Vanno sotto il titolo complessivo di Avestā i testi sacri dell'antico Iran, appartenenti alla religione mazdeista, e composti in avestico, un idioma iranico nord-orientale. Nonostante rimanga sfuggente il profilo del suo estensore, il profeta Zarathuštra, si tratta di un testo estremamente affascinante e interessante in quanto, oltre al carattere preminentemente religioso, l'Avestā si segnala anche in line with elementi di cosmogonia, astronomia, astrologia e informazioni sulle tradizioni e norme familiari. Questo prezioso lavoro di collezione viene pubblicato oggi da Utet in publication, con un compendio critico di grande valore e utilità.

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The vicar might be found before Mass taking care of sheep in the meadow. He might be shoeing a horse when someone wanted to confess. He might like to hunt or to deal on the marketplace in land and goods. And also like the peasants, he might frequent the tavern on Sunday, occasionally game or drink too much, and exhibit the most common human failings. In short, he was more like the peasants than his successors in later centuries would be. Surely this was why the famous manual for English priests, authored by John Mirk, established quite minimal standards for them.

Neither did a Christian kneel in prayer on the Lord’s Day, but prayed standing with arms outstretched: kneeling, another sign of soberness, was for ordinary days. And the evening fellowship or “agape” meal (the Eucharist) likewise emphasized the joyfulness of the Lord’s Day. Although the mood and many rituals of the Lord’s Day were borrowed from Judaism or elsewhere, they were meant to have specific Christian purpose: namely, reinforcing faith in Jesus’ resurrection through fellowship with him (believed to be present) and with other believers.

Much of the service was after all in Latin, the language of ancient Rome and still the official language of the Church, and none of the peasants understood it, save for the occasional familiar Oremus (Let us pray) and Amen. Some in the crowd claimed that they would be more attentive if they could understood Mass “word by word” in their own language, as they did the sermon, but plenty of experienced clergymen were unconvinced. Moreover, Latin was the church’s link to its Roman Christian forebears and seemed inseparable from the faith.

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