Zoroastrianism

Did Zoroastrianism bring the ideas of heaven, hell, resurrection? and Satan into ancient Judaism? If so, how can this be harmonized with the Jews being God’s chosen people? How can Christianity be true if it is derived from Jewish add-ons to Zoroastrianism?

Hi FirefromHeaven

Don’t you believe in the Catholic teaching that God has “always” spoken and guided His creation in matters relating to Truth?

Why, therefore would you not believe that Zoroaster was a Messenger/Prophet spoken to by God for the purposes of guiding His people?

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There is someone named Zoroaster?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroaster

Throughout creation, people have tried to reach God, though there are errors in all religions except one, most world religions have at least some common principals. God chose to reveal Himself to Abraham. The other religions tried to reach God, in doing so they probably came to know some basic truths. In the end however, only one Church has the ability to save souls, that does not mean one must be a literal member of the Church, because there is such thing as invisible ignorance.

I don’t think it matters that a religion is derived from another, it can still be a true religion, especially if its beliefs are more correct than the religion it derives from. I think this is true in the case of Christianity - most of its beliefs (although not all) are more correct than either Judaism or Zoroastrianism.

I just get confused how we base what is true or correct as opposed as to what is less true or correct.

Usually most people think whatever they believe is the correct version of reality. In all cases that is not true. Every religion has some mistaken beliefs.

Among three mentioned above, Christianity seems to have the most correct beleifs.

However, all the mistaken beliefs will be corrected when the Christ returns and explains them to people.

We (us Catholics) are lucky in that we can turn to what the Church teaches when we get confused over issues of the truth, theology, and morality.

You are using a shallow explanation of the Church’s teachings regarding the universality of the Truth in order to put forth the false idea that Zoroaster could have been a “Messenger/Prophet spoken to by God for the purposes of guiding His people.” We can know that Zoroaster wasn’t a prophet from the very same source you reference in order to justify your position- namely the Church does not and has never held Zoroaster to have been a prophet of God.

I don’t believe the Church can comment.

If reason is to be used, one can say that it is reasonable that Jesus received a Revelation from God.

Why is it then that, having studied the life and Revelation of Zoroaster, you would deny this same reality.

He received a Revelation, He shared His Revelation. The Revelation provided guidance that was cognizant to the “Truth that the people receiving it could bear” at that time.

On what basis of reason would you deny this reality?

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Actually the Church can comment given it’s role and from Whom it gets it authority. It’s comment is that Zoroaster wasn’t a prophet of God. What you are trying to do is to claim that the Church does have authority and can determine one item (the universality of the Truth and that aspects of said Truth can be found in other faiths) while at the same time claiming that the Church does not have the authority to comment on Zoroaster being a prophet of God or not. You can’t have it both ways; which is what you are trying to do.

If you wish to push the idea that Zoroaster was a prophet of God, you will have to do so without trying to incorporate incomplete aspects of what the Church is and incomplete portions of it’s teachings. In other words, your support for your argument will have to be found outside of Catholic theology, and I would imagine outside of Jewish theology as well.

Can you show me where the Church says that Zoroaster was not a Prophet please?

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Because given Church and Jewish teachings concerning Zoroastrianism and Church and Jewish teachings and traditions concerning who the prophets were (which doesn’t list Zoroaster among their numbers) it’s more reasonable to have the default position for Zoroaster to be a prophet of God unless shown otherwise than to have the default position for Zoroaster to not be a prophet of God unless shown otherwise?

I would only need to provide a positive statement ("it says he wasn’t a prophet right here- see citation X of work Y) concerning Zoroaster being/not being a prophet if my position ran counter to the conclusion one should come to with the application of critical thinking and reason to the remainder of Catholic and Jewish theology. In this case, the position that needs a positive statement ("it says he was a prophet right here- see citation A of work B) would be your position that Zoroaster was a prophet of God.

Given this reasoning therefore dear friend, how do you know Moses was a Prophet?

You would probably say that the evidence presented in the Old Testament is convincing for you to make that reasonable deduction.

Don’t you think you owe it to yourself that you should yourself allow Zoroaster the same courtesy?

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Why do you believe Zoroaster is a prophet?

The answer for Moses being a prophet and my belief in such should be apparent based on my same reasoning that Zoroaster isn’t one; and it should be apparent to you given you understand and accept by reasoning (that you find it valid reasoning, not that you accept the conclusion).

As for courtesy, I’ve given Zoroaster and his faith the necessary courtesy in this manner. I used the same standard (the theology and teachings of my faith) to determine the answer to the question of them being or not being a prophet. It would, in fact, be a discourtesy to Zoroaster if I ignored the conclusions of my faith in order to entertain the idea that he was a prophet. It would be so because it would require me to use a different and artificial standard for him.

And while I don’t believe it is intentional, the discourtesy in this matter is actually coming from you, or at least the way in which you are presenting your position. First, you wanted us to have the default position being Zoroaster being a prophet which would require us to ignore the teachings and traditions of both Christianity and Judaism; and second, you imply that I am doing a discourtesy to Zoroaster by using the same standard I use in regards to Moses.

Obviously regardless of whether there’s specific Canon law on the subject of whether Zoroaster was a “prophet,” there’s a few things we can reasonably conclude about Zoroaster (and anyone else from the Buddha to the new age spiritualists who all make similar claims at times that individuals like Moses made), and things that still require an acknowledgement:

  1. Zoroaster did most likely exist, but most likely came after Moses (the Bible’s internal and admittedly sketchy chronology places Abraham at something like the 1800-1600 BCE, with Moses showing up somewhere in the years 1400-1200 BCE… meanwhile dates for Zoroaster are more like 1000-500 BCE conservatively, although it does appear to be unknown).

  2. He taught some similar things, which shouldn’t be surprising given that by the time of Zoroaster’s arrival, Judah and Israel were long established kingdoms coming into contact with Persian forces, the Assyrians and then Babylonians, and their ideas were most likely spreading outwards and becoming adapted by other peoples to fit their own needs (cross reference things like “Manicheaism” and pre-Christian “Gnosticism” and the other Mystery cults which all borrow from Jewish ideas and folklore and combine it with Persian and other eastern ideas)… basically, what we have is a lot of thinkers in other nations, and perhaps some displaced Jews themselves in the diaspora borrowing from Judah’s religious milieu to inform other cultures’ interests, which was common in the ancient world (particularly for a captive nation like Israel and Judah had become)… none of which is contrary to what the Bible itself says.

  3. The Bible doesn’t mention him… most likely because the human authors of much of the Old Testament either lived before his time or didn’t know of his existence, or even if they did (perhaps Ezra could’ve), they simply lumped him in with a whole group of other “seers” and “prophets” that taught various truths but were ultimately in error.

From a theological rather than a historical standpoint, much of this can be explained. From the beginning of time right up to the present day, God has allowed certain individuals to proclaim many kinds of things, half truths, and even outright lies, and has revealed Himself in doses at various times in human history to various people. But, each time God reveals a little more of Himself, usually we see massive movements in human religious history as a result. That is to say, when a true revelation comes upon mankind, suddenly it changes the face of all human experience with religion from there on out and we can even chart this progress historically across multiple civilizations. After true revelations, there would seem to be very little “reverse” in the zeitgeist of history (after monotheism was introduced, for example) it almost entirely replaced polytheism in the places where it spread the fastest and usually within a couple hundred years of its introduction.

This individual “Abraham” may have unilaterally introduced the idea of true and absolute monotheism to the world (before then every jurisdiction may have had it’s own “god” but usually in a pantheon of some sort), but not even this Abraham possessed the full knowledge of God, and certainly not the Law of God. Later on, Moses introduced a “Law” coming forth from this monotheistic God-concept established by Abraham (which by then many other groups had adopted and called by various names… ‘Aten’ (in Egypt) ‘Chemosh’ (in Moab) ‘Baal’ (in Canaan)…even some forms of Hinduism which are monotheistic, like ‘Jagedishe’…etc. and what some Greek philosophers were able to deduce around the same time as a matter of fact)… Incidentally, after almost everyone else had started to suddenly catch on to this idea of there maybe being “one” God, Moses introduces the Mosaic law, and suddenly other cultures started introducing their own “divine laws” as a result. What is striking about the Mosaic law compared to other divinely-ascribed laws is that most others proceeded by royal decree, but Moses was never regarded as having any royal authority by the OT’s own depiction of him, and that once again flies in the face of what every other culture was doing at the time… even withstanding Gautama Buddha, who taught around the same time as Zoroaster, but taught less of a “religion” than a school of metaphysics that his later followers adapted into a religion.

The uniqueness of the Jewish milieu in the midst of all these world religious events is particularly striking and hard to explain and it’s something no doubt that other cultures would’ve taken notice of, and that’s where individuals like Zoroaster and Mani and even the unknown “Teacher of Righteousness” (talked about in the Dead Sea Scrolls) would’ve tried to step in and produce “innovations” to long-standing ideas prevalent in Judah. One of the things that is striking about the Biblical accounts is what they seem to selectively disregard and what they decide to include. Genesis for instance contains many references to early Israelite and Canaanite mythology that the authors were obviously skeptical about but needed to mention to illustrate greater theological points. Some ancient ideas, even those prevalent among the Israelites, were not included or were only brushed upon as the attempt towards a harmonized simplicity of centralized doctrine was being honed over time, excluding many spurious sources and ideas along the way, one of which may have been that proliferated by Zoroaster and his followers later on, especially during the capture and exile of Judah.

As a result, by the time of Jesus of Nazareth, the area had become a hotbed of religious ideas, proliferated by a number of Jewish sects and various Pharisees and their various disciples, and teachers of all sorts, especially due to the Roman “melting pot” and the expansion of Hellenism. The belief of a Messiah became very popular among the Jews as did many other apocalyptic sects (of which early Christianity was), and the gospel accounts bear witness to this fact in this person of “John the Baptist” preaching before Jesus of Nazareth a similar teaching with apocalyptic undertones. Around this time also we get the rise of the Essenes as well, which were yet another apocalyptic, secluded, esoteric sect that people point to as an inspiration for Christianity (even suggesting that John the Baptist may have been one). In any case, Zoroastrianism has about as much to do with influencing Christianity as the various Judah-isms of the time did, including the Talmudic and Midrash writings and other “updates.”

The reason why Christianity outlasted them all in terms of popularity was because its message was so intricately tailored to the common state of man. If Christianity had been more esoteric (like the Mythras or Gnostics), it would’ve been too secretive to gain widespread appeal. If it had been too common and timely (like those who ran after Bar-Kochba in his revolt), it wouldn’t have maintained any long-term application. If it catered too much to royalty and the upper class in its theology (as some cults did), it wouldn’t have spread among the commoners. If it catered too much to the lower classes, it wouldn’t have gained any esteem with those of privilege and power. If it entangled itself with the intellectual elite around some kind of “knoweldge” or “gnosis”, it wouldn’t have spoken to the daily concerns of uneducated people. If it didn’t have theological insights though, it wouldn’t have inspired its own brand of mystics.

For every reason why Christianity ultimately succeeded despite all that fed into it over time, there’s reasons why all the competing ideologies that fed it didn’t prevail, and if God is guiding history, would He have it any other way?

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