Moses and Garšāsp

Ehsani Chombeli, Azadeh. 2020. Moses and Garšāsp, Ardašīr and Herod: Narratives of the Babylonian Talmud in their Iranian context (Zoroastrian Studies Series 5). Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers.

This book offers a comparative study between a number of Talmudic and Middle Persian narratives. The present work seeks first and foremost to examine Talmudic narratives in their Iranian context, and secondly to examine the Talmudic background of Iranian narratives where applicable.
The first and second chapters will offer an analysis of the alteration of historical and Biblical figures in the Bavli (the Babylonian Talmud) based on the influence of Iranian mythical and historical figures, while the third chapter will provide an account of how Iranists can learn from Talmudic studies. Here we suggest that a Talmudic narrative may have encouraged Zoroastrian priests to compose an extensive work of religious literature, namely the Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag, an idea which will be further explored in the appendix.

Azadeh Ehsani has a PhD in religion from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada (2018) and an MA in ancient languages and culture of Iran with a focus on Middle Persian (Pahlavi) from Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies University in Tehran, Iran (2005).


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.


Maniiu et la mythologie protozoroastrienne

Pirart, Éric. 2020. Maniiu et la mythologie protozoroastrienne: Étude de textes vieil-avestiques (Acta Iranica 59). Leuven: Peeters.

Dieux et déesses aniconiques, abstraits, souvent anonymes, imbriqués les uns dans les autres, impliqués dans les rouages d’un rite méconnu, tel est le monde mythologique d’un Zarathushtra des origines, lorsque l’auteur des Cantates vieil-avestiques disait encore «lui et moi». Toutes les péripéties mythiques sont techniques, dictées par la haute idée que le poète se fait du grand dieu Ahura Mazda. Avec la certitude que le Roi vêtu du ciel a dispensé la connaissance à Zarathushtra, le poète officiant développe le Maniiu, l’idée, le sentiment, la conviction que, pour retrouver au-delà de la mort la vache qui a pu le nourrir, la science divine lui sera bien utile. En effet, elle régit la façon de conjuguer toutes les pièces, concrètes et abstraites, de la célébration cultuelle, un insaisissable complexe dont l’harmonieuse réussite portant le nom d’Asa donnera à la divinité les moyens de jouer son rôle.


Zoroastrian Dualism in Jewish, Christian, and Manichaean Perspective

Volume 96, issue 2 (2020) of Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses is dedicated to the subject of Zoroastrian dualism in Jewish, Christian, and Manichaean perspectives.

Table of Contents

  • Jan Dochhorn: Zu den religionsgeschichtilichen Hintergründen der jüdischen und christlichen Satanologie. Eine Antwort auf John J. Collins, zugleich Sondierungen zum Verhältnis zwischen der Zwei-Geister-Lehre in 1 Q S III,13-IV,26 und dualistischen Konzepten iranischer Herkunft.
  • Benjamin Gleede: More Zoroastrian than Zoroaster? The Problem of Zoroastrian Influence on Manichaeism Illustrated by a Version of the Manichaean Myth Preserved in Severus of Antioch, Titus of Bostra and Theodoret of Cyrus.
  • Nestor Kavvadas: Sasanian Creed or Byzantine Projection? The Zurvanite Myth and Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Contra Magos.
  • Alexander M. Schilling: Ahreman in Armenien. Untersuchungen zu den christlich-orientalischen Zurwān-Texten.
  • Fazel Pakzad: Deus filius temporis? Divine Derivations and the Nature of Zoroastrian Dualism

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.


The Bundahišn: a new translation

Agostini, Domenico & Samuel Thrope (eds.). 2020. The Bundahišn: The Zoroastrian Book of Creation. A new translation. New York: Oxford University Press.

The Bundahisn, meaning primal or foundational creation, is the central Zoroastrian account of creation, cosmology, and eschatology. Compiled sometime in the ninth century CE, it is one of the most important surviving testaments to Zoroastrian literature in the Middle Persian language and to pre-Islamic Iranian culture. Despite having been composed some two millennia after the Prophet Zoroaster’s revelation, it is nonetheless a concise compendium of ancient Zoroastrian knowledge that draws on and reshapes earlier layers of the tradition.

Well known in the field of Iranian Studies as an essential primary source for scholars of ancient Iran’s history, religions, literatures, and languages, the Bundahisn is also a great work of literature in and of itself, ranking alongside the creation myths of other ancient traditions. The book’s thirty-six diverse chapters, which touch on astronomy, eschatology, zoology, medicine, and more, are composed in a variety of styles, registers, and genres, from spare lists and concise commentaries to philosophical discourses and poetic eschatological visions. This new translation, the first in English in nearly a century, highlights the aesthetic quality, literary style, and complexity and raises the profile of pre-Islamic Zoroastrian literature.


The Parsi community of India and the making of modern Iran

Marashi, Afshin. 2020. Exile and the nation: the Parsi community of India and the making of modern Iran. Austin: University of Texas Press.

In the aftermath of the seventh-century Islamic conquest of Iran, Zoroastrians departed for India. Known as the Parsis, they slowly lost contact with their ancestral land until the nineteenth century, when steam-powered sea travel, the increased circulation of Zoroastrian-themed books, and the philanthropic efforts of Parsi benefactors sparked a new era of interaction between the two groups.

Tracing the cultural and intellectual exchange between Iranian nationalists and the Parsi community during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Exile and the Nation shows how this interchange led to the collective reimagining of Parsi and Iranian national identity—and the influence of antiquity on modern Iranian nationalism, which previously rested solely on European forms of thought. Iranian nationalism, Afshin Marashi argues, was also the byproduct of the complex history resulting from the demise of the early modern Persianate cultural system, as well as one of the many cultural heterodoxies produced within the Indian Ocean world. Crossing the boundaries of numerous fields of study, this book reframes Iranian nationalism within the context of the connected, transnational, and global history of the modern era.


  • Note on Transliteration and Dates
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. To Bombay and Back: Arbab Kaykhosrow Shahrokh and the Reinvention of Iranian Zoroastrianism
  • Chapter 2. Patron and Patriot: Dinshah J. Irani, Parsi Philanthropy, and the Revival of Indo-Iranian Culture
  • Chapter 3. Imagining Hafez: Rabindranath Tagore in Iran, 1932
  • Chapter 4. Ebrahim Purdavud and His Interlocutors: Parsi Patronage and the Making of the Vernacular Avesta
  • Chapter 5. Sword of Freedom: Abdulrahman Saif Azad and Interwar Iranian Nationalism
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Religious Imagery in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia

Shenkar, Michael. 2019. Religious imagery and image-making in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia. In Christiane Gruber (ed.), The image debate: Figural representation in Islam and across the world. London: Gingko.

The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World is a collection of thirteen essays which examine the controversy surrounding the use of images in Islamic and other religious cultures and seek to redress some of the misunderstandings that have arisen. Written by leading academics from the United States, Australia, Turkey, Israel and the United Kingdom, the book opens with an introduction by the editor Christiane Gruber, who sets the subject in context with a detailed examination of the debates over idols and the production of figural images in Islamic traditions. Twelve further articles are divided into three sections: the first deals with pre-modern Islamic practices and anxieties with image-making; the second addresses similar issues in Judaism, in Christianity during the Byzantine period, in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia, and in Hindu and Buddhist contexts in South Asia; and the third brings the reader back to Islamic lands with five articles examining traditions of figural representation in the modern and contemporary periods.


Religious traditions of the Yaresan

Kreyenbroek, Philip G & Yiannis Kanakis. 2020. “God first and last”: Religious traditions and music of the Yaresan of Guran. Volume 1. Religious traditions (Iranica, GOF III/NF 18,1). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

The Yaresan or Ahl-e Haqq are a relatively large minority group whose religion originates in the border regions between Iran and Iraq. As members of traditional Yaresan communities are becoming more visible in the West, both as diaspora groups and in academia, there is an increasing demand for reliable information about their background. Academic interest is also growing. Recent scholarly publications, however, tend to assume a fundamental knowledge of the Yaresan tradition, which is not easy to glean from existing sources. This is made more complicated by the very real differences between the European world view and that of traditional Yarsanism.
For that reason and because music plays an unusually prominent role in Yaresan observance, it was decided to combine the authors’ work on religious traditions and music respectively in two volumes. In doing so the religious realities of the traditional Yaresan of the Guran region is communicated by quoting extensively from interviews with community members. The first volume also offers a survey of other religious traditions that are thought to have been influential in shaping modern Yarsanism.



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.