Wrestling with the Demons

Moazami, Mahnaz. 2014. Wrestling with the Demons of the Pahlavi Widēwdād. Transcription, Translation, and Commentary (Iran Studies 9). Leiden/Boston: Brill.

The Pahlavi Widēwdād (Vidēvdād), The Law (Serving to Keep) Demons Away, a fifth-century Middle Persian commentary on the Avestan Vidēvdād, describes rules and regulations that serve to prevent pollution caused by dead matter, menstrual discharges, and other agents. It recognizes the perpetual presence of the demons, the forces of the Evil Spirit –forces that should be fought through law-abiding conduct. In spite of its formidable textual problems, the commentary provides an invaluable quarry for the rules of the Zoroastrian community through its citation of regulations for the conduct of its members. Many topics are covered, from jurisprudence to penalties, procedures for dealing with pollution, purification, and arrangements for funerals. Viewed together, they provide the reader with an exquisite interlace of a community’s concerns.

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نامه‌ای به یزدانگرد

An introduction by Touraj Daryaee to Pahlavi papyri and their importance for historical research.

دریایی، تورج. ۱۳۹۲. نامه‌ای به یزدانگرد: درآمدی بر پاپیروسهای پهلوی. در جشن نامه دکتر فتح الله مجتبی.
تهران.

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Introduction to Avestan

This introduction was first published in 2001 in Spanish. It is now being made available in English translation.

Martínez, Javier & Michiel de Vaan. 2014. Introduction to Avestan (Brill Introductions to Indo-European Languages I). Leiden/Boston: Brill. Translated from Spanish by Ryan Sandell.

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Of gods and kings

I found the work of Brisch inspiring and guiding, when I was researching the theme of ‘Iranian kingship’ in St Andrews.

Brisch, Nicole. 2013. Of gods and kings. Religion Compass 7(2). 37–46.

Read the article here.

Ioudaios before and after “Religion”

Reed’s insightful reflections on the Greek term ioudaios and how modern assumptions about the concept of ‘religion’ shape our understanding of ancient texts. This piece was published in the Marginalia Review of Books online forum Jews and Judeans.

Yoshiko Reed, Annette. 2014. Ioudaios before and after “Religion”.

Read the article here.

Textuality and memory

Reed, Annette Yoshiko. 2014. Textuality between death and memory: The prehistory and formation of the parabiblical Testament. Jewish Quarterly Review 104(3). 381–412.

This essay revisits testamentary texts and traditions from the Second Temple period in relation to themes of death, memory, and writing. Rather than debating the classification or morphology of the parabiblical testament, it focuses upon its determinative feature—the framing of texts as the first-person teachings of ancient biblical heroes near death. It traces some precedents for this literary choice, and speculates about the cultural worlds in which such a choice made sense. To do so, it surveys the representation and modeling of the written word as a technology of memory, first within Aramaic works with testamentary features from the Hellenistic period (esp., Aramaic Levi, Testament of Qahat, Visions of Amram) and then within some of full-fledged testaments preserved in Greek from the early Roman period (esp., Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs, Testament of Job). In both sets of works, the narrative setting of near-death teaching is used to address challenges of continuity and succession. Representations of textual practices, however, differ; in some, writing and reading are presented as necessary complement to remembered speech and ethical emulation, while in others, books function as safeguard or stand-in. In each, moreover, the intersections of death, memory, and writing are articulated in distinctive ways, often resonating with broader cultural concerns—ranging from Hellenistic ideals of “authorship” to the early Roman interest in wills.

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Approaches to the study of ‘time’

Although not newly published, I mention this article by Stausberg as it relates to Rezania’s work on the concept of time in Zoroastrianism.

Stausberg, Michael. 2004. Approaches to the study of ‘time’ in the history of religions. Temenos 39/40. 247–268.

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2010. Die zoroastrische Zeitvorstellung. Eine Untersuchung über Zeit- und Ewigkeitskonzepte und die Frage des Zurvanismus (Göttinger Orientforschungen III.
Reihe Iranica, Neue Folge 7). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

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.

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A predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies