Last update 16/10/2017 by Webmaster | Online since 11/04/2014


Caros visitantes e interessados,
Este site apresenta-se apenas em inglês, com exceção de itens muito específicos - curricula, arquivos .pdf, links de vários tipos. Cumpre apresentar aqui um disclaimer.
Este projeto de pesquisa (como vários outros no Brasil e muitos mais pelo mundo afora) é composto por pessoas de diversas nacionalidades, etnias, costumes. Que falam, de berço, idiomas de vários grupos linguísticos (línguas semíticas, indo-europeias de mais de um tronco) que necessitam de um idioma comum para se comunicarem.
A língua franca de hoje é o inglês.
E é razoável supor que alguém interessado pelos temas deste grupo de pesquisa seja minimamente instruído em inglês. Esta, e nenhuma outra razão política, econômica ou ideológica é o motivo de apresentarmos o site apenas em inglês.
Welcome aboard, pad nam i yazadan!

O Webmaster

Having said that, the Middle Persian Studies Project, or just MPS, is the result of the long-standing interests of several scholars, about half of whom are non-Brazilians; but again, we all share a common love for all things related to Middle Persian - an intermediate language between Old Persian and New Persian (Farsi). The texts and scriptural remains of the peoples who used that language, in a broad sense, came usually in two writing systems, Pahlavi (the most common) or Pazand.
This interest of ours covers a lot of academic and personal ground. It is strongly suggested that the interested person takes a look at the links at the “Personnel” tab, as a statement of our commitment and diversity of interests. We literally take on a range that goes from the beginnings of Parthian rule in the Iranian plateau to manuscripts found, or even copied, in the Nineteenth-Century (since they help us to understand the world that saw the zenith of Middle Persian, i.e. from the Fourth to the Twelfth Centuries C.E., in a broad sense).
It should be noted that this group came together due to the efforts of an initial nucleus located at the University of Brasília, Brazil; it is thus part of the Diretório de Grupos de Pesquisa (DGP), from the CNPq (please look out for Grupo de Estudos Persas), one of the main Brazilian agencies for funding and promotion of scientific research. The link to our registry in the DGP can be found here.

*PLEASE OBSERVE THAT in Portuguese in that search engine we were christened "Grupo de Estudos Persas".

...and we also operate a mailing list from Google Groups, please click here.


The rhino, our old animal symbol of the now extinct PEJ - Project for Jewish-Hellenistic Studies is back! Pressure mounted from old members, and also from some new ones. Truth must be said - the rooster, for all its virtues, was never as charismatic as the rhino that carried our colours for almost 15 years... So a few old / new words are in order here.

In a much publicized passage from Daniel 7, the visionary sees four fantastic animals succeeding each other from the sea. The last one, however, was quite different from the others.

After this I saw in the visions by night a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth and was devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that preceded it, and it had ten horns (1).

The animal had indeed nothing in common with the others. Current interpretation among scholars is that the animals refer to the same theme of Dn 2, that is to say, to the succession of the world empires. These are normally identified with Babylon, Media, Persia and Alexander's empire plus the Hellenistic kingdoms. The horns are more difficult to identify, but seem to refer to the Diadochs and also, in the subsequent verses, to Anthiocus Epiphanes, whose notorious lack of political ability gave rise to the Maccabean Revolt (167 a.C.).

The theme of the world monarchies, while particularly important in apocalyptic literature, does appear even in ancient historiography. The fact that David Flusser (1917-2000) identified the possible influence of the Pseudo-Callisthenes' Alexander' Romance (by way of Philostrato's Life of Apollonius of Tyana) on the author of the book of Daniel implies that the "fourth beast" may be a rhinoceros (see "The fourth empire - an Indian rhinoceros?" in: Judaism and the Origins of Christianity. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1988).

And then appeared a beast of an unusual kind, larger than an elephant, armed on its forehead by three horns, which the Indians used to call odontotyrannos, (having a dark colour similar to that of a horse). After having drunk water, it gazed at our camp and attacked us suddenly and was not hindered by the thick flames of fire (3).

That David Flusser may have argued persuasively on the link between Pseudo-Callisthenes and Daniel just as a spring of readings done in his spare time is testimony to his incredible scholarship and incessant dedication. Flusser left this world in September 2000, and the choosing of the rhino is also hommage to him, whose influence on the PEJ's researches is very great.

Being Flusser's rhino of a composite nature - Hellenistic as well as Jewish -, it exemplifies the spirit of the PEJ quite well.

(1) Dn 7:7. The English translation is from the New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

(2) This interpretation is far from unanimous, while being the most common one. Even in Antiquity the forth kingdom was sometimes regarded as Rome (see the Fourth Book of Esdras for instance). For an exhausting survey of the debate until the middle of the 20th century (when it seems that serious attempts to deny the Hellenistic identity of the fourth beast have stopped for good) cf. Harold H. Rowley. Darius the Mede and the Four World Empires. Cardiff: University of Wales Press Board, 1959.

(3) Wilhelm Kroll. Historia Alexandri Magni. Berlin: Weidmann, 1926; the Armenian version was edited by Albert M. Wolohjan (The Romance of Alexander the Great by Pseudo-Callisthenes. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969). Other versions of the passage are also available in Flusser's edition of the Josippon (Jerusalem: Bialik, 1980) and in Adolf Ausfeld's edition (Der griechische Alexanderroman. Leipzig: /s.ed./, 1907). Cit. by Flusser, "The fourth empire", p.348.

The rooster is a sacred bird for Zoroastrians, and is depicted here in th
e colours of the Sassanid banner - because most of us deal with that period, or with themes related to that period in Iranian history.

A more complete explanation is that the yazad Sraosha had a rooster for companion, being the good and important yazad that he is, and as an intermediary between the two worlds. According to Prods O. Skjærvø, "All good Mazdayasnians should get up before dawn, when the rooster crowed. The rooster, who was the bird of Sraosha, was also his assistant priest (sraoshawarz); by crowing, it told people to get up, scorn the evil gods, and praise Order. It also warned them against going back to sleep, which was a temptation brought on by the female demon of procrastination, Bushiyanstd, that is, she who says, 'Sleep long, 0 man. There will be time' "( "Avestan society" in: Touraj Daryaee (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. P.91).

In short, this rooster is a bird to remind us that to get the best work done first, first we must get up earlier than others.

MPS on the Web



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