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.

The Colaba Navjote

The hindustantimes has another article on the Navjote I wrote about yesterday. This one provides a bit more information about other contentious Navjotes. And it briefly mentions gender disparity as one of the arguments that seems to be dividing the Parsi community:

The issue has divided the community, with one section stating the children cannot be initiated into the faith because their father is of a different faith. On the other hand, reformist groups have called the older practice discriminatory towards women.

hindustantimes

Who owns the good religion?

Those acquainted with Zoroastrianism, at times called the Good Religion, and the Parsi community know of the heated debate that surrounds conversion. People often believe that today’s Zoroastrianism or the Parsi community do not allow or frown upon conversion into the religion. Another fiercely debated issue is the acceptance into the Parsi community of children from mixed marriages, particularly when the father is not a Zoroastrian.

Zoroastrian Scholasticism in Late Antiquity

It has been a great pleasure to work on the first proof of my forthcoming book, Zoroastrian Scholasticism in Late Antiquity, which will be published in the “Edinburgh Studies in Ancient Persia“, edited by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones and published by the Edinburgh University Press, with the support of their fantastic editorial team at the EUP.