Two articles appear below:

1   The Devil: A Short Biography

2
    The Devil, the Ten Lost Tribes and Zoroaster

THE DEVIL: A SHORT BIOGRAPHY

(Investigator 154, 2014 January)


The Devil was first invented by Zoroaster of Persia who called it Ahriman "the evil one."

In the 3rd century b.c. the Jews created Satan from the Greek god Pan.

Hell was invented in 600 b.c. by the Jewish author of Leviticus.

The concept of good versus evil predates Christianity. All older religions had it. Without this "Bad Guy" all religions will not be able to function.

The story of the Devil/Evil is crucial to all religions. One must have a "Bad Guy" to counter the "Good Guy" promoted by that particular religion.

The Good Guys always win; what a surprise?

The concept of Hell and Judgment at death was first described in the Old Testament "Book of Daniel" composed around 165 b.c.

The Devil had many names over the centuries — Satan, Lucifer, Belial, Beelzebub, Baal, Loki, etc.

The Devil is depicted in may distorted forms of the ugly, serpents, dragons, monsters, etc.

Christianity claimed he was a fallen angel, kicked out of Heaven. Therefore God must have created him in the first place. Ha! Ha!

Brian de Kretser
Institute for Research into Religions
Darwin, Australia.

 



THE DEVIL, the Ten Lost Tribes and Zoroaster

Anonymous

(Investigator 155, 2014 March)


ZOROASTER

Did Zoroaster invent the Devil as claimed by De Kretser in #154? Did the Old Testament get the Devil from either Zoroaster or the Greek god Pan?

The Pan connection seems a new idea unmentioned in text books, therefore I'll consider the Zoroaster connection.

Zoroaster was an Iranian religious reformer born near Tehran who lived approximately 628 to 551 BC.



A POSSIBILITY

Archaeology has not discovered, and it's unknown, when belief in two embattled gods, one good and one evil, first originated. If it goes back to the first humans as indicated in the Bible then the transmission of that belief could have progressed via many lines of human descent. In that case Zoroaster and the Old Testament could be independent presentations of older ideas derived from different sources.


TEN LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL


Alternatively, it is possible that Zoroaster got the idea of a conflict between two gods from the Hebrew Scriptures that became the Old Testament:-

In 722 BCE, approximately 130 years before Zoroaster founded Zoroastrianism, Assyria forcibly resettled 27,000 Israelites of the 10-tribe kingdom of Israel to Mesopotamia and Media. Media lay to the north of Persia; the two countries merged in the mid 6th century BC and the whole became "Persia".

Israel's destruction actually involved three Assyrian kings — Tiglath Pileser, Shalmaneser V and Sargon II — and multiple invasions and deportations from 734 to 715 BC. The Bible summarizes these events in II Kings 15:29; 17:24-41; 18:11; and I Chronicles 5:6, 26.

K. Lawson Younger (2003) shows that the deportations are confirmed in the annals of Tiglath Pileser and Sargon II, and by archaeological discoveries in Israel and Mesopotamia.

Assyrian records also show that Sargon conquered part of Media in 716 BCE and this makes plausible the Bible's statement that Israelites were resettled there.

Most of the resettled Israelites were made forced laborers in agriculture and construction. Others became soldiers or charioteers. Assyrian records show that some became officials, translators, commanders, supervisors, consultants, and even priests.

Many Israelite deportees adopted Assyrian names but tacked on to them a short form of "Yahweh", the name of God. Younger (2003) writes:
A key element for detecting Israelite names in Assyria is the suffix "-Yau." Scholars call this a theophoric element, a divine component in the name. The particular theophoric element here is a form of Yahweh, the name of the Israelite God. Many names with the "-Yau" suffix appear in Assyrian military records, denoting a person's Israelite identity.
The dogma of some modern religious cults that the "lost tribes of Israel" moved to Europe and founded the British people and other European nations is unhistorical, unbiblical and fantasy. "British Israelism" suffered refutation already in the 19th century from biblical analysis. For example, David Baron authored The History of the Ten Lost Tribes (1915) and included an article from 1880 titled Are We The Ten Tribes?

Also wrong were secular critics of the Bible who claimed that the Israelite deportation to Mesopotamia and Media never happened. It happened and archaeology now proves it.
 

ZOROASTER AND THE BIBLE

Zoroaster's influence in Media and Persia was limited. Zoroastrianism became Persia's official religion only after 224 CE i.e. 700 years later.

Israelite and Jewish influence was greater than Zoroaster's for several centuries. Various Persian rulers gave Jews favorable treatment. (II Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Nehemiah 2:1-8; Esther 10) The events recorded in the book of Esther imply huge Jewish influence in Persia.

The claim of Bible critics that Bible doctrines were taken from Zoroastrianism is based on a few broad similarities. For example, Zoroaster preached about two gods at war, one good and the other evil, similar to Yahweh and Satan in the Bible.

The Britannica Macropaedia says, "The debt of Israel to its eastern neighbours in religious matters is easy to demonstrate on a few precise points of minor importance but less so in other more important points such as dualism, angelology, and eschatology."

The Israelites who were resettled in Assyria and Media would have taken with them the Old Testament books that were already written, or the priests among them would have had them memorized.

Since some Israelites became Mesopotamian priests it's probable they mixed Israelite beliefs into local beliefs, forming a hybrid religion. In this way Israelite and Jewish Old Testament beliefs could have spread and inspired Zoroaster's teaching about the Devil. Zoroaster began making converts in the 590s BCE which allows for 130 years of Israelite and Old Testament influence.


THE BIBLE

The deported Israelites had the five books of Moses and knew the narrative about the "Serpent" that deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent narrative is not an entertainment story about a talking snake, but implies that there exists a supernatural rival of God who made it seem a snake was talking.

A copy of "Job" may also have accompanied the Israelites during their deportation, or been sent later (depending on when Job was composed). And Job in Chapters 1 & 2 teaches about a supernatural being as the cause of evil.

Similarly with the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was written in Babylon in the 570s BCE and a copy could have been taken further east to the "lost tribes" in Media. This would have coincided with Zoroaster's ministry.

In Chapter 28, Ezekiel criticizes the King of Tyre. Chapter 28 is commonly understood as having a two-fold application — to the King of Tyre and to the "Devil". This is suggested by lines such as "You were in Eden, the garden of God" and "the guardian cherub drove you out".

Genesis, Job and Ezekiel have enough information for a theology about the Devil to have formed and circulated even without the New Testament. The "lost tribes" therefore had ideas about the Devil from their own Scriptures. And the Israelite/Jewish presence in Media was extensive enough for Zoroaster to have heard.  

The Zoroaster-Old Testament connection is therefore similar to the Persian prophet Mani (215-276 CE) and the New Testament.

Mani began to proclaim his new religion of Manichaeism in 245 CE and incorporated many ideas from the New Testament. Since Christianity had a presence in Persia at the time, and ancient New Testament manuscripts from before Mani's lifetime still exist, we know in this instance who plagiarized from whom.

The Zoroaster situation is more difficult because it's more ancient and Bible manuscripts from that period are at present not known to have survived.

Therefore I have made an indirect case based on Israelites living in Media and Persia, and on the Books of Moses being in Media up to 90 years before Zoroaster's birth.


REFERENCES:

Anonymous, Christian Origins in Iran?  Investigator # 122

Younger, Jr., K. Lawson Israelites in Exile, Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec, 2003.


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