Longterm Research Project (2017-2025)
From Cultural Translation to Interreligious Controversy: Jerome Xavier’s Āyena-ye ḥaqq-namā in Mughal India and Safavid Persia
June 2017 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of the Spanish Jesuit Jerónimo de Ezpeleta y Goñi (1549-1617), known as Jerome Xavier, who spent the major part of his life as a missionary with the Portuguese Padroado in India and two decades in the Persian-Indian cultural milieu of the Mughal court (1595-1614). This project focuses on his opus magnum, the Āyena-ye ḥaqq-namā (The Truth–revealing Mirror; Persian manuscript dated 1609) and its critical reception in Safavid Persia.
This theological work is interesting not only due to its embeddedness in Indo-Persian religious culture and its efforts of Christian cross-cultural translation and interreligious engagement in Mughal India. But also in view of the subsequent inter-religious Shi’i-Catholic polemical writings it sparked upon reaching Safavid Persia, most outstanding in the works of the Isfahani Shi’ite scholar SAYYID AḤMAD ‘ALAVĪ (d. 1644) on the one hand and Catholic Islam and Arabic scholar FILIPPO GUADAGNOLI (d. 1656) in Rome on the other – followed by a number of literary and interreligious polemical theological repercussions over the 17th century across these same worlds.
The project seeks to pursue a three-fold outcome: The first CRITICAL EDITION of this 500 folios handwritten Persian text, based on 7 manuscript recensions, together with a substantial introduction; an ENGLISH TRANSLATION of the text; and a COMMENTARY, centring on aspects of cross-cultural as well as religious translation and on interreligious controversy in the text and its reception history on the other.
In this context, the institute coordinated an international INTERDISCIPLINARY EXPERTS CONFERENCE on the project (28-30 October 2019) in order to map the trajectories of current and future research on the Āyena-ye ḥaqq-namā, especially on its fascinating journey of critical reception and INTER-TEXTUALITY OF THE KEY FIGURES’ PROMINENT WORKS involved in 17th cent. Shi’i-Catholic theological controversy. The conference, comprising junior postdoc and senior experts in current Jerome Xavier research, aimed at developing an international research group for an interdisciplinary project, involving Comparative Theology, Translation Studies, Islamic studies, and Religious Studies, on that so far unexplored area of research, combined with an intertextual Digital Humanities project.