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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).

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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
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Books

Symbols of political authority

Mittertrainer, Anahita Nasrin. 2020. Sinnbilder politischer Autorität? Frühsasanidische Städtebilder im Südwesten Irans. Dortmund: Readbox unipress.

Welche Rolle spielten Stadtgründungen bei der Formation des sasanidischen Reichs? In der Studie Sinnbilder politischer Autorität? Frühsasanidische Städtebilder im Südwesten Irans analysiert Anahita Nasrin Mittertrainer, wie politische Autorität in Städten und ihrem Hinterland im Südwesten Irans von den frühen sasanidischen Herrschern (224–338 n.d.Z.) geschaffen und reproduziert wurde.

Im Jahr 2018 wurden mit Gur und Bišapur zwei frühsasanidische Städte in das UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe aufgenommen. Zeitlich passend wird in dieser Studie auf Grundlage von archäologischem und historischem Datenmaterial eine Reihe von Ergebnissen präsentiert, die auf mehreren Ebenen zu einer grundlegenden Neuinterpretation des frühsasanidischen Städtebaus beitragen. Hierzu zählen revidierte Datierungen von einzelnen Baustrukturen sowie die funktionelle Umdeutung von Gebäuden, die eine zentrale Rolle im jeweiligen Stadtbild einnahmen. Auf makroskopischer Ebene ermöglicht der systematische Stadtvergleich der Städte Gur, Bišapur und Darabgerd Schlussfolgerungen bezüglich sasanidischer Stadtplanung, der Funktionalisierung des Umlands der Städte und des Verhältnisses zwischen Stadt und König.

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Books

The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek World

Mairs, Rachel (ed.). 2021. The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek world. London & New York: Routledge.

This volume provides a thorough conspectus of the field of Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek studies, mixing theoretical and historical surveys with critical and thought-provoking case studies in archaeology, history, literature and art.

The chapters from this international group of experts showcase innovative methodologies, such as archaeological GIS, as well as providing accessible explanations of specialist techniques such as die studies of coins, and important theoretical perspectives, including postcolonial approaches to the Greeks in India. Chapters cover the region’s archaeology, written and numismatic sources, and a history of scholarship of the subject, as well as culture, identity and interactions with neighbouring empires, including India and China.

The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek World is the go-to reference work on the field, and fulfils a serious need for an accessible, but also thorough and critically-informed, volume on the Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms. It provides an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the Hellenistic East.

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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”
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Books

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.

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Books

Memory and Identity in the Syriac Cave of Treasures: Rewriting the Bible in Sasanian Iran

Minov, Sergey. 2021. Memory and Identity in the Syriac Cave of Treasures: Rewriting the Bible in Sasanian Iran (Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture, 26). Leiden: Brill.

In Memory and Identity in the Syriac Cave of Treasures: Rewriting the Bible in Sasanian Iran Sergey Minov examines literary and socio-cultural aspects of the Syriac pseudepigraphic composition known as the Cave of Treasures, which offers a peculiar version of the Christian history of salvation. The book fills a lacuna in the history of Syriac Christian literary creativity by contextualising this unique work within the cultural and religious situation of Sasanian Mesopotamia towards the end of Late Antiquity. The author analyses the Cave’s content and message from the perspective of identity theory and memory studies, while discussing its author’s emphatically polemical stand vis-à-vis Judaism, the ambivalent way in which he deals with Iranian culture, and the promotion in this work of a distinctively Syriac-oriented vision of the biblical past.
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Books

Armed force in the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire

Manning, Sean. 2021. Armed Force in the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire: Past Approaches, Future Prospects (Oriens et Occidens, 32). Stuttgart: Fanz Steiner Verlag.

The armies of Cyrus, Xerxes and Darius III are usually understood through the lens of classical literature and stereotypes about the orient. Sean Manning proposes a new understanding based on all kinds of evidence and the study of the ancient Near East. He examines the last century and a half of research in its historical and ideological context. Three core chapters treat Akkadian tablets, Aramaic documents, royal inscriptions, and artifacts as sources in their own right, not compliments to Herodotus. The different perspectives of Iranian philologists, Mesopotamian archaeologists and historians of ancient Greece are considered and addressed. A series of case studies show that the Greek and Latin texts can be read in unfamiliar ways which can survive stronger criticism than traditional interpretations. The king’s troops were not literary foils to show the virtues of Greek hoplites or Scythian horsemen, they were agents of an early world empire which drew on long traditions and the latest innovations to gather money, soldiers, and workers and deploy them at the will of the king.

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Books

When the dualists argued

Ruani, Flavia & Mihaela Timus (eds.). 2020. Quand les dualistes polémiquaient: Zoroastriens et manichéens (Orient & Méditerranée, 34). Leuven: Peeters.

The authors of this collected volume show that Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, which share a dualist vision of the world and the primordial entities, have raised in a similar way to Judaism, Christianity and Islam the question of the relationship of their followers to truth and therefore the error made by others. The volume makes a fundamental contribution to the study of the phenomenon of religious controversy in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. It allows us to better understand two Eastern systems of thought, both in what they have in common and in their irreducible individuality.

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Books

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.