The Spirit of Zoroastrianism

Overview

Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest religions, though it is not among the best understood. Originating with Iranian tribes living in Central Asia in the second millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism was the official religion of the Iranian empires until Islam superseded it in the seventh century AD. Centered on the worship of Ahura Mazda, the All-knowing Ruler, Zoroastrianism follows the practices and rituals set out by the prophet Zarathustra, according to the indigenous ...

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The Spirit of Zoroastrianism

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Overview

Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest religions, though it is not among the best understood. Originating with Iranian tribes living in Central Asia in the second millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism was the official religion of the Iranian empires until Islam superseded it in the seventh century AD. Centered on the worship of Ahura Mazda, the All-knowing Ruler, Zoroastrianism follows the practices and rituals set out by the prophet Zarathustra, according to the indigenous tradition.

As one of the world's great religions, Zoroastrianism has a heritage rich in texts and cultic practices. The texts are often markedly difficult to translate, but in this volume, Prods Oktor Skjærvø, professor of ancient Iranian languages and culture at Harvard, provides modern and accurate translations of Zoroastrian texts that have been selected to provide an overview of Zoroastrian beliefs and practices. In a comprehensive introduction to these sacred texts, Skjærvø outlines the history and essence of Zoroastrianism and discusses the major themes of this the first fully representative selection of Zoroastrian texts to be made available in English for over a century.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300170351
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 1/17/2012
  • Series: The Spirit of ...
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 704,003
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Prods Oktor Skjærvø has been Aga Khan Professor of Iranian, Harvard University, since 1991. He has taught Old Iranian languages, literature and religion since the early 1970s and is currently preparing a book on Iranian creation myths. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Preface x

Acknowledgements xi

Editorial note xii

Introduction

1 Zoroastrian Literature 1

Background 1

The Avesta and other Zoroastrian literature 2

2 Creation and the Divine World 8

Cosmic contrasts and the two Spirits 8

Order and chaos 10

Creation 11

Gods 12

Demons 20

The creation of living beings 21

3 Mythical History and the Zarathustra Myth 22

Hero-sacrificers of the first ages 22

4 Eschatology and the End of the World 29

5 Body and Soul 30

6 Death, Rewards, and Punishment 32

7 Ethics 33

8 Rituals 34

The Yasna, a ritual re-creation of the world 34

The Videvdad, a ritual purification of the world 36

Other rituals 37

9 On Kingship 37

10 Doctrinal Issues 38

Translations

1 Texts on the History of the Sacred Tradition 39

From the Pahlavi texts 39

2 Texts on Creation and the Divine World 44

From the Old Persian inscriptions 44

From the Old Avesta 44

From the Young Avesta 50

From the Pahlavi texts 75

3 Texts on Mythical History 113

Hero-sacrificers of the first ages in the Young Avesta 113

Hero-sacrificers of the first ages in the Pahlavi texts 116

Zarathustra and the Gathic characters in the Gathas 122

Zarathustra and the Gathic characters in the Young Avesta 130

Zarathustra in the Pahlavi texts 138

4 Texts on Eschatology and the End of the World 157

On the actors of the final battles 157

On the evils that are befalling and will befall Iran 160

On the resurrection and the Final Body 166

5 Texts on Body and Soul 175

From the Young Avesta 175

From the Old Persian inscriptions 176

From the Pahlavi texts 177

6 Texts on Death, Rewards, and Punishment 180

From the Young Avesta 180

From the Old Persian inscriptions 181

From the Middle Persian inscriptions 181

From the Pahlavi texts 185

7 Texts on Ethics 191

From the Young Avesta 191

From the Old Persian inscriptions 191

From the Pahlavi texts 192

8 Ritual Texts 214

From the Old Avesta 214

From the Young Avesta 215

From the Pahlavi texts 221

From the Avesta and Zand 221

9 Texts on Kingship 228

From the Old Persian inscriptions 228

From the Middle Persian inscriptions 233

From the Pahlavi texts 233

10 Texts on Doctrinal Issues 235

Diverging practices in the Yasna 235

On right practices and foreign worship 236

From the Pahlavi books 239

Select bibliography 259

List of texts translated 261

Glossarial index 263

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