NYBERG, Henrik Samuel. Söderbärke/Dalarne 28.12.1899 — Uppsala 9/10.2. 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 student of Zetterstéen (Arabic), but also learnt Sanskrit from Johansson. 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 with Fanny Hasselberg (1894–1947), five children, and as widower 1950 with Ingegerd Maria Lindow (née Duske, 1912–1953).
Though he always remained a scholar of Semitic (Arabic and Hebrew), HSN became early interested in Iranian, as history of Islam led him into Iranian religion and Aramaic into Pehlevi. He was known both as a philologist and a scholar of religion (Islam, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism) who waged bold hypotheses. His intepretation of Zoroastrian Gathas was harshly criticized by Henning et al. 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, G. Widengren, S. Wikander, F. Rundgren, and Bo Utas.
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. 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.
– a great number of scholarly and popular articles and reviews.
Sources: 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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