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Books

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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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

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.

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Books

Human History, Its Aims and Its End, according to the Zoroastrian Doctrine of Late Antiquity

Panaino, Antonio. 2020. Human History, Its Aims and Its End, according to the Zoroastrian Doctrine of Late Antiquity. In Tilo Schabert & John von Heyking (eds.), Wherefrom Does History Emerge?, 97–122. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Zoroastrianism offers a remarkable presentation of the origin of humankind, its present condition, and its final destiny. Human history is considered to be the result of a cosmological strategy enacted by god himself, Ohrmazd, in order to compel his direct and primordial antagonist, the evil Ahreman, to engage battle in our world. Eventually, the forces of darkness will be completely destroyed at the conclusion of a chiliadic temporal cycle. The most important battle in order to defeat Ahreman is fought by humankind. The importance of history in this teleology accounts for the emphasis put by it on the political dimension. We evoke the Sasanian period, in which the Persian kings assumed the status of a kosmokrátor, i.e. of a universal king, charged with achieving victory over evil. We offer in this article an overview of the intellectual contribution of the Pre-Islamic Iranian world to the idea of history.

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Books

Zoroastrian Laws of Ritual Purity

Moazami, Mahnaz. 2020. Laws of Ritual Purity. Zand ī Fragard ī Jud-Dēw-Dād (A Commentary on the Chapters of the Widēwdād) (Iran Studies 19). Leiden: Brill.

Laws of Ritual Purity: Zand ī Fragard ī Jud-Dēw-Dād (A Commentary on the Chapters of the Widēwdād) describes the various ways in which Zoroastrian authorities in the fifth-sixth centuries CE reinterpreted the purity laws of their community. Its redactor(s), conversant with the notions and practices of purity and impurity as developed by their predecessors, attempt(s) to determine the parameters of the various categories of pollution, the minimum measures of polluted substances, and the effect of the interaction of pollution with other substances that are important to humans. It is therefore in essence a technical legal corpus designed to provide a comprehensive picture of a central aspect of Zoroastrian ritual life: the extent of one’s liability contracting pollution and how atonement/purification can be achieved.

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Books

The Zoroastrian Vision, Straight in the Eyes

Azarnouche, Samra & Olivia Ramble. 2020. La Vision zoroastrienne, les yeux dans les yeux Commentaire sur la Dēn selon Dēnkard III.225. Revue de l’his toire des reli gions 237(3). 331–395.

Sassanian Seal MOT 6.1, Collection M. I. Mochiri, after Gnoli 1993: 80.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, the Dēn (Avestan daēnā “vision”) is a polysemic notion that denotes either an auroral psychopompic deity, or the religious doctrine, or again the sacred word of the Avesta. Passage 225 of the Dēnkard III, commented here for the first time, combines these different concepts, thereby not only bringing direct proof for the continuity of the word’s original meaning—“vision”—between the Avestan textual layer and the Middle Persian (Pahlavi) exegetic layer, but also testifying to the development of metaphysical speculation (with a neo-platonic backdrop) concerning the transcendental vision acquired by the magi. Material sources (iconographic as well as epigraphic) also contribute to highlighting the notion that the Dēn is the divine entity that one looks at straight in the eyes.

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Journal

Studia Iranica 48(2)

The second issue of Studia Iranica 48 (2019) has been published. For a table of contents and access to individual articles, see below or visit this page.

  • Ryoichi MIYAMOTO: Étude préliminaire sur la géographie administrative du Tukhāristān
  • Gilles COURTIEU: La pratique du mazdéisme en Crimée selon l’Histoire Naturelle de Pline
  • Vera B. MOREEN: Echoes of the Battle of Čālderān: The Account of the Jewish Chronicler Elijah Capsali (c. 1490 – c. 1555)
  • Jean CALMARD: Le voyage de Louise de la Marnierre en Iran (1836-1837): Introduction, récit, notes
  • Philippe GIGNOUX & Dieter WEBER: Un papyrus en pehlevi égaré à La Sorbonne (Paris)
  • Comptes rendus
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Books

Iranian Cosmographical World

Panaino, Antonio. 2020. A Walk through the Iranian Heavens: For a History of an Unpredictable Dialogue between Nonspherical and Spherical Models (Ancient Iran Series 9). Irvine, CA: Jordan Center for Persian Studies, University of California, Irvine.

This book by Antonio Panaino discusses the development of the Iranian cosmographical world and its interaction with the Greek, Mesopotamian and Indic civilizations. By undertaking such a study, the author places the Iranian intellectual tradition in perspective vis-à-vis other ancient civilizations and demonstrates the depth and importance of the Mazdean tradition, which was able to absorb and systematize foreign knowledge. Panaino shows the presence of both Aristotelian and Neo-Platonist traditions in the Iranian intellectual scene, though somewhat changed and acculturated to the Mazdean ideas and world-view. Hence, the book is a lively and interesting study of the juxtapositioning of various scientific and philosophical ideas at play in the Mediterranean, Iranian and Indic worlds.

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Books

namāz

Albino, Marcos. 2019. Mittelpersisch namāz ,Ehrerweisung‘. Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 73(1). 7–15.

The word namāz “reverence” is first attested in Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian (namāž). It is survived in New Persian namāz originally denotes a respectful adressing to a socially superior person or to God.

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Books

Pregnancy in Middle-Persian Zoroastrian Literature

Delaini, Paolo. 2019. Pregnancy in Middle-Persian Zoroastrian Literature: The Exchange of Knowledge between India, Iran, and Greece in Late Antiquity. In Costanza Gislon Dopfel, Alessandra Foscati & Charles Burnett (eds.), Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Premodern World, 29–51. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

In Late Antiquity Sasanian court patronage attracted philosophers, medical doctors, and teachers from the former Roman Empire. Contemporary observers noted that the court of the Sasanian King Xusraw I (AD 531–79) was a meeting place open to philosophical debates and to the diffusion of medical knowledge. According to tradition, King Xusraw welcomed the Greek philosopher Damascius and the ‘seven sages of Byzantium’ to his ancient capital of Ctesiphon at the time of their expulsion from Athens’s school of philosophy. It seems that this king was deeply interested in medicine; he invited and hosted numerous Byzantine doctors and financially supported Abraham of Beth Rabban, director of the influential Nisibis School, in his endeavour to build a hospital (xenodocheion).

Delaini offers in his article a cross-cultural analysis of pregnancy and childbirth traditions in Middle Persian Zoroastrian Literature.