Tag Archives: Study of Religions

Cosmic, cultic and social spaces in Early Zoroastrianism

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2017. Raumkonzeptionen im früheren Zoroastrismus. Kosmische, kultische und soziale Räume (Iranica, GOF III/NF 14). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Space, like time, is one of the basic categories of our thinking. Their concepts do not remain constant in different cultures or in changing periods, which is why dealing with a historical cultural phenomenon always requires a review of these categories in their specific culture and time. Based on the oldest linguistic and architectural evidence of Iran from the 12th to the 4th century BC, for the first time Kianoosh Rezania offers a comprehensive study of space concepts in Zoroastrianism in ancient Iran.
Based on current and historical theories of space, the Zoroastrian spaces are divided into cosmic, cultic and social spaces. The depiction of the cosmic spaces describes spatial abstractions in ancient Iranian languages as well as Zoroastrian boundary principles. Rezania examines the coordinate systems that ancient Iranians used for orientation in space and how they transformed their cognitive maps into text. This also includes the portrayal of the Zoroastrian worldview according to their older texts. At the intersection of cosmic and cultural spaces, there are transcendent spaces that contain, on the one hand, utopian spaces for communication with gods, some of which are written by poets. Since the study does not rule out dynamics and change processes in the ritual domain, reconstructions of Zoroastrian ritual surfaces in the Avestan period are presented without the inclusion of recent materials. In addition, the spatially represented social structure of the Avestan society and their spatial symbolic orders are presented.
For the table of contents of this volume visit here.

Theory and Practices of Manichaean Asceticism

10th century Manichaean Electae in Gaochang (Khocho), China.

Piras, Andrea. 2018. Sealing the body: Theory and practices of Manichaean asceticism. Religion in the Roman Empire 4(1). 28–44.

The Manichaean conception of asceticism is clearly influenced by the spiritual expe-rience of the founder himself, Mani, whose Baptist-Elchasaite milieu provided him with a Jewish-Christian background of doctrines and behaviours (ritual ablutions, diet, chastity). After the visionary communications with his angel, the Twin (Syzy-gos), Mani stressed the Gnostic aspect of his teaching with ascetical commitments, based on the mastery of body and mind. Guided by wisdom and by means of a strict watchfulness of consciousness, to guard with moral virtues the organs of the five senses, the doctrine aimed at ‘sealing’ the perceptions, thus controlling instincts and passions. A medical approach of the teachings, to pursue a religious science of sal-vation with practical effects – concerning the self-transformation of the believer – is then a distinguishing mark of an original message of redemption, blending different aspects of the relevant religions of its time.

The Coherence of Yasna

Zoroastrian fire ceremony.

Ahmadi, Amir. 2017. On the coherence of Yasna: A critical assessment of recent arguments. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 1-26.
DOI

In recent years a number of scholars have proposed more or less detailed schemas of the formation of the Zoroastrian ritual. These schemas offer accounts of the arrangement of the texts in the liturgy, the process of its formation, and even its function from an endogenous perspective. One way or another, they argue that the official Zoroastrian liturgy is an integrated ritual with a coherent text, and that the function of the ritual and the intention behind the arrangement of the texts can be determined by means of philological, literary and comparative analyses. The questions of formation and meaning of the Zoroastrian liturgy these scholars have placed on the agenda are important not only for the study of Zoroastrianism but also for the history of religions and ritual theory. I consider their accounts with respect to the texts they invoke and the methods they use, and show that their arguments suffer from fatal flaws.

Yezidi Religious Textual Tradition

Omarkhali, Khanna. 2017. The Yezidi Religious Textual Tradition: From Oral to Written. Categories, Transmission, Scripturalisation and Canonisation of the Yezidi Oral Religious Texts with Samples of Oral and Written Religious Texts and with Audio and Video Samples on CD-ROM. (Studies in Oriental Religions 72). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Public and academic interest in the Yezidis, their religion and culture, has increased greatly in recent years. The study of Yezidism has also made considerable progress in recent decades. Still, several lacunae in our knowledge remain, notably concerning many concrete aspects of the textual tradition. This book is a comprehensive study of the Yezidi religious textual tradition, containing descriptions of many hitherto unknown aspects of the oral transmission of Yezidi religious knowledge. It presents a detailed account of the ‘mechanisms’ underlying various aspects of the tradition. It shows how the religious textual tradition functioned – and to a certain degree still does – in its pre-modern way, and also describes the transformations it is currently undergoing, including the issues and processes involved in the increasing trend to commit religious knowledge to writing, and indeed to create a written Canon. The work contains several hitherto unpublished texts and the most comprehensive survey to date of the extant Yezidi sacred texts. It includes four maps, a glossary of terms and a list of Yezidi lineages, and is accompanied by a CD with an extensive collection of recordings of texts (208 minutes).
See here the Table of the Contents of this volume.

Mani in Cambridge

Mani in Cambridge: A Day-Symposium on Manichaean Studies | Ancient India & Iran Trust

On Saturday 25 March, as part of an ongoing research project, we are holding a one day Symposium on Manichaean Studies sponsored jointly by the Ancient India and Iran Trust, the International Association of Manichaean Studies and the Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum Project.

Source: Mani in Cambridge: A Day-Symposium on Manichaean Studies | Ancient India & Iran Trust

Non-Mainstream Religion in Persianate Societies

Raei, Shahrokh (ed.). 2017. Islamic Alternatives; Non-Mainstream Religion in Persianate Societies. (Iranica, GOF III/NF 16). Göttingen: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Islamic Alternatives are the proceedings of a symposium which was held in April 2014 within the framework of a research project entitled The Khāksār Order between Ahl-e Ḥaqq and Shiite Sufi Order, funded by the German Research Foundation.
The tradition and belief system of the Khāksār is closely connected to several cultural and religious traditions across a vast geographical area in the Orient: the territory of Persianate societies, which might also be called ‘the territory of wandering dervishes’. The extensive historical and cultural relations and associations, the similarities between the Khāksār Order and the Futuwwa tradition or religious communities (such as the Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yārsān) and Bektashi order in different geographical territories), the relationship between this order and Dervish groups in Pakistan and Central Asia on the one hand and its connection with the official orthodox Shia on the other hand are the main topics dealt with in the present book.
The commonalities and cultural relations of these numerous and diverse cultural traditions as well as the heterodox movements in this region are so substantial that understanding the related aspects of each helps us gain a deeper knowledge of the whole subject matter. This symposium and the present proceedings attempt to gather as many specialists of these diverse but associated themes as possible in order to achieve a better understanding of these concepts.
Table of Contents (PDF):
Early Shiʿism and Futuwwa
  • Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi: “New Remarks on Secrecy and Concealment in Early Imāmī Shiʿism: the Case of khatm al-nubuwwa – Aspects of Twelver Shiʿi Imamology XII
  • Mohsen Zakeri: “From Futuwwa to Mystic Political Thought: – The Caliph al-Nāṣir li-Dīn Allāh and Abū Ḥafṣ Suhrawardī’s Theory of Government

Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yāresān)

  • Philip G. Kreyenbroek: “Some Remarks on the Early History of the Ahl-e Ḥaqq”
  • Martin van Bruinessen: “Between Dersim and Dālahū – Reflections on Kurdish Alevism and the Ahl-e Ḥaqq Religion
  • Yiannis Kanakis: “Yāresān Religious Concepts and Ritual Repertoires as Elements of Larger Net-works of Socio-Political ‘Heterodoxy’ – Some Thoughts on Yāresān , Shiite and Qizilbash/Bektashi Sources and Symbolism
Cultural Anthropological Analysis
  • Jürgen Wasim Frembgen: “Beyond Muslim and Hindu – Sacred Spaces in the Thar Desert of Pakistan
  • Alexandre Papas: “Dog of God: Animality and Wildness among Dervishes”
  • Thierry Zarcone: “Sacred Stones in Qalandariyya and Bektashism”
    Khāksār
  • Mehran Afshari: “Quṭb al-Dīn Ḥaydar-e Tūnī and his Connection to the Ḥaydariyya and Khāksāriyya”
  • Shahrokh Raei: “Some Recent Issues and Challenges in the Khāksār Order”
Folk Sufism
  • Razia Sultanova: “Female Folk Sufism in the Central Asian Space-Time Continuum”
 About the Editor:
Shahrokh Raei is an scholar of Sufī and Khāksār Order and lecturer at the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Freiburg.

Manichaeism East and West

Lieu, Samuel, Nils Arne Pedersen, Enrico Morano & Erica Hunter (eds.). 2017. Manichaeism East and West (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum – Analecta Manichaica 1). Brepols Publishers.

The volume contains the proceedings of the eigth international symposium of the International Assocation of Manichaean Studies covering all major aspects of Manichaean studies.
This new volume brings the research on many aspects of the texts published in the Corpus up to date and signals new texts to appear in the Corpus. It includes important studies on the scientific dating of the Medinet Madi, codices as well as the newly discovered Manichaean texts in Chinese and Parthian from Xiapu in South China.

Source: Manichaeism East and West

Persian Religion in the Achaemenid Period

Henkelman, Wouter & Céline Redard (eds.). 2017. Persian religion in the Achaemenid period (Classica et Orientalia 16). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Including twelve English, French, and German papers originally presented at a colloquium convened by Jean Kellens at the Collège de France (2013), this volume addresses a range of issues relating to Persian religion at the time of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BCE). Moving away from the reductive question whether the Achaemenid kings were Zoroastrians or not, the contributors have tried to focus either on newly identified or recently published sources (Central Asian archaeological finds, Elamite texts and seal impressions from the Persepolis Fortification Archive, Aramaic texts from Bactria, the Persepolis Bronze Plaque), or on current (and ongoing) debates such as the question of the spread of the so-called long liturgy to western Iran. In doing, different perspectives are chosen: whereas some have stressed the Iranian or Indo-Iranian tradition, others have pointed out the importance of the Elamite and Assyro-Babylonian contexts. At the same time, the volume shows a broad agreement in its insistence on the essential position of primary sources, problematic as they may be, and on the important role the Achaemenid rulers and the imperial project played in the evolution of Iranian religion.

The Church of the East

Baumer, Christoph. 2016. The Church of the East: An illustrated history of Assyrian Christianity. I.B. Tauris.

The so-called ‘Nestorian’ Church (officially known as the Apostolic Assyrian Church of the East, with its See in Baghdad) was one of the most significant Christian communities to develop east of the Roman Empire. In its heyday the Church had 8 million adherents and stretched from the Mediterranean to China. Christoph Baumer is one of the very few Westerners to have visited many of the most important Assyrian sites and has written the only comprehensive history of the Church, which now fights for survival in its country of origin, Iraq, and is almost forgotten in the West. He narrates its rich and colorful trajectory, from its apostolic beginnings to the present day, and discusses the Church’s theology, christology, and uniquely vigorous spirituality. He analyzes the Church’s turbulent relationship with other Christian chuches and its dialogue with neighboring world religions such as Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Islam, Buddhism, and Taoism. Richly illustrated with maps and over 150 full-color photographs, the book will be essential reading for those interested in a fascinating, but neglected Christian community which has profoundly shaped the history of civilization in both East and West.

About the Author: Dr. Christoph Baumer is a leading explorer of Central Asia and Tibet, who has made several important archaeological and historical discoveries on his journeys.

Source: The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity

Between Rome and China

Lieu, Samuel & G. Mikkelsen (eds.). 2016. Between Rome and China: History, religions and material culture of the Silk Road (Silk Road Studies 18). Brepols Publishers.

This book contains a key study on sericulture as well as on the conduct of the trade in silk between China and the Roman Near East using archaeological and literary evidence.
The eight studies in this volume by established and emerging scholars range geographically and chronologically from the Greek Kingdom of Bactria of the 2nd century BCE to the Uighur Kingdoms of Karabalgasun in Mongolia and Qočo in Xinjiang of the 8th-9th centuries CE. It contains a key study on sericulture as well on the conduct of the trade in silk between China and the Roman Near East using archaeological as well as literary evidence. Other topics covered include Sogdian religious art, the role of Manichaeism as a Silk Road religion par excellence, the enigmatic names for the Roman Empire in Chinese sources and a multi-lingual gazetteer of place- and ethnic names in Pre-Islamic Central Asia which will be an essential reference tool for researchers. The volume also contains an author and title index to all the Silk Road Studies volumes published up to 2014. The broad ranging theme covered by this volume should appeal to a wider public fascinated by the history of the Silk Road and wishing to be informed of the latest state of research. Because of the centrality of the topics covered by this study, the volume could serve as a basic reading text for university courses on the history of the Silk Road.

Source: Between Rome and China: History, Religions and Material Culture of the Silk Road