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Zoroastrianism by Hannah Haddlestone - Sun, 15 Jan 2017 03:26:24 EST ID:Vz5f1vq5 No.207599 Ignore Report Quick Reply
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Yo /pss/,

What do you recommend I read if I want to know more about Zoroastrianism? Specifically orthodox but I'm open to any good material on the subject. My limitedresearch so far keeps telling me that the original holy texts are all written in a language that doesn't really translate well, so unlike other religions I can't just go and read their holy book because I've had trouble understanding which texts are the equivalent of canon. I want to get a deeper understanding than just what's in the wikipedia article, Help a dude out?
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Doris Duddleman - Mon, 27 Feb 2017 21:14:20 EST ID:9fQeeqWn No.207802 Ignore Report Quick Reply
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I am also very interested in the subject. I will be monitoring this thread relentlessly.
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Wesley Nenningmore - Tue, 28 Feb 2017 16:41:42 EST ID:Ya59RsKY No.207803 Ignore Report Quick Reply
Unfortunately, Zoroastrianism is a dying religion. They are actively persecuted in native Iran, and have a relatively quite tiny global population (they just opened the largest international Zoroastrian center in New York recently, and it still serves only about 1000 people.) So there is a relative poverty of english-language sources depicting what modern followers of the religion believe.

What is out there is complicated by the fact that since the discovery of Zoroastrianism it has been a source of intense fascination for the west, particularly students of religion and the occult, and a lot of those interpretations were based on earlier flawed archaeological work, yet still got built out into grand theories. Modern scholarship even questions basic ideas we have about them, like that Zoroastrianism was the true kernel of Christianity. So basically no matter what you do, you're going to get some mis-information, some mis-interpretations.

The only thing I can recommend if you're really interested is to try to take as much as possible of it in and then try to cross-reference between what you find out to try to get at the core. I also think reading even a poorly translated version of the source text will send you in a better direction than just reading interpretations. The Zend Avesta is particularly poetic and beautiful (if bogged down in the kind of very formulaic discourse you should be familiar with from other sacred source texts) and I recommend at least struggling through a bit of it: http://www.sacred-texts.com/zor/

I also found this google books general intro, dunno how good it is though: https://books.google.com/books?id=4h0SBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq=reconstructionist+zoroastrianism&source=bl&ots=a3o3AeYyKz&sig=_HK5eXqQ4cVXcTSoogV22uUmN4c&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwid9aHQ3rPSAhUHwmMKHRzIB2kQ6AEINDAE#v=onepage&q=reconstructionist%20zoroastrianism&f=false

Good luck!
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Ghengis Dong - Mon, 20 Mar 2017 14:28:37 EST ID:taL6BOqF No.207919 Ignore Report Quick Reply
The primary holy texts of Zoroastrianism are called the Gathas, the main manual of worship is the Yasna and the entirety of the religious canon is referred to as the Avesta http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/avesta-holy-book

Iranica online is an awesome source for these kinds of things and should reference a lot of other great sources. I speak Persian and am relatively familiar with the history of Zoroastrianism
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Cyril Hirringlodge - Tue, 21 Mar 2017 01:29:46 EST ID:UJnj5mgn No.207922 Ignore Report Quick Reply
>>207919

would you mind giving us a brief history of that outline? maybe some central tenets of the faith?
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Edward Meblingham - Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:43:58 EST ID:Vz5f1vq5 No.207944 Ignore Report Quick Reply
>>207803
>>207919

OP here, Thanks for the leads guys!
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Ghengis Dong - Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:53:26 EST ID:taL6BOqF No.207949 Ignore Report Quick Reply
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>>207922
>would you mind giving us a brief history of that outline?
I can try, but be warned, I'm no historian.

As far as I can tell, there isn't an authoritative dating for their first appearances, but historians in antiquity usually attributed the first written gathas to around 1000BC to the prophet Zartosht (Zoroaster).

According the the scriptures, Zoroaster presented his writings to his patron Vishtaspa around 1000BC, the teachings were put in to practice there and the writings preserved until the conquest of Alexander the Great when the religion was suppressed and its texts looted/burned. However portions of the texts appear in Greek-made translations at this time (around 4-3rd Century BC) and there was a great diffusion of these writings throughout the Hellenic world.

After this period, there was a revivalist movement beginning under King Valaxš of Arsacid Persia, and the old-Avesta, as historians call it, was completed under Shapur II during the Sasanian Empire, around the 4th century.

Zoroastrianism was the state-religion of the Sasanian Empire so this is where the teachings acquired their orthodoxy. The accounts of the scholars of this period on the origins of the texts are unreliable and based on legend. The only dating of the gathas is done by linguistic analysis, so it's extremely unclear. According to the article I posted: "Until the advent of the Sasanians, and even under their regime, Iran was a country in which written documents were conspicuously rare... It is clear that the writers of the Pahlavi books shared our ignorance of the prehistory of the Avesta. However, we can concede that it does preserve the memory (though in legendary form) of a real break in the religious tradition, or of its splitting into sects, as a result of the absence of a unifying political power after the Greek conquest"

After the Sasanian empire until the rise of Islam not a lot is known:

"Of the history of the Avestan texts from the collapse of the Sasanian empire and the oldest manuscripts in our possession little is known. We know that the Muslim conquest and the dispersal of the Mazdean communities caused a weakening of the religious tradition and a decline of the liturgical elocution, which caused damage to the written transmission of the Avesta. Also, examination of the manuscripts reveals mistakes which prove that all of them derive from a single common ancestor, which K. Hoffmann (Aufsätze II, p. 515) calls the “base manuscript” and places in the ninth to tenth century A.D."

I'll go into more depth on the actual contents of these texts in another post if anybody's interested
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Simon Dreddletirk - Tue, 28 Mar 2017 05:26:09 EST ID:GoJD6tHg No.207950 Ignore Report Quick Reply
>>207949
Please do. Did you get all that info from the site you linked?
>>
Ghengis Dong - Wed, 29 Mar 2017 00:20:08 EST ID:mQSzo9rp No.207952 Ignore Report Quick Reply
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>>207950
>Did you get all that info from the site you linked?

Yup. But when I read over my post, I notice a couple necessary revisions and poorly worded parts which irk the shit out of me:

"Old Avesta" is not a historical term, but commonly refers to the original Gathas.

Our oldest manuscripts that reference them come from Hellenic Era scholars.

During the Arsacid, Seleucid ,and Parthian Empires (reign varied throughout the region, but roughly 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD), long periods of foreign rule and strife led to movements which attempted to reclaim/revive the heritage of the Achaemenid Empire (pre-Hellenic Persia) and its holy texts (the gathas).

The Sasanian Empire rising in the 3rd century AD would enforce a strict codified form of the religion which venerated these texts, the gathas, still preserved in archaic old -Persian from centuries prior (sometimes referred to itself as the old-Avesta).

In addition they would compile the bulk of the "Yasna", hymns and rituals deemed canon, which includes practices developed in the later Parthian period (hence why it differs linguistically and has been informally referred to as the "young-avesta")

Much of this literature would be lost during the muslim conquest of Persia, and later rediscovered by medieval and (eventually) modern scholars, further adding to the confusion.

Sorry it's a lot of information to condense. I swear my next post will actually cover the teachings and practices laid out in these texts. Philology just gets me hard I guess
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Ghengis Dong - Mon, 03 Apr 2017 14:46:48 EST ID:taL6BOqF No.207969 Ignore Report Quick Reply
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>>207952
Kay I'll begin with an examination of the original gathas:

In these verses Zoroaster gives devotion to Ahura-Mazda. The supreme being. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahura-mazda

"Some of the words spoken of Ahura Mazdā (aka: Ohrmuzd) in the Avesta have echoes in Vedic celebrations of Mitra and Varuṇa. In one evidently archaic verse (Y. 41.3) his worshippers say to him, “We establish Thee as the god possessing good supernatural power (maya-), zealous, accompanied by aša,” while in the Gāthās Zoroaster hails him as “all-seeing” (Y. 45.4) and “seeing afar” (Y. 33.13), the one “whom none deceives” (Y. 43.6). The prophet also speaks of him as “clad in hardest stone” i.e. the sky (Y. 30.5), although he also uses terms which suggest an anthropomorphic concept, in keeping with general Indo-Iranian religious tradition, e.g. “the tongue of Thy mouth” (Y. 31.3, cf. Y. 28.11), “the hand with which Thou holdest. . .” (Y. 43.4). Zoroaster gave a wholly new dimension to his worship, however, by hailing him as the one uncreated God (Y. 30.3, 45.2), wholly wise, benevolent and good, Creator as well as upholder of aša

aša is Truth and is the highest virtue. It is counterposed by "drug" (sometimes "druj") the Lie. All evil stems from deception. Just as Mazda is the uncreated manifestation of truth and virtue he has an uncreated counterpart or 'twin' in the form of Angra Mainyu (aka: Ahriman).

"This is the Hostile Spirit, Angra Mainyu. Zoroastrian tradition (e.g., Bundahišn 1.3) states plainly what is adumbrated in the Gāthās, that Ahura Mazdā became the Creator (Av. Dadvah, Dātār, Pahl. Dādār)—this being his constant appellation—to destroy Angra Mainyu, and so to achieve a universe that was wholly good. In one Gathic verse he is said to have achieved creation by his “thought” (Y. 31.11), but elsewhere his instrument is said to have been his Holy or Bounteous Spirit, Spənta Mainyu"

The first of Ahura Mazdā’s creative acts was to emanate the six great Beings known from the tradition as the Aməša Spəntas ("ahuras" or Spirits in the original gathas). These along with Spənta Mainyu make 7 divine entities but it's not strictly speaking polytheistic

"The relationship of Ahura Mazdā to the six Aməša Spəntas is again a subtle one, and its closeness is expressed metaphorically by the prophet when he calls Ahura Mazdā the father of Aša and of Vohu Manah... but it is conveyed even more vividly by his addressing Ahura Mazdā now [sic] as “Thou,” now (when he conceives of him together with one or more of the Aməša Spəntas)

The cosmogony is preserved in later Pahlavi texts:
"He (Mazda)first shaped his creations in a spiritual (mēnōg) state, in the form of “bright, white fire” (Bundahišn 1.44). The creations remained in this state for 3,000 years. In the meantime Ahriman made his demonic creatures out of darkness. He then attacked the luminous world. Finally, the two spirits made a treaty (paymānag) to wage war for a limited period of time (a speculative duration of 9,000 or 12,000 years is given) in a well-defined arena: the world. The three stages in the cosmic drama were the (material) creation (bundahišn), which began with the treaty; the mixture (gumēzišn) of good and evil; and the separation (wizārišn) of evil from good. The last stage, however, was to fall outside historical time."

"The period of (material) creation, also to last 3,000 years, began after the treaty, when Mazda recited the Ahunwar (Av. Ahuna Vairiia) prayer, revealing to Ahriman his ultimate defeat and causing him to fall back into the darkness in a stupor, which lasted for the entire period of the creation. During this time Ohrmazd fashioned his creations in material (gētīg) form, by celebrating a “spiritual yasna” (Bundahišn 3.23). He placed each creation under the protection of one of the seven Amahraspands (Av. Aməša Spənta). First he created the sky (protected by Šahrewar, Av. Xšaθra Vairiia), which enclosed the world like the shell of an egg (cf. Bailey, pp. 135-36). The second creation was water (protected by Hordād, Av. Haurvatāt), which filled the lower half of the “egg.” The third creation, earth (protected by Spandārmad, Av. Spənta Ārmaiti), shaped like a flat disk, floated on the primeval waters. On it stood the fourth, fifth, and sixth creations, respectively the single plant or tree (protected by Amurdād; Av. Amərətāt), the uniquely created bull (protected by Wahman, Av. Vohu Manah), and the first man, Gayōmard (Av. Gaiiō.marətan, protected by Ohrmazd himself). The seventh creation, fire (protected by Ardwahišt; Av. Aṧa Vahišta), was said (e.g., Bundahišn 3.8) to have permeated all other creations. During the 3,000 years of the period of material creation these creations were motionless, and the sun stood still in the middle of the sky.


I will detail in another post the more nuanced aspects of these creations and how they relate to man, and hopefully begin to expand over how these teachings are put to practice. Sorry for the walls of text
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Ghengis Dong - Mon, 03 Apr 2017 17:04:31 EST ID:taL6BOqF No.207971 Ignore Report Quick Reply
>>207969
sorry for so many problems with the characters/accents. When the thread is expanded it reads as normal.

nb


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