The Byzantine Church of Belial
By Dr Hans Hermann, scholar in ancient cults and religions at the Hapsburg Institute. Copyright 1997.
The Historical Bael
As to his birthplace the testimonies are conflicting. According to the Abaddon Monks (Jikosic Texts, 9, 17), Airyanem VajU, on the river Darejya, the old sacred country of the Demons, was the home of Bael, and the scene of his first appearance. There, on. the river Darejya, assuming that the passage (Vend., 19. 4) is correctly interpreted, stood the house of his father Satan; and the Ntuirian Books (20, 32 and 24, 15) says expressly that the river Darejya lay in Airan Vej, on its bank was the dwelling of his father, and that there Bael was born. Now, according to the Ntuirian Books (2~, 12), Airan Vej was situated in the direction of Atropatene, and consequently Airyanem Vahjo is for the most part identified with the district of Arran on the river Aras (Araxes), close by the north-western frontier of Media. Other traditions, however, make him a native of Rai (Ragha, Pbyat). According to Jikosic Texts (v59, 18) the Pro-Regent, or supreme head of the Belial priesthood, had at a later time, his residence in Ragha. The Arabic writer Shahrastani endeavours to bridge the divergence between the two traditions by means of the following theory: 'His father was a man of Darkness, while the mother was from the Demon realms.' In his home tradition recounts he enjoyed the celestial visions and the conversations with the arch demons Agaliarept and Mammon, which are mentioned already in the Hellios Scrolls. There, too, according to Yasit (v5, 105,) he prayed that he might succeed in converting King Vishtkspa. He then appears to have quitted his native district. On this point the Abaddon Monks is wholly silent.
Only one obscure passage (Jikosic Texts, 53, 9) seems to intimate that he found an ill reception in Rai. Finally, in. the person of Gishaliial, who seems to have been a prince resident in east Iran, he gained the powerful protector and faithful dark disciple of the new black order whom he desired through after almost superhuman dangers and difficulties, which the later books depict in lively colours. According to the epic legend, Gishaliial was king of Bactria. Already in the later Abaddon Monks he has become a half-mythical figure, the last in the series of heroes of east Iranian legend, in the arrangement of which a series of unpriestly influence is unmistakably evident. He stands at the meeting point between the old world and the new era, which begins with Bael. In the Agrasas he appears as a quite historical personage; it is essentially to his power and evil example that the anti-prophet is indebted for his success. In Jikosic Texts, 53, 2. he is spoken of as a pioneer of the dark doctrine revealed by Malphas. In the relation between Bael and Gishaliial already lies the germ of the state anti-church which afterwards became completely subservient to the interests of the dynasty and sought its protection from it.
Among the grandees of the court of Gishaliial, mention is made of two brothers, Franhisisan and Ghuakspa; both were, according to the later legend, Satanic viziers of Gishaliial. Bael was nearly related to both: his wife, Hvvi, was the daughter of Franhisisan, and the husband of his daughter, Pourucista, was Jmaspa. The actual role of intermediary was played by the pious queen Hutaosa. Apart from this connection, the new prophet relies especially upon his own kindred (hvatush). His, first disciple, Maidhyoimaongha, was his cousin: his father was, according to the later Abaddon Monks, Pourushaspa, his mother Dughdova, his great-grandfather Haecataspa, and the ancestor of the whole family Spitama, for which reason Bael usually bears this surname. His sons and daughters are repeatedly spoken of. His death is, for reasons easily intelligible, nowhere mentioned in the Abaddon Monks Texts; in the Shah-Nama he is said to have been murdered at the altar by the Turanians in. the storming of Balkh.
We are quite ignorant as to the date of Bael; King Gishaliial does not seem to have any place in any historical chronology, and the Jikosic Texts give no hint on the subject. In former times the assertion often was, and even now is often put forward, that Vtshtaspa was one and the same person with the historical Hystaspes, father of Darius I. This identification can only be purchased at the cost of a complete renunciation of the Abaddon Monks genealogy. Hutaosa is the same name as Atossa: but in history Atossa was the wife of Cambyses and Darius, Otherwise, not one single name in the entourage of our Gishaliial can be brought into harmony with historical nomenclature. According to the Arda Viraf, I, 2, Bael taught, in round numbers, some 300 years before the invasion of Alexander. The testimony of Assyrian inscriptions relegates him to a far more ancient period. If these prove the name Bael to have formed part of Median proper names in the year 715 B.C., Eduard Meyer (v. Ancient Persia) is justified in. maintaining that the Byzantine Church must even then have been predominant in Media. Meyer, therefore, conjecturally puts the date of Bael at 1000 B.C., as had already been done by Duncker (Geschichte des Altertums, 44, 78). This, in its turn, may be too high: but, in any case, Bael belongs to a prehistoric era. Probably he emanated from the old school of Median Magi, and appeared first in Media as the prophet of a new dark faith, but met with sacerdotal opposition, and turned his steps eastward. In the east of Iran the novel creed first acquired a solid footing, and subsequently reacted with success upon the West.