Catholic alliance linking the papacy, the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany, and the Habsburg-ruled Spanish and Portuguese Empires. With all nominally committed to Christian unification under Papal leadership, proselytization, and anti-Ottoman policies, it seemed possible for Giovanni Battista Vecchietti to serve concurrently as agent of the joint papal-Medici Tipografia Medicea Orientale, Papal envoy to Eastern Christian communities, and promoter of an anti-Ottoman alliance set to supply the Safavids with artillery. And yet, even as the Vecchietti depended on the transnational Christian community, the Portuguese empire, and the thin globe-spanning web of Florentine merchants and diplomats to pursue their endeavors, they confronted sharp internal tensions as interests diverged, especially over Safavid Iran. By elucidating the complex and shifting political framework within which the Vecchietti operated, this paper seeks to situate their intellectual endeavors and remarkable travels in a propitious, but fleeting conjunctural context.

LOREN STUKENBRUCK

“HEBREW CONSTANTINOPLE TOBIT (1519).

The so-called "Fagius" Hebrew text to the Book of Tobit was not only picked up with small changes in Walton's Polyglott, it also had a pre-history that extended back to a 1519 publication in Constantinople and, even further, Back to fragments among the Cairo Geniza finds. This lecture not only traces This wandering history of the text, but also attends to features that set This version of Tobit apart from the other extant ones. These particular Emphasis, which inter alia include geographical place-names, prominence accorded to and titles used for Israel's God (vis-a-vis the angel Raphael) may be said to reflect some 'globalising' in growth and reworking of the text-tradition.

Ibrāhīm Šafiʿī

THE JEWISH COMMUNITIES OF LARESTAN: AN INTRODUCTION TO THEIR HERITAGE THROUGH THE AGES. 

Lārestān is a widespread and historical region in the south of Iran, nowadays divided between some provinces including Fārs, Hormozgān, Būšehr, and Kermān. Historical materials narrate the existence of Jewish communities in this land and despite this fact that nowadays there is no Jewish soul living over there, after some years which the Jewish souls have left this region, the people of Lārestān remember their stories mostly heard from their parents who lived with Jews for centuries.

Based on this, this paper is the first attempt to collect the different aspects of the living of Jews from the time of their existence in the region of Lārestān and especially in Lār up to the traces of their being nowadays.

 

REBECCA THIERFELT

THE ICONOGRAPHY OF THE BOOK OF TOBIT IN WESTERN MINIATURES (1400-1600)

presents the iconography of Tobit throughout miniature art, in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. Since, only manuscripts accessible in digital libraries were researched, the paper is a first step in covering this topic rather than a complete summary of all the manuscripts and book types depicting the story of Tobit. Miniatures depictions of the apocryphal story do not only decorate bibles, office books and books of hours, but also appear in a range of secular books, not to mention the story’s widespread place in theological and typological works. The paper shows that even though the biblical story had a fixed place in a few typological works, it was often adapted freely in other religious and secular works. Nevertheless, the characters of the Book of Tobit were never deducted from their religious roles and always stayed within the bounds of a Christian exemplary function.

 

NERIDA NEWBIGIN 

JOURNEY AND PLACE IN THE FLORENTINE PLAYS OF TOBIT  

When Florentines read their vernacular versions of the stories of the Hebrew Bible, they had only an approximate idea of the names and locations of the places mentioned. Mistranslation, mistranscription, and misunderstanding meant that names were corrupted, and the absence of accurate maps – which by the nineteenth century accompanied printed Bibles – meant that most of the places mentioned had no more significance than ‘here’, ‘there’, and ‘far, far away’. But in narratives of exile and return, movement through time and space is important,

 This paper will examine the anonymous Rappresentazione dell’Angelo Raffaello e di Tobit, a play from around 1470–1480. It will explore how ordinary Florentines understood the story of Tobit and the places within it, how they represented those places in public frescoes and private paintings, how they divided Florence into festive ‘kingdoms’ that they labelled with the names of Persia, Media, India, and so on, and how they transcended the limitations of a stage, with a ‘mountain’ and a device for connecting earth to heaven, to allow representation of Tobias’s fantastic journey and return. I shall look at the way in which the focus moves from Tobit as a model of misericordia to his son Tobias, under the protection of the Archangel Raphael. And finally I shall look at the eclipse of narrative detail in the dazzling music of the oratorio.

FEDERICO BOTANA 

TOBIT IN THE VERNACULARE AND THE EDUCATION OF THE YOUNG IN LATE MEDIEVAL FLORENCE.  

At least four different vernacular versions of the Book of Tobit were in circulation in late medieval Tuscany. Of the fifteen manuscripts that have survived containing those versions, only two were conceived to include illustrations. The older of these manuscripts, Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, MS Palatino 1, was executed about 1350; the more recent, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, MS II.II.445 is dated 1408. Both manuscripts can be associated with the confraternity of Santa Maria della Misericordia in Florence. This confraternity, in addition to helping the poor and the sick, provided shelter to abandoned children. There is evidence indicating that MS Palatino 1 belonged to the Misericordia and was used to design the fresco representing the Story of Tobit and Tobias, painted in the bottega of the confraternity probably in the 1350s. MS II.II.445 was executed by Zanobi di Pagolo Perini when he was in his late teens. Zanobi's illustrations were inspired by the fresco at the Misericordia. As this paper will demonstrate, vernacular versions of the Book of Tobit were used to educate the young. Future merchants could find a role model in young Tobias, whose endeavours culminated in great success.       

 

SCOTT NETHERSOLE and LAURA LLEWELLYN

 BOTTICELLI’S TRINITY ALTERPIECE: TOBIAS AND THE ANGLES AND THE WOMEN OF THE AUGUSTINIAN ORDER

At some point in the final quarter of the fifteenth century, Botticelli began an altarpiece for the convent of Sant’Elisabetta delle Convertite in Florence. The main panel, which survives in the Courtauld, shows the Trinity with Saints John the Baptist and the Magdalene, together with Tobias and the Angel, who are depicted on a much smaller scale.  However, we know through examination of the painting with infrared reflectography, that they were originally even smaller and in a different position.  The first half of this paper will discuss the evolution of these two figures and the discuss the evidence they provide for the authorship and dating of the altarpiece.  The second half will explore the possible motivations for the inclusion of these figures.  It will shed light on the role of the hermit friars at Santo Spirito, under whose guardianship the nuns of the Convertite resided, as the earliest disseminators of the iconography of Tobias and the Angel in quattrocento Florence.  It will argue that, as the Archangel Raphael was increasingly appropriated as promoter and protector of the Augustinians, his image was seized upon by female members of the order in particular.  Recognizing Raphael’s capacity to double as intercessory saint and guardian angel, such groups were instrumental in the development of his cult and of the imagery that propelled it. 

 

NAHID PIRNAZAR 

THE PLACE OF JUDEO-PERSIAN IN IRANIAN LITERARY TRADITION 

Iranian civilization is enriched by a long history that reflects the participation of multiple ethnicities and divergent cultural patterns. Iranian Jews, despite their official minority status in Iran, have made important contributions to the Iranian culture throughout the ages. The intellectual life of Iranian Jews, as expressed and recorded in Judeo-Persian literature, reflects the strong bond and mutual cultural cooperation, between Iranian Jews and other Iranian ethnic groups, creating what is referred to today as the Mosaic of Iranian identity. In this literary presentation,  Judeo-Persian literature is presented as a segment of Iranian classical literature. Thus, following a brief review of the  background of Judeo-Persian writings and its  major literary composers, various genres and rhetorical arts, in forms of prose and verse are compared with their parallel genres in the context of Iranian literature.

 

József Zsengellér

THEOLOGY AND SPACE IN THE BOOK OF TOBIT  

My previous investigation concerning the geographical description of the book of Tobit pointed out a theological concept behind the journeys of Tobit. Using postmodern ideas of geography, like that of Edward Soja and Michel Foucault I reanalyze the topography of the book and try to answer the questions: how its spaces are determined by power, knowledge and theology; and how can we detect the spatial trialectic (first-, second- and thirdspace) in the narrative?

 

ELIZABETH PHILPOT

THE BOOK OF TOBIT: THE VISUAL IMAGE IN ROMAN CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT EUROPE

This paper considers and compares images painted in Roman Catholic countries with parallel ones executed in Protestant art. The paper focuses mainly on Italy and France for Catholic examples and on the Low Countries, England and Scandinavia for Protestant ones. Examining paintings, sculptures, stained glass and printed material, it asks whether artists in Roman Catholic countries treat the subject of the book of Tobit differently from their contemporaries in Protestant countries?  Examples will include not only the Dutch Artist Rembrandt van Rijn, addressed in other papers, but also  examples from Denmark, Norway and Sweden.  For Sweden I will include a study of dalmålningar (Dala paintings) painted by itinerant artists who travelled all over the province of Dalarna (Dalecarlia) in the area surrounding lake Siljan. Their paintings date from ca. 1750-1850. Mention will also be made of bonader (textile paintings) from southern Sweden and the paucity of Norwegian examples. In addition I shall examine how they used and relied on the Bible, prayer books and other printed material as inspiration for their works.

MARGHERITA FARINA.

LINGUISTIC THINKING AND IDEAS ON LANGUAGE AT THE TYPOGRAPHIA MEDICEA

This paper will investigate the approach to language study, description and classifying, in the milieu of the Typographia Medicea, as it can be reconstructed through archival documents, drafts, grammatical and lexical notes, as well as from the publications and editorial projects by Giovanni Battista Raimondi (d. 1614) and his collaborators. The ideas on language that animated and orientated the activities of the Typographia Medicea will be outlined by examining the linguistic production, as well as the working documents produced by its atelier.

Special attention will be devoted to the multilingual documents by B.B. Raimondi that are preserved at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana of Florence (esp. Or. 457 and Or. 458), as well as to the structure and organization of a number of grammatical works produced in the context of the Medici Press, for example Georges Amira’s Grammatica Syriaca (Rome, 1596) and the Turcicae linguae observationes aliquot grammaticales by Tommaso of Terracina (unpublished, BNCF Naz. II.III.3)

BENJAMIN HARY

ON LANGUAGE AND RELIGION: EGYPTIAN JUDEO-ARABIC SACRED TEXTS

Jewish sacred texts are written primarily in Hebrew and Aramaic and are used, among other things, for liturgy and for study. These texts include the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the Siddur (prayer book), the Passover Haggadah, Midrashic literature, Pirkei ʾAvot (Ethics of the Patriarchs, a tractate of moral and religious teachings dating from Second Temple times and the period following the Second Temple’s destruction), and more.

The translation of sacred texts into different Jewish language varieties, religiolects, and other languages has been widespread throughout the Jewish world. In fact, the occurrence of this genre is a common feature of many Jewish language varieties. Most Jews have learned and still learn some Hebrew and Aramaic, but their competence in these languages can vary to a great degree. When they consult a sacred text, many Jews, thus, rely not only on the original Hebrew or Aramaic version, but also on a translation in their local variety. These translations have different names in various Jewish language varieties: In Late Egyptian Judeo-Arabic these translations are known as šarḥ (pl. šurūḥ); in Judeo-Neo-Aramaic it is termed šarʿ, tefila in Judeo-Italian, tamsir in Jewish Malayalam, ladino in Judeo-Spanish, taytsh in Yiddish and the genre is also documented in Judeo-Provençal, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Berber, and more.

This presentation, using sociolinguistic framework and particularly religiolinguistics, will follow the history of translations of sacred texts into Jewish religiolects and will concentrate on the Arab Jewish world, in general and Egypt, in particular.

LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN

TRANSMISSION AND TRANSFORMATIONS OF SECOND TEMPLE LITERATURE 

The rich and variegated literature produced by Second Temple period Jews, including the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and the writings of Philo and Josephus, was to a great extent abandoned by the rabbinic Jewish tradition and reached us primarily through Christian channels of transmission. Many of these texts passed through a variety of languages and locations, and were often transformed as a result. We now know that much of the literary heritage of ancient Judaism was entirely lost until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Medieval Jewish literature preserved versions and reflections of some of these texts as well. Beginning with the Renaissance, many of these writings were rediscovered, and in modern times, manuscripts of some of these documents reached European scholars and contributed to the developing study of ancient Jewish history and religion. This paper will trace some of the varying channels of transmission of Second Temple literature showing how these texts enriched a variety of Jewish and Christian communities over the ages and how some were transformed as a result.

JANE TYLUS

ACCOMPANYING TOBIAS: LUCREZIA TORNABUONI'S ANGEL OF TRANSLATION 

This short paper will address the role that Lucrezia Tornabuoni, mother of Lorenzo de’Medici (Il Magnifico) and grandmother of two popes, played in bringing the story of Tobias over into the Italian ‘volgare’ - and into verse.  My title takes off from Tornabuoni’s request at the beginning of her poem that God send her a companion on her journey, preferably the same angel who accompanied the young Tobias on his dangerous trip.  As she employs not only Dante’s rhyme scheme of terza rima for her translation but brings in a number of metaphors from the Commedia to describe Tobias’s and Raphael’s adventure, Tornabuoni consciously constructs a journey that is made to resemble Dante’s own.  More importantly, in including herself in this story, she emphasizes the task of the translator as one that involves the assistance of an “angel”: a divine figure who can assist her in navigating the perils and pitfalls of working with another language and across mediums.  And ideally, he will enable her to bring to her readers the rewards that Tobias was able to gain for his father, including that of sight.  Thus does the Biblical tale become a way of restoring light to Tornabuoni’s Florentine readers, and the work of translation an act of charity for which Tornabuoni herself will someday be rewarded. 

SHERVIN FARRIDNEJAD

THE BIBLE IN THE JUDEO-PERSIAN TRADITION

Being the earliest literary monument of the New Persian language, the Early Judeo-Persian (lašon fārsī) corpora contains translation, exegesis, and commentary (tafsīr and halakhah) of the Hebrew Tanach, dating back to the 11th-15th centuries. This is the period that the Jewish biblical studies have been flourished among the Persian speaking Jews cantered in Khuzestān and Fārs in south-western and central Iran, and has been continued by mostly the Bukhari Jews in Central Asia (cantered mainly in Samarqand in present-day Uzbekistan) from the end of the 17th throughout the 19th centuries. The Judeo-Persian tradition of Bible provides not only a linguistically rich and highly priceless material for the study of Persian literature, language and related dialects, but also offers invaluable insights in to the cultural and religious life of the Persianate Jews during a long history. In this paper I aim to give an overview on the long-term tradition of Judeo-Persian Tanach and the HaBrit HaHadashah.

LAURA PARODI

TOBIAS ICONOGRAPHY IN MOUGAL ART

A group of miniatures executed at the Mughal court can be connected with the Tobit/Tobias story. The main issues covered in this paper may be summarized as follows:

- meaning of the paintings for the Mughals (‘what’, ‘why’)

- probable dating, patronage, and attribution (‘when’, ‘who’)

- possible connection with Vecchietti’s presence at court

Current evidence for the attribution of some of the paintings to Farrukh Husain, which is pretty secure, is not compatible with a dating coeval to Vecchietti’s mission: based on our current understanding, the painter was not employed by the Mughals at that time. Meanwhile, no evidence has emerged to date that connects this somewhat ‘anomalous’ group of paintings with the books, the prints, or the catechism of the Jesuit missions at Akbar’s and Jahangir’s court.

These and other unresolved issues (including patronage) will be presented and problematized, and suggestions for further research will be proposed.