Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Ehrhart, Sabine

Covered by:
Elsevier - SCOPUS
Clarivate Analytics - Emerging Sources Citation Index

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Dēnkard III Language Variation and the Defence of Socio-Religious Identity in the Context of Early-Islamic Iran

Gianfilippo Terribili
Published Online: 2017-10-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2017-0020


The aim of the present paper is to illustrate as a case study, the linguistic and stylistic peculiarities characterizing the third book of the Dēnkard, one of the most authoritative texts in Zoroastrian Pahlavi literature (9th-10th CE). The analysis will consider these features as part of a coherent system, styled to serve the dialectic strategies pursued by the Zoroastrian high priests in response to the pressures their own community was facing in the early Islamic period. In order to provide a more comprehensive overview on DkIII language distinctiveness, the research will underline the outward/inward dynamics, addressing both the relation of this theological dialectic with the surrounding socio-cultural environment and the leadingrole claims of a group within a politically subordinated community

Keywords: Middle Persian; Pahlavi Literature; Iranian Philology


  • Afnan, S. 1964. Philosophical terminology in Arabic and Persian, Leiden.Google Scholar

  • Amir-Moezzi, M.A. 2007. Le Guide divin dans le shî‘isme originel, (New ed.) Paris.Google Scholar

  • Amir-Moezzi, M.A. / Schmidtke, S. 2009. Rationalisme et theologie dans le monde musulman medieval, Revue de l’histoire des religions 226/4: 613-638.Google Scholar

  • Amouzgar, J. / Tafazzoli, A. 2000. Le cinquieme livre du Dēnkard (Studia Iranica Cahier 23), Paris.Google Scholar

  • Anklesaria, B.T. 1956. The Zand-Ākāsīh, Iranian or Greater Bundahisn, Bombay.Google Scholar

  • Anklesaria, B.T. 1964. Vichitakiha-i Zatsparam, vol.I, Bombay.Google Scholar

  • Anklesaria, B.T. 1969. The Pahlavi Rivāyat of Āturfarnbag and Farnbag-Srōš, 2 vols., Bombay.Google Scholar

  • Bailey, H.W. 1943. Zoroastrian Problems in the Ninth-Century Books (Ratanbai Katrak Lectures), Oxford.Google Scholar

  • Bartholomae, C. 1904. Altiranisches Wörterbuch, Strassburg.Google Scholar

  • Bausani, A. 1957. Due citazioni del Corano nel Dēnkard, Rivista degli Studi Orientali 32: 455-462.Google Scholar

  • Belardi, W. 1990. Analisi e restauro del capitolo 375 del III libro del Dēnkart, in W. Belardi, Linguistica generale, filologia e critica dell’espressione, Roma: 287-302.Google Scholar

  • de Blois, F. 2003. The Reform of the Zoroastrian Calendar in the Year 375 of Yazdgird, in C.G. Cereti and F. Vajifdar (eds.), Ātaš-e Dorun, The Fire Within; Jamshid Soroush Soroushian Commemorative Volume, Bloomington (Ind.): 139-145.Google Scholar

  • Boyce, M. 1968. Middle Persian Literature, in Handbuch der Orientalistik,, ed. B. Spuler et al., Leiden - Cologne: 31-66.Google Scholar

  • Boyce, M. 1979. Zoroastrians, Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, London - Boston.Google Scholar

  • Bowen-Savant, S. 2013. The new Muslims of post-conquest Iran: tradition, memory and conversion, Cambridge - New York.Google Scholar

  • Bulliet, R.W. 1979. Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period. An Essay in Quantitative History, London - Cambridge (Mass.).Google Scholar

  • Carra de Vaux, B. 1897 (trad.). Maçoudi: le livre de l’avertissement et de la revision, Paris.Google Scholar

  • Cereti, C.G. 1995. The Zand ī Wahman Yasn (Serie Orientale Roma LXXV), Roma.Google Scholar

  • Cereti, C.G. 2001. La letteratura pahlavi, Milano.Google Scholar

  • Chacha, H.F. 1936. Gajastak Abâlish, Bombay.Google Scholar

  • Choksy, J.K. 1997. Conflict and Cooperation; Zoroastrian Subalterns and Muslim Elites in Medieval Iranian Society, New York.Google Scholar

  • Cipriano, P. 1994. Individuo e autorita politico-religiosa nel Dēnkart, in P. Cipriano / C.A. Ciancaglini (eds.), Studi iranici, Viterbo: 19-45.Google Scholar

  • Crone, P. 2006. Post-Colonialism in Tenth-Century Islam, Der Islam 83: 2-38.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Crone, P. 2012. The Nativists Prophets of Early Islamic Iran, Cambridge.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dhabhar, B.N. 1909. Saddar Nasr and Saddar Bundehesh, Bombay.Google Scholar

  • Dhabhar, B.N. 1912. The Epistles of Manushchîhar, Bombay.Google Scholar

  • Dhabhar, B.N. 1949. Pahlavi Yasna and Visperad, Bombay.Google Scholar

  • Dodge, B. 1970. The Fihrist of al-Nadīm; a Tenth-Century Survey of Muslim Culture, 2 vols., New York.Google Scholar

  • Ess, J. van 1976. Disputationspraxis in der islamischen Theologie. Eine vorlaufige Skizze, in Revue des Étues Islamiques 44: 23-60.Google Scholar

  • Ess, J. van 1992. Theologie und Gesellschaft im 2. und 3. Jahrhundert Hidschra. Eine Geschichte des religiösen Denkens im frühen Islam, Berlin - New York.Google Scholar

  • Ess, J. van 2011. Der Eine und das Andere: Beobachtungen an islamischen häresiographischen Texten (Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des islamischen Orients: 23), Berlin - New York.Google Scholar

  • Frank, R M. 1978. Beings and their Attributes: The Teaching of the Basrian School of the Muʿtazila in the Classical Period, New York.Google Scholar

  • Gignoux, Ph. 1994. Dēnkard, Encyclopadia Iranica 7/3: 284-289, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/denkardGoogle Scholar

  • Gignoux, Ph. 2001. La composition du Dēnkard et le contenu du livre V, in A. Ashraf-Sadeghi (ed.), Tafazzoli Memorial Volume, Tehran: 29-37.Google Scholar

  • Goodman, L.E. 1995. Crosspollinations-Philosophically Fruitful Exchanges between Jewish and Islamic thought, Medieval Encounters 1: 323-357.Google Scholar

  • Goodman, L.E. 1999. Jewish and Islamic Philosophy: Cross-pollination in the Classical Age, Edinburgh.Google Scholar

  • Gutas, D. 1998. Greek Thought Arabic Culture; the Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ʿAbbāsid Society, London - New York.Google Scholar

  • Hoyland, R.G. 1997. Seeing Islam as Others Saw It; A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam, Princeton (New Jersey).Google Scholar

  • Husseini, S.L. 2014. Early Christian-Muslim Debate on the Unity of God: Three Christian Scholars and Their Engagement with the Islamic Thought (9th Century C.E.), Leiden.Google Scholar

  • Jaafari-Dehaghi, M. 1998. Dādestān ī Dēnīg. Part I (Studia Iranica Cahier 20), Paris.Google Scholar

  • Josephson, J. 2002. Parallelism in Middle Persian Prose, in Ph. Huyse (ed.), Iran questions et connaissance; La période ancienne (Studia Iranica Cahier 25), Paris: 63-76.Google Scholar

  • de Jong, A. 2009. The Culture of Writing and the Use of the Avesta in Sasanian Iran, in E. Pirart and X. Tremblay (eds.), Zarathushtra entre l’Inde et l’Iran. Études indo‐iraniennes et indo‐européennes offertes a Jean Kellens a l’occasion de son 65e anniversaire, Wiesbaden: 27-41.Google Scholar

  • de Jong, A. 2016. The Dēnkard and the Zoroastrians of Baghdad, in A. Williams, S. Stewart, A. Hintze (eds.), The Zoroastrian Flame. Exploring Religion, History and Tradition, London: 223-238.Google Scholar

  • Kanga, M.F. 1951. Life and Letters of Manūščihr Gošn-jam, in Professor Pour-e Davoud Memorial Volume II, Bombay: 189-204.Google Scholar

  • Kanga, M.F. 1957. Transcription and Translation of the First Chapter of the Second Epistle of Manuščihr Gōšnǰamān: A Text Criticism, Deccan Bulletin 18: 374-80.Google Scholar

  • Kapadia, D.D. 1953. Glossary of Pahlavi Vendidad, Bombay.Google Scholar

  • Keating, S.T. 2006. Defending the “People of Truth” in the Early Islamic Period: The Christian Apologies of Abū Rāʾiṭah, Leiden.Google Scholar

  • Kreyenbroek, P.G. 1987a. The Dādestān ī Dēnīg on Priests, Indo-Iranian Journal 30: 185-208.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kreyenbroek, P.G. 1987b. The Zoroastrian Priesthood after the Fall of the Sasanian Empire, in Ph. Gignoux (ed.), Transition Periods in Iranian History (Studia Iranica Cahier 5), Leuven: 151-166.Google Scholar

  • Kreyenbroek, P.G. 1994. On the Concept of Spiritual Authority in Zoroastrianism, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 17: 1-16.Google Scholar

  • Kreyenbroek, P.G. 1995. The Introduction to the Dādestān ī Dēnīg in R. Gyselen (ed.), Au carrefour des religions. Mélanges offerts a Philippe Gignoux (Res Orientales 7), Bures-sur-Yvette: 171-176.Google Scholar

  • Lazard, G. 1971. Pahlavi, parsi, dari: les langues de l’Iran d’apres Ibn al-Muqaffa, in C. E. Bosworth (ed.), Iran and Islam: in Memory of the Late Vladimir Minorsky, Edinburgh: 361-391.Google Scholar

  • Lazard, G. 1975. The Rise of the New Persian Language, in R.N. Frye (ed.), From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. The Cambridge History of Iran 4, Cambridge: 595-632.Google Scholar

  • Lazard, G. 1987. Le judeo-persan ancient entre le pehlevi et le persan, in Ph. Gignoux (ed.), Transition Periods in Iranian History (Studia Iranica Cahier 5), Leuven: 167-174.Google Scholar

  • Lazard, G. 1995. La formation de la langue persane, Paris.Google Scholar

  • Macuch, M. 2009. Pahlavi Literature, in R. Emmerick and M. Macuch (eds.), A History of Persian Literature Companion Volume 1, London, 116-196.Google Scholar

  • Madan, D.M. 1911, The Complete Text of the Pahlavi Dinkard, 2 vols., Bombay.Google Scholar

  • de Menasce, J. 1945. Škand-Gumānīk Vičār; la solution décisive des doutes, Fribourg en Suisse.Google Scholar

  • de Menasce, J. 1958. Une encyclopédie mazdéenne le Dēnkart, Paris.Google Scholar

  • de Menasce, J. 1962. La Rivāyat d’Ēmēt i Ašavahištān, Revue de l’histoire des religions 162/1: 69 - 88.Google Scholar

  • de Menasce, J. 1973. Le troisieme livre du Dēnkart, Paris.Google Scholar

  • de Menasce, J. 1975. Zoroastrian Literature after the Muslim Conquest, in R.N. Frye (ed.), From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. The Cambridge History of Iran 4, Cambridge: 543-565.Google Scholar

  • Modi, J.J. 1931. The Mobadān mobad Omid bin Ashavast referred to Hamzā Isphahani. Who was he?, in W. Wust (ed.), Studia Indo-Iranica; Ehrengabe für Wilhelm Geiger, Leipzig: 274-288.Google Scholar

  • Monnot, G. 1974. Penseurs musulmans et religions iraniennes. ‘Abd al-Jabbār et ses devanciers, Paris.Google Scholar

  • Morony, M. G. 1990. The Age of Conversions: A Reassessment, in M. Gervers and R. J. Bikhazi (eds.), Conversion and Continuity: Indigenous Christian Communities in Islamic Lands, Eighth to Eighteenth Centuries (Papers in Mediaeval Studies 9), Toronto: 135-50.Google Scholar

  • Mottahedeh, R.P. 2012. The Idea of Iran in the Buyid Dominions, in E. Herzig and S. Stewart (eds.), Early Islamic Iran. The Idea of Iran V, London - New York: 150-161.Google Scholar

  • Nyberg, H.S. 1964-1974. A Manual of Pahlavi, 2 vols., Wiesbaden.Google Scholar

  • Piras, A. 1996. Āsna- xratu- Innate or Rising Wisdom?, East and West 46: 9-19.Google Scholar

  • Sachau, E.C. 1879. The Chronology of Ancient Nations of Al-Bîrunî, London.Google Scholar

  • Sanjana, D.P. 1928. The Dînkart, Volume XIX. The Original Pahlavi Text of the Third Part of Book IX, Bombay.Google Scholar

  • Shaked, Sh. 1969. Esoteric trends in Zoroastrianism, Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities 3: 175-222.Google Scholar

  • Shaked, Sh. 1979. The Wisdom of the Sasanian Sages (Persian Heritage Series 34), Boulder, Colorado.Google Scholar

  • Shaked, Sh. 1987. Paymān: an Iranian idea in contact with Greek thought and Islam, in Ph. Gignoux (ed.), Transition Periods in Iranian History (Studia Iranica Cahier 5), Paris: 217-240.Google Scholar

  • Shaked, Sh. 2003. Scripture and Exegesis in Zoroastrianism, in M. Finkelberg and G. G. Stroumsa (eds.), Homer, the Bible, and Beyond: Literary and Religions Canons in the Ancient World, Leiden: 63-74.Google Scholar

  • Shaki, M. 1970. Some Basic Tenets of the Eclectic Metaphysics of the Dēnkart, Archiv orientální 38: 277-312.Google Scholar

  • Skjarvo, P.O. 2010. On the Terminology and Style of the Pahlavi Scholastic Literature, in C. Bakhos and M.R. Shayegan (eds.), The Talmud in Its Iranian Context, Tubingen: 178-206.Google Scholar

  • Stroumsa, S. 2008. The Muslim Context in Medieval Jewish Philosophy, in M. S.M. Nadler and T. Rudavsky (eds.), The Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy: From Antiquity through the Seventeenth Century, Cambridge: 39-59.Google Scholar

  • Tafazzoli, A. 1983. Adurbad i Mahrspandan, Encyclopadia Iranica, 1/5: 477, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/adurbad-i-mahrspandanGoogle Scholar

  • Tafazzoli, A. 1984. Āīn-nāma, Encyclopadia Iranica, 1/7: 691-692, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ain-namaGoogle Scholar

  • Tafazzoli, A. 1999. Fahlavīyāt, Encyclopadia Iranica, 9/2: 158-162, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/fahlaviyatGoogle Scholar

  • Tavadia, J.C. 1956. Die mittelpersische Sprache und Literatur der Zarathustrier, Leipzig.Google Scholar

  • Vevaina, Y.S.D. 2010. Relentless Allusion: Intertextuality and Reading of Zoroastrian Interpretative Literature, in C. Bakhos and M.R. Shayegan (eds.), The Talmud in Its Iranian Context, Tubingen: 206-232.Google Scholar

  • Vevaina, Y.S.D. 2012. Scripture versus Contemporary (Interpretive) Needs: Mapping the Hermeneutic Contours of Zoroastrianism, in S. Fine and S. Secunda (eds.), Shoshanat Yaakov: Ancient Jewish and Iranian Studies in Honor of ProfessorYaakov Elman, Leiden: 465-485.Google Scholar

  • Vevaina, Y.S.D. 2015. Theologies and Hermeneutics, in M. Stausberg and Y.S.D. Vevaina (eds.), The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, Oxford: 211-234.Google Scholar

  • West, E.W. 1882. Pahlavi Text, part II (The Sacred Book of the East XVIII), rep. Delhi 1996.Google Scholar

  • West, E.W. 1885. Pahlavi Text, part III (The Sacred Book of the East XXIV), rep. Delhi 1996.Google Scholar

  • Williams, A. 2005. Lexicography and Zoroastrian Meanings in the Pahlavi Books, in C.G. Cereti and M. Maggi (eds.), Middle Iranian Lexicography (Orientalia Romana 8), Roma: 387-398.Google Scholar

  • Williams, A. 2012. Authority and Identity in the Pahlavi Books, in Herzig, E. and Stewart, S. (eds.), Early Islamic Iran. The Idea of Iran V, London - New York: 139-152.Google Scholar

  • Wolfson, H.A. 1976. The Philosophy of the Kalam, Cambridge (Ma).Google Scholar

  • Wolfson, H.A. 1979. Repercussions of the Kalam in Jewish Philosophy, Cambridge (Ma).Google Scholar

  • Zaehner, R.C. 1955. Zurvan a Zoroastrian Dilemma, Oxford.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2017-01-25

Accepted: 2017-08-10

Published Online: 2017-10-28

Published in Print: 2017-10-26

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 396–418, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2017-0020.

Export Citation

© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in