There has been much debate over the religion of the Achaemenid kings (see ACHAEMENID RELIGION ) and determining the first king to become a Zoroastrian. Boyce had no doubts that all of them were Zoroastrians, including the founder, Cyrus the Great (see CYRUS iii ). Thus in HZ II ( Under the Achaemenians , HO , Leiden, 1982; as well as in her “The Religion of Cyrus the Great,” Proceedings of the London 1985 Achaemenid History Workshop , eds., A. Kuhrt and H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, Achaemenid History III, Leiden, 1988, pp. 15-31), she asserts, at her first mention of Cyrus (p. 43), that he “put himself forward as a champion of Zoroastrianism” without adducing any evidence. In reconstructing the religion of the various Achaemenid monarchs she often uses evidence taken from living usage (for example, p. 70, on Cambyses making offerings for his father’s soul and p. 248 on the calendar observed by Artaxerxes II , 404-358 BCE). In this volume, after discussing the pre-Zoroastrian religion of the Medes (see MEDIA ) and Persians, she dedicates a chapter to each of the Achaemenid monarchs combing not only classical sources but also showing a wide knowledge of the archaeological material relating to each monarch with a particular concern to construct the history of Zoroastrianism in those imperial times. It is the most substantial study of the religion in this period yet written. The successor volume HZ III ( Zoroastrianism under Macedonian and Roman Rule , HO , Leiden, 1991), co-written with Frantz Grenet who authored chapters 3 on Susa and Elymais and 7 on Eastern Iran ca. 250-50 BCE, with a contribution by Roger Beck on the Zoroastrian pseudepigrapha, is certainly the largest study undertaken of Zoroastrianism in these two eras. The collaboration with Grenet involved more than two chapters. Each read the other’s manuscript, commented, and often arrived at different conclusions. For example, Boyce rejected the credibility of the Onesicritus story in which the citizens of Bactra (see BACTRIA ) threw their old people outside the city wall to be eaten by dogs, for she found it “unthinkable that in any Zoroastrian community there should have been a practice of allowing the old or the sick to be eaten alive by dogs” because it would go against the doctrine that death is the work of Ahriman and one should not hasten death and burden one’s soul with sin (p. 7, n. 24). In a footnote, however, Grenet accepts the story citing parallel accounts (but also see p. 377ff., n. 63 where Grenet is credited with changing Boyce’s mind concerning the Oracle of Hystaspes ). What is remarkable about this volume is that Zoroastrianism is studied not only in the Iranian border territories such as Gandhara but also in the non-Iranian lands of the former Achaemenid empire including Galatia, Cappadocia and Pontus, Syria and Egypt. Here also Boyce sees continuity between living practice in Iran and the Zoroastrianism found among Zoroastrians living in Galatia (p. 260) and believes modern practice can illuminate an Achaemenid-era altar found in Cappadocia (p. 265 and pp. 269f., where she sees consistency between Strabo’s account of Cappadocian Zoroastrian practice and Zoroastrian practices in modern Iran). When she goes on to discuss Zoroastrian influence on the Jews ( HZ III, pp. 362-468; also eadem , “Persian Religion in the Achaemenid Age,” Camb. Hist. Judaism , 1, eds., W. Davies and L. Finkelstein, Cambridge, 1984, pp. 279-307) she assumes that the eschatological teaching in the Pahlavi books (see ESCHATOLOGY i ) can be traced back to the prophet not just in structure but also in theological complexity ( HZ III, pp. 365f.; also “On the antiquity of Zoroastrian apocalyptic,” BSOAS 47/1, 1984, pp. 57-75; and Zoroastrianism: a shadowy but powerful presence in the Judaeo-Christian world, London, 1987).
Oxford had enjoyed an influx of scientific inquiry and humanism – Roger Bacon (1220-92), John Wycliffe (1330-84), Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536) and Sir Thomas More (1477-1535), all had their influence on the colleges. The present head of Christ Church for Locke was the Presbyterian John Owen (1616-83), a Puritan proponent of toleration and independence for Protestant sects and an earlier supporter and follower of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). (Owen travelled with Cromwell into his wars in Scotland and Ireland). Avoiding a career in theology and despising the dry Scholasticism (although the techniques and knowledge were of great use to his mind), Locke concentrated his studies on medical science at Oxford and later held teaching and diplomatic positions until meeting up with Lord Ashley Cooper in 1666 (later Earl of Shaftesbury). The position of a don was Locke’s preferred ambition and would have loved to live his whole life at Oxford – but events altered this path and he was illegally ejected on political grounds in 1684 from his studentship at Christ Church.