Land, Jan Pieter Nicolaas (1834–1897)

Syriac scholar; professor at the universities of Amsterdam and Leiden. Born from a Dutch family of Norwegian descent, Land enrolled as a student in Leiden in 1850. From early on, Syriac, to which he was introduced by Th. W. J. Juynboll, was among the subjects that attracted him most. Even before submitting his doctoral dissertation in theology (on an OT topic), he published his first monograph, on Yuḥanon of Ephesus as a church historian (1856). Land’s first meeting with Th. Nöldeke, who spent the winter of 1857–58 in Leiden, became the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the two men. In the fall of 1857 Land was awarded a grant to study the Syriac mss. in London, which in the 1830s and 1840s had arrived in the British Museum from Dayr al-Suryān. Like P. A. de Lagarde, whom he met in London, Land launched his own series, Anecdota Syriaca, in which he planned to publish important Syriac texts taken mainly from the British Museum mss. The first volume appeared in 1862; three more volumes followed in 1868, 1870, and 1875. Although the quality of the editions gave rise to some criticism, these publications significantly contributed to making Syriac literature and Syriac studies more widely known in Europe.

In 1864 Land was appointed professor of oriental languages and philosophy at the Athenaeum Illustre, later the municipal university, of Amsterdam. In 1872, he returned to Leiden, to occupy the chair of philosophy. While publishing extensively on a variety of topics, ranging from philosophy to music, Syriac receded from the foreground of his interests, although he kept teaching it. Among his Syriac students were W. J. van Douwen (from his Amsterdam period), with whom Land co-authored a Latin translation of Yuḥanon of Ephesus’s ‘Lives of the eastern saints’ (1889), G. Wildeboer, who wrote his Leiden dissertation on the Curetonian Gospels (1880), and H. G. Kleyn, who on the same day submitted two doctoral dissertations in Leiden, one on Yaʿqub Burdʿoyo, and the other on the Syriac Life of Yuḥanon of Tella (1882).

    Select publications by Land

    • Joannes Bischof von Ephesos, der erste syrische Kirchenhistoriker. Einleitende Studien (1856).
    • Anecdota Syriaca, 1–4 (1862, 1868, 1870, 1875).
    • (with W. J. van Douwen), Joannis episcopi Ephesi Syri Monophysitae Commentarii de beatis orientalibus et Historiae ecclesiasticae fragmenta (1889).

    Secondary Sources

    • A. G. P. Janson and L. Van Rompay, ‘Syriac studies in Leiden (1850–1940): The vicissitudes of a lingua minor’, in Leiden oriental connections 1850–1940, ed. W.  Otterspeer (1989), 43–61.
    • C. B.  Spruyt, ‘Jan Pieter Nicolaas Land’, Jaarboek van de Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen 1898 (1899), 3–62. (with a list of Land’s publications)

How to Cite This Entry

Lucas Van Rompay , “Land, Jan Pieter Nicolaas,” in Land, Jan Pieter Nicolaas, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Lucas Van Rompay , “Land, Jan Pieter Nicolaas,” in Land, Jan Pieter Nicolaas, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Van Rompay, Lucas. “Land, Jan Pieter Nicolaas.” In Land, Jan Pieter Nicolaas. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018.

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