The Beginnings of Shīʿī Studies in Germany: Rudolf Strothmann and His Correspondences with Carl Heinrich Becker, Ignaz Goldziher, Eugenio Griffini, and Cornelis van Arendonk, 1910 through 1926
Rudolf Strothmann (1877-1960) played a pioneering role in the scholarly exploration of Shīʿī Islam in Western, and in particular German, scholarship. Between 1910 and 1923, he published a number of pathbreaking studies on the Zaydiyya, consulting primarily the recently purchased collections of Yemeni Zaydī manuscripts in Berlin. At the same time, and to the extent that this was possible in view of the lack of relevant sources in Germany and the rest of Europe, Strothmann began to delve into Twelver Shīʿī literature, an endeavour which culminated in his 1926 monograph, Die Zwölfer-Schīʿa: Zwei religionsgeschichtliche Charakterbilder aus der Mongolenzeit, a portrait of the two prominent seventh/thirteenth-century Imāmī scholars Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (d. 672/1274) and Raḍī al-Dīn ʿAlī b. Mūsā Ibn Ṭāwūs (d. 664/1266). During the later decades of his life, Strothmann primarily focussed on various strands of Ismāʿīlism. His rich published work testifies to his erudition and versatility and continues to form an important point of departure for scholars working on different aspects of Shīʿism in the early twenty-first century. In addition, Strothmann’s use of the manuscript treasures of Berlin State Library between 1908 and 1926 reflects his evolution as a scholar during those years. This study examines the earlier decades of Strothmann’s life and his formation as a theologian and a scholar of Semitic languages and Islamic culture. Moreover, it sheds light on his scholarly work during the 1910s through his correspondences with Carl Heinrich Becker, Ignaz Goldziher, Eugenio Griffini, and Cornelis van Arendonk, of which an annotated edition is provided.
Sabine Schmidtke, The Beginnings of Shīʿī Studies in Germany: Rudolf Strothmann and His Correspondences with Carl Heinrich Becker, Ignaz Goldziher, Eugenio Griffini, and Cornelis van Arendonk, 1910 through 1926, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2023.