Friday, May 6, 2011

Note in J.M. Ashmand's Translation (1822) of Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos

[Our note: Here J.M. Ashmand subscribes to the belief that knowledge of astronomy-astrology (the two were equated in ancient times) flowed from the Egyptians to the Babylonians and Persians rather than the other way around as described by classical Hellenic authors. Ashmand also subscribes to the hypothesis than equates the eastern king of Balkh Vishtasp with the western father of Darius and to the Achaemenian era dating of Zoroaster / Zarathushtra / Zarathustra. Nevertheless, the note contains some interesting references to Jamasp, King Vishtasp's Prime Minister, when quoting Hyde and Arabic sources. In particular, the sources credit Jamasp as being a renowned astronomer-astrologer and author of a treatise on the subject and a 'most excellent philosopher'. This note also transfers the origins or centre of Persian-Iranian astrology from the west to the east of Iran - to Balkh and Khorasan.]

(Also see our blog Astrology & Cosmology - Zoroastrian Heritage)

Having quoted thus far from Newton, it seems proper to subjoin the following extract from the "Ancient Universal History:"--"In the reign of Gushtasp" [the oriental name of Darius Hystaspis], "King of Persia, flourished a celebrated astrologer, whose name was Gjamasp (Jamasp), surnamed Al Hakim, or the wise. The most credible writers say that he was the brother of King Gushtasp, and his confidant and chief minister. He is said to have predicted the coming of the Messiah; and some treatises under his name are yet current in the East.

Dr. Thomas Hyde, in speaking of this philosopher, cites a passage from a very ancient author, having before told us that this author asserted there had been among the Persians ten doctors of such consummate wisdom as the whole world could not boast the like. He then gives the author's words: 'Of these, the sixth was Gjamasp, an astrologer, who was counsellor to Hystaspis. He is the author of a book intitled Judicia Gjamaspis (Judgement / Decisions / Opinions of Jamasp), in which is contained his judgment on the planetary conjunctions. And therein he gave notice that Jesus should appear; that Mohammed should be born; that the Magian religion should be abolished, etc.; nor did any astrologer ever come up to him.' [E. lib. Mucj. apud Hyde.]

Of this book there is an Arabic version, the title of which runs thus: The Book of the Philosopher Gjamasp, containing Judgments on the Grand Conjunctions of the Planets, and on the Events produced by them. This version was made by Lali; the title he gave it in Arabic was Al Keranai, and he published it A.D. 1280. In the preface of his version it is said that, after the times of Zoroaster, or Zerdusht, reigned Gushtasp (Avestan: Vishtasp), the son of Lohrasp,  a very powerful prince; and that in his reign flourished in the city of Balch (Balkh / Bakhdhi), on the borders of Chorassan (Khorasan), a most excellent philosopher, whose name was Gjamasp, author of this book; wherein is contained an account of all the great conjunctions of the planets which had happened before his time, and which were to happen in succeeding ages; and wherein the appearances of new religions and the rise of new monarchies were exactly set down.

[Our note: We note here the listing of past conjunctions and the prediction of future conjunctions, which could be the transition phase between astronomy and astrology given that these conjunctions portend significant changes in world events i.e. prophecies.]

This author, throughout his whole piece, styles Zerdusht, or Zoroaster, our Prophet. [D’Herbelot, Bibl. Orient. Art. Gjamasp.] The notion of predicting the rise and progress of religions from the grand conjunctions of the planets, has been likewise propagated in our western parts: Cardan was a bold assertor of this doctrine. The modern Persians are still great votaries of astrology, and although they distinguish between it and astronomy, they have but one word to express astronomer and astrologer; viz. manegjim, which is exactly equivalent to the Greek word αστρολογος (astrologos=astrologer).

Of all the provinces of Persia, Chorassan (Khorasan) is the most famous for producing great men in that art; and in Chorassan there is a little town called Genabed (Gonabad, Razavi Khorasan province? 5 km from Now Deh-e Gonabad, and south of Kashmar. Also known as Gulnabad and Juymand) and in that town a certain family which, for 6 or 700 years past, has produced the most famous astrologers in Persia; and the king's astrologer is always either a native of Genabed, or one brought up there.

Sir John Chardin affirms that the appointments in his time for these sages amounted to six millions of French livres (the currency of France until 1795) per annum.--Albumazar of Balch (scholar of Alkendi, a Jew, who was professor of judicial astrology at Bagdad, in the Caliphate of Almamoum (9th cent. CE)) became wonderfully famous.

Jamasp's Predictions Regarding the Birth of Christ via Ezra
He wrote expressly from the Persian astrologers, and it may be from the works of Gjamasp, since he also reports a prediction of the coming of Christ in the following words: viz. 'In the sphere of Persia, saith Aben Ezra (Abraham ibn Ezra? 1089 — 1164 CE), there ariseth upon the face of the sign Virgo a beautiful maiden, she holding two ears of corn in her hand, and a child in her arm: she feedeth him, and giveth him suck, &c. This maiden,' saith Albumazar, 'we call Adrenedefa, the pure Virgin. She bringeth up a child in a place which is called Abrie [the Hebrew land], and the child's name is called Eisi [Jesus].' This made Albertus Magnus believe that our Saviour, Christ, was born in Virgo; and therefore Cardinal Alliac, erecting our Lord's nativity by his description, casteth this sign into the horoscope. But the meaning of Albumazar was, saith Friar Bacon, that the said virgin was born, the Sun being in that sign, and so it is noted in the calendar; and that she was to bring up her son in the Hebrew land. [Mr. John Gregory's Notes on various Passages of Scripture.]"--Ancient Universal History, vol. 5, pp. 415 to 419.

[For the complete text see Sacred Texts]
(Also see our blog Astrology & Cosmology - Zoroastrian Heritage)

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