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.

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.

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.

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.

Religious minorities in Kurdistan

Omarkhali, Khanna (ed.). 2014. Religious minorities in Kurdistan: Beyond the mainstream (Studies in Oriental Religions 68). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Religious Minorities in Kurdistan: Beyond the Mainstream, edited by Khanna Omarkhali, represents an account of the various religious milieus flourishing beyond the Islamic mainstream in all parts of Kurdistan. The miscellany describes how the religious minority groups operate within the Kurdish regions, which themselves have been subject to numerous conflicts and social as well as political transformations at the turn of the 21st century. This volume emphasizes recent developments affecting these communities, in particular their social and religious lives. Six chapters are dedicated to the Ahl-e Haqq (Yarisan/ Kaka’is), Yezidis, Alevis, the Haqqa and Khaksar Sufi traditions, the Shabaks, as well as to the Jewish and Christian communities in Kurdistan. The anthology includes three indices and a glossary of religious terms appearing in the volume.

For the ToC, see here.

Der Zoroastrismus als iranische Religion

Stausberg, Michael. 2011. Der Zoroastrismus als iranische Religion und die Semantik von ‚Iran’ in der zoroastrischen Religionsgeschichte. Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 63(4). 331–331.

Read the article here or here.

Zoroastrianism, one of the three recognized religious minorities in the Islamic Republic, can claim a specific linkage with Iran since the Avestan Vendidād and its other primary religious documents were written in Iranian languages and its history has for the most part unfolded in Iran (in a larger geographical sense). The term Aryan is used in inscriptions by the Achaemenian king Darius I as a way to gloss the name of the deity Ahura Mazdā (the ‘God of the Aryans’). In the Sasanian period, Iran became the name of the empire. Zoroastrian literature written under Islamic rule, reaffirms the idea of a unity between kingship and (Zoroastrian) religion, but transposes its realization into the eschatological future. After centuries of decline and discrimination, twentieth-century modernization entailed the prospect of societal reintegration for Zoroastrians; an unachieved hope under the Pahlavis, this prospect has become even more remote under the political conditions imposed by the Islamic Republic, where Zoroastrians now use the vocabulary of martyrdom to express their commitment to their homeland.

Monotheism the Zoroastrian way

Hintze, Almut. 2014. Monotheism the Zoroastrian Way. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 24(2). 225–249.

Read the article here. Abstract:

This article examines seemingly monotheistic, polytheistic and dualistic features of Zoroastrianism from the point of view of the Zoroastrian creation myth. Exploring the personality of the principal deity, Ahura Mazdā, the origin of the spiritual and material worlds and the worship of the Yazatas, it is argued that Zoroastrianism has its own particular form of monotheism.

The Sih-Rozag in Zoroastrianism

Raffaelli, Enrico. 2014. The Sih-Rozag in Zoroastrianism: A textual and historico-religious analysis. Routledge.

For details, see here. Abstract:

Focusing on the Avestan and Pahlavi versions of the Sih-rozag, a text worshipping Zoroastrian divine entities, this book explores the spiritual principles and physical realities associated with them.

Review: Die Schiiten

Vor etwa zehn Tagen habe ich beim Stöbern in der VUB “Die Schiiten” von Professor Heinz Halm entdeckt. Das Buch ist im Jahre 2005 in der Reihe WISSEN bei C. H. Beck erschienen. Bereits beim ersten Durchblättern fiel mir die klare Gliederung des Buches auf. Und das Inhaltsverzeichnis lockte mit Kapitelüberschriften wie: “Die Basis der Macht der Mollas” oder “Monarchie und Klerus als Rivalen”. Obwohl die Zeit nicht günstig war, konnte ich der Versuchung nicht widerstehen und musste es kaufen.

Das Buch hält, was das Inhaltsverzeichnis indirekt verspricht. Das Thema wird sehr klar und wissenschaftlich angegangen. Die wichtigsten Themenbereiche werden angesprochen, und der Autor vermittelt eine sehr klare Übersicht über die geschichtliche Entwicklung der Schia. Neben der religionsgeschichtlichen Darstellung werden die Beziehungen zwischen den ethnisch verschiedenen Schiiten der Region dargestellt. Dabei wird die Bedeutung des Schiitentums für die iranische Revolution von 1979 und umgekehrt sehr deutlich. “Theologische” Grundsätze der Schia werden klar und verständlich beschrieben. Der Stil ist ansprechend und macht die Lektüre des Buches zum reinen wissenschaftlichen Genuss.