The Human Truth Foundation

Zoroastrianism

By Vexen Crabtree 2018


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#afghanistan #atheism #christianity #dualism #hong_kong #incest #india #Iran #islam #judaism #marriage #mithraism #monotheism #polytheism #zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism
Links: Pages on Zoroastrianism, Other Religions
The symbol of Zoroastrianism - wide bird-like wings and a man holding a ring
God(s)Atheist / Dualist Monotheist / Polytheist
AdherentZoroastrian
AdherentsZoroastrians
TextsAvesta
Afterlife
Founding
HeritagePrehistoric
Area of OriginPersia (now Iran)
WhenBefore 5th century BCE
FounderBy Zoroaster
Numbers in the UK (Census results)
20013 73820114 105
Zoroastrians Worldwide (Pew & WM)
World: 0.00278%. Iran (0.0924%), Tajikistan (0.036%), Seychelles (0.03%), Kazakhstan (0.015%), Kyrgyzstan (0.015%), Afghanistan (0.014%), Sri Lanka (0.012%), Canada (0.01%), Australia (0.00807%), Hong Kong (0.00786%) 1

Zoroastrianism is one of the most ancient religions about which anything is known, and is over 3,000 years old2. It still has followers today3. It arose in ancient pre-Islamic Iran "in the eastern and south-central regions of the Iranian world, between the great mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush and Seistan, an area that today is divided between Iran and Afghanistan" and it still survives there, although it faces constant and sometimes violent persecution. It was supposedly founded by Zarathustra (Zoroaster)2.

It is in many ways monotheistic, in that there is a single creator god (Ahura Mazda)4, and this makes it a significant precursor to many of the religions that later rose in a similar vein, including the monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But Zoroastrianism is often called dualistic5 because most concerns are to do with Ahura Mazda's twin children "Spentu Mainyu ('beneficient spirit') and Angra Mainyu ('hostile spirit')"2. The hostile spirit is better known by its Middle Persian equivalent: Ahriman. Their different temperaments arise "from the choice they made between 'truth,' asha, and the 'lie,' druj, between good thoughts, good words, and good deeds and evil thoughts, evil words and evil deeds"2. The battle between these two define the theology of Zoroastrianism and this dualistic idea of 'spiritual warfare' remain with monotheistic religions to this day, especially Christianity and Islam5, although the perceived balanced between God and Satan is different.

Zoroastrian scholarship has always had to contend with considerable difficulties because sources of knowledge about the religion, in particular those pertaining to its earliest period, are few and conflicting. The Avesta, a collection of texts gathered in writing during the fourth and sixth century CE, has survived only in part, and it presents a heterogeneous picture.

"The Encyclopedia of Religion" by Eliade Mircea (1987)6

Problematic Doctrine: Incest and Decline: Zoroastrianism, like Judaism, has strict rules against marrying outsiders (called exogamy)7. Followers of Zoroaster in India are called Parsis, and some of that community moved to Hong Kong, but at even their height there were never more than 100 of them7. Such a small community, only marrying each other and the occasional Parsi from Mumbai in India, struggled to expand8. Incest is part of official Zoroastrian doctrine, wherein it is called Xvaetvadatha - marriage between cousins in particular was called 'marriages made in heaven'. Zoroastrian culture is also very wary of accepting conversions7, and this combined with incest and a shrinking base of adherents has placed Zoroastrianism in a poor position globally, and the religion is "significantly declining"7.

Mithraism: The Roman mystery religion Mithraism developed out of Zoroastrian ideas. See: Mithraism and Early Christianity.

Current edition: 2018 Jul 21
http://www.humanreligions.info/zoroastrianism.html
Parent page: A List of All Religions and Belief Systems

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References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

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Clarke, Peter B.. Peter B. Clarke: Professor Emeritus of the History and Sociology of Religion, King's College, University of London, and currently Professor in the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford, UK.
(2011) The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion. Originally published 2009. Current version published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. A paperback book.

Eliade, Mircea
(1987, Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Religion. Published by Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, USA. 16 huge volumes. Eliade is editor-in-chief. Entries are alphabetical, so, no page numbers are given in references, just article titles. A hardback book.

Momen, Moojan
(1999) The Phenomenon Of Religion: A Thematic Approach. Published by Oneworld Publications, Oxford, UK. A paperback book. Book Review.

Murray et al.
(2009) Hammond Atlas of World Religions. Published by Hammond World Atlas Corporation, Langenscheidt Publishing Group, New York, USA. Contributing authors: Stuart A.P. Murray; Robert Huber; Elizabeth Mechem; Sarah Novak; Devid West Reynolds, PhD; Tricia Wright; Thomas Cussans. A hardback book.

Plüss, Caroline. Assistant Professor in the Division of Sociology School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technical University, Singapore.
(2011) Migration and the Globalization of Religion. This is chapter 27 (pages 491-506) of "The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion" by Peter B. Clarke (2011)1 (pages 491-506). Clarke, Peter B.. Peter B. Clarke: Professor Emeritus of the History and Sociology of Religion, King's College, University of London, and currently Professor in the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford, UK.
(2011) The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion. Originally published 2009. Current version published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. A paperback book.

Worldmapper
(2008) Worldmapper Datasets 551-582: Religion. Worldmapper Datasets 551-582: Religion (2008 Mar 26) on worldmapper.org/.../religion_data.xls, accessed 2013 Nov 11. Authored by John Protchard, published by SASI, University of Shieffield. Data is for year 2005, with some datasets being edited from original sources to remove the effects of double-counting, and, adjusting for population changes between 2002 and 2005.

Footnotes

  1. Worldmapper (2008) .^
  2. Eliade (1987) Volume 15 entry "Zoroastrianism".^
  3. Murray et al. (2009). P.v. listed amongst 12 current world religions.^
  4. See the Avestan liturgical texts, the Yasna, 44:3-52^
  5. Momen (1999). Chapter 9 "Suffering, Sacrifice and Salvation" p217.^
  6. Eliade (1987). Volume 15 entry "Zoroastrianism".^
  7. Plüss (2011). P494.^
  8. Plüss, Caroline. "Constructing Globalized Ethnicity: Migrants from India in Hong Kong". Published in International Sociology, 20/2: 201-24. In Plüss (2011) P494..^

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