9th Ratanbai Katrak Lectures

“With which Yasna shall I worship you (kana θβąm yasna yazāne)? Zoroastrian Rituals in the Antique and Late Antique Iranian world”
Delivered by Prof. Dr. Alberto Cantera (Freie Universität Berlin) 101 years after the inaugurating of the Ratanbai Katrak Lecturership at the University of Oxford

Prof. Dr. Alberto Cantera (Freie Universität Berlin) will deliver the 9th Ratanbai Katrak Lectures on Zoroastrianism in Spring (Trinity Term) and Autumn (Michaelmas Term) of 2023. These six lectures will represent the 101st anniversary of their establishment at the University of Oxford in 1922 by Dr. Nanabhai Navroji Katrak in memory of his deceased wife, Ratanbai Katrak. Provision was made for the University of Oxford to invite a distinguished scholar to deliver a series of six public lectures in the English language on some subject connected with the study of the religion of Zoroaster. The purpose of the Lecturership is to promote the study of the religion of Zoroaster and of its later developments from a theological, philological, and historical point of view. Illustrious scholars of the study of Zoroastrianism in the 20th century such as Louis H. Gray (Columbia University), Sir Harold W. Bailey (Cambridge University), Walter B. Henning (SOAS, UC Berkeley), Ilya Gershevitch (Cambridge University), Mary Boyce (SOAS), John Hinnells (University of Manchester), and Philippe Gignoux (EPHE, Paris) have been the Ratanbai Katrak Lecturer.

Lecture 1. “Manuscripts and Rituals: The Written Transmission of the Zoroastrian Rituals” – Thurs 11 May 2023 at 5:30pm – Location: Wolfson College

Lecture 2. “The Questioned Antiquity of the Zoroastrian Rituals: Their Reception in Western Academia” – Thurs 18 May 2023 at 5:30pm – Location: Wolfson College

Lecture 3. “The Ritual System: Modularity and Productivity” – Thurs 25 May 2023 at 5:30pm – Location: Ertegun House

Lecture 4. “The Main Liturgy: The Yasna and its Variants” – Thurs 19 Oct 2023 at 5:30pm – Location: TBA

Lecture 5. “Mountains, Palaces and Temples: Ritual Space and Ritual Practice” – Thurs 26 Oct 2023 – Location: TBA

Lecture 6. “Ritual and Revelation: Understanding the dēn” – Thurs 2 Nov 2023 at 5:30pm – Location: TBA

Prof. Dr. Alberto Cantera is the Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. The focus of his work is on Zoroastrian textuality from Antiquity until the modern age, especially the Avestan texts, their reception in Late Antiquity and their use in the Zoroastrian ritual. He is responsible for transforming our collective understanding of the Avestan texts by emphasising their ritual character and is engaged in the monumental task of describing and understanding the history of Zoroastrian ritual practices. Since 2008 he has been the Director of the Avestan Digital Archive, the largest collection of Avestan manuscripts published online: ada.geschkult.fu-berlin.de. Furthermore, he is the principal investigator of a long-term project preparing a new edition of all the Avestan texts used in the Zoroastrian rituals: the Corpus Avesticum Berolinense: cab.geschkult.fu-berlin.de. He is also one of the principal investigators of another long-term project in collaboration with the universities of Bochum and Cologne: The Digital Corpus and the Dictionary of Middle Persian. His published books include: Studien zur Pahlavi-Übersetzung des Avesta (Wiesbaden, 2004); Vers une édition de la liturgie longue zoroastrienne: pensées et travaux préliminaires (Leuven, 2014); and Introduction à l’avestique recent (Girona, 2019) together with Céline Redard; He is currently preparing a project on the Pahlavi nērangs or ritual instructions in the Iranian liturgical manuscripts.

Thursday 19 October 2023 (2nd Week, Michaelmas Term)

Thursday 26 October 2023 (3rd Week, Michaelmas Term)

Thursday 2 November 2023 (4th Week, Michaelmas Term)

This series features in the following public collections: