Kartir's Inscription (276-293 CE)

Covering all topics of history and the interpretation of texts, posts here should conform to the norms of academic discussion: respectful and with a tight focus on the subject matter.

Moderator: andrewcriddle

Post Reply
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 8483
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Kartir's Inscription (276-293 CE)

Post by Peter Kirby »

A translation:

http://www.avesta.org/mp/kz.html

(1) provenance

Sassanid Persia.

(2) dating

The details may not exactly be clear, except that the period AD 276-293 is suggested by the royal patron, Varahran II.

http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/kartir

(3) non-Zoroastrian heretics mentioned

Includes "Christians" and "Nasoreans" of some kind, as well as possible references to Mandeans, etc.

https://books.google.com/books?id=JQd8b5s5QBUC&pg=PA3

https://books.google.com/books?id=NqJsCQAAQBAJ&pg=PA303

http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/psco/archives/psco27-min.txt

My own recommendation for interpretation:

Jews
Hindus and Buddhists
"Christians" (Gnostic Christians, Greek-speaking) and "Nasoreans" (Jewish Christians, Syriac-speaking)
Maktak (Mandaeans) and Zandiks (Manichaeans)

The distinction between "Christians" (Gnostics, especially Marcionites) and "Palutians" (Catholics) is already established in neighboring Edessa (cf. Walter Bauer). The recommendation that I suggest is a blend of the two most common suggestions (along the Greek/Syriac axis and along the doctrinal axis).

(4) a literary parallel

Quote:
And much consideration of religion of various kinds and other divine services also became very magnificent and superior, which are not written in this inscription for lack of space.
Commentary:
§19: This part of the inscriptions comes to a close with the standard formula that, if he were to write down everything he had done, it would be too much.
Reminds you of:
John 21:25. Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown
Secret Alias
Posts: 18748
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Kartir's Inscription (276-293 CE)

Post by Secret Alias »

If following Bauer Christians = Marcionite
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 8483
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: Kartir's Inscription (276-293 CE)

Post by Peter Kirby »

Yes, thank you. I said that. But thank you. ;)
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown
Secret Alias
Posts: 18748
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Kartir's Inscription (276-293 CE)

Post by Secret Alias »

Well to be fair your words were less emphatic. (Gnostics, especially Marcionites)
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
User avatar
Leucius Charinus
Posts: 2834
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 4:23 pm
Location: memoriae damnatio

Re: Kartir's Inscription (276-293 CE)

Post by Leucius Charinus »


Kerdir and the Nazoraeans
Rebecca Stengel
Universität Göttingen
Seminar für Iranistik, 2010

Introduction

This paper attempts a look at the various theories surrounding the identities of two faiths, of seven, that were supposed to have suffered religious persecution at the hand of the Zoroastrian High Priest Kerdir in the third-century Sasanian Empire. The source of this information are four Middle Persian inscriptions from the Zoroastrian priest Kerdir that were first deciphered and translated beginning in the late nineteenth century, though the fourth (KZZ) was first discovered by archaeologists in 1924 (MacKenzie 1989, 219). The aim of this paper is not to enter the debate of the historicity of such persecution (at the instigation of Kerdir or within the Sasanian Empire), nor is it an attempt to present a new theory regarding the supposed victims; but rather to summarize the ‘solutions’ that have already been proposed, and to attempt a closer evaluation of one new theory in particular.

///

Problem- Introduction of n’sl’y and mktky

As a first-person, contemporary source, Kerdir’s statements regarding the persecution of the various religions were long been taken by scholars at face value, and therefore, as proof that such persecutions took place and thereby coloring the Sasanian Empire and Kerdir as rather fanatical and intolerant in the Zoroastrian faith. Though it is not the aim of this brief paper to support or discredit this theory, it is well known that the Sasanian Empire’s relationship to the Christian community was determined to a large extent by the tumultuous state of political affairs with Rome, in particular after Constantine’s conversion in 325, and tales of Christian martyrdom during the on-again-off-again state of war between the Romans and the Sasanians exist. However, it is worth mentioning that this assumption which has broadly shaped the image of the Sasanian Empire is in the process of being reconsidered. de Jong reduced the historical accuracy of these statements to the level of ‘royal propaganda’, stating that with the exception of the Manichaeans, referred to by Kerdir as zandīk (zndyky), and whose leader and prophet Kerdir had killed, no record of persecutions in any of the the various religious traditions exist (2000: 51)5.

That said, the question has not just been whether or not Kerdir’s statements of persecution are true, but what these faiths actually were. They appear in the inscriptions as follows:

W yhwdy W šmny W blmny W n’sl’y W klstyd’n W mktky W zndyky

The identities of five of these is clear:

yhwdy (yahud) are the Jews,
šmny (šaman) are Buddhists,
blmny (braman) are Hindus,
klstyd’n (kristiyān) are Christians, and
zndyky (zandīk) are Manichaeans

It is regarding the remaining two that questions arise. First, although on the one hand n’ṣl’y (in KKZ and KSM) and (n)’s(l’)[y] (in KNRm)--two Persian variations of the Aramaic ‘nāṣrāy’7 --have been consistently understood to refer to Nazoraeans, the question of who the Nazoraeans were and what their relationship was to the kristiyān of the same inscription has been subject to debate. Thus, while some have sought to see a Christian sect in the Nazoraeans and the kristiyān as ‘orthodox’, the suggestion has also been made that the Nazoraeans were in fact the orthodox Christians and the kristiyān were Marcionites 8. A more
recent theory from G. Widengren 9 that was followed by Mackenzie, was that the Nazoraeans should be understood to be Mandaeans (MacKenzie 1999: 261).

///

https://www.academia.edu/2235172/Kerdir ... Nazoraeans


Additional information:

Inscriptional Pahlavi, used in the inscriptions of Sassanid kings and officials from the 3rd–4th centuries CE. The 22 letters are written separately and still relatively well distinguished compared to later versions: the only formal coincidences of original Aramaic signs are the pair m and q and the triplet w, ʿ and r.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Persian


IMPORTANT QUESTION:

Does the Middle Persian inscription permit a unique disambiguation between Chrestian and Christian?
StephenGoranson
Posts: 2495
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:10 am

Re: Kartir's Inscription (276-293 CE)

Post by StephenGoranson »

These inscriptions are quite significant, imo. There is, afaik, no consensus on all the identifications.
They might remind us of the importance of diachronic study of names, sometimes changing over time. Sometimes as a heresy in the early neutral Greek sense, and sometimes positive (in Mandaic), and sometimes pejorative. Also, note when a name is a self-designation, or an outsider label, or both.
At their time Zoroastrianism was powerful; later, many Zoroastrians fled Persia.
The inscriptions imo give no support to the Chrestian spelling.
FWIW, here is an excerpt from my article, "Nazarenes" in Anchor Bible Dictionary:

"....Another illustration of the question of differing meanings of the terms subsumed by Nazarene appears in the 3rd. cent. Middle Persian inscription of Kartir, a Zoroastrian priest who was intolerant of other religions. Kartir condemned, among others, "...Jews, ...and _Nazarai_, and Christians (lines 9-10, Chaumont)....
To define Nazarene, one must take into account the time, place, language, and religious perspective of the [page 1050] speaker, as well as the meanings of other available religious group names...."
User avatar
Leucius Charinus
Posts: 2834
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 4:23 pm
Location: memoriae damnatio

Re: Kartir's Inscription (276-293 CE)

Post by Leucius Charinus »

Leucius Charinus wrote: Sat Nov 18, 2023 12:48 am
Additional information:

Inscriptional Pahlavi, used in the inscriptions of Sassanid kings and officials from the 3rd–4th centuries CE. The 22 letters are written separately and still relatively well distinguished compared to later versions: the only formal coincidences of original Aramaic signs are the pair m and q and the triplet w, ʿ and r.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Persian

IMPORTANT QUESTION:

Does the Middle Persian inscription permit a unique disambiguation between Chrestian and Christian?
StephenGoranson wrote: Sat Nov 18, 2023 6:57 am.
The inscriptions imo give no support to the Chrestian spelling.
Do you happen to know any scholars or translators of the Middle Persian script who can confirm that the term used in the Inscriptional Pahlavi ---- klstyd’n --- which has been traditionally transcribed as kristiyān and then translated as "Christian" might also be able to be transcribed as krestiyān and thus then translated as "Chrestian". I'm no expert but it appears that the Inscriptional Pahlavi lacks vowels.
User avatar
Peter Kirby
Site Admin
Posts: 8483
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:13 pm
Location: Santa Clara
Contact:

Re: Kartir's Inscription (276-293 CE)

Post by Peter Kirby »

StephenGoranson wrote: Sat Nov 18, 2023 6:57 am These inscriptions are quite significant, imo. There is, afaik, no consensus on all the identifications.
They might remind us of the importance of diachronic study of names, sometimes changing over time. Sometimes as a heresy in the early neutral Greek sense, and sometimes positive (in Mandaic), and sometimes pejorative. Also, note when a name is a self-designation, or an outsider label, or both.
At their time Zoroastrianism was powerful; later, many Zoroastrians fled Persia.
The inscriptions imo give no support to the Chrestian spelling.
FWIW, here is an excerpt from my article, "Nazarenes" in Anchor Bible Dictionary:

"....Another illustration of the question of differing meanings of the terms subsumed by Nazarene appears in the 3rd. cent. Middle Persian inscription of Kartir, a Zoroastrian priest who was intolerant of other religions. Kartir condemned, among others, "...Jews, ...and _Nazarai_, and Christians (lines 9-10, Chaumont)....
To define Nazarene, one must take into account the time, place, language, and religious perspective of the [page 1050] speaker, as well as the meanings of other available religious group names...."
Thank you, Stephen. I appreciate your insight here.
Post Reply