Lecture by Albert de Jong (Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion). Part of the Zoroastrianism Studies Lecture Series. Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies. Free and open to the public.
The question whether or not Zoroastrianism was or is an Iranian religion has been answered in various ways throughout the long history of Zoroastrianism, and throughout the much shorter history of the academic study of Zoroastrianism. The different answers to that question reflect different ways of understanding the nature of Zoroastrianism and of understanding the notion of Iran – a notion developed first and foremost within Zoroastrian thought. It is impossible to answer the question with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but we will use these discussions as a lens through which to see some of the major problems for those who want to write the history of Zoroastrianism and that of Iran, as well as for those who identify as ‘Zoroastrian’, as ‘Iranian’, or both.
Albert de Jong studied Religious Studies and Persian in Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and Old and Middle Iranian languages at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He obtained his Ph.D. from Utrecht in 1996 with a dissertation on Zoroastrianism in Greek and Latin literature. After a year as Golda Meir post-doctoral fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he went to Leiden University, where he is currently professor of the study of religion. He combines historical work on the religions of Iran and Central Asia (Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Mandaeism, the cult of Mithras) with more general theoretical work in the study of religion. Alongside his long-term commitment to finish the History of Zoroastrianism started by Mary Boyce, he is currently working on longue durée questions of the origin and current dissolution of religious pluralism in the Middle East.