Most people know of the name Zarathustra only from Nietzsche's work, Thus spake Zarathustra, penned in the nineteenth century. Nietzsche believed that Judaeo-Christian morality and indeed religious morality in general was for slaves, unlike the morality that he extolled, the lifestyle of the hero, the great man whose greatness enabled him to transcend good and evil. [Note, ladies great man. Women, he thought, did not qualify.] Yet even more than Moses, Nietzsche blamed Zarathustra for the key tenet of religious morality, the idea that life was a battle between good and evil;and in this respect Nietzsche was probably right.
So who was Zarathustra? Estimates of his dates vary, ranging from 2000 to 600 BCE, but recent research has placed him about 1200, an intermediate date that is probably right. He was a priest of the ancient Iranian religion, and a peace-loving man who detested the wandering Aryan tribes who blighted the lives of the peaceable agriculturalists with whom he identified. These people worshipped the devas, especially Indra, while despising as lower deities the Ahuras [asuras] of the peoples that they dominated. Zarathustra staked his flag for the ahuras, despising the devas, and it is likely that from him we get the word devil.It is notable that Hindus still worship devas and relegate asuras to the nether realms
Zarathustra's religious experience came in a moment when he was gazing into a fire. He believed that addressing him through the flames was Ahura Mazda, the deity of light, truth and goodness. Mazda wanted to commission Zarathustra and his followers to work for his cause, promoting light, truth and goodness against the power of his arch-foe, Angrya Manyu, sometimes known as Ahriman. Ahriman was the force of evil in the world fighting against Mazda, and his technique was to use Druj, the lie. The religious experience in the fire has uncanny similarities to Moses' experience of the burning bush, which may have occurred two or three hundred years earlier. But since then the Zoroastrians have revered fire as sacred and so never cremate their dead, as death pollutes the sacred element. There is a Zoroastrian temple in Eastern Iran where a sacred flame has been burning since time immemorial as part of Zoroastrian worship.
Later Zoroastrian thought was to associate Mazda with seven assistants, the Amesa Spentas, the Bounteous Immortals, beings of archangelic status, one of whom was Mithras, whose cult was popular among Roman soldiers, and another of whom is still honoured now by the persecuted Yazidis of Iraq, who know him as the Peacock Angel.
It was the followers of Zarathustra who first realized that there would be a final battle between good and evil when the forces of goodness would be led by a saoshyant [saviour] when Ahriman would be defeated. They also believed that there would be a resurrection of the righteous dead to a paradisal condition.
You will notice that these ideas seem familiar, and they are. But the dispute is whether Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism or vice versa.There is no doubt that the two religions were in contact for many hundreds of years, so some interchange of ideas is likely.
The Zoroastrian influence was in the post-exilic period down to Alexander's conquests, about 527-333 BC.
We know not where the Holy Family lived in Egypt,but there was a large Jewish population in Alexandria, where they would have got support.
There is a legend of unproven provenance that was said to have been found in the Himis manuscript detailing Jesus' journeys in the East. But few scholars have had access to the text, so it must be treated as dubious.This story has him spending teenage years up to the age of 29 in the East.
frankbeswick, Thank you for the practicalities and products.
The film Bohemian Rhapsody brought in Freddie Mercury's (born Farrokh Bulsara) father Bomi Rustomji Bulsara's guideline of "Good words. Good thoughts. Good deeds." It's interesting that he was from Maharashtra, northwest Indian state that preserves the 1,300- to 2,300-year-old Ajanta Caves, seen as religious tolerance through the cooperation between Buddhists and Hindus in its construction and operation. It's likewise interesting that his son and his son's Queen-mates were all so kind-mannered and sensitive.
Do we know where the Holy Family lived in Egypt? There's the notion in some parts of India of Jesus Christ traveling throughout the ancient world, particularly between Iran and India, between the flight into, and the reappearance from, Egypt. If true, that means possibly close exposure to Ajanta, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism.
Yes, Religious Studies has several dimensions. To do it you must draw on theology, philosophy, history, literary techniques, languages, art,music, architecture,psychology, sociology etc.
History has much to offer.