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name of a female demon in a small number of Zoroastrian Middle Persian texts. The name of Jeh is commonly, but with little justification, translated as “whore.”

in Encyclopaedia Iranica Online
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Heracles entered many other religions of the ancient world. He was adopted into the Roman pantheon in an early stage of its development and was identified—both as a “translation” and in the development of cultic practices—with the Phoenician god Melqart and the Babylonian god Nergal, as well as with Zoroastrian Verethraghna.

in Encyclopaedia Iranica Online
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Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury, god of commerce and trade, and came to be symbolized with the moneybag. In Egypt, he was identified with the god Thoth; he was the source of a large number of writings outlining the ways in which the soul could be released from the bonds of matter.

in Encyclopaedia Iranica Online
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a hypothetical religious movement in the history of Zoroastrianism. The myth of Zurvan is fairly well known from Armenian, Syriac, Greek, and Arabic sources, but it is not to be found in any Zoroastrian source.

in Encyclopaedia Iranica Online
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ancient Zoroastrian deity of Time. Although the etymology of the Avestan word causes difficulty, there is consensus over its basic meaning, “period (of time).”

in Encyclopaedia Iranica Online
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Abstract

When it comes to Geo Widengren as a student of Iranian religions, it is very difficult not to be caught between two extreme emotions: on the one hand, admiration of someone who was in many respects a great scholar and who never shied away from bold claims which came in a language that would strike most of us nowadays as over-confident; on the other, despondency over a scholar who was always wrong, even when judged by the standards of his own time, and who persisted in being wrong even when errors were pointed out to him. What I admire about Widengren is his immense scholarly productivity, and especially his willingness to survey enormous stretches of Iranian and Near Eastern evidence and to issue the warning, time and again, that whereas philology is indispensable, it is never sufficient for the writing or understanding of religious history. It is striking that this warning, which is so self-evidently true, could and must still be issued today.

In: The Legacy, Life and Work of Geo Widengren and the Study of the History of Religions after World War II
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Abstract

Since the Greek word magos (a loan-word from Old Persian magu-) is semantically polyvalent, interpretations of the role and the literary function of the magi in Matthew’s narrative on the birth of Jesus and the Star of Bethlehem have tended to be very different. The important role of the Star of Bethlehem in Matthew chapter two has led many scholars to assume that the magi must appear in this story because they were widely known as experts in astrology. Knowledge of astrology, however, is not commonly attributed to the magi in Greek literature; this is the case independent of the question of whether the magi were seen as Zoroastrian priests or as practitioners of what has been called, after them, the art of ‘magic’. In the absence of convincing arguments for an astrological role of the magi, both in historical reality and in the Greek literary imagination, this chapter argues that the role of the magi in Matthew’s story must be interpreted in the light of their connection with kingship. This was a connection they had both in historical reality and in the imagined Persian courts of authoritative Greek authors.

In: The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi
In: Sacrifice in Religious Experience
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This article claims that we are in need of alternative ways of modelling religious diversity in the Middle East. This region is characterized by a high level of religious diversity, which can only be partly explained by the persistence of religions that were already in existence when Islam arose. Many communities came into being since the Islamization of the area. The communities addressed in this article therefore include one pre-Islamic tradition, the Mandaeans, and five communities that crystallized (much) later: the Yezidis, the Ahl-e Haqq, the Druze, the Alawis, and the (Turkish) Alevis. These have often been discussed in conjunction with each other, in ways that are historically and conceptually problematic. A focus on two characteristics these communities share—endogamy and a “spiritual elite” structure—makes it possible to discuss the processes in which these communities have come into being, have crystallized, and relate to the wider Islamic setting in a new light. Three communities have continued to distance themselves from Islam, and three have been in a constant process of negotiating their relation with more mainstream versions of Islam. This has consequences for the maintenance, or gradual dissolution, of religious pluralism in the Middle East.

In: Sociology of Islam