Right now I’m working on a term paper about the many influences Zoroastrianism has had on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The most notable influences being on Heaven and Hell, the eternal Soul, he Devil, a messianic saviour, and an end of the world scenario. I don’t know why, but I find Zoroastrianism a fascinating subject, but that’s not important.
What I need are good websites about Zoroastrianism, particularly in regards to interpretating the Yasnas, Gathas, and possibly the Venidad. Though I have numerous books from the library at my disposal, none of them seem to be too helpful when it comes to interpretation of Zoroastrian scripture. I figure this forum is the best place to look for this help. Any help will be appreciated
I too would be very intersted in what your researches turn up, and hope you will dfo a post or series of posts summarizing what you find.
One key and interesting point is that the Satan concept – the angel-in-rebellion-against-God who tries to turn humans to evil – common to all three Abrahamic faiths, appears to owe a great deal to the idea of Angra Mainyu (Ahriman).
Such little evidence of pre-Exilic Judaism as we have with regard to this concept appears to place the Tempter in a Ken Starr role – one who places temptation in the way of the human, investigates whether he/she has succumbed to it, and then accuses him/her before God, a kind of cosmic D.A.-cum-Bureau-of-Investigation in the Divine Court structure, and not a rebel at all. (See the Prologue to Job for the most thoroughly spelled out example of this role.)
But the dualistic nature of Mazdism, with forces of Good and Evil in eternal conflict, seems to have altered the view of the Satan into a spirit in rebellion, a demigod-of-evil role paralleling that of Ahriman.
I’m not sure what you are asking for, translations of the documents from the religion or commentary on them. If the former, one place to go when looking for documents on religions or the like is http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm and sure enough they have a Zoroastrianism page with several texts up.
Well, its done. Despite what some may think, not my most fun night.
That said, I’d still love to continue a Zoroastrian discussion. My paper focused on the dualistic aspects of Zoroastrianism that Judaism, Christianity, and islam adopted, namely: concept of Heaven and Hell, the eternal soul, the Devil, and eschatology; all of which have their roots in Zoroastrianism. If I wasn’t pressed for time I might have done a little on cosmology and mysticism movements, but that wasn’t in the works.
Actually Polycrap, the Book of Job was my main support for the pre-exhilic Satan being in league with God and not evil.
FriendRob, its not the easiest subject to research unfortunately. I suggest trying to find books which compare multiple religions. Zoroastrianism seems to be included in many due to its historical influence and the fact its studied alongside both eastern and western religions. For something more specific but a little more difficult to digest try Mary Boyce’s Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. What I really could’ve used more than anything though was a good, comprehensive, interpretive translation of the Gathas.
At least one serious historian (Toynbee, “Study of History”) holds a view that Zoroastrianism and Judaism were sister religions that flourished in the Middle East before ancient Greeks’ invasion, kind of like Christianity was co-existing with many other religions, often more popular, during the early years of Roman Empire. If this is true, there may be mutual influences observed in Zoroastrianism and Judaism, but who is adaptor and/or adaptee, remains unclear. Judaism is an extremely old religion. Christianity and Islam mostly adapted from Judaism, certainly.