Johannes Nobel (25 June 1887 – 22 October 1960) was a German indologist and Buddhist scholar.
Johannes Nobel was born on 25 June 1887 in Forst (Lausitz). He studied Indo-European languages, Arabic, Turkish and Sanskrit at the University of Greifswald from 1907, then from 1908 at the Friedrich Wilhelms University Berlin. In 1911 he completed his PhD thesis on the history of the Alamkãraśāstra, and decided to work as a librarian. In 1915 he passed the library examinations and found employment at the Old Royal Library in Berlin. In the First World War, Nobel joined the Landsturm and was temporarily employed by the Supreme Army Command as chief interpreter for Turkish.
In March 1920, Nobel joined the Preußische Staatsbibliothek as a librarian and in the same year, he successfully defended his habilitation thesis, a work on Indian poetics. He received his teaching qualification in Indian philology at the University of Berlin in 1921. At the same time, he learned Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese and devoted himself to the research in Buddhist Studies.
In 1927, Nobel was appointed extraordinary professor in Berlin. On 1 April 1928 he accepted a professorship for indology at the University of Marburg, which he held until his retirement in 1955. He did not try to ingratiate himself with national socialism, although he had, in November 1933, been one of the signers of the confession of professors at German universities and colleges to Adolf Hitler and the national socialist state. His successor on the Marburg chair was Wilhelm Rau; Claus Vogel is one of Nobel’s Marburg pupils.
Nobel’s extensive studies and critical editions of Suvaraprabhāsasūtra (Golden Light Sutra), one of the most important Mahāyāna-Sūtras, appeared between 1937 and 1958. In 1925, Nobel published the translation of the Amaruśataka by Friedrich Rückert.
Nobel’s study book, his personal files and some unpublished manuscripts, including a corrected German version of his habilitation thesis, were discovered in his former institute in 2008.