Colloque : Mediating Scripture: Judeo-Persian Tobit as Global Crossroads

This symposium is occasioned by the recent discovery of the only-known Judeo-Persian copy of the apocryphal Book of Tobit, one of the most uplifting stories of the Old Testament which has inspired explosions in the arts. Commissioned in 1600 in the Gulf city of Lār, the interdisciplinary and global crossroads of manuscript provides an important case study of global early modernity within a research agenda that includes global art history, Judeo-Persian and Judeo-Arabic studies, diplomatic and commercial relations, biblical studies, and natural philosophy of language. A two-day symposium brings prominent scholars into conversation about the significance of the global iterations and variations of the remarkable story and iconography of the Book of Tobit. On the occasion of this symposium, the manuscript will travel back to the region and will be exhibited at Louvre Abu Dhabi.


December 8

Welcome Remarks  1:30 pm- 2:00 pm

Mariët Westermann, Vice Chancellor NYUAD  
Laurence Engel, President BnF

Mahnaz Yousefzadeh and Laurent Hericher 
“Judeo-Persian Tobit: History and Manuscript”

Webinar 1 Keynote Panel 2:00 pm -4:00 pm 

Moderator: Mahnaz Yousefzadeh
  • Shaul Shaked, Schwarzmann University Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “The Bible in Judeo-Persian Tradition”
  • Pier Giorgio Borbone, Professore Ordinario in Orientalistica, University of Pisa, “Polyglot Bibles and the Persiante World”
  • Angelo Michele Piemontese, Istituto Italiano di Studi Orientali, Rome, “G.B. Vecchietti’s Persian Scholarship”
  • Francis Richard, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, “Judeo-Persian Manuscripts of G.B. Vecchietti at Bibliothèque Nationale de France”
  • Lawrence H. Schiffman, Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, “Transmissions and Transformations of Second Temple Literature”

Webinar 2  Language, Translation, and Tradition 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Moderator: Laurent Hericher
  • “Hebrew Constantinople Tobit (1519)”, Loren Stuckenbruck, University of Munich.
  • “Linguistic Thinking and Ideas on Language at the Typographia Medicea”, Margherita Farina, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris.
  • ​“Topography as Theology in Tobit”, Jozsef Zsengeller, Karoli Gaspar University.
  • “The Bible in The Judeo-Persian Tradition”, Shervin Farridnejad, Freie Universität Berlin

Webinar 3 Tobit in the Visual Arts 5:30 pm – 7:45 pm

Moderator: Justin Stearns
  • “Botticellli’s Trinity Altarpiece: Tobias and the Angel and the Women of the Augustinian Order”, Scott Nethersole,  Courtauld Institute and Laura Llewellyn, National Gallery in London.
  • “Old Testament Apocrypha in European Protestant and Catholic Paintings”, Elizabeth Philpot, Gothenburg University.
  • “Tobit in Medieval Manuscript Illustrations”, Rebecca Thierfeldt, Independent Scholar.
  • “Tobias Iconography in Mughal Art”, Laura Parodi, University of Genoa.

December 9

Presentation of Louvre Abu Dhabi Special Exhibition and Screening “Reading Judeo-Persian Tobit” 1:30 pm – 2:00 pm

The BnF manuscripts, Judeo-Persian Tobit and the Judeo-Persian Hagiographs which Vecchietti transliterated in 1605-1606 in India, will be on displayed from October 18th 2021 to February 18th 2022 at Louvre Abu Dhabi, wing 2, gallery 4 “the universal religions”.

Screening Reading Tobit: Laurent Hericher, Mahnaz Yousefzadeh, Rodrigo Luque

Webinar 4 2:00-2:20

“Blind Spots: Julius Held, Rembrandt and Tobit”, Mariët Westermann,

Webinar 5 Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Persian Sacred Literature 2:20 pm – 4:00 pm

Moderator: Shervin Farridnejad
  • “Judeo-Arabic Bible”, Ronny Vollandt, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich.
  • “The Jewish communities of Lārestān: an attempt to introduce their heritage through the ages”, Ibrāhīm Šafiī, University of Tehran, Iran.
  • “Judeo Persian Writing and Persian Language,” Nahid Pirnazar, UCLA.
  • “On Language and Religion: Egyptian Judeo-Arabic Sacred “, Benjamin Hary, New York University, Tel Aviv.

Webinar 6 Tobit in Late Medieval Vernacular: Plays, Poetry, and Didactic Books 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Moderator:  Mahnaz Yousefzadeh
  • “Journey and Place in the Florentine plays of Tobit”, Nerida Newbigin, University of Sydney.
  • “Accompanying Tobias: Lucrezia Tornabuoni’s Angel of Translation”, Jane Tylus, Yale University.
  • “Tobit in the Vernacular and the Education of the Young in Quattrocento Florence”, Federico Botana. School of Advanced Studies, University of London.

Webinar 7 Tobit and Global Early Modernity 5:45 pm – 6:45 pm

Moderator:  TBA
  • “Tobit, Capitalism, and Empire in 18th Century England”,  Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, NYU.
  • “Books, Guns, and Diplomacy: The Vecchietti Brothers Between Iran, India, and the Mediterranean”, Brian Brege, Syracuse University.

Closing Remarks 6:45 pm

Laurent Hericher and Mahnaz Yousefzadeh

Hosted by NYU Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with the Bibliothèque nationale de France and Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Organized by

  • Mahnaz Yousefzadeh, NYU
  • Laurent Hericher, BnF, Head of the Oriental Manuscripts Department

Hosted by

  • NYU Abu Dhabi

Practical information

Olivier Jacquot

Coordonnateur de la recherche > Délégation à la Stratégie et à la recherche > Bibliothèque nationale de France

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