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Phoenix: The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism

by R.C. Zaehner

Buy the book: R.C. Zaehner. Phoenix: The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism

Release Date: 28 May, 2003

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: R.C. Zaehner. Phoenix: The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism


A Reprint of a Magisterial work on Zoroastrianism

When I first read this book I was still in high school. I found it on the shelves of the library of the University of Montana. Since I was not, of course, a University student at that time, I could not check it out. So I spent hours upon hours reading it in the library, returning day after day. I simply could not put the darn thing down. For here was a book on an ancient and hardly known prophet of Iran who taught an ethical monotheism centuries before the birth of Christ. Though Zaehner's work has been, in some respects, superseded by others who have followed him (such as Mary Boyce), no work on the subject before or since conveys so vividly, profoundly, and movingly the religious genius of Zoroaster. Furthermore, there has not appeared any work which deals so thoroughly or so sympathetically with the scholastic theology of the Zoroastrian priests during the Sassanian empire. Zaehner demonstrates, by means of hundreds of quotes (which he explains in a masterly fashion) that the Sassianian philosopher priests proposed a powerful solution to the problem of evil, a solution that still ought to be carefully studied by theists of any religious tradition. The final chapter, dealing with Zoroastrian eschatology, is still unrivaled, as a recent Zoroastrian scholar, Shaul Shaked, has confessed in print. Mary Boyce may think the work is "basically unsound", but such a sentiment is unworthy of her (for it is a kind of patricide), and it smells to me of "sour grapes". The reprint of this book after so many years is welcome indeed to any person who takes faith in a personal God seriously.

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