Sabine Schmidtke

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Sabine Schmidtke is Professor of Islamic Intellectual History in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ

ORCID http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6181-5065.

For a full curriculum vitae and list of publication, see here.

For my Collection of Manuscript Surrogates (the list is continuously being expanded), see here.

News

For my recent monograph Martin Schreiner between Islamic Studies and "Wissenschaft des Judentums": Reconstructing His Scholarly Biography (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2024), see here.

For current events and scholars in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Historical Studies, see here.

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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 218
  • The Published Correspondence of Ignaz Goldziher: A Bibliographical Guide
    (Brill, 2024)
    Dévényi, Kinga
    ;
    Schmidtke, Sabine
      15  6
  • Eugen Mittwoch’s Biography As Seen Through His Scholarly Correspondence, 1898 through 1940
    (2024)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    Eugen Mittwoch (1876–1942) was one of the most prominent representatives of German Orientalism during the first decades of the twentieth century that are credited with having initiated a new direction in Islamic studies within Orientalism. Trained as an Arabist and a Semitist, Mittwoch was at the same time a specialist in Ethiopian and Amharic studies, and was particularly interested in the study of Islamic medicine. Mittwoch was also engaged in the study of the Geniza, epigraphy, and Southern Arabian studies, and in addition worked on topics relevant to the Science of Judaism (“Wissenschaft des Judentums”). Mittwoch’s academic career ended abruptly when he was dismissed from his professorial position at the end of 1935 and eventually forced into exile in 1938. As a result, only portions of his professional and personal Nachlass have come to us. Insights into his personality and development as a scholar can be gained from his correspondence. The book presents a critical annotated edition of Eugen Mittwoch’s correspondence with Moritz Steinschneider (1816–1907), Theodor Nöldeke (1836–1930), Wilhelm von Bode (1845–1929), Friedrich Carl Andreas (1846–1930), Leopold Landau (1848–1920), Markus Brann (1849-1920), Ignaz Goldziher (1850–1921), Immanuel Löw (1854–1944), Hans von Cranach (1855–1929), Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857–1936), Hermann Burchardt (1857–1909), Carl Bezold (1959–1922), Georg Jacob (1862–1937), Richard Gottheil (1862–1936), Ludwig Borchardt (1863–1938), Cyrus Adler (1863–1940), Hubert Grimme (1864–1942), Aby Warburg (1866–1929), Adolf Büchler (1867–1939), Victor Aptowitzer (1871–1942), Arthur Lehman (1873–1936), Abraham Kahana (1874–1946), Max Meyerhof (1874–1945), Paul E. Kahle (1875–1964), Enno Littmann (1875–1958), Carl Heinrich Becker (1876–1933), Emil Gratzl (1877–1957), Rudolf Strothmann (1877–1960), Abraham Shalom Yahuda (1877–1951), Judah L. Magnes (1877–1948), Martin Buber (1878–1965), Jacob Nahum Epstein (1878–1952), Eugenio Griffini (1878–1925), Eugen Täubler (1879–1953), Gotthold Weil (1882–1960), Arthur Schaade (1883–1952), Rudolf Tschudi (1884–1960), Carl Rathjens (1887–1966), Hellmut Ritter (1892–1971), Shlomo Dov Goitein (1900–1985), Joseph Schacht (1902–1969), Paul Kraus (1904–1944), and Walter Henning (1908–1967). Arranged in chronological order, the letters (German for the most part, some in Arabic, Hebrew, and English) present to the reader an impression of Mittwoch’s life as a scholar, a proponent of Zionism, a father and a husband.
      29
  • Arent Jan Wensinck and His Oriental Diary (1929-1930)
    (2024)
    Adang, Camilla
    ;
    Schmidtke, Sabine
      11
  • Asterisms: The Relations among their Verbal, Numerical, and Visual Representations across Cultures in Research and Public Outreach
    (2024-02)
    Asterisms: The Relations among their Verbal, Numerical, and Visual Representations across Cultures in Research and Public Outreach, An International Conference, Princeton, Institute for Advanced Study, 14-15 February 2024, Sponsor: Sabine Schmidtke (IAS), Convenor: Sonja Brentjes (MPIWG, IAS), Funding for this event provided by the Otto Neugebauer Fund
      42  24
  • Paul Kahle and His Catalog of the Arabic Manuscripts of the Bodleian Library, Oxford
    (2024)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    Although Paul Kahle’s involuntary exile from Germany during the Second World War caused him considerable economic hardship, it also opened up entirely new scholarly horizons for him, as his principal occupation during the years 1939 through 1947 was the preparation of a catalog of the manuscripts of the Chester Beatty Collection and a catalog of the Arabic manuscripts of the Bodleian Library that had been acquired since 1835. Neither catalog was ever published. This paper analyzes Kahle’s relationship with the Bodleian Library in this period and his unpublished catalog of the library’s Arabic manuscripts.
      22
  • Literary Snippets: A Colophon Reader
    (Gorgias Press, 2024)
    Kiraz, George Anton
    ;
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    This companion volume to Literary Snippets: Colophons Across Space and Time (Gorgias Press, 2023) gives examples of colophons from the Ancient Near East up to the pre-modern world, from different traditions – Akkadian, Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, and Persian. Colophons typically provide their readers with the historical context in which the scribe produced his or her work: Who was the scribe? When and where was the manuscript produced? For whom was it produced and who paid for it? But colophons are far more rich. They are literary works in their own right, having a style and rhetoric independent of the main literary text of the manuscript. Some are assertive, providing contextual data about the scribe/publisher and manuscript/book; others are expressive, demonstrating the scribe’s feelings and wishes. Some are directive, asking the reader for an action; others declarative, providing all sorts of statements about the scribe/publisher or even the reader. The latter sometimes provide historical facts otherwise lost to history: wars, earthquakes, religious events, and legal agreements. Through the colophons and translations in this volume we hope to present the colophon as a literary genre, and as literature to be studied, read and enjoyed.
      17  8
  • Shii Studies Review Volume 7 (2023)
    (Brill, 2023)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    ;
    F. Ansari Hassan
      67  43
  • Under the Hammer: Trafficking,Trading, and Salvaging the Middle Eastern and North African Written Heritage
    (2023-11-02)
    Palombo, Cecilia
    ;
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    The trade in written artifacts of Middle Eastern and North African origin is flourishing and its dimensions are growing particularly in areas experiencing militaryconflict and/or extreme poverty. Yemen is one such area: given the ongoing war, manuscripts are being clandestinely taken out of the country. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are similarly affected. Islamic, Christian, and Jewish manuscripts originating in the MENASA region are regularly offered for sale by Western auction houses, and many thus end up in private hands. The provenance ofthe objects sold often remains obscure or is at least not mentioned in the relevant sales catalogs. Additionally, artifacts of Middle Eastern origin are increasingly being offered and sold through social media, for the most part clandestinely. Such transactions not only are frequently illegal but also deprive the people living in conflict-ridden regions of their cultural heritage. Moreover, experts have made the case that the illegal trafficking of artifacts may be related to a variety of criminal activities that affect war-zones or regions experiencing instability due to armed conflict. Finally, scholarship, too, is impacted, since artifacts that are purchased by private collectors generally become inaccessible to scholars. While recent military conflicts and the pandemic appear to have exacerbated the situation, there are also many initiatives and actors who are involved in protecting and salvaging MENA’s cultural heritage on the ground. Our panel showcases the fate of individual manuscripts or written artifacts, and entire collections of such materials, that have been auctioned or otherwise sold during recent decades. The contributions address both problems and concrete initiatives aimed at preventing the phenomenon, creating awareness of the artifacts' cultural value among policy makers, customs and police authorities, and auctioneers, and at providing appropriate training to stop illegal trafficking. Moreover, we consider the question of survival and accessibility of written artifacts from the MENASA region, which is connected to the thorny issue ofthe possible restitution of written artifacts. Participants: Luise Loges (University of Glasgow), Josh Mugler (HMML), Cecilia Palombo (Chicago University), Nasser O. Rabbat (MIT), Valentina Sagaria Rossi (University of Rome Tor Vergata), Sabine Schmidtke (IAS)
      67  46
  • A Manual of Zaydī Muʿtazilī Dogmatic Texts from Early Sixth/Twelfth-Century Iran
    (Shii Studies Review (Brill), 2023)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    ;
    F. Ansari Hassan
    ;
    Khalkhali, Ehsan Mousavi
    ;
    Jomah Falahieh Zadeh Ammar
    MS Riyadh, Maktabat Malik Fahd al-Waṭaniyya 748 is a multitext volume copied by al-Ḥasan b. Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. ʿAlī Ibn Abī l-ʿAshīra in 552/1157 in Ṣaʿda. It consists of doctrinal texts by Zaydī and Muʿtazilī authors, invariably Iranian. The codex is the only known extant witness of all but two of the tracts it includes (the exceptions being Ismāʿīl b. ʿAlī b. Ismāʿīl al-Farrazādhī’s K. Taʿlīq al-Tabṣira and Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Dāʿī al-Ḥasanī’s K. Ḥaqāʾiq al-aʿrāḍ wa-aḥwālihā wa-sharḥihā), and two of its tracts, K. al-Nasīm fī l-uṣūl by one Abū Jaʿfar and K. Muhaj al-ʿulūm by Muʿādh b. Abī l-Khayr al-Hamadhānī, are not even attested in the relevant biobibliographical sources. This study includes critical editions of the doctrinal tracts included in the majmūʿa as well as an additional tract preserved in a related codex that was apparently also copied by Ibn Abī l-ʿAshīra (MS Milan, Ambrosiana, ar. E 462). The edited tracts include Abū l-Faḍl al-ʿAbbās Ibn Sharwīn’s K. al-Wujūh allatī taʿẓumu ʿalayhā l-ṭāʿāt ʿinda llāh, his K. al-Yāqūta, and his Ḥaqāʾiq al-ashyāʾ, ʿAbd al-Jabbār al-Hamadhānī’s Ḥudūd al-alfāẓ, Ibn al-Dāʿī’s K. Ḥaqāʾiq al-aʿrāḍ wa-aḥwālihā wa-sharḥihā, the extant part of the K. al-Nasīm fī l-uṣūl, K. Muhaj al-ʿulūm, by Muʿādh b. Abī l-Khayr al-Hamadhānī, fragments of two theological summae by unidentified Zaydī scholars, and collections of doctrinal definitions of uncertain authorship.
      124  33
  • Building Bridges: Ignaz Goldziher and His Correspondents. Islamic and Jewish Studies around the Turn of the Twentieth Century
    (Brill, 2024)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    ;
    Dévényi, Kinga
    ;
    Günther, Sebastian
    ;
    Becker, Hans-Jürgen
    The scholarship of Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921), one of the founders of Islamic studies in Europe, has not ceased to be in the focus of interest since his death. This volume addresses aspects of Goldziher’s intellectual trajectory together with the history of Islamic and Jewish studies as reflected in the letters exchanged between Goldziher and his peers from various countries that are preserved in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and elsewhere. The fourteen contributions deal with hitherto unexplored aspects of the correspondence addressing issues that are crucial to our understanding of the formative period of these disciplines.
      93  87
  • Literary Snippets: Colophons Across Space and Time
    (Gorgias Press, 2023)
    Kiraz, George
    ;
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    Late antique scholars and medievalists who work on manuscripts as primary sources are very much familiar with the art of the colophon. But the history of the colophon dates back much further than late antiquity, to ancient history when scribes in ancient Mesopotamia chiseled colophons on cuneiform tablets as early as the third millennium BCE. At their inception, colophons were writing production records: who wrote what, when and where? Ancient colophons even provide statistics: how many lines were written in a particular work? As we enter late antiquity, colophons take on a life of their own and begin to acquire literary properties—snippets but nevertheless literary objects. They developed into an art form with distinctive formulaic phraseology. In some traditions, scribes began to record historical events that occurred just before or during the production of a manuscript, events that otherwise would be lost to history. Readers and users also began to insert colophons in existing manuscripts, creating a plethora of colophon types. How are we to approach the study of colophons and what can they tell us about communities at large, or about individual scribes? And what of the colophon itself as an object? One can drill into its text as any other piece of literature, studying various aspects of its literary style and function, as well as linguistic features that distinguish colophon texts from the main text found in a manuscript. This is particularly interesting in multilingual environments, or when the scribe’s mother tongue is connected to the primary text of the manuscript in a diglossic relationship. Here, the colophon is an essential linguistic source into how the scribe’s native tongue interacts with the higher literary register of the manuscript text. This edited volume brings together scholars from various disciplines to study colophons in various languages and traditions across space and time. Whatever you would like to get out of colophons, we hope that there will be at least one paper here that will draw your attention. If not, there are enough literary snippets quoted to keep you entertained.
      110  16
  • Byzantium from a Global Perspective II: Byzantium and the Islamicate World
    (2023-06)
    Pahlitzsch, Johannes
    ;
    Chitwood, Zachary
    ;
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    Within the format of the Mainz History Talks, a series of three workshops organized by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (JGU) with the overarching title “Mainz-Princeton Symposia: Reflections on Byzantium from a Global Perspective” will take place from 2022 to 2025. These Mainz-Princeton Symposia will seek to situate conceptions of Byzantium within a “global” context by examining the relevance of Byzantium, with each of the three gatherings dedicated to a specific regional or chronological milieu and reflecting upon Byzantium from a global perspective. As a culture and polity geographically spanning three continents and chronologically bridging Antiquity and the Renaissance, Byzantium meant entirely different things to its neighbors at different points in its history. Moreover, beyond examining actual connections between Byzantium and other cultures, leading experts of various disciplines participating in these conversations will be called upon to reflect upon Byzantium and to describe what is Byzantium’s relevance in a general sense as a foil or a point of reference for them, for their approach to global history and their fields more broadly. The second of these three workshops, which will take place from June 28th to 30th, 2023 on the grounds of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, will focus on Byzantium and the Islamicate world. The invitees represent a broad swathe of Byzantine Studies as well as fields touching upon the history of the premodern Middle East. Among other questions, the workshop participants will examine to what extent Byzantium can be understood as part of a broader premodern history of the Islamicate world, even though, despite the empire’s manifold political and cultural connections with that region, it is more often associated with western Latin Europe as well as the Slavic world. Other queries which the gathering’s attendees will attempt answer is what extent does Byzantium figure within conceptions of the premodern Islamicate world, in the sense of a shared cultural space, and what form future cooperation between Byzantine Studies and fields covering the premodern Middle East should take and to what degree disciplinary boundaries are here justified or rather a hindrance.
      43  39
  • Imāmī Theological Thought during the Early Seventh/Thirteenth Century: Sālim b. Maḥfūẓ Ibn ʿUzayza (or ʿAzīza) and his K. al-Minhāj
    (Brill, 2023)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    ;
    F. Ansari Hassan
    ;
    Nazari Hamid Ataei Nazari / Ḥamīd ʿaṭāʾī Naẓarī
    MS Tehran, Malik 1650, includes not only one of the earliest witnesses of al-Miqdād b. ʿAbd Allāh b. Muḥammad al-Ḥillī al-Suyūrī’s (d. 826/1422–23) al-Anwār al-jalāliyya fī sharḥ al-Fuṣūl al-naṣīriyya, completed in 852/1448, but also the quotation of a portion of the otherwise lost K. al-Minhāj, a theological summa by the early seventh/thirteenth-century Imāmī scholar Sālim b. Maḥfūṭ Ibn ʿUzayza (or ʿAzīza) that was popular among Imāmī scholars of al-Ḥilla up until the ninth/fifteenth century. The present study discusses the scarce available data about Sālim b. Maḥfūẓ and the reception of his K. al-Minhāj, and it includes an editio princeps of the work’s portion that is preserved in Ms. Tehran, Malik 1650.
      47  28
  • Manuscript Treasures from Najaf in Carl Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Literatur
    (Brill, 2023)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    In the 1890s, Carl Brockelmann (d. 1956) embarked on what soon turned out to be a mission impossible—to compile single-handedly a bibliography of the entire extant Muslim literary tradition in Arabic language. The supplement volumes (published in 1937, 1938, and 1942), and the second edition (published in 1943 and 1949) that eventually replaced the original Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, remain until today an indispensible tool for Arabists and Islamicists, especially for the mid-fifth/eleventh century and later, and this despite the volumes’ evident shortcomings, of which Brockelmann was well aware. Little is known about Brockelmann’s work mode during the decades between the publication of the original GAL and the late 1930s and 1940s, when he worked on the GALS and the second edition of the GAL. Access to the relevant primary and secondary material proved challenging, and it varied during Brockelmann’s career. The difficulties he encountered with consulting the relevant materials, were partly alleviated by the support Brockelmann received from colleagues. Among them, Hellmut Ritter, who was based from October 1926 on in Istanbul and had access to the rich manuscript holdings of the local libraries, was perhaps Brockelmann’s most important informant. However, the importance of Ritter’s contributions to the GALS and GAL goes beyond the manuscript holdings of the libraries in Istanbul. For the manuscript treasures of Najaf, for example, Ritter provided Brockelmann with two documents, a letter he had received in March 1936 from a young scholar of Najaf, ʿAlī al-Khāqānī (d. 1400/1979 or 1980), in which the latter described a selection of manuscripts in Najaf, and a handwritten catalogue by one Najafābādī, which Brockelmann had received a few months later from Ritter. Eventually, Brockelmann had access to volumes one and two of Āghā Buzurg al-Ṭihrānī’s (d. 1389/1970) al-Dharīʿa ilā taṣānīf al-shīʿa, his third important sources for the manuscripts of Najaf. The present study analyzes Brockelmann’s usage of these three sources.
      65  16
  • Wilferd Madelung Papers: An Inventory
    (2023)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    The Wilferd Madelung Papers were gathered on 24-25 February 2023 from Wilferd Madelung's former Oxford apartment (21 Belsyre Court, Observatory Street) and on 14 March 2023 from the Madelung family residence in River Forest, Illinois (547 Keystone Avenue). Over the course of 2023, the material was brought together and sorted, and the present, still incomplete, inventory reflects this arrangment. The remaining materials will be added over the coming months.
      289  61
  • From Wissenschaft des Judentums to Wissenschaft des Islams: Eugen Mittwoch between Jewish and Islamic Studies
    (Mohr Siebeck, 2024)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
    In the course of the nineteenth century, “Oriental studies” evolved as an independent academic discipline. While these developments primarily involved scholars who identified as Christians, Jewish scholars, too, adopted a critical historical/philological approach towards the Jewish literary tradition and its history, an approach that became known as Wissenschaft des Judentums. Although the close relationship between the Wissenschaft des Judentums and Oriental studies is widely recognized, far more scholarship has been produced on the earlier periods—up until the final decades of the nineteenth century—than on later periods of the Wissenschaft des Judentums—up until 1933. This study focuses on the Jewish orientalists who were trained in Berlin, the leading center of Oriental studies in Germany, shortly before or during the first decade of the twentieth century, and who also attended one of the local Jewish seminaries, the Hochschule or the Rabbinerseminar, two institutions with a critical number of faculty with a solid training in Semitica and Arabica. Unlike their Jewish predecessors, they were often more inclined towards Islamica than Judaica and they often replaced the ideals of the Wissenschaft des Judentums with those of Zionism. Their career paths also differed from those of earlier Jewish orientalists. In order to redress the neglect of this period in scholarship, and to allow for a prosopographic analysis of educational and career patterns, of opportunities, choices, and decisions, the respective scholarly trajectories need to be reconstructed for as many individual cases as possible. Focusing on these understudied figures will not only lead to a deeper understanding of Wissenschaft des Judentums during these later periods, but will also allow for a better grasp of the role of Jewish scholars and their contribution to the field of Oriental studies during the first half of the twentieth century. With this purpose in mind, the second part of this paper is devoted to one of the representatives of the later generation of Wissenschaft des Judentums, the Orientalist Eugen Mittwoch (d. 1942), who is credited with having initiated a new direction in Islamic studies within Orientalism.
      132  73
  • Rudolf Strothmann and the Beginnings of Zaydi Studies in Germany
    (leidenarabichumanitiesblog, 2023-03-12)
    Schmidtke, Sabine
      180  34