In search of a missing link: The Bogomils and Zoroastrianism

In search of a missing link: The Bogomils and Zoroastrianism

In search of a missing link: The Bogomils and Zoroastrianism

Ewa Weiling Feldthusen

KONTUR, nr. 14 (2006)


The Balkan sect of Bogomils is usually perceived as a link between Eastern Manichaeism and Western Cathars. However, some vital Manichaean elements are missing in the Bogomil teachings–teachings that would thus seem closer in spirit to Zurvanism, a branch of Zoroastrianism. But where would one find the physical and temporal connection between the 10 century Slavic Bogomils and the ancient Iranians? And why did they survive longer than the Cathars?

Questions concerning the nature and origin of evil have troubled humanity throughout the ages. Various religions have put forth a variety of solutions to these issues in an attempt to explain how and why a perfect god would create an imperfect world. All religions with a component of cosmogonic myth on how the universe (cosmos) came into being, have tried to solve this complex problem in one of two ways. Thus the source of evil is seen either as an integral element of initial crea- tive forces, or as the result of personal choices made after the act of creation was complete.

The first scenario was proposed by such religious mo- vements as Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism. Here it was claimed that two mutually antagonistic forces organized two separate creations in opposition to one another, the one being good, and the other evil. Accord- ing to the suggested definition of dualism as a religio– historical phenomenon– dualism is a doctrine that pos- its the existence of two fundamental causal principles underlying the existence of the world. This means that only such pairs of opposites can be dualistic when they are understood as principles or causes of the world and its constitutive elements, when they are involved in the demiurgic acts of cosmogony and anthropogony.

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