Talk:Zoroastrianism

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Former good article Zoroastrianism was one of the Philosophy and religion good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Semi-protected edit request on 5 June 2014[edit]

The article says that Zoroastrianism was the world first monotheistic religion, however this is totally wrong. The Iranian prophet lived around the 6th century BC. Moses predates this man so how is Zoroastrianism the first monotheistic religion? Please correct this it would be more correct to say one of the first instead of the first. Thank You! 129.115.2.122 (talk) 23:51, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. — {{U|Technical 13}} (etc) 23:56, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 9 June 2014[edit]

It was not the first monotheistic religion, that was Judaism. Jgayaldo (talk) 19:55, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Actually, Judaism is usually seen as one of a few surviving offshoots of the older Israelite religion (Samaritanism and Christianity being two others), and the Israelite religion before the Second temple era was probably Henotheistic. Ian.thomson (talk) 20:10, 9 June 2014 (UTC)
Red question icon with gradient background.svg Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. — {{U|Technical 13}} (etc) 22:26, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

"Zoroaster's ideas led to a formal religion bearing his name by about the 6th century BCE and have influenced other later religions including Judaism"

Certainly Judaism and its monotheism predates the 6th century BCE. Supporting statements for Zoroastrianism predating "Judaism" above are speculative. Also, Christianity and Samaritanism themselves were offshoots of a religion clearly identified as Judaism, not a common ancient Israelite religion. To preserve this statement without evidence or reject the addition of qualifiers as "undue or editorializing" shows bias.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 146.115.132.90 (talk) 16:42, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

You know, if you actually read this discussion, you'd've seen that I already answered that. Ian.thomson (talk) 16:44, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
In light of you editing your position: the pages I summarized and linked to cite sources for those claims. Please cite a reliable source for your claims. Again, the academic consensus is that the modern religion Judaism dates to the second temple period, as the central branch of the Israelite religion. Ian.thomson (talk) 17:32, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

Ian, thank you for your welcoming and polite comment. I am new to this tool and do not know how to edit inline, nor did I see the bottom section when posting my own. Hopefully you will agree that your use of the term Judaism, as well as the reference in the article, are ambiguous and arbitrary. Do you mean to suggest that there was nothing known as Judaism prior to Second Temple Judaism? Can you cite the exact moment when Judaism would be universally acknowledged as monotheistic, or only provide an upper bound that is roughly at the 6th century BCE? Unless the author can, statements should be qualified or removed, rather than insisting on citations to the contrary. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 146.115.132.90 (talk) 17:10, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

If you check the articles I linked to, you'll see that prior to Second Temple Judaism, the Israelite religion was probably henotheistic, and during the Second Temple period, there were a number of different groups that died off, or evolved (with some merging between groups) into Judaism, Christianity, and Samaritanism. And asking for exact moments in the bronze age is often like asking someone to find a dark grey needle in the night sky.
And because there are citations for current article material, you do need sources to the contrary. Even then, it probably won't result in the removal of the statements you have an issue with, that position and yours will be presented as different claims. Ian.thomson (talk) 17:32, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 2 July 2014[edit]

There is a serious problem with the article. It is the last sentence of the opening paragraph. Of course I really don't expect, much being that Wikipedia is known for bias as pretty much everything written is, but that does not give us a reason not to be objective about writing. That being stated, I have a riddle how does a man that lived around the 6th century b.c. have any influence on a man that lived around 1000 years prior to him? Answer, he does not. Just because one quotes a source from penguin does not mean the source is true. Stop trying to say this faith came before Judaism and had any influence on it, the simple dates and numbers don't add up. That being stated Christianity was influenced by Judaism and not only influenced by Judaism but sprang forth from Judaism. So tell me how Zoroaster influenced this faith? Answer he did not. You can see the logic can't you. So I really don't have to waste time and effort on the Muslim faith do I. So why am I writing this way, because this is the second time I requested something be done yet nothing happened. The first request was very similar to this in that I called the original writer of the article out yet somebody had to insert their opinion on the second edit. Why don't people just study and be real with the historical documents and not state things that are clearly bogus. Of course I do not expect this to be changed until weeks later why??? Because people want to push fake data instead of real data. Whatever. On the slight chance somebody actually looks at the data objectively and not come to bogus conclusions and post the truth. I applaud you! If not o well. Back to the drawing board. 75.1.185.210 (talk) 04:20, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

Red question icon with gradient background.svg Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. Great enthusiasm, but it would be easier to handle if you backed it up with sources and stated exactly what you believe should be changed. Did you consider creating an account? Sam Sailor Sing 06:11, 2 July 2014 (UTC)
There is no good reason to believe that Zoroaster lived in the 6th century BC. He probably lived considerably earlier than that. In any case, the arguments about the influence on Judaism concern the period when Israel/Judea was part of the Persian empire, and the emergence of forms of apocalyptic literature which contain concepts quite different from those in the Torah, such as the idea of an "evil" Satan and his minions in some kind of eternal struggle against God. This is quite mainstream, and has nothing to do with bias in Wikipedia. It is easily cited to scholarly sources. None of this has anything to do with the "Muslim faith". The only connection is that Persian Shiite Islam was influenced by Zoroastrian traditions. And, of course, it is worth adding that most scholars do not believe that the Torah was written by Moses (I assume he's the person you mean by the "man that lived around 1000 years prior to him"), but rather that it dates from various periods, including the post-exilic era. See the entries on the Book of Genesis and Book of Exodus, for example. Paul B (talk) 13:23, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

Judaism and Zoroastrianism[edit]

P.202 of Boyce does not discuss Judaism at all. The closest mention of Judaism (p.194-195) does NOT discuss influence of Judaism on Zoroastrianism, but the other way around. It barely mentions Christianity's much later influence on modern Zoroastrianism. Page 202 discusses influence only so far as the increased role of Anahita. It is WP:UNDUE weight to pretend Boyce justifies the appearance of equal influence onto Zoroastrianism.

The second source, Peter Clarke, which has the context completely chopped up, only says "There are so many features that Zoroastrianism seems to share with the Judeo-Christian tradition that it would be difficult to ... Historically the first point of contact that we can determine is when the Achaemenian Cyrus conquered Babylon ..539 BC." There is absolutely nothing in there saying that Zoroastrianism was influenced by Judaism, only that there are shared traits, only stating that the first point that one religion could have influenced the other (without saying which influenced which) was 539 BC.

This is going beyond WP:OR into dishonest stubbornness. Ian.thomson (talk) 11:54, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Firstly, there was three sources presented there. The two which I added both discuss possible cultural interchange between the faiths. This theory is one without much evidence as it stands, and only states the possible influence of both faiths on each other when they came into contact during period of Cyrus the Great and the Achaemenid Empire. Cyrus is described in many sources, Bibilical and non-Biblical, as being a tolerant leader of minority groups in his empire. He is known to have allowed the Jews in Babylon to have returned to Judah. Judaism pre-dates Zorastrianism by around 1000 years. The existence of a strong monotheist current in the Kingdom of Israel, and later Judah, is known from the Biblical accounts (and specifically with the conflict between this group and polytheist elements within ancient Israeli society. The first recorded mention of the existence of any Zoroastrians or their religion isn't until the 6th century BCE, interestingly right around the time Jewish elites were forced into exile in Babylon.
I included these sources because the article as it stands has an unbalanced perspective that only Zoroastrianism influenced subsequent faiths (i.e. the influence was unidirectional), which is unsupported. I only wish to help clarify the situation by merely stating how there is a theory that some shared traits between the faiths may be due to an exchange of ideas if Judaism came into significant contact with Zoroastrianism.
I personally believe that either Zoroastrian texts borrowed significantly from Christianity at a later date, or that Judaism had the influence on Zoroastrianism, given the older age of Judaism, as well as the later highly strict monotheism that developed which is the basis for the other major monotheistic faiths. Additionally, Zoroastrianism is much more dualistic, and has texts which contain elements of polytheistic worship to other deities simply not found in Abrahamic traditions. In Zoroastrianism's texts for example, Zoroaster prays to other ancient Iranian deities/divinities to interfere in worldly affairs. There is a plethora of divinities (known as Yashts) found throughout the texts corresponding to different elements of the natural world (animals, water, fire, etc.), just as in many polytheistic and animistic traditions - nothing like this is found in the Abrahamic traditions. Epf (talk) 12:40, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Here is one source from the Jewish Encyclopedia which essentially sums up some of the debate on the cultural contact between Judaism and Zoroastrianism which has resulted in the shared traits between the two. There are essentially two radical ends to the argument, with each favouring the influence of one faith on the other, and a third moderate argument stating an equal influence (or an influence from a third, unknown source):
"It is difficult to account for these analogies. It is known, of course, as a historic fact that the Jews and the Persians came in contact with each other at an early period in antiquity and remained in more or less close relation throughout their history (see Avesta; Media; Persia). Most scholars, Jewish as well as non-Jewish, are of the opinion that Judaism was strongly influenced by Zoroastrianism in views relating to angelology and demonology, and probably also in the doctrine of the resurrection, as well as in eschatological ideas in general, and also that the monotheistic conception of Yhwh may have been quickened and strengthened by being opposed to the dualism or quasi-monotheism of the Persians. But, on the other hand, the late James Darmesteter advocated exactly the opposite view, maintaining that early Persian thought was strongly influenced by Jewish ideas. He insisted that the Avesta, as we have it, is of late origin and is much tinctured by foreign elements, especially those derived from Judaism, and also those taken from Neoplatonism through the writings of Philo Judæus. These views, put forward shortly before the French scholar's death in 1894, have been violently combated by specialists since that time, and can not be said to have met with decided favor on any side. At the present time it is impossible to settle the question; the truth lies probably somewhere between the radical extremes, and it is possible that when knowledge of the Assyrian and Babylonian religion is more precise in certain details, additional light may be thrown on the problem of the source of these analogies, and may show the likelihood of a common influence at work upon both the Persian and Jewish cults."

Epf (talk) 15:39, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

The Jewish Encyclopedia is hardly an unbiased source, any more than ther Catholic Encyclopedia is. Here are some other sources which argue that Persian Zoroastrian ideas defined the form of Jewish monotheism:

  • T. L. Thompson, “The Intellectual Matrix of Early Biblical Narrative: Inclusive Monotheism in Persian Period Palestine, ”The Triumph of Elohim: From Yahwisms to Judaisms (ed. D. V. Edelman; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 107–26. [1]
  • Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity, 358–63.
  • The Crisis of Israelite Religion: Transformations of Religious Tradition in Exilic and Post-Exilic Times (ed. B. Becking and M. C. A. Korpel; OTS 42; Leiden: Brill, 1999).

Mark Smith in The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Text says that "the emphasis on a single divine power of good in Zoroastrianism has been thought to provide a model for the monotheism expressed in the Bible", though he thinks there are significant differences between biblical monotheism and Zoroastrianism because "biblical monotheism appears to represent, at least in its formulations, developments of older language exalting the national god." In other words, it's not based on an abstract principle of the "good". He argues that "internal and external changes in Judah's situation in the seventh and sixth centuries" correspond to the emergence of monotheistic language in the post exilic period (p.166)

The principal argument that is presented is that both Zoroastrianism and pre-Exilic Judaism have a notion of exclusive devotion to a particular god, but that the idea that this God is the only "real" God is an evolution of devotional "monolotry", and the idea that this god is equated with "goodness" shows the influence of Zoroastrian ideas. Whether that's true or not, of course, is another matter, but it's not a simple question of some argument about who "came first". See also the section above this one. Paul B (talk) 17:43, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Whether or not you personally consider the Jewish or Catholic encyclopedias "biased" sources is irrelevant, but they both provide evidence for arguments showing the borrowings of Zoroastrianism from elements of either Judaism or Christianity, or both. Both the Catholic and Jewish encyclopedias are valid sources under Wikipedia policy, and arguments from both deserve to be entered here, as do the sources you just provided. The earliest Zoroastrian scriptures are dated quite late, 3rd century AD the earliest (with most from much later centuries), when compared to Christian and especially Jewish texts.
Here is an excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
  • "In the ancient Persian religion (Zoroastrianism, Mazdaism, Parseeism) we meet with what is perhaps, in its better elements, the highest type of ethnic eschatology. But as we know it in the Parsee literature, it contains elements that were probably borrowed from other religions; and as some of this literature is certainly post-Christian, the possibility of Jewish and even Christian ideas having influenced the later eschatological developments is not to be lost sight of." Epf (talk) 04:56, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Zoroastrianism's elements of polytheism also cannot be ignored, which are retained in the faith's scriptures and are simply not present in the monotheistic Abrahamic faiths, especially Judaism and Islam. Such polytheistic elements are understandable given the religion's ties to the Historical Vedic religion of the nearby Indus Valley civilization, which was in very close proximity to where Zoroaster is believed to have been from in what is now northeastern Iran and northwestern Afghanistan. For example, Appleton (2005) states that according to Yasnas 5 & 105, Zoroaster prayed to Anahita (a goddess of the Iranian polytheistic pantheon) for the conversion of King Vištaspa. The religion to this day contains a plethora of various divinities, known as Yashts, with many highly animistic in nature. Epf (talk) 05:28, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
As you have been told before, Appleton mentioning Anahit does not mean you can add the word "polytheism" without it being original research, otherwise we have to call most of Christianity polytheistic because of the Intercession of saints, and Judaism and Islam because of the angelic invocations found in Merkabah mysticism and Simiyya. The majority of sources describe Zoroastrianism as monotheistic, and that's how Wikipedia is going to describe it as well. Your claims of polytheism appear to be nothing but revived 19th century sectarian slander by missionaries.
Also, your claim that the Zoroastrian scriptures are from the 3rd century AD at earliest is backwards in every single way. The Avesta's manuscripts are from the 3rd century AD at absolute latest (due to Avesta being extinct except as a ritual language by then, and being way too similar to Vedic Sanskrit to have come about millennia later), unless you're going to make the sort of asinine assumptions about "no work is older than its earliest manuscript" sort of deal that would mean that the Christian Bible wasn't written until the fourth century (something we both know isn't right), and no one started composing the Jewish Bible until the second century BC (again, something we know isn't right). The Avesta dates back to at least two hundred years before the Achaemenids, if not the second millennium BC.
And per most of the sources we have in articles such as Origins of Judaism, Judaism was one of the religions that evolved out of the Israelite religion around the Second Temple period, with the religion moving from a henotheistic form that bore more resemblance to the Canaanite religion to something we'd recognize now as Judaism mainly after the Babylonian captivity.
For more:
Simply put, what you are pushing is outdated Sunday school sectarianism, not modern scholarship. Ian.thomson (talk) 16:31, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

What I am pushing is not "Sunday school sectarianism", but clearly you seem to be pushing anti-Abrahamic viewpoints, largely because you have a personal hostility towards Abrahamic faiths. Most sources do claim the modern form of Zoroastrianism is either monotheistic or dualistic, or both, but it is not strictly monotheistic as in the Abrahamic sense. Most sources also do not shy away from the fact that the Zoroastrian scriptures have significant polytheistic and animistic elements (see the extensive list of Yashts) which simply are not found in any of the Abrahamic faiths. Intercession of saints is only held in Catholicism, but is not polytheism. Saints were actual human beings, not deities or semi-divinities. They are commemorated, but are not supposed to be worshipped, and no authority is prayed to in either mainline Christianity, Judaism or Islam other than God. Mainline, traditional Judaism and Islam (the vast majority in each faith) especially do not have worship of anything but God, and not have idols or icons of any sort whatsoever. Angels are briefly mentioned in the Bible but are not prayed to or worshipped like the Yashts (animistic deities) of Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster himself prayed to several deities, like Anahita. Additionally, during the Achaemenid period, the many rulers of the empire adopted the polytheistic elements of the religions they came in contact with in their newly conquered territories of Babylon, Egypt, Anatolia, etc.

All you are presenting is the one-sided view of an argument held by a minority of fringe scholars. Your sources are based on minority opinions, not fact and not even a widely-held consensus among scholars. They are not any more relevant than any other sources, such as those I or Paul Barlow have included above. The earliest Zoroastrian texts of any sort date to the 3rd century AD, and those texts do not include many of the later additions which it has in common with Christianity. The earliest compilation of Jewish texts, the Dead Sea scrolls, by contrast date to the 5th - 4th century BC at the earliest. As for your views on the extent of monotheism in pre-exilic Judaism, it is currently an ongoing debate in the academic community, but most recognize that monolatry does not exclude the fact that a segment of the population were strictly monotheistic and solely believed in YHWH (Smith, 2003). The Hebrew Bible itself describes this and mentions that there were populations, including non-Israelites (Edomites, Ammonites, etc.), under the control of the wider Kingdom of Israel and Judah who still worshipped other deities, while others were monotheistic and only worshipped YHWH such as Josiah. In any case, historical records of Judaism, the Kingdom of Israel (see Merneptah Stele) and the ancient Israelites all pre-date the first historical record of Zoroastrianism by several centuries. The main body of scripture for Zoroastrianism, on a level similar to those earliest texts of Judaism and Christianity, was also not written until around the 9th century AD. There is zero evidence whatsoever for the Avesta originating in the 2nd millennium BC. The few claims of the earlier dates are nothing more than speculation, based solely on the structure of the language. Such an argument is considered irrelevant to most scholars given that many liturgical languages used to write texts maintain ancient linguistic forms not largely used by the contemporary population which is writing those texts and using that language for religious purposes. The ancient form is seen as "pure" or sacred, which is why it is maintained. Clear examples are Biblical Hebrew, Classical Arabic, Coptic or Old Church Slavonic used to compile many ancient respective Jewish, Islamic and Orthodox Christian manuscripts, even though those languages themselves were extinct as a common vernacular when texts were written in such languages. Furthermore, both the Avesta and Zoroaster himself are thought to have originated in what is now northeastern Iran and northwestern Afghanistan, where the Iranian languages (including Avestan) of the time were in very close proximity to the closely related Indo-Aryan languages of the Indus Valley civilization, including Vedic Sanskrit to which Avestan is very closely related. Avestan was still spoken in this area of the eastern Iranian plateau during the Achaemenid period (6th - 3rd centuries BC), when Old Persian was also still spoken in southwestern regions. Most scholars, as is mentioned in several sources listed in this discussion, as well as in this article, support the view that Zoroastrianism only emerged as a religious community around the 6th to 5th centuries BC. The religion itself is not mentioned anywhere in any historical context until the 6th century BC at the earliest, and even at that point it was not a widespread religion of the newly formed Achaemenid empire (the empire included several provinces of many different nations and religions). Epf (talk) 15:40, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Even Boyce (1982; 2007), who is part of the fringe group who claims Zoroastrianism had a notable influence on Judaism, acknowledges that Zoroastrianism inherited ideas from other belief systems, including Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism. Historical records of both Hinduism and Judaism both pre-date those of Zoroastrianism by several centuries.

  • Boyce, Mary (1982), The History of Zoroastrianism 2, Leiden: Brill, ISBN 90-04-06506-7, (repr. 1997)
  • Boyce, Mary (2007), Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, London: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-23903-5*Boyce, Mary (1983), "Ahura Mazdā", Encyclopaedia Iranica 1, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul pages 684–687

Also see:

  • Smith, Mark S (2003). The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts. Oxford University Press.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Epf (talkcontribs)
Wikipedia does not use original research, which is what most of your claims are. Why would I be pushing an anti-Abrahamic POV when I'm Baptist? How would I be citing works from Fortress Press (an imprint of the Lutheran publishers Augsburg Fortress), William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, and a work that cites a Catholic scholar? The difference is that I'm sticking to academic sources (either from historically reliable religious scholarship companies as mentioned before, and secular companies such as John Wiley & Sons, Brill Publishers, Greenwood Publishing Group, and Rowman & Littlefield) and only what they say -- not misrepresenting selections from certain academic works while ignoring the rest. While Boyce acknowledges a common ancestor with the Vedic religion (which is only "Hinduism" in a very broad sense), the sources you cited only mentioned much later influence by Christianity, and not Judaism -- To keep citing Boyce on that claim when that has been pointed out to you is either dishonest or incompetent. One of the many citations I provided above was Smith, who does not assert that Zoroastrianism picked up monotheism from Judaism at all -- either Persian influence or parallel development, but not Israelite influence on Zoroastrianism. The very title of the Smith book you cite clearly indicates that Smith believes that the Israelite religion developed out of Canaanite polytheism. Ian.thomson (talk) 17:54, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 21 August 2014[edit]

Zoroaster's ideas led to a formal religion bearing his name by about the 6th century BCE and have influenced other later religions including Gnosticism, Christianity and Islam.[6] 79.183.181.219 (talk) 10:25, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

... Aaaand? Ian.thomson (talk) 19:59, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
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Please also cite reliable sources to back up your request, without which no information should be added to any article. - Arjayay (talk) 08:22, 22 August 2014 (UTC)