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Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xxxvi ] Greek form of the Iranian name Zarathushtra (later Zardusht) of the prophet, who was of the Spitama family. Most scholars believe that he lived in eastern Iran but there is less agreement over his dates. Recent P arsi tradition dates him around 6000 bce , but this date is not accepted by any Western academic. Instead, a date of around the 6th century bce has been preferred [26: iii ; 64: 33], although recent research suggests an earlier date of approximately 1200 bce as more likely [8 vol. 2: 1–3; 10: 18; 25]. On this dating he is one of the first prophets in the H istory of religions. His teaching is preserved in 17 hymns, known as the Gathas , which constitute a central portion of the liturgy of the Y asna and are contained in the Zoroastrian holy book, the A vesta [translations: 11: 34–45; 19; 35; 48: 344–90; 54]. Zoroaster believed that he had seen God, A hura mazda , in visions and that he had been set apart for his priestly and prophetic mission from the beginning. Ahura Mazda, he taught, was the creator of all that is good and is alone worthy of absolute worship. The prophet has, therefore, been termed the first monotheist. Opposed to Ahura Mazda, he taught, is the opposing ‘twin spirit’, the malign source of violence, evil and death, A ngra mainyu. Man has freedom to choose between these two powers. The righteous will oppose evil, spread the Good Religion ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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