The project aims to document and study the history of the legend of Barlaam and Josaphat in premodern Arabic literature and culture.

Barlaam and Josaphat is an outstanding work of world literature. It was translated into many languages between the sixth and seventeenth centuries and circulated widely in various cultural and religious milieus across Eurasia. The legend was extraordinary popular in the Arab world. The rich history of its transmission in Arabic sources represents an important chapter in the premodern literary history of the Arab world and reflects its dynamic connections to other cultures. The project aims to edit and study several Arabic manuscripts of the legend. The manuscripts will be published online in an open-access research platform using ediarum, an online tool for editing manuscripts developed at the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Berlin, Germany). Along with the photocopies of the manuscripts, the platform will feature full transcriptions of the Arabic texts, an English translation of selected manuscripts as well as analytical metadata and bibliography. This will result in the creation of a comprehensive research tool on the history of Barlaam and Josaphat in Arabic literature.

The project will facilitate a detailed analysis of different Arabic versions and their relation to one another and will allow for a comprehensive cultural contextualization of their history. Moreover, it will open up the Arabic tradition of the text’s transmission to wider research in the context of world literature.