Place of Zoroaster in History ( Two Book Set)

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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'.


“… a monumental study of the ancient Iranian prophet Zarathustra’s (Zoroaster) intellectual, cultural, and religious reception in and contributions to the West. … None have done so as comprehensively and as analytically.” – Prof. Jamsheed Choksy, Indiana University

“[Shows] the richness and the depth of the older Iranian spiritual and material culture and its relationship to our own; and this book should remedy the deficiency as a text.” – Prof. James Russell, Harvard University

Table of Contents

Book 1

Foreword by Clarisse Herrenschmidt


List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Zoroaster and Magi Debut in the West

The Hellenic Age

The Hellenistic Age

Classical views on Zoroaster and the Magi

Chapter 3: The Making of a Witness

Age and Authority: From Gods to ‘Great Men’

The Greeks and Persia’s ‘Great Men’

Zoroaster, The Magi, and Greek Sages

Zoroaster, The Magi, and Pythagoras

Zoroaster, The Magi, and Plato

Chapter 4: Zoroaster Metamorphosed

Hellenic Writers vs. Hellenistic Writers

Zoroaster the Astronomer/Astrologer

Zoroaster’s ‘Writings’

Chapter 5: Zoroaster and Christianity: I, Before Constantine

Zoroaster the Revealer of Christ

Zoroaster: The Unfettered Ally

Zoroaster and Mithraism

Christianity’s Early Response

Chapter 6: Zoroaster and Christianity:II, Zoroaster and Politicized Christianity

The Fourth Century: A Turning Point

Zoroaster and Manichaeism

The Christian Genealogical Approach

From the Early Fifth to Early Seventh Century

The Crusade

Book 2

Chapter 7: Zoroaster in the Middle Ages: Platonic Correlation


Zoroaster in Greek Scholarship: Pagan vs. Christian

Philosophy and Christianity

Plato and Christians

Christians’ Adoption of Plato

Reaction to Philosophy and Platonism

The Gnostic Challenge

The Neoplatonists’ Challenge

Reaction to Julian

Church Councils

Platonic Challenge

The Latin West

Zoroaster in Latin Scholarship: Pagan vs. Christian

Plato and Latin Christians

Classical Scholarship in the Latin West

Plato and the Latin West

Plato and Aristole

Plato’s Resurgence

Chapter 8: Zoroaster and Renaissance Humanists: I, Zoroaster, ‘Zoroaster Oracles’, and Plato

George Gemistos Plethon

Zoroaster and Plato in Plethon

Plethon and ‘Zoroaster Oracles’

Chapter 9: Zoroaster and Renaissance Humanists:, II Zoroaster and ‘Zoroaster Oracles’ in Italy

Plethon and the Italian Humanists

The Medici and Zoroaster

Ficino and ‘Zoroaster Oracles’

Pico Della Mirandola and ‘Zoroaster Oracles’

Zoroaster and ‘Zoroaster Oracles’ in the Works of Other Italians

Chapter 10: Zoroaster and Renaissance Humanists: III, Zoroaster and ‘Zoroaster Oracles’ Outside of Italy




Chapter 11: The ‘Historic’ Zoroaster and His Religion

The Revival of Interest in the ‘Historic’ Zoroaster

The Expansion of Oriental Studies in Europe

Zoroaster in the Accounts of European Travelers in the East

Zoroaster and Post-Reformation Religious Controversies

Chapter 12: Zoroaster in the Age of Reason

Zoroaster at an Ideological Crossroad

Zoroaster and Natural Religion

The Philosophes’ Zoroaster and Christianity

Zoroaster in the Popular Image

Zoroaster Anquetil Duperron

Anquetil and the Philosophes

Chapter 13: Summary, Conclusion, A Glance Forward at Zoroaster’s Reception in the Nineteenth Century



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