Review: Gods and demons, priest and scholars

This week's bibliographic posts relate in part to the study of religions and neighbouring disciplines, starting with Stausberg's reflections on Lincoln's 'Gods and demons'. I will resume posting on Iranian studies and Zoroastrianism in the coming week.

Stausberg, Michael. 2013. Review of Bruce Lincoln: Gods and demons, priests and scholars. Critical exploration in the history of religions. The Journal of Religion 93(2). 244–246.

Read the review here.

Building a new vision of the past in the Sasanian Empire

Canepa, Matthew. 2013. Building a new vision of the past in the Sasanian Empire: The sanctuaries of Kayānsīh and the great fires of Iran. Journal of Persianate Studies 6. 64–90.

This article analyzes how Zoroastrian holy sites as celebrated in the Avesta or elaborated in later, related traditions, emerged as important architectural and ritual centers in late antiquity. Instead of ancient foundations whose details were lost in the depths of time, this paper argues that some of the holiest sanctuaries of the Zoroastrian religion, including Ādur Gušnasp, Ādur Farnbāg, Ādur Burzēn-Mihr, Ādur Karkōy and Lake Kayānsīh, emerged no earlier than the Arsacid era, and were actively manipulated and augmented by the Sasanian dynasty.

Read the article here.

The ethics and praxis of Mehr and Mithras

Pourshariati, Parvaneh. 2013. The ethics and praxis of Mehr and Mithras and the social institution of the ʿayyārs in the epic romance of Samak-e ʿayyār*. Journal of Persianate Studies 6. 15–38.

Giving a very brief and introductory summary of the many avatars of the Iranian god, Mithra, throughout Eurasia, as well as the primordial functions of the god, this article proceeds to discuss the Iranian Mithraic world-view, as seen in the ethics and practices of the “chivalrous” brother-hoods and sisterhoods of the ʿayyārs. Through a preliminary examination of the Parthian epic romance of Samak-e ʿayyār, we shall argue here that this literary epic provides us with a fascinating template for decoding not only; 1) the ethics, “ideal” social mores and praxes and the ideo-logical super-structures of the “chivalrous” brotherhood, or ʿayyars, of Iran, but also; 2) what was in effect the ethics of Mithraic brotherhoods and sisterhoods of the Iranian world.

Read the article here.

نسخه‌ی فارسی این مقاله را اینجا ببینید.

Yaghnobi Studies

A collection of papers resulting from the Italian ‘expeditions’ to the Yaghnob Valley:

Panaino, Antonio, Andrea Gariboldi & Paolo Ognibene (eds.). 2013. Papers from the Italian missions in Tajikistan (Yaghnobi Studies I). Mimesis.

To convert a Persian

Kiperwasser, Reuven. 2014. To convert a Persian and to teach him the holy scriptures: A Zoroastrian proselyte in Rabbinic and Syriac Christian narratives. In Geoffrey Herman (ed.), Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians: Religious dynamics in a Sasanian context, 91–127. Gorgias Press.

Read the article here.

A good indological problem

Not strictly related to Iranian Studies, but this article by Dominik Wujastyk contains an insightful discussion of what constitutes a good indological problem:

Wujastyk, Dominik. 2014. How to choose a good indological problem. In Joe Pellegrino (ed.), Open pages in South Asian studies, 173–192. California: South Asian Studies Association.

Read the article here.

Review: The Iranian Talmud

Hezser, Catherine. 2014. Review of Shai Secunda: The Iranian Talmud. Reading the Bavli in its Sasanian context. Theologische Literaturzeitung 139(7/8). 867–869.

Catherine Hezser, SOAS, has reviewed Shai Secunda’s excellent The Iranian Talmud. The last paragraph of the review says it all:

This relatively short (the body of text has 146 pages only) but excellent and methodologically careful discussion sums up previous approaches to studying the Bavli contextually and constitutes the basis of all future comparative studies. The book will interest not only Talmudists and historians of ancient Judaism but also scholars of Iranian history and Zoroastrian religion and scholars and students of early Christianity.

Read the review here.

A Sasanian taxation list or an early Islamic booty?

Sárközy, Miklós. 2014. A Sasanian taxation list or an early Islamic booty? A Medieval Persian source and the Sasanian taxation system. In Zoltán Csabai (ed.), Studies in economic and social history of the Ancient Near East in memory of Péter Vargyas, 701–714. Budapest: L’Harmattan.

 The present paper aims at throwing light on a less known Islamic source, containing important materials on the taxation of the Sasanian Empire. This brief but hitherto lesser known source belongs to the Tārīkh-i Ṭabaristān  of Ibn Isfandyār, an important  medieval source of Ṭabaristān.

Read the article here.

Review: Remembering and forgetting the Persian past

Elizabeth Urban has reviewed Sarah Bowen Savant’s very important The New Muslims of Post-Conquest Iran: Tradition, Memory, and Conversion for Marginalia:

However, The New Muslims of Post-Conquest Iran will prove fascinating to anyone interested in identity narratives and how authors shape the past in the service of the present. Savant builds a bridge between the history of Persia and the memory of Persia, and atop this bridge we can clearly witness the inherent tension in any identity between the old and the new.

Read the full review here.

Digital Critical Editions

After a hiatus:

Apollon, Daniel, Claire Belisle & Philippe Regnier (eds.). 2014. Digital Critical Editions. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

This edited volume explores intersections of traditional and digital textual scholarship. For more information, see here.

A predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies