Zoroastrian and Christian Parallels

As most of my readers are aware, the Israelites of the Assyrian captivity were dispersed into Greater Iran and there they were known variously as Saka and Scythians. The other inhabitants of ancient Iran were also descendants of the Genesis 10 Adamic nations through Shem and Japheth and so we should fully expect the Iranic peoples to have had some grasp or memory of their Creator.



‘The Noahite Nations: the Shemites’

‘The Noahite Nations: the Japhethites’

A relief depicting Ahura Mazda, Persopolis.

Indeed they did and we find ample parallels between ancient Israelism or Christianity and Zoroastrianism also known as Mazdayasna (“The Praise of Wisdom”). Before I proceed with that we will discuss briefly some of the history of Mazdayasna.

Zoroaster was probably born sometime between the 16th and 6th centuries BC somewhere in the Eastern Iranian plateau into the Persian Spitamids. Zoroaster is seen as a religious reformer or, to Hindus and neo-Vedicists, a heretic but Zoroaster himself claimed that he did not proclaim a new religion. Rather he came to restore the primordial Aryan religion as known in the distant past.

The Zoroastrian Scriptures are contained in the Avesta. Of greatest importance are the Yasna and particularly the Gathas which are said to have been spoken by Zoroaster himself. The extant texts of the Avesta, as they exist today, derive from a single master copy produced through collation and recension in the Sassanian Empire which stood from 224–651 AD. Thus the Avestan manuscripts are of comparable antiquity to those of the Greek New Testament.

Mazdayasna enters written history in the 5th century BCE. Herodotus’ Library of Histories (completed around 440 BC) includes a description of Iranian society that seems recognizably Zoroastrian. Herodotus describes sacrifice procedures among the Magi and Persians much like the Levitical and the Persians would not sacrifice without a Magus (Herodotus 1.132). The Magi were also said to belong to a specific tribe much like the Levites (Herodotus 1.101, 140).

Both Zoroastrianism and Israelism represented God with a winged solar disc called Faravahar. This symbol is found all throughout Zoroastrian art and is also found among many other ancient Near Eastern peoples such as the Egyptians, Assyrians and Israelites. We find the winged solar disc on the seal of King Hezekia of Judah and it is also mentioned in Malachi 4:

“1For, behold, a day comes burning as an oven, and it shall consume them; and all the aliens [allogenes, Strong’s G241 meaning “of another race”], and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that is coming shall set them on fire, saith the Lord Almighty, and there shall not be left of them root or branch. 2But to you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise, and healing shall be in his wings: and ye shall go forth, and bound as young calves let loose from bonds. 3And ye shall trample the wicked; for they shall be ashes underneath your feet in the day which I appoint, saith the Lord Almighty.”

The seal of King Hezekia of Judah, Jerusalem.

Judgement and cleansing through fire and the religious importance of fire in ritual observances are themes common to both Scripture and the Avestas. Both traditions proclaim a fiery apocalyptic judgement of the earth.

In the Avestas, Ahura Mazda is depicted as the Creator of the world (Yasna 31.7), omniscient (Yasna 31.13), omnipresent (Yasna 44.2), personal (Yasna 31.21), and just (Yasna 44.3), and in Scripture YHWH is also given such descriptions (Genesis 1.1-2 Chronicles 16.9, Psalm 139.1-2, Deuteronomy 32.4)

Zoroastrian texts describe two types of lesser divine entities called Ahuras and Daevas. Of course the Ahuras are much like Christian Angels and the Daevas are parrallel to demons in Christian tradition. One of the cheif reforms of Iranic religion brought on by Zoroaster was the condemnation of Daeva worship and their division from the Ahuras who were given Angelic status subordinate only to Mazda himself.

These Angels and demons in the Avestas are aligned with Spenta Mainyu (Holy Spirit) or Angra Mainyu (Evil Spirit). It is between these two forces that the battle between good and evil is waged, and men must choose their allegiances. As in Scripture the Avestas see the world divided into two camps: those who believe the Lie (Druj) and those who believe in Order (Asha).

In Yasna 30.3 Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu are called twins. Likewise forces of good and evil may be manifest as twins in Scripture where we see Jacob and Esau as twin brothers. Cain and Abel were also twins, though from different fathers through superfecundation.

‘The Origins of the Serpent Seed’ https://teknatoutheou.wordpress.com/2019/01/27/the-origins-of-the-serpent-seed/

A silver drachm depicting YHWH struck by the Persian administration of Judea, Jerusalem.

Ultimate reward and retribution at the end of the age are both common themes within Zoroastrianism and Christianity. The Avestas teach the eventual victory of Mazda and the eternal defeat of Angra Mainyu and his minions. This is described in the Yasnas as “the last turning point in creation” (Yasna 43.5), when the whole world will be purged of evil and the kingdom of Ahura Mazda will be established. This is described in Yasna:

“So when there cometh the punishment of these evil ones, then, O Mazdah, at thy command shall Good Thought establish the Dominion in the Consummation, for those who deliver the Lie O Ahura, into the hands of the Right”
-Yasna 30.8

Of course this runs parrallel to the Christian expectation of the purging of the earth of Satan and his brood and the establishment of the eternal Kingdom of God.

While clearly not perfect parrallels I believe the Avestas may proclaim a profane parrallel to Christ. In the 10th Yasht of the Avesta, Mithra is said to have a divine status the equal of Ahura Mazda, when Ahura Mazda speaks to the prophet Zoroaster: “Verily, when I created Mithra, the lord of the wide pastures, I created him as worthy of sacrifice, as worthy of prayer as myself, Ahura Mazda.” Together with his mother Anahita, Mithra becomes the most important entity next to Ahura himself in Mazdayasna.

In the Danube region Mithraic monuments show Mithra shooting a rock from which water then gushes out. All throughout Scripture God is refered to as offering living water and being the fountain of living waters. Perhaps when the prophet Zoroaster came to purify Iranic spirituality and reestablish the worship of the highest God he returned this messianic figure to his proper place at the right hand of God.

The pagan Scythian religion seems to have had parallels with Zoroastrianism. Herodotus says that the Scythians worshiped a heptad of gods and in the Avestas the six Amesha Spentas (Good Spirits) are under (or emanate from) Mazda. It may be that Herodotus, viewing the world through purely pagan eyes, mistook the veneration of the Amesha Spentas for worship of a pantheon of wholly separate gods. This Zoroastrian heptad of the Amesha Spentas may run parrallel to the seven spirits of God (Isaiah 11.2-3, Revelation 1.4, 3.1 et al.)

Herodotus says that the deity he calls “Scythian Ares” was the only deity which the Scythians would make altars, images and temples for. Herodotus identifies this deity with Ares on account of his warlike nature. Of course the God of the Scythian Israelites had in past times been YHWH who is also a war God demanding exclusive rites and worship. Maybe Herodotus’ “Scythian Ares” is YHWH or perhaps the Scythians merely applied observances established in Israelism to worship of a pagan god.

The Behistun inscription.

While many Scythian descendants participated in polytheism many also practiced Mazdayasna. The Scythian Dahae were one of the first five nations amongst whom Zoroaster proclaimed his message. The Scythian Parthians liberated Iran from Macedonian rule and reconstructed the Avesta that had been destroyed by Alexander the Great. The Sassanids derived in part from Scythians and they are responsible for the more recent reconstruction of the Avestas.

In the Avesta’s Farvardin Yasht 13.144 the fravashis (souls) of the Dahae’s men and women are revered. The implication is that the Dahae, or some Dahae, were Zoroastrians worthy of perpetual veneration in each recitation of the Avestas. The Parthians are thought to be descended from the Dahae and so they too share in their Zoroastrian legacy.

While I would not consider the Avestas anywhere nearly as credible as Scripture, it is clear there was some relation between Zoroastrianism and ancient Israelism. Thus we see various offshoots of the Israelitic Scythian race such as the Dahae and Parthians practicing and championing Mazdayasna and related Mithraism.

Published by SloanVSutherland

"I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord"

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