An Iranian Vision of the Afterlife

Kłagisz, Mateusz M. 2020. An Iranian Vision of the Afterlife According to the Middle Persian “Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag.” ARAM Periodical 32 (Afterlife in the Ancient Near East). 421–461.

Detail from a Persian Zoroastrain Ardā Vīrāf-Nāme, 1789

This paper (re-)discusses the otherworld journey of the pious Zoroastrian clergyman Wīrāz, the subject of the Middle Persian opus entitled Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag (Book of Pious Wīrāz). The paper consists of 15 chapters. It begins by discussing the issue of the afterlife (Chapter 0); Chapter 1 provides general information regarding the text. In Chapter 2 the protagonist’s name and sobriquet are discussed. Chapter 3 considers the reasons for undertaking the journey. Chapter 4 presents the questions that need to be answered by Wīrāz. Chapter 5 considers relations between the protagonist and his community, followed by the myth of paradise lost (Chapter 6), the protagonist’s trial (Chapter 7), and preparations for the journey (Chapter 8). The author also discusses the dream visions themselves (Chapter 9), including the psychoactive drug used by the protagonist (Chapter 1 0), and the various afterlife locations, which Wīrāz visits (Chapters 11-16). Chapter 17 considers the nature of sin and retribution, as presented in the text, and in Chapter 18 the author discusses the end of the protagonist’s journey, before considering the journey as a whole as a rite of passage (Chapter 19), in relation to Grofs cartography of the psyche (Chapter 20).


Judeo-Persian Writings: A Manifestation of Intellectual and Literary Life

Pirnazar, Nahid (ed.). 2021. Judeo-Persian Writings: A Manifestation of Intellectual and Literary Life (Iranian Studies 42). London: Routledge.

King Ahašveruš and the maidens, Šāhīn, Ardašir-nāme, Persia, 2nd half of the 17th century (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz)

Introducing Judeo-Persian writings, this original collection gives parallel samples in Judeo-Persian and Perso-Arabic script and translations in English. Judeo-Persian writings not only reflect the twenty-seven centuries of Jewish life in Iran, but they are also a testament to their intellectual, cultural, and socioeconomic conditions.

Such writings, found in the forms of verse or prose, are flavored with Judaic, Iranian and Islamic elements. The significant value of Judeo-Persian writing is found in the areas of linguistics, history and sociocultural and literary issues. The rhetorical forms and literary genres of epic, didactic, lyric and satirical poetry can be a valuable addition to the rich Iranian literary tradition and poetical arts. Also, as a Judaic literary contribution, the work is a representation of the literary activity of Middle Eastern Jews not so well recognized in Judaic global literature.

This book is a comprehensive introduction to the rich literary tradition of works written in Judeo-Persian and also serves as a guide to transliterate many other significant Judeo-Persian works that have not yet been transliterated into Perso-Arabic script. The collection will be of value to students and researchers interested in history, sociology and Iranian and Jewish studies.

Table of Contents

Part I Formation and History of Judeo-Persian

  • 1. An Overview of Iranian Jewish Intellectual History
  • 2. Thematic Contents of Judeo-Persian Literature: Literary Genres in Judeo-Persian Poetry
  • 3. Thematic Contents of Judeo-Persian Prose
  • Conclusion

Part II Samples of Judeo-Persian Writings

  • 1. Biblical Epic Poetry
  • 2. Historical Poetry
  • 3. Lyric Poetry
  • 4. Vernacular Poetry
  • 5. Mystic Poetry
  • 6. Didactic Poetry
  • 7. Panegyric Poetry
  • 8. Satirical Poetry
  • 9. Different Vocabularies and Ethnicities
  • 10. Literary Terms
  • 11. Epic Concepts and Legendary Heroes
  • 12. Zoroastrian Concepts
  • 13. Rhetorical Arts
  • 14. Rhythmic Embellished Prose
  • Bibliography

Estudios Iranios y Turanios (Vol. 4)

Estudios Iranios y Turanios, Vol. 4, 2020.Estudios Iranios y Turanios, Vol. 4, 2020. has now been published. The whole issue is dedicated to the Avestan and Middle Persian Studies.

  • Alberto Cantera: “A brief note on the possibilities and limitations involved in reconstructing the historical performances of the Avestan liturgies: the case of the Dō-Hōmāst”
  • Saloumeh Gholami: “The collection of Avestan manuscripts of the Ataš Varahrām in Yazd”
  • Jean Kellens: “Pourquoi comprenons-nous si mal les Gâthâs? Keynote lecture au 9e colloque de la Societas Iranologica Europaea”
  • Götz König: “Notizen zum Xorde Avesta IV: Zur Textkomposition und -tradition des Ātaš Niyāyišn und zu dessen ritueller Performanz als Kurze Liturgie”
  • Éric Pirart: “Pour de nouveaux fragments avestiques: la généalogie de Zaraϑuštra”
  • Kianoosh Rezania: “A Suggestion for the Transliteration of Middle Persian Texts in Zoroastrian Middle Persian: Digital Corpus and Dictionary (MPCD): A Three Layered Transliteration System”

Neo-Platonic Elements in the Zoroastrian Literature

König, Götz. 2020. On the Question of Neo-Platonic Elements in the Zoroastrian Literature of the Ninth Century. In Ana Echevarría Arsuaga & Dorothea Weltecke (eds.), Religious Plurality and Interreligious Contacts in the Middle Ages (Wolfenbütteler Forschungen 161), 65–79. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

In the ninth/tenth century, in the so-called golden era of Islam, we see not only the flourishing of an Islamic theology and an Arabic philosophy and science that originate in Greek antiquity and late antiquity. Zoroastrianism, the dominating religion in Iran under the Sasanians, also saw the emergence of a literature, particularly in the ninth century, that is today our main source for the reconstruction of the Zoroastrian Geistesgeschichte in the first millennium AD.1 This so-called ›Pahlavi literature‹, texts in Middle Persian language written in a script of Semitic origin, covers, on the one hand, a few narrative works with roots in the epic tradition of Iran, and on the other hand, a good number of religious writings of different content, form and style. These religious writings can be divided into three groups. The first group comprises texts that are closely related to the Sasanian Pahlavi translations of the Avesta (the so-called Zand ). The second group comprises texts that adapt the Zand literature and transform it within this process. The third group, finally, comprises texts that I would like to characterize as ›philosophical theology‹. The texts of this group introduce philosophical elements into the inherited theological materials and thinking.


From Aṣ̌ǝm Vohū to Dareios’ Inscription

Oettinger, Norbert, Stefan Schaffner & Thomas Steer (eds.). 2020. “Denken Sie einfach!”: Gedenkschrift für Karl Hoffmann (Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 30). Dettelbach: Verlag J.H. Röll.

Two chapters of the edited Gedenkschrift-volume for Karl Hoffmann are for special intrest of the study of Avestan and Old Persian:

  • Kellens, Jean. 2020. L’Aṣ̌ǝm Vohū entre Gâthâs et Visprad, 113–121.
  • Schmitt, Rüdiger. 2020. Dareios’ Inschrift „DPd“ – Gebet, Dichtung, in metrischer Form? , 235–254.


The Judeo-Persian rendition of the Buddha biographies

Yasharpour, Dalia. 2021. The Prince and the Sufi: the Judeo-Persian rendition of the Buddha biographies (The Brill Reference Library of Judaism 62). Leiden: Brill.

The Prince and the Sufi is the literary composition of the seventeenth-century Judeo-Persian poet Elisha ben Shmūel. In The Prince and the Sufi: The Judeo-Persian Rendition of the Buddha Biographies, Dalia Yasharpour provides a thorough analysis of this popular work to show how the Buddha’s life story has undergone substantial transformation with the use of Jewish, Judeo-Persian and Persian-Islamic sources. The annotated edition of the text and the corresponding English translation are meticulous and insightful. This scholarly study makes available to readers an important branch in the genealogical tree of the Buddha Biographies.


Language of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex

Lubotsky, Alexander. 2020. What Language was Spoken by the People of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex? In Paul W. Kroll & Jonathan A. Silk (eds.), “At the Shores of the Sky”. Asian Studies for Albert Hoffstädt, 5–11. Leiden: Brill.

The Russian archaeologist V.I. Sarianidi has localized dozens of settlements on the territory of former Margiana and Bactria and has proven that they belong to the same archaeological culture, which he labeled “Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex” (BMAC). At the end of the 1970s he managed to find the probable capital of this culture, a settlement called Gonur-depe. Gonur is located in the old delta of the Murghab River, on the border of the Karakum desert. The city was most likely founded around 2300 bce and experienced its heyday between 2000 and 1800. Somewhere around 1800, the riverbed of the Murghab began to move eastwards, which eventually led to the city being abandoned by its inhabitants. Already very soon the whole BMAC civilization started to decline, and we see few traces of it after 1600 bce.

This Paper as well as the whole volume is freely available.


Sources of Indo-Iranian Liturgies

Redard, Céline, Juanjo Ferrer-Losilla, Hamid Moein & Philippe Swennen  (eds.). 2020. Aux sources des liturgies indo-iraniennes (Collection Religion 10). Liège: Presses universitaires de l’Université de Liège.

The volume is the proceeding of the international colloquium entitled Aux sources des liturgies indo-iraniennes, which was held on 9 and 10 June 2016 at the University of Liège.

Table of Contents

  • Philippe Swennen: “Introduction”
  • Joanna Jurewicz: “The God who fights with the Snake and Agni”
  • Toshifumi Gotō: “Bergung des gesunkenen Sonnenlichts im Rigveda und Avesta
  • Kyoko Amano: “What is ‘Knowledge’ Justifying a Ritual Action? Uses of yá eváṁ véda / yá eváṁ vidvā́n in the Maitrāyaṇī Sam̐hitā”
  • Naoko Nishimura: “On the first mantra section of the Yajurveda-Sam̐hitā: Preparation for milking, or grazing of cows?”
  • Philippe Swennen: “Archéologie d’un mantra védique”
  • Éric Pirart: “L’idée d’hospitalité”
  • Antonio Panaino: “aētāsә.tē ātarә zaoϑrā. On the Mazdean Animal and Symbolic Sacrifices: Their Problems, Timing and Restrictions”
  • Jean Kellens: “ahu, mainiiu, ratu
  • Eijirō Dōyama: “Reflections on YH 40.1 from the Perspective of Indo-Iranian Culture”
  • Alberto Cantera: “Litanies and rituals. The structure and position of the Long Liturgy within the Zoroastrian ritual system”
  • Céline Redard: “Les Āfrīnagāns: une diversité rituelle étonnante”
  • Götz König: “Daēnā and Xratu. Some considerations on Alberto Cantera’s essay Talking with god
  • Juanjo Ferrer-Losilla: “Les alphabets avestiques et leur récitation dans les rituels zoroastriens: innovation ou archaïsme”
  • Miguel Ángel Andrés-Toledo: “Socio-religious Division in the Indo-Iranian Investiture with the Sacred Girdle”
  • Hamid Moein: “Some remarks about the Zoroastrian ceremony of cutting a new kusti according to two Persian Rivāyat manuscripts and two of the oldest Avestan manuscripts”

The names of the Magi: A historical-religious investigation

Panaino, Antonio. 2020. I nomi dei magi evangelici. Un’indagine storico-religiosa. Con contributi di Andrea Gariboldi, Jeffrey Kotyk, Paolo Ognibene e Alessia Zubani. Milano: Mimesis.

Although the proper names of the Magi do not appear at all in Matthew 2,1-12, the apocryphal traditions have established three names in particular, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. However, they are by no means the only ones, as the number of the Magi was never indicated in the Gospels, the same applies to their names, which range from three to twelve. The present essay proposes a preliminary investigation into the history of the origins of this complex onomastic tradition attested in different languages and cultures, between East and West, in the Late Ancient and Medieval world, on the traces of intricate paths of ancient spirituality and Christian propaganda, which thanks to the figure of the evangelical Magi was able to develop an important means of dialogue and intercultural promotion. The text is accompanied by synoptic tables (edited by A. Zubani) and an appendix on the Ossetian text of Matthew 2,1-12 (P. Ognibene), as well as two short essays, one on the Indo-Parthian coinage of the Gondofaridi (A. Gariboldi), whose history is linked to the figure of Gaspar, the other on the image of the Evangelical Magi in the Chinese reception (J. Kotyk).

Table of Contents

  • Antonio Panaino: I nomi dei Magi Evangelici
  • Alessia Zubani: Nomina nuda tenemus. L’onomastica dei Magi Evangelici
  • Andrea Gariboldi, Le monete indo-partiche di Gondophares
  • Jeffrey Kotyk: La nascita di Cristo e i portatori di doni persiani nelle fonti cinesi medievali
  • Paolo Ognibene: Mt. 2,1-12 in osseto

Poets, Heroes, and their Dragons: Armenian And Iranian Studies

Russell, James R. 2020. Poets, Heroes, and their Dragons: Armenian And Iranian Studies (Ancient Iran Series 13, 1-2). 2 vols. Irvine, CA: Jordan Center for Persian Studies, University of California, Irvine.

The present volume is a collection of articles published by Professor James R. Russell of Harvard University, in various journals over the past decades. James Russell has been one of the pioneers in the field of Armenian and Iranian Studies, where he has demonstrated the importance of Iranian civilization for pre-Christian Armenia.

Table of Contents

VOL. 1

  1. “Two Roads Diverged: Ancient Cappadocia and Ancient Armenia,” in R.G. Hovannisian, ed., Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and Cappadocia, UCLA Armenian History and Culture Series, Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces 12, Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 2013, pp. 33-42.
  2. “A Note on Armenian hrmštk-el,” in Uwe Bläsing, Victoria Arakelova, and Matthias Weinreich, eds., Studies on Iran and the Caucasus in Honour of Garnik Asatrian, Leiden: Brill, 2015, pp. 365-371.
  3. “An Armenian Spirit of Time and Place: The Švot,” Revue des Etudes Arméniennes 1936 (2014-2015), pp. 13-59.
  4. “The Epic of Sasun: Armenian Apocalypse,” in Sergio La Porta, ed., The Armenian Apocalyptic Tradition, Leiden: Brill, 2014, pp. 41-77.
  5. “Language of Demons, Language of Men,” in publication, Festschrift Michael Stone, ed. Theo Van Lint, forthcoming
  6. “The Cross and the Lotus: The Armenian Miscellany Patmut‘iwn płnje k‘ałak‘i (‘History of the City of Brass’),” in Vesta Curtis and Sarah Stewart, eds., The Rise of Islam (The Idea of Iran, Vol. 4), London: I.B. Tauris, 2009, pp. 71-81.
  7. “On an Armenian Word List from the Cairo Geniza,” Iran and the Caucasus 17 (2013), pp. 189-214.
  8. “The Vision of the Painting: Alexander Kondratiev’s Novella Dreams,” Alexander A. Sinitsyn and Maxim M. Kholod, eds., Koinon Dōron: Studies and Essays in Honour of Valery P. Nikonorov on the Occasion of His Sixtieth Birthday presented by His Friends and Colleagues, St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg State University Faculty of Philology, 2013, pp. 323-354.
  9. “Heaven Is Here and the Emperor Is Near: A Traveler’s Guide to Heaven,” Academic Forum Collected Papers: The unity of Humanity and Heaven and Civilizational Diversity, Beijing, China: Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, PKU, 2014, pp. 191-222.
  10. “The Interrupted Feast,” in Bernard Outtier, Cornelia B. Horn, Basil Lourié, and Alexey Ostrovsky, eds., Armenia between Byzantium and the Orient: Celebrating the Memory of Karen Yuzbashian (1927-2009), Leiden: Brill, 2019, pp. 468-529.
  11. “Hārūt and Mārūt: The Armenian Zoroastrian Demonic Twins in the Qur’ān Who Invented Fiction,” in S. Tokhtasev and P. Luria, eds., Commentationes Iranicae: Sbornik statei k 90-letiyu V.A. Livshitsa, St. Petersburg: Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Nestor-Historia, 2013, pp. 469-480.
  12. “The Curving Shore of Time and Space: Notes on the Prologue to Pushkin’s Ruslan and Ludmila,” in Steven Fine and Shai Secunda, eds., Shoshannat Yaakov: Jewish and Iranian Studies in Honor of Yaakov Elman, Leiden: Brill, 2012, pp. 318-365.
  13. “Early Armenian Civilization,” in Edmund Herzig and Marina Kurkchiyan eds., The Armenians: Past and present in the making of national identity, London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2005, pp. 23-40.
  14. “Magic Mountains, Milky Seas, Dragon Slayers, and Other Zoroastrian Archetypes,” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 22, Ann Arbor, MI, 2008 [2012], pp. 57-80).
  15. “Armenian Secret and Invented Languages and Argots,” Acta Linguistica Petropolitana, Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Vol. VIII, part 3, St. Petersburg: Nauka, 2012, pp. 602-684.
  16. “The Demon Weed,” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 19, 2009, pp. 131-134. 445
  17. “The Shrine Beneath the Waves,” RES 51, Cambridge, MA, Spring 2007, pp. 136-156.
  18. “The Memory Palace of St. Grigor Narekac‘i,” Hask hayagitakan taregirk‘ New Series, Year X, 2002-2006, Antelias, Lebanon, 2006, pp. 59-81.
  19. “The Science of Parting: Eliade, Iranian Shamanism, and the View from Tomis,” Studia Asiatica XI, Bucharest, 2010.1-2, pp. 89-97.
  20. “The Bells: From Poe to Sardarapat,” Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 21 (2012), pp. 127-168.
  21. “Misak‘ Medzarents‘: The Calm Before the Storm,” lecture at Boston University, 13 Oct. 2010.
  22. “The Book of the Way (Girk‘ Chanaparhi) of Yeghishe Charents: An Illuminated Apocalyptic Gospel for Soviet Armenia,” Armenian Studies Program Occasional Paper Series, University of California, Berkeley, Stephan Astourian, ed., Spring 2012.
  23. “Frik: The Bridge of Poetry,” Anathemata Heortika: Studies in Honor of Thomas F. Mathews, ed. Joseph D. Alchermes, Mainz: Philipp Von Zabern, 2009, pp. 256-264.
  24. “Sasanian Yarns: The Problem of the Centaurs Reconsidered,” La Persia e Bisanzio, Roma: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 2004, pp. 411-438.
  25. “Solov’i, Solov’i,” St. Nersess Theological Review 10 (2005), pp. 77-139. 679

VOL. 2

  1. “An Armenological Note on Kartīr’s Vision,”Dasturji Dr. Hormazdyar Dastur Kayoji Mirza Birth Centenary Memorial Volume, Udvada (Gujarat, India): Dastur Kayoji Mirza Institute, 2010, pp. 253-258.
  2. “The Rime of the Book of the Dove (Stikh o Golubinoi knige): From Zoroastrian cosmology and Armenian heresiography to the Russian novel,” in Christine Allison, Anke Joisten-Pruschke, and Antje Wendtland, eds., From Daena to Din: Religion, Kultur und Sprache in der iranischen Welt, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz,
    2009, pp. 141-208 (Festschrift Prof. Dr. Philip Kreyenbroek).
  3. “On an Armenian Magical Manuscript ( Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, MS 10558),” Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities(2002-2014), Jerusalem 2015, pp. 105-192.
  4. “The Script of the Dove: An Armenian Hetaerogram,” Journal of Armenian Studies, Belmont, MA, Vol. IX, Nos. 1-2, 2010, pp. 61-108.
  5. “An Armenian magico-medical manuscript (Bzhshkaran) in the NAASR Collection,” Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 20, 2011, pp. 111-130.
  6. “The Seh-lerai Language,” Journal of Armenian Studies 10.1-2 (2012-2013), pp. 1-85.
  7. “Iranians, Armenians, Prince Igor, and the Lightness of Pushkin,” Iran and the Caucasus 18 (2014), pp. 345-381.
  8. “On the image of Zarathustra,” in Alan Williams, Sarah Stewart, and Almut Hintze, eds., The Zoroastrian Flame: Exploring Religion, History, and Tradition, London: I.B. Tauris, 2016, pp. 147-178.
  9. “The Elephant in the Room: Dawt‘ak the Rhetor’s Gift List,” forthcoming in Revue des Études Arméniennes 38, 2017.
  10. “Heresies: On an Armenian prayer to the sun,” Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 26, 2017, pp. 3-16.
  11. “Odysseus and a Phoenician Tale,” ВестникСПбГУ. Философия и
    конфликтология, 2018. Т. 34, вып. 2, стр. 233-250.
  12. “The Lyre of King David and the Greeks,” Judaica Petropolitana8, 2017, pp. 12-33.
  13. “The Bible and revolution: some observations on Exodus, Psalm 37, Esther, and Philo,” Judaica Petropolitana 7, 2017, pp. 109-134.
  14. “From Mashtots‘ to Nga‘ara: The Art of Writing and Cultural Survival in Armenia and Rapa Nui,” in Hebrew University Armenian Studies 15, Armenian, Hittite, and Indo-European Studies: A Commemoration Volume for Jos J.S. Weitenberg, ed. Uwe Bläsing, Jasmine Dum-Tragut, and Theo Maarten van Lint, Leuven: Peeters, 2019, pp. 271-318.
  15. “Iranian in the Hekhalot,” in Matteo Compareti, ed., Fabulous Creatures and
    Spirits in Ancient Iranian Culture, Bologna: Casa Editrice Persiani, 2018, pp. 93-110.
  16. “From Parthia to Robin Hood: The Armenian Version of the Epic of the Blind Man’s Son (Köroghlu),” The Embroidered Bible: Studies in Biblical Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in Honour of Michael E. Stone, eds. Lorenzo DiTommaso, Matthias Henze, and William Adler, Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2017, pp. 877-898.
  17. “The Armenian Magical Scroll and Outsider Art,” Iran and the Caucasus Vol. 15.1-2, Leiden and Erevan, 2011, pp. 5-47.
  18. “Argawan: The Indo-European Memory of the Caucasus,” Journal of Armenian
    Studies VIII.2, Fall 2006 [2007], pp. 110-147.
  19. “The Memory Palace of St. Gregory of Narek,” Hask hayagitakan taregirk’ (Hask
    Armenological Yearbook), New Series, Year X, 2002-2006, Antelias, Lebanon,
    2006, pp. 59-81.
  20. עלעצנירפש ראפ ןושל א (A loshn far Shprintzele), forthcoming in Jewish Languages
    (St. Petersburg), 2020.
  21. “The Black Dervish of Armenian Futurism,” in Garnik Asatrian, ed., Caucaso- Caspica IV, Short Monograph Series, Erevan: Russian-Armenian University, 2019, pp. 245-319.