Zoroastrianism has played a significant role in the development of the world's major religions. A tiny world-wide community of Zoroastrians still exists: a small group lives in Iran; others, commonly known as Parsees, are found on the west coast of India; and Zoroastrians from both Iran and India have emigrated and established small communities in most major Western cities. Study of this faith, however, has been hampered by inherent uncertainties: while it is known that the prophet Zoroaster lived and taught in ancient Persia sometime prior to 550 bc , there is little concrete evidence about the precise origin and development of the religion derived from his teachings. This text is organized around five themes: an account of Zoroaster's life and work; discussion of the development and spread of Zoroastrianism from its beginnings to the present; description of the sacred writings and religious documents of the faith; an analysis of the basic Zoroastrian beliefs and their influence on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and a description of the prescribed observances.
"This book makes a worthy contribution to the study of world religions by offering a primer on a little known religion whose thought has influenced every major faith." Herbert Basser, Department of Religious Studies, Queen's University, Ontario "The originality of the author's contribution lies in the combination of history, scripture, and ritual. The description of the ritual practices is particularly informative and useful ... His careful sifting of the historical evidence is useful because he is dealing with issues concerning which the historical record is obscure." Sheila McDonough, Department of Religious Studies, Concordia University