Weekly study3 hours
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Zoroastrianism: History, Religion, and Belief
Delve into the rich visual history of the Zoroastrian religion
Zoroastrianism has had a profound influence on major world religions. Its history tells the story of imperial culture, persecution, migration and the establishment of diasporic communities.
Utilising a rich visual repository of artifacts, paintings, and texts, this four-week course will take you through the story of Zoroastrian religion, history, and culture.
The course draws inspiration from an exhibition titled ‘The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination’, as well as the book of the same name.
Discover the fire at the centre of this ancient religion
You’ll start by looking at the teachings of the Zoroastrian faith to understand where it sits in the context of world religions. You’ll then explore the religion’s history, from antiquity to present day.
Fire is a supreme symbol of Zoroastrianism and is central to the religion’s doctrine, ritual, and observance. You’ll learn how to link this idea to everyday devotional life and care for the planet.
Explore the challenges facing Zoroastrian communities
Today, this ancient religion is in retreat, with numbers diminishing and the language becoming endangered.
On this course, you’ll examine the challenges the community faces and connect them to historical events to build a larger picture of the religion.
Finally, you’ll look at the religion’s ancient language, Avestan, which is key to understanding Zoroastrian texts, myths, and legends.
Learn from the experts at SOAS University of London
SOAS has a long history of teaching and research on the subject of Zoroastrianism, together with the languages, both ancient and modern, that support it.
As the only institution to have two endowed posts in Zoroastrianism, SOAS is uniquely positioned to guide you through the history and challenges of this ancient religion.
Learning on this course
You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...
- Identify the key elements of the Zoroastrian religion.
- Trace an outline of Zoroastrianism in a historical context.
- Explain some of the challenges faced by Zoroastrian communities today.
- Discuss Zoroastrianism as both a majority and minority religion.
- Analyse the source materials for the study of the religion.
- Explore the Avestan language.
- Recognise and interpret some Avestan terms.
Who is the course for?
This course is designed for anyone interested in ancient religions - both ancient and living - specifically Zoroastrian religious traditions and its languages. It will also appeal to anyone interested in Iranian Studies or South Asian Studies.
Members of the Zoroastrian community worldwide will find this course particularly useful.
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