Tag Archives: Judaism

Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism

Kassam, Zayn R., Yudit Kornberg Greenberg & Jehan Bagli (eds.). 2018. Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism (Encyclopedia of Indian Religions 15157). New York, NY: Springer.

The earlier volume in this series dealt with two religions of Indian origin, namely, Buddhism and Jainism. The Indian religious scene, however, is characterized by not only religions which originated in India but also by religions which entered India from outside India and made their home here. Thus religious life in India has been enlivened throughout its history by the presence of religions of foreign origin on its soil almost from the very time they came into existence. This volume covers three such religions—Zoraoastrianism, Judaism, and Islam . In the case of Zoraostianism, even its very  beginnings  are intertwined with India, as Zoroastrianism reformed a preexisting religion which had strong links to the Vedic heritage of India. This relationship took on a new dimension when a Zoroastrian community, fearing persecution in Persia after its Arab conquest, sought shelter in western India and ultimately went on to produce India’s pioneering nationalist in the figure of Dadabhai Naoroji ( 1825-1917), also known as the Grand Old Man of India. Jews found refuge in south India after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E. and have remained a part of the Indian religious scene since then, some even returning to Israel after it was founded in 1948. Islam arrived in Kerala as soon as it was founded and one of the earliest mosques in the history of Islam is found in India. Islam differs from the previously mentioned religions inasmuch as it went on to gain political hegemony over parts of the country for considerable periods of time, which meant that its impact on the religious life of the subcontinent has been greater compared to the other religions. It has also meant that Islam has existed in a religiously plural environment in India for a longer period than elsewhere in the world so that not only has Islam left a mark on India, India has also left its mark on it. Indeed all the three religions covered in this volume share this dual feature, that they have profoundly influenced Indian religious life and have also in turn been profoundly influenced by their presence in India.

Reinventing Mosaic Torah in the Light of the Law of Ahura Mazdā and Zarathustra

Leningrad Codex text sample, portions of Exodus 15:21-16:3

Kiel, Yishai. 2017. Reinventing Mosaic Torah in Ezra-Nehemiah in the light of the law (dāta) of Ahura Mazda and Zarathustra. Journal of Biblical Literature 136(2). 323–345.

In this study I examine the linguistic and theological contours of the term (tôrâ) in Ezra-Nehemiah—particularly the identification of with the law () of God promulgated by Ezra (Ezra 7:14)—through the lens of Old Persian and Avestan notions of “the law set down (dāta)” by Ahura Mazda and revealed through Zarathustra. While the basic notion of divine revelation of laws through the mediation of Moses emerges already in preexilic biblical texts, I posit that the innovative link drawn by the authors of Ezra-Nehemiah between the Old Persian and Avestan term dāta (via Aramaic ) and the Hebrew reflects a broader and more comprehensive impact of Avestan traditions, mediated by Achaemenid ideology, on the construction and conceptualization of Mosaic in Ezra-Nehemiah. Weighing in on the ongoing debate over the range of imperial authorization of local legislation and cult in Judea, Egypt, and Asia Minor, I argue that the Achaemenids, who were probably involved in certain aspects of the codification and canonization of textual, legal, and theological manifestations of Zoroastrianism, functioned as agents (whether actively or passively) in facilitating and reinforcing the adaptation by the Babylonian-Judean scribes of Avestan notions of divine revelation of the law and scriptural unity linked to personal authority.

A Jewish Convert to Imāmī Šīʿism

Halft, Dennis. 2017. Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī: A twelfth/eighteenth-century Jewish convert to Imāmī Šīʿism and his critique of Ibn Ezra’s commentary on the four kingdoms (Daniel 2:31-45). In Miriam Lindgren Hjälm (ed.), Senses of scripture, treasures of tradition: The Bible in Arabic among Jews, Christians and Muslims (Biblia Arabica 5), 280–304. Leiden: Brill.

Abstract of the article:

This study explores the previously unstudied anti-Jewish Persian polemic Anbāʾ al-anbiyāʾ by the Jewish convert to Twelver Šīʿī Islam, Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī, the father of Ḥāǧǧī Bābā Qazvīnī Yazdī. It examines Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī’s discussion of a medieval Jewish controversy concerning the four-kingdom schema in the book of Daniel and Ibn Ezra’s interpretation of the dream-vision in favor of Islam as the fourth kingdom. The study shows that Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī, besides his reference to Muslim works in Persian, relied on different (partly printed) Jewish textual sources in the original Hebrew and Aramaic (Miqraʾot Gedolot, Neḇuʾat ha-yeled, Sefer haš-šorašim, Sefer Josippon), from which he quoted in his own Persian translation/adaptation. He thus made internal Jewish debates accessible to native Muslim scholars, such as Mullā ʿAlī Nūrī, who borrowed from Anbāʾ al-anbiyāʾ. Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī was a cross-cultural intermediary and go-between who expanded the traditional range of Šīʿī polemical arguments against Judaism in pre-modern Iran.

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Religion in the Achaemenid Persian Empire

Edelman, Diana, Anne Fitzpatrick-McKinley &  Philippe Guillaume (eds.). 2016. Religion in the Achaemenid Persian Empire (Orientalische Religionen in der Antike 17). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

The Achaemenid Persian imperial rulers have long been held to have exercised a policy of religious tolerance within their widespread provinces and among their dependencies. The fourteen articles in this volume explore aspects of the dynamic interaction between the imperial and the local levels that impacted primarily on local religious practices. Some of the articles deal with emerging forms of Judaism under Achaemenid hegemony, others with Achaemenid religion, royal ideology, and political policy toward religion. Others discuss aspects of Phoenician religion and changes to Egyptian religious practice while another addresses the presence of mixed religious practices in Phrygia, as indicated by seal imagery. Together, they indicate that tolerance was part of political expediency rather than a universal policy derived from religious conviction.

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Adam & Eve in Zoroastrian and Manichaean Literature

Painting from Manafi al-Hayawan (The Useful Animals), depicting Adam and Eve. From Maragheh in Iran, 1294–99

Kiel, Yishai. 2015. Creation by Emission. Recreating Adam and Eve in the Babylonian Talmud in Light of Zoroastrian and Manichaean Literature. Journal of Jewish Studies 66(2). 295–316.

This study attempts to broaden the Judeo-Christian prism through which the rabbinic legends of Adam and Eve are frequently examined in scholarship, by offering a contextual and synoptic reading of Babylonian rabbinic traditions pertaining to the first human couple against the backdrop of the Zoroastrian and Manichaean creation myths. The findings demonstrate that, while some of the themes and motifs found in the Babylonian rabbinic tradition are continuous with the ancient Jewish and Christian heritage, others are absent from, or occupy a peripheral role in, ancient Jewish and Christian traditions and, at the same time, are reminiscent of Iranian mythology. The study posits that the syncretic tendencies that pervaded the Sasanian culture facilitated the incorporation of Zoroastrian and Manichaean themes into the Babylonian legends, which were in turn creatively repackaged and adapted to the rabbinic tradition and world-view.
The article is available for reading here.

The Zoroastrian and Manichaean religious controversy

CdF_Seite_1_Seite_1Symposium on the Zoroastrian and Manichaean Religious Controversy:

«Ils disent que…». La controverse religieuse zoroastriens et manichéens.

12—13 June 2015, Collège de France

The two day conference seeks to investigate different topics regarding the “Zoroastrian and Manichean Religious Controversy”. It is organized within the framework of the chair “History and culture of pre-Islamic Central Asia”, Frantz Grenet (Collège de France) and with the scientific support of Jean-Daniel Dubois (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Studies).

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Encounters by the rivers of Babylon

Gabbay, Uri & Shai Secunda (eds.). 2015. Encounters by the rivers of Babylon: Scholarly conversations between Jews, Iranians and Babylonians in antiquity (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 160). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

This volume presents a group of articles that deal with connections between ancient Babylonian, Iranian and Jewish communities in Mesopotamia under Neo-Babylonian, Achaemenid, and Sasanian rule. The studies, written by leading scholars in the fields of Assyriology, Iranian studies and Jewish studies, examine various modes of cultural connections between these societies, such as historical, social, legal, and exegetical intersections. The various Mesopotamian connections, often neglected in the study of ancient Judaism, are the focus of this truly interdisciplinary collection.