Die syrischen und arabischen Ahiqar-Texte
The aim of the project is a new edition and analysis of the motives of the Syriac and Arabic manuscripts of the Aḥiqar tradition. The story of the wise Aḥiqar, who trains his nephew to be his successor as a counsellor at the court of the Assyrian king and who becomes the victim of an intrigue, is considered to be one of the most frequently edited and reworked tales in the literature of the ancient Near East (also in the Bible in the Book of Tobit). This story became widespread even beyond the Middle East. The oldest source is an Aramaic papyrus from the 5th century BCE, in which it seems clear that several earlier materials (stories and proverbs) are interwoven. Moreover, there are many other versions of Aḥiqar’s story, not only in Aramaic, but also in Syriac, Arabic and many other ancient and modern languages. The extensive Syriac and Arabic versions played a central role in the transmission of the (originally Aramaic) material into other languages and literary traditions. The last attempt so-far to compile a reasonably comprehensive account of the Aḥiqar’s story tradition was made more than a hundred year ago by F. C. Conybeare, J. Rendel Harris, and Agnes Smith Lewis (The Story of Aḥiḳar, from the Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Old Turkish, Greek and Slavonic Versions. Second Edition, Enlarged and Corrected, Cambridge 1913), but the study does not include all known textual witnesses. As for the Aramaic version, several publications have since appeared, so that they are well accessible. Despite the fundamental importance of the Syrian and Arabic versions, reliable text editions are still lacking.
The aim of the project is to fill this gap and provide a textual and literary analysis of the Syriac and Arabic versions of the Aḥiqar tradition in digital form in order to establish the material and technical basis for further research on the other versions.
Dr. Aly Elrefaei
Prof. Dr. Reinhard Gregor Kratz