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An Ancient Pair: Judaism and Zoroastrianism from Antiquity to Today


May 17, 2015
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanites Center

Lecture by Shai Secunda (Hebrew University, Jerusalem). Part of the Zoroastrianism Studies Lecture Series. Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies and co-sponsored by the Taube Center for Jewish Studies and Stanford Humanities Center. Free and open to the public.

At first glance, considering Judaism and Zoroastrianism seems a lot like comparing apples and oranges. One religion grew out of the Semitic tradition while the other has ancient Indo-European roots. Judaism presents itself to the world as the first monotheism and stresses that the origin of all things – including evil – is from the divine, while Zoroastrianism sharply divides the cosmos between good and evil and worships a deity who is unsullied by the dark side. And yet ever since Western scholars encountered Zoroastrianism, they have been utterly captivated by this unlikely pair, and have demonstrated how these two ancient religions share both an ancient past as well as a arduous journey through Diaspora and decline towards triumph and unlikely survival.

Dr. Shai Secunda is a Lecturer in Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he serves as a Martin Buber Society Fellow and researches classical Judaism and Jewish texts and classical Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian texts. His recent book, The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in its Sasanian Context was published in 2014 by University of Pennsylvania Press. He is a founding editor of The Talmud Blog, a forum for discussing the many different lives of rabbinic texts.