The lack of evidence for the existence of fire temples in ancient Iran has been used as an argument for the absence of the concept of the “eternal fire” in the Avestan texts. However, a new analysis of the final section of the Long Liturgy shows that the fire was usually removed from the sacrificial area before the recitation of Yasna 62.7 and transported back to the “house of men” from which it had been taken. As such, the Long Liturgy partly appears as a functional equivalent of the bōy dādan ceremonies performed for the feeding of the fire at the fire temples in later times. This new reading of the final section of the liturgy is the result of a re-evaluation of the manuscripts, highlighting the shortcomings of previous editions of the Long Liturgy. Furthermore, the new interpretation approaches the Long Liturgy from a non Yasna-centric perspective, taking into account the Yasna as well as the Visperad (and other variants).
Corpus Avesticum is designed to provide a forum for new editions of Avestan texts. It includes works by different authors on the transmission of the Avesta and editions of Avestan texts and their exegesis in Pahlavi and Sanskrit. The editions will be based on a fresh collation of the manuscripts available today and on a critical analysis of the manuscript tradition. Editions would vary according to the focus individual authors have chosen for their work.
The series comprises three types of works. The first type would be editions of the ritual Avesta. They provide the Avestan text of complete rituals together with a text-critical apparatus. The second type comprises editions of the Avestan, Pahlavi or Sanskrit versions of a text with translation, commentary and dictionary of that particular text. Depending on the size of the text, the edition would be either of a complete text, or of a constituent part of a larger text (such as, for example, part of the Yasna). The third type comprises analyses of the history and dependencies of the manuscripts.
Between 2006 and 2013 J. Kellens published in five volumes (the last one together with C. Redard) a corrected version of the text edited by K.F. Geldner of the longest and most important Zoroastrian ritual usually known by the name of one of its variants as the Yasna. The text accompanies an experimental translation and both are followed by a commentary. J. Kellens is pioneering in translating and studying, not only the standard daily variant of the liturgy, but also its more solemn version. Furthermore, his work is the first attempt to read the complete text of the liturgy as the coherent text (although produced at different times) of an old and meaningful liturgy, although it has been traditionally understood as a late composition. As it appears in the manuscripts and is celebrated still today in India, the liturgy is the result of a series of conscious interpretations, reinterpretations and rearrangements of older versions. Despite of this, it is a coherent text and ritual in which each section of the liturgy plays a concrete role that J. Kellens has tried to bring to light for the first time. In the present review, I try to highlight the extraordinary importance of Kellens’ new approach to the Zoroastrian Long Liturgy and to expose his main achievements. At the same time, I expose the main weaknesses of this monumental work: 1. its dependence on the text edited by Geldner, which hides part of the ritual variety of the Long Liturgy; 2. the conscious disregard of the meta-ritual information provided by the Zoroastrian tradition about the performance of the liturgy; 3. J. Kellens’s Yasna-centrism that prevents him to recognize the close connections between the Long Liturgy and other minor rituals and the participation within the Long Liturgy of many short rituals that can be celebrated independently.