ZAEHNER, Robin (Robert) Charles. Sevenoaks, Kent 8.4.1913 — Oxford 24.11.1974. British Scholar of Comparative Religion, especially Iranian and Indian. Professor in Oxford. Son of Swiss-German immigrants to England. Educated at Tonbridge School. From 1932 studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, i.al. classics, Persian and Iranian, also Sanskrit and Arabic, 1936-37 Middle Persian under Baikey at Cambridge. Senior Scholarship at Christ Church. During the war and until 1947 Assistant Press Attaché (in fact intelligence officer) in British Embassy in Iran, now became converted to Roman Catholic. From 1950 University Lecturer in Persian at Oxford, 1951-52 again in Iran in diplomatic service. From 1952 Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford, Fellow of All Souls. Taught also Persian and Sanskrit.
RZ is mainly known as a specialist of Zoroastrian religion (especially the famous Zurvan book), who later also became interested in Hinduism. Bilingual from childhood (English and French), he mastered many Oriental languages.
Publications: Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma. 16+495 p. Oxford 1952.
– The Teachings of the Magi. 156 p. L. 1956, Italian transl. 1956.
– Mysticism, sacred and profane: an inquiry into some varieties of praeternatural experience. 18+256 p. Oxford 1957, German, Dutch and French translations; At sundry times: an essay in the comparison of religions. 230 p. L. 1958; Hindu and Muslim Mysticism. 8+234 p. L. 1960.
– The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism. 371 p. ill. L. 1961, Zoroastro e la fantasia religiosa. Tr. by G. Scarcia. 529 p. Milano 1961.
– Hinduism 1962, tr. into German (1964), Italian (1972) and French (1974).
– The Convergent Spirit. Towards a dialectics of Religion. L. 1963.
– The Catholic Church and World Religions. L. 1964, also under the title Christianity & other Religions. N.Y. 1964, Spanish tr. 1967; Dialectical Christianity and Christian Materialism. L. 1971.
– The Bhagavadgita with a Commentary based on the original sources. L. 1969.
– Concord and Discord. The interdependence of faiths. Oxfird 1970; Drugs, Mysticism and Make-Believe. L. 1972; Evolution in Religion. A Study in Sri Aurobindo and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. 121 p. L. 1971; Our Savage God. The Perverse use of Eastern Thought. N.Y. 1974.
– edited: The Concise Encyclopedia of Living Faiths. 1959. 4th rev. and enl. ed. 456 p. L. 1988.
– City within the Heart. N.Y. 1981.
– articles on Zoroastrianism in BSOAS, from 1938 on.
Sources: C. Cereti Enc. Iran. online2015; G.M., Iran 13, 1975, iv with photo; *G. Parrinder, Hist. of Rel. 16, 1976-77, 66-74; *BSOAS 38, 1975, 623f.; Wikipedia, long article with photo and further references.
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