Monday, May 15, 2006 05/15/06-Zarathustra

In today's excerpt, the Iranian prophet Zarathustra, whose followers were known as Zoroastrians and who was brought back to prominence in more recent times by Nietzsche's Also Sprach Zarathustra and the Strauss tone poem of the same name that followed it:

"More than a thousand years before Christ, Zarathustra preached the existence of a heaven and a hell, the idea of a bodily resurrection, the promise of a universal savior who would one day be miraculously born to a young maiden, and the expectation that a final cosmic battle that would take place at the end of time between the angelic forces of good and the demonic forces of evil. At the center of Zarathustra's theology was a unique monotheistic system based on the sole god, Ahura Mazda ('the Wise Lord'), who fashioned the heavens and earth, the night and day, the light and the darkness. Like most ancients, however, Zarathustra could not easily conceive of his god as being the source of both good and evil. He therefore developed an ethical dualism in which two opposing spirits, Spenta Mainyu ('the beneficent spirit') and Angra Mainyu ('the hostile spirit') were responsible for good and evil, respectively."

Reza Aslan, No god but God, Random House, 2005, pp. 12-3


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