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Foreword by Donald J. Wiseman

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Medes
  • 2. Cyrus
  • 3. Cabbyses
  • 4. Darius
  • 5. Xerxes
  • 6. Artaxerxes
  • 7. Susa
  • 8. Ecbatana
  • 9. Pasargad
  • 10. Persepolis
  • 11. Persia and the Greeks
  • 12. Zoroastrianism
  • 13. The Magi
  • 14. Mithraism
  • Appendix
  • summary/commentary by Larry Garza
  • Foreword

    Iran is once again a center of world attention. It is to be hoped that the interruption in archaeological work there is but temporary. It seems, therefore, an opportune moment to issue this book on Persia and the Bible, for that great and ancient people and civilization played a significant part in later Old Testament history. No authoritative and dependable survey of the whole subject has been written especially for students of the Bible in recent years, so Dr. Yamauchi's book is to be welcomed.

    The author's writings on archaeology and the Bible always give a balanced presentation of the evidence, and he brings out clearly and faily those controversial points where scholars differ in interpretation. For this Dr. Yamauchi has rightly earned an international reputation. Here he furnishes us with a carefully documented introduction to the people who made up the old cosmopolitan Persian confederation and the rulers, with their dynastic names of Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes, who played a dominant role in the history of Achaemenian days.

    Dr. Yamauchi has followed the methods outlined in his The Stones and the Scriptures [1972] and is fully aware of the limitation of the evidence at places in a history that has close links also with his Greece and Babylon [1976].

    Archaeology provides vital, if sometimes scanty, clues that enable the reader and teacher to understand the background of the relevant biblical passages with their distinctive theological viewpoint. This book will enable us all to relate the appropriate and abiding message of the Bible to our own world with its similar problems.

    Emeritus Professor of Assyriology
    University of London


    Though the terms Persia/Persian occur only in Ezekiel, 2 Chronicles, Esther, Daniel, and Ezra, ancient Persia played an important role in all the exilic and postexilic Old Testament books, including at the least 2 Chronicles, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachai. Though we now have some excellent scholarly expositions of ancient Persian history, archaeology, and religion, it has been over thirty years since we have had a work such as Robert North's Guide to Biblical Iran [1956], which was specifically written to inform readers of the Bible about this important Persian background.

    I have been interested in the subject of ancient Persia since 1961, when one of the first courses I taught was the Greek text of Herodotus. Since 1964 I have taught Persian history about once every three years, first at Rutgers University, and since 1969 at Miami University.

    In 1974 and then again in 1975 I had the privilege of visiting Iran and viewing most of the important sites. On the second occasion I was one of about a dozen American scholars invited to participate in the Second International Congress of Mithraic Studies held at Tehran, under the sponsorship of the empress of Iran. It was a great privilege to meet leading Iranologists from many different nations.

    Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, no further excavation have taken place. The spate of scholarly articles on ancient Persia has not diminished, however. This is an appropriate time to take stock of what we know about this fabled land and fascinating era.

    It is my hope that in the future relations between Iran and the West may improve, so that travelers may view such important sites as Susa, Pasargad, and Persepolis for themselves. The ancient Persian Empire was one of the grandest. Within this setting many important biblical events took place. It is my aim that readers of such books as Daniel, Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah may better appreciate their historical and cultural backgrounds.

    The writing of a full-scale study on ancient Persia is a formidable task as Professor R. N. Frye notes:

      In scholarship relating to ancient Iran one must dtrive to control all the sources as well as secondary literature, since in the field of ancient Iran the paucity of written sources is so great that all items of information, from the realms of art, archaeology, religion, and others, must be utilized to understand and to reconstruct the past. Because of the lack of sources in this area speculation is rife, and if two specialists on ancient Iran agree it is a rare occurrence. (R. N. Frye, "Remarks on Kingship in Ancient Iran," Acta Antiqua 25 [1977]: 101)

    summary/commentary on Yamauchi's book by Larry Garza
    Persia and the Bible: by Yamauchi

    Reading "Persia and the Bible" is a must for any student of Middle East history, Persia, Zoroastrianism, or the Bible. It is very well written and a fascinating insight into the great role of the Persian people in the history of the world. The author does an excellent job of placing Persian rulers (the Achaemenidan dynasty), Middle East History, Persian Religion, the Bible and Archaeology in their historical relationships. This book is systematically ordered and developed in such a wonderful way, that truly one of the authors greatest accomplishments is his presentation of the facts. I have read and studied the Bible intensively for years, yet the author changed my Biblical understanding in a very comprehensive way. The Old Testament came alive in a new and dramatic manner. Mr.Yamauchi is a brilliant writer and scholar, he helped to put in me a great desire to see the land of Persia firsthand.

    Larry Garza

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