BOZPAYIT, Middle Persian name attested only in Armenian of a Zoroastrian school or body of religious teaching in the Sasanian period. Ełišē, probably a contemporary of Ḵosrow I (539-71), in his chronicle of the resistance of the Armenian Christians under their commander Vardan Mamikonean to the violent cam­paign of proselytism of the Sasanian king Yazdegerd II (438-57), mentions one Mazdean priest who was particularly zealous in the persecution of Christians. He was a mogpet “chief magus,” išxan “prince,” and denpet “chief of the [Zoroastrian] religion” from Abaršahr, and “was better informed in the Zoroastrian laws (zradeštakan awrinacʿn) than many of the wise,” and was therefore called hamakden, explained in a marginal gloss by Arm. amenahawat “(having) the entire faith.” The text continues, “He knew also the ampartkʿaš, had studied also the bozpayit, and had the pahlawik and parskaden as well. For these are the five schools [kešt-kʿ] which define all the laws of Magianism [moguṭʿeann]: but outside these there is also a sixth, which they call petmog” (Tēr-Minasean, ed., Ełišē, pp. 143-44). To understand the meaning of bozpayit we need to discuss the other terms used.

Hamakden is the only specialized term in the list known in Zoroastrian usage; it appears also in the text of the tenth-century Armenian historian Ṭʿovma Arcruni (see Russell, 1987); it is glossed with the other Iranian terms, including “Zoroastrian” (see Russell, 1985-86, pp. 3-10).

Benveniste explained ampartkʿaš as “a treatise on penalties,” from *hamparta-(t)kaiša- (in Handēs Amsōrya, Vienna, 1927, p. 763, cited by Zaehner, 1955, p. 29 n. 6). One Armenian gloss has lusamit “of enlightened mind,” as a result of misreading the z- of the acc. sing. as -ł-, with Greek loan-word łambar “lamp”; another has zerku mecamecacʿ zgituṭʿiwn unēr “he had the wisdom of the two greatest ones,” perhaps under­standing amp- as Gk. amphi- “both,” with kʿeš “teach­ing, sect” (a Middle Iranian loan-word used most often pejoratively in Armenian, see Asmussen, 1982, p. 115 n. 15). The word may be a synonym of hamāgdēn, meaning something like “the compilation of the teaching,” as Christensen suggested (Iran Sass., p. 117), cf. New Persian ambārd “filled,” and Pahl. hambār “store,” Armenian loan-word ambar “idem.”

The Pahlawik and Parskaden are evidently Parthian and Persian schools of teaching, each perhaps with its own zand, or body of translation and interpretation of Avestan doctrine. One recalls that the archmage came from Abaršahr, i.e., the regions of Parthia, and that the Armenian martyrs were taken to Rēvand, the site of the major Parthian fire-temple Ādur Burzēn Mihr, to be executed (Łazar Pʿarpecʿi [5th cent.], chap. 57, cited by Russell, 1985, p. 449). Petmog looks like mogpet inver­ted, and a gloss explains it thus; H. W. Bailey suggested in a written communication that it may be from *patimagu- “a book in support of the Magi,” cf. Vīdēvdād, the book which is against the demons.

As to bozpayit Benveniste suggested that bozpayit meant something like “a confession of crimes committed,” from *baz-patit, but it is difficult to derive boz­ from baz(ak) “sin,” which the Armenians seem to have recognized in the Hebrew word bezeḳ “lightning” in their explanations of Biblical names (Russell, 1985, p. 8 n. 13); the intervocalic -t- of Av. paitita- “repentance” is not lost in Pahl. patēt. The Armenian gloss still has mełacʿkʿawaran “repentance of sins,” but this may perhaps be explained by a Pahl. phrase abāz pāyēd “he stays him­self (against sin),” i.e., resolves to refrain from it in future by confessing and condemning it. One may compare the use of abāz dāštan “restrain, prevent” with reference to Ahriman in the kustī prayer Ohrmazd xwadāy, with its penitential aspect, and to the heretic Mazdak in the Zand ī Vohuman Yasn 3.28 (see Asmussen, 1965, p. 45 on abāz dāštan, and p. 83 on abstention after repen­tance). The word may thus refer to a penitential prayer in which the Zoroastrian condemns Ahriman and declares his will to restrain himself from sin and to guard against it. Without full confession and repen­tance of sins, no Mazdean could hope to go to Heaven after death; mastery of the intricacies of the con­fessional was therefore, one may assume, an important part of a priest’s training in the Good Religion, as in contemporary Manicheism and Christianity (it is in­dicative of the importance of confession in Sasanian Zoroastrianism that the Iranian term for it entered Christian Armenian usage as the loan-word xostovan­uṭʿiwn).



J. P. Asmussen, Xᵛāstvānīft. Studies in Manichaeism, Copenhagen, 1965.

Idem, “A Zoroastrian "De-Demonization",” in S. Shaked, ed., Irano-Judaica, Jerusalem, 1982.

J. R. Russell, “Armeno-Iranica,” in Papers in Honour of Professor Mary Boyce II, Acta Iranica 25, Leiden, 1985, pp. 447-58.

Idem, “The Name of Zoroaster in Armenian,” Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 2, 1985-86, pp. 3-10.

Idem, “A Wandering Herder of Camels,” Annual of Armenian Linguistics 8, 1987, pp. 5-15.

R. C. Zaehner, Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Oxford, 1955.

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(James R. Russell)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

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Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, pp. 430-431