By Bruce Lincoln
How does faith stimulate and feed imperial pursuits and violence? lately this question has bought new urgency, and in faith, Empire, and Torture, Bruce Lincoln techniques the matter through a vintage yet little-studied case: Achaemenian Persia.Lincoln identifies 3 middle parts of an imperial theology that experience transhistorical and modern relevance: dualistic ethics, a idea of divine election, and a feeling of salvific venture. past this, he asks, how did the Achaemenians comprehend their position within the cosmos and their ethical prestige relating to others? Why did they think referred to as to intrude within the fight among sturdy and evil? What was once their experience of ancient function, particularly their wish to fix paradise misplaced? and the way did this cause them to care for enemies and critics as imperial energy ran its direction? Lincoln indicates how those spiritual principles formed Achaemenian perform and taken the Persians unparalleled wealth, strength, and territory, but additionally produced unmanageable contradictions, as in a grotesque case of torture mentioned within the book’s ultimate bankruptcy. shut research of that episode leads Lincoln again to the current with a postscript that offers a searing and completely novel standpoint at the pictures from Abu Ghraib.
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Extra resources for Religion, Empire, and Torture: The Case of Achaemenian Persia, with a Postscript on Abu Ghraib
The opposition of God and Adversary, above and below, carries with it many other associations in Iranian thought. For example, the spatial contrast is reminiscent of those drawn in the opening passages of two important Zoroastrian texts: The Wise Lord is highest in omniscience and goodness. He exists for infinite time, always in the light. That light is the place of the Wise Lord. ” Omniscience and goodness exist in infinite time, as do the Wise Lord, goodness, and religion. The Evil Spirit exists in darkness, in ignorance and love of destruction, in the lowest depths.
Center and Periphery I Before placing his text on the rock face at Bisitun, Darius graced that site with a stunning piece of relief sculpture that told his story in pictorial terms (see figure 2). Toward the top of this composition, which draws freely on Assyrian prototypes, is a divine figure in a winged lozenge and wearing a type of crown conventionally reserved for deities (see figure 3). This is the Wise Lord, Ahura Mazda¯, greatest of deities and creator of all things good, a god who was understood to be entirely benevolent but, unfortunately, not all-powerful.
Such eﬀorts led many to believe that, in his enthusiasm for Sîn, Nabonidus was slighting Marduk, traditionally the foremost god of Babylon, and the God’s Chosen 37 priests of Marduk were prime among those making that accusation. In the passage in question, the king tried to answer the charge, representing his policies as having originated with instructions that he received from Marduk himself. In the first year of his reign—so Nabonidus says—Marduk appeared to him in a dream, together with Sîn, and they ordered him to begin work on Ehulhul.