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.
You can register for the lecture here.
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.