Was Atenism Monotheism?

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by exile, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. exile

    exile Interfaith Forums

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    Most of these expressions appear in the Gathas, and the language of the Gathas are more archaic than the Young Avestan compositions.

    Your right it's not relevant to your argument. I just thought it was an interesting detail because the average person would see the NT as a continuem of the OT, but really the NT has so many elements that are not mentioned in the OT, rather they can be found in Zoroastrian scripture. Even angels and demons only appear in the intertestimentary material and Ethopian Cannon of the OT.


    There is a long stream of secondary sources, Iranian and Greco-Roman, that confirm elements from Zoroastrian scripture and tradition. Ahuramazda is a metathesized contraction of the Avestan loanword Mazda Ahura which appears in Acheamenid inscriptures. And the Avestan language is an authentic language. Loanwords like this show the Avestan language must have been in use prior to the Acheamenid inscriptions before Darius 500 BC.

    Xanthus of Lydia (450BCE), Eudoxus of Cnidus (410-347BCE) Theopompus (380BCE) Alcibiades (300/2BCE) Cicero (106-43 BCE)Trogus Pompeius (100BCE) , Diodorus Siculus (60-30BCE) Pliny (77-70 CE) Plutrach (100-200CE) Diogenes Laertius (300CE) Porphyry (234-305 CE) Agathias (530-582/94 CE) Suidas (1000 CE) all mention Zoroaster.

    I'm not agreeing with the Greco-Roman placement of Zoroaster in time all I'm saying is that this was how the Greco-Romans thought.

    All I'm saying is that if you're going to place Zoroastriasm when the Denkard, and leave out lingiustic, arachological evidence, secondary sources, it's just as easy to say Herodotus and all the other Greek authors date to a later period.

    I understand. I'm just more concerned with how much influence these religions had on the Abrahamic faiths or at least how much in common they had with the Abrahamic faiths.
     
  2. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Quote 1: (fragmented) yep, so what, it does not necessarily mean that the ideas are "Younger" (see Priestly text vs. E or J).

    Quote 2: yep, so what? there is a lot of inter-testimonial literature and it it probably very independent of the Persian Empire (especially in Ethiopia).

    Quote 3: yep. But the point is none of them date Zoroaster per se. They vary from 6000 B.C.E to 500 B.C.E. They are not good sources. Even the Greeks had problems.

    Quote 4: you do not have to agree with me. It is bloody well likely that 700 B.C.E., per both the Greek texts and internal consistency is the earliest time for Zarathustra. And they do not imply "They do also attest to a worldview that has accepted that Zoroaster was very ancient, more ancient than the Egyptians dating to 6000 years before Christ" at all (check out Appendix V of Jackson in my citation). I do not care what you think, I care about what you can proove.

    Quote 5: I am considering the archeological and lkinguistic evidence, which places Zarathustra in the post 700 B.C.E. era. The crucial evidence of inscriptions only date him to Darius (500 B.C.E. or so). Sounds good to me. Makes him the contemporary of the Babylonian Captivity and about 258 years before Alexander.

    Quote 6: If the Jews were indeed captured by the Babylonians (circa 597 B.C.E.) and were returned in 538 B.C.E. when was this "period of infuencce"? Before Zarathustra? Probably.
     
  3. exile

    exile Interfaith Forums

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    I'm not sure whether Old or Gathic Avestan language is intelligble to Young or Zend Avestan. The Young Avestan compositions may or may not be a continium of Old Avestan, but the two languages are distinguishable. So the "Younger" ideas appear in later scripture e.g. Younger Yasna, Yashts, and Khorda Avesta. The Vendidad was written in Artificial Avestan, and attempt to mimic the Old Avestan. It also should be noted that the mention of chariots, iron, and exhumation do not appear in the Gathic Avestan compositions. Exhumation doesn't even appear until the Vendidad which is the 3rd phase of the Avestan language and exhumation was practiced in Yaz culture complex as early as 1500 or 1400 BCE.

    All those Greco-Roman authors I mentioned make references to Zoroaster. Their interpretation of Zoroastrianism is garbled, but there are instances where they mention features that are mentioned non-scripture that point to an earlier date of those features. These Greco-Roman authors and their works have been assigned dates, Xanthus of Lydia c. 450BCE being the earliest known Greco-Roman source for Zoroaster.

    It is the absence of the Persians and the Medes c. 1100 BCE, iron 1200 BCE, exhumation 1500 or 1400 BCE, and chariots 2000 BCE that points to an early date for the Zoroastrian scriptures, but Darius' inscriptions 500 BCE is a fair date, proof of Mazdayasnian worship which Zarathushtra introduced. The language of the Vedas is almost identical to Avesten, more so the younger Avestan apparently, and the Vedas are dated to 1600 BCE. There is also evidence of Zurvanism the Zoroastrian heresy 700 BCE.

    The earliest date for the OT are the Dead Sea Scrolls which began to be written 300 BCE. Paleolinguisics doesn't help us much because the Paleo-Hebrew writing system was in use as late as 135 CE. And the Septuagint was written in Koine Greek which means it could have been written as late as 300 CE.

    Zoroastrianism had plenty of time to be an influence on the OT. It was around certainly by Darius's time 500 BCE and didn't die down until the 1st millenium CE.
     
  4. exile

    exile Interfaith Forums

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    ................................
     
  5. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    The key to your argument is (1) Zend is younger than Old, (2) the Classic Greek references are correct, (3) dating "Zarathustra" (the Prophet) to the Gathas, and (4) assuming the existence of some “Zoroastrian Religion”.

    First, while indeed, Zend is younger, that does not mean that the content of the Yazad in Zend is younger (see Choksy “Praise and piety”). I do not read either form of Avestan, so I have to rely on third parties. Due to the exegeses of the situation (see “Avestan Language I-III” by Hoffman) before the development of the script (circa 4th century C.E.) it is entirely possible (per Hoffman and Kellens, likely) some of the Zend writings actually pre-date the Gathas (not when they were written down, but rather due to their primitive content).

    Second, go to Appendix V of Jackson’s “Zoroaster” where there is a complete list of the classic Greek and Latin references to Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism (in the Greek and Latin, unfortunately, but the works, pages, and line numbers are cited so one can look up translations). They are all over the map. Plutarch, not surprisingly (he did take liberties) has 6000 B.C.E. Ammainus is probably the best source, he lived with and fought the Sassanids, and he is one of three classical references that give the date as “258 years before Alexander” (Diodorus and Bundahisn being the other two). Current academia (see Hemming or Gershevitz or Gnoli or Kellens) seems to strongly defend this date of about 618-541 B.C.E. It fits well with the hypothesis that Darius I was an early convert. All of this fits well with the recent astronomical work of Shabbazi. All of which falls in line with the Pahlavi dating. Much more convincing to me than Plutarch or the Orthodox Parsee dating (both of which have no basis, just “I think”).

    Third, the term “Zarathustra” itself is contentious (see Schmitt in Encyclopedia Iranica). The Caucasian (Armenians, Kurds, and other mountain people) interpretation is “Priest” or “King”. There is no parallel in the classic Avestan and probably came from the (strictly hypothetical) “Old Sogdian”—postulated to be the native tongue of he who is in the Gathas. Since he speaks of himself in the third person, it is doubtful that the original Zarathustra was the actual author (the same argument really drove the “Moses could not have written the Torah” understanding of Modern Judaism). Similarly, the “liberal” Parsis admit that (among other) possibilities.

    Which leads directly to your fourth assumption. The “Zoroastrian Religion” that we know about are the Parsees and some very small (>10,000) co-religionists in Iran and, perhaps, Afghanistan. And it is fragmented and dying. There are three primary groups: the esoteric and secretive followers of Shroff, the so-called Orthodox (and also distinctly secretive) Mubai-based or –associated Atash-Behrams, and the vast majority in Diaspora. This latter group includes both “liberals” and “conservatives” (see Migliore’s “The Changing Face of Zoroastrianism”). So, no one body speaks for them with religious authotity, their beliefs are varied. And that is the current Zoroastrian Religion… do you really think we have a better idea about some mythical and pure form as practiced by the author of the Gathas? Fine, but then the few remaining super-orthodox Jews who believe that Moses wrote Torah and handed it to Joshua in 1271 B.C.E. have as much credence as your theory.

    What is good for the goose (the 1271 date for Torah does not stand up because we have no written records before 300 B.C.E.) is good for the gander (the pre-700 B.C.E. date for an "oral Gatha composed by Zoroaster" because we have no written records before about 600 C.E.).
     
  6. exile

    exile Interfaith Forums

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    I know Avestan words because I know the etymological equivalent in the English language. Young Avestan is sometimes different than Old Avestan. The Gathic Avestan language was probably the language of Zarathushtra. It was definitely spoken by his followers the Zarathushtrians (Aryans). I would place the Zarathushtrians 5000-500 BCE. The culture described in the Gathas is that of herding society. There were herding societies in Merghrab as early as 7000 BCE. The Zarathushrians incorporated hemp into their liturgies. They called hemp haoma/hom or bhang. Hemp or bhang was cultivated in China 5000 BCE and China borders Afghanistan. Hemp was the Zarathushtrian tree of immortal life. Hemp was personified in the Yasna, and according to Zarathushtrian tradition Zarathushtra bore hemp with him before his communion with God and the angels. Because the Gathic liturgies incorporate hemp into the the liturgies the Gathic liturgies could not have been composed until after hemp was was cultivated 5000 BCE.

    No, to the best of my knowledge Younger Avestan compositions developed after Old Avestan compositions. The younger Avestan scriptures show evidence of iron 1200 BCE, exhumation 1400 BCE, the chariot 2000 BCE, and none of the compositions young or Old make reference to the Persians and the Medes 1031-1019 BCE.

    Thanks for that. Zoroaster is mentioned in a lot of Greco-Roman works.

    "Zarathushtra" is the most authentic form of the name of "Zoroaster."

    Where are you deriving the date for the Torah at 1271 B.C.E. from? Paleolinguistics shows that the writing system used for the Torah couldn't have developed earlier than 1000 B.C.E., but shows that it was in use as late as 100 CE.

    I don't see why it matters whether the language was orally transmitted or written. The Avestan language was preserved like a human tape recorder until it was written down.
     
  7. exile

    exile Interfaith Forums

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    I know Avestan words because I know the etymological equivalent in the English language. Young Avestan is sometimes different than Old Avestan. The Gathic Avestan language was probably the language of Zarathushtra. It was definitely spoken by his followers the Zarathushtrians (Aryans). I would place the Zarathushtrians 5000-700 BCE. The culture described in the Gathas is that of herding society. There were herding societies in Merghrab as early as 7000 BCE. The Zarathushrians incorporated hemp into their liturgies. They called hemp haoma/hom or bhang. Hemp or bhang was cultivated in China 5000 BCE and China borders Afghanistan. Hemp was the Zarathushtrian tree of immortal life. Because the Gathic liturgies incorporate hemp into the the liturgies the Gathic liturgies could not have been composed until after hemp was was cultivated 5000 BCE.

    No, to the best of my knowledge Younger Avestan compositions developed after Old Avestan compositions. The younger Avestan scriptures show evidence of iron 1200 BCE, exhumation 1400 BCE, the chariot 2000 BCE, and none of the compositions young or Old make reference to the Persians and the Medes 1031-1019 BCE.

    Thanks for that. Zoroaster is mentioned in a lot of Greco-Roman works.

    "Zarathushtra" is the most authentic form of the name of "Zoroaster."

    Where are you deriving the date for the Torah at 1271 B.C.E. from? Paleolinguistics shows that the writing system used for the Torah couldn't have developed earlier than 1000 B.C.E., but shows that it was in use as late as 100 CE.

    I don't see why it matters whether the language was orally transmitted or written. The Avestan language was preserved like a human tape recorder until it was written down.
     
  8. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    My final comment says it all, I am just pointing out that scholars of Avestan and academics (who are for the most part practitioners) of Zoroastrianism disagree with your conclusions. I provided the references that show while composed after the Gathas some of the remaining Yazad captures stories that predate the Gathas. Similarly some of the Upanishads composed after the Vedas contain material than the Vedas. You are free to dismiss this but those of us that consider reason part of analysis are likewise free to accept.

    You are likewise free to accept the (by most scholarship) specious dating of Plutarch (the 5000 B.C.E. dating). There is no other source for this ancient a date (see again the references). The rest of the world is likewise free to accept the more generally recognized and validatable date of something like 618 to 541 B.C.E. I agree to disagree.

    The 1271 B.C.E. date is the “internally verifiable” date for the death of Moses (made originally in the Talmud and since used by most biblical literalists). If Moses wrote the Torah, this is when it was handed to Joshua. This is a very apt analogy to the argument you are making. Do I believe that? No, I agree with your dating.

    The point is your dating of the Gathas and discussion of Zarathustra and Zoroastrianism is based on a similar literalism. The references I provided (just read the entries in Encyclopedia Iranica, authored by Parsi and non-Parsi experts) show that this literalism is not verifiable, validatable, probable, or reasonable. That is what I meant by “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” — if one uses modern methods to criticize biblical literalism one should use modern methods (which really eliminate the “human tape recorder” assumption) when discussing the Yazad.
     
  9. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Back to Atenism: studying the symbolism associated with Shu and Tefnut: I'm seeing some correlations associating Shu with order and Tefnut with chaos.

    Make of that what you will.
     
  10. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Very close parallels. The cults of Tefnut (from what little we know) seem to really make this yin-yang structure seriously. Like the parents of the hero-twins of Hopi and Mayan myth.
     
  11. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Yeah, I've noticed quite a few parallels between the ancient Egyptian and the Olmec (and other Mesoamerican) beliefs. :eek:
     
  12. exile

    exile Interfaith Forums

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    Sorry to bring it back to Zoroastrianism. I'd like to know more about Atenism, but it would be helpful if there was some elaboration on the ideas you're all presenting (What is Tefnut, for example?). But I would to come to some form of closure on the dates on the Hebrew Bible and the Aryan Bible (Zoroastrian scripture). Actually I don't agree with the literalism presented by either peoples. My early date for Zoroastrianism is based on my own deduction, that hemp was used in the Aryan Bible and the cultivation of hemp began 5000 BCE in China and 4000 BCE in Tien Shan, both locations near in proximity to Afghanistan also known as Aryana. The c. 600 BCE placement for Zarathushtra I think is rediculous. To me it looks like an attempt to more closely tie Zarathushtra to the west Iranians. Zarathushtra was an Aryan in the most restricted sense. He was not a Persian or a Mede.

    We've already discussed why paleo-linguistics doesn't help very much in dating the Hebrew Bible because paleo-Hebrew was attested as late as c. 100 CE.

    Most of the linguists I've read confine Zarathushtra to the later part of the second millenium based on phonological conclusions. The Aryan Bible is more archaic than Old Persian. Radarmark, I recall you mentioning that there is not much of a difference phonological between the oldest Hebrew and the newer Hebrew, but can you confirm or detract from this point?

    And just out of curiosity how far back do you place the Vedas?
     

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