MENASCE, Jean Pierre de. Alexandria, Egypt 24.12.1902 — Paris 24.11.1973. French Iranian Scholar. From his mother inherited French citizenship, father belonged to a Jewish family which had migrated from Spain to Egypt around 1500. School in Alexandria, learnt early many languages (e.g. English and German). Studies of law in Cairo and Paris, then humanities at Oxford 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.
JdeM 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: Škand-gumānīk vičār. La solution décisive des doutes. Texte transcrit, traduit et commenté. Fribourg 1945.
– Une encyclopédie Mazdéenne — Le Dēnkart. Bibl. de l’É.P.H.É. 69. P. 1958 (analysis); Troisième livre du Dēnkart. P. 1973 (transl. and commentary).
– Feux et foundations pieuses dans la droit sassanide. 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. 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: Ph. Gignoux, Enc. Iran. 2014 with further references; G. Lazard, JA 262, 1974, 265-270; *Wikipedia; on de Menasce family Enc. Iudaica 11.
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