Religion, Culture, and Politics in Pre-Islamic Iran

Collected Essays


In Religion, Culture, and Politics in Pre-Islamic Iran, Bruce Lincoln offers a vast overview on different aspects of the Indo-Iranian, Zoroastrian and Pre-Islamic mythologies, religions and cultural issues. The book is organized in four sections according to the body of evidence they engage most directly: Avestan, Old Persian, Pahlavi, and Iranian materials in comparison with other data, including studies of myths, especially those with cosmogonic implications, ritual practices, cosmological constructions of space and time, points of intersection between religion, ethics, law, and politics, ideological aspects of scientific and medical theorizing, social organization and gender relations, and other diverse topics.

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Bruce Lincoln, PhD. (1967), is a Caroline E. Haskell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Religions in the Divinity School, Univeristy of Chicago. He emphasizes critical approaches to the study of religion. He is particularly interested in issues of discourse, practice, power, conflict, and the violent reconstruction of social borders. His research tends to focus on the religions of pre-Christian Europe and pre-Islamic Iran, but he has a notoriously short attention span and has also written on a bewildering variety of topics, including Guatemalan curanderismo, Lakota sun dances, Melanesian funerary rituals, Swazi kingship, the Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre, Marco Polo, professional wrestling, Persian imperialism, the theology of George W. Bush, and comparative demonology. His most recent publications include Between History and Myth: Stories of Harald Fairhair and the Founding of the State (2014); Discourse and the Construction of Society: Comparative Studies of Myth, Ritual, and Classification, 2nd Ed. (2014); and Politique du paradis: Religion et empire en Perse achéménide (2015).
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part 1: Indo-Iranian, Avestan, and General Iranian

1 Human Unity and Diversity in Zoroastrian Mythology

2 The One and the Many in Iranian Creation Myths

3 The Cosmo-Logic of Persian Demonology

4 Toward a more Materialist Ethics: Vermin and Poison in Zoroastrian Thought

5 Before Religion? The Zoroastrian Concept of Daēnā and Two Myths about It

part 2: Old Persian and Achaemenid

6 Apocalyptic Temporality and Politics in the Ancient World

7 Religion, Empire, and the Spectre of Orientalism: A Recent Controversy in Achaemenid Studies

8 Persian Archers and Paradise Gardens: Projecting Power in the Achaemenid Empire

part 3: Pahlavi

9 Physiological Speculation and Social Patterning in a Pahlavi Text

10 Embryological Speculation and Gender Politics in a Pahlavi Text

11 Pahlavi kirrēnīdan and Traces of Iranian Creation Mythology

12 Cēšmag, the Lie, and the Logic of Zoroastrian Demonology

13 Anomaly, Science, and Religion: Treatment of the Planets in Medieval Zoroastrianism

14 Of Dirt, Diet, and Religious Others: A Theme in Zoroastrian Thought

part 4: Iranian Materials in Comparative Perspective

15 The Indo-European Myth of Creation

16 Treatment of Hair and Fingernails among the Indo Europeans

17 The Center of the World and the Origins of Life

18 Hegelian Meditations on “Indo-European” Myths

19 From Purity to Law: Avestan yaoždā and Latin iūs

20 From Ritual Practice to Esoteric Knowledge: The Problem of the Magi
Index of Words
Index of Sources
Index of Subjects
All interested in the history of the Pre-Islamic Iran, Indo Iranian, Ancient and Middle Iranian Mythology and History in Comparative Perspective
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