How did ancient Iranian religion represent the wolf? Between the mythological data, the realities of the agro-pastoral world, and the symbolism of exegetical tradition, Late Antique Zoroastrianism considered the wolf as primarily a species to kill. In reality, much more than the Canis lupus hides behind the word ‘wolf ’ (Middle Persian gurg), including most nocturnal predators but also devastating illnesses, a monster whom the Savior will destroy at the end of time, and finally heretics who renounce or deform the Good Religion. However, this negative image is nuanced by the recognition of the strong ties between the she-wolf and wolf cubs, both in texts where the protective qualities of this large predator are evoked, and in iconography, namely magic seals, where one finds the image of the nourishing she-wolf, perhaps connected to perinatal magic.
The presence in the Wizīdagīhā ī Zādspram 28,6 of an explicit reference to the figure 6666 in connection with the manifestation of Ahreman’s arrival into the world immediately suggests a direct comparison with the ‘Number of the Beast’, 666, appearing in the Apocalypse of John, 13, 17-18. The author analyses many symbolic interpretations of this number and its importance in the Early Christian tradition, in particular in the framework of Irenaeus’s Adversus Haereses and the related chiliadic milieu. While the presence of this number in the Mazdean context seems to be another evidence supporting the thesis of a Western influence on Iranian apocalypticism (in spite of the apparent absence of Syriac versions of the Apocalypse of John in earlier times), the circulation of millenaristic doctrines presents a more complex situation, in which also the Iranian component should have played its remarkable impact in earlier times.
A number of Sogdian letter fragments are preserved from the Manichaean communities in Turfan. Although the majority are written in the Sogdian script, a small number are written in a cursive variety of the Manichaean script found only in these texts. Their edition and study provides a brief glimpse into the dynamics of the community. Furthermore, the first paleographic analysis of Manichaean cursive is undertaken.
Delaini, Paolo. 2017. La medicina nell’Avesta. Widēwdād 7, 20, 21, 22. Studio filologico, traduzione e commento dei testi avestici e medio-persiani. Con un saggio sugli studi sulla medicina zoroastriana dal Settecento ad oggi. I. I Pahlavi Widēwdād 7.1 – 7.44. Sesto San Giovanni: Mimesis.
The present volume offers a philological study of various passages from the Wīdēwdād pertaining to medicine.
Abou the Author
Paul Delaini, is an scholar of Iranian studies at the University of Bologna, Ravenna. His research deals mainly with the history of pre-Islamic medicine in Iran, with particular emphasis on the development and circulation of medical knowledge on the body and the physiology of birth evolved from the ancient world on the late ancient and medieval tradition.
The text Wīdēwdād – “Law Serving to Keep the Demons Away” – is one of the longest and most important sources for the study of the Zoroastrianism of the ancient Iranian and the Middle Iranian periods. The ancient Iranian text, written in Avestan, was in the Sassanid era (3rd-7th centuries) translated into Middle Persian (Pahlavi) and provided with glosses and extensive commentaries. The Pahlavi version, called zand, is of particular interest for two reasons: firstly, it is the oldest Middle Persian translation of an Avestan text, and thus of major importance for the linguistic reconstruction of Middle Persian; secondly, the annotations approach complex theological, ritual, and legal questions that examine numerous insufficiently studied areas of the Sassanid society. Despite its outstanding importance, this primary source has, due to the high degree of difficulty of the subject matter, until recently attracted hardly any attention.
Miguel Ángel Andrés-Toledo’s book, based upon a careful collation of all 44 still existing manuscripts, is the first critical edition of the Avestan and the Pahlavi text of the Wīdēwdād.
Miguel Ángel Andrés-Toledo is an scholar of Ancient and Middle Iranian Lingustics as well as Zoroastrianism. He is currently a research fellow of the Department of Classical Philology and Indo-European Studies at the University of Salamanca.
Issue 26 of the Bulletin of the Asia Institute will be published in December. The information on this issue is not yet available on the journal’s website, but the content has been circulated. We are publishing the table of content based on a request by the journal.
The vast majority of the extant Pahlavi literature was written or compiled during the Islamic period (mainly during the 9th-10th centuries) and deals with religious themes of theological and scholastic interest. Only a few examples of Sasanian imaginative, scientific and philosophical works have survived, despite the rich testimony towards their existence found in Syriac, Arabic, and Persian sources, as well as references in some Pahlavi texts. In particular, some of them teach us that Greek philosophical systems, astrology, astronomy and medicine penetrated Iranian thought already in the Sasanian period. These new ideas were necessarily reworked as they entered Zoroastrian writings. It is not always easy to
pinpoint when and where certain aspects of the Pahlavi literature rely on Greek culture, although it is quite clear that the latter had a heavy influence on the formation of Iranian, and especially Zoroastrian, thinking in Sasanian period. This article aims to present some evidence of the presence of Greek thought and lexicon in the Pahlavi literature through the textual analysis of some passages belonging to the Zoroastrian literary tradition.
Pehlivanian, Meliné, Christoph Rauch & Ronny Vollandt (eds.). 2016. Orientalische Bibelhandschriften aus der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK. Eine illustrierte Geschichte. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.
The volume presents an illustrated history of the Oriental Bible Manuscripts from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. It includes discriptions of the manuscripts which are among the oldest and most fascinating items in the Oriental Collection of the State Library of Berlin. The overwhelming majority of the manuscripts presented here come from the very cradle of the Abrahamic religions. The texts range across more than 1,500 years of Christian and Jewish history in the Near and Middle East and Africa, from Late Antiquity to the 19th century.
They are written documents which have, not least, also left
traces in the Islamic tradition. Another concern of the volume is to allow readers insights into the extremely extensive and varied collection of Oriental manuscripts in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, whose outstanding treasures are in many cases only known to specialists in the field. The biblical texts, written on leather, parchment, papyrus, and paper bear witness not only to the complexity of the religious and theological traditions, but also impressively document the diversity of materials to be found in the Oriental manuscript culture, and not least the artistic achievements of the “Peoples of the Book”.
Some most related chapters of this book regarding the Iranian Studies are:
Dennis Halft OP: “The ‘Book of Books’ in Persian” (pp. 150-154)
Dennis Halft OP: “A Persian Gospel Manuscript and the London Polyglot” (pp. 155-157.)
Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: “A Middle Persian Pahlavi Psalter-Fragment in the Berlin Turfan Collection” (pp. 114-116).
Simone-Christiane Raschmann: “Christian Texts from Central Asia in the Berlin Turfan Collection” (pp. 105-113).
Friederike Weis: “Illustrated Persian Tales of the Prophets (Qis.as. al-anbiyāʾ) (pp. 163-172).