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Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (The Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices) Hardcover – February 5, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Answers a real need among students of religion ... informative, original and so eminently enjoyable ...' - - Journal of Asian History

'... an excellent series.' - Isabel Wollaston, Univeristy of Birmingham, Reviews in Religion and Theology

About the Author

Mary Boyce is Professor Emerita of Iranian Studies at the University of London and is the author of a number of works on Zoroastrianism and Manicheanism.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (February 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415239028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415239028
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,165,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This is an increcdible book about the history and development of the Zoroastrian religion from ancient times to the present. However, it is not simply an explanation of Beliefs and Practices. If you are unfamiliar with Zoroastrianism I suggest you read Nigosian's book THe Zoroastrian Faith first and then read this one. Boyce's book is the clearest and most well researched work on Zoroastrian religion and is a must for all interested in the relative subject matter.
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Format: Paperback
Goldilocks would like this book. It is perfect for the average reader as far as length, depth, and width of coverage of this topic. Not too deep and not too shallow but just right! In addition to general features of Zoroastianism it also has a large amount of information on ancient Persia as well as particularly strong emphasis on the usually neglected Parthian and Sasanian cultures. The coverage of the Parsis in the Indian subcontinent is also very well done. Highly recommended for the general reader who wants an accessible overall view of Zoroastrianism.
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The student of religions has few options when it comes to Zoroastrianism. Its scriptures have not been translated into English in over a century and there are vanishingly few scholars capable of dealing with the extreme philological and historical challenges of understanding and translating the material. Thank heavens that of the few books we have, Boyce's book is among them. Flawed though it may be, it is an invaluable overview of the history of Zoroastrianism from the time of its founder to the present day.

Boyce did possess ample expertise to motivate and present the history and doctrines of Zoroastrianism in plentiful detail. Too plentiful, in fact, for the tastes of this reader, and I have a large appetite for dry academic material. Even so, plowing through this relentless presentation of technical terms, unfamiliar names, and obscure dynasties and languages was a daunting challenge, even at a short 200 pages.

For all Boyce's lavish attention to detail she presents a surprisingly one-sided picture of Zoroastrianism. You would never know reading this book that the historicity of Zarathustra has been challenged repeatedly, or that opinions are sharply divided on whether or not Darius and his successors were Zoroastrians.

Boyce has arrived at her conclusions and that is what you get. Her commitment to this interpretation goes too far at times and compromises her scholarly objectivity, as when she refers to the Zurvanites as betrayers of Zarathustra's doctrine and a "deep and grievous heresy". Such ideas simply do not have a place in academic scholarship.

If we are to have too few books on Zoroastrianism in English, I am glad this one errs on the side of too much detail and minutiae. This book is the account of a scholar with very deep knowledge indeed, and I am glad for it, flaws and all.
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As a fellow Parsee and Zarathusti, I am very glad to have found this book!! It provided be incredible insights into my religion's ~2500 year old history. Thanks to this book, I have truly rediscovered my faith. Boyce has done a terrific job!! She was an authority figure for her knowledge regarding the Zoroastrianism faith. I wish it were possible to thank her today for her tremendous contributions!! I recommend this book to all enthusiasts...
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The books focuses a lot on the history of Zoroastrian beliefs and practices. It's not so much a thorough dissertation of Zoroaster's original teachings. This isn't a book if you're interested in something that focuses on the life and teachings of Zoroaster (a.k.a. Zarathustra), himself.
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This is a book about what is said to be the forefather of our great religions, founded by the prophet Zoroaster in very early civilized man. It would be commonly associated with fire worshipers as you would find sacred fires as places of worship. In simple form the fire was to the early man where you gathered for warmth, cooking and where humanity came together. While today the fire may be a symbol of the faith, in its beginning it was much more a practice to bring people together. Zoroaster believed there was a separation of good and evil at creation. How subsequent tenants of this concept transitioned from lessons around a fire to a doctrine still practiced 4000 years later begins with song. Have you ever had a song stuck in your head and you couldn't get it out? Well it was the Prophet Zoroaster who brought what is believed to be the world's first religion to humanity through song. In a land where writing had yet to be invented, Zoroaster would have his priests commit to memory the Gatha in song, later to be written down.

This book is an academic account of the tenants of Zoroastrianism from is roots through all is evolutionary changes. With a sense of an archeological dig, the reader becomes aware of not only how the world affected Zoroastrianism but also how this ancient faith in turn influenced the Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions. This religion is still alive in corners of the world with strong holds in Tehran, Iran and Bombay,India. In a chronological format the author begins with an overview of the tenets of Zoroaster in the beginning and then pulls them through history capturing the ebb and flow of humanity, giving the reader a sense of before, after and most important the present day pictures of life as a Zoroastrian.
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