Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Evil, Good and Gender: Facets of the Feminine in Zoroastrian Religious History

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Evil, Good and Gender: Facets of the Feminine in Zoroastrian Religious History

Article excerpt

Evil, Good and Gender: Facets of the Feminine in Zoroastrian Religious History

Jamsheed K Choksy

Peter Lang, New York, 2002-04-15

As the title suggests, this work is aimed at a feminist audience, but it is nevertheless an erudite and scholarly work unblemished by gender bias. Whereas Zoroastrianism grew out of an early undifferentiated Indo-European religious tradition, the author shows how it was affected by Middle Eastern cultural influences. Similarly, he shows the subsequent influence of Zoroastrianism on Islam, which led to the rise of Sufi'ism after the Islamic conquest of Iran.

The Indo-European tradition is reflected in the Zoroastrian concept of a struggle between Asha, order and reality - equated with righteousness - and Drug, which represented disorder and illusion. This reflected the established Indo-European reverence for Truth, in contradistinction from the many other cultures which respected the arts of falsehood and dissimulation. Thus, to Zoroastrians the universe was the setting for a struggle between Truth and the Lie, between the Mazda Ahura of the radiant sky (later known as Ahura Mazda in the Avesta), representing revealing Light and Order, and Angra Mainyu, representing falsehood, illusion and chaos.

While the author traces the origins of the Indo-Iranians to the steppes of Western Eurasia, Indo-Iranian religious concepts continued to evolve up to Sasanian times (5th through 7th centuries CE). Some attribute to the Indo-Iranians the invention of monotheism, and Zoroastrian beliefs in the struggle between a god of goodness and a supernatural being representing evil undoubtedly influenced Christianity, as reflected in references to the magi or wise men of the East in the Christian bible. …

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