Part 4 – The birth of Judaism

In 586 BC (not 607 BC as the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim), the forces of the Babylonian Empire conquered Judah, destroying their country and carrying off a proportion of the Judahite population into exile. The captives consisted especially of the educated and upper-class, the nobility, priests and prophets as well as the Judahite royal family. King Tzidkiyahu’s (Zedekiah’s) children were killed in front of him, and then he was blinded and castrated. This “Babylonian captivity” lasted almost 47 years (again, many Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that it was 70 years, but this is inaccurate according to the mountains of archaeological evidence we have).

In 539 BC the Persians, under the leadership of King Cyrus, conquered Babylon, and in 538 Cyrus issued a decree stating that all nations formerly under the Babylonians including the Judahites would be allowed to return to their homeland. Not only were the exiles released, but Cyrus, and to some extent his successors, also supported the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. They gave gold, silver and other materials to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish nation and religion.

You may think that it was a very unusual thing to have done. A nation that conquers another nation doesn’t usually provide them with resources for building their country up. However, Cyrus’ policy was motivated not only by his ideals of religious tolerance (he also encouraged other, pagan peoples to maintain their own religions) but by statesmanlike wisdom; people treated generously are less likely to rebel and, even better, people who thought they were worshipping their own gods, but were really worshipping yours were even less likely to rebel.

Remember that the Hebrew religion before the exile was not called “Judaism” it is properly termed “Yahwism”, the monolatric worship of Yahweh. The post-exilic “Judaism” was literally built in the image of Persian Zoroastrianism… The newly established Jewish religion was NOT, as many believe, an altruistic restoration of the Judahite “Yahwist” cult, it was a way of Cyrus exercising his power over his people, by disguising Zoroastrianism in a veneer of native Yahwism.

The Zoroastrian ruler, in aiding the Jews, apparently gained two major concessions:

1) The loyalty and gratitude of his Jewish subjects, and
2) A safe passage to Egypt, since Palestine is strategically located on the road between Persia and Egypt.

Zoroastrianism + Yahwehism = Judaism. This is when Judaism as we know it began.

Before w tackle where Judaism came from though, 

  • The Judahites and the Israelites

The Bible says that the kingdom of Judah, along with the northern kingdom of Israel, was the successor to a United Monarchy, but modern archaeology and textual analysis hav, rejected the account of a united monarchy. Bothe Finkelstein and Siberman in their book “The Bible Unearthed : Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts and Thomas Thompson in “The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past” have indicated that Judah became a fully developed kingdom much later than the culturally related but politically distinct northern kingdom of Israel.

  • Solomon’s Temple

Although before the exile, the Judahites had probably had a tabernacle or tent which functioned as a temple, the temple of  described in 1 Kings 6-8 simply could not have been built before 539 becvause the bronze-age Judahites of Solomon’s time would have been unable to amass the resources to build it. Even before the Babylonian exile they were subject to Assyrian rule as a vassal state and had to pay devastating tribute to Assyria and before that Judah was a vassal state of Israel and before that of Egypt. The Judahites had never been an entirely independent state.

  
Secondly, 1 Kings 6:2 states that “The temple King Solomon built for the LORD was was sixty cubits long and twenty cubits wide and thirty cubits high“. This is 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high, or just under 30x10x15 metres. 

  • 1 Kings 5:15-1 further states “Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stone cutters in the hills, as well as thirty-three hundred foremen who supervised the project and directed the workmen“. Why were 153,300 people required to build a 30×10 metre box that could fit in my back garden?
  • 1 Kings 6:38 says “In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it”. Why did it take 7 years to construct a 30×10 metre box?
  • 1 Chronicles 22:14 then goes on to say “I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the LORD a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them”. Over 3 million kilograms of gold and 35 million kilograms of silver were used in a box 30×10 metres.

Not to mention that there is absolutely no archaological evidence at all for a Solomonic temple, the so-called first temple (which is hardly surprising seeing as the temple was built in a site that is now so “holy” archaeology and any digging is forbidden. But still, you would have thought a historical source from another great nation would have noticed these masses of gold and silver being transported.

There are many lines of evidence, mostly circumstantial, showing that Judaism was Persian construction:

Cyrus the Great

Cyrus is famous in that he had a famous cylinder made commemorating his victory over Babylon. The victorious Cyrus is portrayed as having been chosen by the chief Babylonian god Marduk to restore peace and order to the Babylonians. It extols Cyrus’s efforts as a benefactor of the citizens of Babylonia who improved their lives, repatriated displaced people and restored temples and cult sanctuaries across Mesopotamia and elsewhere in the region.

  
This has been seen by many as the worlds first charter of human rights. Is is not exactly that type of document, but it does show how Cyrus’s policies were immensely different to those of Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus the Babylonian kings. You can see how the restored Judahites would have adored Cyrus as literally their saviour. He repatriated them and allowed them to build the temple which had been described in their revered books.

It was probably also he who was instructed to insert the “prophecy” foretelling the arrival of Cyrus by name, which Cyrus was “surprised” to read when he visited Jerusalem.

“This is what the Lord says to his anointed (messiah/Christ), to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him . . . ‘I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor’” (Isaiah 45:1,4).

God says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please” (Isaiah 44:28).

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.” 2 Chronicles 36:22–23.

The Jewish god was obviously on the side of Cyrus, a non-Jewish king. God calls Cyrus his “messiah” which is another word for “Christ” and is the first person in post-exilic Judaism to be called a messiah and the first person not a king of the Davidic line. These prophecies and declarations have been very suspicious for scholars for centuries. Click here for another article which describes how the why the Persians were in biblical prophecy.

The result of the work by Persian agents in the religions of the nations they conquered was clearly reflected in Cyrus’s Proclamation that appeared as an oracle from the Gods of Babylonia empowering him to set Babylon free. Cyrus’ Proclamation portrays the Babylonian god Marduk as saying:

“He (Marduk) scanned and looked (through) all the countries, searching for a righteous ruler.. he pronounced the name of Cyrus, King of Anshan. . .to become the ruler of all the world. Marduk the great Lord, a protector of his people beheld with pleasure his (Cyrus’) good deeds and ordered him to march against the City of Babylon”. Morton Smith, Jour. of Amer. Ori. Soc. 1963, 83, 415.

Obviously the Babylonians didn’t write this themselves. Many apologists have said that Yahweh would have written thing as a judgement against Babylon, but why would they have portrayed the words a coming from Marduk? The similarity of the Biblical accounts and the Babylonian one clearly suggests that the descendants of Cyrus were putting words in the mouth of the god Marduk. It also suggests that the prophet Isaiah was perhaps the first Jew to learn about Cyrus and Zoroastrianism from the Persian Magi and edited the biblical text, putting words into the mouth of the Hebrew god Yahweh. The Persians were obviously masters of propaganda.

Ezra, Nehemiah and the new Jewish religion

Over half a century after Cyrus, we arrive at King Artaxerxes whose name also appears in Ezra 7:7,12. Artaxerxes followed the tradition of benevolence towards the Jews as set by his ancestors. He appointed Nehemiah as one of his loyal servants to govern Jerusalem. We are told Nehemiah, who followed the Zoroastrian purity code rigidly, was responsible for the transition of the Jewish purity code, that solely concerned the cultic matters, to the purity in the individual’s daily life, The purity laws, as observed by Prof. Boyce, were no longer restricted to the Temple, but had to be exercised in ‘the fields, the kitchen, the bed and the street (History of Zoroastrianism Vol. II, p. 190).

It was during the end of the Exile, among the Judahites now living in the Persian Empire, that the first significant contact was made between the Judahite and Iranian cultures. And it is evident in the Bible that Judahite thinking changed after the Exile.

The question is then: are these changes the result of the cultural meeting of Judahite and Iranian thinkers, or are these changes due to the shock of Exile? During the Exile, the Judahites had to change not only how they worshipped, since they no longer had their tabernacle or the animal sacrifices which had been at the centre of their faith, but also how they thought about God. The Judahite concept of Yahweh as their tribal protector, who would save them from being conquered or exiled, had to undergo revision.

R.C. Zaehner on page 20 of “The Dawn & Twilight of Zoroastrianism” states:

“Meanwhile in her encounters with the Medes and Persians, Israel had found a kindred monotheistic creed in the religion of Prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster), and one of her own Prophets, Isaiah, did not hesitate to salute Cyrus, her liberator, as the Lord’s anointed. From this religion too she learnt teachings concerning the afterlife altogether more congenial to her soul than had been the gloomy prospect offered her by her own tradition, teachings to which she had been a stranger before.” The Achaemenids took the ancient texts that the Judahites had saved, appointed Persian-educated Ezra as the chief priest and scribe of the Judahite satrapy, which was now called “Yehud”.

In 397 BC Ezra was sent to Judah “to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances” (Ezra 7:10). Ezra was a Persian court official whose job was basically to teach the Jews Judaism so that they would be passive subjects of the Persian Empire, while believing that they had retained their ancient customs and religion. Ezra was an ideal candidate because he had tenuous (but questionable) Judahite ancestry; the Judahites would trust him. In Ezra 7:1-5 the writer goes to great lengths to “prove” that Ezra was in fact descended form Aaron, Moses brother and the first ever chief priest. It is highly unlikely that a recently literate nomanic bronze age tribe would have kept such records for hundreds of years, but what is known was that Ezra had been born and educated as a divine reader in Babylon and was sent by Artaxerxes of Persia to see if the people of Judea would “be agreeable to the law of God” (meaning the law of the one god,  Yahweh, but possibly referring to Ahura Mazda). There are explicit indications of widespread religious conversion in Ezra 6:19-21 and Nehemiah 10:28-29, and the question is, why would Jews have to convert to Judaism? Well the reason may have been that Judaism was a religion invented by Persian officials which had been mixed with their genuine traditions and forced upon them unwittingly.

Nehemiah, chapter 8, discusses an event where Ezra read from the book of law which neither Hebrew speakers nor Aramaic speakers could understand – the words had to be translated by priests. What strange language could Ezra have been reading? It was most probably Avestan, the holy language of Zoroastrianism.

  
As a Persian politician and scribe, Ezra was especially trained to speak and write Hebrew from birth, and had access to all of the scrolls which contained the history of Judah and Israel, the Achaemenid kings (550–330 BC) had Ezra paste together what scholars know as the J, E, P and D texts, inserted the R text and edited them and tied them together to make a single scroll, which came to be called the Torah. The Bible didn’t exist as a concrete document before that time, it was a rag-tag collection of chronicles, histories, laws and stories. Cyrus’ and Artaxerxes’ genius was to frame Zoroastrianism as this new religion Judaism, using the traditions of the Judahite people as historical background.

I believe that the shock of exile, the feeling of being abandonned by their patron god Yahweh, and the contact with the Iranians inspired the changes in post-exilic Judaism. This was an opportune time for Ezra to shape the Judahites religious and spiritual needs…

Most of Zoroastrianism, known and practiced among the Persian people, existed in oral tradition: through word of mouth, not by the study of written scriptures. This oral tradition included stories about a single God, the Creation, the ethical and cosmic conflict of Good and Evil, the divine Judgment and the end of the world. Now, all these are common motifs of the “BIG THREE” monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but what is interesting is that before 586 BC Judaism didn’t contain any of these belief structures, with one exception: monotheism. In pre-exilic times, idolatry and monolatry came in and out of fashion, but pure monotheism was NEVER practised by the people until the post-exilic Persian period. Monolatrism (belief in many, but worship of only one god) had existed in some form since the Egyptian colonial times, but it was always practiced by such a small esoteric group of priests and they were never able to extend it to every corner of the country. Suddenly, after the exile, only Yahweh could be worshipped by the people. They vaguely remembered their old gods, but there were programs of mass execution for those who worshipped them.

The Jewish religion changed beyond recognition, and became highly centralised. The people now had to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem to worship instead of just using their own local alters and high places. Local shrines and high places were torn down and various kings were labelled as good (Hezekiah, Josiah) or bad (Manasseh, Amon) depending on how closely they followed this new ideal of monotheism.

The priests began to wield unbridled power, because there was no king, only a Persian satrap who wielded limited power. Ironically, the priests imposed the will of the Persians, thinking that it was the will of their own God. They didn’t even realise that this new Judaism had little connection to their native religion. Ezra did a good job of indoctrinating, centralising and editing the ancient stories to fit the new world order.

Using the exile and the execution or deportation of of the people to their advantage, the Yahwist priests who’d been taken to Babylon seized power and changed the face of Judaism from a private system of worship, to a public system and Ezra ensured that the proud history of Judah and Israel was woven into the mix. Ezra equated Israel with Judah, exaggerated the power of the legends of David and Solomon, invented the unified Kingdom of Israel and an excuse why the two had separated. He then formed a narrative of a future Messiah based on the Persian Saoshyant who would restore the united kingdom of Judah/Israel to being a great power just like the empire of David and Solomon had been (an empire which the Bible exaggeratedly describes as almost as big as that of the Persian empire).

My nickname for him is “cut-and-paste Ezra”, because if you look at the Documentary Hypothesis version of the Torah, it’s like he’s stuck verses in his own way with no regard to the real history of Judah.

When you think of the foundation of Judaism and the writing of the Bible, don’t think of Abraham, Moses, or David… think of Cyrus, Ezra and Nehemiah.

 

The Pharisees (possibly related to Farsi) were a Jewish sect who stuck close to Persian religious ideals believing in the immortality of the soul and resurrerion, which other sects, such as the Saducees, denied.

 

Persians beliefs that entered into Judaism.

  • A single God. Israel was polytheistic and polylatrous (believing in and worshipping many gods). Judah was polytheistic and mostly polylatric, but there was a minority priestly Yahwehist faction who tried to impose their monolatry on the nation, mostly without success. The gods had female consorts, tellingly, the ONLY sentential archaeological references to Yahweh refer to “Yahweh and his Asharah”.

The original temple of Solomon had a statue of Asherah, probaby a copper tree with a snake wrapped around it (Numbers 21:5–9, 2 Kings 18:4, 2 Kings 23:7) and temple priestesses wove ritual clothes or pieces of cloth for her. This was an original part of the temple, not something that “bad kings” built later on. The Bible was heavily edited to eliminate Asherah from history and condemn normal cult practise as displeasing to Yahweh, as it was embarrasing to the later Jews.

Yahweh was a son of the High God El, and had many brothers (Psalm 82:1), but the Judahites main “patron” god was Yahweh who occupied a special place in their hearts and history.

Many attempts were made to eliminate the other Gods from Judahite worship, most famously during King Hezekiah’s reign (715 and 686 BC). The power-grabbing priests claimed that their neighbour Israel had been destroyed because they didn’t worship Yahweh, and re-wrote the law and hid it under the temple, guiding Hezekiah to find it. They then declared that the new book (Deuteronomy) was a lost law of Moses, and manipulated Hezekiah into centralising the worship of Yahweh in Jerusalem.

Hezekiah’s great-grandson King Josiah then was further manipulated by the Yahwist priests into destroying the worship of all the other national gods except Yahweh and Asherah at Jerusalem, and his father Manasseh was vilified as an “evil king”. Any kings of either Israel or Judah who supported the “old religion” were completely eviscerated in the biblical text. Jezebel and Ahab were vilified

  • The ethical dichotomy and cosmic conflict of Good and Evil. The Judahites believed that the gods, the Elohim, were capricious and neither pure good or pure evil. They were more human. Nations had patron Gods, but the people were not prohibited from worshipping other gods if they thought it would bring them a good harvest. Yahweh did both good and bad things (Isaish 45:7), and when he did bad, he was often refered to as “the satan” (see 2 Sam. 24:1 and compare 1 Chron. 21:1, the version that Ezra revised). The idea of an all-benevolent god (called Ahura Mazda) was assimilated into the Judahite god Yahweh.
  • Joseph Campbell, author of “The Hero with a thousand faces” states: “Persian belief was reorganized by the prophet Zarathushtra according to a strict dualism of good and evil principles, light and dark, angels and devils. Thiscrisis profoundly affected not only the Persians, but also the subject Hebrew beliefs, and thereby (centuries later) Christianity.”
  • Ninian Smart & Richard D. Hecht in “Sacred texts of the world – A universal anthology” say: “The (Zoroastrian) dualism between good and evil was to have an impact upon ancient Israel, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”


  • Satan, the adversary. The disassociation of the single god with all evil actions and the personification of evil as a character called Angra Mainyu or ha-Satan for the Jews. As stated before, Satan is NOT mentioned at all in the Old Testament except for in the Book of Job, (which is an ancient Persian myth adapted for the new post-exhilic Judaism). “The satan” (always lower-case with the definite article) was either a part of Yahweh, or later, an angel of Yahweh. The word “satan” only appears 23 times in the old testament, 9 of which it refers to a servant of Yahweh, an “adversary” or a “barrier” (Numbers 22:22-23 “the angel of Yahweh stood in the way as a satan for him”). 10 times in the Book of Job and 3 times in the Zechariah meaning some kind of advocate in the heavenly court who seems to be a “brother” of Yahweh. Both the satan and Yahweh seem to be present in a court house presided over by the High God El. They are both described as “sons of El”. The remaining occurance in 1 Chronicles 21:1 talks about the satan inciting David to do something evil… This verse is an anomaly as the story is copied from a story in 2 Samuel 24:1 where Yahweh himself is said to have incited the evil deed.

It is indeed not surprising that God is said to do both good and evil because in Isaiah 45:7 tells us “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things“.

  • J. Duchesne-Guillemin notes that “the figure of [the satan], originally a servant of God, appointed by Him as His prosecutor, came more and more to resemble Ahriman, the enemy of [the high God, Ahura Mazda]”.
  • John Gray, in his book “Near Eastern Mythology” says on page 127: “The development of the concept of Satan as the personal power of evil, who had his counterpart in the archangel Michael, the champion of cause of man in God’s purpose of creation, was probably developed under the influence of Persian Zoroastrian belief in the two conflicting spirits of good and evil….”
  • Snake worship. The snake in the Garden of Eden was NOT the satan, and it was not evil. It was part of a tradition which included the healing god called “Nehushtan”. The serpent wanted the first human couple to live forever and gain knowledge.

 

Image Credit: The Brick Testament by the fabulous Elbe Spurling (thebrickbible.com)

 
Notice  how Yahweh admits that the snake was not lying in Genesis 3:22 (the last image. 

    We later see the serpent, the  symbol of knowledge and healing throughout the Mesopotamian world, worshipped as the “copper serpent” created by Moses. Yahweh sends venomous snakes among his people, then instructs Moses to make a serpent out of copper so that the people could look upon it and be healed.

      

    The Nehushtan was later destroyed by priestly revisionists who framed it as competing with the exclusive worship of Yahweh. Snake worship had long disappeared by the time of the Persian Empire. It was viewed as primitive.

      • Life after death. There was no life after death, only etrnal darkness and silence (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Heaven was the dwelling place of the gods, not a place where good humans would go. Hell was exemplified by a pit called Gehenna where all the rubbish and even dead bodies were thrown. It was not a place of eternal firy torment. The early Judahites simply had no concept of what would happen after their death. They were simply gone. The Persians introduced a concept of the afterlife to Judaism to instill in them a sense of eternal responsibility.
      • The Messiah. The word “messiah” started off as a synonym for their king. It simply meant “the anointed or crowned one”. Kings of Judah did not wear crowns at one point, they had olive oil rubbed into their heads to “anoint” them. “Messiah” simply meant the one who had been anointed as king. After the execution of the entire Judahite Royal Family by the Babylonians, the word “messiah” came to mean a future king who would take back the Davidic throne and save the Judahites from the cruelty of the nations around them. J. Duchesne-Gullemin again notes that “the figure of the Messiah, originally a future King of Israel who would save his people from oppression, evolved, in Deutero-Isaiah for instance, into a universal Savior very similar ro the Iranian Saoshyant”.

      J. Duchesne-Gullemin goes on to say: “Other points of comparison between Iran and Israel include the doctrine of the millennia; the Frashokereti which was an apocalyse of sort and the “last days” of the present corrupt world; the Last Judgment; the heavenly book in which human names and actions are inscribed; the Resurrection; the final transformation of the earth; paradise on earth or in heaven; and hell.”

      In conclusion, Zoroastrianism, through its cultural, social and political influence brought these new ideas into Judaism and therefore into Islam and Christianity. The existence of a monotheistic deity who is all good, all light and all perfect. A deity who created a dualistic physical rhealm which for its very existence required duality, because each aspect of that world is only definable and able to be experienced in the  context of itself vsits opposite. An unthinkably evil demon whose actions are the root of our inability to be perfect beings. Zoroastrianism has indirectly inspired all Western thought, religion, science, mathematics, philosophy and  gave the world a black and white conception of the world. It has indirectly inspired the Rennaissance, and the Enlightenment and the Victorian need to classify… yet our concept of right and wrong, good and evil has also caused inquisitions, holocausts and epic wars over the dichotomisation of truth and falsehood.

      Effectively, this Zoroastrian influence generated a major paradigm shift in the people’s thoughts at that time and for generations since. It is therefore quite justifiable to claim that Zarathushtra’s world conception and teachings have affected the Western thought and civilization both directly and indirectly.

      Zoroastrianism even affected nascent Christianity. The “three wise men” of the Nativity are Persian Magi come to inspect whether this child was the prophecied Saoshyant.

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      Footnotes

      The “Judah was a vassal state of Israel” comment there might have distracted you if you are familiar with the Bible’s claims about the two nations. Israel and the Jews/Judahites are not the same. They were two dfferent kingdoms, The Israelites were a relatively strong regional power and the Jews were a tiny semi-nomadic kingdom. Israel’s capital was Samaria and Judah’s was Jerusalem. Israel worshipped a pantheon of gods called the Elohim, headed by the high god El and they worshipped Baal as their main god. Judah had had a similar pantheon, but they focused on the worship of Yahweh as their “patron” god, while acknowledging the existence of the entire pantheon (periodic monolatry).

      Samaria was the capital of Israel and was an enormous city. In pre-exilic times, Jerusalem was a small village which paled into insignificance compared to the size of Samaria. The Israelites never felt guilty about worshipping Baal because he was simply their god, there was nothing evil about him. Baal was only demonised after Israel was destroyed, Israel’s people repatriated to Judah and the Judahite priests of Yahweh began to manipulate and incorporate the Israelite holy texts into their own writings.

      Judah paid tibute to Israel as a vassal state between the Egyptian and the Assyrian periods. When Israel was conquered by Assyria in 720 BC, the 10 lost tribes were scattered and mythologised and many of the priestly class of Israel settled in their southern neighbour inspiring the Judahite hunger for power and empire and enabling the very first scrolls of what would come to be called the Torah to be compiled as mixtures of the two stories (that’s why there’s so much contradiction in the Old Testament).

      The book “Who Wrote the Bible” by Richard Elliott Friedmann is an amazing introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis which I’ll talk about another time, but for now it’s just necessary to remember that the Jews and the Israelites were neighbours but they are not the same people, in much the same way as the Scottish and English are not the same. The Israelites ceased to exist as a unified people after the Assyrian invasion of 720 BC. The remnant of the original Israelites who were not scattered as “ten tribes” began to call themselves the “Samaritans” and the Jews adopted a lot of their terminology, their scriptures and stole their history wholesale… then when Judaism became the state religion in 586 BC, the Jews vilified these Samaritans as evil and apostate, hence the incongruity in the eyes of a Jew, of Jesus’ description of a “good Samaritan” (similar to how people in 1940s Britain would have reacted to hearing of a “good German”). The Samaritans still exist today.

      References:

      • Morton Smith, Jour. of Amer. Ori. Soc. 1963, 83, 415.
      • R.C. Zaehner – “The Dawn & Twilight of Zoroastrianism” 
      • Joseph Campbell –  “The Hero with a thousand faces”
      • Ninian Smart & Richard D. Hecht – “Sacred texts of the world – A universal anthology” 
      • Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin – “La Religion de l’Iran ancien”, Paris, P.U.F., 1962, 411 p..
      • Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin – “Le Croissant fertile, la découverte de l’Asie antérieure”, Paris, 1963.
      • Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin – “Zoroastre”, Paris, Robert Laffont, 1976, 265 p..
      • John Gray – “Near Eastern Mythology”
      • Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, Free Press, New York, 2001, pages 240-243., ISBN 0-684-86912-8
      • Kuhrt, Amiele (1995). The Ancient Near East. Routledge. p. 438. ISBN 978-0415167628.
      • Finkelstein, Israel, and Silberman, Neil Asher, The Bible Unearthed : Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, Simon & Schuster, 2002. ISBN 0-684-86912-8
      • Thompson, Thomas L., 1999, The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past, Jonathan Cape, London, ISBN 978-0-224-03977-2 p. 207
      • Richard Eliott Friedmann – “Who Wrote the Bible?”

      These last two references come with a caveat. They are extremely interesting and help us to understand monotheistic history from a modern Zoroastrian’s perspective, albeit a biased perspective. There is a lot of truth in these articles but also a lot of religious self-aggrandisement. It completely misrepresents who the Pharisees and Sadducees were and commits the common error or mixing up the Nazarites and the Nazarenes. He then goes into utter nonsense about the “intelligence” of the sun. But I believe that it is still useful to read irrational texts and biased research to understand history from a different (albeit flawed) perspective:

      http://zoroastrian.angelfire.com

      http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/History/hakhamaneshian/Cyrus-the-great/cyrus_the_great_god_anointed_shepherd.htm

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