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orion Zoroastrian influence on DSS
From: email@example.com (M.E. Stone)
Subject: Zoroastrian influence on DSS
I have been bemusedly following the debate on the ostrakon. Well,
I have published a lot of difficult to decipher texts in my time,
and not just in Hebrew or Aramaic.
Without commenting on the specific reading, I would say that in
non-formal writings on pottery the script is likely to be
irregular and look odd. Try doing it with a stylus on a piece
of broken flower-pot, with a roughish surface.
I would also suggest that the reading has to make sense in context;
how many times have I re-evaluated a supposedly "unambiguous" reading
in light of the concept that the text must make sense, only to come
up in the end with a better physical reading too. So, decipher first,
then try to interpret, then recheck the decipherment, and all over
On Zoroastrian influence on Second Temple Judaism, views are divided.
If one looks at vocabulary borrowings, there are a number, and not just
in the Aramaic of Daniel. But none of them are religious terms.
Some people would make much out of the branches that the priests hold
when Ezekiel's x-ray vision sees them corrupting the cult in the Temple
(I must here apologise for writing without any books at my elbow, so from
memory -- forgiveness is begged of errors or incomplete references). These
branches are often connected with the barsom, the ritual twigs held
by Zoroastrian priests.
Others, as far back as the beginning of this century, e.g. Reitzenstein
and, what's the name of the German book on this from about 90 years ago,
held for extensive influence of religious ideas, such as angels, etc. Note
the one Iranian religious term, Asmodeus, in Tobit, the Iranian demon
The whole of eschatology has been attributed to Iranian influence as well.
As to the Scrolls, and specifically to the Qumran dualism. Shaked wrote
about this in Israel Oriental Studies, no. 1; Dick Frye in HTR in the 60's,
David Winston, if I remember correctly, in History of Religion. My own
view is the following:
1. There is, doubtless, Iranian influence in culture words, and in some
administrative terms, e.g. in Esther. Note Naxshir in GenAp about which
Greenfield wrote, and he was not the first.
2. I do not hold for direct influence from the surviving Zoroastrian books,
or the religious views expressed in them on Second Temple Judaism. This goes
for the Avesta, including YAv, and the Pahlavi books, such as the Denkart
and the Bundahishn. Did the four metals material come from Hesiod, from
Daniel or from Iran (in which latter place it is reflected only in works
after the Moslem conquest of Iran).
3. Structurally, Qumran dualism with a single deity and two spirits coming
from that deity resembles, not "standard" Zoroastrianism, but a Zoroastrian
"heresy" called Zurvanism. This is not attested before the middle of the
first century C.E.
4. The matter is still more complex. But this should do for starters.
Otherwise Avital will tell me the posting is to long (said with a smile).