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Duncan Black Macdonald Edit Profile

Orientalist , theologian

Duncan Black Macdonald, British theological professor. Member Royal Asiatic Society Great Britain, American Oriental Society; member Arab Academy of Damascus.


Macdonald, Duncan Black was born on April 9, 1863 in Glasgow, Scotland. Son of Thomas and Margaret (Black) Macdonald.


Master of Arts, University of Glasgow, 1885, Bachelor of Divinity, 1888, Doctor of Divinity, 1920. At University of Berlin, 1890-1891, 1893. Doctor of Divinity, Trinity College, 1909.

Doctor of Hebrew Literature, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1937. Came to the United States, 1892.


MacDonald was the second scholar to investigate the manuscripts of the Nights, after Hermann Zotenberg, and he began to publish his results in 1908. The Arabic MSS of Ali Baba he discovered at the Bodleian Library was later found to be counterfeited. But he did successfully prove that the ‘Tunisian MSS’ which Maximilian Habicht claimed to find and use for his Breslau Nights edition was a fake.

MacDonald planned to prepare a critical edition of the three-volume Bibliothèque nationale MSS, which Antoine Galland used for his French Nights translation. However, nothing came out of it, and such a critical edition was produced by Muhsin Mahdi only in 1984.


  • Other Work

    • Author: Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory, 1903. Selections from Ibn Khaldun, 1905. Religious Attitude and Life in Islam, 1909.Aspects of Islam, 1911. Hebrew Literary Genius, an Interpretation, 1933. Hebrew Philosophical Genius, a Vindication, 1935.Recd. a presentation volunteer from former pupils, on seventieth birthday, 1933. Discovered in Bodleian Library and published in Journal Royal Asiatic Society, Arabic Master of Science. of “Story of Ali Baba and Thieves,” being only known Oriental form, 1910. Contributor to eleventh edit.Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia of Islam, and various journals and reviews on subjects connected with Semitic, especially Mohammedan, theology, literature and history. Editor of Galland and Vatican Master in Social Service. of 1001 Nights (being completed by William Thomson, of Harvard University).


Member Royal Asiatic Society Great Britain, American Oriental Society. Member Arab Academy of Damascus.


Married Mary Leeds Bartlett, June 22, 1898 (died August 1929).

Thomas Macdonald

Margaret (Black) Macdonald

Mary Leeds Bartlett