How much did Zoroastrianism influence Judaism?

This was at first a topic I was thinking of doing for a report in humanities class but not much info specifically on the subject could be found so I opted out to do a study on Athenian democracy instead but I thought I should bring this up here and get some opinions. In your opinions; how much did Zoroastrianism influence Judaism if any at all?
For me I feel it was heavily impacted with several concepts such as a finalization of monotheism, dualism of good vs. evil, and the concepts of eschatology.
Peace and Love from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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It has been a long time since I have done any direct study, but a quick glance at wikipedia tells me…

“Most scholars date him in the 7th and 6th century BC as a near-contemporary of Cyrus the Great and Darius I

If “most scholars” are correct, then he lived well after the Babylonian captivity, around the time the Jews were leaving Persia to return to Jerusalem. If anything, perhaps the presence of the Jews in Babylon and Persia may have in fact influenced Zoroaster’s beliefs, rather than the other way around?

More significantly, if such significant subjects such as monotheism are not revealed directly by God but are simply the evolving product of baseless human imagination and speculation, subsequently spread and absorbed through cross-cultural interaction into Jewish religious belief, then why any of us Christians believe such things to be, in fact, true?

I’m no expert here. It seems to this novice that all belief forms potentially influence each other, especially if they in close contact. Thus, Egyptian mono- and polytheism, Canaanite religions, Sumerian religion, Babylonian and Persian religions, and then Greek, Roman, Christian and Islamic thoughts likely all influenced Jews as they lived near or among them (and vice versa). As a member of a tiny minority Christian group in Niger, West Africa, growing up, we were strongly influenced by Islam in what we thought about and how we dressed (so as not to offend our neighbors). I’m certain that my own psyche developed differently from my extended family’s Christianity, because I grew up in an Islamic area and they grew up in a largely Christian one.
When I was in undergrad, the prof questioned if the Hebrews picked up monotheism from Egypt. I wrote on my test, questioning whether the Egyptians could have picked it up from the Hebrews. I’m not sure.
In cultural anthropology, we learned that populations who are in a strong city or state with a central ruler tend to adopt monotheism more rapidly than those who are in small, scattered, hunter gatherer groups. In that case, it’s rather amazing that the herding Hebrews maintained a relatively strong monotheistic tradition (even though they did struggle with syncretism from the surrounding religions). John Patrick alluded to Deuteronomy 11: 18-21 shows the strength of tradition in passing on monotheistic belief (consider also the Shemah):

18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:

21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

The rise of Islam from a polytheistic tribe in Arabia also seems to break the rule, though Mohammad was thought to have received Christian influence.

I do think that if God is just, and cares for justice as much among the Persians as among the Jews, He’s going to work on all of them to bring them closer to himself, regardless of their state of knowledge.

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I don’t deny that a cultural exchange was made between the two and for me the major ideas was the solidification of monotheism as pre-exile Israel was henotheist (that is the belief in worshiping one god but believes in the existence of other gods) and polytheism as the Hebrew in the north had the idea of Yahweh along with the idea of a goddess wife.


Israel was on the slow evolutionary path of believing in one god but God walked baby steps with them in the environment they were in. Another thing added from Zoroastrianism was the idea of dualism such as a good entity vs. a bad entity. This is a major point in Zoroastrianism such as Ahura Mazda which is the good god an evil destructive spirit in equal power fighting for control over the universe. This type of dualism got rooted with the idea of a fallen entity which started within Enochian literature as the fallen Watchers, later Azazel was the main evil figure, then later Belial was used and it was used even up into even the 1st century CE in Jesus day, then later Satanial which would be shortened to simply Satan was used along with Devil. There was that fight between good and evil which was absent from pre-exile Yahwewism. Also the idea of an eschatological end times was the most heavy gift given by the Zoroastrians to the Jews. The idea of a final judgement, the idea of a eschatological resurrection (the idea of a “national resurrection” did exist but was seen as more spiritual/allegorical rather then literal) and the ideas of a place of paradise and punishment was established as before the idea of an afterlife was mute and all people went to the grave or Sheol. This is not to say that a lot of this was made up by them on the spot but that they were spiritually evolving in their cultural environment to how they were understanding who and what God is.
We must not be afraid of the evolution of religion, especially within Judeo-Christianity as religion started off as simple and then later into the complex (and in my opinion too complex and confusing).

All religions seem to give and take from one another, even the Christian religion took a lot of influence from Greek philosophy and even some minor take from the Gnostics on spiritually but of course they disagreed with them on the radical divide between the material and spiritual as if they were in conflict. And then when Christianity became a legal state religion in Rome they took a lot of holidays and ritual from the old Roman cults and made them Christian.

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I’m not afraid of it, just recognizing the reality… if the idea of monotheism did not originate with the one person who could possibly know if monotheism is in fact true or not true (that is, God himself)…

And rather the idea was the result of a process of social or cultural evolution, where numerous people developed baseless speculations and shot-in-the-dark guesses about the supernatural that they had absolutely no way of verifying…

then we still are left with a belief that remains a baseless speculation regardless of how many people have been influenced by it and (falsely) embraced it as true.

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They didn’t “make it up on the spot”, granted… They “made it up” over a period of many years, decades, or perhaps centuries. But regardless, it is still “made up,” or what might also be called “make believe.”

Or put another way, if the idea of a resurrection to eternal life was some idea concocted and invented out of whole cloth by Zoroaster, and his predecessors and successors, with no basis on actual reality or revelation from God in any way, but which emerged strictly out of human collective and evolving wishful thinking over whatever times and geographies, then I still have no basis for believing that the a Christian belief in a resurrection to paradise is anything but baseless human wishful thinking, and Jesus was telling a bald-faced lie when he promised the thief on the cross that he would be with him in paradise.

Just because such things are cultural products of humanity doesn’t mean they aren’t true. Athenism of the brief monotheistic faith of ancient Egypt was outside of God but it was based off on a truth God will reveal later on. Thus the same is said that the things the Jews came into contact aren’t made up but things that are true and later on got confirmed. As we see the Hebrew-Christian understanding of those things are different from the Zoroastrian way of thinking and such was done by God to correct them in their thinking. Sure, the Zoroastrians were the first to “come up” with those ideas but those idea originate from God and we have a better understanding of those things from the Bible but it took the Jews and early Christians to figure out how these things worked. It wasn’t like the Book of Mormon as it fell out of the sky and we got all the answers at once. It was a process of thinking. And on the issue of monotheism; the bare bones idea of “one God alone” was there but it took a long time to get the Hebrews out of that cultural river of thinking that other beings existed along side Yahweh. It really took a military exile to Babylon for them to finally get the message and they saw that not only was Yahweh unique among other gods but that He alone was God. The ideas of resurrection changed from a mere spiritual awakening but the eschatological understanding as we know it today. God always had those ideas in mind for His people but it took the people a while to understand what those concepts really meant. The Lord is our Heavenly Father and life a father He will take His time and teach his children the things they need to know at the pace that can understand. In the end the message will be met but it may be a while with some bumps in the road.

In my opinion not at all . However we have something in Greece called divine inspiration or divine guidance to the pagans. The church here actually accepts that God gave some knowledge to some other pagans as to inform them about the coming of his kingdom or to at least better their spirituality. We have some records in some monastery here from the seviles oracles. 4 Of them actually speak and refer the name Jesus and Christ on their prophesies

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Thank you for putting in words in what I am trying to explain to @Daniel_Fisher. God has been speaking to ALL people and thus showing them to be ready for the Kingdom of God. Thus it is possible that the ideas of Zoroastrianism was a building block to guide the Hebrews to seek such matters and have God confirm them. If we look at the Gospel of Matthew the Magi were probably Zoroastrian and they saw the “signs” and went looking for a king of which they found in Jesus Christ.

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Doubtful but it could be. As i said earlier we have oracles prophesies about Christ .

Interesting thought sealkin. Maybe they were

All true except your conclusion.

Perhaps so, but if so, God has been speaking so vaguely as to allow people to hear his “voice” as advocating Buddhist atheism, Hindu belief in the caste system, Zoroaster’s dualistic view, animism, human sacrifice, temple prostitution… Some Jews apparently “learned” human sacrifice and temple prostitution from the Assyrians or others, not unlike their learning monotheism from Persians, as you suggest… the Assyrians and others who themselves had presumably developed those ideas of course by God speaking to ALL people.

And thus it is possible that the ideas of the Hindus were building blocks to guide the Buddhists to seek belief in reincarnation, the ideas of the Assyrians were building blocks to guide the Hebrews to temple prostitution and child sacrifice…

it should be observed that they showed up looking for “the king of the Jews”, so one might have a sense who was being primarily influenced by whom?

But if I may, my most significant question to you is…

and have God confirm them how, exactly?

@Daniel_Fisher

Judah starts its Exile around 585 BCE.

If Zoroaster is dated to the 7th century, that would be the 600’s BCE.

It would then be a while before Persia takes the leading role over the Jewish exile:

Cyrus doesn’t conquer Babylon until 539 BCE!

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