Archive for the ‘Zoroastrianism and Judaism’ Category

Since 2007 I have been releasing videos on youtube regarding why I believe that Judaism was more of an influence on Zoroastrianism than the other way around.  The continuing playlist can be accessed here:

As you can imagine I receive a lot of comments on these videos, but most notably from the first video I released on Sept. 9, 2007.  Today I received an encouraging complement on a comment from youtube user Netanel Yehudah. Netanel stated, “Excellant post!” After reading this it occurred to me that my response just had to be posted on my blog for more coverage.  It was originally a response to youtube user AlisherPainting on Dec. 2, 2014.  Alisher’s comment was as follows:

“As you said, it is sort of a topic where you kind of want to make your own determination of what influenced what. I would say with no doubt Judaism is influenced by the Zoroastrianism. My reasons for that are: First, you have no evidence of Judaism predating Zoroastrianism, but we have sufficient evidence to prove the other way around. Second, most importantly, I have had to work with many different Jewish communities, Bukharian Jews, Ukrainian Jews, American Jews, And Different jews who are coming from a different parts of the world. And the clear fact about all of them is they have huge cultural and spiritual influence of the region that they have lived in. And this is something that you or no jew can disagree. So, what should stop me from believing that Jews who were saved by the persians and let to live freely in a persian paradise would have not been influenced by the powerful culture of that era? I would appreciate your response.”

*My response was as follows:

“Thank you for your well spoken inquiry. First let me start by stating that I have nothing against the religion of Zoroastrianism. In fact, it is my belief that Iran should show the world how tolerant they are and promote and help the existing Zoroastrians who are still there.

I would give four reasons to consider and study:

1. Was or is Zoroastrianism truly a monotheistic religion?  Even if it was some form of monotheism it was or is not like the monotheism of the Hebrews.  While the Hebraic outlook might have acknowledged other foreign “gods” they never considered those “gods” as competing with the Lord of Creation. Furthermore there is nothing in the Hebrew scriptures which elicit the worshiper to offer praise to any other “god” except the Lord, but in the Avestan Scriptures there are plenty of Hymns of praise to many “gods” or if one interprets, “God in another form”.  The problem of course is in understanding the many gods of Zoroastric-Mazdaism as flowing from Ahura Mazda when this idea is very hard to find spelled out in the Avesta.  I think is more alluded to in Zend Commentary.

2. Was Zarathustra a religious reformer?  That is speculated by some scholars because it seems obvious by a reading of the Avesta that there existed another Persian religion which pre-existed the time of Zarathustra.  This may or may not have been the religions of King Cyrus as there is no proof that Cyrus ever mentions the name of Ahura Mazda or Zarathustra.  It could be that Zarathustra is born after the time of Cyrus as some scholars have pointed out various reasons which I mention in this video series.  If indeed Zarathustra was a reformer, the question is does he actually reform this pre-existant Mazdaism which is polytheistic into the Zoroastric-Mazdaism idea?  Or is he not a reformer at all?  Perhaps he simply reinforces the foundational principles of this idea of Ahura-Mazda flowing through all of the other various gods?

3. The issue is not in regard to general influence between cultures and religions because we know that we all influence each other in some way. It is whether the Hebraic idea of monotheism or other key doctrinal ideas which I cover in this video series were originated from Zoroastrianism.

4. Are the Avestan Scriptures dated to the right time periods?  Most scholars date the Gathas portions to a general date of 1000 BC.  Some of the Avestan scriptures are possibly older and attributed to the pre-Zoroastric time period and which probably did not have the same idea of monothesism if indeed there is some sort of monotheism in them.  The “Younger” Yashts are somewhere in the Achaemenid period but most likely about 200 years after King Cyrus. Then there is quite a bit which most likely followed the 4th century BC which was clearly after the Babylonian exile of the Jews.  We really don’t have a lot to support the dating of the texts.  Aside from some fire temples and evidence of burial techniques which can just as easily be attributed to the pre-Zoro period which most likely did not support “monotheistic” ideas until Zarathustra shows up later and possibly reforms this religion.

There is simply in my opinion just not a clear enough picture of Zoroastrianism to make the claim, for instance, that it influenced the Hebrew idea of monotheisim.

Peace be to Zoroastrians and Peace be with you.”

For those interested in understanding my positions on this topic, I would direct you to what is currently a 23 part series on youtube linked above.  Since I feel that after 23 videos I have only touched the surface, there will most likely be future videos added to this playlist. Peace continue to be with you all and keep Ceeking Truth! 🙂

Read Full Post »