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Paths of Faith Issues, Zoroastrianism & Apocalyptic Movements . Cheryl Gaver Challenges Facing Modern Religions Zoroastrianism What is it? Motto Zoroastrian Influence Zoroastrian Dualism Last Days Jews and Samaritans. Overview of Session.

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Paths of FaithIssues, Zoroastrianism & Apocalyptic Movements


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Challenges Facing Modern Religions


What is it?


Zoroastrian Influence

Zoroastrian Dualism

Last Days

Jews and Samaritans

Overview of Session

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Challenges Facing Modern Religions

  • What is the “authentic” or “legitimate” form of the religion?

  • How do you keep a religion relevant yet hold on to the essentials?

    • If a religion is true, how can it change?

  • How do you pass on your religion / beliefs / traditions / values to the next generation?

  • How do you deal with secularism?

  • How do you deal being one of many religions?

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  • Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions, and it has probably had more influence on mankind, directly and indirectly, than any other single faith." (Mary Boyce)

Source: Text:

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Zoroastrianism – 1

  • Founded by Zarathustra / Zoroaster sometime between 1500 and 1000 BCE

  • Originated in Persia (modern-day Iran)

  • Perhaps the first monotheistic religion in the world

  • Fewer than 200,000 Zoroastrians in the world today

  • Sacred text is the Avesta, divided into hymns (Gathas)

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Zoroastrianism – 2

  • God

    • God’s name is Ahura Mazda

    • God communicates between himself and human beings through Bounteous Immortals (e.g., personified concepts)

  • Motto

    • Good thoughts, good words, good deeds

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Zoroastrianism – Motto

  • Every thing that is created was first a Thought.So let your Thoughts be GoodGood Thoughts are those that are in harmony with the Wisdom in CreationLet your Good Thoughts be know through Good WordsFor that’s when Creation first comes into being



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Zoroastrian Influence

  • Zoroastrian influence on

    • Judaism,

    • Christianity,

    • Islam and other religions

  • Influential beliefs

    • Dualistic view of the universe

    • Idea of the conflict between God and Satan

    • Paradise / hell: Idea of heaven (100% good) and hell (100% evil)

    • Eschatology: Idea of last days / last judgement

    • Virgin birth / saviour


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Zoroastrian Dualism

  • May take one of two forms:

    • Conflict between Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu, a god of violence and death

      • The conflict involves the entire universe – i.e., battle that is fought both on a cosmic and a terrestrial (human) level

    • Conflict between Good and Evil

      • This conflict is an ethical conflict fought within human consciousness

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Last Days

  • Everyday, people must struggle between good and evil

    • Need for laws and ethics is important

  • Eschatologically (end days) – the struggle is not simply within individuals, but

    • Between nations leading to the horrific battle of Armageddon

    • At a cosmic and natural level as well – floods, volcanic eruptions, meteors, end of the sun, end of the moon

    • The final days end with the Last Judgement and final separation of the good (eternal good) and the evil (eternal fire)

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Jews and Samaritans

  • In 586 B.C.E. Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians

    • Many Jews – particularly rich, upper class Jews – were taken away to Babylon

    • Many Jews – poor Jews, farmers, etc. – were left behind

  • The Return from Exile

    • Babylonian Jews eventually returned but their form of Judaism was different from that of the Jews left behind (now called Samaritans)

    • Dispute over who are the “real” Jews

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Jews and Christian Apocalypticism

  • Apocalypse

    • Revelation of hidden prophecies, often associated with end of the world

  • First century C.E.

    • Judaism has many apocalyptic / eschatological movements

      • Christianity

      • Qumran community

    • Tendency to see yourself as living in the last days

      • Jews are God’s people

      • Romans are God’s enemy, under Satan’s control

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Jewish Rebellion

  • First Rebellion (67 CE-73 CE)

    • Jews rebel against Rome; they lose

    • Jerusalem and the Second Temple are destroyed

    • Survivors flee; many flee to Masada

    • They survive in Masada for 3 years

      • They see their struggle as a struggle between Forces of Light and Forces of Darkness

      • When Roman victory becomes inevitable, the Jews kill one another rather than surrender to the Romans – they will not surrender to the darkness (evil)

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Jewish-Christian Split

  • Jewish authorities decide apocalypticism / martyrdom is no way to guarantee Jewish survival

    • They “fence off” the Torah, excluding apocalyptic movements

    • They finalize the Jewish Scriptures

  • First Rebellion marks the split between Judaism and Christianity

    • Non-Jewish Christians did not want to rebel against Rome

    • Christians refused to reject apocalypticism

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Eschatological Movements

  • End-of-the-world movements have emerged throughout history

  • Some have led to new religious movements that still exist

    • Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Seventh Day Adventists

  • Some have led to new suicide religious movements

    • Heaven’s Gate, Solar Temple, Branch Davidians

  • Some have led to “fringe” movements – difficult to characterize

    • Children of God, Scientology

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Off-Shoot Religions


Christian Science




New Religious Movements (NRM)


New Age



Other Religious Movements

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Revival (Neo-Pagan) Religions

Asatru (Norse)

Druidism (Celtic)



New-Age Type Religions




Native American Spirituality (New Age version)


Some common features






Holistic Health

Human Potential


New Religious Movements