The Book of Ecclesiastes

The author of the Old Testament’s Book of Ecclesiastes called himself “the preacher.” And he claimed to be a “son of David,” an expression used commonly to describe oneself as a Jew rather than as an actual son of David. But some in modern times would believe that Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon, despite it being unlikely that Solomon in his old age would have turned his view of the world upside down and written about futility and the evils of oppression. Some others estimate that Ecclesiastes was written several hundred years after Solomon: around 200 BCE. Continue reading The Book of Ecclesiastes

The Ancient Persian Empire

Parthian Prince, from Sham-Izeh, Malamir, 50 BCE
Parthian Prince, from Sham-Izeh, Malamir, 50 BCE

The early history of man in Iran goes back well beyond the Neolithic period, it begins to get more interesting around 6000 BC, when people began to domesticate animals Continue reading The Ancient Persian Empire

Spiritualists versus the Materialists in Ancient India

In India, philosophy had its origins in a search of relations between self and the universe, done by people who were religious in outlook. These were people less interested in the monotonous routines of the ritual sacrifices and more interested in probing relations between self and the universe. Continue reading Spiritualists versus the Materialists in Ancient India

Septuagint & Greek translation of the Torah

Perhaps because most literate Jews could no longer read Hebrew, Jewish scribes in Alexandria were put to work translating into Greek the Five Books of Moses. The finished product became known as the Septuagint. Demonstrating their conviction that the Septuagint was the final word on Jewish history, the high priests in charge of the work proclaimed a curse upon any changes that might be made to it. Judaic doctrine would hold that seventy-two translators had worked independently of each other on the translation and had produced exactly the same result, word for word — a miracle in keeping with the belief that the books were the works of divine intervention. Continue reading Septuagint & Greek translation of the Torah

Hellenism & Jews

With Alexander’s conquests also came significant cultural change. In West Asia and North Africa, well-to-do tradesmen, intellectuals and aristocrats who were neither Greek nor Macedonian, including those who were Jews, had begun developing an interest in things Greek — to the annoyance of those who believed that the old ways were best. From Marseille to India, Greek became the language of intellectuals. The Greek gymnasium became popular. It was a place for bathing and physical exercise Continue reading Hellenism & Jews

Persecutions during Sassanid Rule

The high-priest of Zoroastrianism, Kartir Hangirpe, believed that he represented the one true religion. He was an absolutist,

Sasanid map
Sasanid Dynasty Map

believing that there was good and evil, with nothing in between. Into the later half of the 200s CE, he continued with his persecution of competing religions: the Manichaeans, Christians, Jews and Buddhists. Then, sometime during the reign of Bahram II (276-293), Kartir died, and religious tolerance began to reassert itself. Continue reading Persecutions during Sassanid Rule