By Mary Boyce

This quantity is a part of a three-volume paintings tracing the background of Zoroastrianism. within the set, literary, archaeological and numismatic facts is drawn on and native advancements are explored. research is made from the Zoroastrian contributions to Hellenistic idea and to Judaism, Christianity and Mithraism. An excursus presents a reassessment of the Zoroastrian pseudepigrapha.

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Extra resources for A History of Zoroastrianism: Volume 1, The Early Period (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik)

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Further Gershevitch, ]NES XXIII, 1964, r8-19; BSOAS XVII, 1955, 483. 32 Sin, as a breach of heavenly law or order, is described in the Brahmatzas as anrta, see S. Rodhe, Deliver us from evil, Lund-Copenhagen 1946, 159-61. g. Yt. 2, 82. THE PAGAN BACKGROUND in India it came to overshadow his primary concern, which was with rta as it affected undertakings entered into among men. 3 5 He tirelessly guards those who are asavan, 36 and destroys the wicked who attack them. 37 To know who is asavan, Mithra must assess the actions of men, and see who keep the many covenants, mithras, that hold society together, who betray them.

4 with 8-II. 59 Yt. 68, 102, 125, 136. a, leaving Mitra (in so far as he is separately celebrated) more purely benevolent. a and Vayu, not (under that) of Mitra, who is most dear to men". a] have many slings, they are fetterers of untruth (anrta-J, difficult for the deceitful mortal to circumvent". 65 These and other similar passages clearly indicate that the Vedic priests too ascribed a stern and wrathful character to Mitra on occasion, even if they no longer gave prominence to this aspect ofthe god.

THE GODS OF PAGAN IRAN 27 have produced what seem adequate explanations for all those traits which are common to the Indian and Avestan texts. 28 To study Mitra/Mithra is naturally not easy; for after thousands of years of worship and invocation the god of the Avesta and Vedas is no longer a simple personification, but has grown into a powerful deity of manifold activities. Nevertheless, it seems possible to discern a fundamental harmony reconciling all his functions. 3o It stands, it seems, for "order" in the widest sense: cosmic order, by which night gives place to day and the seasons change; the order of sacrifice, by which this natural rhythm is strengthened and maintained; social order, by which men can live together in harmony and prosperity; and moral order or "truth".

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