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Pre-Existence in Iran: Zoroastrians, Ex-Christian Muʿtazilites, and Jews on the Human Acquisition of Bodies

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Chapter Summary

A myth told in the Bundahishn and other Zoroastrian sources states that when Ahriman attacked, Ohrmazd took counsel with the fravahrs in heaven and they responded by voluntarily descending to the earth, clothed in material bodies, to fight against evil. This myth echoes ancient themes also found in Jewish, Muslim and Manichaean literature. The Zoroastrian myth in its turn reappears in Muslim guise in an account of the origins of mankind by the ninth-century Muʿtazilite Sufi Ibn Khābiṭ (or Ḥāʾiṭ or the like) and his pupil Ibn Mānūsh (or Bānūsh or the like). The Zoroastrian myth is told here in a more Gnostic vein. The paper will examine the myths as evidence of intellectual interaction between Zoroastrians and others, looking at the different messages conveyed.



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