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Zoroastrian religion and the mythological prototypes of Zoroastrianism in the novel of ideas Journey to Virginland

In Journey to Virginland (2012), his debut novel, Armen Melikian deconstructs Zoroastrianism by focusing on its mythological, historical, and linguistic aspects. Through an exhilarating dialectical process that breathes new life into our understanding of religious history, the author rigorously investigates Zoroastrianism as the source of the concept of dualism, a central tenet of all monotheistic belief systems – including, chiefly, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

In chronicling the evolution and mytho-cultural peregrinations of Zoroastrianism through the Caucasus, the Iranian Plateau, the Fertile Crescent, Palestine, and Egypt, Melikian employs a mix of exegesis – particularly with regard to epical texts – and historiographic analysis to demonstrate how the core credo of Zoroastrianism was manipulated and morphed into the Judaic religion. In specific terms, Melikian relates how this religion (which he considers intellectually and spiritually superior to all three Abrahamic religions) was used as ready material by the Hebrews returning from captivity to Palestine. That’s when they appropriated the local Samaritan idol Yahweh and reinvented it with the attributes of the Ahura Mazda of Zoroastrianism, or Elohe Shamayim. Subsequently, the author shows, the Hebrews further exploited this religion by claiming Yahweh as the penultimate deity – the universal God.

A singular merit of Journey to Virginland is its quest to identify the very source of monotheistic religions, with Zoroastrianism treated as a key point of reference. In this respect, Melikian registers a significant leap in mythological and religious studies by hypothesizing that this religion may have well been based on the legend of the Armenian mythological archetypes Hayk and Bel, whose epic battle serves as both an existential and metaphysical template for the dualism inherent in Zoroastrianism.

In his review of Journey to Virginland, Paul McCarthy, New York Times bestselling author and a professor of English at the University of Ulster, Ireland, wrote: “I am struck by the extraordinary writing, vision, and, perhaps rarest of all, originality, which abounds in every way, and at so many levels and depths of meaning, theme, narrative, etc., that I had to keep slowing my pace, until I could read and ‘inhale’ each word.”

Discover more about Zoroastrianism and its contribution to Abrahamic religions. Get your copy of Journey to Virginland today!