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18 January 2009

FOCAL POINT : Paul Kriwaczek, “In Search of Zarathustra”

LONG BEFORE Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet Muhammad, the Christ, and Moses, there was Zoroaster. His message revolutionized the ideas of good versus evil, introduced to us the unwavering truth of one God, and stayed with us through thousands of years of constant human evolution. Who was he? Where did he teach? Most importantly, what was his covenant, and what is his religion all about?

Former BBC producer Paul Kriwaczek's "In Search of Zarathustra: Across Iran and Central Asia to Find the World's First Prophet" (Vintage Books, 2002) brings us to a journey of 3,000 years of human achievement across Europe, the Near East, the Indian subcontinent, and then Central Asia, to help with the answers. Written more in the tone of a travelogue than that of a scholarly treatise, the book explores the relationship between Zoroaster's religion and those of the prophets and messengers that followed him. Mr Kriwaczek's attention to historical detail is fascinating: his descriptions of sacred personages, Biblical cliffs, fifth-century Visigoth castles, and glorious temple sites in France, Britain, and Persia are so vivid I often felt like being there myself.

Some of Mr Kriwaczek's assertions are refutable—he calls Zoroaster the first prophet and Muhammad the last—but he succeeds in showcasing the rejuvenating role of divine messengers and prophets in history's ever-changing social and spiritual conditions. I recommend "In Search of Zarathustra" to those who seek to further understand religious truth.

See more about "In Search of Zarathustra.

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