I am delighted to be giving a lecture as part of the Pourdavoud Center Lecture Series on 11 January 2023. I will talk about the role of the Sasanians and philology in the creation and transmission of the abestāg, which is my preferred term for the collection of the texts we have come to know as the Avesta.
Scholars have often discussed Zoroastrianism as an ancient Iranian religion that reaches back thousands of years into the middle of the second millennium BCE. For a long time, the idea of monolithic continuity has dominated the scholarly discourse in the study of this religion. While Boyce preferred a theological continuity, a view mostly rejected today, others have ardently, but to my mind unconvincingly, argued for ritual continuity. Both camps have at some point associated all pre-Islamic empires, but particularly the Achaemenid and Sasanian eras, with the religious system of Zoroastrianism. After a brief examination of these views, I will lay out some methodological concerns as a challenge to the discipline, before turning my attention to the reception of an antique Iranian heritage in the Sasanian era (224–651 CE). I will argue that the late antique response played a major role in forming the heritage it was claiming as its own.
I am delighted and honoured to be the recipient of the inaugural AIS Book Prize for Ancient Iranian Studies for my book, Zoroastrian Scholasticism in Late Antiquity: The Pahlavi version of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti. The prize was announced at the 13th Biennial Iranian Studies Conference, which took place in Salamanca, Spain. As I have said before, I am grateful to the Edinburgh University Press for their support, Prof. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, the series editor, for giving this book a home early on, and to all publishing staff for putting up with my XeLaTeX shenanigans so patiently. I look forward to my forthcoming projects with the EUP.
با کمال خوشحالی به اطلاع دوستان میرسانم که کتابم، با عنوان “اسکولاستیک زرتشتی در دوره پساباستان”، در سیزدهمین کنفرانس دوسالانهی ایران شناسی در سالامانکای اسپانیا موفق به دریافت اولین «جایزه کتاب AIS برای مطالعات ایران باستان» گردید. از حمایتهای انتشارات دانشگاه ادینبورگ و ویراستار محترم، پروفسور لوید لولین جونز برای پذیریش زودهنگام کتاب و دیگر همکاران انتشارات بهسبب تحمل شیطنتهای XeLaTeX من قدردانی می کنم و مشتاقانه منتظر پروژه های بعدی خود با EUP هستم.
The paperback of my book is here! You can order a copy from the Edinburgh University Press. I am grateful to the series editor, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, for giving this book a home and to the editors at the EUP for guiding me through the publication process.
I list the reviews of my book here, and wrote for the EUP a blog about the content of the book and my approach which you can read here.
I’ve been thinking about writing a blog on Zoroastrianism in popular culture, keeping my eyes open for connections. But these days, as I follow the news, I feel I can constantly quote Jarmusch’s entire ‘The Dead Don’t Die’. Here is one dialogue from a scene when the characters try to make sense of the events and the impending apocalypse:
– It’s strange! – What can I say? The world is kinda strange lately. – Yeah, it sure is. You ask me, this whole thing is gonna end badly.
Part II contains the newly established text of the Pahlavi YH (in transcription) together with an English translation. The text-critical edition (in transliteration) and apparatus are included in an appendix. This edition of the Pahlavi YH must be considered the new reference point for any future work involving the text.
From the review, par. 4
Since the discussions refer to a wide range of related passages in the wider realm of Pahlavi literature, the book will be essential to consult not only for those working on other parts of the Zand, but also those engaged with Pahlavi literature in general.
The New York Times has an article on Parsis’ involvement in building modern India and their dwindling numbers. Access it here.
Parsis have supported many of the country’s institutions and nurtured business and the arts. But their numbers have dwindled at an alarming pace. From the porch of his century-old home, Khurshed Dastoor has a front-row seat to a tragedy that he fears may be too late to reverse: the slow extinction of a people who helped build modern India.
I have a new article in a volume I edited with Adam Benkato for the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. More details on the volume will follow soon, but my article is already available on the Journal’s FirstView:
This article examines the extent of the concluding section (Y 41) of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti in light of the manuscript evidence and the section’s divergent reception in a Middle Persian text known as the “Supplementary Texts to the Šāyest nē Šāyest” (Suppl.ŠnŠ). This investigation will entertain the possibility of an alternative ritual being described in the Suppl.ŠnŠ. Moreover, it argues that the manuscripts transmit the ritual text along with certain variations and repetitions while the descriptions of the extent of each section preserve the necessary boundaries of the text as a textual composition or unit.