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Inside and out

Dijkstra, Jitse & Greg Fisher (eds.). 2014. Inside and Out: Interactions between Rome and the peoples on the Arabian and Egyptian frontiers in late antiquity (Late Antique History and Religion 8). Leuven: Peeters Publishers.
In recent years, exciting new discoveries of inscriptions and archaeological remains on the Arabian Peninsula have led to a re-evaluation of the peoples on the Arabian frontier, which through their extensive contacts with Rome and Persia are now seen as dynamic participants in the Late Antique world. The present volume contributes to this recent trend by focusing on the contrast between the ‘outside’ sources on the peoples of the frontier – the Roman view – and the ‘inside’ sources, that is, the precious material produced by the Arabs themselves, and by approaching these sources within an anthropological framework of how peripheral peoples face larger powers. For the first time, the situation on the Arabian frontier is also compared with that on the southern Egyptian frontier, where similar sources have been found of peoples such as the Blemmyes and Noubades. Thus, the volume offers a richly-documented examination of the frontier interactions in these two vibrant and critically-important areas of the Late Antique East.
 For more information, see the publisher’s website.
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Repetitions of the Ahuna Vairiia

Cantera, Alberto. 2014. Repetitions of the Ahuna Vairiia and animal sacrifice in the Zoroastrian long liturgy. Estudios Iranios y Turanios 1. 25–29.

The Ahuna Vairiia prayer is never repeated three times in extant Avestan texts and also the Pahlavi literature excludes this number of repetitions. This is because three repetitions of the Ahuna Vairiia is the Avestan text used for the very centre of the Zoroastrian long liturgy: the slaughter of the sacrificial victim and the meat offerings to the fire. Here again, we discover the central importance of the sacrifice when the Avestan texts used in the long and short liturgies got their current shape. Further, it is shown a ritual parallelism between the slaughter of the victim and the pounding of the haōma.

The PDF of the article is here.

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Zoroastrianism in Iranian history

This chapter by Michael Stausberg was published in 2012, but I post it here due to its relevance and the recent availability of a PDF:

Stausberg, Michael. 2012. From power to powerlessness: Zoroastrianism in Iranian history. In Anh Nga Longva & Anne Sofie Roald (eds.), Religious minorities in the Middle East: Domination, self-empowerment, accommodation, 171–193. Leiden, Boston: Brill.

Read the article here.

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The Jews of Iran

Houman Sarshar (ed.). 2014. The Jews of Iran: The history, religion and culture of a community in the Islamic world. London: I.B.Tauris

Living continuously in Iran for over 2700 years, Jews have played an integral role in the history of the country. Frequently understood as a passive minority group, and often marginalized by the Zoroastrian and succeeding Muslim hegemony, the Jews of Iran are instead portrayed in this book as having had an active role in the development of Iranian history, society, and culture. Examining ancient texts, objects, and art from a wide range of times and places throughout Iranian history, as well as the medieval trade routes along which these would have travelled, The Jews of Iran offers in-depth analysis of the material and visual culture of this community.

To find out more, see here.

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Of gods and kings

I found the work of Brisch inspiring and guiding, when I was researching the theme of ‘Iranian kingship’ in St Andrews.

Brisch, Nicole. 2013. Of gods and kings. Religion Compass 7(2). 37–46.

Read the article here.

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Ioudaios before and after “Religion”

Reed’s insightful reflections on the Greek term ioudaios and how modern assumptions about the concept of ‘religion’ shape our understanding of ancient texts. This piece was published in the Marginalia Review of Books online forum Jews and Judeans.

Yoshiko Reed, Annette. 2014. Ioudaios before and after “Religion”.

Read the article here.

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Textuality and memory

Reed, Annette Yoshiko. 2014. Textuality between death and memory: The prehistory and formation of the parabiblical Testament. Jewish Quarterly Review 104(3). 381–412.

This essay revisits testamentary texts and traditions from the Second Temple period in relation to themes of death, memory, and writing. Rather than debating the classification or morphology of the parabiblical testament, it focuses upon its determinative feature—the framing of texts as the first-person teachings of ancient biblical heroes near death. It traces some precedents for this literary choice, and speculates about the cultural worlds in which such a choice made sense. To do so, it surveys the representation and modeling of the written word as a technology of memory, first within Aramaic works with testamentary features from the Hellenistic period (esp., Aramaic Levi, Testament of Qahat, Visions of Amram) and then within some of full-fledged testaments preserved in Greek from the early Roman period (esp., Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs, Testament of Job). In both sets of works, the narrative setting of near-death teaching is used to address challenges of continuity and succession. Representations of textual practices, however, differ; in some, writing and reading are presented as necessary complement to remembered speech and ethical emulation, while in others, books function as safeguard or stand-in. In each, moreover, the intersections of death, memory, and writing are articulated in distinctive ways, often resonating with broader cultural concerns—ranging from Hellenistic ideals of “authorship” to the early Roman interest in wills.

Read the article here.

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Approaches to the study of ‘time’

Although not newly published, I mention this article by Stausberg as it relates to Rezania’s work on the concept of time in Zoroastrianism.

Stausberg, Michael. 2004. Approaches to the study of ‘time’ in the history of religions. Temenos 39/40. 247–268.

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2010. Die zoroastrische Zeitvorstellung. Eine Untersuchung über Zeit- und Ewigkeitskonzepte und die Frage des Zurvanismus (Göttinger Orientforschungen III.
Reihe Iranica, Neue Folge 7). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

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Review: Gods and demons, priest and scholars

This week's bibliographic posts relate in part to the study of religions and neighbouring disciplines, starting with Stausberg's reflections on Lincoln's 'Gods and demons'. I will resume posting on Iranian studies and Zoroastrianism in the coming week.

Stausberg, Michael. 2013. Review of Bruce Lincoln: Gods and demons, priests and scholars. Critical exploration in the history of religions. The Journal of Religion 93(2). 244–246.

Read the review here.

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Raumkonzeptionen in antiken Religionen

Rezania, Kianoosh (ed.). 2014. Raumkonzeptionen in antiken Religionen. Beiträge des internationalen Symposiums in Göttingen, 28. und 29. Juni 2012 (Philippika 69). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

More information and an abstract are here.