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Includes bibliographical references and index. Good and evil—Religious aspects—Zoroastrianism. Avesta—Criticism, interpretation, etc. We have no evidence that all the known texts were written down at the same time, however.
The texts are in Avestan, an Iranian language related to Old Persian the ancestor of modern Persian or Farsi , which was spoken in the northeast of the later Persian Achaemenid empire — Bce , in the areas of modern Afghanistan and the Central Asian re- publics. The language is known in two linguistic forms: an older form, similar to the oldest Indic language of the Rigveda, and a younger form, slightly ante- dating that of Old Persian known from about Bce.
The extant texts were therefore probably committed to memory sometime in the second half of the second millennium and the first half of the first millennium Bce, respectively. We have considerable archeological evidence from these areas dating to these periods, but with lack of written evidence it is impossible to correlate this evi- dence with the Avestan texts. This means that we do not know their precise historical contexts. The texts are known from manuscripts dating from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries, all of which apparently go back to individual proto- types written around the year known from colophons , which means that there is a considerable gap in the written tradition between the time the texts were first committed to writing and the earliest known and extant manu- scripts.
These became a book only in Western editions during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. That the translation of these texts presents problems should be apparent. The translations in this book have been smoothed by leaving out discussions of problematic translations and marking uncertain or conjectural ones by a bracketed query: [?