Dr. Häberl is Professor of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) and Religion. He was born and raised in the State of New Jersey, where he has lived for most of his life, but received his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. In addition to serving as chair of the department from 2013-2019, he has also served as the Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies from 2009-2012, and currently serves on the board of the Endangered Language Alliance of NYC. In the past he has served as an Undergraduate Fulbright Faculty Advisor and member of the Advisory Committee for Study Abroad Programs in the Middle East at Rutgers, as well as a juror and panelist for the United States Department of State's "Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes," and as Near East Regional Director for the Endangered Languages Catalogue. In 2007, he was the author of the first Title VIA Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) program grant to support instruction on Iranian Studies ever awarded by the US Department of Education. Together with James McGrath of Butler University, he received two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to create a critical edition and translation of the Mandaean Book of John, in 2010 and again in 2012. In 2016, he was an Anna-Maria Kellen Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. In 2021, he was elected President of the International Linguistic Association, the publisher of WORD (Taylor & Francis).
The undergraduate courses he teaches address subjects such as Middle Eastern languages and literatures (including Arabic and Aramaic), folklore, and minorities in the Middle East. His unusual research profile (combining traditional disciplines such as palaeography, epigraphy, and the history of religions, as well as emergent ones such as documentary linguistics) informs his teaching on ancient and modern communities and their traditions, allowing him the opportunity to discuss their origins and early history as well as the contemporary challenges they face today.
In addition to undergraduate courses, he has also advised graduate students and offered independent studies in various dialects of Aramaic (principally Biblical Aramaic and the Aramaic of Targum Onkelos) through the Jewish Studies Department, within which he is an affiliate member. During the summers of 2017 and 2018, he taught courses on another form of Aramaic, the Mandaic language (ancient and modern) to undergraduates, grad students, and faculty at the National University Ostroh Academy, and in the summer of 2019 he also taught Mandaic at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow.
Select Courses (Past and Present)
- 013:110 Introduction to Aramaic
- 013:115 History of the Alphabet
- 013:201 Crossroads: Classical Literatures of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia
- 013:242 and 243 Introduction to Qur’anic and Classical Arabic
- 013:305 Languages in Peril
- 013:322 Introduction to Middle Eastern Folklore
- 013:409 Introduction to the Semitic Languages
Dr. Häberl's primary academic focus is upon the languages of the Middle East, both ancient and modern, and ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities from the region. He has conducted field work with speakers of several different Semitic and Iranian languages. He is a member of the American Oriental Society (AOS), the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the Society for Biblical Literature (SBL), the American Academy of Religion (AAR), and the North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics (NACAL). He is a frequent attendee and occasional speaker at their annual meetings, and has convened the NACAL annual meeting on three occasions (San Antonio, 2007, Chicago, 2008, and at Rutgers in 2012).
He has published research on Aramaic epigraphy, incantation texts, orality and literacy, Middle Eastern folklore, dialects of Neo-Aramaic, and comparative Semitic linguistics in journals such as the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Journal of the American Oriental Society, the Journal of Semitic Studies, Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Numen. His first book, The Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Khorramshahr (Harrassowitz, 2009) is the first account of a previously undocumented dialect of Neo-Mandaic, and the most thorough description of any Neo-Mandaic dialect. His latest publication is a two-volume critical edition, translation, and commentary of the Mandaean Book of John (De Gruyter, 2019), prepared together with Prof. James McGrath.
He has a personal interest in the history of constructed languages (or "conlangs"), like Volapük and Esperanto, which has resulted in publications on Bālaybalan, a 16th century conlang based upon the vocabulary of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, with a synthetic grammar, and Unial, an early 20th century conlang based upon the vocabulary of the Romance languages, with an analytic grammar.
Selected Books and Edited Volumes
- The Book of Kings and Explanations of This World: A Universal History from the Late Sasanian Empire (Translated Texts for Historians; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2022)
- (with James McGrath) The Mandaean Book of John: Critical Edition, Translation, and Commentary (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2020)
- (with Maryam Borjian) Middle Eastern Languages in Diasporic USA Communities, special issue of the International Journal of Society and Language 237 (2016)
- The Neo-Mandaic Dialect of Khorramshahr, Semitic Viva, ed. Otto Jastrow (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2009)
- Afroasiatic Studies in Memory of Robert Hetzron: Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics, ed. Charles G. Haberl (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2009)
Selected Articles and Book Chapters
- A ‘Mandæo-Arabic’ Letter from Lady Drower’s Correspondence, pp. 431–439 in A Handbook and Reader of Ottoman Arabic, ed. Esther Myriam Wagner (Cambridge Semitic Languages and Cultures; Cambridge: Open Book Publishers on behalf of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, 2021)
- The Mandaean Day, in Academia Letters, Article 122.
- Of Calendars—and Kings—and Why the Winter is Boiling Hot, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Cambridge University Press) Proofs | Version of Record
- Mandaic and the Palestinian Question, in the Journal of the American Oriental Society 141.1 (2021): 171–184 (New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society)
- A Neo-Aramaic Version of a Kurdish Folktale, in the Journal of Semitic Studies 65 (2020): 473–493 (Oxford University Press, on behalf of the University of Manchester)
- Writing in a sacred tongue: inter-aramaic alloglottography, in Word (Taylor & Francis)
- Epiphanius and the Nazoraeans, in Alpha: Studies in Early Christianity 2 (2019): 61–63 (Warring States Project, University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
- Mandaic, pp. 679–710 in The Semitic Languages (2nd edition), eds. John Huehnergard and Na'ama Pat-El (London and New York: Routledge, 2019)
- From Jerusalem to the Karûn: What Can Mandaean Geographies Tell Us? pp. 56–87 in The Gulf in World History: Arabia at the Global Crossroads, ed. Allen J. Fromherz (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018)
- The Aramaic Incantation Texts as Witnesses to the Mandaean Scriptures, pp. 143–160 in Scribal Practices and the Social Construction of Knowledge in Late Antiquity, ed. Myriam Wissa (Leuven: Peeters, 2017)
- The Origin and Meaning of Mandaic eutra, in the Journal of Semitic Studies 62 (2017): 77–91 (Oxford University Press, on behalf of the University of Manchester)
- The Mandaean Death of John, in Alpha: Studies in Early Christianity 1 (2017): 35–36 (Warring States Project, University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
- Aramaic Incantations between Orality and Textuality, pp. 365–399 in Orality and Textuality in the Iranian World, eds. Julia Rubanovitch and Shaul Shaked (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2015)
- Tense, Aspect, and Mood in the Doctrine of John, pp. 397–406 in Neo-Aramaic in its Linguistic Context, eds. Geoffrey Khan and Lidia Napiorkowska (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2015)
- Dissimulation or Assimilation? The Case of the Mandaeans, in Numen 60 (2013):1–30 (Leiden)
- The Demon and the Damsel: A Folktale in Iraqi Neo-Mandaic, pp. 7–26 in “Durch Dein Wort ward jegliches Ding!” / “Through Thy Word All Things Were Made!” - II. Mandäistische und Samaritanistische Tagung / 2nd Conference of Mandaic and Samaritan Studies, Mandäistische Forschungen 4, ed. Rainer Voigt (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013)
- Mandaeism in Antiquity and the Antiquity of Mandaeism, in Religion Compass 6.5 (2012): 262–276
- Predicate Nominals and Related Constructions in Neo-Mandaic, pp. 91–110 in Language and Nature: Papers Presented to John Huehnergard on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 67, eds. Rebecca Hasselbach and Na'ama Pat-El (The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Chicago, 2012)
- Neo-Mandaic, pp. 725–737 in Semitic Languages: An International Handbook/Ein internationales Handbuch, Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft 36, ed. Stefan Weninger in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, and Janet C.E. Watson (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2011)
- Neo-Mandaic in fin de siècle Baghdad, in the Journal of the American Oriental Society 130.4 (2010): 551–560 (New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society)
- Flights of Fancy: A Mandaean Folktale of Escape from Persecution, in ARAM Periodical 22 (2010): 549–72 (Leuven: Peeters)
- The Cultural Survival of the Mandaeans, in ARAM Periodical 22 (2010): 209–26 (Leuven: Peeters)
- The Production and Reception of a Mandaic Incantation, in Afroasiatic Studies in Memory of Robert Hetzron: Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics, ed. Charles Häberl (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2009), pp. 168–89
- The Relative Pronoun d- and the Pronominal Suffixes in Mandaic, in Journal of Semitic Studies 52.1 (2007): 71–78 (Oxford University Press, on behalf of the University of Manchester)
- Iranian Scripts for Aramaic Languages, in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 341 (2006): 21–30