The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Sasanian synoptic problem

If you are still waiting for that modern edition and translation of the Khuday Nameh which Noeldeke predicted over a century ago, you can give up now. You'll want to read Michael Richard Jackson Bonner's Al-Dīnawarī's Kitāb al-Aḫbār al-Ṭiwāl: An Historiographical Study of Sasanian Iran, Res Orientales XXII. (The long name is because another Michael Bonner is floating around Orientalism, also a fine scholar.) I think Michael Jackson Bonner is a PhD by now; if this thesis didn't earn him one within an hour of reading it, his university deserves to burn to the ground.

I have lodged a note about MRJB in the first relevant Mr Pearse comment-thread of his Eutychius series. I also lodged a comment on Mazdak, subsequently two comments on Khusro I. But my commentary there focuses on Eutychius' use of the Sasanian synoptic sources. So a blog post on their shared material is in order.

MRJB is doing a Conterno: he finds where previous scholars have seen synoptic-sources behind several later history-books, and challenges where they conclude upon a unitary text. IMO he has done better than Conterno did. MRJB also agrees with Greatrex and Christensen (adding Bosworth) that scholars need to quit citing the Karin legend around Peroz.

This helps MRJB isolate sources available to Dinawari not available to, say, Eutychius. One was a long version of "the Sira" of [Khusro I] Anushirwan. (Not to be confused with Ibn Hisham's edition of Ibn Ishaq's Mabath and Maghazi.) The long Sira detailed Khusro's tax-policy, which 'Abbasid taxmen in Iran used as a proof-text. Eutychius, being a Christian in Egypt, didn't read it and didn't seek it out.


posted by Zimri on 08:48 | link | 0 comments

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