Tag Archives: Zoroastrian Literature

Apostasy and Repentance in Early Medieval Zoroastrianism

8th cent. Tang dynasty Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian © Museum of Oriental Art (Turin)

Kiel, Yishai & Prods Oktor Skjærvø. 2017. Apostasy and Repentance in Early Medieval Zoroastrianism. Journal of the American Oriental Society 137(2). 221–243.

The Middle Persian (Pahlavi) literature from the early Islamic centuries frequently deals with practical theological issues faced by the Zoroastrian communities under foreign domination. Here, we present a number of questions regarding a Zoroas- trian’s conversion to Islam and his subsequent repentance and desire to return to Zoroastrianism and answers given by ninth- and tenth-century Zoroastrian priestly authorities. It is shown how the priests cite ancient traditions found in the Pahlavi versions of Avestan texts to justify their answers, and then apply them to the contemporary social reality.

A Compendium of Zoroastrian Life & Culture

Cama, Shernaz (ed.). 2016. Threads of continuity: Zoroastrian life & culture. New Delhi: Parzor Foundation.
Threads of Continuity Focuses on the philosophy and cultur of the ancient Zoroastrian faith from its origins i Central Asia, tracing a geographical and chronological continum till the present. This philosophy became a part of the lived heritage of the Zoroastrian community — both in India and Iran.
Of dpecial interest are the cross-cultural influences of the comunity in India. To highlight these, Gujarat and the Deccan will be examined in detail for the first time.
A part of this compendium also studies the contribution of the community to the making of modern India. The programme envisaged, attempts to explain the Zoroastrian philodophy of a sacred thread linking all creation.
 Table of Contents:

Continue reading A Compendium of Zoroastrian Life & Culture

The Zoroastrian Law to Expel the Demons

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.
For more details see the table of the contents of this volume.
Author:
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.

Zoroastrianism: Religious texts, theology, history and culture

moazoroasMoazami, Mahnaz (ed.). 2016. Zoroastrianism: A collection of articles from the Encyclopaedia Iranica  (Encyclopaedia Iranica Extracts – EIE), 2 vols. New York: Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation.
 Zoroastrian theology, cosmology and cosmogony, history of the faith, its rituals and ceremonies, Avestan and Middle Persian texts, festivals such as Nowruz, Mehregan and Sada, and a host of other topics, hitherto dispersed amidst other entries in their alphabetical sequence in the Encyclopædia Iranica, are gathered together here under one cover. The volume enables the readers to chart their way through complex traditions and debates throughout history, and brings into focus the interdependence of these pioneering contributions. As a thought-provoking and authoritative work of reference, it is a testimony to the fine scholarship and remarkable erudition of its contributors, scholars who have been foremost in ensuring that the Encyclopædia Iranica maintains its high reputation for authoritative comprehensiveness and pioneering research.
List of Contents:

Volume 1

  • Religious Concepts and Philosophy
  • Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism
  • The Elements in Zoroastrianism
  • The Divine Beings (Yazatas)
  • Demons, Fiends, and Witches
  • Zoroastrian Literature
  • Sacrifices and Offerings

Volume 2

  • Ablutions and Purification Ceremonies
  • Prayers, Hymns, and Incantations
  • Priestly Titles and Prominent Zoroastrian Priests
  • Legal Aspects of Zoroastrianism
  • Death and the Afterlife
  • Festivals
  • Places of Worship
  • Zoroastrian Heroes and Adversaries
  • Mythical and Historical Locations
  • Parsi Communities

About the Editor:

Mahnaz Moazami is a Visiting Professor at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies of Yeshiva University. Her research focuses on religion in pre-Islamic Iran, and she has published several articles on different aspects of Zoroastrianism.

Repetitions or Omissions? Different Versions of Widēwdād 22

Ferrer-Losilla, Juanjo. 2015. Repetitions or omissions? Different versions of Widēwdād 22. Studia Iranica 44 (2).  207–225.

The present paper analyses two versions that appear in the 22nd chapter of an intercalated text of the Zoroastrian Long Liturgy, the Widēwdād: a longer version in the Iranian manuscripts and a shorter in the Indian ones. It is shown that we stand before two different real versions in the ritual praxis of this ceremony, though it is difficult to evaluate the date in which each version appeared or whether one version could arise from the other after the beginning of the written transmission. Other passages of the Widēwdād containing similar problems are analysed in a brief appendix.

Ardwahišt Yašt

Yast_3_KönigKönig, Götz. 2016. Yašt 3. Der avestische Text und seine mittel- und neupersische Übersetzungen. Einleitung, Text, Kommentar. (Estudios Iranios Y Turanios. Supplementa 1). Girona: Sociedad de estudios iranios y turanios (SEIT).
The third Yašt (“hymn”) in the collection of the 21 (22) YAv Yašts is dedicated to (the deity, prayer and the divine correspondence of the fire) Aša Vahišta “Best Order”. The text formulates an (eschatologically significant) ritual context and a magical (= medical) charm. Due to the ritual and medical importance of Yt 3, various translations into Middle and New Persian can be found. They provide insights into the interpretation of the text by the later Zoroastrians.
Ardwahišt Yašt is the third in the series of Avestan hymns addressed to individual divinities. It is devoted to one of the greatest of the Zoroastrian Aməša Spəntas, Aša Vahišta. The Ardwahišt Yašt is itself accordingly recited in rituals to cure the sick.

See the table of contents here.


 Götz König is a scholar of Zoroastrianism and a philologist working on ancient and Middle Iranian languages. He is currently a deputy professor at the Institute of Iranian Studies, Free University of Berlin, Germany. He has made important contributions to the study of Old, Middle and New Iranian Zoroastrian literature. His two monographs, “Die Erzählung von Tahmuras und Gamšid” (Wiesbaden 2008) and “Geschlechtsmoral und Gleichgeschlechtlichkeit im Zoroastrismus” (Wiesbaden 2010), have to be highlighted. They convey an impression of his refined philological technique which is at the service of a history of Iranian culture.

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.

Religion, History and Art of Ancient Iran

Farridnejad et al. Faszination Iran — Cover 2015Farridnejad, Shervin, Anke Joisten-Pruschke & Rika Gyselen (eds.). 2015. Faszination Iran. Beiträge zur Religion, Geschichte und Kunst des Alten Iran. Gedenkschrift für Klaus Schippmann. (Göttinger Orientforschungen. III. Reihe: Iranica, Neue Folge 13). Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.

This Memorial Volume is dedicated to one of the most prolific and renowned scholars in the field of Ancient Iranian Archaeology and History, the late Professor Klaus Schippmann (1924-2010), who held the chair of “Near Eastern Archaeology with special reference to Iran” at Georg-August University of Göttingen until his retirement in 1990.

The volume consists of eleven papers, written by some of the foremost scholars in the field of Iranian Studies as well as some of his lifetime friends and colleagues. The articles are essentially concerned with different aspects of Ancient Iranian Art, Archaeology, History, Numismatics and Religion, reflecting the scholarly interests of Klaus Schippmann. The volume is accompanied also by parts of his unpublished private diary (1959) from his Nachlass, reflecting his ideas, visions and memories of his excavations as well as one report of his last trip to his favourable archaeological site of taḫt-e soleymān (Iran), written by his personal tour leader. The book is illustrated by numerous plates.

This volume could be of interest for scholars and students of Ancient Iranian Art, Archaeology, History, Religion and other neighbour disciplines.

Table of Contents (PDF):
  • In Memoriam Klaus Schippmann
  • Anke Joisten-Pruschke: „Ich muss irgendwie sehen, dass es für mich einen Weg gibt Archäologie zu studieren“ – Klaus Schippmanns Tagebuch einer Reise in den Vorderen Orient (1959)
  • Oric Basirov: “Proselytisation” and “Exposure of the Dead”:
    Two Christian Calumnies Commonly raised against the Sasanians
  • Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis: “Observations on some coins of Persis”
  • Touraj Daryaee: “The Xwarrah and the Sēnmurv: Zoroastrian Iconography on Seventh Century Copper Coinage
  • Shervin Farridnejad: “Das zoroastrische mār-nāme „Schlangenbuch“. Zur zoroastrischen Volksreligion und Ophiomantik”
  • Rika Gyselen: “Some Thoughts on Sasanian mgwh-Seals”
  • Bruno Jacobs: “Zur bildlichen Repräsentation iranischer Eliten
    im achämenidenzeitlichen Kleinasien”
  • Anke Joisten-Pruschke: “Feudalismus im Sasanidenreich?”
  • Wolfram Kleiss: “Hochterrassen – Zikkurati – Stufenpyramiden”
  • Karin Mosig-Walburg: “Herrscherpropaganda der Nachfolger Shapurs I. (Ohrmazd I. – Narse) – Ein Beitrag zum Verhältnis von König und Adel im Sasanidenreich in der zweiten Hälfte des 3. Jh. n. Chr.”
  • Michael Shenkar: “Aspects of Iconography of Ahura Mazdā: Origins and Significance”
  • Dieter Weber: “Spätsasanidische Preislisten im frühislamischen Iran”
  • Hartmut Niemann: “Der Kreis schließt sich – Klaus Schippmanns letzte Reise zum ‘Takht’ “

A Zoroastrian Doubt-dispelling Exposition

ŠGV Asha 2015

Asha, Raham (ed.). 2015. šak-ud-gumānīh-vizār. The Doubt-removing book of Mardānfarrox. Paris: Ermān.

The ŠGV is a treatise in which the author intends to present the arguments to refute in detail the alien schools and sects, establish the teaching of the two principles, and lead us to believe the veracity of the Religion, Daēnā Māzdayasni, and that of the teachings of the old Aryan guides, the Paoiryō.t̰kaēša. The complete original Pārsīg text is irretrievably lost, and we only possess its transcription into Pāzand (the vernacular Pārsī language written in Dēn-dibīrīh) and its translation into Sanskrit, made by the Pārsī high-priest Neryōsang Dhaval. Continue reading A Zoroastrian Doubt-dispelling Exposition

Ideological archaeology of Zoroastrianism

Ahmadi, Amir. 2015. The Daēva cult in the Gāthās: An ideological archaeology of Zoroastrianism (Iranian Studies 24). New York, NY: Routledge.

Addressing the question of the origins of the Zoroastrian religion, this book argues that the intransigent opposition to the cult of the daēvas, the ancient Indo-Iranian gods, is the root of the development of the two central doctrines of Zoroastrianism: cosmic dualism and eschatology (fate of the soul after death and its passage to the other world).

The daēva cult as it appears in the Gāthās, the oldest part of the Zoroastrian sacred text, the Avesta, had eschatological pretentions. The poet of the Gāthās condemns these as deception. The book critically examines various theories put forward since the 19th century to account for the condemnation of the daēvas. It then turns to the relevant Gāthic passages and analyzes them in detail in order to give a picture of the cult and the reasons for its repudiation. Finally, it examines materials from other sources, especially the Greek accounts of Iranian ritual lore (mainly) in the context of the mystery cults. Classical Greek writers consistently associate the nocturnal ceremony of the magi with the mysteries as belonging to the same religious-cultural category. This shows that Iranian religious lore included a nocturnal rite that aimed at ensuring the soul’s journey to the beyond and a desirable afterlife.

Challenging the prevalent scholarship of the Greek interpretation of Iranian religious lore and proposing a new analysis of the formation of the Hellenistic concept of ‘magic,’ this book is an important resource for students and scholars of History, Religion and Iranian Studies.

For ToC and haveing a look inside the book see here.

About the Author:

Amir Ahmadi is an Adjunct Researcher at the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University. He has published in Philosophy, History of Religions and Iranian Studies.