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Features of Achaemenid-era Zoroastrianism: some echoes from Yahwistic sources at Elephantine

Dr. Gad Barnea (University of Haifa)


In her magnum opus, “A History of Zoroastrianism,” Mary Boyce perceptively noted that often in the history of this Iranian religion, “developments within Iran itself have to be deduced from the ripples which they caused abroad.” This is certainly true of the history of Achaemenid-era Zoroastrianism, whose characteristics and, in some circles, even its existence, continue to be a matter of debate—even as more and more information regarding its possible features continues to emerge. This article aims to complement the current body of knowledge with data from Yahwistic sources outside of Iran, to enhance and solidify our understanding of Achaemenid-Zoroastrianism and its contours. It reviews at the current state of scholarship and the significant progress that has been made in the recent decades, and studies some Zoroastrian/Avestan echoes preserved in Yahwistic sources in Upper Egypt, mostly at Elephantine, which provide first-hand documentation of Zoroastrian devotion.

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