Zoroastrianism in Iranian history

This chapter by Michael Stausberg was published in 2012, but I post it here due to its relevance and the recent availability of a PDF:

Stausberg, Michael. 2012. From power to powerlessness: Zoroastrianism in Iranian history. In Anh Nga Longva & Anne Sofie Roald (eds.), Religious minorities in the Middle East: Domination, self-empowerment, accommodation, 171–193. Leiden, Boston: Brill.

Read the article here.

Iranian Jewry in late antiquity

Pourshariati’s new article appears in Sarshar (2014). I have already  posted the bibliographic note for the volume, but want to highlight this article separately, as it relates to late antiquity:

Pourshariati, Parvaneh. 2014. New vistas on the history of Iranian Jewry in late antiquity, Part I: Patterns of Jewish settlement in Iran. In Houman Sarshar (ed.), The Jews of Iran, 1–32. London: I.B. Tauris.

Read the article here.

The rise of Christianity in Iran

Payne, Richard. 2014. The Rise of Christianity in Iran. News and Notes 223. 2–7.

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On the linguistic history of Kurdish

Jügel, Thomas. 2014. On the linguistic history of Kurdish. Kurdish Studies 2(2). 123–142.

Historical linguistic sources of Kurdish date back just a few hundred years, thus it is not possible to track the profound grammatical changes of Western Iranian languages in Kurdish. Through a comparison with attested languages of the Middle Iranian period, this paper provides a hypothetical chronology of grammatical changes. It allows us to tentatively localise the  approximate time when modern varieties separated with regard to the respective grammatical change. In order to represent the types of linguistic relationship involved, distinct models of language contact and language continua are set up.

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A note on the Schøyen copper scroll

de la Vaissière, Étienne. 2012 [2007]. A note on the Schøyen copper scroll: Bactrian or Indian? Bulletin of the Asia Institute 21. 127–130.

Find the article here.

Review: The millennial sovereign

Truschke, Audrey. 2014. Review of Afzar Moin: The millennial sovereign: Sacred kingship and sainthood in Islam. New York: Columbia University Press. International Journal of Middle East Studies 46. 809–842.

The Millennial Sovereign recovers a shared world of sacred kingship that pervaded India, Iran, and Central Asia in early modernity. A. Azfar Moin argues that a Timurid-based social dispensation produced a particular type of sovereignty in which a ruler promoted his political claims largely through embodied spiritual practices.

Read the review here.

The reinvention of Iran

Payne, Richard. 2014. The reinvention of Iran: The Sasanian Empire and the Huns. In Michael Maas (ed.), The Cambridge companion to the age of Attila, 282–299. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Find the article here.

Symposia Iranica’s second graduate conference on Iranian Studies

Symposia Iranica provides ‘postgraduates and early career scholars with the opportunity to present their research without the limitations of an overarching theme – as such, submissions related to any aspect of Iranian studies in the ancient through to contemporary periods within the humanities and social sciences are all welcome’.
Call for Papers | Symposia Iranica
Second Biennial Iranian Studies Conference
Hosted by the University of Cambridge, 8-9 April 2015
***Deadline: 15 November 2014***

Continue reading Symposia Iranica’s second graduate conference on Iranian Studies

Two reviews

Brody, Robert . 2014. Review of Shai Secunda: The Iranian Talmud. University of Pennsylvania Press. Zion 79(3). 435–437.

See also here for another review of Shai’s book.

Mokhtarian, Jason. 2014. Review of Shai Secunda & Steven Fine (eds.): Shoshannat Yaakov, Jewish and Iranian studies in honor of Yaakov Elman. Zion 79(3). 438–442.

Women in the Hērbedestān

Strauch Schick, Shana. 2014. Women in the Hērbedestān: A re-examination of the Bavli’s Beruriah narratives in light of Middle Persian literature. Zion 79(3). 407–424.

The Babylonian Talmud contains a number of dicta which unambiguously exclude women from the study of Torah. Yet the narratives concerning Beruriah, supposedly the daughter of R. Hanina b. Teradyon and wife of R. Meir, suggest otherwise. She is depicted as having received formal instruction at the same level as rabbinic sages. Yet, these traditions appear only in the Babylonian Talmud, a few centuries after she would have lived, and contain a number of common literary motifs. This and other factors indicate the constructed nature of these stories, as David Goodblatt and Tal Ilan have noted. While it is possible to explain the local function of these narratives on literary and didactic grounds, given the Babylonian Talmud’s general stance regarding women and Torah study, the figure of a woman well-versed in Torah learning is indeed surprising.
This paper proposes that the appearance of the character of Beruriah is best understood within the Middle Persian milieu when the late Talmudic narratives arose. It is clear from Zoroastrian texts that religious study was a possibility open to men and women and that both were equally viable candidates to leave their home in order to engage in religious training at the Hērbedestān. A passage from Mādayān ī Hazār Dādestān, for example, depicts women who are well versed in jurisprudence and shares other significant parallels with the Beruriah narratives. By turning to relevant Middle Persian sources it thus becomes clear that the idea of the scholarly woman was not simply a literary motif called into existence, but was in fact a real possibility that Jews of Babylonia had to confront—a novel phenomenon unknown (or perhaps suppressed) in earlier Palestinian sources. Within a larger culture in which women participated in religious scholarly pursuits, the exclusion of women from Torah study and the community of scholars was addressed by the creation of Beruriah. Although the existence of a woman of Beruriah’s erudition within an elite rabbinic family could now be presented as a plausible historical persona, her existence served as a cautionary tale to justify the importance of keeping Torah study exclusively male.

A predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies