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Textual Sources for the Study of Zoroastrianism (Textual Sources for the Study of Religion)

by Mary Boyce

Buy the book: Mary Boyce. Textual Sources for the Study of Zoroastrianism (Textual Sources for the Study of Religion)

Release Date: November, 1990

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Mary Boyce. Textual Sources for the Study of Zoroastrianism (Textual Sources for the Study of Religion)

Finally some good primary sources

This book is a real gem as is the whole series. Series editor John Hinnels, himself an expert on Zoroastrianism he wrote Zorastrians in Britain, has done a good job of getting many experts to put together the most important sources on the world religions. In this one Mary Boyce, the authority on Zoroastrianism and Professor emeritus at the University of London gives us some basic sources. Anyone studying Zoroastrianism knows that new editions of the primary sources dont come out very often. This book contains only selections of the Avesta, Vendidad and other works unfortunately. However, it does contain many other sources including works from Herodutos, Strabo and my personal favorite a newspaper report of the new Atash Bahram in Bombay dated 1897. This is essential for anyone with an interest in the subject.

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Excellent Literary Excavation, Dubious Date

If you're interested in Zoroaster and the religion that came to bear his name, this book is essential reading. In it, Mary Boyce extracts and organizes texts from the now-(I gather)-degenerate form the Avesta has taken in the centuries since the religion became marginalized by Muslim conquest, into a comprehensible, rational sequence covering the the entire history of the religion. The translations are clear. The only caveat I have is her justification of a late Bronze Age date for the time of Zoroaster's life. Other than the archaic language of the Gathas and the simplicity of the society presupposed in the text, she offers no evidence, archaeological or otherwise, for the preservation, transmission, and flowering, in the later Persian empire, of Zoroaster's singular viewpoint. She requires a huge leap of faith the reasonable reader shouldn't have to make. For this reason, William Malandra's "Introduction to Ancient Iranian Religion" is a valuable companion and counterpoint. When reading about archaic language and viewpoints, it's good to keep in mind our own experience with King James English and pastoral religious imagery, in a society where people speak modern English and have never seen shepherds or sheep!

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