NYBERG, Henrik Samuel


NYBERG, Henrik Samuel, born in Söderbärke in Southern Dalecarlia (Sweden) on the 28th of December 1889 he died aged eighty-four on the 9th of February 1974 in Uppsala. He was born in a humble family, the son of Ida Jansson and Anders Fredrik Nyberg, a learned clergymen who also was his first teacher, for the boy studied at home until he was aged thirteen and signed up at a famous grammar school in Västeraas where he counted among the most gifted students. The economic difficulties of his young years, a consequence of the loans that his father had to contract in order to complete his theological studies, aggravated by the increasing deafness of his father, which impeded his getting any promotion in the ecclesiastical career, were to forge his character. Though his family would rather have seen him pursuing theological studies as his father did, once aged 19, the young Nyberg moved to Uppsala to undertake university courses on a vast range of subjects, which went from Classical languages to Sanskrit and to the Semitic idioms. There he was to stay till the end of his days, first as a student, then as a lecturer, later still as Professor of Semitic Studies, the Chair formerly held by his own teacher, K.V. Zetterstéen, and finally eighteen years as professor emeritus, devoting his entire energies to Iranian Studies, mainly to Middle Persian, and to the pre-Islamic religion of Iran. In his early Uppsala years H.S. Nyberg had the opportunity to study with a number of outstanding specialists, all inspired by the Neo-grammarian school then dominant in neighbouring Germany. He read Greek with Danielson, Latin with Person, Sanskrit with Johansson and Semitic languages with Zetterstéen, under whose guidance he graduated. An inspiring teacher, Nyberg counted among his disciples scholars such as Geo Widengren, Stig Wikander, Sven Hartman, Bo Utas and Judith Josephson. He was elected to the Chair of Semitic Studies in 1931, a date by which the main focus of his scientific interests had already shifted to the Iranian world.

Nyberg graduated with a dissertation on the Opera Minora of Ibn al-ʿArabī (Nyberg 1919), which contains a vast, well documented and penetrating Introduction, especially useful and innovative in the pages illustrating the theosophic system of the Arab author. Six years later, after a period spent in Egypt, the Swedish scholar published an important edition of the Kitāb al-Intiṣār by al-Khayyāṭ (Nyberg 1925). In the early period of his academic life, he also devoted time and passion to the disputes between Islam and Manicheism, on which he wrote a detailed review article entitled “Zum Kampf zwischen Islam und Manichäismus” (1929a), which discusses Michelangelo Guidi’s La lotta tra l’Islām e il Manicheismo, Roma 1927. Though Hebrew studies never were the main focus of his interests, H.S. Nyberg gave further proof of his scientific curiosity and penetrating insight in the contributions which he wrote on the Book of Hosea (1934, 1936 and 1941).

Still in his early thirties, H.S. Nyberg turned to Iranian studies, for which he was particularly well equipped, being competent in various fields of both Semitic and Indo-European philology. His first article in this field of studies was dedicated to “The Pahlavi documents of Awroman” (1923). He had been drawn to the study of these difficult documents, as he himself states, by the importance that heterograms might have had for the study of Aramaic dialectology. His contribution to the study of the Awroman documents, mainly discussing the third document, entirely written in Parthian, still counts, together with the few pages found in Henning’s Mitteliranisch (1958, pp. 28-30) among the most important contributions to this specific field. The study of Aramaic heterograms in Middle Persian and Parthian, widely neglected in the first half of the 20th century, when the majority of scholars spent their best efforts to elucidate the difficult, but revolutionary documents found in Turfan, was to be a constant line of research for H.S. Nyberg. So much so, that his last major contribution to Iranian studies was the posthumous edition of the Frahang ī Pahlavīg, edited from his papers by Bo Utas with the assistance of Cristopher Toll (Utas 1988). Though presenting many shortcomings, due both to its being published from papers found in his Nachlass, which probably still needed revisions, and to the fact that the great Swede never fully took into account the wealth of data provided not only by Manichean Middle Persian, but also by Judaeo-Persian, pre-classic New Persian and other coeval Iranian languages, Nyberg’s edition still is the standard one for this tiresome text. In fact, Nyberg never devoted a particular attention to the study of the Manichean fragments, which in the field of Middle Iranian rightly dominated the twentieth century. This was due to the well known fact that these fragments where studied mainly in Germany, chiefly in Berlin and Göttingen, where F. C. Andreas and his students were active. Among these W.B. Henning was to prove by far the more prominent and was to continue Andreas’s work first in London, where he had moved before World War II because of German racial laws – he was married to a Jewish lady - and then in Berkeley, where he taught during the last years of his life. As a consequence, the Swedish scholar consecrated his efforts to the study of Zoroastrian and inscriptional Middle Persian and contributed extensively to both fields. As we learn both from Geo Widengren’s detailed article on “Henrik Samuel Nyberg and Iranian Studies” (1975:451-452) and from Bo Utas’ “Introduction” to the Frahang ī Pahlavīg (1988:xi), Nyberg had been working at the edition of this difficult text from the early 1920’s on, and had completed a first version of it by about 1940. In fact, one of his first efforts in Iranian studies was a paper read at the 5th Deutscher Orientalistentag held in Bonn in 1928 on the chapter concerned with scribal art found in the Frahang, an abstract of which was later published in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft (1928a). In that same year he published a contribution on what he considered to be “a hymn to Zurwān in the Bundahišn"(1928b), which was soon followed by the fundamental trilogy “Questions de cosmogonie et cosmologie mazdéennes” which appeared in the Journal asiatique (1929-1931).These three articles provide one of Nyberg’s main contributions to Iranian studies, possibly the one whose influence was to prove more durable than his other works. The first of the three presents careful editions of a selection of texts taken from the Dādestān ī Mēnōg ī Xrad (ch. 12, 22, 23, 24, 27, 29, see now Tafaẓoli 1354), together with the 1st and 3rd chapters of the Bundahišn (on the 1st chapter see now Cereti-MacKenzie 2003) and an anonymous Syriac passage, later reproduced by Zaehner in Nyberg’s translation (Zaehner 1955:440-41). Some years later, Nyberg’s investigations on Zurwanism in Pahlavi texts were somehow completed by two articles which Widengren wrote on North-western traditions attested in Pahlavi texts based on the Avesta (Widengren 1967a and 1967b, see also Widengren 1975:431-32). According to H.S. Nyberg, the Pahlavi texts which he studied in his Cosmologie all present evident traces of Zurwanite beliefs, which he discusses and analyses in the second and third articles of the series, reaching some interesting, but debated conclusions. Nyberg thought that Zurwanism was the traditional religion of the Median Magi, a religion which focused on the worship of the deity of Time and Destiny, and which gradually influenced Zoroastrianism, just as the Median priests came to be one of the two great components of Sasanian clergy, opposing the more traditionally Zoroastrian Athravans from Pārs. This belief was refuted by Zaehner (1955 etc.) who rather saw Zurwanism as a theological school belonging entirely to Sasanian times. Widengren (1968:176-77) believes that it was an ancient independent credo which prospered alongside a number of other cultic creeds, which had different deities at the centre of their rituals. Quite differently Henning (1951: 49-50) and Gnoli (1994a:460-61, 1994b:544-45) rather think that it was a belief which had arisen in the Achaemenid period, a product of the profitable encounter between the Iranian religious world and Babylonian astral speculations, a position shared by Boyce, who further states that eventually Mazdeism came to be the dominant form of the Zoroastrian religion in north-eastern Iran, while Zurwanism dominated in the south-eastern regions (1957:304-09, 1982:231-42). Though scholars never were able to reach a definitive agreement on the oldest attestation of the Zurwanite myth, all concord on the fact that it was particularly widespread and influential in the Sasanian period (Christensen 1944:141-78), though only traces of it are preserved both in Pahlavi literature and in Arabo-Islamic sources.

Important editions of texts are also found grouped in two works which Nyberg wrote in the first half of the thirties. The first is the article on the legend of Keresāsp (1933), where he edited passages relating to this hero found in the ninth book of the Dēnkard and in the Pahlavi Rivāyat accompanying the Dādestān ī Dēnīg (see now Williams 1990), both texts ultimately derived from the lost zand of the 14th fargard of the Sūtkar Nask, one of the 21 books of the Sasanian Avesta. The second is the fascicle entitled Texte zum mazdayasnische Kalendar (1934b). Nyberg was moved to edit the Pahlavi texts relevant to the calendar by the publication of the Mid-Pers. fragment T iii 260 bii (now M 7981) by Andreas and Henning (19 32:188-91, cf. also Hutter 1992:62-69). In this publication he included texts taken from the third and eighth books of the Dēnkard, from the Bundahišn, from the Pahlavi Rivāyat, and from the Andarz ī ʿĀdurbād ī Māraspandān, as well as a new edition of the Manichean fragment M 7981, all with copious and detailed commentary. It is indeed a pity, as Widengren remarked (1975:424), that Nyberg contented himself with presenting the texts and did not further contribute - as at the time he seemed ready to do – to the lively debate which, at a slightly later time, flared about calendars and whose main interpret was S. H. Taqizadeh (Taqizāda 1316).

Already by the mid-thirties Nyberg had begun to take an interest in the Hājīābād inscription, which he read during his academic courses. A few years later, in 1945, he was to publish it in a volume in honour of A. Christensen (1945, see also Nyberg 1964:122-23). He also edited the Middle Persian inscription by Šābuhr I at Weh-Šābuhr (1964:124-25), the one by Šābuhr Sagānšāh at Persepolis (1964:126-27), the Meškinšahr inscription (1970a) and the famous inscription found on a sarcophagus lid in Istanbul, which for many years was held to be the oldest attested specimen of the Pahlavi cursive script, thus crucial in determining the date post quem for the invention of the Avestan script (but see now de Blois 1990, who convincingly proposes an Islamic dating).

Nyberg began his study of Middle Persian on Bharucha’s Lessons in Pahlavi Pâzand and always held in high esteem the Parsi tradition. However, when Middle Persian was established, thanks mainly to Nyberg’s own efforts, as a possible subject of study at the University of Uppsala, he felt the need for a teaching tool meeting Western scholarly standards. Moreover, according to the Swedish scholar–and this was yet another subject on which there was no concord with W.B. Henning–Zoroastrian Middle Persian provided a fitter mean for a first approach to the language than Manichean texts. This was because it was less fragmentary, though undoubtedly more corrupt, especially in its more recent texts, allowing a more extensive and detailed semasiological study (Nyberg 1928:5*). Of course this does not at all mean that the great Scandinavian scholar did not recognize the importance of Manichean Middle Persian for his studies, much on the contrary he repeatedly lamented the restricted access he had to these texts as well as the monopoly imposed by F. C. Andreas and his school. In fact, in his early publications Nyberg often lamented Andreas’s reluctance to publish the result of his studies. As a consequence of the didactical need, Nyberg resolved to write himself what was to become his best known and more important contribution to the study of Middle Persian, the Hilfsbuch des Pehlevi, published in two volumes, the first presenting the texts (1928) and the second the glossary (1931). He worked at an improved and partly modified English version of the same work till the very last days of his life. In fact the definitive version of the second volume of his Manual of Pahlavi was found on Nyberg’s desk at his death (1974) while the first had appeared some years earlier (1964). Though very useful from a practical point of view, and not devoid of valuable etymologies, interesting ideas on the structure of the language, and significant critical notations to the single edited texts, which, by the way, were entirely handwritten by the scholar himself in the difficult Pahlavi alphabet–a tiresome work even for the skilled calligrapher that he was, Nyberg’s Hilfsbuch and partly also his Manual were seriously weakened by the fact that Nyberg had no direct access to unpublished Turfan texts and, as already said, that he only partially employed the vocabulary of the earlier Persian texts for comparison’s sake. Many of the shortcomings of Nyberg’s work have been painstakingly pointed out by W.B. Henning in a long and detailed review, which appeared in the Göttinger Gelehrten Anzeiger (1935) and began with a long discussion of the system of transcription adopted by Nyberg, which according to Henning was rather inconsistent, to say the least. In fact, the Swedish scholar upheld till his last days a controversial and contradictory transcription, which was particularly close to the spelling itself, pretending, as it did, to reconstruct a pronunciation of the Middle Persian language more archaic than that in use in the Sasanian period, and this he did with many inconsistencies, as rightly pointed out by MacKenzie in 1967. Not only that, he also maintained some curious readings such as the transcription api for the heterogram AP clearly rendering the conjunction ud when contracted to u- being followed by enclitic pronouns. Moreover, notwithstanding that the principles of the transcription upheld by the Göttingen school, aimed at reconstructing the language as spoken in the 3rd century and heavily relying for comparison on Manichean material, had been systematized by MacKenzie in an important article of 1967 and applied in his A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary of 1971, Nyberg continued to use his transcription also in his Manual. However, it should be underlined that by 1967, many of the more controversial aspects of the phonetic reconstruction by Andreas, such as the so-called o vocalism, had been abandoned by Henning and his disciples and that some of Nyberg’s linguistic suggestions had been accepted, however tacitly. In fact, the Swedish scholar, though admitting that his transcription represented an older stage of the language, already belonging to the past at the time of the rise of the Sasanian dynasty, justified his choice by arguing that its “historicity” did not justify us to modernize the writing, no more than would be the case for the English language. However, it should be emphasized, as has been done by MacKenzie (1967), that his reliance on the controversial Pāzand tradition, as well as on the Pahlavi spellings themselves, led him to many inconsistencies, of which he was aware and which he tried to justify in his introduction to the Hilfsbuch (1928:16-19).

The texts proposed by Nyberg in his Hilfsbuch are the following: the Kārnāmag ī Ardaxšīr ī Pābagān, being the only non religious text edited in this anthology; the Pandnāmag ī Zarduxšt, also known as Čīdag Andarz ī Pōryōtkēšān; the Dādestān ī Mēnōg ī Xrad; and finally the 1st chapter of the Bundahišn in its so-called “Iranian” version. The first three texts are all written, at least in most parts, in a plain and straightforward language, very distant from the complicated priestly jargon found, say, in the Dēnkard or in the Dādestān ī Dēnīg. This is not the case with the 1st chapter of the Bundahišn, very difficult and highly conceptual, thus seemingly unfit for a manual. The reason which caused Nyberg to include this text was the lack, at the time of his writing, of an edition of the important Iranian version of the Bundahišn. As a matter of fact, as we shall see, this text was dropped from his Manual, once the 1st and 3rd chapters had been published both by himself (1929:206-37) and by Zaehner (19 55:276-336). Furthermore, Nyberg did not include any Middle Persian inscription in his Hilfsbuch since the difficult work of interpretation which had been begun by E. Herzfeld had not yet been brought to an end. Also he deliberately chose to omit the Pahlavi translations of existing Avestan texts, since he correctly considered them too difficult, and their language too unnatural for a beginner. The first volume of the Hilfsbuch is concludes with a list of words in the original writing accompanied by a transcription in the Latin alphabet, and by an introduction to the Pahlavi script. Though many readings have in the meantime been corrected and improved upon, Nyberg’s glossaries (1931 and 1974) are still useful, because each entry includes a set of occurrences and many present a sound etymological explanation, though this is not always the case, since the etymologising tendency peculiar to Nyberg, i.e. his preference for explaining linguistic data through Indo-European rather than inner Iranian comparison, proves at times misleading. A peculiar trait of Nyberg’s glossary is his insistence on the distinction between words belonging to the North-West and South-West dialects on the lines set forth by P. Tedesco in his fundamental Dialektologie der westiranischen Turfantexte (1921, see also Lentz 1926). As stated by the author himself in its Preface, the Manual of Pahlavi is meant to substitute the Hilfsbuch, which Nyberg by then considered antiquated. Furthermore, it has been enlarged to contain a greater number of Pahlavi texts, together with specimens of Inscriptional Middle Persian and one of the Christian Psalms found in a manuscript recovered in Bulayïq, in the Turfan basin. The volume was written in English, much to the displeasure of its author, whose main scholarly languages were German and French, to the benefit of the Indian Parsi community. The 1st chapter of the Bundahīsn was dropped because at the time Kay Barr was working at an edition of the entire book with the assistance of Sir Harold Bailey, who meanwhile had submitted an edition of the Iranian Bundahišn, based on the manuscript TD₂, to obtain his doctoral degree at Cambridge University. The texts included are the Kārnāmag, the Ayādgar ī Zarērān, the legend of Keresāspa, taken from the Pahlavi Rivāyat accompanying the Dādestān ī Dēnīg, extracts from the 7th book of the Dēnkard narrating the mythical biography of Zoroaster, the Dādestān ī Mēnōg ī Xrad, cosmological and eschatological passages taken from the Pahlavi Rivāyat and the 35th chapter of the Dādestān ī Dēnīg, the Šahrestānīhā ī Ērānšahr and the Wizārišn ī Catrang. These were supplemented by a selection of short inscriptions and by the 128th Psalm in its Middle Persian version. Also noteworthy is his edition on the opening section of Dēnkard 5 published in the Dr. J. M. Unvala Memorial Volume (1964, see now Amouzgar-Tafazzoli 2000:22-23).

In the 31st volume of Le Monde Oriental, dated 1937, but published only in 1944, Nyberg wrote a long article on Iranian verbal flexion in which he discussed the enigmatic combinatory digraphs which are now commonly transcribed as yt and ty (MacKenzie 1971:xiv) and which had previously been discussed by K. Barr (1936), who proposed that they may derive respectively from graphs for the sequences [yt] and [tn]. Here the Swedish scholar modified the interpretation that he had given of the two digraphs in his Hilfsbuch des Pehlevi (vol. I 1928c:13-19). In fact here Nyberg seems to return to Bartholomae’s idea that in the Pahlavi books these two digraphs could be used for any verbal ending, though he still upheld that they should derive from an original [yh], a view hesitantly shared by Henning, and that in the beginning they must have been used for a specific verbal ending. In this same article, moreover, Nyberg postulates the existence of the Parthian optative ending –ēndēh in Book Pahlavi. This view is sharply criticized and in fact demolished by W.B. Henning in an appendix to his article on Two Manichaean Magical Texts (1947:58-65). The refutation proved so convincing that Nyberg was to return to the subject only in an interlocutory manner in his Manual (II:281).

Nyberg’s single most important contribution to the study of Iranian religions is, without any doubt, his Irans forntida religioner (1937b), immediately translated into German by H. H. Schaeder under the title Die Religionen des alten Iran (1938), a seminal and controversial work, which in some of its aspects was bitterly refuted by W. B. Henning (1951) and later by J. Duchesne-Guillemin (1962), but which, together with the Avesta and Pahlavi seminar held in Uppsala by the Swedish scholar, provided inspiration for the research work of two of Nyberg’s most gifted students G. Widengren (1938, 1955, 1965, 1968 etc.) and S. Wikander (1938, 1941, 1946 etc.), who followed in his footsteps, though often criticising this or the other aspect of their teacher’s reconstruction. The book is based on the text of the lectures, which in the spring of 1935 H. S. Nyberg read at the invitation of the Olaus Petri-Stiftung of Uppsala, prompted by his friend Tor Andrae. In Nyberg’s reconstruction of the primitive Iranian religious world, an important tenet was the opposition between a community worshipping Mithra, whose main surviving literary witness would be the Mihr Yašt (on which now see Gershevitch 1959) opposed to the Gāthā community, to which belonged Zoroaster, and which could be defined, at least before Zoroaster’s reform, as a group professing a creed typologically similar to Zurwanism, in which, however, Ahura Mazda played the role that in Zurwanism is assigned to Zurwān. According to this reconstruction, the Prophet’s action, moved by the desire of countering the spread of Mithraism, would have created the basis for the new creed which we were later to know as Zoroastrianism, characterized by a number of “syncretistic traits.” Nyberg further suggested that in Zoroaster’s community shamanic-type rituals, mainly represented by the activity of the ecstatic circle reunited in the maga, had played a major role. In the beginning Nyberg’s Die Religionen received moderately critical, but on the whole appreciative reviews by scholars such as R. Pettazzoni and J. H. Kramers. Regrettably, it was soon to be violently criticized, on clearly non-scholarly grounds, by O. Paul and W. Wüst in the Archiv für Religionswissenschaft (36, 1939-49), once a prestigious journal, which by then had sadly fallen under Nazi control. Once the dark years of World War II had gone by, in 1947, the prominent archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld published Zoroaster and His World, which in its 800 pages systematically criticizes Nyberg’s views. Significantly, Herzfeld’s last important work has been deservedly described as more an historical novel than a scholarly treatise. However, due to the deserved prestige of the German scholar, the debate flared, both among scholars and within Zoroastrian communities in India, Iran and Europe. As a direct consequence Walter B. Henning was asked to hold the 1949 Ratanbai Katrak Lectures in Oxford on this theme. The three lecture cycle read by Henning was published two years later under the title Zoroaster. Politician or Witch-doctor? (1951), where the “Politician” referred to Herzfeld’s theories and the “Witch-doctor” to the hypothesis expressed in Nyberg’s book. Henning’s own view advocated the traditional date of Zarathushtra, found in the 36th chapter of the Bundahišn, albeit not explicitly stated, placing the prophet 258 years before Alexander. The 258 years should be counted back from Darius’s III death at the hand of Bessus in 330 BCE, the event which closed the Achaemenid era and made Alexander master of the lands of the ancient empire. This date has been recently convincingly upheld by Gh. Gnoli (2000, for another view see Shahbazi 2002, both rich in further bibliography). In 1961 Zaehner reprinted parts of Henning’s Zoroaster in an appendix to his Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism adding some very direct and violent criticism of Nyberg’s book. Nyberg deeply resented Henning’s, and consequently Zaehner’s, critique, which he considered unfair and based on a deliberate distortion of his arguments, as he wrote in the “Begleitwort” to the 1966 reprint of his book. More than anything else, he bitterly resented that the critiques were due to what he regarded to be a sort of moral prejudice against shamanism and regretted that the complex picture which he had drawn had been, for argument’s sake, reduced to the vaguely charlatanic character of the “Witch-doctor.” In fact in Nyberg’s reconstruction Zoroaster was an ecstatic thinker of the auditive type and his mystic vision a deeply intellectual one (Gedankeninspiration). Several years later, in the Ratanbai Katrak Lectures, which were held in 1956, J. Duchesne-Guillemin expounded a new vision of Zoroastrianism, deeply relying on Dumézil’s tripartite theory, at the same time criticizing Nyberg’s position from a Dumézilian standpoint (1958, 1962), and voicing a criticism that focused, among others, on Nyberg’s conception of the Amahraspand as collective entities. Several of Nyberg’s hypothesis have started heated discussions, with differing results. The idea of the existence of an ecstatic cultic ritual, which in his opinion was witnessed by the maga mentioned in the Avesta, has now been abandoned even by members of the Swedish school (cf. Widengren 1975:425), but others, such as his suggestion that the Amahraspand represent collective identities as well as abstract concepts–a position not necessarily conflicting with Dumezil’s tripartite interpretation of these entities–still preserve their interest and validity, and supply a valuable help in the understanding of the tendency to personify abstract concepts which was identified as one of the deep-rooted and long-lasting trends in Iranian thought by A. Bausani (1959, English tr. 2000). Far less innovative and controversial, but still very useful is Nyberg’s Sassanid Mazdaism According to Moslem Sources, which provides a detailed panorama on this thematic and is the written outcome of the Ratanbai Katrak Lectures which he delivered in Paris in 1931 (Nyberg 1958).

All in all, Nyberg was a scholar of extremely broad interests, competent in a number of different fields, both in Semitic and Iranian studies. In the latter field he has contributed most to Middle Iranian studies and to the history of Zoroastrianism, but he also had a documented interest for the ancient Iranian languages, mainly Avestan, and for the history of pre-Islamic Iran. Certainly, he was primarily a philologist, with a strong penchant for historical linguistics, grammatical studies and lexicography, and an historian of ideas, mainly in the religious sphere. He also proved an effective and inspiring teacher, and counted among his pupils scholars who each consistently contributed to his particular field within Iranian studies. Nyberg’s research years have been characterized from the beginning by a marked rivalry with the Göttingen school, represented first by F.C. Andreas and then by W.B. Henning and his students, outstanding among whom, in Middle Persian, was D.N. MacKenzie. Though at times bitterly polemic, both Nyberg and Henning had a profound respect for each other’s scholarly personality, and both effectively contributed, though in different measures, to today’s level of the Middle Iranian linguistic studies. The deep esteem that Nyberg felt toward his colleague is overtly stated in a short note concluding his contribution to Henning’s Memorial Volume (1970b:348), while I. Gershevitch, in his Introduction to the same volume writes “Like Professor Boyce I have been inculcated by Henning, and maintain, a very high regard for Professor Nyberg” (1970:xv), showing that notwithstanding the deep divergences, Henning held a high opinion of the Swedish scholar. Finally, Henrik Samuel Nyberg was a man with deep roots in his motherland, Sweden, and with strong ties to his Alma Mater, the University of Uppsala, where he studied, taught and researched for most of his life and to which he bequeathed his Nachlass and his library, now known as Bibliotheca Orientalis Nybergiana. A detailed bibliography of Nyberg’s works, due to the pen of Christopher Toll, is to be found in the first volume of the Monumentum H. S. Nyberg.



Jaleh Amouzgar et Ahmad Tafazzoli, Le cinquième livre du Dēnkard, Paris 2000.

Friederich C. Andreas and Walter B. Henning, Mitteliranische Manichaica aus Chinesisch-Turkestan, I “SPAW” 1932, pp. 173-222.

H.W. Bailey, The Greater Bundahišn, Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Oxford 1933.

Kaj Barr, “Remarks on the Pahlavi Ligatures ... and...,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, 8 (1936), pp. 391 – 403.

Alessandro Bausani, Persia religiosa da Zaratustra a Bahâʾullâh, Milano 1959. [English edition Religion in Iran. From Zoroaster to Bahaʾullah, Bibliotheca Persica Press, 2000].

Ervad Sheriarji D. Bharucha, Lessons in Pahlavi-Pâzend, 3 vols, Bombay 1908-1909.

Idem, Pahlavî-Pâzend-English Glossary and English-Pahlavî-Pâzend Glossary, Bombay 1912.

François de Blois, “The Middle-Persian Inscription from Constantinople: Sasanian or Post-Sasanian,” Studia Iranica 19 (1990), pp. 209-218.

Mary Boyce, “Some Reflections on Zurwanism,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 19 (1975), pp. 304-16.

Idem, A History of Zoroastrianism, vol. II, Leiden/Köln 1982.

Carlo G. Cereti and David N. MacKenzie, “Except by Battle. Zoroastrian Cosmogony in the Ist chapter of the Greater Bundahišn,” in Religious themes and texts of pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia. Studies in honour of Professor Gherardo Gnoli on the occasion of his 65th birthday on 6th December 2002, eds C.G. Cereti, M. Maggi and E. Provasi, Wiesbaden, 2003, pp. 31-59.

Arthur Christensen, L’Iran sous les Sassanides, Copenhagen 1944. Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, The Western Response to Zoroaster, Oxford 1958.

Idem, La religion de l’Iran ancien, Paris 1962.

Idem, “Nécrologie Henrik S. Nyberg,” Journal asiatique 263 (1975), pp. 1-2. Ilya Gershevitch, The Avestan Hymn to Mithra, Cambridge 1959.

Idem, “W.B. Henning 1908-1967.” In memoriam, in W.B. Henning Memorial Volume, eds. M. Boyce and I. Gershevitch, London 1970, pp. vii-xxiv.

Gherardo Gnoli, “Le religioni dell’Iran antico e Zoroastro,” in Storia delle Religioni 1. Le religioni antiche, ed. G. Filoramo, Bari 1994a, pp. 455-98.

Idem, “La religione zoroastriana,” in Storia delle Religioni 1. Le religioni antiche, ed. G. Filoramo, Bari 1994b, pp. 499-565.

Idem, Zoroaster in History, New York 2000.

Walter Bruno Henning, “Compte rendu de H.S. Nyberg,” Hilfsbuch des Pehlevi, Göttinger Gelehrten Anzeiger (1935), pp. 1-19.

Idem, “Two Manichaean Magical Texts with an Excursus on the Parthian Ending –ēndēh,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 12 (1947), pp. 39-66.

Idem, Zoroaster. Politician or Witch-doctor?, London 1951.

Idem, Mitteliranisch, In Handbuch der Orientalistik, I Abt. Der nahe und der mittlere Osten, IV Bd. Iranistik, 1. Ab. Linguistik, Leiden-Köln 1958, pp. 20-130.

Ernst Herzfeld, Zoroaster and His World, 2 Vols, Princeton, N.J. 1947.

Manfred Hutter, Manis kosmogonische Šābuhragān-Texte. Edition, Kommentar und literaturgeschichtliche Einordnung der manichäisch-mittelpersischen Handschriften M 98/99 und M 7980-7984, Wiesbaden, 1992.

Sigrid Kahle, H.S. Nyberg. En vetenskapmans biografi, Stockholm 1991.

Wolfgang Lentz, “Die nordiranischen Elemente in der neupersischen Literatursprache bei Firdosi,” Zeitschrift für Indologie und Iranistik 4 (1926), pp. 251-316.

David N. MacKenzie, “Notes on the Transcription of Pahlavi,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 30 (1967), pp. 17-29.

Idem, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary, London 1971, reprint 1986.

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(Carlo G. Cereti)

Originally Published: July 20, 2004

Last Updated: July 20, 2004