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Serial Orthodoxy: The Shaping of Sasanian Zoroastrianism


April 24, 2015
12:15 pm - 1:30 pm
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Colloquium with Albert de Jong (Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion). For Religious Studies faculty, graduate students, and Stanford-affiliated guests. Lunch served; to receive a copy of the precirculated readings, RSVP from your stanford.edu address to Ai Tran

Even though most historians claim that they do not like the concept of “orthodoxy,” barely disguised variations upon the concept continue to dominate most discussions of the interactions between religious communities in the late antique world. In the case of Zoroastrianism, such variations range from the notion of a fully orthodox trans-historical Zoroastrianism through a focus on regional, historical and even individual distinctive varieties of that religion to the recent claim that Sasanian Zoroastrianism was an “elite’” phenomenon that did not mean very much. While the focus on diversity has been very helpful in avoiding the more extreme positions, it has been unable to solve the question how Zoroastrianism managed to survive the loss of its empire. This colloquium will be devoted to that crucial question.

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.