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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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Books

Jews and Syriac Christians

Butts, Aaron Michael & Simcha Gross (eds.). 2020. Jews and Syriac Christians: Intersections across the first millennium (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 180). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

Der vorliegende Band enthält sechzehn Studien, die ein breites Spektrum an Themen untersuchen – von Fragen zum
Ursprung bis zur Entwicklung kommunaler Grenzen, von zwischenmenschlichen Interaktionen bis zu gemeinsamen
historischen Bedingungen, die Juden und syrische Christen im ersten Jahrtausend n. Chr. betraf.

Mohr Siebeck

The publisher offers links to a flyer and a table of contents. ~AZ

Categories
Books

Methods and models in ancient history

Mæhle, Ingvar, Per Bjarne Ravnå & Eivind Heldaas Seland (eds.). 2020. Methods and models in ancient history: Essays in honor of Jørgen Christian Meyer (Papers and Monographs from the Norwegian Institute at Athens 9). Athens: Norwegian Institute at Athens.

According to the institute, the publications of the Norwegian Institute at Athens are available on-line at the digital collection of the Bergen University Library. However, we have been unable to find a download link for the above volume. Please check the above website for updates.

Two papers of closer interest to scholars of Iranian Studies are available from the authors’ academia.edu pages:

Categories
Articles

The Conceptual Image of the Planets in Ancient Iran and the Process of Their Demonization

Panaino, Antonio. 2020. The conceptual image of the planets in ancient Iran and the process of their demonization: Visual materials and models of inclusion and exclusion in Iranian history of knowledge. Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 28. 359–389.

The Moon God (Klimova plate, Perm region, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg S-43)

The present contribution offers an overview of the main problems concerning the representation of the planets in the pre-Islamic Iranian world, the origin of their denominations, their astral roles and the reasons behind their demonization in the Zoroastrian and Manichaean frameworks. This is a preliminary attempt to resume the planetary iconography and iconology in western and eastern Iranian sources, involving also external visual data, such as those coming from Dunhuang and the Chinese world. The article offers an intellectual journey into a net of mutual cultural and spiritual relations, focusing on the image of the heaven (and of its celestial beings), thereby proposing a new synthesis and highlighting a number of intercultural contaminations.

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Books

From Albania to Arrān

Hoyland, Robert (ed.). 2020. From Albania to Arrān: The East Caucasus between the ancient and Islamic worlds (ca. 330 BCE–1000 CE) (Gorgias Studies in Classical and Late Antiquity 25). Georgia Press.

This volume is the first publication in English to discuss the nature and identity of the polity in the East Caucasus referred to by modern scholars as (Caucasian) Albania. The sporadic and fragmentary character of our sources for this polity means that it is difficult to construct a continuous narrative of its history, and so we offer here studies by leading specialists on particular aspects of it: geographical extent, religious and political machinations, material culture, interactions with neighboring states and key historical developments.

A number of contributions in this volume relate to Iran, which is why we announce the book rather than single articles.
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Books

Studies on Sasanian Persia

Daryaee, Touraj & Matteo Compareti (eds.). 2019. Studi sulla Persia sasanide e suoi rapporti con le civiltà attigue (Studia Persica 1) [Studies on Sasanian Persia and its relations with neighboring civilizations]. Bologna: Paolo Emilio Persiani.

Studi sulla Persia sasanide – La dinastia dei Sasanidi (224-651 CE) rappresenta a detta di molti studiosi una sorta di “età dell’oro” dell’arte e della civiltà persiana. Nonostante un corposa mole di informazioni su questo popolo si sia conservata grazie all’opera di autori greci e latini a loro contemporanei – nonché successivamente da arabi e persiani – poco resta nelle fonti dirette, rappresentate principalmente da qualche iscrizione ufficiale fatta incidere su pietra dalla numismatica e dalla glittica. Questo volume, nato dagli interventi dei massimi studiosi e conoscitori dell’ambito, raccoglie dieci saggi tratti da due convegni svoltisi in Italia e negli Stati Uniti tra il 2010 e il 2017. In particolare, vengono qui discussi vari aspetti del piano politico, sociale e religioso dell’impero sasanide e delle civiltà ad esso attigue, con lo scopo di far rivivere un’epoca molto feconda per la cultura e l’arte persiana, attribuendo un particolare rilievo a quelle che sono le testimonianze conservate nei testi scritti e nelle opere d’arte figurativa.

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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.

Categories
Books

Menstrual Impurity and Difference in Babylonian Judaism and its Sasanian Context

Secunda, Samuel. 2020. The Talmud’s red fence: Menstrual impurity and difference in Babylonian Judaism and its Sasanian context. New York: Oxford University Press.

The Talmud’s Red Fence explores how rituals and beliefs concerning menstruation in the Babylonian Talmud and neighboring Sasanian religious texts were animated by difference and differentiation. It argues that the practice and development of menstrual rituals in Babylonian Judaism was a product of the religious terrain of the Sasanian Empire, where groups like Syriac Christians, Mandaeans, Zoroastrians, and Jews defined themselves in part based on how they approached menstrual impurity. It demonstrates that menstruation was highly charged in Babylonian Judaism and Sasanian Zoroastrian, where menstrual discharge was conceived of as highly productive female seed yet at the same time as stemming from either primordial sin (Eve eating from the tree) or evil (Ahrimen’s kiss). It argues that competition between rabbis and Zoroastrians concerning menstrual purity put pressure on the Talmudic system, for instance in the unusual development of an expert diagnostic system of discharges. It shows how Babylonian rabbis seriously considered removing women from the home during the menstrual period, as Mandaeans and Zoroastrians did, yet in the end deemed this possibility too “heretical.” Finally, it examines three cases of Babylonian Jewish women initiating menstrual practices that carved out autonomous female space. One of these, the extension of menstrual impurity beyond the biblically mandated seven days, is paralleled in both Zoroastrian Middle Persian and Mandaic texts. Ultimately, Talmudic menstrual purity is shown to be driven by difference in its binary structure of pure and impure; in gendered terms; on a social axis between Jews and Sasanian non-Jewish communities; and textually in the way the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds took shape in late antiquity.

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Books

The law code of Simeon, Bishop of Rev-Ardashir

Harrak, Amir (ed.). 2020. The law code of Simeon, Bishop of Rev-Ardashir (Texts from Christian Late Antiquity 57). Piscataway: Gorgias Press LLC.

The Law Code of Simeon of Rev-Ardashir, originally written in Persian, was translated into Syriac by an anonymous monk of Bēṭ-Qatrāyē. The Code’s author, possibly to be identified with a rebellious metropolitan mentioned in the letters of Patriarch Īšoʿ-yahb III (the early 7th cuntary), aims to clarify theoretical scriptural law, and to address family matters including inheritance and the role of slave. Presented in the form of questions and answers, the law book consists of 22 chapters and begins with some reflections on the sources of Christian law, for which the author gives priority to the tradition of the Fathers. The new edition is based on a single manuscript housed at the Vatican Library. This Law Code had been previously published by Sachau with German translation and noted and comments (1914). 

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Outline
  • Law of Moses
  • Acts of Synods
  • Code of Īšōʿ-yahb the Catholicos
  • Consensus
  • Equivalent Retaliation (lex talionis)
  • Manuscript
  • Previous Editions and Translations
  • Summary
  • Text and Translation
  • The apology of the One who was Asked by Him (=Bishop Simeon) to Translate this Book from Persian to Syriac
  • Forward of the Book: Justification (of Simeon) Addressed to the One Who Requested from Him to Put in Writing the Book
  • Chapter One: What Goal Does the Teaching of Our Lord Have, and Why He did not Lay Down Any Law Concerning Juridical Decisions?
  • Chapter Two: Why Do We Not Practice Law on the Basis of Mosaic Law?
  • (Chapter Three): Concerning the Origins of Past and Present Laws Practiced in the Church
  • Beginning of All Laws
  • Bibliography of Works Cited

Amir Harrak is full professor at the University of Toronto. His specialty is Aramaic and Syriac languages and literatures. His many publications deal with Syriac epigraphy, chronography, and cataloguing of manuscripts.

This book announcements is prepeared and written by Hossein Sheikh-Bostanabad (independent scholar).

Categories
Books

The Last Empire of Iran

Bonner, Michael Richard Jackson. 2020. The Last Empire of Iran (Gorgias Handbooks). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press LLC.

As part of the Gorgias Handbook Series, this book provides a political and military history of the Sasanian Empire in Late Antiquity (220s to 651 CE). The book takes the form of a narrative, which situates Sasanian Iran as a continental power between Rome and the world of the steppe nomad.