Franz Rosenthal (orientalist)

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Franz Rosenthal (born August 31, 1914 in Berlin ; died April 8, 2003 in New Haven , Connecticut ) was a German-American orientalist .


Franz Rosenthal was born in 1914 as the son of the businessman Kurt W. Rosenthals and Elsa Rosenthals, née Kirschstein, and grew up in a Jewish family. In 1932 he came to Berlin University and studied Classical Studies and Oriental Studies with Carl Heinrich Becker , Richard Rudolf Walzer and Hans Heinrich Schaeder . In the latter, he received his doctorate in 1935 on The Language of the Palmyrenian Inscriptions . Rosenthal then taught for a year in Italy at the country school in Florence , then at the Institute for the Science of Judaism , a Berlin rabbinical seminar . In 1938 he completed his History of Aramaic, which was awarded the Lidzbarski Medal by the German Oriental Society . The prize money was withheld from him because of his Jewish descent. On Schaeder's initiative, however, he was awarded a gold medal as compensation. In December 1934, Rosenthal fled Germany to Sweden. He had been invited there through the mediation of the religious historian HS Nyberg (1889–1974). From Sweden, Rosenthal traveled on to England, which he reached in April 1939, and then to the United States in 1940. He had been invited to join the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1943 Rosenthal became a US citizen. During the war he translated Arabic texts for the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, DC. After the war ended, Rosenthal returned to the HUC and in 1948 went to the University of Pennsylvania .

In 1956 he became Louis M. Rabinowitz Professor of Semitic Languages ​​at Yale University , then Sterling Professor in 1967 , and finally retired in 1985.

Rosenthal was president of the American Oriental Society . In 1961 he was elected to the American Philosophical Society and in 1971 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . Since 1992 he has been a corresponding member of the British Academy .


Rosenthal made numerous contributions to the source-critical indexing of Arabic texts. His most important publications include a three-volume annotated translation of Ibn Chaldun's Muqaddimah , a grammar of the biblical Aramaic , the first history of Muslim historiography, and translations of the historiographical works of Tabari .

Fonts (selection)

  • Aramaic research since Th. Nöldeke's publications , 1939
  • The Technique and Approach of Muslim Scholarship , 1947
  • A History of Muslim Historiography , 1952
  • Humor in Early Islam , Brill, Leiden 1956, re-edited by Brill, Leiden 2011, with an introduction by Geert Jan van Gelder
  • Translation, commentary by Ibn Chaldūn : The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History . 3 volumes. New York 1958. Repr .: 1967.
  • The Muslim Concept of Freedom Prior to the Nineteenth Century , 1960
  • A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic , 1961
  • The survival of antiquity in Islam , Zurich / Stuttgart 1965
    • engl .: The Classical Heritage in Islam , London 1975, reissued in 1994 by Routledge, ISBN 0-415-07693-5
  • An Aramaic Handbook , 1967
  • Knowledge Triumphant: The Concept of Knowledge in Medieval Islam , Brill, Leiden 1970, re-edited by Brill, Leiden 2006, with an introduction by Dimitri Gutas
  • The Herb. Hashish versus Medieval Muslim Society , 1971
  • Sweeter Than Hope: Complaint and Hope in Medieval Islam , 1983
  • Translated by Tabari : General Introduction, And, From the Creation to the Flood , 1985
  • Muslim Intellectual and Social History , Variorum, Aldershot 1990
  • Man versus Society in Medieval Islam (= Brill Classics in Islam 7), ed. By Dimitri Gutas, Brill, Leiden & Boston 2014. ISBN 978-90-04-27088-6


Web links

Primary texts
Secondary literature

Individual evidence

  1. Member History: Franz Rosenthal. American Philosophical Society, accessed January 26, 2019 .
  2. Book of Members 1780 – present, Chapter R. (PDF; 508 kB) In: American Academy of Arts and Sciences ( Retrieved January 26, 2019 .
  3. ^ Deceased Fellows. British Academy, accessed July 25, 2020 .