Zoroastrianism is a unique religion which stresses the eternal battle of good versus evil. It has approximately 100,000 followers worldwide. It is the religion of one man who lived about 600 years before the birth of Christ. His name was Zoroaster and he lived in the area of Babylonia (modern day Iraq and Iran). His time and place of birth are unknown for sure but are believed to be around 650 B.C. in Persia.
Tradition says that he was the son of a camel merchant and grew up at a time when his fellow Persians worshipped many gods. He left his home at the age of 20 to search for answers to life's deepest questions. At the age of 30 he received "enlightenment" as the account goes; he received a vision on the banks of the Daitya River. This figure identified himself as Vohu Manah or "good thought." This figure took Zoroaster into the presence of the wise lord Ahura-Mazda, who instructed him in the true religion.
The first ten years of his new revelation met little acceptance until he met with a prince named Vishtaspa, who converted and helped propagate his new-found faith. Zoroaster died at age 77 in the second of two holy wars to ensue his new belief on the world.
The Deification of Zoroaster
Years after the death of Zoroaster his later disciples made him an object of veneration. He became the object of worship along with the deity Ahura-Mazda. The following quotes were made regarding Zoroaster:
Head of the two-footed race; the wisest of all beings in the perfection of his holiness; the only one who can daunt evil (Max Mueller, Secret Books of the East, Oxford: Krishna Press, 1897-1910, 23:190, 229, 275).
The chieftainship of all things was from Zoroaster; the completely good, the righteous Zoroaster (Ibid. 5:88; 18:90).
Incomparable among mankind through his desire for righteousness, and his understanding the means of defeating the destroyer, and teaching creatures (Ibid. 37:241).
A heavenly radiance "came down from the endless light" to the grandmother of Zoroaster for his birth from a radiantly wonderful virgin mother (Ibid. 47:18-20, 138-139).
He was pre-existent, 3,000 years before his phy7sical birth, and during the interval he remained with the archangels equal to the archangels (Ibid. 47:21, 22, 122).
The sacred scripture of the Zoroastrians is known as the Avesta, originally written in an old Iranian language called Avestan. Of the originally written work only a small fraction has survived, with a total size about one-tenth of the Bible. The Avesta contains hymns, prayers and ritual instruction. It is divided into three major sections, the oldest is called Yasna.
According to Zoroaster, there is one true deity to be worshipped and his name is Ahura-Mazda also known as the "wise lord."
Although Ahura-Mazda is the supreme deity, he is opposed by another powerful force known as Angra Mainyu, or Ahriman, "the bad spirit." From the beginning of existence these two antagonistic spirits have been at odds with each other. These two powers have been co-equal from the beginning of time and will continue to battle each other until the end of the world.
Influence on the Bible
Many teach that Zoroastrianism has had a profound influence upon the teachings of the Bible. It has been demonstrated that Christianity is not a man-made religion, as many assume, but is actually the one true faith supernaturally revealed by the true and living God. The Bible claims to be God's unique revelation of Himself, and there is ample documented evidence that verifies that claim. If this is true then the practices of other religions including Zoroastrianism could not have affected the Bible as is claimed.
Those who claim Zoroastrianism has had an effect on the Bible begin with the inherent assumption that the Old Testament was written later than the traditional evidence shows. Many books, such as the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy), Job and Isaiah chapters 40-66, are wrongly dated during or after the exile (536B.C.) instead of as early as 1300 B.C.
Consequently, when these concepts appear in certain biblical books, they are given a late date because they are already assumed to have been influenced by other religions.
In "More Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell" we see that these assumptions of the late dating of the Old Testament are anything but assured. If one accepts the traditional dating of the Old Testament, then the accusation is unabated.
It is not Zoroastrianism that influenced biblical doctrine when the Jews were in exile under Persian rule; it is the Bible that influenced Zoroastrianism.
The ideas that are supposed to have influenced New Testament doctrine (resurrection, final judgment, a messiah) were either taught in the Old Testament before the rise of Zoroastrianism or come from later Zoroastrian teachings which first appeared after the birth of Christ. Therefore, if there was any influencing on one by the other, it is Zoroastrianism that has been influenced by the Bible not the opposite.
Zoroastrianism and Christianity
Although Zoroastrianism has been thought to have exerted an influence over some of the beliefs of Christianity, there is much in Zoroastrianism that is incompatible with Christianity. The God of Zoroastrianism is similar to the God revealed in the Bible; however, there are some major differences. Ahura-Mazda is not an all powerful God but is only equal in strength to Angra Mainyu. They are co-equal and co-eternal.
According to the Bible, God is the only all powerful Being with His enemy satan who is a created being by God. Satan is not the opposite of God, for he is neither all powerful nor eternal.
Zoroastrianism believes that a person earns favor with God by his good works. There is no answer to the sin problem of mankind, for the difference between a good man and a bad man is considered to be only relative. According to the Bible, there is no one who is good enough on his own to make it to heaven. This is why Jesus had to die on the cross, to solve the problem of sin.