NYBERG, Henrik Samuel. Söderbärke, Dalarne 28.12.1889 — Uppsala 9.2.1974. Swedish Semitic and Iranian Scholar. Professor in Uppsala. Born in humble conditions as the son of Anders Fredrik N. (1854–1912), a poor curate, and Ida Mathilda Jansson (1867–1911), educated at home and in Västerås. In 1908 started Classical and Oriental studies at Uppsala, mainly as a student of Zetterstéen (Arabic), but also learnt Sanskrit from Johansson. In Classics his teachers were —> Danielsson and Persson. Fil.kand. 1912, fil.lic. 1917. Ph.D. 1919 Uppsala. From 1919 Docent of Semitic Languages at Uppsala. In 1917 and 1921 manuscript studies in Germany. In 1916-27 also worked as a schoolteacher of classical languages and Hebrew in Uppsala. In 1924-25 visited Egypt, 1928-29 and 1931 in Paris. In 1931 succeeded Zetterstéen as Professor of Semitic Languages at Uppsala. Emeritus 1956. Member of Swedish Academy 1948. Hon. Ph.D. 1974 Teheran. Married 1920 Fanny Hasselberg (1894–1947), five children, and as widower 1950 Ingegerd Maria Lindow (née Duske, 1912–1953).
Though he always remained a scholar of Semitic (Arabic and Hebrew), Nyberg became early interested in Iranian, as the history of Islam led him to Iranian religion and Aramaic to Pehlevi. Especially in retirement Iranian became his main interest. He was known both as a philologist and a scholar of religion (Islam, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism) who sometimes made bold hypotheses. His intepretation of Zoroastrian Gathas was harshly criticized by Henning et al. Zurvanism he thought to be the religion of Median Magi, in which he was opposed by Zaehner and others. In Pehlevi he concentrated on Zoroastrian texts and on inscriptions. Iran he visited for the first time only in 1960, then 1963 and again 1971. Also two visits to Iraq. Among the students of this demanding teacher were, in addition to the majority of Swedish priests and other students of theology, Sven Hartman, F. Rundgren, Bo Utas, G. Widengren and S. Wikander.
Publications: Diss. Kleinere Schriften des Ibn al-‘Arabī. Leiden 1919 (edition).
– “Wortbildung mit Präfixen in den semitischen Sprachen“, MO 14, 1920, 177-288; Hebreisk grammatik. Uppsala 1952; and other works on Arabic, Hebrew and Semitics.
– “The Pahlavi Documents from Avromān”, MO 17, 1923, 182-230.
– Hilfsbuch des Pehlevi. 1-2. Uppsala & Wien 1928-31; rev. and enl. English edition: Manual of Pahlavi. 1-2. 28+184, 286 p. Wb. 1964-74.
– “Questions de cosmogonie et de cosmologie mazdéennes”, JA 214, 1929, 193-310 & 219, 1931, 1-134; “La legende de Keresāspa“, Pavry Vol. 1933, 336-352.
– Texte zum mazdayasnischen Kalender. 86 p. UUÅ 1934.
– Irans forntida religioner. Stockholm 1937, German by H. H. Schaeder: Religionen des alten Iran. Lp. 1938.
– “Sassanid Mazdaism According to Moslem Sources,” Journal of the K.R. Cama Oriental Institute 39, 1958, 1-63.
– Bo Utas & Chr. Toll (eds.): Frahang i Pahlavīk edited with transliteration, transcription and commentary from the posthumous papers of Henrik Samuel Nyberg. Wb. 1988.
– A great number of scholarly and popular articles and reviews.
Sources: C.G. Cereti, Encyclop. Iranica 2004 (online) ; J. Duchesne-Guillemin, JA 263, 1975, 1f.; W. Eilers, ZDMG 127, 1977, 1-5; S. Kahle, H. S. N. En vetenskaplig biografi. Stockholm 1991/93, with many photos; *H. Ringgren, BAEO 10, 1974, 3; *C. Toll, Sv. Biogr. Lex. 27, 1990-91, 643; *bibliography by C. Toll in Acta Iran. 4, ixf.; Bo Utas, AO 36, 1974, 5-9 with photo; Wikipedia (more in Swedish version).
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