The scriptures of the Zoroastrian religion containing the doctrines of Zoroaster. Avesta means the sacred text, and Ze7zd the commentary.
The work as we now have it is supposed to have been collected by learned Priests of the Sassanian period, who translated it into the Pehlevi, or vernacular language of Persia. The greater part of the work was lost during the persecutions by the Mohammedan conquerors of Persia One only of the hooks has been preserved, the Vendidad, comprising twenty-te o chapters. The Yasna and the Vispered together constitute the collection of fragments which are termed Vendidad Sad. There is another fragmentary collection called Yesht Sad. And these constitute all that remain of the original text. So that, however comprehensive the Zendavesta must have been in its original form; the work as it now exists makes but a comparatively small book.
The ancients, to whom it was familiar, as well as the modern Parsees, attribute its authorship to Zoroaster. But Doctor Haug, rightly conceiving that it was not in the power of any one man to have composed so vast a work as it must have been in its original extent, supposes that it was the joint production of the original Zarathustra .Sitama and his successors, the high priests of the religion, who assumed the same name.
The Zendavesta is the scripture of the modern Parsee; and hence for the Parsee freemason, of whom there are not a few, it constitutes the Book of the Law, or Trestle-Board. Unfortunately, however, to the Parsee it is a sealed book, for, being written in the old Zend language, which is now extinct, its contents cannot be understood. But the Parsees recognize the Zendavesta as of Divine authority, and say in the Catechism, or Compendium of Doctrines in use among them: "We consider these books as heavenly books, because God sent the tidings of these books to us through the holy Prophet Zurthost."
Brother Albert Pike prepared elaborate commentaries on the Irana-Aryan Faith and Doctrine of the Zen,davesta, a volume bearing that title and edited by Brother Marshall W. Wood, being published by the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, 1924.
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