The Account of Joseph in the Works of Shahin and Jami: A Parallel Study of a Cross Cultural Theme

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Dr. Nahid Pirnazar is a lecturer of Iranian Studies at UCLA, teaching the History of Iranian Jews and Judeo-Persian Literature. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 2004, in Iranian Studies with an emphasis on Judeo-Persian literature. She has two M.A. degrees, one in 1999 from UCLA in Iranian Studies and the other from Tehran University in English as a Second Language in 1975. In addition, since 1997 to the present time she has been teaching at UCLA, in subjects which include the Persian language and literature from introductory to advanced levels. Dr. Nahid Pirnazar is the founder and president of The House of Judeo-Persian Manuscripts, an academic organization which collects, preserves, transliterates and publishes Judeo-Persian manuscripts. She is also a contributor to the Brill Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World as well as Encyclopedia Iranica. Dr. Nahid Pirnazar has served on the Executive Board of Habib Levy Cultural & Educational Foundation, since 1997, as its Director of Academics, Research & Publications. Her research articles on different aspects of Judeo-Persian literature and the culture and national Identity of Iranian Jews have been reflected in academic publications such as Irano-Judaica, Iranshenasi and Rhavard. She is also a contributor to the Brill Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World as well as Encyclopedia Iranica
The absorption of biblical and extra biblical material within the  Irano-Islamic tradition not only measures the level of cross-cultural migration of traditions, but also the degree of co-existence of Jews with non-Jews in an Islamic environment. Within Islamic communities, as well as that of Iran, such cultural migrations and co-existence allows us to trace the evolution of the development of the Jewish socio-cultural and literary tradition. The treatment of the story of Joseph, having gone beyond religious borders, is an excellent example of such cross-cultural migration.
This story, as a universal archetype of human beauty, virtue and tolerance has penetrated Iranian literature and the tradition of both Islamic and Jewish people. Nations in general and minorities in particular, in fear of the loss of their identity, try to preserve their heritage in the language of verse. Thus, in the case of Iranian Jews, as a religious minority, the theme of most Judeo-Persian poets, especially those of Shahin and ‘Emrani deal with biblical accounts. The story of Joseph, within the Brishitnameh (Book of Genesis) of Shahin, is a response to that need. Its comparison to parallel works of other Iranians, such as Jami, reflects the level of the cross-cultural co-existence between the two.
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