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Late Antique Motifs in Yezidi Oral Tradition

Late Antique Motifs in Yezidi Oral Tradition (New)

by Spat, Eszter

Publisher: Gorgias Press

Binding: Hardcover

Book ID: 9781607249986, 1607249987


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Yezidis are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority of a few hundred thousand souls, living mainly in Northern Iraq, as well as Syria, Turkey and the Caucasus. Yezidis follow a highly syncretistic religion of their own, based exclusively on oral tradition. Yezidi mythology, beside showing the influence of both Sufism and a pre-Zoroastrian Western Iranian mythology, has also incorporated and adapted to its particular religious system certain myths and motifs which once enjoyed widespread popularity among the interrelated religious movements of Late Antiquity, ranging from Judaism through Christianity to Gnosticism and Manichaeism.

This book demonstrates that these myths and motifs, though long since relegated to oblivion in the West, can be found in the religious lore of the Yezidis, as well as of numerous other groups, both medieval and contemporary, in the Middle East. Hence it is argued that they are the vestiges of a common cultural substratum once shared by the people of the region. Placing these motifs within the context of a religious language originating in Late Antiquity is not only the key to a better understanding of Yezidi religion, but also to the way it developed and the working of oral tradition in the Middle East in general. In this context, establishing the late antique origins of some motifs reveals the way literacy interacted with orality in the region. Furthermore, it highlights the long lasting influence late antique religious thought had on the development of religious imagery and thinking in the area.

579 pages

Table of Contents

  • Table of Contents (page 7)
  • The Yezidis and Late Antique Gnosis: Introduction to Eszterspäts Late Antique Motifs in Yezidi Mythology and Oral Tradition (page 11)
    Preliminaries (page 11) / Late Antique Or Gnostic Motifs? (page 14) / Living Among the People (page 15)
  • Acknowledgments (page 17)
  • Abbreviations (page 19)
  • Introduction (page 21)
    Late Antique Motifs (page 32) / The Nature of Oral Tradition: Tradition and Change (page 36) / The Time Gap (page 40) / Sources on Yezidi Religion (page 44)
    The Sacred Books: the Meshefa Resh and the Jelwa (page 44) / Accounts on Yezidis (page 46) / Kreyenbroek's translations (page 47) / Texts Collected through Fieldwork (page 47) /
  • 2 Religious Movements in the middle East (page 55) The Geopolitical Background (page 55) From Gnostics to Islamic Ghulat (page 62) Gnostics - Gnosticism (page 63) Manichaeism (page 69) The Dualistic Movements after the Advent of Islam (page 73) Contemporary Heterodox Religious Movements in the Middle East (page 77) Ahl-i Haqq (page 77) Nusayrîs (page 80) Mandaeans (page 81) Other Heterodox Islamic Groups (page 84)
  • 3 The Origin of the Yezidis and of Yezidi Studies (page 89) The History of the Yezidis (page 89) Yezidis and Western Yezidi StudiesŽ (page 100) The State of Yezidi Research Today (page 107)
  • 4 The Religion of the Yezidis (page 111) Orality (page 111) Lack of Sources (page 113) Variability (page 114) Qewwals (page 116) Parading of the Peacock (page 118) Genres of Yezidi Oral Tradition (page 121) God, the Angels and the Khas in Traditional Yezidi Belief (page 126) The Godhead and its Seven Angel or Seven Mysteries. (page 127) The Khas … the Holy Beings, or Incarnate Angels (page 133)
  • 5 Religious Oral Tradition and Literacy Among the Yezidis of Iraq (page 145) The Appearance of CanonicalŽ Texts (page 148) Books on the Yezidis as a Source of Knowledge (page 149) Modernizing Yezidi Mythology: Scientific Interpretation (page 153) Pre-Islamic Origin and Islam as an Alien Element (page 156) New Origin Myths of the Yezidis (page 159)
  • 6 The Yezidi Creation Myth of Adam (page 167) Adams Creation and Fall (page 167) Tasting the Forbidden Grain (page 171) Adam and His Digestion (page 177) Other Texts and Other Details (page 180) The Divine Origin of Adams Soul (page 183) The Khirqe of Adam (page 187) Judaism (page 188) Christianity (page 190) Gnostics (page 195)
  • 7 The Khirqe, or Garment of Faith (page 203) The Khirqe in Yezidi Tradition (page 205) The Khirqe and its Creation at the Beginning of Creation (page 206) Khirqe and the Angels (page 212) The khirqe of Sheikh Adi (page 215) Khirqe … the clothing of gnosis (page 218) The Khirqe and Yezidi Eschatology (page 223) The Khirqe in Contemporary Yezidi religious lore (page 227) The Sufi Khirka and the Yezidi Khirqe (page 231) Late Antique Garment Theologies (page 235) Judaism (page 236) Angelic Garment (page 236) Garment of God (page 238) The Garment of the Righteous After Ascension to a HeavenlyRealm (page 242) Christianity (page 245) Adams Fall and Salvation (page 250) Garment of Light as an Eschatological garment (page 253) Gnosticism (page 256) The Hymn of the Pearl (page 263) Manichaeism (page 269) The Garment of Light Among Contemporary Heterodox Groups in the Middle East (page 273) Mandaeans (page 273) Nusayrîs (page 274) Comparison of the Yezidi Khirqe and the Late Antique Robe of Glory (page 276) God's robe (page 277) Baptism of the khirqe in the White Spring (page 278) Angels and the khirqe (page 278) Adam's lost angelic robe (page 279) Khirqe as a garment of Gnosis / spiritual enlightenment (page 279) Khirqe as an eschatological garment (page 280)
  • 8 The Song of the Commoner: the Motif of Sleep and Awakening (page 285) The Title and Composition of The Song of the CommonerŽ (Beyta Cindî) (page 285) Sleep and the Call of AwakeningŽ in Late Antiquity (page 296) The Gnostics (page 299) The Hymn of the Pearl (page 307) The Manichaeans (page 310) The Mandaeans (page 316) Beyta Cindî and the Call of Awakening (page 318) Wake up call, warning against sleep and the voice of thewithoutŽ (page 318) Moral Instruction: Serving God (page 322) Moral Instruction: The Fight for Faith (page 324) Promise of salvation or heavenly reward (page 329) The Headdress: The Reward of Awakening … the Crown (and the Robe) (page 330) The Crown of Light in Late Antique Calls of Awakening (page 333) The Headdress and the Promise of Heaven in the BeytaCindî (page 339)
  • 9 The Origin Myth of the Yezidis …The Myth of Shehid Bin Jer (page 347) The Creation Myth of Shehid Bin Jer (page 347) Creation from the Sur in Adams Forehead (page 347) The Creation of Shehid from Adams Seed (page 352) The Gnostic Myth of Seth (page 357) The Roots of the Speculations Concerning Seth (page 357) The Birth of Seth from Another SeedŽ (page 360) The Seed of Seth … the Race of Seth (page 368) The Birth of Seth and the Enmity of Eve in the ManichaeanMyth (page 371) The Twin-Wife of Seth (page 375) Seth in the Middle East (page 378) The Myth of Shehid and Its Two Variants (page 383)
  • 10 The Birth of Prophet Ismail in the Yezidi Tale of IbrahimŽ (page 389) The Tale of Ibrahim (page 389) The Birth of Ismail (page 394) Appearance of Ali as a Child, Young Man and Old Man in Nusayrî Mythology (page 396) The Trimorphic Divinity in Late Antique Literature (page 400) Trimorphic Christ (page 400) The Trimporhic Deity and the Hellenic God of Eternal Time,Aion (page 403) Further Applications of Trimorphy in Early ChristianWritings (page 409) The Motif of Divine Trimorphy in Medieval Texts (page 412) The Abgar Legend (page 414) The Three Magi of the Orient (page 417)
  • 11 Conclusion (page 423)
  • Epilogue: Late Antique Motifs and Modern Yezidism (page 431)
  • Plates (page 437)
  • Appendix I: Transcript of Recordings of the Myth of Adam and the Myth of Shehid Bin Jer (page 447) Feqir Haji (Lalish, Festival of Sheikh Adi, 2002) (page 449) Feqir Haji , Baadra (2003) (page 467) Interview with Sheikh Deshti (2003) (page 477)
  • Appendix II: Yezidi Hymns Translated by P. Kreyenbroek (page 483) The Hymn of the Weak Broken One (page 484) The Hymn of the Creation of the World (page 491) The Hymn of Sheykh Obekr (page 497) The Hymn of the Oceans (page 501) The Declaration of Faith (page 504) The Hymn of the Weak Broken One (page 506) The Hymn of the Thousand and One Names (page 515) Hymn of the Faith (page 523) The Hymn of Qere Ferqan (page 530) The Hymn of Sherfedin (page 539)
  • Bibliography (page 545)
  • Index (page 575)

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