"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Religions of Iran

One of the interesting aspects of the study of Eastern Christianity is that the further East you go, the more you encounter people who regard Eastern, i.e., Byzantine, Christians as "Western" in geographically relative terms if nothing else. If one travels down the Silk Road, one encounters Assyrian, Persian, and other "far" Eastern Christians who are quite often even more obscure, at least in contemporary scholarship, than Byzantine and Syriac Christians are. Still, we are seeing this change, and a recent book by an author whom I previously discussed on here, may well help: Richard Foltz, Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the Present (One World, 2013), 368pp.

About this book we are told:
Although today associated exclusively with Islam, Iran has in fact played an unparalleled role within all the world religions, injecting Iranian ideas into the Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, and Manichaean traditions of the merchants who passed along the Silk Road. This vivid and surprising work explores the manner in which Persian culture has interacted with and transformed each world faith, from the migration of the Israelites to Iran thousands of years ago to the influence of Iranian notions on Mahayana Buddhism and Christianity. Foltz considers Iran’s role in shaping the Muslim world, not only in the Middle East but also in South Asia in an evocative and informative journey through the spiritual heritage of an ancient and influential region.

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