Book Award

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.

Zoroastrian Scholasticism

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.

Now, I get ready for my second book.

The birth of the abestāg

My part in the WZO’s annual seminar this coming Sunday along with my @invisible_east colleagues, @ArezouAzad, Hugh Kennedy and Tommy Benfey:

The birth of the abestāg from the spirit of philology

سخنرانی من در سمینار سالانه «سازمان جهانی زرتشتیان» یکشنبه این هفته به همراه همکارانم در گروه پژوهشی «شرق مکنون».

The Dead Don’t Die

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.

‘The Dead Don’t Die’ by Jim Jarmusch

New review

The Abstracta Iranica website has published a new review of my book. This one is by Benedikt Peschl:
Peschl, Benedikt. 2021. Arash Zeini. Zoroastrian scholasticism in Late Antiquity. The Pahlavi version of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti. Abstracta Iranica 42-43 (5).
The paperback will be out in May 2022.

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.

From the review, par. 5

“They Helped Build Modern India but Are Shrinking as a People”

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.

The Roar of silence

On 26 September, I presented François de Blois the Festschrift that Adam Benkato and I edited:

Benkato, Adam & Arash Zeini (eds.). 2021. The roar of silence: A Festschrift in honour of François de Blois. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 31(3).

The presentation took place at the Ancient India & Iran Trust in Cambridge a couple of days after François’s 73rd birthday. Here is my speech:

Welcome and thank you for joining us today. It is a great pleasure to celebrate François de Blois and his birthday with his friends, colleagues and most importantly his family.

Ritual and ritual text in the Zoroastrian tradition

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:

Zeini, Arash. 2021. Ritual and ritual text in the Zoroastrian tradition: The extent of Yasna 41. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.

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.

Navrose and Nirang

What’s life like for a Zoroastrian today? A short piece by Dina Katgara (@dinakatgara) published in The Daily Californian.
دینا کاتگارا درباره زندگی به عنوان یک زرتشتی یا پارسی در عصر جدید.

On translation and exegesis

Zoroastrian Scholasticism in Late Antiquity

The following text first appeared on the blog of the Edinburg University Press on 4 August 2020. The original is here. I am reproducing it here without any textual alterations except some minor formatting.

On translation and exegesis in the Zoroastrian religious tradition

Zoroastrianism, now a minority faith in Iran and India, is an Iranian religion with a complex textual transmission reaching back to the remote antiquity.

The oldest layers of the surviving Zoroastrian texts are in Avestan language and commonly dated to the middle of the second millennium BCE. Exact dates and circumstances of composition, however, remain uncertain, so that little is known about the socio-political context from which these texts emerged. After two millennia of oral transmission, the texts were finally committed to writing, at a time when the language must have no longer been in active use.