Geoffrey Khan - Biography#

Geoffrey Khan studied for his B.A. degree in Semitic Languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Akkadian, Ethiopic) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where his teachers included Edward Ullendorff. After graduating in 1980, he remained at the School of Oriental and African Studies for his doctoral studies and was awarded the Ph.D. degree in 1984 for a thesis entitled "Extraposition and Pronominal Agreement in Semitic languages", which concerned the form and function of various syntactic structures in Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian and Amharic. This was subsequently published by OUP as "Studies in Semitic Syntax", 1988. In 1983, even before completing his Ph.D. studies, he was appointed to a research post at Cambridge University Library in the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research group, which gave him hands-on experience with mediaeval manuscripts in Hebrew, (Judaeo-)Arabic and other languages.

As a result, his next four monographs were all text-editions of Arabic and Hebrew materials, both from the Cairo Genizah and from other collections. In 1990-91 he spent a year as a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem. Since his appointment to a teaching post at the University of Cambridge in 1993 (first as Lecturer in Hebrew and Aramaic, later Reader in Semitic Philology, Professor of Semitic Philology, and finally Regius Professor of Hebrew), his research has come to focus on two main fields: firstly, the Karaite tradition of Hebrew grammatical thought and biblical exegesis (four monographs published between 2000 and 2003, with two more in preparation), and secondly, Neo-Aramaic, in particular the many endangered dialects of the so-called North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic subgroup, which were originally spoken in northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey and western Iran, in which he has undertaken extensive fieldwork (six monographs published between 1999 and 2009, with two more in preparation).

He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1998, at the unusually young age of 40, and has acted as Chairman of its Section for Oriental and African Studies. Recently, he has also served as Chairman of his Faculty in Cambridge, as well as Editor-in-chief of the "Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics", published in 2013 (Boston: Brill). He has been commissioned by Oxford University Press to prepare the "Oxford Grammar of Biblical Hebrew", which will present an updating and major expansion of Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar.
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