Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina


Bahari Associate Professor of Sasanian Studies

Fellow of Wolfson College

Faculty / College Address:

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies / Wolfson College





Research Interests:

  • Sasanian history, religion and culture
  • Zoroastrian textual traditions and hermeneutical practices
  • Orientalism, boundary maintenance and the Insider/Outsider Problem in the study of religion

Current Projects:

  • Topographies of Rhetoric and Moral Reasoning in Sasanian and Post-Sasanian Zoroastrianism (Bibliothèque de l’École des Hautes Études – Brepols) [in preparation].
  • Co-author with Arash Zeini, Zoroastrianism and Religious Dispute at the Margins of the Caliphate: The Epistles of Manuščihr (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press) [in preparation].
  • Co-editor with Mariano Errichiello and Daniel J. Sheffield, Special Issue on Zoroastrian Esotericism – Religiographies 2/1 [forthcoming 2024].

Courses Taught:

  • Sasanian History

  • Achaemenid History [co-taught with the Classics Faculty]

  • Old Persian language and inscriptions

  • Middle Persian (Pahlavi) language and texts

  • Old and Young Avestan language and texts [co-taught with Prof. John Lowe]   

  • Zoroastrianism

Select Publications:

  • The Sūdgar Nask of Dēnkard Book 9. Text, Translation and Critical Apparatus,IRANICA 31 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2023). Open Access: https://www.harrassowitz-verlag.de/The_%26Sudgar_Nask%26_of_%26Denkard%26_Book_9/titel_7345.ahtml
  • Zoroastrian Hermeneutics in Late Antiquity. Commentary on the Sūdgar Nask of Dēnkard Book 9, IRANICA 32 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2024). Open Access: https://www.harrassowitz-verlag.de/Zoroastrian_Hermeneutics_in_Late_Antiquity/titel_7346.ahtml
  • “The Fire and his Foes: The Hermeneutics of ‘Community’ in a Zoroastrian Liturgy,” in The Reward of the Righteous: Festschrift in Honour of Almut Hintze, eds. Maria Macuch, Alberto Cantera, and Nicholas Sims-Williams, Iranica 30 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2022), 501–513.
  • “‘The Coals Which Were His Guardians...’: The Hermeneutics of Heraclius’ Persian Campaign and a Faint Trace of the ‘Last Great War’ in Zoroastrian Literature,” in Travaux et mémoires 26: Mélanges James Howard-Johnston, eds. Phil Booth and Mary Whitby (Paris: Association des Amis du Centre d’Histoire et Civilisation de Byzance, 2022), 467–490. 
  • “The Hermeneutics of Political Violence in Sasanian Iran: The Death of Mani and the Seizure of Manichaean Property,” in Sasanian Studies: Late Antique Iranian World. Sasanidische Studien: Spätantike iranische Welt, Vol.I, eds. Touraj Daryaee and Shervin Farridnejad (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2022), 291–322.
  • “Purity and Polemics: Zoroastrian Women’s Bodies as Sites of Difference and Contestation in Early Islamic Iran,” IRAN: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, 2021. Online: https://doi.org/10.1080/05786967.2021.1945421
  • “A Father, a Daughter and a Son-in-Law in Zoroastrian Hermeneutics,” in The Bahari Lecture Series at the Oxford University: Sasanian Iran in the Context of Late Antiquity, ed. Touraj Daryaee (Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies, 2018), 119–145.
  • Co-editor with Michael Stausberg, The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism (Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2015).
  • “No One Stands Nowhere: Knowledge, Power, and Positionality across the Insider-Outsider Divide in the Study of Zoroastrianism,” in The Zoroastrian Flame: Exploring Religion, History and Tradition, eds. Almut Hintze, Sarah Stewart, and Alan Williams (London: I.B. Tauris, 2016), 27–57.
  • “Theologies and Hermeneutics,” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, eds. Michael Stausberg and Yuhan S.-D. Vevaina (Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), 211–234.
  • Co-authored with Michael Stausberg, “Introduction: Scholarship on Zoroastrianism,” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, eds. Michael Stausberg and Yuhan S.-D. Vevaina (Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), 1–18.
  • “‘The Ground Well Trodden But the Shah Not Found…’: Orality and Textuality in the ‘Book of Kings’ and the Zoroastrian Mythoepic Tradition,” in Orality and Textuality in the Iranian World: Patterns of Interaction across the Centuries, ed. Julia Rubanovich, Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2015), 169–190.
  • “Scripture Versus Contemporary (Interpretive) Needs: Towards a Mapping of the Hermeneutic Contours of Zoroastrianism,” in Shoshannat Yaakov: Jewish and Iranian Studies in Honor of Yaakov Elman, eds. Shai Secunda and Steven Fine, The Brill Reference Library of Judaism 35 (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 465–485.
  • "Miscegenation, 'Mixture', and 'Mixed Iron': The Hermeneutics, Historiography, and Cultural Poesis of the ‘Four Ages’ in Zoroastrianism,” in Revelation, Literature, and Community in Late Antiquity, eds. Philippa Townsend and Moulie Vidas, Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 146 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), 237–269.
  • “Hubris and Himmelfahrt: The Narrative Logic of Kay Us’ Ascent to Heaven in Pahlavi Literature,” in Ancient and Middle Iranian Studies. Proceedings of the 6th Conference of Iranian Studies, held in Vienna, 18-22 September 2007, eds. Maria Macuch, Dieter Weber and Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst, Iranica 19 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010), 231–243.
  • “‘Enumerating the Dēn’: Textual Taxonomies, Cosmological Deixis, and Numerological Speculations in Zoroastrianism,” History of Religions 50/2 (Nov. 2010): 111–143.
  • “Relentless Allusion: Intertextuality and the Reading of Zoroastrian Interpretive Literature,” in The Talmud in Its Iranian Context, eds. Carol Bakhos and M. Rahim Shayegan, Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 135 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 208–234.
  • “Resurrecting the Resurrection: Eschatology and Exegesis in Late Antique Zoroastrianism,” Bulletin of the Asia Institute 19 (2005 [2009]): 215–223.


Select Lectures and Conference Presentations:

  • “‘The Past is a Foreign Country’: Romanticisms and the Weight of ‘Tradition,’” École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, May 16, 2024.
  • “Dispute and Difference: Disciplining Selves and Critiquing Others in a Multi-Cultural Empire,” École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, May 23, 2024.
  • “Doubt and Decision-making: The Hermeneutics of ‘Choice’ in a Dualist World(view),” École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, May 30, 2024.
  • “Profit and Loss / Benefit and Harm: Cosmographies and the Teleologies of Human History,” École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, June 6, 2024.
  • with Dr. Arash Zeini, “Epistolary Traditions in the Margins of the Caliphate: The Case of Two Zoroastrian Brothers,” Responsa and Communal Letters Working Group, Princeton University, Apr. 17, 2023.
  • “Semantic ‘Flow’ and Correlative Thought in Pahlavi Literature,” Philology / in / Persian Symposium, UC Berkeley, Apr. 16, 2022.
  • “‘Scattered like jewels’: Zoroastrian theological responses in the age of Islam,” British Institute of Persian Studies Medieval Research Workshop, British Academy, London, May 22–23, 2018.
  • “Birds of a Feather: On Zoroastrian Funerary Practices Now and Then,” Kutar Memorial Lectures, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, May 16, 2018.
  • “The ‘Logic’ of Zoroastrian Dualism,” 2nd Congress on Logic and Religion, Warsaw, June 20, 2017.
  • “The Death of Mani: Zoroastrian Hermeneutics as Sasanian Historiography,” From Oxus to Euphrates: The Sasanian Empire, Library of Congress, Washington D.C., June 7, 2017.
  • “Scattered Like Jewels: Zoroastrian Theological Responses to the Islamicization of Iran,” Centrum für Religionswissenschaftliche Studien Käte-Hamburger-Kolleg “Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe,” Ruhr-Universität Bochum, January 28, 2016.
  • “Blood and Boundaries / Brothers and Sisters: Next-of-Kin Marriage in Late Antique Zoroastrianism,” The Bahari Lecture Series, “Sasanian Iran in the Context of Late Antiquity,” University of Oxford, June 10, 2014.
  • “Pahlavi and Periodization: The Use and Value of the Term ‘Late Antiquity’ for Zoroastrian Middle Persian Literature,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Nov. 23, 2013.
  • “No One Stands Nowhere: The Insider-Outsider Problem in the Study of Zoroastrianism,” at “Looking Back: Zoroastrian Identity Formation through Recourse to the Past,” School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Oct. 10-11, 2013.
  • “A Spark of the Glimmer of that Blaze from the Light of the Original Light,” at “The Talmud and its World: Reading the Bavli Alongside its Late Antique Neighbors,” The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, June 27, 2013.
  • “The Xwadaynamag and the Shahnameh: Putative Text and Narrative Context,” at “International Conference on the Shahnameh (Book of Kings),” Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture, University of California, Irvine, Oct. 6, 2012.
  • “The Zoroastrian Community’s Response to Islam: Text, Debates and Interaction,” 8th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Iranian Studies (ISIS), Santa Monica, May 30, 2010.

Further Information:

  • I am accepting graduate students (MSt and DPhil) for the study of the Early Iranian world.
  • I have taught Avestan, Old Persian, and Pahlavi (Zoroastrian Middle Persian), as well as a number of courses connected with Ancient and Late Antique Zoroastrianism at Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Toronto.
  • I have contributed entries to Encyclopædia Iranica; The Encyclopedia of Ancient History; Routledge Dictionary of Ancient Mediterranean Religions; The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity.
  • I have served as a peer reviewer for Numen: International Review for the History of Religions; Journal of the American Oriental Society; IRAN: British Institute of Persian Studies; Der Islam; Journal of Religious History; Oxford University Press; and John Wiley and Sons.
  • I have been a Visiting Fellow in The Martin Buber Society of Fellows at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel (2013); a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow from the National Council for the Humanities, U.S.A. (2010); and a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bergen, Norway (2008).