Neither Zarathushtra nor Pope: Zoroastrianism as a Front for the Anglican Church’s Attacks on Catholicism
Keywords:Anglican Authors, Zoroastrianism, Anti-Catholic Polemics, Colonialism
This paper scrutinizes how three seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century authors associated with the Anglican Church – Henry Lord, Thomas Hyde, and Humphrey Prideaux – inserted their understanding of the teachings of Zoroaster and the religion of the Parsis into the argumentative arsenal they regularly employed against what they perceived as the rigidity, excessive ritualization, and incomprehensible language found in contemporary Roman Catholic practices. These authors are tied to and reflect the consolidation of the Anglican Church and British colonial expansion. The two processes not only overlapped for a considerable period, but were also entangled, indirectly leading to an increase in scholarly knowledge about different cultures and religious communities, while in the long term also providing discursive ammunition against the Catholic Church and the Pope. This enquiry seeks to contribute towards a better understanding of an often-neglected middle ground between inter- and intra-religious debates, on one hand, and missionary activity, on the other.
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