Part two of our time in prebiblical Persia as we try to talk Zoroastrianism. Just throw out the map, it won’t help you. We are ALL OVER THAT PLACE. 

Thirsty? falling asleep? Have a bicerin, a layered chocolate and coffee experience. Parade Magazine has an article on the perfect bicerin, with layers of espresso, chocolate, and cream. Pause now to acquire these ingredients. Though it sounds like Victoria learned about this one from the New York Times. Either way, it’s a drink all three of us can enjoy 🙂

A bit of product placement – from the New York Post article “Controversial new AI ap allows you to text with Jesus – and Satan.” Well, anyway, an AI bot answers questions in the voice of Mary, Jesus, and other top-10 bible characters. Satan, however, demands a high price…$2.99 a month. We don’t feel like this is going to be funny enough to be worth it, but if anyone has taken the “texting the devil” plunge, let us know. It sounds like The Adversary offers pretty standard Christian living suggestions, but with snarky emoji.  It’s related to a company that was doing AI-generated bible pics, the “selfies” were pretty cute. There’s weirdly controversy about this inane app…it just goes to show…something…

Let’s jump right into the chaos. 

Zoroastrianism (the basics)

Around about 1500-700 BC, the prophet Zoroaster did some major revisions to the native Iranian religion, aligning it with an epic story of good/order in the form of Ahura Mazda and evil/disorder/falsehood in the form of Angra Maynyu,  leading to a monotheistic or dualistic faith (depending on who you ask) that dominated the Levant and the Ancient Near East from 650ish to 350ish BC. Still an active religion!


 Don’t know why we got here so quickly, I guess we just like “Z” words. Zurvanism is one flavor of Zoroastrianism that leans really heavily into dualism, leads with an infinite god of time and space who created the previously mentioned powers of light and darkness when he doubted himself. This fairly neutral god created the dualistic pair, but in more mainstream (or modern?) Zoroastrianism Ahura Mazda, the good guy, is the prime mover and creator. 

Ahura Mazda, with thanks to World History.Org, above, Angra Mainyu chomping on another bull, below.

The Book of Arda Viraf

Sort of the Divine Comedy of Zoroastrianism…though that may be generous, as most of the book is a very long litany of “sin and things that will happen to the sinner,” and it gets pretty brutal. But it does pretty solidly set forward the “punishment fits the crime” of infernal punishments. The book was finalized somewhere in the 900-1000 AD range, so it would have ample time to absorb the influences of medieval vision literature and the various hell-journeys that had come before. (wiki)

More show notes coming soon!

Book callout!

The Arda Viraf, or Book of Arda Viraf – written in maybe 600 AD, some 1200 years after the latest likely birth of Zoroastrianism, this is a “vision literature” style text that lists some of the blessed’s experiences in heaven, and many many more tribulations of the damned. Personally, I think it’s Zoroastrianism that was heavily influenced by early medieval Christianity, and I don’t want to try to use it as a lens to understand old school Zoroastrianism… -Jacob