|WikiProject Zoroastrianism||(Rated B-class, Top-importance)|
|WikiProject Religion||(Rated B-class, Top-importance)|
"The incompatibility of Zurvanite dualism with the strongly monotheistic modern Zoroastrianism has left present-day Zoroastrians with the option of either ignoring that Zurvanism ever existed or that its precepts were downright heretical."
I've read several books about Zoroastrianism and nearly all of them considered modern Zoroastrianism as strongly henotheistic. If the user who wrote this: "strongly monotheistic modern Zoroastrianism" could quote his sources, I'll be grateful. The opinion I found most common is that Zoroastrianism is in regression from about 300 BC, and that there were no other deities or angels in the orginal doctrine. The appearance of such creatures is the result of later editions of original texts by priests willing to incorporate elements of folk's believe into their religion in order to help it spread. Zurvanists had never worshipped Aryman, so their religion wasn't more dualistic than any other religion which has a "lord of evil". That's why I consider Zoroastrianism as being primitive and dumb in comparison to Zurvanism. The article says quite the opposite, so I hereby question it's neutrality.
-- The previously unsigned comment was by Hattivat 17:44, 1 May 2007 (UTC)
- At the root of your confusion is your personal interpretation of the word "god", which is of course not universal. Moreover, it appears that the books you are reading are trying to explain Zoroastrianism against a cultural background with which their readers would be familiar, which however breaks down as soon as one begins to dig a little deeper. Further, many brief descriptions of Zoroastrianism are written by authors that are not personally familiar with it and who derive their understanding of it from older sources. Its still very common to find descriptions of Zoroastrianism that are actually abstracts of Zurvanite doctrine, which - because it was so vocally attacked in Christian polemic - is the more commonly described Zoroastrianism in pre-1900 western sources.
- Anyhow, addressing your points one at a time:
- >> all of them considered modern Zoroastrianism as strongly henotheistic
- "all of them" is a rather meaningless turn of phrase. "All" flat-earth publications also assert the earth is flat, but that doesn't make any of them correct. In any case,...
- Henotheism and monotheism are not mutually exclusive. Henotheism, aka "inclusive monotheism", is a form of monotheism. All forms of Zoroastrianism, irrespective of period or liturgical school, are henotheistic. Original Zoroastrianism as well as post-Sassanid Zoroastrianism are both also monotheistic. Zurvanism on the other hand was not monotheistic (but still henotheistic).
- Monotheism should also not be confused with monism. Zurvanism was monist, but not monotheistic. Original Zoroastrianism was monotheistic but not monist. Present-day Zoroastrianism, again monotheistic, may or may not be monist (subject to region/culture/social strata).
- Monotheism should also not be contrasted with dualism (Its also wrong for the article to do so). All religions are in one form or another dualistic. What the article appears to mean is that Zurvanism was starkly dualistic, to the point of monist ditheism. Neither original Zoroastrianism nor present-day Zoroastrianism are that.
- >> there were no other deities or angels in the orginal doctrine
- This is typical summary of the "ex-silencio theory", referring to the notion that a) Zoroaster doesn't refer to other divinities, ergo b) he rejected them.
- Put as simply as that, it should be obvious that the theory has a fundamentally faulty conclusion. Like everything else in the tradition of Indo-Iranian religious composition, the Gathas are dedicated to a specific divinity. That Zoroaster in his hymns exhalted a specific divinity does not mean there were no other divinities, or that these weren't "worthy of worship" (Yazata).
- The premise that Zoroaster doesn't refer to other divinities is also very weak. There are other divinities ("angels") referred to in Zoroaster's hymns. These (eight are named and about six more are otherwise obliquely referred to) are - as in the tradition of Indo-Iranian religious composition - those closest to the one exhalted divinity. According to the "ex-silencio theory", all of them are just abstract principles and only become divine entities in later tradition. But that contradicts just everything we know about how religions develop - primitive societies are not known for "deep" thought, and abstraction comes about only as philosophical aspects evolve.
- Even if one accepts the argument that Zoroaster did indeed conceive of his "names" as purely abstract notions (and this is not at all certain), then the later evidence of divine entities is not actually a regression of Zoroaster's teachings, but an adjustment of even older ideas to Zoroaster's teachings. This also did not occur centuries after Zoroaster, but is already evident in the "seven-chapter Yasna" and in the "three great prayers" and is hence part of oldest doctrine.
- Incidentally, the "ex-silencio theory" (however faulty/valid) is also part of one of the interpretations of the religion of some *present-day* Zoroastrians. To generalize present-day Zoroastrianism as being of a specific cast is as inappropriate as saying any other old religion has only one interpretation. While Zoroastrianism may be remarkably coherent in comparison to other religions, it still has its different interpretive schools (even if these are not quite so different from one another).
- >> Zoroastrianism is in regression from about 300 BC
- There are several developments you are lumping together here, of which the most-important (relevant to the present discussion) are: a) Zurvanism, which is actually first attested about that date but probably came about a century earlier through the close contacts with Chaldea/Babylon and survived until about the 10th century. b) Hellenistic Zoroastrianism, which came about after Alexander's conquests and thrived until the radical de-Hellenization of the Sassanids.
- You may also appear to be incorrectly assuming that the religion propagated by the Achaemenids (ended 330 BC) preserved "original doctrine" without modification or accretions. By the time Zoroaster's doctrine got to the far west it already had at least 450 years, 1000 miles and numerous syncretic influences behind it. The Achaemenid-era further added a dash of Babylonian influence and another 250 years. To assume that the philosophy had stagnated for 700+ years is flat-out absurd.
- Incidentally, it was during the Achaemenid-era that the Yashts (hymns to the various divinities) were composed.
- >> The appearance of [other deities or angels] is the result of later editions of original texts by priests willing to incorporate elements of folk's believe into their religion in order to help it spread.
- Thats unnecessarily polemic. Its just as legitimate to say 'Zoroastrianism assimilated older beliefs' as it is to say 'old beliefs absorbed Zoroaster's philosophy'. In its collectivity, Zoroastrianism is the product of old beliefs combined with a newer moral/philosophical dimension.
- >> Zurvanists had never worshipped Aryman.
- Assuming you mean Ahriman, are you thinking any other kind of Zoroastrianism does?
- ps: be careful with names: Ahriman is the MP equivalent of Avestan Angra Mainyu. "Ary(a)man" is Avestan, whose MP equivalent is Erman. Erman is not Ahriman.
- pps: And how do you know Zurvanists had never worshipped Ahriman? Absolutely nothing is known about Zurvanite worship. If it were not for non-Iranian accounts we wouldn't even know Zurvanism existed.
- >> That's why I consider Zoroastrianism as being primitive and dumb in comparison to Zurvanism.
- Zurvanism was a sect or church or "tendency" within Zoroastrianism. Comparing the two is like comparing Catholicism with Christianity. Not very meaningful, if not altogether primitive and dumb, but its a free world and you're entitled to your opinion. :)
- -- Fullstop 12:13, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
""all of them" is a rather meaningless turn of phrase." "Assuming you mean Ahriman"
First of all, I ought to excuse you that I'm from Poland. All of those books were polish translations, I don't know what were the original titles and I'm not sure if I remember the polish ones correctly, so this information won't be useful for you. "Aryman" is how "Ahriman" is translated in polish language, sorry.
"Put as simply as that, it should be obvious that the theory has a fundamentally faulty conclusion. Like everything else in the tradition of Indo-Iranian religious composition, the Gathas are dedicated to a specific divinity. That Zoroaster in his hymns exhalted a specific divinity does not mean there were no other divinities, or that these weren't "worthy of worship""
This theory is based on empirically proven tendencies that can be seen in nearly all mankind's religions. Look at Catholic church. Do you believe that Jesus ordered his Apostles to make themselves half-gods ("saints")? That he wanted his birth, death and "ressurection" to be celebrated exactly on the same dates that pagan cults did their feasts and using similar ways of celebration? I don't. Or Mahayana: Do you consider it's closer to the original doctrine than Hinayana? Hinayana "appeared" two centuries later.
"But that contradicts just everything we know about how religions develop - primitive societies are not known for "deep" thought, and abstraction comes about only as philosophical aspects evolve."
I won't be so sure about it. When I look at Zoroastrian texts where one god divides his pover to plenty deities and those plenty eventually partition their powers to horde of half-deities and angels I can easily imagine the same process in early Greek paganism - isn't Dzeus a grandchild of original gods? In my opinion there is no development in religion. There's just faith of wise guy (later called prophet, and eventually after years of regression, son of God) and then there are only regression, oportunism and greed of priests. I see Zurwanism as different philosophy but ALSO a kind of revival of original doctrine. Hinayana also "appears" 200 years after Mahayana, protestantism is also later than catholicism.
"You may also appear to be incorrectly assuming that the religion propagated by the Achaemenids (ended 330 BC) preserved "original doctrine" without modification or accretions." "Zurvanism was a sect or church or "tendency" within Zoroastrianism."
Yes! just like protestantism is a sect within christianity. Isn't it closer to original beliefs? There are some philosophical theories in it, such as predestination in Calvinism, caused by mental freedom apparrently connected with the fact of reformation itself. But despite this fact, protestantism is still purer than catholicism.
"And how do you know Zurvanists had never worshipped Ahriman? Absolutely nothing is known about Zurvanite worship. If it were not for non-Iranian accounts we wouldn't even know Zurvanism existed."
I don't "know" this. I just suppose they didn't simply because if they did, it will be a great occasion for other zoroastrians to accuse them. So, even if I find such an information - that Zurvanists worshipped Ahriman - I'll consider it's propaganda. It was only an argument about "dualism" of Zurwanism.
"then the later evidence of divine entities is not actually a regression of Zoroaster's teachings, but an adjustment of even older ideas to Zoroaster's teachings. This also did not occur centuries after Zoroaster, but is already evident in the "seven-chapter Yasna" and in the "three great prayers" and is hence part of oldest doctrine."
I just reject to believe that man who is wise and charismatic enough to start 27centuries-lasting religion could have believed in all those stupid deities. If what you say is true, this can only prove Zoroaster's failure in attempts to teach folks his religion, and that he was forced to incorporate this in his text. It say nothing about his personal beliefs. I suppose they can be reconstruncted using methods similar to those used in linguistics. I'm not competent to do such a thing, cause I haven't read all of the most improtant texts and most of what I've read was a double persian-greek-polish translation. But I suppose it can be done, and believe me, the most common languages are rarely the most similar to the original proto-language of their branch. Lithuanian is considered to be the most similar to proto-indoeuropean, allthought it must sound like exotic "language sect" to you - speaker of world-dominating primitive germanic language.
"if not altogether primitive and dumb, but its a free world and you're entitled to your opinion. :) "
Most of this argument is about interpretation of problems that cannot be solved by proves. I believe that there was always a proto-religion that was later destroyed by incorporation of folk's beliefs. In Egypt, Persia, christianity, germanic and greek paganism, maybe anywhere. I know that folk's beliefs are older than organised relligion, but folk's beliefs last for thousands years - still generally the same and they never produced religion. The only result of folk's beliefs is the destruction of original doctrines resulting in the similarity of religions round the globe. But the roots are different, only folks are always the same :P There ought to be something more than just folk's beliefs to make centuries-lasting religion. Something that later is dirtied and inunderstandable even for priests. For example: Now we can find where the pagan beliefs came from, even though their believers don't understand rituals and simply copy them from their fathers. It's just my opinion, and I'm happy to see that anyone cares about it ;) Hattivat 20:03, 6 May 2007 (UTC)
I have concetrated too much on my personal ideas in this comment. the most important of my points about this article on Zurwanism is that it shows Zurwanism as a "wrong version" of Zoroastrianism. This is the impression it gives readers. And I suppose this impression is wrong. The only thing that should be changed in my opinion is the inneutrality of presentation. The rest of article is fully professional and sometimes exceeds knowledge I managed to collect. -- Hattivat 20:12, 6 May 2007 (UTC)
- Well, for the most part, Zurvanism is considered a heresy or at the very least an apostatism, not just by Mazdaen Zoroastrians but in general academic circles as well. This also includes Zaehner, who is the authority on Zurvanism, though Zaehner does not use such words in his tour-de-force.
- The reasons why Zurvanism is considered a heresy have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with whether Zurvanism had fewer divinities or not (Zurvanism in fact had at least one more: Zurvan).
- That Zurvanism was closer to Zoroaster's own teachings (than present-day Zoroastrianism is) is your own reading. Noone (that I am aware of) ever said this. What Zaehner argued was that Zurvanism was closer to Zoroaster's own teachings than Achaemenid-era religion. Big difference. And even then, in only one crucial aspect: Zaehner believed that the "thinly disguised polytheism" of the Achaemenid-era diluted the prophet's principles of dualism (there is actually no evidence that this happened), and Zurvanism restored these (albeit in an excessive form). In any case, thats not why Zurvanism was considered a heresy. Those reasons are:
- a) Mazdaen Zoroastrianism has Mazda is at the top of the pantheon, Zurvanite Zoroastrianism has Zurvan at the top.
- b) Mazdaen Zoroastrianism has abstract/moral dualism, Zurvanite Zoroastrianism has physical entities that each represent one of the two dualistic aspect of Zurvan.
- c) Mazdaen Zoroastrianism is not monist (Mazda did not create badness). Zurvanite Zoroastrianism is monist (Zurvan also created badness).
- d) Mazdaen Zoroastrianism does not consider goodness/badness real (they are moral qualities). Zurvanism considers goodness and badness to be physical properties.
- e) Mazdaen Zoroastrianism has Free Will as a defining element. Zurvanite Zoroastrianism has fatalism as a defining element.
- >> So, even if I find such an information - that Zurvanists worshipped Ahriman - I'll consider it's propaganda.
- No form of Zoroastrianism ever worshipped Ahriman (Angra Mainyu). Never. You may wish to read the articles on Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu (and soon, also on Asha), to determine how different Zurvanism's concept of Angra Mainyu was in comparison to everything that preceded it. Where, for Zoroaster, Angra Mainyu is barely even mentioned, for Zurvanism it was a real entity, the hypostasis of malign thought. There is no such notion evident (or even alluded to) in any of the old texts: these texts (as well as all Zoroastrian texts that survive) have is the opposition/twinship of Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu, never ever for Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu.
- >> I just reject to believe that man who is wise and charismatic enough to start 27centuries-lasting religion could have believed in all those stupid deities.
- You're confusing Zurvanism with something else. Zurvanism did not have fewer divinities than any other kind of Zoroastrianism. Note also my use of "divinities" and not "deities": A *huge* difference in Zoroastrianism.
- You are also assuming that X is inherently superior to non-X system (as per your use of "stupid", or how "folk religion" is less worth than other kinds of religion).
- Ask yourself this: why should any kind of worship be more "stupid" than any other? Its arrogant to the extreme to assume that any single/particular form of worship is the best form of philosophical evolution, or that eastern philosophy has less merit than western philosophy.
- -- Fullstop 13:20, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
"Well, for the most part, Zurvanism is considered a heresy or at the very least an apostatism, not just by Mazdaen Zoroastrians but in general academic circles as well."
allright, but the articles about f.e. protestantism are using much more neutral words than this about zurvanism, although it's considered a heresy by catholic church. This the problem I see: wrong impression which article probably makes on guys, who don't want to read deeper. This article isn't written for specialists, but for average people who met strange word and want to know what it means.
"No form of Zoroastrianism ever worshipped Ahriman (Angra Mainyu). Never."
I know this. You are the one who asked how do i know this. So, it looks like you're answering your own question...
"You may wish to read the articles on Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu (and soon, also on Asha)"
I won't start this argument without reading about them.
"Where, for Zoroaster, Angra Mainyu is barely even mentioned, for Zurvanism it was a real entity, the hypostasis of malign thought."
the same in christianity - how much do they know about heaven, hell, angels and demons from bible? pretty little. how much they talk about those things? pretty much, and every "church" has its own concepts. We can't be sure what it was for Zoroaster, just like we can't be sure, what did Jesus really said about hell. The "development" of each and every religion i know tend to be similar. First dogmas and greedy church, then protestantism, first one god, then hundreds of them. It's beginning to be boring for me.
"Zurvanism did not have fewer divinities than any other kind of Zoroastrianism."
umm. how could you know this if in the preceeding post you haven't even known if they were praying to ahriman or not? And, what is really improtant for me is that as far as i know, Ahura mazda in zurvanist concepts wasn't partitioning his powers between other "divinities" (<= for polish speaker there's no difference, and I doubt there was for illiteral persian folk), he was just creating them.
"a) Mazdaen Zoroastrianism has Mazda is at the top of the pantheon, Zurvanite Zoroastrianism has Zurvan at the top."
how could you prove that they ever worshipped Zurvan himself? I have never met an opinion like this, and as far as i know, there is no evidence that zurvan was anything more than symbol of time, infinity and space.
"how "folk religion" is less worth than other kinds of religion"
cause it never changes. it's always the same in its core, everywhere in the world, no matter how hard priests try to change it. It changes its "skin" to fit to new religious reality, but the core is always the same. I bet that a group of kids left alone on island would generate the same religion, maybe after few generations, maybe after few years. that's why i consider it primitive and destructive.
"why should any kind of worship be more "stupid" than any other? Its arrogant to the extreme to assume that any single/particular form of worship is the best form of philosophical evolution, or that eastern philosophy has less merit than western philosophy."
playing that everything is equal is leading us to the destruction. there is no equality in natural world, and there will never be unless it's false or virtual. And I have never used a word "worse", i just said primitive. Archery is more primitive than gunpowder, which doesn't mean that archery isn't useful. If I have used "in my opinion" at the beginning of every sentence, would it make you happy? I can do that, but i suppose it's pointless.
Hattivat 22:05, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
- >> "but the articles about f.e. protestantism are using much more neutral words than this about zurvanism"
- a) Zurvanism is extinct. b) The article is reasonably well balanced in that it reflects academic consensus and present-day Zoroastrian opinion. Indeed it is almost gives one dissenting opinion too loud a voice (but does so because the dissenting opinion is an authority). See "That Zurvanism is altogether considered the heresy is however remarkable since ..." etc. c) There is absolutely no way/reason to suppose/present Zurvanism as having been a constructive/positive cultural development (unless of course, the reader confuses Theosophy with Zoroastrianism)
- >>"Zurvanism did not have fewer divinities than any other kind of Zoroastrianism."
- >>umm. how could you know this
- because a) Zurvanism was not a fundamentally different religion b) Zurvanism had Zurvan (ergo, at least one more than Mazdaism has) c) the astrological assignment of planets/stars to various divinities is a Zurvanite thing (and is one of the reasons why Zurvan is thought to be of Chaldean origin). d) all Indo-Iranian religions have a pantheon.
- >>"a) Mazdaen Zoroastrianism has Mazda is at the top of the pantheon, Zurvanite Zoroastrianism has Zurvan at the top."
- >>how could you prove that they ever worshipped Zurvan himself?
- First, I didn't say Zurvanites worshipped Zurvan. Second, that depends on how you define "worship". Did Zurvanites acknowledge Time as a god? Yes. Was he the focus of a cult? Probably not. Zurvanites probably conceived of him as remote and aloof. In most ways, Zurvan was probably not very much different from Chronos.
- >>And, what is really improtant for me is that as far as i know, Ahura mazda in zurvanist concepts wasn't partitioning his powers between other "divinities"
- Ahura Mazda does not "partition his powers" in *any* kind of Zoroastrianism. Ahura Mazda is *the* Creator. In Mazdaism, Ahura Mazda is also the universal and transcendental God. In Zurvanism, Ahura Mazda is neither universal nor transcendental (Time is).
- -- Fullstop 08:37, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
The relation of Yezidism with Zurvanism
- Yezidism might be related to the ancient Zurvanism. Especially the dual character of it and the fact that they allegedly respect devil is very similar to Zurvanism, in that in Zurvanism acknowledges Angra Mainyu and Ahura Mazda as opposite equals! --Babakexorramdin (talk) 15:12, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
- I thought that Zurvanism was actually a little less dualistic than most other forms of Zoroastrianism... AnonMoos (talk) 08:15, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
- It depends on how you look at it. In Zurvanism Ahura Mazda and Angra mainyu, in other words the God and devil are both equal and subjugated to Zurvan (=Time). If time is considered as the Creator then it is a monist religion, but traditionally the God is thought to be the creator. It is still dubious whether we can regard the Malik Tavus of Yezidis as the devil. It is also not said that they see it as equal as to God, but the very fact that they respect it and recognize it as one of the two major forces makes the Yezidism more look like Zurvanism, I think.--Babakexorramdin (talk) 13:01, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
- I thought that Zurvanism was actually a little less dualistic than most other forms of Zoroastrianism... AnonMoos (talk) 08:15, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
mistaken identification: Irradiant
I was reading (Zaehner's "Zoroastrian Survivals in Iranian Folklore", Iran, Vol. 3, (1965), pp. 87-96) and (Kreyenbroek's Introduction of "Zoroastrian Survivals in Iranian Folklore II, Iran, Vol. 30, (1992), pp. 65-75) and I think we should add/change a sentence or two to the section Zurvanism#Mistaken_Identity like:
In his first manuscript of his book 'Zurvan', R C Zaehner incorrectly identified the Mithraic lion-headed deity with the representation of Zurvan. He later admits at the proof stage that this was a "positive mistake"; the lion-headed deity being a representation of the evil being deus Ahreimanius or Ahriman: In his works in 60s, Zaehner had "argued earlier that the Lion-headed divinity of Roman Mithraism represented Ahriman rather than Zurvan, regarded the evidence of" Irradiant (Persian:Nurafgan), a popular epic written in broken English by an Iranian village-man Ali Mirdrakvandi in 1944-46, as "confirmation of this view." In Irradiant, the character "Lionish God" is the opponent of "Heavenly God", he suffers from "after-knowledge", and his role in Irradiant is very similar to that of Ahriman in the Zoroastrian Cosmogony; it could therefore be surmised that the lion was a widely recognised symbol of Ahriman. However..such an identification is not without problems." (cf. Zaehner 1965 and Kreyenbroek 1992). However, this has...
I read about Irradiant from Zaehner 1965 and I found it worth an article, that's why I made a red link for Irradiant (see also EIr's Mirdrakvandi). Not only the boy Irradiant (Nurafgan) or the story looks very funny but also very nice and interesting. What others think?--Xashaiar (talk) 00:23, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
- The suggestion sounds like its not related to Zurvanism. Zaehner merely mentions the leontocephaline in relation to the changes in his manuscript. Don't forget that the theory that Mithraic mysteries was an outgrowth of Zoroastrianism was still (somewhat) current in 1965. That idea is of course obsolete now, but back then people were still struggling to explain the Roman religion in those terms.
ps: The identification of the leontocephaline with Zurvan is from Franz Cumont, anno 1896-1899. The identification of the leontocephaline with Ahriman is from Francis Legge, anno 1912-1914.
- A discussion of the leontocephaline does not of course belong in this article since it has nothing to do with the topic. Iranians did not follow a Roman religion, and Roman iconography has no place in a discussion of Iranian beliefs. The ostensible relationship between Zurvanism and the lion-headed figure can be summarized in two sentences: "It was once supposed that the lion-headed figure of the Mithraic mysteries was a depiction of Zurvan. This theory, postulated by Franz Cumont in the 1890s, is no longer current."
- Of course, the survival of Zurvanite myths in an Iranian context would be relevant. But that does not include any lion-headedness. The "widely recognised" (from one story?) symbolism could just as well be generally Zoroastrian, and not specifically Zurvanite. It would not even have to be specifically Iranian; Gnosticism's Yaldabaoth had a lion-head too. -- Fullstop (talk) 15:07, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
- ps: Off-topic, but if you're interested in the leontocephaline,...
- For a more recent theory on the Ahriman-is-name-of-leontocephaline, see
- Jackson, H. M. (1985), "The Meaning and Function of the Leontocephaline in Roman Mithraism", Numen, 32 (1): 17–45.
- For a general survey of the various leontocephaline theories, see
- Hinnels, J. R. (1975), "Reflections on The Lion-Headed Figure in Mithraism", Monumentum H. S. Nyberg, vol 1, Acta Iranica II, Leiden: Brill, pp. 333–369.
- For a more recent theory on the Ahriman-is-name-of-leontocephaline, see
- Note that even if the the Romans called the figure Zurvan or Ahriman or whatever, such an act would not imply that the figure had the characteristics of Zurvan or Ahriman or whatever. The Roman-Iranian connection is only superficial. In essence, the Greco-Romans gave their own ideas an exotic gloss by associating them with exotic names. The Mithraic mysteries was basically just zodiacal esoterica, literally "New Age".
- You are certainly right that Iranian did not follow ideas from Roman religion. I was just trying to say that Zaehner's identification of Roman lion-headed with Ahriman had a base (for him) in a story (whose attempt sounds like to show the influence from Iranian side rather than Roman side. No?). The story sounded very interesting to me. Thanks for the references.--Xashaiar (talk) 20:02, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Zurvan = Finite time
according to http://www.hinduwebsite.com/zoroastrianism/cycles.asp:
(Mazda) first created
- Good Progress,
- then Finite Time From Infinite Time.
Out of His own Self, out of the Essence of Light, He created the astral body of his creatures.
He brought forth the temporal Beneficient Immortals.
In the words of Bundahishn,
- "He, first, created forth Vohuman, out of Good-Progress, the Essence of Light..
- and then, He created Ardwahisht,
- then Sahrewar,
- then Spendarmad,
- then Hordad
- and Amurdad;
- the seventh, Ohrmazd himself;
It is this second Mazda (Ohrmazd) that is the son of Zurvan (finite time) not the first one.
The article is wrong when it states that Mazdaism simply takes up where Zurvanism leaves off.
Just granpa (talk) 17:31, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Zurvanism and Monotheism
My impression of classical, orthodox Zoroastrianism is that it was fundamentally dualistic, and that Zurvanism was a monist heresy rather than "extreme dualism" (to quote the present article). Furthermore, I find the frequent references to a modern monotheistic religion in this article irrelevant. Modern Zoroastrians have been subjected to a lot of pressure from aggressive monotheists for a long time. In Islamic Iran, one had to call oneself a monotheist as a matter of necessity, or rather, survival. Also, this article references the Gathas without citation or reference to translators, as though the doctrines expressed in the Gathas are undisputed.
The article indicates that Y 45.2 speaks of Mazda as the one uncreated God. I beg to differ:
- Then shall I speak of the two primal Spirits of existence, of whom the Very Holy thus spoke to the Evil One: "Neither our thoughts nor teachings nor wills, neither or words nor choices nor acts, not our inner selves nor our souls agree." Y 45.2 [Boyce, Textual Sources for the Study of Zoroastrianism]
- I shall tell you now of the Two Spirits at the beginning of Creation. The Holier of the two thus speaks to the Evil One: "Neither our thoughts nor our teachings, Neither intentions nor choices, Neither our words nor our deeds, Neither our consciences nor our souls ever agree" [trans. Irani]
The article also provides Y 44.7 as an example of monotheism in the Gathas, but I don't see it:
- This I ask Thee, tell me truly, O Ahura; Who established blessed Armaity, the spirit of Benevolence, in the exalted dominion? Who, with foresight, made the son reverential to the father? Thus I seek to comprehend Thee, O Mazda, Through the Benevolent Spirit, the Giver of all! [trans. Irani]
What Zarathushtra really said is a matter of scholarly dispute. I find the references to monotheism in the Gathas highly questionable, but that is another discussion. The fact of the matter is that the Avesta, as the Persians of antiquity knew it, is full of dualism. The present article gives the impression that Zoroastrianism can be either monotheistic, polytheistic, or Zurvanist. I think this needs to be corrected to make clear the fact that the dualism is essential to Zoroastrianism, whether we regard "true" Mazda worship truly monotheistic or not. Because "monotheism" is being used in such an unclear way in this article, I suggest that the term not be applied without clarification.
To cite an example of the present article's confusion about the subject:
- That Zurvanism is altogether considered the heresy is however remarkable since the strict dualism that was implicit to the cult was more in line with the dualism alluded to in Zoroaster's own Gathas ...
It's not remarkable, because the heretical aspect of Zurvanism was not its dualism. Its dualism was not strict, but rather, its dualism was watered down with monism. The heretical aspect was the monism--the monotheistic bent--of Zurvanism. The fact that Zurvanism attempted to usurp Zoroastrian dualism with a higher, amoral monotheism (a deity that, as Nietzsche would put it, was "beyond good and evil") is what would have upset dualist Zoroastrians. For this very reason, Zurvanism is far from dead. It is alive and well in modern monotheistic Zoroastrianism under the guise of, well, monotheism.
Mary Boyce gives a highly pertinent example of Zurvanism in modern monotheistic Zoroastrianism:
- [Maneckji] Dhalla explicitly accepted a modern Western version of the old Zurvanite heresy, according to which Ahura Mazda himself was the hypothetical 'father' of the twin Spirits of Y 30.3 ... Yet though Dhalla thus, under foreign influences, abandoned the fundamental doctrine of the absolute separation of good and evil, his book still breathes the sturdy, unflinching spirit of orthodox Zoroastrian dualism. [Zoroastrians, 1979]