The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism

The long awaited Wiley-Blackwell companion to Zoroastrianism, edited by M. Stausberg and Y. Vevaina, is finally out. I have not seen the volume, but those who have, praise it highly, expecting it to have an impact on the ailing field of Iranian and Zoroastrian Studies!!!

Stausberg, Michael & Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina (eds.). 2015. The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism. John Wiley & Sons.

Vers une édition de la liturgie longue zoroastrienne

03_J2_YH35Cantera, Alberto. 2014. Vers une édition de la liturgie longue zoroastrienne: Pensées et travaux préliminaires (Cahiers de Studia Iranica 51). Peeters Publishers.

The long liturgy is the most important ceremony in Zoroastrian priestly tradition. Most extant Avestan texts have been composed for their performance within this liturgy. It is highly likely that it acquired its current form, in which it is still celebrated, during the Achaemenid period or even earlier. Like any living ceremony with a long history, it has several synchronic and diachronic variations. Nevertheless, current editions of the Avestan text recited in the liturgy do not take into account its ritual nature, synchronic variations or its evolution over time, or even the changes in the way the text itself is recited. The aim of this book is to report on the recent discoveries that raise doubts over the methodology used in current editions, and propose certain alternatives in order to further the debate.

Religious transformation between East and West

Herman, Geoffrey. 2014. Religious transformation between East and West: Hanukkah in the Babylonian Talmud and Zoroastrianism. In Wick, Peter & Volker Rabens (eds.), Religions and trade: Religious formation, transformation and cross-cultural exchange between East and West, 261–281. Leiden: Brill.

When religious traditions travel they tend to adapt to their new surroundings. Like new products seeking to penetrate a foreign market, they often undergo a process of modification and re-packaging that makes them comprehensible and inviting to their potential clientele. This can often be a subconscious process whereby the elements in the imported tradition that evoke more familiar local practices rise to prominence and develop further whereas others sink into the background. This article seeks to account for the development of the ritual observance of the festival of Hanukah, a festival that was brought from Judaea to Babylonia. It pinpoints the holiday’s evolution upon its reception in Babylonia. Observing similarities in ritual between the receiving community – Babylonian Jewry, and the prevalent practices found among the Zoroastrians of the region it suggests a connection between the two. This connection intimates that the ritual celebration of Hanukkah was radically and fundamentally transformed in its new religious environment as a result of its encounter with local religious custom.

Find the article here.

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.

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.

The image of cosmos reflected in the body

Delaini, Paolo. 2014. The image of cosmos reflected in the body. The theory of microcosm-macrocosm and its spread in Sasanian Iran. In Antonio Panaino (ed.), Studies on astronomy and its history offered to Salvo De Meis (Indo-Iranica et Orientali 13). Milan: Memesis.

Read the article here.

Wrestling with the Demons

Moazami, Mahnaz. 2014. Wrestling with the Demons of the Pahlavi Widēwdād. Transcription, Translation, and Commentary (Iran Studies 9). Leiden/Boston: Brill.

The Pahlavi Widēwdād (Vidēvdād), The Law (Serving to Keep) Demons Away, a fifth-century Middle Persian commentary on the Avestan Vidēvdād, describes rules and regulations that serve to prevent pollution caused by dead matter, menstrual discharges, and other agents. It recognizes the perpetual presence of the demons, the forces of the Evil Spirit –forces that should be fought through law-abiding conduct. In spite of its formidable textual problems, the commentary provides an invaluable quarry for the rules of the Zoroastrian community through its citation of regulations for the conduct of its members. Many topics are covered, from jurisprudence to penalties, procedures for dealing with pollution, purification, and arrangements for funerals. Viewed together, they provide the reader with an exquisite interlace of a community’s concerns.

See here for more.

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.