Michael Kleiner

Dr. Michael Kleiner is a German Africanist and Arabist who specializes in Northeast Africa, with a particular focus on the medieval and early modern history, literatures, and languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea. He is widely considered one of the foremost translators of Gəˁəz texts into English, and has additional expertise in Arabic, Greek, French, Italian, and Amharic.

His doctorate in African Studies is from the University of Hamburg, the foremost center of Ethiopian studies outside of Ethiopia, and he has training in Semitic linguistics.

He has held positions at various German universities as well as at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Now an independent scholar, he continues to teach on Africa, and Ethiopia in particular, at the German universities of Göttingen and Marburg, where he regularly teaches Gəˁəz.

In recent years he has also intensively collaborated with Wendy Laura Belcher of Princeton University, working on the translation of historical Ethiopian texts into English. In 2015, Princeton University Press published their The Life and Struggles of Our Mother Walatta Petros: A Seventeenth-Century African Biography of an Ethiopian Woman, a work that received the Association for the Preservation and Publication of African Historical Sources’ Paul Hair Prize as the best critical edition or translation of primary source material on Africa in 2015–2017. It also won the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women Award as the best Scholarly Edition in Translation of 2015.

Currently Kleiner and Belcher are working on an annotated translation of the Kəbra Nagaśt (The Glory of the Kings), a medieval text about the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

In addition, he has published six peer-reviewed chapters and articles on Ethiopian history and over thirty-five encyclopedia articles on Ethiopian historical figures. He has also published two books involving Gəˁəz translation, including the Ethiopic “Life of Daniel” and produced a partial edition of and commentary about an important Gəˁəz text Mäṣḥäfä fäws mänfäsawi. He has also worked on a variety of scholarly projects, such as the University of Göttingen Septuagint project on which he compared the Greek and Gəˁəz texts of the Song of Songs, as well as the University of Amsterdam’s Alexander Romance project.

He may be contacted at mkleiner@gmx.de