Mehdi Estakhr is a faculty in the Department of Humanities at Alabama State University where he teaches World History. He received his Ph.D. in History from UCLA. His diverse cultural exposure and academic background-grew up in Iran, Lebanon, Switzerland, and the USA; and graduated with a B.A. in Government, M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies, and a second M.A. and Ph.D. in European History-have widened the scope of his academic and research interests to include Comparative Religion, East-West Relations, and Early Modern World History.2012 0-7734-2608-6
Europe's fascination with Zoroaster began in the classical period. Celebrated as the embodiment of wisdom and morality, and enjoying the prestige of an unfathomable antiquity, a personality cult, with validating authority, was created around him. This led several western schools of thought to claim him as their precursor and first master; foisting their own ideas under him to give them validity. When Zoroaster was metamorphed into an astrologer, his authority was also sought by those circles for which astrological occurences provided proof for claims they made, such as certain Neo-Platonists and Christians. Zoroaster's popularity culminated in the Renaissance when he was accredited with the so-called 'Zoroaster's Oracles,' - writings which provided the Humanist Platonists with the underpinningto construct their own passages to God independently of the divine revelation. In the post-Reformation religious controversies, Zoroaster was made to vouch for the truth of Christianity against the tide of freethinkers and atheists, and against Christian antagonists in the interdenominational conflict. The Enlightenment saw the Philosophes
and their like minds enlist Zoroaster's authority to combat revelation and to advance the cause of 'Natural Religion'. Zoroaster' validating auhority continued to be exploited even after the arrival and the translation of the Avesta in France which shattered the image the West had made of him. Zoroaster's image as witness in the West provides a prime example of the use of the reconstructed imagined 'Other' for self-validation, self-criticism, as well as belaboring the 'Other'.