Dr. Arik Sadan, a preeminent scholar of Arabic and an expert on ancient Arabic manuscripts, has just joined Shalem’s Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. A world-renowned expert on Arabic grammar, Dr. Sadan teaches Modern Standard Arabic to Shalem’s juniors, with the goal of “enabling them to read contemporary Arabic texts, as well as to converse fluently with native Arab speakers, which is something too few graduates in the field are able to do,” says Sadan.
Explaining that “Shalem’s decision to treat Arabic as a living language” sets it apart from other academic institutions in Israel that offer degrees in Middle Eastern studies, Sadan, whose book The Subjunctive Mood is considered a standard bearer in the world of Arabic linguistic thought, insists that this unique emphasis is the reason he’s here. After all, when he’s not teaching courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, he’s kept busy with his research for the international project Biblia Arabica. The project, which charts manuscripts and fragments of sacred scriptures found throughout the Middle East and around the world, analyzes the different methods of translation—from languages such as Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, and Coptic into Arabic—in order to learn about the mutual religious and cultural influences between different communities. With little time to fit in another course, then, Dr. Sadan was at first reluctant to join Shalem’s faculty—that is, until he met his students.
“They are truly driven. The students in this major see their studies as a critical step toward playing an influential role in Israeli society, so how can I not also feel motivated as their teacher?” Dr. Sadan asks. Having worked in a joint Hebrew and Arabic speakers group at the Israeli Ministry of Education, and working now, through his research, to bring to light the many points of intersection between Arab and other cultures, Dr. Sadan is a believer in the ability of a multi-linguist to make an important contribution to his or her community and country. “Shalem students remind me of the incredible potential inherent in this field, and I’m really pleased to be able to help get them to where they’re aiming to go.”