[b-hebrew] Zoroaster and Judaism

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Oct 17 02:15:27 EDT 2006

Dear Ethel,

As you probably know, the authorship of the Torah is one of the most debated
issues in biblical studies. The traditional view that it was authored by
Moses is considered unlikely by most modern critical scholars. The "classic"
19th century Documentary Hypothesis sees the Torah as a final edition of
several documents, the earliest of which (J) was written during the time of
David, Solomon or one of their immediate successors, the latest of which (P)
was written during the post-exilic period. Newer views tend to assume that
most of the Torah was written later, rather than earlier - even as late as
the Hellenistic period. A lot of attention has been focused on the Persian
period as the time in which the Priestly documents would have been written,
and as the time in which the whole thing may have been put together and
introduced as a sacred text of Judaism. And since Zoroasterism was in the
process of becoming the main religion of the Persians at the same time,
there is plenty of ground for speculation.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ethel Jean (Kowan) Saltz" <macnietspingal at airmail.net>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2006 10:09 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Zoroaster and Judaism

> Strange: I was pondering what kind of clothes the authors of
> Torah/Pentateuch wore in the Middle East. I've always thought of them as
> wearing skirts/drapes. One source led to another and there seems to be 
> that
> trousers/pants started with the Persians.  Then there's a reference 
> somehow
> that Zoroaster influenced Judaism.  This is another path that I've seen a
> lot of attention paid to by scholars of TaNaKh.  The Wikipedia says "In
> addition, the various religions of the Iranian peoples, including
> Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, were important early philosophical
> influences on Judeo-Christianity."  I have a couple of problems with this.
> 1. the term Judeo-Christianity is meaningless to me.  2.
> Doesn't this article date the Torah/Pentateuch?  I also scanned the
> teachings in this article and it doesn't jive with my reading of Torah at
> all.  For me this is quite a stretch.  Help!
> When I looked up Zoroaster I don't see how it could be, given the dates.
> The Torah could not have been composed before he lived,  okay here's a 
> quote
> from the Encyc Britannica:
>       Introduction
>      Zoroaster
>      born c. 628 BC, probably Rhages, Iran
>      died c. 551, site unknown
>      Old Iranian  Zarathushtra , or  Zarathustra Iranian religious 
> reformer
> and founder of Zoroastrianism, or Parsiism, as it is known in India. (See
> Zoroastrianism; Parsi.)
>      Life.
>      A major personality in the history of the religions of the world,
> Zoroaster has been the object of much attention for two reasons. On the 
> one
> hand, he became a legendary figure believed to be connected with occult
> knowledge and magical practices in the Near Eastern and Mediterranean 
> world
> in the Hellenistic Age (c. 300 BC–c. AD 300). On the other hand, his
> monotheistic concept of God has attracted the attention of modern 
> historians
> of religion, who have speculated on the connections between his teaching 
> and
> Judaism and Christianity.
>      ================
>      I think the Torah was written before Zarathushtra was born.  So maybe
> it should be the other way around, the Torah influenced Zoroaster?  Help,
> again.  There's a difference between saying "influence the Torah" and the
> influences of national customs, which abound in the entire TaNaKh, given 
> the
> historical holocausts both self-imposed and from external peoples that are
> illustrated in TaNaKh.  Of course I define Judaism as essentially Torah
> directly.  Rabbi David Stern of Temple Emanu-El once told us in a
> pre-Shabbat discussion that he thought of it as Torah and the rest of 
> TaNaKh
> is about making the Torah fit.  That fits my reading of the entire Bible:
> TaNaKh, Apocrypha, New Testament, Koran.
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