24 June 2011

Thus spake Zoroaster

Among the departments which should be productive in my suppressed and unrecognised university is one for the History of Religion. Information in this area is suppressed and ignored because it is not in the interests of any ideology to know what was really the case.

Information about Gnostic Christianity was of no interest, because Gnosticism was dualist, dualism being an automatically pejorative term. That is, they thought in some form that there was good and evil, soul and matter, and that ‘normal life’ was evil and to be transcended and escaped from.

Quite recently, it was asserted on the BBC that Christianity was original in having an end-of-world idea, in the sense of a radical change in the scheme of things. Previous religions and ideologies had not had this.

However, the end-of-world idea, along with a ‘dualist’ rejection of life as it is, occurred a lot earlier. In fact, it seems to have been originated by Zarathustra, whose ideas influenced Nietzsche in writing Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Zoroastrianism had not only an end-of-world (end-of-history, end-of-time) idea, as associated with early Christianity, but even a Second Coming idea. A human leader would arise who would lead the forces of good to victory over the powers of evil, and the world would be changed in the ‘Making Wonderful’. This Second Coming person was supposed to be a descendant of Zarathustra.

Paul Kriwaczek, in the book In Search of Zarathustra, seems to suggest that the Gnostics, Cathars and Bogomils were descendants of this Zoroastrian tradition and its offshoots, and nothing to do with Christianity, which he identifies with the sacrificial victim/redemption story and considers original, being apparently unaware of the prevalence of traditions of the ‘Golden Bough’ type. Kriwaczek was not an academic but travelled widely in the Middle East.

Clearly all this has been very much suppressed, presumably because it demonstrated the possibility of not being interested in the social goings-on of any particular tribe, and did not identify ‘good’ with ‘belief in society’.

Unfortunately, many people (including, probably, Kriwaczek) see Nietzsche as advocating a rejection of bourgeois capitalism and conversion to egalitarian socialism (‘Man must create his own values’, etc.).