Zoroastrianism, the ancient Iranian religion that is somewhat monotheism, with shades of grey as there are two competing Gods, good and evil, is said by many to have assimilated with Judaism during the Babylonian exile. Many believe Cyrus was a Zoroastrian, and also the “Magi from the east” who visited Jesus, were most likely Zoroastrians, as Magi was a term for Zoroastrian astrologers, which played important roles in that religion. I at times wonder if the learning of the faiths in Babylon made Magi aware that the Jews were waiting on a Messiah, and the star which guided them to Jesus was a learned thing for the Magi from the Jewish scriptures. Is there any reference to Zoroastrianism in the Bible? It is almost certain during the exile the two faiths would have come to know each other, and it seems almost certain the two most likely assimilated some traditions from each other. I have never read the Avesta( Sacred text of Zoroastrianism) but I really want to some day.
I read an article a while ago and it pointed out that Zoroastrian sacred text was written after the founding of Christianity. It’s Christianity that influenced Zoroastrianism on concepts like the messiah. The only Zoroastrian concept that predates Christianity is the good vs evil in a great battle at the end of time which is mainly found in the Book of Revelation.
You asked this exact same question yesterday, and were given an answer. If you had further questions, why not post in that topic instead of starting a new one?
This article discusses these types of claims and how they should be addressed: Is Catholicism Pagan?
I was told by the guy running the forum I should move question to this thread. What does Zoroastrianism have to do with paganism? It was arguably the first monotheistic religion though Judaism seems to parallel it. The Zend Avesta is written around 8 B.C. most scholars believe, possibly older.
The same principles apply when looking at comparing Judaism / Christianity to any other religion, especially when people are claiming that the other religion influenced Christianity.
Could you please site some (scholarly) sources for your timeline?
I have a book Anagatamsa Desana by John Clifford Holt and he implies that the Zoroastrian belief in the Saoshyant influenced the cult of the Maitreya … He writes:
“It’s possible that the origins of his cult were influenced by the diffusion throughout ancient northern India of Zoroastrian soteriological beliefs concerning Saosyant, the victorious cosmic saviour figure expected to lead the forces of goodness and light to triumph over the forces of evil and darkness at the end of time…”
In the Bible there’s Cyrus the Lord’s anointed…
So yes I’d say there’s a lot of influence on western religions by Zoroastrainism.
Then by all means argue the case. That is what ‘arguably’ means, after all.
It would seem to me, Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism as much as a broken off branch influences a tree trunk’s growth.
Look at Moses coming down from the mountain to find the people clamoring over a man made god, just because he went away for a bit.
2 competing gods - seems to me Zoroastrianism would have been influenced by it’s member’s history in knowledge of God and Lucifer post fall (Evil), only these members raised Lucifer to a level that he can never achieve, as much as he hopes - to be a god.
Seems like the influence is probably flipped.
People of both religions influenced one another. There are other Zoroastrian concepts that predate the life of Jesus. Zoroastrians believed in a personal spirit (fravashi) that survived the death of the physical body, a future Saviors (three, actually), a category of spiritual beings comparable to angels, and a type of guardian angel, each person being assigned his own particular such. Several gathas composed by Zoroaster still exist. Most of the sacred or “deuterocanonical” scriptures revered by Zoroastrians, despite having been written after Zoroaster’s life, nonetheless can be expected to include his teachings. The earliest followers would, like the apostles of Jesus, handed down stories, teachings, parables, prayers, and so on. While the exact wording may have changed, at least in some cases, the content would have been preserved. Like the Traditions of the Catholic Church.
Much of it is interesting and thought-provoking. Some, however, is disturbing, such as the origin of human races, and the belief that the life of an unbeliever is worth less than the life of a believer, which belief is common among all religions today as well, it seems. The Zor. scriptures, historical documents, and even “epistles,” are available in many places, such as avesta.org
A major division that I encountered was between those who believe non-Zorastrians may convert to Zoroastrians, and those who believe the number of Zoroastrians is set, the result of belief in a certain type of reincarnation, or because of an inherent inability for the lineage of demons to “change their spots.”
There are many similaries. You might find it hard to believe that Zoroastrian believe in seven spirits called Amesha Spentas. Belief in these spirits is necessary is necessary to live in peace.
It is unquestionably one of the earliest. Atenism may have a competing claim as the first monotheist religion.
But Judaism didn’t move from henotheism to monotheism until after contact with Zoroastrianism.
EZRA, THE SUBVERTER OF JUDAISM
In 397 B.C. Ezra, a courtier of the Persian king, was sent from Babylon “to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances” (Ezra 7:10). Ezra had been born and educated as a divine reader in Babylon and was sent by Artaxerxes to see if the people of Judea “be agreeable to the law of God”. There are explicit indications of widespread religious conversion in Ezra 6:19-21 and Nehemiah 10:28-29, but why would Jews have to convert to Judaism? Nehemiah, chapter 8, discusses an event where Ezra read from the book of law which neither Hebrew speakers nor Aramaic speakers could understand - the words had to be translated by priests. What strange language could Ezra have been reading, Avestan maybe? Ezra’s major reform was the prohibition of foreign wives. Although marrying foreign wives had always been the most favored Jewish practice, such marriages violate Zoroastrian law (e.g. Denkard, Book 3, ch 80). The alien nature of other laws to the Jews shows itself in the distinction between clean and unclean animals in Leviticus and Ezekial which was derived from the Vendidad, a Zoroastrian holy book, where alone it is explained. The purification rituals are identical in the Pentateuch and the older Vendidad. Von Gall in Brasileia tou Theou, 1926, gives a detailed catalog of Jewish laws taken from the Persians. Ezra also introduced the new festival of booths in the seventh month, which is of course the Zoroastrian holiday of Ayathrem. Finally, in about 400 B.C. the Old Testament was put in written form when Jerusalem was still under the power of the Persians.
SADDUCEES VS PHARISEES
The Jews greatly resisted the imposition of Zoroastrianism charading as Judaism. The construction of the temple designed by the great Persian king Cyrus for the Jews was delayed by both political and physical means. “The true Israelis” built their own temple on MT. Gerizim and wrote Jerusalem out of their Pentateuch. So, whatever the Persian governors and priests were doing in Jersusalem in the name of Judaism, it caused a great schism. The Sadducees, the ‘purists’, made up over 97% of the population and believed in “no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit” (Acts 23:8) - in a word, no Persian ideas. The Pharisees or Persian faction - Pharisee, Parsee, Farsi - never numbered very high, not more than 6,000, although only Pharisaism survived the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Question: Monotheism or Dualism? Zurvanite Confusions with Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism today is monotheistic, acknowledging only a single divine being. However, many people today are familiar with stories – often from world history or comparative religion classes – that portray Zoroastrianism as a dualism featuring two opposing deities. Ahura Mazda, sometimes called Ohrmazd, is portrayed as the deity of goodness and creation, while Angra Mainyu, also called Ahriman, is the deity of evil and destruction.
The proper name for this belief is Zurvanism, which evolved out of Zoroastrianism. In the third century BCE it was widespread enough to even have official support, and it lasted all the way into the tenth century CE. However, in the intervening centuries, Zurvanism influenced a variety of writings, including those reaching Western Europe. These became the West’s first views of Persian religion and profoundly shaped the West’s understanding of Zoroastrianism.
Today, Zurvanite dualism is considered a heresy to Zoroastrians. Besides the twin deities of good and evil. Zurvanism also taught the existence of Zurvan, the deification of time and the creator of Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu. This is completely contrary to modern Zoroastrian understanding, which holds that there is only a single deity, Ahura Mazda, who is all things and subordinate to nothing.
That is a very good point. The Jewish people did acknowledge the God of Israel as their God, but how many times in the historical books did they also acknowledge Baal or others whom the people would constantly leave the worship of their God to worship. It is true, it seems it wasn’t until following the Babylonian exile that there was a complete faith in only one God. Also interestingly Zoroastrianism had aspects of waiting for a messiah, which we don’t hear much of until following Babylon… Now I am not saying that the entire Jewish faith is based off of their beliefs, but it does seem like following Babylon many of these beliefs and views of God did change. In Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda is the beginning and the end, the creator of everything that can and cannot be seen, the Eternal, the Pure and the only Truth. In the Gathas, the most sacred texts of Zoroastrianism thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, the prophet acknowledged devotion to no other divinity besides Ahura Mazda.I mean that sounds a lot like Jews devoting their God. And before that Moses said only to worship one God, but come on, after reading Kings and Chronicles, anyone is aware that they were not good at doing that. It is almost repetitive how many times they turned their backs on God, and then would come back when they realized they messed up. It seems that following Babylon a new understanding was shaped in regards to their beliefs. This is why I ask this, is it possible that the sharing of monotheistic principles with the Zoroastrians gave them a stronger belief in their one God? And not to sound blasphemous but is it possible they thought of their God as the same God as the God of Zoroastrians?
Atenism is a very interesting thing to study as Atenokim, forgive me if the spelling is wrong, really came out of nowhere and changed the religion of Egypt to a single worship of the “sun God”. The thing is that only Aten himself could talk to the God, and the people had to worship him in reflection of that, so whether that is a monotheism is arguable.
I always liked the debate that it is possible Aten was the Pharoah in Exodus, and that he possibly changed to worshipping one God after seeing the events unfold depicted in Exodus. Another view that I don’t like as much is that Moses may have been inspired by Aten and worshipping one God.
Many people think they did. I will try and find a source for that.
Sometimes it is claimed that Zoroastrianism evolved over time and only adopted the messiah (saoshyant) after contact with Christianity. But this makes little sense when you look at the whole context. The concept of renovation of the world and the final defeat of evil is at the very core of the religion, and was present from the start. So even if not mentioned explicitly in the earlier texts, the renovating messiah fits coherently into the whole picture. On the other hand, second temple Judaism is a totally different religion from the pre-exilic period.
As and Indo-European religion Zoroastrianism would have had notions of cyclical time and ages of the universe. In fact we know they did because Zoroastrian rituals, which are known to be a continuation of the preceding religion, are a ritual recreation of the cyclical process of the universe. It is perhaps from these origins that a saviour coming like some sort of cosmic “changing of the guard” would have emerged from.
What I am saying is that a messiah fits into the Zoroastrian religion coherently, whereas it didn’t appear in Judaism until after contact with Zoroastrianism, and clashes entirely with previous “Jewish” beliefs.
And what do you need a messiah for unless you need to defeat evil and reconcile the world with the heavens? A messiah makes no sense unless you have the Zoroastrian features first.
The earliest Zoroastrian texts are written in a language as old as the Vedas. The language was already out of use and purely liturgical before the birth of Christ.
In fact, great battles at the end of time are a feature of Indo-European religion, not of Semitic religion. We can see traces of this in Ragnarok or in the destruction-rebirth cycles of Hinduism. This is in Zoroastrianism’s DNA, there are no grounds to claim it is a latter adoption. The only difference if the moralistic message of Zoroaster himself. We know the Gathas are much older that the exilic period and can be reasonably traced back to the religion’s founder. Therefore, a battle between morality and the renovation of the world are elements which were there from the start.