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Ancient (64 Occurrences)

Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones,'You shall not murder;' and'Whoever shall murder shall be in danger of the judgment.' (WEB WEY DBY YLT NAS)

Luke 9:8 by others that Elijah had appeared, and by others that some one of the ancient Prophets had come back to life. (WEY WBS YLT)

Luke 9:19 "John the Baptist," they replied; "but others say Elijah; and others that some one of the ancient Prophets has come back to life." (WEY WBS YLT)

Acts 3:21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets. (See NAS)

Acts 15:21 For Moses from generations of old has in every city those who preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath." (See NAS)

Romans 9:4 To them belongs recognition as God's sons, and they have His glorious Presence and the Covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the Temple service, and the ancient Promises. (WEY)

2 Corinthians 3:14 Nay, their minds were made dull; for to this very day during the reading of the book of the ancient Covenant, the same veil remains unlifted, because it is only in Christ that it is to be abolished. (WEY)

Hebrews 1:1 God, who in ancient days spoke to our forefathers in many distinct messages and by various methods through the Prophets, (WEY)

1 Peter 3:5 For in ancient times also this was the way the holy women who set their hopes upon God used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their husbands. (WEY)

1 Peter 3:20 who in ancient times had been disobedient, while God's longsuffering was patiently waiting in the days of Noah during the building of the Ark, in which a few persons--eight in number--were brought safely through the water. (WEY)

2 Peter 2:5 and didn't spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood on the world of the ungodly; (WEB WEY ASV NAS RSV NIV)

Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed--men spoken of in ancient writings as pre-destined to this condemnation--ungodly men, who pervert the grace of our God into an excuse for immorality, and disown Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign and Lord. (WEY)

Revelation 12:9 The great Dragon, the ancient serpent, he who is called 'the Devil' and 'the Adversary' and leads the whole earth astray, was hurled down: he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. (WEY DBY RSV NIV)

Revelation 20:2 He laid hold of the Dragon--the ancient serpent--who is the Devil and the Adversary, and bound him for a thousand years, and hurled him into the bottomless pit. (WEY DBY RSV NIV)

Genesis 49:26 The blessings of your father have prevailed above the blessings of your ancestors, above the boundaries of the ancient hills. They will be on the head of Joseph, on the crown of the head of him who is separated from his brothers. (WEB NIV)

Deuteronomy 33:15 for the chief things of the ancient mountains, for the precious things of the everlasting hills, (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Joshua 24:2 Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel,'Your fathers lived of old time beyond the River, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor: and they served other gods. (See NAS)

Judges 5:21 The river Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. My soul, march on with strength. (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS YLT NAS)

1 Samuel 27:8 David and his men went up, and made a raid on the Geshurites, and the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for those nations were the inhabitants of the land, who were of old, as you go to Shur, even to the land of Egypt. (See NAS NIV)

2 Kings 19:25 Haven't you heard how I have done it long ago, and formed it of ancient times? Now have I brought it to pass, that it should be yours to lay waste fortified cities into ruinous heaps. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS)

1 Chronicles 4:22 and Jokim, and the men of Cozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, who had dominion in Moab, and Jashubilehem. The records are ancient. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

2 Chronicles 3:3 Now these are the foundations which Solomon laid for the building of the house of God. The length by cubits after the first measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits. (See JPS)

Ezra 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: (KJV DBY)

Ezra 4:15 that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers: so you shall find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time; for which cause was this city laid waste. (See NIV)

Nehemiah 12:46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old there was a chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. (See NAS)

Job 12:12 With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. (KJV WBS)

Job 22:15 Dost thou mark the ancient path which wicked men have trodden? (DBY NAS)

Psalms 24:7 Lift up your heads, you gates! Be lifted up, you everlasting doors, and the King of glory will come in. (See NAS RSV NIV)

Psalms 24:9 Lift up your heads, you gates; yes, lift them up, you everlasting doors, and the King of glory will come in. (See NAS RSV NIV)

Psalms 68:33 To him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which are of old; behold, he utters his voice, a mighty voice. (See NAS RSV NIV)

Psalms 77:5 I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS)

Psalms 119:52 I have remembered Thine ordinances which are of old, O LORD, and have comforted myself. (See NIV)

Proverbs 22:28 Don't move the ancient boundary stone, which your fathers have set up. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Proverbs 23:10 Don't move the ancient boundary stone. Don't encroach on the fields of the fatherless: (WEB JPS ASV DBY NAS RSV NIV)

Isaiah 3:2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, (KJV WBS)

Isaiah 3:5 And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable. (KJV)

Isaiah 9:15 The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. (KJV DBY WBS)

Isaiah 19:11 The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish. The counsel of the wisest counselors of Pharaoh has become stupid. How do you say to Pharaoh, "I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?" (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Isaiah 23:7 Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days, whose feet carried her far away to travel? (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS)

Isaiah 37:26 Have you not heard how I have done it long ago, and formed it in ancient times? Now I have brought it to pass, that it should be yours to destroy fortified cities, turning them into ruinous heaps. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS)

Isaiah 43:13 From time long past I am God, and from this day I am he: there is no one who is able to take you out of my hand: when I undertake a thing, by whom will my purpose be changed? (See NIV)

Isaiah 43:18 Remember not the former things, neither consider the ancient things: (DBY YLT)

Isaiah 44:7 Who is like me? Who will call, and will declare it, and set it in order for me, since I established the ancient people? Let them declare the things that are coming, and that will happen. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS NIV)

Isaiah 45:21 Declare and present it. Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has shown this from ancient time? Who has declared it of old? Haven't I, Yahweh? There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Savior; There is no one besides me. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS)

Isaiah 46:10 declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Isaiah 47:6 I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke. (KJV WBS)

Isaiah 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of Yahweh; awake, as in the days of old, the generations of ancient times. Isn't it you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the monster? (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS)

Isaiah 58:12 And your sons will be building again the old waste places: you will make strong the bases of old generations: and you will be named, He who puts up the broken walls, and, He who makes ready the ways for use. (See NAS RSV NIV)

Isaiah 61:4 And they have built the wastes of old, The desolations of the ancients they raise up, And they have renewed waste cities, The desolations of generation and generation. (Root in YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Jeremiah 5:15 Behold, I will bring a nation on you from far, house of Israel, says Yahweh: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you don't know, neither understand what they say. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith Jehovah: Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the ancient paths, which is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (DBY NAS RSV NIV)

Jeremiah 18:15 For my people have forgotten me, they have burned incense to false gods; and they have been made to stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths, to walk in byways, in a way not built up; (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)

Jeremiah 28:8 The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. (See NAS RSV)

Ezekiel 9:6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. (KJV)

Ezekiel 25:15 Thus said the Lord Jehovah: Because of the doings of the Philistines in vengeance, And they take vengeance with despite in soul, To destroy -- the enmity age-during! (See NIV)

Ezekiel 26:20 then will I bring you down with those who descend into the pit, to the people of old time, and will make you to dwell in the lower parts of the earth, in the places that are desolate of old, with those who go down to the pit, that you be not inhabited; and I will set glory in the land of the living: (See NAS NIV)

Ezekiel 35:5 Because you have had a perpetual enmity, and have given over the children of Israel to the power of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time of the iniquity of the end; (See NIV)

Ezekiel 36:2 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Because the enemy has said against you, Aha! and, The ancient high places are ours in possession; (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS RSV NIV)

Daniel 7:9 I saw until thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat: his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels burning fire. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Daniel 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Daniel 7:22 until the ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)

Micah 5:2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. (See JPS RSV NIV)

Habakkuk 3:6 He stood, and shook the earth. He looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains were crumbled. The age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal. (WEB JPS NAS NIV)

Malachi 3:4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to Yahweh, as in the days of old, and as in ancient years. (WEB JPS ASV)

Ancient (64 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary Ancient of Days: An expression applied to Jehovah three
times in the vision of Daniel (7:9, 13, 22) in the sense of eternal. ...
/a/ancient.htm - 98k

Smyrna (2 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary Myrrh, an ancient city of Ionia, on the western
coast of Asia Minor, about 40 miles to the north of Ephesus. ...
/s/smyrna.htm - 12k

Antiquity (8 Occurrences)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary 1. (n.) The quality of being ancient; ancientness; great
age; as, a statue of remarkable antiquity; a family of great antiquity. ...
/a/antiquity.htm - 9k

Brick (10 Occurrences)
... BRICK. (lebhenah): The ancient Egyptian word appears in the modern Egyptian Arabic
toob. ... In the buildings of ancient Babylonia burnt bricks were used. ...
/b/brick.htm - 15k

Pergamum (2 Occurrences)
... pur'-ga-mos, or pur'-ga-mum (he Pergamos, or to Pergamon): 1. History: Pergamos,
to which the ancient writers also gave the neuter form of the name, was a city ...
/p/pergamum.htm - 12k

Euphrates (36 Occurrences)
... In the ancient history of Assyria, and Babylon, and Egypt many events are recorded
in which mention is made of the "great river." Just as the Nile represented ...
/e/euphrates.htm - 26k

... 2. (n.) The language of ancient Ethiopia; the language of the ancient Abyssinian
empire (in Ethiopia), now used only in the Abyssinian church. ...
/e/ethiopic.htm - 17k

... This word is not found in the Bible, nevertheless, as frequent references are made
in this work to various ancient as well as modern versions, it is fitting ...
/v/version.htm - 37k

Pergamos (1 Occurrence)
... pur'-ga-mos, or pur'-ga-mum (he Pergamos, or to Pergamon): 1. History: Pergamos,
to which the ancient writers also gave the neuter form of the name, was a city ...
/p/pergamos.htm - 12k

Ramah (38 Occurrences)
... slopes. No remains of antiquity are to be seen above ground; but the site
is one likely to have been occupied in ancient times. ...
/r/ramah.htm - 26k

744. archaios -- original, ancient
... original, ancient. Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration: archaios Phonetic
Spelling: (ar-khah'-yos) Short Definition: original, primitive, ancient ...
/greek/744.htm - 6k

3820. palaios -- old, ancient
... old, ancient. Part of Speech: Adjective Transliteration: palaios Phonetic Spelling:
(pal-ah-yos') Short Definition: old, ancient, worn out Definition: old ...
/greek/3820.htm - 6k

5010. taxis -- an arranging, order
... See 5021 (). [5010 ("orderly array") was a military term in ancient Greece and ... 5010 (),
as an ancient military term, describes an ("cohort") -- descending . ...
/greek/5010.htm - 7k

897. Babulon -- "gate of god(s)," Babylon, a large city situated ...
... of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: Babulon Phonetic Spelling: (bab-oo-lone')
Short Definition: Babylon Definition: (a) Babylon, the ancient city on the ...
/greek/897.htm - 7k

5586. psephos -- a small smooth stone, a pebble
... vote. 5586 -- properly, a used in ancient elections to ; hence, a (Souter).
[People in ancient times often voted by casting . A ...
/greek/5586.htm - 7k

1218. demos -- a district or country, the common people, esp. the ...
... 1218 (from 1210 , "to bind, tie") -- people bound (tied) together by similar laws
or customs (like citizens in an ancient Greek city forming an , cf. 1577 ). ...
/greek/1218.htm - 7k

1271. dianoia -- the mind, disposition, thought
... 18; Col 1:21). [1271 () is also used of "reasoning and speech in ancient
dramas" (; cf. Aristotle, 1, 404). But 1271 () works to ...
/greek/1271.htm - 8k

4972. sphragizo -- to seal
... owner. "Sealing" in the ancient world served as a "legal signature" which
guaranteed the promise (contents) of what was sealed. ...
/greek/4972.htm - 8k

59. agorazo -- to buy in the marketplace, purchase
... 59 (from 58 , "the ancient marketplace, town-center") -- properly, to make in
the marketplace (""), ie as transfers from seller to buyer. ...
/greek/59.htm - 9k

5018. Tarseus -- of Tarsus
... 5018 -- , the leading city in ancient Cilicia (a province between Syria and Asia
Minor), located about 10 miles inland from the coast of present-day Turkey. ...
/greek/5018.htm - 7k

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

an'-shent: This word renders several Hebrew words:

(1) qedhem, which denotes "beforetime," "yore"; generally the remote past (compare Deuteronomy 33:15, "ancient mountains"; Judges 5:21, Kishon, the "ancient river"; Isaiah 19:11 "ancient kings").

(2) zaqen, "old" in years. Whereas the King James Version generally renders the word by "old" (or "elders" when the plural form is found) in six cases "ancient" is used and "ancients" in nine cases. See ANCIENTS.

(3) `olam, which denotes "long duration"-past or future. In regard to the past it suggests remote antiquity. The connotation may be discovered in such expressions as: "the years of ancient times" (Psalm 77:5); "ancient land-mark" or "paths" (Proverbs 22:28 Jeremiah 18:15); "ancient people" or "nation" (Isaiah 44:7 Jeremiah 5:15); "ancient high places" (Ezekiel 36:2).

(4) `attiq. This word-really Aramaic-comes from a stem which means "to advance," i.e. in age; hence old, aged (1 Chronicles 3:22).

(5) yashish, literally, "weak," "impotent," hence decrepit aged; a rare and poetical word, and found only in Job. It is rendered "ancient" only in one instance (Job 12:12 the King James Version).

Thomas Lewis


(`attiq yomin, = Aramaic): On `attiq, see ANCIENT (4). The expression is used in reference to God in Daniel 7:9, 13, 22 and is not intended to suggest the existence of God from eternity. It was the venerable appearance of old age that was uppermost in the writer's mind. "What Daniel sees is not the eternal God Himself, but an aged man, in whose dignified and impressive form God reveals Himself (compare Ezekiel 1:26)" (Keil).



1. Greek Myths

2. Mythology Distinguished from Religion

3. Local Shrines

4. Epithets of the Gods

5. Nature of the Gods of Worship

6. Relation of Greek Gods to Nature

7. The Greater Gods of Greece

8. Nature Gods

9. Gods of Human Activities and Emotions


1. Omens

2. Divination by Sacrifice

3. Dreams

4. Oracles


1. Shrines

2. Temples

3. Priests

4. Seasons of Worship: Festivals

5. Elements of Worship

6. Prayer

7. Burnt Offering, or Sacrificial Meal

8. Meaning of Sacrifice

9. Propitiatory Sacrifice

10. Purification

11. The Great Religious Festivals

12. Mysteries at Eleusis

13. Absence of Magic and Mystery


1. Funeral Rites

2. Future Life in the Homeric Poems

3. Later Beliefs in Immortality


1. Greek Idea of Sin

2. Religious Ideals


1. Greek Philosophy and Christian Theology

2. Greek Influence on Christian Liturgy

3. Greek Influence on the Sacraments


I. The Greek Gods.

1. Greek Myths:

The gods of ancient Greece are well known to our western civilization through the myths which have found so large a place in our literature. In Greece itself, fancy had free play in dealing with these divine beings, and the myths were the main treasure-house from which the poet drew; the same myths and the same gods, under different names, reappear in Rome; and Rome passed them on, a splendid heritage of imagination, to the literatures of later Europe. It is characteristic of myths that they deal with persons, not so different from men in their nature, but with more than human powers. Gods, nymphs and satyrs, noble "heroes" or evil spirits have superhuman powers in varying degree, but they remain persons with a human interest because of their human type. And, further, as men are organized in families, cities and states, so there is a tendency to organize the beings of myth into social groups, and even to bring men, heroes and gods together into one large social organism, the universe of persons.

These Greek myths, the story of Athena's birth full-armed from the brain of Zeus, of Circe's magic potion, of Poseidon's chariot on the waves, and of Apollo's shafts are familiar to us from childhood. To regard them as expressing the content of Greek religion is as natural as it is false. Very few myths have any religious meaning at all, in spite of the large part the gods play in them. A little comparison with the facts of worship serves to show that here the gods are quite different from the gods of story.

2. Mythology Distinguished from Religion:

Some of the gods hardly appear in myths, and some of the beings of myth are not worshipped; in worship, each god is for the time being the only god thought of, not a member of the hierarchy established in myth; moreover in myth the gods are treated as universal, while the gods of worship are most closely attached, each to one shrine. Along with these external differences goes the one essential difference between a being of story and an object of worship. The failure to recognize the deep meaning of Greek religion results from the superficial assumption that myths constitute a peculiar kind of theology, when in reality they teach but little, and that, indirectly, about religion proper.

3. Local Shrines:

The essential fact about the gods of Greek religion is that each god was worshipped in a unique form at one or another particular shrine by a group of worshippers more or less definite. The group might include the state, the dwellers in one locality or simply the family; whatever its limits, it included those connected with the god by a social-religious tie, and the fundamental purpose of the worship was to strengthen this tie. In a city like Athens there were hundreds of such shrines, varying in importance, each the place where one particular phase of a god was worshipped at specified times. The particular form of the god was ordinarily indicated by an epithet attached to his name, Zeus Olympios, Dionysus Eleutherios, Athena Nike. This epithet might refer to the locality of the worship (Aphrodite of the Gardens), to the center from which the worship was brought (Artemis Brauronia), to some local spirit identified with the greater god (Poseidon Erechtheus), or to the nature of the god himself (Apollo Patroos).

4. Epithets of the Gods:

Each of the many shrines in Athens had thus its unique god, its group of worshippers connected with the god, its particular form of worship and times of worship, its own officials. While the state exercised general supervision over all the shrines, they were not organized in a hierarchy under any distinctly religious officials, but remained as independent units. Religious worship in a given city meant the aggregation of independent worships at the different local shrines.

5. Nature of the Gods of Worship:

The god of worship, then, was the god of a local shrine whose blessing and favor were sought at certain times by those who had the right to worship there. As in myth the gods were drawn after human types, that is, with human virtues and human frailties, and bodies almost human, except that they were not made to die; so in worship the gods were persons not unlike men in their nature. Worship proceeds on the assumption that gods are like human rulers, in that men honor the gods by games and processions, seek to please them by gifts, and ask them to share banquets made in their honor. Only the humanness of the gods in worship is something more subtle, more intimate than in myth. No stress is laid on human form or the vagaries of human character in the gods of worship; in form they remain spirits more or less vague, but spirits who care for men, who may be approached as a man approaches his ruler, spirits bound to man by close social ties which it is his duty and pleasure to strengthen. Zeus is father of gods and men, a father not untouched by the needs of his children; Athena cares for the city of Athens as her special pride; each family worships gods which are all but akin to the family; in the gymnasium, Apollo or Hermes is represented as the patron and ideal of the youths who exercise there; the drama is part of the service of Dionysus; in a word each form of human activity, be it work or pleasure, was a point of contact with the gods. The real forces at work in the world were first men, and secondly beings with a nature like man's, but with powers superior to man's; worship was the attempt to ally the gods more closely to man by social-religious ties, in order that as both worked together the ends of life might be successfully attained. This conception of the gods as higher members of society is the keynote of Greek religion. In some ethnic religions the gods seem to be evil beings whose desire for mischief man must overcome; in others they are beings to be avoided as much as possible; or again they are rulers who delight in man's abject servitude; or again by cultivating the friendship of one god, man may hope to win blessing and avoid harm from the others. In Greece all the gods of worship were essentially friendly to man, because they were akin to him and a part of the society in which he lived.

6. Relation of Greek Gods to Nature:

The relation of the gods to Nature is not so simple as might at first appear. Within certain limits the forces of Nature were subject to the will of the gods. From the Greek point of view, however, the relation is much more intimate, in that the forces in the world, at least in so far as they affect man, are personal activities, activities that express the will of divine beings. We say that Poseidon personifies the sea, Gaia the earth, Helios the sun; and the origin of religion has been sought in man's awe before the forces of Nature. The truer statement is that the Greek world, including the physical world, was made up of spiritual beings, not of physical forces. "The fire, as useful as it is treacherous, is the province of Hephaestus; all the dangers and changeableness of the sea are reflected in Poseidon and his followers; an Artemis is there to guide the hunter, a Demeter to make the grain sprout, a Hermes or Apollo to watch over the herds; Athena is the spirit of wisdom, Hermes of shrewdness, Ares of tumultuous war.. In a word the Greek gods are in the world, not above the world, superior beings who embody in personal form all the forces that enter into human life." The contrast between such a personal point of view and the mechanical view of modern science is as marked as the contrast between it and the Hebrew conception of a universe brought into being and controlled by a God quite distinct from the physical world.

7. The Greater Gods of Greece:

Of the particular gods, little need be said. The five greater gods, Zeus, Hera, Athena, Apollo and Artemis, are not closely connected with any one phenomenon of Nature or human life, though Zeus has to do with the sky, and Apollo and Artemis acquire a connection with the sun and moon. The most important worship of Zeus was at Olympia, where the pan-Hellenic games were held in his honor. Elsewhere he was worshipped mainly in connection with the weather and the changing seasons. Apparently much of his preeminence in Greek thought was due to myth. Hera was worshipped with Zeus on mountain tops, but her special place in worship was as the goddess of marriage. Athena, the maiden goddess of war and of handicrafts, was worshipped especially in Northern Greece. War dances found a place in her worship, and she was rarely represented without aegis, spear and helmet. All the arts, agriculture, handicrafts, even the art of government, were under her care. Apollo was worshipped widely as the protector of the crops, and of the shepherd's flocks. In this aspect his festivals included purifications and rites to ward off dangers. He was also the god of music and of prophecy. At Delphi his prophetic powers won great renown, but the Pythian games with their contests in music, in rhythmic dancing, and in athletic sports were hardly less important. Artemis, in myth the chaste sister of Apollo, was worshipped as the queen of wild creatures and the mother of life in plants as well as in animals. She was the patron and the ideal of young women, as was Apollo of young men.

8. Nature Gods:

The gods most closely associated with Nature were not so important for religion. Gain, mother earth, received sacrifices occasionally as the abode of the dead. Rhea in Crete, Cybele in Asia Minor, also in origin forms of the earth mother, received more real worship; this had to do primarily with the birth of vegetation in the spring, and again with its destruction by drought and heat. Rivers were honored in many places as gods of fertility, and springs as nymphs that blessed the land and those who cultivated it. Poseidon was worshipped that he might bless fishing and trade by sea; inland he was sometimes recognized as the "father of waters," and a god of fertility; and where horses were raised, it was under the patronage of Poseidon. The heavenly bodies marked the seasons of worship, but were rarely themselves worshipped. In general, the phenomena of Nature seem to have been too concrete to rouse sentiments of worship in Greece.

9. Gods of Human Activity and Emotions:

A third class of gods, gods of human activities and emotions, were far more important for religion. Demeter, once no doubt a form of the original earth-goddess, was the goddess of the grain, worshipped widely and at many seasons by an agricultural people. Dionysus, god of souls, of the inner life, and of inspiration by divine power, was worshipped by all who cultivated the vine or drank wine. The Attic drama was the most important development of his worship. Hermes was quite generally honored as the god of shepherds and the god of roads. As the herald, and the god of trade and gain, he found a place in the cities. Aphrodite was perhaps first the goddess of the returning life of the spring; in Greece proper she was rather the goddess of human love, of marriage and the family, the special patron of women. Ares, the Thracian god of war, was occasionally worshipped in Greece, but more commonly the god of each state was worshipped to give success in battle to his people. Hephaestus, pictured as himself a lame blacksmith working at the art which was under his protection, was worshipped now as the fire, now as the patron of cunning work in metal. Asclepius received men's prayers for relief from disease.

II. Revelation: Inspiration.

For the Greeks revelation was a knowledge of the divine will in special circumstances, and inspiration was evinced by the power to foresee the divine purpose in a particular case. There is no such thing as the revelation of the divine nature, nor any question of universal truth coming to men through an inspired teacher; men knew a god through his acts, not through any seer or prophet. But some warning in danger or some clue to the right choice in perplexity might be expected from gods so close to human need as were the Greek gods. The Homeric poems depicted the gods as appearing to men to check them, to encourage them or to direct them. In Homer also men might be guided by signs; while in later times divine guidance came either from signs or from men who were so close to the gods as to foresee something of the divine purpose.

1. Omens:

The simplest class of signs were those that occurred in Nature. In the Iliad the thunderbolt marked the presence of Zeus to favor his friends or check those whose advance he chose to stop. The Athenian assembly adjourned when rain began to fall. Portents in Nature-meteors, comets, eclipses, etc.-claimed the attention of the superstitious; but there was no science of astrology, and superstition had no great hold on the Greeks. In the Homeric poems, birds frequently denoted the will of the gods, perhaps because their place was in the sky beyond any human control, perhaps because certain birds were associated with particular gods. The presence of an eagle on the right hand (toward the East) was favorable, especially when it came in answer to prayer. At times, the act of the bird is significant, as when the eagle of Zeus kills the geese eating grain in Odysseus' hall-portent of the death of the suitors. In later Greek history there are but few references to signs from birds. The theory of these signs in Nature is very simple: all Nature but expresses the will of the gods, and when the gods wish to give men some vague hint of the future, it is necessary only to cause some event not easily explained to attract man's attention.

2. Divination by Sacrifice:

From the 5th century on, divination by means of sacrificial victims took the place ordinarily of signs such as have just been described. In the presence of the enemy or before some important undertaking, animals were sacrificed to the gods. If they came willingly to the altar, if the inward parts, especially the liver, were sound and well shaped and of good color, if the sacrifice burned freely and without disturbing the arrangement on the altar, success might be expected. The theory was very simple: if the gods were pleased and accepted the sacrifice, their favor was assured; but if the sacrifice deviated in any way from the normal, it would not please the gods. Thus any sacrifice might have prophetic significance, while sacrifices offered before important undertakings had special meaning. The practice arose of repeating sacrifices before a battle until a favorable one was obtained, and at length, as religion began to lose its hold, the time came when a general might disregard them completely.

3. Dreams:

An important means of learning the will of the gods was through dreams, when the ordinary channels of perception were closed and the mind was free to receive impressions from the gods. The treacherousness of dreams was fully recognized, even in the Homeric poem; students of natural science came to recognize that dreams arose from natural causes; none the less they were generally regarded as a source of knowledge about the future, and gradually a science for interpreting dreams was evolved. For Pindar and for Plato the soul was more free when the body slept, and because the soul was the divine part of man's nature it could exercise the power of divination in sleep. Many of the recorded dreams are signs which came to the mind in sleep, like the dreams of Joseph and of Pharaoh, signs that needed later interpretation.


Prophets and seers were not as important in Greece as among many peoples. The blind Teiresias belongs to the realm of myth, though there were great families of seers, like the Iamidae at Olympia, who were specially gifted to interpret dreams, or signs from sacrifices. Ordinarily it was the "chresmologist," the man with a collection of ancient sayings to be applied to present events, whose advice was sought in time of need; or else men turned to the great oracles of Greece.

4. Oracles:

The most important oracle was that of Apollo at Delphi. Hither came envoys of nations as well as individuals, and none went away without some answer to their questions. After preliminary sacrifices, the priestess purified herself and mounted the tripod in the temple; the question was propounded to her by a temple official, and it was his function also to put her wild ravings into hexameter verse for the person consulting the oracle. A considerable number of these answers remain to us, all, of course, somewhat vague, many of them containing shrewd advice on the question that was brought to the oracle. The honor paid to the oracle and its influence, on the whole an influence making for high ethical standards and wise statesmanship, must be recognized. The early Christian Fathers held that the Pythian priestess was inspired by an evil spirit; later critics have treated the whole institution as a clever device to deceive the people; but in view of the respect paid to the oracle through so many generations, it is hard to believe that its officials were not honest in their effort to discover and make known the will of the god they served.

III. Forms of Worship.

1. Shrines:

It has already been pointed out that Greek religion centered about local shrines. While in early times the shrine consisted of an altar with perhaps a sacred grove, and later it might be no more than a block of stone on which offerings were laid, the more important shrines consisted of a plot of land sacred to the god, a temple or home for the god, and an altar for sacrifices. The plot of land, especially in the case of shrines outside a city, might be very large, in which case it often was used as a source of income to the shrine, being cultivated by the priests or leased under restrictions to private persons.

2. Temples:

In this precinct stood the temple, facing toward the East, so that the morning sun would flood its interior when it was opened on a festival day. With one or two exceptions, the temple was not a place of assembly for worship, but a home for the god. It contained some symbol of his presence, after the 5th century B.C. ordinarily an image of the god; it served as the treasure-house for gifts brought to the god; worship might be offered in it by the priests, while the people gathered at the sacrifice outside. And as a home for the god, it was adorned with all the beauty and magnificence that could be commanded. The images of the gods, the noblest creation of sculpture in the 5th and 4th centuries, were not exactly "idols"; that is, the images were not themselves worshipped, even though they were thought to embody the god in some semblance to his true form. In Greece men worshipped the gods themselves, grateful as they were to artists who showed them in what beautiful form to think of their deities.

3. Priests:

Each of these shrines was directly in the hands of one or more officials, whose duty it was to care for the shrine and to keep up its worship in due form. Occasionally the priesthood was hereditary and the office was held for life; quite as often priests were chosen for a year or a term of years; but it was exceptional when the duties of the office prevented a man from engaging in other occupations. In distinction from the priests of many other forms of religion, the Greek priest was not a sacred man set apart for the service of the gods; the office may be called sacred, but the office was distinct from the man. The result was important, in that the priests in Greece could never form a caste by themselves, nor could they claim any other powers than were conferred on them by the ritual of the shrine. Thus Greek religion remained in the possession of the people, and developed no esoteric side either in dogma or in worship.

4. Seasons of Worship: Festivals:

The seasons of worship varied with each particular shrine. While the state observed no recurring sabbath, it recognized a certain number of religious festivals as public holidays; thus at Athens the number of religious holidays in the year was somewhat larger than our fifty-two Sundays. The tradition of each shrine determined whether worship should be offered daily or monthly or yearly, and also what were the more important seasons of worship. The principle of the sacred days was that at certain seasons the god was present in his temple expecting worship; just as it was the principle of sacred places that the temple should be located where the presence of the god had been felt and therefore might be expected again. Neither the location of the temple nor the seasons of worship were determined primarily by human convenience.

5. Elements of Worship:

The elements of worship in Greece were

(1) prayers, hymns, and votive offerings,

(2) the sacrificial meal,

(3) propitiatory sacrifice and purification, and

(4) the processions, musical contests and athletic games, which formed part of the larger festivals.

The heroes of Homer prayed to the gods at all times, now a word of prayer in danger, now more formal prayers in connection with a sacrifice; and such was doubtless the practice in later times.

6. Prayer:

In the more formal prayers, it was customary to invoke the god with various epithets, to state the petition, and to give the reason why a favorable answer might be expected-either former worship by the petitioner, or vows of future gifts, or former answers to prayer, or an appeal to the pity of the god. Sometimes a prayer reads as if it were an attempt to win divine favor by gifts; more commonly, if not always, the appeal is to a relationship between man and his god, in which man's gifts play a very subordinate part. Thanksgiving finds small place in prayer or in sacrifice, but it was rather expressed in votive offerings. In every temple these abounded, as in certain Roman Catholic shrines today; and as is the case today they might be of value in themselves, they might have some special reference to the god, or they might refer to the human need in which the giver had found help. So far as the great public festivals are concerned, the prayer seems to have been merged with the hymn of praise in which the element of petition found a small place.

7. Burnt Offering or Sacrificial Meal:

The most common form of worship consisted of the sacrificial meal, like the meat offering or meal offering of the Hebrews. The sacrifice consisted of a domestic animal, selected in accordance with the ritual of the shrine where it was to be offered. First the animal was led to the altar, consecrated with special rites and killed by the offerer or the priest while hymns and cries of worship were uttered by the worshippers. Then some of the inward parts were roasted and eaten by priests and worshippers. Finally the remainder of the creature was prepared, the thigh bones wrapped in fat and meat to be burned for the god, the balance of the meat to be roasted for the Worshippers; and with libations of wine the whole was consumed. The religious meaning of the act is evidently found in the analogy of a meal prepared for an honored guest.

8. Meaning of the Sacrifice:

The animal, an object valuable in itself, is devoted to this religious service; the god and his worshippers share alike this common meal; and the god is attached to his worshippers by a closer social bond, because they show their desire to honor and commune with him, while he condescends to accept the gift and to share the meal they have prepared. (Possibly the animal was once thought to have been made divine by the act of consecration, or the god was believed to be present in his flesh, but there is no evidence that such a belief existed in the 5th century B.C., or later.) The simple, rational character of this worship is characteristic of Greek religion.

9. Propitiatory Sacrifice:

When men felt that the gods were displeased or in circumstances where for any reason their favor was doubtful, a different form of sacrifice was performed. A black animal was selected, and brought to a low altar of earth; the sacrifice was offered toward evening or at night, and the whole animal was consumed by fire. While in general this type of sacrifice may be called propitiatory, its form, if not its meaning, varied greatly. It might be worship to spirits of the earth whose anger was to be feared; it might be offered when an army was going into battle, or when the crops were in danger of blight, or of drought; or again it was the normal form of worship in seasons of pestilence or other trouble. Sometimes the emphasis seems to be laid on the propitiation of anger by an animal wholly devoted to the god, while at other times there is the suggestion that some evil substance is removed by the rite.

10. Purification:

The later conception is clearer in rites of purification, where, by washing, by fire, or by the blood of an animal slain for the purpose, some form of defilement is removed. In the sacrifice of a pig to Demeter for this purpose, or of a dog to Hecate, some mystic element may exist, since these animals were sacred to the respective goddesses.

These various elements of worship were combined in varying degree in the great religious festivals. These lasted from a day to a fortnight. After purification of the worshippers, which might be simple or elaborate, and some preliminary sacrifice, there was often a splendid procession followed by a great public sacrifice.

11. The Great Religious Festivals:

In the greater festivals, this was followed by athletic games and horse races in honor of the god, and sometimes by contests in music and choral dancing, or, in the festivals of Dionysus at Athens, by the performance of tragedy and comedy in theater. In all this, the religious element seems to retreat into the background, though analogies may be found in the history of Christianity. The religious mystery plays were the origin of our own drama; and as for the horse races, one may still see them performed as a religious function, for example, at Siena. The horse races and the athletic games were performed for the gods as for some visiting potentate, a means of affording them pleasure and doing them honor. The theatrical performances apparently originated in ceremonies more essentially religious, in which men acted some divine drama depicting the experiences attributed to the gods themselves.

12. Mysteries at Eleusis:

This last feature is most evident in the mysteries at Eleusis, where the experiences of Demeter and Persephone were enacted by the people with the purpose of bringing the worshippers into some more intimate connection with these goddesses, such that their blessing was assured not only for this world, but for the life after death.

13. Absence of Magic and Mystery:

In all the forms of Greek worship perhaps the most striking feature was the absence of magic or superstition, almost the absence of mystery. Men approached the gods as they would approach superior men, bringing them petitions and gifts, making great banquets for their entertainment, and performing races and games for their pleasure, although this was by no means the whole of Greek religion, a phase of religion far more highly developed in the rational atmosphere of Greek thought than among other races. As the Greek gods were superior members of the social universe, so Greek worship was for the most part social, even human, in its character.

IV. The Future Life.

1. Funeral Rites:

Greek thought of the life after death was made up of three elements which developed successively, while the earlier ones never quite lost their hold on the people in the presence of the later. The oldest and most permanent thought of the future found its expression in the worship of ancestors. Whether the body of the dead was buried or burned, the spirit was believed to survive, an insubstantial shadowy being in the likeness of the living man. And rites were performed for these shades to lay them to rest and to prevent them from injuring their survivors, if not to secure their positive blessing. As at other points in Greek religion, the rites are fairly well known, while the belief must be inferred from the rites. The rites consisted first of an elaborate funeral, including sometimes animal sacrifices and even athletic games, and secondly of gifts recurring at stated intervals, gifts of water for bathing, of wine and food, and of wreaths and flowers. The human wants and satisfaction of the spirit are thus indicated. And the purpose is perhaps to keep the spirit alive, certainly to keep it in good humor so that it will not injure the survivors and bring on them defilement which would mean the wrath of the gods. At the same time, any contact with death demands purification before one can approach the gods in worship.

2. Future Life in the Homeric Poems:

The second element in Greek thought of the future life appears in the Homeric poems, and through the epic exerted a wide influence on later periods. Here the separateness of the souls of the dead from the human life is emphasized. Once the bodies of the dead are burned, the souls go to the realm of Hades, whence there is no return even in dreams, and where (according to one view) not even consciousness remains to them. It would seem that the highly rational view of the world in the epic, a point of view which laid stress on the greater Olympian gods, banished the belief in souls as akin to the belief in sinister and magic influences. We might almost say that the thought of the greater gods as personal rulers tended to drive out the thought of lesser and more mystic spiritual influences, and made a place for souls only as shades in the realm of Hades. Certainly the result for Greek religion was to render far less vivid any idea of a real life after death.

3. Later Beliefs in Immortality:

The third element was associated with the worship of the gods of the lower world, and in particular Demeter and Persephone. In this worship, particularly at Eleusis, the fact of life after death was assumed, a fact that the Greeks never had denied; but the reality of the future life, the persistence of human relationship after death, and the kindly rule of Persephone as Queen of Souls were vividly impressed on the worshippers. In part through the influence of the Orphic sect, the actual divinity of the soul was believed by many thinkers, a doctrine which was formulated by Plato in a manner which profoundly affected early Christian thought.

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pur'-shan, pur'-zhan,RATURE (ANCIENT):

I. LANGUAGE (Introductory)




1. Ordinary Ayestic

2. Gathic


1. His Date, etc.

2. Date of Avesta

3. Divisions of the present Avesta

(1) The Yasna

(2) The Vispered

(3) The Vendidad

(4) The Yashts

(5) The Khorda Avesta


1. Literature

2. Comparison


I. Language: (Introductory).

The Persian language, ancient and modern alike, is an Aryan tongue. In its ancient forms it is more closely connected with Vedic Sanskrit than with any other language except Armenian. Most of its roots are to be found also in Slavonic, Greek, Latin and other tongues of the same stock.


There were two main dialects in the ancient language of Iran (Airyanem),

(1) that of the Persians proper, and

(2) that of the Medes.

The former is known to us from the inscriptions of the Achemenian kings, the latter from the Avesta, and a few Median words preserved for us by Herodotus and other Greek writers.

II. Old Persian Inscriptions.

These fall between 550 and 330 B.C., and contain about 1,000 lines and 400 words. They are carved upon the rocks in a cuneiform character, simplified from that of the neo-Susian, which again comes from the neo-Babylonian syllabary. In Old Persian inscriptions only 44 characters are employed, of which 7 are ideographs or contractions. The remaining 37 phonetic signs are syllabic, each consisting of an open syllable and not merely of a single letter, except in case of separate vowels. The syllabary, though much simpler than any other cuneiform system, does not quite attain therefore to being an alphabet. It was written from left to right, like the other cuneiform syllabaries. Of Cyrus the Great only one Persian sentence has been found: Adam Kurush Khshayathiya Hakhamanishiya, "I am Cyrus the King, the Achemenian." Darius I has left us long inscriptions, at Behistan (Besitun), Mt. Alvand, Persepolis, Naqsh i Rustam, etc., and one at Suez, the latter mentioning his conquest of Egypt and the construction of the first (?) Suez canal:

Adam niyashtayam imam yuviyam kantanaiy haca Pirava nama rauta tya Mudrayaiy danauvatiy abiy daraya tya haca Parsa aiti.

("I commanded to dig this canal from the river named the Nile, which flows through Egypt, to the sea which comes from Persia.")

We have also inscriptions of Xerxes at Persepolis and many short ones of Artaxerxes I, Artaxerxes Mnemon, and Artaxerxes Ochus. From them all taken together we learn much concerning the history and the religion of the Achemenian period. It is from Achemenian or Old Persian, and not from the Medic or Avestic, that modern Persian has sprung through Pahlavi and Dari as intermediate stages. This is probably due to the political supremacy which the Persians under the Achaemenides gained over the Medes. The few words in the inscriptions which might otherwise be doubtful can be understood through comparison with Armenian and even with the modern Pets, e.g. yuviya in the above inscription is the modern vulgar Pets jub.

III. Medic Dialect.

1. Ordinary Avestic:

The Medic dialect is represented in literature by the Avesta or sacred books of the Zoroastrians (Parsis). The word Avesta does not occur in the book itself and is of uncertain meaning and signification. It is probably the Abashta of Beh. Inscr., IV, 64, and means either

(1) an interview, meeting (Sanskrit avashta, "appearance before a judge"; At. ava-sta, "to stand near"), or (2) a petition (Pahl. apastan, "petition"; Arm. apastan, "refuge," "asylum"),

in either case deriving its name from Zoroaster's drawing near to Ahura Mazda in worship.

This dialect represents a much greater decadence in grammar and vocabulary than does the Old Persian. Many of its consonants and most of its vowels are weakened. Its verbs have almost entirely lost the augment; its declensional system shows extreme confusion. It stands to Old Persian grammatically somewhat as English does to German Its alphabet, consisting of 43 letters, is derived from the Syriac (probably the Estrangela), and is written from right to left. As a specimen of the language of most of the Avesta we give the following extract (Yasna LXIV, 15(61)):

Daidi moi, ye gam tasho apasca urvarwsca

Ameretata, haurvata, Spenista Mainyu Mazda,

Tevishi, utayuiti, Mananha Vohu, senhe.

"Give me, O thou who didst make the bull (earth),

and the waters and the plants, immortality, health-

O most Bountiful Spirit, Mazda

-strength, might, through Vohu Mano, I say.")

2. Gathic:

There is a sub-dialect of Medic (Avestic) known as the Gatha-dialect, from the fact that the Gathas or "Hymns" (Yasna XXVIII-XXXIV, XLII-L, LII), and also the prayers (Yatha Ahu Vairyo, Ashem Vohu, Airyama Ishyo, and originally Yenhe Halam, and a few scattered passages elsewhere) are composed in it. This represents, speaking generally, an older form of the Avestic. It is probably the old language of Bactria or of Margiana Gatha I, 2, runs thus:

Ye vw, Mazda Ahura, pairijasai Vohu Mananha,

Maibyo davoi ahvw (astivatasca hyaTca mananho)

Ayapta AshaT haca, yais rapento daidiT hvathre.

"To me, O Ahura Mazda, who approach you two through Vohu Mano,

grant the benefits from Asha, (those) of both worlds,

both of the material (world)

and of that which is of the spirit, through which (benefits)

may (Asha) place in glory those who please him.")

The meter of the Gathas, like that of the other Avestic poems, is based on the number of syllables in a line, with due regard to the caesura. But the condition of the text is such that there is great difficulty in recovering the original reading with sufficient accuracy to enable us to lay down rules on the subject with any certainty. The first Gatha is composed of strophes of 3 lines each (as above). Each line contains 16 syllables, with a caesura after the 7th foot.

IV. Zoroaster.

1. His Date, etc.:

Many of the Gathas are generally ascribed to Zoroaster himself, the rest to his earliest disciples. They compose the most ancient part of the Avesta. It is now becoming a matter of very great probability that Zoroaster lived at earliest in the middle of the 7th century B.C., more probably a century later. The Arta Viraf Namak says that his religion remained pure for 300 years, and connects its corruption with the alleged destruction of much of the Avesta in the palace burned by Alexander at Persepolis, 324.B.C. This traditional indication of date is confirmed by other evidence. Zoroaster's prince Vishtaspa (in Greek Hustaspes) bears the same name as the father of Darius I, and was probably the same person. Vishtaspa's queen Hutaosa, who also protected and favored Zoroaster, bears the same name (in Greek Atossa) as Cambyses' sister who afterward married Darius, and probably belonged to the same family. Zoroastrianism comes to the fore under Darius, whereas Cyrus in his inscriptions speaks as a decided polytheist. Hence, we conclude that the earliest part of the Avesta belongs to circa 550 B.C. Of Zoroaster himself we learn much from the Avesta, which traces his genealogy back for 10 generations. It mentions his wife's name (Hvovi), and tells of his 3 sons and 3 daughters. His first disciple was Frashaostra, his wife's natural uncle. His own name means "Owner of the yellow camel," and has none of the higher meanings sometimes assigned to it by those who would deny his existence. Tradition says he was born at Ragha (Raga, Rai) about 5 1/2 miles South of the present Tehran, though some think his native place was Western Atropatene (Azarbaijan). Rejected by his own tribe, the Magi, he went to Vishtispa's court in Bactria. The faith which he taught spread to the Persian court (very naturally, if Vishtispa was identical with Darius' father) and thence throughout the country. Tradition (Yasht XIX, 2, etc.) says that the Avesta was revealed to Zoroaster on Mt. Ushi-darena ("intellect-holding") in Sistan. But it is not the composition of one man or of one age.

2. Date of Avesta:

Herodotus makes no mention of Zoroaster, but speaks of the Magi (whom he calls a Median tribe (i.101)) as already performing priestly functions. His description of their repetition of charms and theological compositions (i.132) would agree very well with recitation of the Gathas and Yasna. Mention of controversies with Gautama, Buddha's disciples (Yasht XIII, 16) who probably reached Persia in the 2nd century B.C., is another indication of date. The fact that in both the Yasna and the Vendidad heretics (zanda) are mentioned who preferred the commentary (zand) on the Avesta to the Avesta itself, is a sign of late date. Names of certain persons found in the Avesta (e.g. Atare-pata, a Dastur who lived under Hormuzd I, 273 A.D., and Rastare-Yaghenti, whom the Dinkarl identifies with the chief Mobed of Sapor II, 309-379 A.D., Aderpad Marespand, and who, according to the Patet, section 28, "purified" the revelation made to Zoroaster, i.e. revised the text of the earlier parts of the Avesta) enable us to prove that certain portions of the work as we now have it were composed as late as near the end of the 4th century of our era. It is said that the text was in confusion in the time of Vologases I (51-78 (?) A.D.). A reccnsion was then begun, and continued with much zeal by Ardashir Papakan, 226-240 A.D. According to Geldner (Prolegomena, xlvi) the final recension took place some considerable time after Yezdigird III (overthrown 642 A.D.). In the times of the Sasanides there were, it is said, 21 Naskas or volumes of the Avesta, and the names of these are given in the Dinkart (Book IX). Of these we now possess only one entire Naska, the Vendidad, and portions of three others.

3. Divisions of the Present Avesta:

The present Avesta is divided into 5 parts:

(1) The Yasna

The Yasna root yaz, Sanskrit yaj, "to invoke," "to praise") contains 72 chapters of hymns for use at sacrifices, etc., including the "Older Yasna" or Gathas.

(2) The Vispered

The Vispered (vispa, "every," "all," and radha, "a lord") is divided into 24 chapters in Geldner's edition; it is supplementary to the Yasna.

(3) The Vendidad

The Vendidad (van plus daea plus data, "law for vanquishing the demons") contains 22 chapters. The first chapter contains the Iranian myth about the order in which the provinces of the Iranian world were created by Ahura Mazda. It tells how the Evil Spirit, Anro Mainyus, created plagues, sins and death, to destroy the good creatures of the Good Spirit. The greater part of the book contains ceremonial laws and formulas, some of them loathsome and all rather petty and superstitious in character.

(4) The Yashts

The Yashts, 21 in all, are hymns, telling many mythological tales about Mithra, Tishtriya, etc.

(5) The Khorda Avesta

The Khorda Avesta ("Little Avesta") consists of a number of short compositions, hymns, etc., compiled by the Aderpad Marespand (Adharpadh Mahraspand, Atarobat Mansarspendan) already mentioned, in Sapor II's reign.

Much of the Avesta is said to have been destroyed by the Khalffah `Umar's orders when Persia was conquered by the Arabs after the battle of Nahavand (642 A.D.). Certainly `Umar ordered the destruction of Persian libraries, as we learn from the Kashfu'z Zunun (p.341).

V. Pahlavi.

1. Literature:

Under ancient Persian literature may be classed the Pahlavi

(a) inscriptions of Sapor at Hajiabad and elsewhere,

(b) legends on Sasanian coins,

(c) translations of certain parts of the Avesta, made under the Sasanides for the most part,

(d) such books as the Arta Viraf Namak, the Zad Sparam, Dinkart, Ormazd Yasht, Patet, Bundishnih, etc.

These are mostly of religious import. The Arta Viraf Namak gives a description of the visit of the young dastur Arta Viraf, to the Zoroastrian heaven. The Bundihishnih ("creation") tells how Ormazd and Ahriman came into being, and treats of the 9,000 years' struggle between them. Pahlavi, as written (the so-called Huzvaresh), contains an immense number of Aramaic words, but the Persian terminations attached to these show that they were read as Persian: thus yehabunt-ano is written, and dat-ano ("to give") is read. Pahlavi works that are no longer extant are the sources of the Vis o Ramin, Zaratusht Namah, Shahnamah, etc.

2. Comparison:

In order to understand the relation in which the Persian dialects and stages in the history of the language stand to one another, it may be well to subjoin a list of words in Old Persian, Avestic, Pahlavi and modern Persian. It will be seen that Ayestic is not the source of the Aryan part of the present tongue.


Friend.... zusta daushta dost dust

Hand...... zasta dasta dast dast

Bactreia.. Bakhdhi Bakhtri Bahr Balkh

Straight.. drva(sta) duruva(sta) drust durust

Greatest.. mazista mathishta mahist mahin Most right razista rasta rast rast

Abode..... nmana maniya man man-dan ("to remain")





Achaemenian inscriptions, Korsowitz, Spiegel, Rawlinson: Geiger and Kuhn (editors), Grundriss der iranischen Philologie; Darmesteter, Etudes iraniennes; Spiegel, Eranische Altertumskunde; Noldeke, Aufsatze zur persischen Geschichte; W. Geiger, Ostiranische Kultur im Alterium; Geldner's edition of Avesta; Professor Browne, Literary History of Persia; De Harlez, Manuel de la langue de l' Avesta, Manuel de la langue Pehlevie, and Introduction to the Avesta; Haug, Book of Artd Viraf; Cook, Origins of Religion and Language.

W. St. Clair Tisdall



1. Early Aryan Religion

2. Avesta and Rig-Veda

3. The Creator


1. Leading Principle

2. Not Monotheistic

(1) Darius and Xerxes

(2) Ahura Mazda

3. Objects of Worship

4. Anro Mainyus and His Creatures

5. Production versus Destruction Fertility

6. Contest between Ormazd and Ahriman

7. Ethics

8. Sacred Thread

9. Early Traditions

10. The Earth

11. Heaven and Hell

12. Interment

13. Worship

14. The Magi

15. Eschatology

16. Hebrew and Christian Influence

17. No Virgin Birth


I. Before Zoroaster.

1. Early Aryan Religion:

There are clear indications in the Avesta that the religion of the Medes and Persians before Zoroaster's time agreed in most respects with that of the Indian Aryans, and in a less degree with the beliefs of the Aryans in general. All the Aryan tribes in very ancient times showed great respect for the dead, though they carefully distinguished them from the gods (compare Rig-Veda X, 56, 4). The latter were principally the powers of Nature, the wind, fire, water, the sky, the sun, the earth, and a host of personifications. The procreative powers in Nature, animate and inanimate, seeming to be the source of animal and vegetable life, received adoration, which ultimately led to unspeakable corruption. Herodotus tells us that the Persians in his time worshipped the sun, moon, sky, earth, fire, wind and water (i.131). Offerings to the gods were laid on a mass of pomegranate twigs (baresman; Sanskrit, barhis), and the flesh of victims was boiled, not burnt. Libations of haoma-juice were poured out, just as in India the soma was the drink of both gods and their worshippers.

2. Avesta and Rig-Veda:

A comparison between the spiritual beings mentioned in the Avesta and those spoken of in the Rig-Veda is most instructive in two ways. It shows that the original religion of the Iranians and of the Indian Aryans agreed very closely; and it also enables us to realize the immensity of the reformation wrought by Zoroaster. Many of the names of supernatural beings are practically the same; e.g. Indra (Indra, Andra), Mitra (Mithra), Aryaman (Airyaman), Asura (Ahura), Apam Napat (Apam Napat), Tvashtri (? Tishtrya), Rama (Raman), Vayu (Vayu), Vata (Vata). So are many words of religious import, as Soma (Haoma), Mantra (Mathra), Hotra (Zaotar). The Yama of India is the Yima of Persia, and the father of the one is Vivasvat and that of the other Vivanhat, which is the same word with dialectic change. The Holy River of the Avesta, Aredhvi Sura, the Unstained (Anahita), is represented by the Sarasvati, the Ganga (Ganges) and other sacred streams worshipped in India. In Persia Atar (or Fire) is a son of Ahura Mazda (Yasna LXIV, 46-53), as Agni (equals Ignis) is of Tvashtri in the Rig-Veda. Armaiti is Ahura Mazda's daughter, as Saranyu in the Rig-Veda is the daughter of Tvashtri, the "Creator." The use of gomez (bovis urina) for purification is common to both India and Persia. Though the soma-plant is not now the same as the haoma, the words are the same, and no doubt they at one time denoted one and the same plant. Many of the myths of the Avesta have a great resemblance to those of the Rig-Veda. This comparison might be extended almost indefinitely.

In another respect also there is an important agreement between the two. Though some 33 deities are adored in the Vedic Hymns, yet, in spite of polytheism and low ideas of the divine, traces of something higher may be found. Varuna, for instance, represents a very-lofty conception. In the closest connection with him stands Asura, who is a being of great eminence, and whose sons are the gods, especially the Adityas.

3. The Creator:

Tvashtri again is creator of heaven and earth and of all beings, though his worship was ultimately in Vedic times displaced by that of Indra. It is clear then that the Indian Aryans were worshippers of the Creator and that they knew something of Him long before they sank into polytheism. In the Avesta and in the Persian cuneiform inscriptions alike, Ahura Mazda occupies much the same position as Varuna, Asura (the same word as Ahura), or Tvashtri in the Rig-Veda, or rather in the ancient belief of which traces are retained in the latter work. Hence, as the Avesta teaches, Zoroaster was not for the first time preaching the existence of Ahura Mazda, but he was rather endeavoring to recall his people to the belief of their ancestors, the doctrine which Ahura Mazda had taught Yima in primeval time in his first revelation (Vendidad II, 1-16, 42). The great truth of the existence of the Creator, testified to by tradition, reason and conscience, undoubtedly contributed largely to Zoroaster's success, just as a similar proclamation of the God Most High (Allah ta`ala'), worshipped by their ancestors, helped the thoughtful among the Arabs in later years to accept Muhammad's teaching. The consciousness in each case that the doctrine was not new but very ancient, materially helped men to believe it true.

II. Zoroastrianism.

1. Leading Principle:

The reformation wrought by Zoroaster was a great one. He recognized-as Euripides in Greece did later-that "if the gods do aught shameful, they are not gods." Hence, he perceived that many of the deities worshipped in Iran were unworthy of adoration, being evil in character, hostile to all good and therefore to the "All-Wise" Spirit (Ahura Mazda) and to men. Hence, his system of dualism, dividing all beings, spiritual or material, into two classes, the creatures of Ahura Mazda and those of the "Destroying Mind" (Anro Mainyus). So many of the popular deities were evil that Zoroaster used the word daeva (the same as deva, deus, and Aramaic di) to denote henceforth an evil spirit, just as Christianity turned the Greek daimones and daimonia (words used in a good sense in classical authors) into "demons." Instead of this now degraded word daeva, he employed baga (Old Persian; Av. bagha, Vedic bhaga, "distribution," "natron" "lord") for "God."

2. Not Monotheistic:

But, it must be remembered that Zoroaster did not teach monotheism. Darius says that "Auramazda and the other gods that there are" brought him aid (Beh. Inscr., IV, 60-63), and both he and Xerxes speak of Auramazda as "the greatest of the gods." So, even in the first Gatha, Zoroaster himself invokes Asha, Vohu-Mano, maiti, Sraosha, and even Geus-urvan ("the Soul of the Bull"), as well as Ahura Mazda.

(1) Darius and Xerxes.

Darius mentions the "clan-gods," but does not name any of them. He and Xerxes ascribe the creation of heaven and earth to Auramazda, and say that the latter, "Who made this earth, who made yon sky, who made man, who made happiness for man," has appointed each of them king. It is "by the grace of Auramazda" (vashna Auramazdaha) that Darius conquers his enemies. But both Artaxerxes Mnemon and Artaxerxes Ochus couple Mithra and Anahata (Anahita) with Auramazda (Ahura Mazda) in praying for the protection of the empire.

(2) Ahura Mazda.

In the Avesta, Ahura Mazda is one of the seven Amesha spentas or "Bountiful Immortals." He is the father of one of them, Spentas Armaiti, who is also his spouse. He is primus inter pares among them, their chief, but by no means the only god. Monotheism is distinctly taught in later Zoroastrian works, for instance, in the Zaratusht-Namah, composed 1278 A.D., but it is due to Christian and Islamic influence.

3. Objects of Worship:

The modern Zoroastrian view, clearly stated in the Dasatir i Asmani and elsewhere, that all the good creatures of Ormazd (Ahura Mazda) are entitled to adoration, undoubtedly rests upon the Avesta. There we find, in the first place, the Amesha Spentas, who occupy in regard to Mazda the same position as do the Vedic Adityas toward Varuna, though not one of the Adityas is identical with any of the Amesha Spentas.

The names of these are: (1) Ahura Mazda (otherwise called Spento Mainyus or "Bountiful Mind");

(2) Vohu Mano ("Good Mind");

(3) Asha Vahista ("Best Righteousness");

(4) Khshathra Vairya ("Excellent Ruler");

(5) Spenta Amaiti ("Bounteous Piety");

(6) Haurvatat ("Health");

(7) Ameretat ("Immortality").

Each has a special province: thus Armaiti is the general spirit of earth and presides over its fruitfulness. She is the troness of virtuos matrons. Khshathra is the guardian of metals. Vohu Mano guards sheep and cattle and introduces to Ahura Mada the spirits of the just. Next in rank come the Yazatas ("Worshipful Ones"), of whom there are a large number. Three of them, Mithra, Rashnu and Sraosha, preside at the judgment of the dead on the 4th day from death. Rashnu holds the scales in which a man's deeds are weighed. Sraosha guards the soul during the first three nights after death. Airyaman Ishya ("the longed-for comrade") is the protector of mankind, the bestower of peace and happiness. On one occasion (Vend., Farg. XXII, 23-29) Ahura Mazda sends his messenger Nairyo Sanha ("male instructor") to ask his aid against overwhelming odds. Riman Hvastra, the bosom friend of Mithra, presides over the atmosphere and also gives its taste to food. Mithra is the genius of truth, possessed of 1,000 ears, and riding in a single-wheeled chariot (the sun), while darting golden darts and driving fiery steeds. Tishtrya, identified with the dog-star Sirius, sends rain and is by Ahura Mazda endowed with his own power and dignity (Yasht VIII, 52;). This is true of Mithra also (Yasht X, 1) Atar ("Fire"), Vayu ("Air"), Vata ("Wind"), Verethraghna ("Mars"), Saoka ("Prosperity"), Aratat (genius of Justice), Vizista ("Lightning"), Fradatfshu (the guardian of cattle), Berejya (genius of grain), Cista and Daena ("Knowledge" and "Religion"), who are others of the Yazatas. All these are entitled to worship at the hands of the true adorer of Mazda (Mazdayasna, opposed to Daevayasna, or worshipper of the demons).

4. Anro Mainyus and His Creatures:

In opposition to the creatures of Ahura Mazda are those of Anro Mainyus, who is the source of all moral and material evil. The first chapter of the Vendidad tells how he created something bad in opposition to everything good made by Ahura Mazda.

A demon is the adversary of each Amesha Spenta: Aka Mano ("Evil Mind") that of Vohu Mano, and so in order: Indra (or Andra, "demon of untruthfulness"), Saurva ("evil government") Nonhaithya ("discontent"), Tauru ("who poisons water") and Zairi ("poison"), being antagonistic to the other Bountiful Immortals. Aeshma-Daeva ("Demon of Wrath")-the Asmodeus of Tobit 3:8-is the special foe of Sraosha, the genius of obedience. Apaosha, demon of drought, is the enemy of Tishtrya. Buiti (or Buidhi) teaches men to worship idols, and also causes death. Bushyasta is the demon of sloth. Vidhatus or Astuvidhstus causes death by destroying the body. Other evil beings, Drujes, Pairikas, Jainis, Yatus, are so numerous in the later parts of the Avesta that a pious Zoroastrian must have lived in continual dread of their assaults. He had even to conceal the parings of his nails, lest they should be used as darts to his injury by these his spiritual foes.

5. Production versus Destruction:

Holiness does not enter into Zoroaster's conception of the divine nature. This is a point to which attention has not yet been properly directed, though its importance can hardly be exaggerated. The epithet Spenta, often applied to Ahura Mazda and mistranslated "Holy," is by the Zoroastrians themselves in Pahlavi rendered afzunik, i.e. "that causes increase." Its (?) span or spen equals (Sanskrit) svi, "to swell," "to grow," "to increase." The opposite to this is the term anro (angro, from (?) angh; compare German eng, "narrow") to the Evil Spirit, and denoting "narrowing," "decreasing," "destroying." Hence, as the Destroyer, he is styled pourumahrka, "full of death."


Ahura Mazda and his assistants promote life, fertility in man, beast and plant, agriculture, increase; while Ahro Mainyus and his creatures cause destruction and death. Atar ("Fire"), also styled Apam Napat ("Offspring of the Waters"), is the vital flame and the male energy in the world; Aredhvi Sura Anahita is the female. As a river the latter flows from Mt. Hukairya, a peak in the Elburz Range (Yasna LXIV), into the Caspian Sea (Vourukasha) in the midst of which grows the tree Hvapa ("well watered") which bears the seeds of all plants. Anahita means "undefiled," but it is applied to purity of water (to defile any of the four "elements" was, for later Zoroastrians, a grievous sin) and not to any moral purity in the goddess. Her association with Mithra was close, even in Herodotus time, for he falls into the mistake of saying (i.131) that the Persians called Aphrodite Mithra, when he should have said Anaitis (Anahita). Though god of truth and righteousness Mithra is not associated with moral purity (chastity). On the contrary, he was said to fertilize the earth with his rays, as sun-god, and Anahita as goddess of fruitfulness represented the female principle in conjunction with him. The vileness which led to the identification of Anahita with the Babylonian Mylitta was doubtless of later date than Zoroaster's time, yet there was little or nothing in Zoroastrianism to check it. Something similar asserts itself in Armenia, as well as in Iran, and in fact in all Nature-worship everywhere. Associated with this was the form of incest known as next-of-kin marriage (Av. Hvaetva-datha, Pahl. Khvetukdas), which permitted and encouraged marriages between brothers and sisters.

6. Contest between Ormazd and Ahriman:

According to later Zoroastrian belief, the contest between Ormazd (Ahura Mazda) and Ahriman (Anro Mainyus), after continuing for 9,000 years, is to be decided in favor of the former only through his possessing foreknowledge and Ahriman's lacking it (Bund., I). Both came into existence independently in limitless time (Av. Zrvana Akarana; Vend., Farg. XIX, 13; Pahl. Daman i Akandrakhom-and, Bund., I), which, personified in the Vendidad, is called "Self-created," and is there by Ahura Mazda's command invoked by Zoroaster in conjunction with Vayu, the Air, the Winds, "the bountiful, beauteous daughter of Ahura Mazda" (Armaiti), the Earth, and other objects of worship (loc. cit.). No creature of Ahriman is to be worshipped; hence, Indra, though in later Vedic times rising in India to a leading position in the Pantheon, is in the Avesta accounted a fiend, the very impersonation of the Lie which the Avesta so firmly denounces and which Darius mentions as the cause of all the rebellions, which produced so much bloodshed in his time. No virtue was valued so highly as truth in ancient Iran, as Herodotus agrees with the Avesta in testifying.

7. Ethics:

Avestic morality encourages the destruction of all hurtful things, as being of Anro Mainyus' creation, and the propagation of everything good. Hence, agriculture is especially commended, together with the rearing of cattle and sheep. Somewhat later the whole duty of man was said to consist in good thoughts, good words, good deeds. Fierce opposition to every other religion was enjoined as a religious duty, and, under the Sasanides especially, this led to fearful and repeated persecutions of Christians throughout the empire.

8. Sacred Thread:

The Sacred Thread (Av. Aiwyonhana; Skt. Upavitam, etc., now by the Parsis styled the Kushti) plays as important a part in Zoroastrianism as in Hinduism. So do charms, mathras (Sanskrit, mantras), consisting in repetitions of the verses of the Avesta. The latter is even adored.

9. Early Traditions:

The first thing created by Ahura Mazda was a Bull, which may represent the earth, and reminds us of the Cow Audhumla in the Edda (Gylfaginning VI). This was killed Traditions by Anro Mainyus (in a later version, by Mithra). His spirit (Geus Urvan) went to heaven and became the guardian of cattle. The first man was Gaya-maretan ("Mortal Life"); hence, the phrase Haca Gayat Marethnat a Saosh-yantat, "from Gaya-maretan (Gayomard), Kayomarth) to Saoshyant" (Yasna XXVI, 10; Yasht XIII, 145), means "from the beginning to the end of the world." From the Airyanem Vaejo ("Aryan germ"), the first home of the Iranians, men were compelled to migrate because Anro Mainyus so altered the climate that the winter became ten months long and the summer only two. Yima Khshaeta ("Yima the Brilliant," Persian, Jamshid), son of Vivanhat, though he twice refused Ahura Mazda's commission to guard his creatures, and though by three lies he lost the "Royal Light" (Chvareno Kavaem) which he originally possessed, was yet directed to prepare a very extensive enclosure (Vara), in which he preserved "the seeds of sheep and cattle, of men, of dogs, of birds, and of red, glowing fires" from some terribly severe winters which came upon the earth (Vendidad II; Yasht XIX). The Bundihishnih tale of a flood differs from this, preserving an independent narrative. Ahura Mazda's law was preached to men within Yima's enclosure.

10. The Earth:

The earth consists of seven divisions, called Karshvares (compare the Sanskrit dvipas). Only one of these, Chvaniratha, is inhabited by men; the others are separated from it by impassable abysses. Sun, moon, and stars revolve round Mt. Taera, a peak in the Elburz Mountains (Demavend?). A later legend says that the Elburz Range surrounds the earth.

11. Heaven and Hell:

Each god and man possesses a fravashi, which has been compared to a guardian spirit and seems to differ from the soul (urvan). After judgment by Mithra, Rashnu and Sraosha, the souls of the dead must cross the Chinvat-bridge ("Bridge of the Judge"), which is guarded by two dogs and is narrow and difficult for the unjust, but wide and easy for the just. The righteous man then advances through three Paradises, those of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Works (Humata, Hukhta, Hvarsta: Yasht XVI; Arta Viraf Namak, VII IX), until, led by Sraosha, Atar, and Vohu Mano, he finally reaches Ahura Mazda's abode of light and glory, Garo-nmana (in Gathas, Garo-demana; Pahl. Garotman), where Ahura Mazda himself receives him with the words: "Greeting to thee; well hast thou come; from that mortal world hast thou come to this pure, bright place" (A. V. Namak, XI, 8, 9). But the soul of the wicked man, passing through regions of Evil Thoughts, Evil Words and Evil Deeds, finally reaches a dark and gloomy Hell (Duzhanh). In later times it was believed that those not yet fit for heaven waited in Misvana Gatus, an intermediate place where the extra merits of the just were stored up for the benefit of the less fortunate (Vend., Farg. XIX). A later name was Hamistakan. But De Harlez is of the opinion that this idea was borrowed from medieval Christianity.

12. Interment:

In primeval times the Persians buried or burned their dead. Zoroastrianism may have introduced the dakhma (Vendidad, passim) or Tower of Silence, on which bodies are exposed to be eaten by vultures. Those of which the ruins have been discovered at Al Hibbah are very ancient. But in Herodotus' time it was usual, after permitting the flesh to be devoured by dogs and birds, to cover the bones with wax and bury them (Herodotus i.140). This was done to prevent them from coming in contact with and so polluting the earth. The custom of burial is proved by the tombs of the Achemenian kings near Persepolis, and that of Cyrus, a stone chamber raised high above the ground, at Pasargadae.

13. Worship:

Zoroastrianism permits no idol-worship and no temples, fire-altars only being used. These were served by Atharvans or fire-priests, who fed the fire with costly wood and poured into it libations of haomajuice, taking care to cover their mouths with a cloth (paiti-dhana) to keep the sacred fire from being polluted by their breath. Sacrifices were often offered on the tops of the highest mountains under the open sky (Herodotus i0.132; Xen. Cyrop. viii).

14. The Magi:

The Magi doubtless owed their monopoly of priestly functions to their being Zoroaster's own tribe. They are not mentioned as priests in the Persian cuneiform inscriptions. Only once does the word. "Magus" occur in the Avesta, and then in composition (Moghu-tbish, a Magus-hater, Yasna LXV, 7). It is not necessary to trace to Babylonian influence the decay of Zoroastrianism and its degradation in late Achemenian times. This was at least in large measure due to a revival of the ideas and practices forbidden by Zoroaster, which reassert themselves in some parts of the Avesta, and which afterward gave rise to Mithraism.

15. Eschatology:

The Avesta states that, 1,000 years after Zoroaster's death, a prophet named Ukhshyat-ereta will arise from his seed to restore his religion. After another 1,000 years another, Ukhshyat-nemanh, will appear for the same purpose. The end of the world will come 1,000 years later. Then a third prophet, Saoshyant, will be born, and will usher in the Restoration (frasho-kereti) of the world to its primitive happiness and freedom from the evil creatures of Anro Mainyus. This process will be completed in 57 years, during which 6 other prophets will perform in the other 6 Karshvares the work which will here be accomplished by Saoshyant. But mention of this Restoration occurs only in very late parts of the Avesta (e.g. Vend., Farg. XVIII, 51). It does not mean Resurrection, as De Harlez has shown. Later still, something of the kind was believed, and in the Bundihishnih (chapter v) and the Patet (section 28) we have the word ristakhiz (from Av. irista, "departed," and chvis,"to rise"), which does mean "rising of the dead." But it can hardly be doubted that the doctrine is due to Hebrew and Christian influence, especially when we consider the late and uncertain date of the books in which the idea occurs.

16. Hebrew and Christian Influence:

Israelites settled in Media in large numbers in or about 730-728 B.C. under Sargon (2 Kings 17:6), long before Zoroaster's birth. It is possible that his reformation may have owed much therefore to Hebrew influence.


The idea of virgin birth has been asserted to occur in Zoroastrianism, both with reference to Zoroaster himself and to the last three great prophets of whom mention has been made. This is an error. The Avesta and all later Zoroastrian books speak of Zoroaster's birth as quite natural, his father being Pourushaspa. Nor is virgin birth referred to in the case of Saoshyant and the rest.

17. No Virgin Birth:

(Mater cuiusque ex iis, sese in lacu quodam lavans, Zoroastris semine illic reposito grayida facta filium pariet: Vend., Farg. XIX, 4-6; Yasht XIII, 128, 142; Bund., XXXII, 8, 9.) Virginity is not highly esteemed in the Avesta, though fornication is condemned.


Geldner's edition of text of Avesta; De Harlez, Avesta; Achemenian Inscriptions; Sacred Books of the East, volumes IV, XXIII, XXXI; Grassmann, Worterbuch zum Rig Veda; Haug and West, Arta Viraf Namak; Spiegel, Einleitung in die trad. Schriften der Parsen; Eranische Altertumskunde; Darmesteter, Etudes iraniennes; Haug, Essays on.... Religion of Parsis; De Harlez, Manuel du Pehlavi; Cook, Origins of Religion and Language.


W. St. Clair Tisdall

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Ancient of Days: An expression applied to Jehovah three times in the vision of Daniel (7:9, 13, 22) in the sense of eternal. In contrast with all earthly kings, his days are past reckoning.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (a.) Old; that happened or existed in former times, usually at a great distance of time; belonging to times long past; specifically applied to the times before the fall of the Roman empire; -- opposed to modern; as, ancient authors, literature, history; ancient days.

2. (a.) Old; that has been of long duration; of long standing; of great age; as, an ancient forest; an ancient castle.

3. (a.) Known for a long time, or from early times; -- opposed to recent or new; as, the ancient continent.

4. (a.) Dignified, like an aged man; magisterial; venerable.

5. (a.) Experienced; versed.

6. (a.) Former; sometime.

7. (n.) Those who lived in former ages, as opposed to the moderns.

8. (n.) An aged man; a patriarch. Hence: A governor; a ruler; a person of influence.

9. (n.) A senior; an elder; a predecessor.

10. (n.) One of the senior members of the Inns of Court or of Chancery.

11. (n.) An ensign or flag.

12. (n.) The bearer of a flag; an ensign.

Strong's Hebrew
6917. qedumim -- perhaps ancient
... << 6916, 6917. qedumim. 6918 >>. perhaps ancient. Transliteration: qedumim
Phonetic Spelling: (kaw-doom') Short Definition: ancient. ...
/hebrew/6917.htm - 6k

6934. Qadmiel -- "God is the ancient one," a Levite name
... << 6933, 6934. Qadmiel. 6935 >>. "God is the ancient one," a Levite name.
Transliteration: Qadmiel Phonetic Spelling: (kad-mee-ale') Short Definition: Kadmiel. ...
/hebrew/6934.htm - 6k

2313. Chiddeqel -- Hiddekel, ancient name of a Mesopotamian river
... Chiddeqel. 2314 >>. Hiddekel, ancient name of a Mesopotamian river. Transliteration:
Chiddeqel Phonetic Spelling: (khid-deh'-kel) Short Definition: Tigris. ...
/hebrew/2313.htm - 6k

6252b. Ashtoreth -- an ancient Near Eastern goddess
... << 6252a, 6252b. Ashtoreth or Ashtaroth. 6253 >>. an ancient Near Eastern goddess.
Transliteration: Ashtoreth or Ashtaroth Short Definition: Ashtaroth. ...
/hebrew/6252b.htm - 5k

2689. chatsotsrah -- (an ancient) trumpet
... << 2688, 2689. chatsotsrah. 2690 >>. (an ancient) trumpet. Transliteration: chatsotsrah
Phonetic Spelling: (khats-o-tser-aw') Short Definition: trumpets. ...
/hebrew/2689.htm - 6k

4644. Moph -- ancient capital of Egypt
... << 4643, 4644. Moph. 4645 >>. ancient capital of Egypt. Transliteration: Moph
Phonetic Spelling: (mofe) Short Definition: Memphis. Word ...
/hebrew/4644.htm - 6k

6268. Attiq -- "aged," a part of a name of God
... << 6267, 6268. Attiq. 6269 >>. "aged," a part of a name of God. Transliteration:
Attiq Phonetic Spelling: (at-teek') Short Definition: ancient. ... ancient. ...
/hebrew/6268.htm - 6k

5769. olam -- long duration, antiquity, futurity
... Word Origin from an unused word Definition long duration, antiquity, futurity NASB
Word Usage ages (1), all successive (1), always (1), ancient (13), ancient ...
/hebrew/5769.htm - 7k

6267. attiq -- removed, old
... << 6266, 6267. attiq. 6268 >>. removed, old. Transliteration: attiq Phonetic
Spelling: (at-teek') Short Definition: ancient. ... ancient, drawn. ...
/hebrew/6267.htm - 6k

6931. qadmoni -- former, eastern
... former (2), things of the past (1). ancient, they that went before, east,
thing of old. Or qadmoniy {kad-mo-nee'}; from qadmown; (of ...
/hebrew/6931.htm - 6k



Ancient of Days

Ancient of Days: An Appellate of Jehovah

Ancient Versions of the Old and New Testaments

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Chaldees (13 Occurrences)

Attalia (1 Occurrence)

Anointing (39 Occurrences)


Sycomore (3 Occurrences)

Sardis (3 Occurrences)


Athens (5 Occurrences)

Moabites (26 Occurrences)

Mystery (31 Occurrences)

Divination (25 Occurrences)

Cistern (21 Occurrences)

Diana (5 Occurrences)

Calf (39 Occurrences)

Silver (329 Occurrences)

Blindness (7 Occurrences)

Argob (6 Occurrences)

Cain (18 Occurrences)

Shephelah (2 Occurrences)

Bank (28 Occurrences)

Mizpah (42 Occurrences)

Syriac (2 Occurrences)

Magic (12 Occurrences)

Kittim (8 Occurrences)

Zoan (7 Occurrences)

Territory (140 Occurrences)

Sela (5 Occurrences)

Birds (125 Occurrences)

Potter (14 Occurrences)

Rhodes (2 Occurrences)

Manners (6 Occurrences)

Pottery (11 Occurrences)

Shechem (61 Occurrences)

Dan (71 Occurrences)

Augury (5 Occurrences)

Cush (31 Occurrences)

Crafts (2 Occurrences)

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