Occasional Papers

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  • For Sale to the Highest Bidder: A Precious Shiʿi Manuscript from the Early Eleventh Century
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    The prominent Twelver Shiʿi scholar and poet, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥusayn "al-Sharīf al-Raḍī" (d. 406 AH/1015 CE), author of a Qurʾān commentary in ten volumes, Ḥaqāʾiq al-taʾwīl fī mutashābih al-tanzīl, which has only partly been preserved, and compiler of the renowned anthology of testimonials, opinions, and sayings attributed to Imām ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (d. 40 AH/661 CE), Nahj al-balāgha, also composed a comprehensive, and largely unprecedented book on the metaphors in the Qurʾān, Talkhīṣ al-bayān ʿan majāzāt al-Qurʾān. A remarkable manuscript containing volume two of the work is currently offfered for sale by the UK auctioneer Dreweatts ...
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  • "Lot 69" – Another Precious Arabic Manuscript from Iraq Auctioned Off
    (Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, 2019)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    International auction houses regularly offer precious Islamic manuscripts of uncertain provenance. These are often purchased by public libraries, in which case they are accessible to the scholarly community. A recent example is a collection of fourteen manuscripts fromYemen that were purchased in 2018 by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin from the London-based rare books and manuscripts dealer Bernard Quaritch Ltd. and will soon be available online. Other manuscripts rather end up in private hands and are thus no longer within reach of scholars. A remarkable manuscript was offered a short while ago by the UK auctioneer Dreweatts. The slim codex, identified as "Lot 69" on Dreweatts web-based catalogue and sold on October 22, 2019 to an unidentified buyer for £2,500, consists of 10 leaves ... The short description of "Lot 69" shows the fragment's immense value for scholarship. It is deplorable that it is unavailable at present for further study, especially as it may well be possible that additional portions of the original codex may surface in the future that would help elucidate its relation to the Najaf codex.
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