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ZOROASTRIANISM
Islam Christianity
Iran

Zoroastrianism is an ancient religion dated from about 1200 BCE at about the time when the Indo-Iranian peoples were diverging. Zoroastrianism is discussed here because many of the concepts of this religion appear to foreshadow the concepts of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions. Some of these concepts are: linear time, a final apocalypse (or end time), a belief in heaven and hell, the idea of a devil, and the idea of a universal savior or apocalyptic judge. It is also sighted as having an influence on Middle Platonism and one of the key elements leading to the development of philosophy.

Zoroaster, a Geek alliteration of Zarathustra, lived in eastern modern day Iran, around 1200 BCE although some sources date his birth as late as 600 BCE. This text is the Avesta Gathas that is written in an ancient dialect of Sanskrit similar to that spoken in India at about this same time. According to the Gathas, Zarathustra was a priest of the ancient religion who developed deeper truths. At age 30, this may sound familiar; he had a vision of being with the Ahura Mazda along with other celestial beings. The prophet taught that Ahura Mazda was the god of good, order and harmony and was the creator of all, that is he was the only uncreated god, including the world in 7 stages. This is seen as the precursor of monotheism.

 

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Zarathustra
Founder
Way of Knowledge
Temple Light
Temple of Benevolent Light
Rightness
Rightness
Journey through Zoroastranism

Zarathustra introduced moral qualities to the gods who were either good or evil. He postulated that Ahriman was the god of evil and that Ahura Mazda and Ahriman were locked in mortal combat for dominance, God would ultimately triumph. Hura Mazda would then create a paradise on earth. Zarathustra said that all humans must choose between good and evil and thus accept personal responsibility for what one does. Ones well-being in the world beyond would be determined by these choices.  Good people would go to Hura Mazda, our heaven, and the others would reside in the abyss of hell. This provided meaning to suffering and an ultimate reward for this suffering. These concepts were new at that time but appear in many later religious contexts.

By the 6th century BCE Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the Persian Empire and continued through to the 7th century CE when Islam became dominate. This was the primary religious concept at the time of the Jewish Exile to Babylon. These concepts are seen to enter the Jewish theology at this time and after the Exile from the Persians. These concepts are different from the teachings of the pre-exile Hebrews. From there the theology entered Christianity and Islam.

Fire Temple
Temple of Fire

 

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