"Encounters of the Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian Specialists: Magic Labels and Demonization of the Religious Other"
Iran, with its religious plurality and its conversion from Zoroastrianism to Islam, provides rich opportunities for studying the interactions between different religious communities. My dissertation attempts to provide a better understanding of the relationship between Zoroastrians, Christians and Jews in the late antiquity by examining the encounters between their religious specialists, and the changing nature of their interactions as the Persianate world shifted from Zoroastrian to Islamic rule. The focus of this presentation is to discuss the encounter, overlapping power and competition between Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian religious specialists based on the discourse of ‘magic’. I seek to study a) how institutional religious specialists such as Zoroastrian priests, rabbis and bishops demonized their opponents and employed ‘magic’ accusations as a rhetorical strategy to marginalize their opponents and draw the borderlines of their own religious identity and b) to examine the consequences of magic labels for interreligious relations in this era and area and how they were used as a polemical tool to create boundaries and marginalize the religious others.