MENASCE, Jean Pierre de

MENASCE, Jean de (born Jean André Moise de M.). Alexandria, Egypt 24.12.1902 — Paris 24.11.1973. Father. French Iranian Scholar. From his mother inherited French citizenship, father (banker, Baron Félix de M.) belonged to a Jewish family which had migrated from Spain to Egypt around 1500. Educated at French school in Alexandria, learnt early many languages (e.g. English and German). Studies of law in Cairo and Paris, then humanities at Oxford (Balliol College) and Paris. In 1926 he adopted Roman Catholicism, joined the Dominican order in 1930, studied theology and ordained priest 1935. Syriac studies in Paris made him interested in Pehlevi, which he studied under Benveniste in 1937-39. When the war broke he fled to Switzerland and taught history of religions and missiology at Fribourg until 1948. In 1947 Ratanbai Katrak Lectures on the theology of the Dēnkart in Paris. From 1949 Directeur d’études pour Religions de l’Iran ancien at É.P.H.É., Ve section. Retired in 1970. In 1954-55 visited Harvard and Princeton. In 1959 a dextral stroke broke his health and he lived continuously in fear of a new one (giving his teaching at home). It came in 1969 and derived him from speech. His intellect remained intact and he worked to the very end.

Menasce was a specialist of Iranian religion who mainly studied Zoroastrianism from Pehlevi sources. Also interested in Manichaeism and in Iranian epigraphy. He never visited Iran himself. Among his students were A. Maricq, M. Molé, A. Tafazzoli and Ph. Gignoux.

Publications: Un apologétique mazdéenne du IXe siècle. Škand-gumānīk vičār. La solution décisive des doutes. Texte transcrit, traduit et commenté. 299 p. Collectanea friburgensia 30. Fribourg 1945.

– Corpus inscriptionum Iranicarum. Part III. Pahlavi inscriptions. Vol. IV-V. Ostraca and papyri. Plates. Portfolio I, plates I-XXIV. L. 1957.

Une encyclopédie Mazdéenne — Le Dēnkart. 4+117 p. Bibl. de l’É.P.H.É. 69. P. 1958 (analysis); Le Troisième livre du Dēnkart. 465 p. P. 1973 (transl. and commentary).

– “La ‘Rivāyat d’Ēmēt i Ašavahištān’”, RHR 162, 1962, 69-88.

Feux et foundations pieuses dans la droit sassante. 2+65 p. P. 1964.

– “Zoroastrian Pahlavi Writings”, Cambridge History of Iran III:2, 1985, 1161-1195; articles on Pehlevi literature and epigraphy and on Zoroastrian strains in Near Eastern literature in JA, etc.

Ed. by Ph. Gignoux & G. Lazard: Etudes iraniennes Jean de Menasce. 224 p. Studia iranica cahier 3. P. 1985.

Much on religion; translations from English (e.g. B. Russell and T. S. Eliot, he knew both personally) and German.

Sources: *R. Curiel, Studia Iranica 7, 1978, 289-291; Ph. Gignoux, Encyclop. Iranica 2014 with further references (online); *Ph. Gignoux & A. Tafazzoli (eds.), Mémorial J.deM. Louvain 1974 (vii-xv on life, xvii-xxiii bibliography); G. Lazard, JA 262, 1974, 265-270; *Wikipedia; on de Menasce family Encyclop. Iudaica 11.

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