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Zoroastrian Exegetical Parables in the Škand Gumānīg Wizār

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

The parable has received little attention as a form in Zoroastrian Pahlavi literature. Taking a first step to correct this deficit, this article examines an extended parable that appears in the Škand Gumānīg Wizār, the ninth century theological and political treatise. The parable likens Ohramzd’s conflict with Ahriman and his creation of the world to a gardener’s attempt to keep hungry vermin from his garden by means of a trap. Borrowing tools developed in the study of rabbinic exegetical parables and poetics, the article argues that the garden parable not only aims to make a theological point as part of its immediate context in the Škand Gumānīg Wizār, but also it itself is an interpretation of the Zoroastrian account of creation. The article shows how the parable reinterprets inconsistencies and contradictions in that cosmogony, relating to the account of creation just as rabbinic parables relate to the gaps in canonical, biblical narratives.

Affiliations: 1: Hebrew University Jerusalem


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