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Department of the Study of Religions

Middle Persian

Course Code:
158000183
Unit value:
1 unit
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4

Prerequisites

None

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The objectives of this course is to provide students with a clear understanding of basic principles of the Middle Persian, or Pahlavi, language in a way that will enable them to translate simple Middle Persian texts and analyze the words from a grammatical point of view. Students who complete this course successfully will be able to handle simple primary sources of Zoroastrian and /or Manichaean religion in the original, Middle Persian language and assess critically translations made by various scholars.

Workload

Two hours of classes per week over 22 weeks. Students are required to submit weekly written work for correction and prepare texts for reading in class.

Scope and syllabus

This course is an introduction to Middle Persian (or Pahlavi), the language of the Iranian state and Zoroastrian and Manichaean literature during the Sasanian period (224-651 CE). It is designed to provide students with a clear understanding of Middle Persian in a way that enables them to translate simple texts and analyse their grammar. Students who complete the course successfully will be able to handle simple primary sources of the Zoroastrian and/or Manichaean religions in the original Middle Persian, and to assess critically translations made by various scholars.

Method of assessment

Two term tests (10% each) and one three-hour written examination in May/June (80%).

Suggested reading

  • Boyce, M.: "Middle Persian literature" pp. 31-79 in B. Spuler (ed.), Handbuch der Orientalistik 4.2.1 Iranistik, Literatur. Leiden and Cologne: Brill, 1968
  • Dresden, M. J. "Middle Iranian" pp. 26-63 in Current Trends in Linguistics 6, The Hague and Paris, 1970
  • MacKenzie, D. N.: "Iranian languages" pp. 450-77 in Current Trends in Linguistics 5, The Hague and Paris, 1969
  • MacKenzie, D. N.: A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. London: OUP, 1971, reprinted with corrections 1986
  • Nyberg, H. S.: A Manual of Pahlavi. 2 vols. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1964, 1974