Lecture by Dr. Julia Rubanovich “Biblical Narrative Poems in Judeo-Persian in Fourteenth-Century Iran”


Date / Time Sat 9 Sep 2023 14:30–15:45 (Doors open at 14:15)
Venue in-person (Seminar Room, 3F of Hongo Satellite, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
(2-14-10 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033) Access
* Pre-registration is required. → Registration (Deadline: 22:00, 7 Sep 2023)
Admission Free
Language English
Organized by Global Mediterranean at ILCAA
Contact gmed.ilcaa★gmail.com (Secretariat of the Global Mediterranean Project at ILCAA) Please change ★ to @.


14:30–14:35 Introduction
14:35–15:15 Dr. Julia Rubanovich (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
“Biblical Narrative Poems in Judeo-Persian in Fourteenth-Century Iran”
15:15–15:45 Discussion

Title and abstract

Biblical Narrative Poems in Judeo-Persian in Fourteenth-Century Iran

Shāhīn (fl. in the first part of the 14th century) holds the distinction of being the first known poet to versify portions of the Hebrew Bible in the Judeo-Persian language in the form of long narrative poems (mathnavī). He is credited with four works, the most extensive of which is the Bereshit-nāma (Book of Genesis), composed in 1358/59. Shāhīn was active during the late Ilkhanid and early post-Mongol periods, a time when new forms of patronage over literary and artistic production emerged seeking to blend different cultural worlds. The poet indeed crafted unique amalgams of Jewish and Perso-Islamic traditions, both in form and content.

In this talk, I will delve into several episodes from the Bereshit-nāma to explore Shāhīn’s retelling of biblical narratives from a comparative angle, considering both Jewish and Muslim exegetical sources. My aim is to reveal the pool of traditions that Shāhīn might have drawn upon for his version and to elucidate the working techniques and interpretative strategies he employed. Through this analysis, I hope to demonstrate that despite writing in Judeo-Persian, the poet was firmly entrenched in a Persianate cultural domain.