Berossos on Persian Religion

Jacobs, Bruno. (2013) Berossos on Persian Religion. In: The World of Berossos – Proceedings of the 4th International Colloquium on „The Ancient Near East between Classical and Ancient Oriental Traditions“. Wiesbaden, pp. 123-135.

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Of Berossos’ fragments on Persian religion, only F 11 remains as usable testimony. The notice on the Sacaea in F 2 cannot be convincingly applied to Persian customs. Fragment F 12, dealing with Zoroaster, the Magi and Greco-Persian identifications of divinities, is totally muddled, and should be discarded as not providing usable information. This leaves the information about the erection of statues by Artaxerxes II (F 11) isolated and does not allow us to attribute to Berossos a special interest in Persian religion, even though one might expect a professional interest in such matters on the part of a priest. Perhaps we should ask whether Berossos talks about the erection of cult statues merely because one of them – the first he mentions – was set up in Babylon, just as, with regard to history, he presents himself as exclusively interested in Babylonia, for example mentioning Assyria only when Babylonia is involved. There is no reason to doubt that the information about the erection of cult statues by Artaxerxes II is basically correct. However, since the notion that idolatry was introduced by this king ‘many decades later’ does not go back to Berossos but was inserted by Clement of Alexandria, F 11 does not provide a terminus ante quem non for the erection of cult statues or a basis for conclusions about fundamental changes in Persian religion during the reign of Artaxerxes II. The theory that in Achaemenid times there was a development in Persia from an aniconic idea of the gods to idolatry lacks any foundation.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Altertumswissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Altertumswissenschaften > Vorderorientalische Altertumswissenschaft (Jacobs)
UniBasel Contributors:Jacobs, Bruno
Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item, refereed
Conference or workshop item Subtype:Conference Paper
Series Name:Classica et Orientalia
Issue Number:5
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Conference paper
Last Modified:20 Nov 2018 15:49
Deposited On:20 Nov 2018 15:49

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