The Bundahišn

The Zoroastrian Book of Creation

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Domenico Agostini
Samuel Thrope
  • Oxford: 
    Oxford University Press
    , August
     264 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


The Bundahisn, meaning primal or foundational creation, is the central Zoroastrian account of creation, cosmology, and eschatology. Compiled sometime in the ninth century CE, it is one of the most important surviving testaments to Zoroastrian literature in the Middle Persian language and to pre-Islamic Iranian culture. Despite having been composed some two millennia after the Prophet Zoroaster's revelation, it is nonetheless a concise compendium of ancient Zoroastrian knowledge that draws on and reshapes earlier layers of the tradition.

Well known in the field of Iranian Studies as an essential primary source for scholars of ancient Iran's history, religions, literatures, and languages, the Bundahisn is also a great work of literature in and of itself, ranking alongside the creation myths of other ancient traditions. The book's thirty-six diverse chapters, which touch on astronomy, eschatology, zoology, medicine, and more, are composed in a variety of styles, registers, and genres, from spare lists and concise commentaries to philosophical discourses and poetic eschatological visions. This new translation, the first in English in nearly a century, highlights the aesthetic quality, literary style, and complexity and raises the profile of pre-Islamic Zoroastrian literature.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Domenico Agostini is a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at Tel Aviv University. He has been the recipient of the Prix Pirasteh in Persian Studies at the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Paris (2008) and the Polonsky fellowship for Outstanding postdoctoral researchers (2013-2017). He has published extensively in the field of the Zoroastrian apocalyptic ideas and Middle Persian literature.

Samuel Thrope is a research fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa. He earned his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a fellow of the Martin Buber Society at Hebrew University. His translation of Persian writer Jalal Al-e Ahmad's The Israeli Republic was published in 2017, and he is co-editor, with Roberta Cassagrande-Kim and Raquel Ukeles, of the 2018 exhibition catalogue Romance and Reason: Islamic Transformations of the Classical Past.


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