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Christian and Zoroastrian Doctrine of Apokatastasis

Panaino, Antonio. 2021. The “River of Fire” and the “River of Molten Metal”. A historico-theological rafting through the rapids of the Christian and Mazdean apokatastatic falls. Vol. 86. Wien: Verlag der Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

This book is dedicated to the Mazdean theological representation of the end of historical time. While the subject is usually treated in the framework of the category of apocalypticism, scholarly debate has rarely dealt with the more appropriate theme of the apokatastasis (the complete regeneration of the world with the annihilation of Hell and the salvation of the whole humanity). The doctrine of Ohrmazd’s universal mercy was an innovation in the religious scenario of ancient Iran, but its connections with some Christian theologies of Late Antiquity still need to be investigated within a comparative analysis of the Iranian motif of the “river of molten metal”, which will purify the wicked ones and destroy Hell.

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Articles Journal

The Roar of Silence

Benkato, Adam & Arash Zeini (eds.). 2021. The roar of silence: Festschrift for François de Blois. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 31(3).

The breadth and variety of François de Blois’s erudition is such that only a long and detailed introduction could possibly do justice to his scholarly career. Anyone who knows François, the “quiet man” of Iranian studies, also knows his penchant for concision. We have therefore decided to limit our remarks here to about the length of his legendary handout of Middle Persian grammar—two pages.

From the Introduction
Table of Contents
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Books

Zoroastrian High Rituals with Persian Instructions

Dastūr Nāmdār & Dastūr Rostam. Yasna, Visperad, Yašt-e Rapitvan bā ādāb-e dīnī [Yasna, Visperad and Yašt ī Rapiθwin together with Ritual Instructions]. Edited by Kūroš Bolandī. Tehran: Fravahar, 1400 š [2021].

This volume is an edition of the Persian manual for the performance of the Yasna, Visperad, Yašt ī Rapiθwin and some other rituals, written and compiled by Dastūr Nāmdār and Dastūr Rostam, which was published in 1262 AY. The present edition gives the Persian text together with some explanations and a glossary. The importance of this priestly manual lies in the fact that it presents the last stage of the performance of the Zoroastrian high rituals by Iranian priests, before their performance were abandoned, and thus an essential source for the study of the Zoroastrian rituals in Iran.

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Books

Religion, Culture, and Politics in Pre-Islamic Iran

Lincoln, Bruce. 2021. Religion, culture, and politics in pre-Islamic Iran: collected essays (Ancient Iran Series 14). Leiden; Boston: Brill.

In Religion, Culture, and Politics in Pre-Islamic Iran, Bruce Lincoln offers a vast overview on different aspects of the Indo-Iranian, Zoroastrian and Pre-Islamic mythologies, religions and cultural issues. The book is organized in four sections according to the body of evidence they engage most directly: Avestan, Old Persian, Pahlavi, and Iranian materials in comparison with other data, including studies of myths, especially those with cosmogonic implications, ritual practices, cosmological constructions of space and time, points of intersection between religion, ethics, law, and politics, ideological aspects of scientific and medical theorizing, social organization and gender relations, and other diverse topics.

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Books

Exilarchal Propaganda and Zoroastrians in Tenth- to Eleventh-Century Baghdad

Gross, Simcha. 2021. The Curious Case of the Jewish Sasanian Queen Šīšīnduxt: Exilarchal Propaganda and Zoroastrians in Tenth- to Eleventh-Century Baghdad. Journal of the American Oriental Society 141(2). 365–380.

The Provincial Capitals of Ērānšahr, a medieval Zoroastrian Middle Persian text, recounts how the daughter of the Jewish exilarch married the Sasanian king Yazdgird I and gave birth to Wahrām Gōr, his successor. While the historicity of the text has been largely undermined, scant attention has been given to its authorship and purpose. This article proposes that the story’s creators were members of the exilarch’s household in the tenth through eleventh century who internalized the broader concern with (invented) Sasanian pedigree during the period known as the Iranian intermezzo in an effort to appeal to Iranian Jews and other elites alike. Studying this text and its origins provides evidence of contact between Jews and Zoroastrians during this period and offers a new suggestion about the cultural context of the Zoroastrians who produced The Provincial Capitals.

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Books

The Gujarati ritual directions of the Paragnā, Yasna and Visperad

Redard, Céline and Kerman Dadi Daruwalla (eds.). 2021. The Gujarati ritual directions of the Paragnā, Yasna and Visperad ceremonies: Transcription, translation and glossary of Anklesaria 1888 (Corpus Avesticum 2). Leiden: Brill.

This edition gives a transcription of Anklesaria’s text, an English translation, a Gujarati-English glossary, an introduction to Gujarati-language works on ritual directions and a study on the relationship between Anklesaria’s text and the liturgical manuscripts in Yasna 3–8. Unlocking the meaning and performative aspects in this first-ever edition in any European language, of these core Zoroastrian rituals in India, Céline Redard and Kerman Dadi Daruwalla open up the Indian tradition for future research and highlight its importance.

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Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Yazd and Outlying Villages

Stewart, Sarah. Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Oral texts and testimony (Part 2, urban and rural contexts: Yazd and outlying villages). Iranica, GOF III/NF 18. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2020.

Voices from Zoroastrian Iran is the result of an oral studies research project that maps the remaining Zoroastrian communities in Iran. Volume II covers the city of Yazd and surrounding villages where Zoroastrians continue to live. Most of the interviews recorded from this region are in Zoroastrian Dari and can be found at the SOAS ELAR website.
As in Volume I, interviews included in this book cover a range of topics including views about the religion, what it has been to like to live as a member of a religious minority in Iran since the Revolution of 1979, and accounts of religious education, festivals, and ceremonies surrounding rites of passage. Elderly residents in the villages are a rich source of memories from earlier times, before younger people left the rural areas for the cities and emigration abroad became commonplace. These have been illuminated by colourful descriptions of village life in the 1960’s contained in Mary Boyce’s Notebooks (held at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge). Her portrayal of shrines and fire temples, the gardens, flowers, trees, fruit and vegetables that were grown, and the way in which the land was farmed and water distribution was managed informs the interview summaries contained in Appendices A, and B. These shorter interviews were conducted in the form of a verbal questionnaire and give a more general insight into what is left of Zoroastrian village life today. A demographic survey of the Zoroastrian population of the Yazd Mahalleh, as well as maps of this area drawn in 2007 are included. A general overview of the Zoroastrian religion and society, as well as an account of devotional life, is contained in Chapters 1–3 in Volume I and pertains to both books.

The full, unedited interviews have been made available online in digitised format in the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) at SOAS (https://www.elararchive.org/dk0460/).

For the table of the contents see here.

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Qurʾānic allusions to Zoroastrian texts

Bitsch, Sebastian. 2020. Sengende Hitze, Eiseskälte oder Mond? Zum Echo zoroastrischer eschatologischer Vorstellungen am Beispiel des koranischen zamharīr. Der Islam 97(2). 313–366.

This article discusses eventual Qurʾānic allusions to Zoroastrian texts by using the example of zamharīr (Q 76:13). In the early tafsīr and ḥadīth-literature the term is most commonly understood as a piercing cold, which has frequently been interpreted as a punishment in hell. This idea, it is argued, has significant parallels to the concept of cold as a punishment in hell or to the absence of cold as a characteristic of paradise in the Avestan and Middle-Persian literature. In addition, Christian and Jewish texts that emphasize a similar idea and have not been discussed in research so far are brought into consideration. The article thus aims to contribute to the inclusion of Zoroastrian texts in locating the genesis of the Qurʾān – or early Islamic exegesis – in the “epistemic space ” of late antiquity.

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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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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.