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Showing 1 results for Structure and Hierarchy of the Zoroastrian Clergy.

Meysam Shahsavari, Seyed Mehdi Mosavi Kohpar,
year 3, Issue 9 (12-2019)
Abstract

Abstract
In the classical society of the Sassanid era, the clerical class was one of the most important pillars of the community. It had influence, credibility and popularity, and represented an important and influential institution from the lowest to the highest levels of society. This important institution is however not well-known and many uncertainties remain about it. One of these ambiguities is the inner structure of this class, which is still almost unknown. Due to the vagueness of the information coming from various sources other than a few titles, there is almost no precise data about its hierachy. Due to the great importance of this class, a proper understanding of the Sassanid era would not be possible without a proper understanding of the clergy class. This is the topic of the present paper, mainly based on literary material. It could notably be proven that the Zoroastrian clergy of the Sassanid period can be divided into two general groups in terms of the presence or absence of governmental professions and official titles. It is not possible to determine the upper ranks of this class, such as Rad, Dastour or Mowbed, while the head of the clergy class (as the Mowbedān-Mowbed) was a member of the class known as the Sassanid privileged ones (Vozorgan).
Keywords: Zoroastrian Clergy, Sassanid Era, Structure and Hierarchy of the Zoroastrian Clergy.

Introduction
It is difficult to reconstruct the internal structure of the institution of Zoroastrianism. It is due to two fundamental factors: first, the length of the Sassanid era and the dynamics of the society that inevitably led to profound changes and transformations in various institutions during these 430-year periods.  and the second the final prophecy What happened during this time was long after the collapse of this dynasty, which was modified by the same institution in accordance with the goals and purposes of this institution and in accordance with the conditions of the time.  Thus the texts further complicate matters rather than the help solving the problems. For example, in the Sad Dar Nasr is written: “In the case of sin, one should try to repent to the Hirbads and the Dasturs and the Rads.” In this phrase, three important cleric titles or positions are mentioned without any precision concerning their precise attribution (Sad Dar Nasr, Dar-e 45). It is probably explained because the main target audience of these books were familiar with these definitions and titles, and that the authors of the texts did feel consequently the need to explain them clearly. So what is the meaning of the titles used by clerics during the Sassanid period? How did this social class evolve? Almost all scholars who worked on the Sassanid period inevitably dealt with Zoroastrianism, and consequently the institution of the clergy (Christensen, 1368. Frye, 1382. Shaked, 1384. Zarinkob, 1388. De Yong, 1390. Daryaee, 1383. Shaki, 2011. Miri. 2013 &...).

Discussion
Daryaee segregated the Sassanid clergy class “in terms of their rank and duty”, including “Mowbeds, Hirbbads, Dasturs, Dadvars, and Rads”, which meant: the senior clergy, the Fire Worshiper clerics, specialist theologians or jurists, judges and scholar clerics “ (Daryaee, 1392B: 144). It is further shown in this study that it is not possible to deal with the internal division of this class clearly. For example, while Manouchehr, the author of the letters of Manouchehr, introduced himself in his letters as the Rad of Pars and Kerman, at the beginning of his third letter to all Behdinān, he called himself the Hirbad-e Khodāy. On the other hand, some of the categories are sometimes mentioned for a specific task, so it becomes very difficult to determine exactly what each of these positions was. In the Ravayat-e Azarfranbag-e Faroxzadan, in response to the question, “If all members of a family are to be Behdin except one woman, can she become the Padehah Zan?” it is said: “Rads, Mowbeds and Dasturan have to choose a guardian for her.” There are many similar cases in Sassanid texts which make it impossible to draw any definitive conclusions in this regard. Unfortunately, seals are not really helpful as Gyselen points out: “It should be noted that glyptic does not offer anything other than a very few titles or whether the lack of findings was because some authorities needed Have they not used the seal? Or the cause of something else is unclear “(Gyselen, 1995: 123). Accordingly, this paper is divided into two parts. The first deals with the official titles and ranks of the Zoroastrian clergy and the second part deals with the informal titles.

Conclusion
- Some clerical titles correspond to official titles, employed in government offices or bureaucracies, while most of clerics were not State employed and devoted themselves solely to religious activities.
- There were clerics who had no position in the clerical hierarchy and were usually referred as clergymen with specific characteristics, such as the title of Zartoshtom, which was probably something like a polar and a disciple.
- Although it is possible to imagine Rads, Dasturs and Mowbeds in the top ranks of the clergy, it is not possible to determine precisely the position of each of these titles in the hierarchy and their priority.
- The clergy class, like other classes of Sassanid society, had a leader whose title varied in different eras. The title Mowbedān-Mowbed is only attested since the middle of this period and probably did not exist in the early Sassanid era. It is still unclear what was the title or name of the head of this class at that time.
- It seems incorrect to distinguish the titles of Mowbed and Mog (Magi), and to place them in two separate degrees in the Zoroastrian hierarchy, at least until the mid-Sassanid era. They have the same linguistic meaning. Of course, in the later periods, and given the dynamics of Sassanid society, a distinction may be drawn between these titles, in which Mowbed took precedence over Magi.


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