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Zur Sozialterminologie der iranischen Manichaer: Eine semantische Analyse im Vergleich zu den nichtmanichaischen iranischen Quellen.

Zur Sozialterminologie der iranischen Manichaer: Eine semantische Analyse im Vergleich zu den nichtmanichaischen iranischen Quellen. By IRIS COLDITZ. Iranica, vol. 5. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2000. Pp. xiii + 454.

This is the revised and expanded version of the author's Inauguraldissertation at the Freie Universitat Berlin 1994. The central problem of the book is the question to what extent literature with religious contents or background--in this instance, the Middle Iranian literature of the Manichean communities in Turfan (Chinese Turkestan)--can be a source for studies of the social structure of ancient societies. For this purpose, the author has chosen a limited set of terms found both in Manichean and other sources, such as the Zoroastrian literature of the Sasanian period (the Pahlavi texts) and the original inscriptions of the Sasanian kings and high officials, the use of which she discusses from four angles; (1) on the social level, as applied to actual social groups; (2) on the didactic-moral level, as applied to characterize certain behavior and qualities; (3) on the religious level, as applied to the divine-demonic sphere; (4) on a generic level, as applied otherwise. To permit the reader better to follow her argumentation, all the Manichean passages involved are cited, but only a section of non-Manichean ones. Several indexes and a comprehensive bibliography complete the book.

The introduction, in addition to the general description of the work summarized above, also contains a detailed description of the sources (pp. 9-25), which amounts to nothing less than a history and description of the Manichean literature, not only in Middle Iranian languages (Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian), but also Coptic, Greek, Arabic, etc., as well as of the Sasanian inscriptions and the Pahlavi literature. Since editions and secondary literature are quoted extensively, this is a very useful survey for anyone who wants to get his bearings in this literature.

The study of the individual terms is preceded by a chapter on the historical and social context of the Manichean literature (pp. 29-52). In this chapter Colditz discusses the social contacts of the Manicheans and the groups targeted by their proselytizing. She shows that the social behavior of the Manicheans is predicated on their world-view and on the Manichean understanding of the position of man in the cosmos.

The terms selected for study are: azad "free," bannag/bandag, approx. "servant," (i)skoh "poor," tuwan, etc., approx. "mighty," wuzurg "great," wispuhr "prince." The discussion typically begins with the etymology of the word and its use in the ancient sources (Avestan, Old Persian, etc.); thus, under azad, we also have an evaluation of the use of the word borrowed into Achaemenid-period Aramaic. The meaning, Colditz concludes, developed from "noble" as a term for social status and "noble" as a descriptive epithet to the generic meaning of "free." After an exhaustive discussion of the simple word, she does the same for all derivatives and compounds, before examining their use as terms for social status, etc.

One of the many interesting points that are illuminated by the Manichean sources is the explanation of azad "free" in a Parthian parable text (pp. 98-99, 359) as someone who has paid (toz-) his debts (par) and is no longer indebted (purdag), while the bandag "slave," contrasted with those who are azad later in this text (cited p. 156), presumably are those still in debt.

The results of the investigation are summed up in the last chapter. Among the many interesting conclusions, let me mention the following two. In the list of dignitaries, in the inscriptions, the wazurg "Grandees" ("Oberste Wurdentrager") always precede the azad "noble-born" ("Adlige"), while in the Manichean texts, the azad precede the wazurg, which the author interprets as an indication that the Manichean practice was closer to the non-official usage. The contrast seen in Old Persian between skau[theta]i- (skau[theta]i-) "weak/poor" and tunuv[a.sup.n]t- "powerful/rich" survives in Parthian tawag ~ iskoh (in Middle Persian we find sah "king" ~ iskoh).

The diagrams on pp. 365-69 are particularly helpful and illuminating, especially the ones tabulating the relationship between social and religious categories.

The book is of a rather common type of German Dissertationen, which often contain numerous new ideas and insights, but whose greatest merit usually lies in the fact that they contain or sum up all earlier research on one or several topics and need little excuse for digressing, of which one pleasant example is found in the discussion of bandag. On p. 113, the author suggests that it may seem speculative to look for the origin of the symbolism underlying a term meaning approximately "someone attached by a [concrete] bond," etc., but nevertheless proposes several possible ways it could have developed, including connection with banners as cult symbol of groups of soldiers (Kriegerbunde). This in turn leads to a discussion of the smith Kave and the "invention" of the Iranian national banner, with numerous footnotes including etymologies of banner and German Fahne and possible parallel developments of the semantics of bandag. This should be read in the spirit it is written, as an example of youthful scholarly exuberance. The book has many fine examples of this, and, although the connection with the main topic may at times appear flimsy, it is, in my opinion, one of its charms, and it contributes greatly to its usefulness.

What probably many will miss is a word index. For instance, on p. 359, purdagan and parburdan "debtors" are cited without cross reference to where these terms are discussed. Ways of working around this problem include using the subject index, in this case the entries "Schuld(en)," etc., or, once one example of a term has been located, the text index, in this case, M333-334.

I append here some other notes and comments:

p. 67: On the Meshkinshahr (Miskinsahr) inscription, see now also Richard N. Frye and Prods Oktor Skjaervo, "The Middle Persian Inscription from Meshkinshahr," in Studies in Honor of Vladimir A. Livshits, Bulletin of the Asia Institute 10 (1996 [pub. 1998]), 53-61. The examples from this inscription should be translated in the plural ("the princes," etc.), rather than in the singular (see Skjaervo, "Case in Inscriptional Middle Persian, Inscriptional Parthian and the Pahlavi Psalter," Studia Iranica 12 [1983]: 60-62, 157).

p. 79 n. 103: Gathic Avestan da[theta]a- is hardly, as Bartholomae thought (col. 732), "insightful, wise" (deriving it from day- "to see"), but "behaving according to the data- 'the established (law)'."

p. 144: NPi 25/22 can now be supplemented with the reading of the unpublished stone E1, currently on the market, as [ud] amah pad wazurg *framanag ud sad-d[il] fraz o asurestan [...] = Parth, ud amah pad *wazurg [... sad]-zird fraxs o asurestan ... "and, in great *rejoicing and with a joyful heart, We [went] forth to Asurestan."

pp. 242-42: On the reading and etymology of vazarka- "great," see also Skjaervo, "Avestan Quotations in Old Persian?" in Irano-Judaica IV, ed. S. Shaked and A. Netzer (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1999), 39, where I agree with derivation from *vazr, an r/n-stem neuter, the instrumental(-ablative) of which is vasna "by the greatness (of)," from the root *ueg, found in vigor, etc. (Calvert, Watkins, "Etyma Enniana," in Selected Writings II, ed. L. Oliver [Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Beitrage zur Sprachwissenschaft, 1994], 487-93). The original meaning of *vazar/n must therefore have been something more than just "greatness," and I think maybe this is the Old Persian equivalent of the Avestan root spa/su "(make) swell (with life-giving juices)." Old Persian vazarka would thus correspond to Avestan sp[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]nta and sura "full of life-giving strength."

p. 329: In addition to basivarassaa-, Khotanese also has basivaraa- directly from *visepu[theta]raka-.

p. 361: The at first sight surprising statement that the inscriptions of Shapur stand out with their mentioning of the wispuhr "princes," which "has no parallel in the other inscriptions," does not refer to the word itself (which is common in the Paikuli inscription, see p. 360 n. 5), but to individually named princes. Add now also whyhstr BRBYTA "Prince Wahixsahr," (second) owner of a pre-Sasanian silver bowl (Skjaervo, "The Joy of the Cup," Bulletin of the Asia Institute 11 (1997 [pub. 2000]): 93-104).

I have noticed remarkably few typos for such a complex text. Note, however, p. 117 n. 40, where one should read fratama for framata.


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Author:Skjaervo, Prods Oktor
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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