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Test #4 (Ch 8-10)--World Religions (Benjamin)
Terms in this set (47)
A bridge between Eastern and Western religions.
-Its origins are synchronous with, and similar to, Hinduism. It is thought to have influenced Buddhism, and it introduced beliefs that are similar to those later found in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions.
-Brought an early form of monotheism, which was subsequently central to those "Western" faiths, as well as to Sikhism, which was born on Indian soil.
Gods often corresponded with those worshipped by Vedic Indians, and were similarly named
Deavas, like the Indian Devas, meaning "shining ones," with the highest Gods called
The worship of the wise Lord, Ahura Mazda.
-Western scholars refer to the tradition by the name of one of its great reformers, the prophet *Zarathustra (Zoroaster in Greek).
A prophet trained as a priest in the Indo-Iranian tradition.
-A mystical seeker who spent many years in spiritual retreat.
-At age 30 he is said to have had a vision of a great shining being, who led him into the presence of *Ahura Mazda, the creator God. Ahura Mazda was surrounded by angelic presences manifesting six attributes of the divine.
-Said he experienced communion with Ahura Mazda and his attributes on many occasions.
-Insisted that Ahura Mazda only creates goodness and should be worshipped by good thoughts, words, and deeds.
-Says there is a cosmic battle between sustaining and destroying forces, and to assure the victory of good over evil, humans must dedicate themselves as spiritual warriors for goodness (Star Wars).
-Poured forth his adoration for the Supreme in metric verses called *Gathas (these hymns are the only words of the prophet that have been retained over centuries of vicissitudes).
-Said to have preached for almost 50 years until his death by assassination at the fire temple at the age of 77.
The major existing source of information about Zarathustra's life and theology, but they are written in an ancient language whose meanings are now obscure.
-Scholars see linguistic, and thematic links between the Gathas and the earliest Rig Vedas.
A tribe of priestly specialists in western Iran whose practices included magic and astrology.
-Seem to have become involved with the transmission of Zoroastrianism some time after Zarathustra died, but they may have altered it significantly.
-They are mentioned in the book of Mathew in the Christian Bible, in which some Magi reportedly followed a star to present gifts to the infant Jesus.
Spread of Zoroastrian Beliefs.
Ahura Mazda was revered by the kings of the Persian Empire.
1. King Cyrus seemed to have been a follower of Ahura Mazda, but neither he nor succeeding kings made mention of the prophet Zarathustra.
-Cyrus's reign was noted for its religious tolerance, power, and wealth.
-The Jews within this territory were allowed to practice their own religion, but may have adopted certain Zoroastrian beliefs, (such as the belief of an evil aspect in life, an immortal soul, reward and punishment in the afterlife, and final resurrection of the body at the apocalyptic end of the present age), for these beliefs were absent from earlier Judaic religion.
-From Judaism, they would have passed to Christianity and Islam.
2. Alexander the Great ransacked the capital of Persepolis, destroying fire temples, burning the library containing the holy scriptures of Zarathustra, and killing so many Zoroastrian priests that oral transmission of many scriptures was lost.
-It is thought that the Gathas of Zarathustra survived because many people knew them by heart, as they did the most commonly used ritual prayers.
3. Zoroastrianism was re-established in the Iranian Empire by the rulers.
-The surviving teachings of Zoroastrianism were reassembled as the *Avesta, or holy texts.
4. Another major threat came to Zoroastrianism from the spread of Islam after the death of Muhammad.
-The few remaining Zoroastrians who did not convert to Islam migrated west to India where they were called *Parsis (Persians).
-Today, India is the major center of Zoroastrian population.
The Primacy of Ahura Mazda.
Zarathustra is considered the first of the non-theists of the western tradition in the sense that he elevated one God above all others worshipped by the earlier Iranians.
-His mystical visions convinced him that there is only one being who creates and orders the universe. He refers to his god Ahura Mazda, by the masculine gender.
-Zarathustra plead to Ahura Mazda to make him a more fit spiritual vehicle so that he can dedicate the life breath of his whole being. Also asks for guidance in his mission of protecting "the poor in spirit, the meek and lowly of heart, who are thine."
-Six divine powers radiate from the Ahura:
1. The good mind.
3. Absolute power.
-After Zarathustra's death, these six attributes were personified and worshipped as beings, and uttering their names was thought to bring great power.
-These holy immortals, the *Ameshta Spenta, were described as luminous deities with shining eyes and beautiful forms, guardians of Ahura Mazda's creation who held celestial council in the heavens and descended to earth on radiant paths.
-They are chief among the angels, who also include many of the deities worshipped by the earlier Iranians.
-One of these is the popular *Mithra: bringer of light, protector of the truth, and bestower of wealth.
-Mithra was worshipped in Hinduism, Manicheanism, and Mithraism, as well as Zoroastrianism.
The Choice Between Good and Evil.
Zarathustra wrested with the problem of the existence of evil.
-Ahura Mazda is a good creator who creates only perfection and purity.
-Zarathustra did speak of two opposing powers:
1. *Spenta Mainyu: the good spirit, life, order, perfection, health, happiness, increase.
2. *Angra Mainyu: the evil spirit, not life, chaos, imperfection, disease, sorrow, destruction.
-The two principles will always actively oppose each other in humans, and in creation as a whole, until the good spirit is at last victorious.
-Human beings are given free will to choose between the two powers.
-In their thoughts, words, and deeds, they can grow in love, devotion, and service, or they can contribute to evil.
Heaven, Hell and Resurrection.
At death, Zarathustra believed that each one of us is judged according to the total goodness or evilness of our thoughts, words, and deeds.
-The greater the goodness, the wider the bridge to *Heaven: the kingdom of lights where the souls of the righteous reside.
-The greater the accumulated evil, the narrower the bridge until it is so narrow that souls cannot cross. They fall into *Hell: house of the lie, a murky woeful place.
-It is not Ahura Mazda who judges and meets out reward and punishment, but by natural law good deeds bring their own reward, and evil deeds their just punishment.
-There is no eternal hell for good ultimately is victorious.
-With the help of all individuals who choose goodness over evil, the world will gradually reach a state of perfection in which all souls, living or dead, are liberated forever from evil.
-This time is the *Frashokereti: the refreshment, the world in which all creation is resurrected into perfected immortality.
-Therefore, the world will never grow old and never die.
-This refreshment requires the contributions of many people.
-Zoroastrianism places great emphasis on the moral responsibility of each person for the good of the whole.
Rituals emphasize purification, and water is used to symbolize it.
-The devout often dip their fingers in water and apply it to their eyes and forehead, then raise their hands in prayer.
-Fire is also emphasized in rituals for its purifying and transformative power.
-Only Zoroastrians can enter a fire temple, and within it, only priests may enter certain areas having a high level of purity.
-When the physical body dies, Zoroastrians carry it to a *Temple of Silence: a circular building open at the top so that vultures can alight on the corpse to pick the bones clean. This is done to avoid polluting the earth with decaying flesh, which the birds dispose of within an hour or two.
History begins with the stories recounted in the Hebrew Bible, or *Tanakh.
-Scholars are uncertain of the historical accuracy of the accounts in the Tanakh.
-Biblical history begins with the creation of the world by a supreme deity and progresses through the patriarchs, matriarchs, Moses, and the prophets.
-*Torah (the five books of Moses):
The five books of Moses that appear at the beginning of the Tanakh.
-The most sacred part of the scriptures.
-Claim these books were divinely revealed to Moses and written down by him as a single document.
-Seems to have assumed its final form in the days of Ezra the scribe.
-Some of the stories in the Pentateuch, (such as the Creation, Garden of Eden, Great Flood, and Tower of Babel), are similar to earlier Mesopotamian legends.
1. God is portrayed as a transcendent Creator, without origins, gender, or form; a being utterly different from what has been created.
-Since Hebrew has no gender neutral pronouns God is generally described in masculine terms.
2. From the scriptures of the "Yahwist source," which used the word transliterated as "Yahweh" for the supreme deity.
-Theme of exile appears continually in the Hebrew Bible, and the people are rendered homeless again and again.
-Biblical narratives emphasize that the people risk God's displeasure every time they stray from God's commands.
-They are repeatedly exiled from their spiritual home and continually seek to return to it.
The idea of a special covenantal relationship between the Jewish people and God.
-The people are expected to be obedient to God's commandments while God is expected to grant favors to the people.
-A more universal covenant between God and humanity as a whole is portrayed in the story of Noah, who was said to be the sole righteous man of his time. The belief that a great flood did occur in Mesopotamia is now supported by non-biblical evidence.
-God establishes a covenant with Noah, promises never again to destroy the created world, and uses a rainbow as a sign of his covenant.
-Ten generations after Noah, the narrative focuses on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (
patriarchs), and their wives Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel (
-Abraham circumcised himself as a covenant with God in which God agrees to protect Abraham's descendants.
-Abraham and his wife Sarah were childless for many years, so Sarah offered her concubine to Hagar, who gave birth to Ishmael.
-Then Sarah had a son named Isaac and banished Hagar and Ishmael.
-God assures Abraham that he will be the father of two nations, one from the line through Isaac (Jews) and one through Ishmael (Muslims).
Canaanites had some influence on that of the Israelites.
-The Canaanites were polytheistic, with highly developed mythology and ritual directed to agricultural fertility.
-Israel's God was perceived as a private tribal god, but is later known as the supreme and only deity of the universe.
Israel's Birth in Struggle.
It is unclear who the Hebrew people of the Biblical narrative were.
-Because of frequent moving and intermarrying, the Israelites were actually of mixed ethnic stock, including Hebrew, Aramaean, and Canaanite.
Egypt: Bondage and Exodus.
Jacob/Israel is said to have had 12 sons and 1 daughter by his two wives and their two maidservants.
-The 12 sons became the progenitors of the 12 tribes of Israel.
-Jacob's favorite wife = Rachel, who bore him two sons named Joseph and Benjamin.
-When the 10 northern tribes (the Kingdom of Israel) were conquered by the Assyrians, the 2 southern tribes (the Kingdom of Judah) remained with Jerusalem as their capital.
-The whole group left Canaan for Egypt during a time of famine and were made slaves for massive construction projects.
-After many years, Moses saw God as a burning bush and was told to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and back to Canaan.
-Moses met with God on Mount Sinai and returned with the *10 commandments, which brought a new dimension to the covenant between God and Israel.
-God had freed the Jews from slavery and extinction at the hands of the Egyptians, and the Jews freely accepted the Torah.
Saul (Benjamin) was the first king of Israel and
David (Judah) was the second king of Israel.
-David is remembered as Israel's greatest king.
-Under the reign of *King Solomon (David's son), a great temple was built in Jerusalem which housed the arc of the covenant and was used for animal sacrifices.
-Solomon accumulated great wealth at the expense of the people, and he built alters to the Gods of his wives, who came from other nations.
-This angered God, so he divided the kingdom after Solomon's death.
-An internal revolt of the 10 northern tribes established a new kingdom of Israel, which was independent of Jerusalem and the kingdom of David.
-The southern kingdom, continuing its allegiance to the house of David and retaining Jerusalem as its capital, renamed itself Judah after David's tribe.
-Due to worshipping idols, God is said to have had the northern kingdom conquered by the Assyrians and dispersed among the non-Jewish peoples, and are referred to as the *10 lost tribes of Israel.
-Judeans became known as the Jews, which referred to *Judeans: those of the 2 southern tribes from the kingdom of Judah.
-As the Jews lived under foreign rule, Judaism became somewhat open to the cross-cultural religious borrowing.
Three sects of Jews eventually formed in Judea.
1. Sadducees: priests and wealthy business people, conservative intent on preserving the letter of the law.
2. Pharisees: more liberal citizens, from all classes who sought to study the applications of the Torah to everyday life.
3. Essenes: uncompromising in piety and were disgusted with the corrupted priesthood.
-Essene initiated members were males who dressed in white, shared their property communally, avoided luxury, and placed great emphasis on ritual purity; extensive library, known as the *Dead Sea Scrolls, was discovered near Qumran.
Beliefs of the Messiah.
Under Roman rule, belief grew among Jews about a messianic age in which the people would at last be rescued from their sufferings and Jews would return to their homeland.
-Under the Oppressive Seleucid Greek rule of Palestine, *Apocalyptic Literature became very popular.
-Such literature sees the world in stark terms of good and evil, predicts the coming of God's victory over evil, asserts that God will then reward good people and punish evil people, and thus urges people to live righteous lives now in preparation for that time.
-The belief grew that there would be a person, a *Messiah, who would come to bring evil times to an end and establish the reign of peace.
-Expectations had developed that through this messiah, God would gather the chosen people, and not only free them from oppression, but also reinstate Jewish political sovereignty in the land of Israel, and all nations would recognize Israel's God as the God of all the world.
-Some believed that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah.
Major Branches Today.
1. The majority are descendants of the *Ashkenazim: originally migrated to Italy from West Asia during the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, and then spread through central and eastern Europe to America.
2. The second largest grouping is the *Sephardim: descendants of those who migrated to Spain from West Asia in the 8th and 9th centuries, to north Africa, the Americas, and back to west Asia.
3. Orthodox: stand by the Torah as the revealed word of God and the Talmud as the legitimate oral law.
-Orthodoxy includes mystics and rationalists, Zionists and anti-Zionists.
4. Modern Orthodoxy: values secular knowledge and integration with non-Jewish society so its members may be enriched by interaction with the modern world and help to uplift it (like the Amish).
5. Religious Zionism: places central emphasis on resettlement of the Jewish people to Israel as the working out of a divine plan for the salvation of both the Jews and the whole world.
-Involvement with secular society is permissible only if beneficial to the state of Israel.
6. Haredi (Ultra Orthodox): generally in favor of detachment from non Jewish culture so the community can focus on study of the Torah.
7. Lubavich Hasidim: devoted to extending their message to as many Jews as possible, using all the tools of modern technology for their sacred purpose.
8. Reform (liberal) Movement: began as a way for Jews to appreciate their religion, rather than regard it as antiquated, meaningless, or repugnant.
-Judaism became understood as an evolving, open ended religion, rather than one fixed forever by the Torah.
-Rather than exclusivism, Reform rabbis cultivate a sense of the universalism of Jewish values.
-Reform Judaism is not fully accepted in Israel, where the Israeli Rabbinate does not recognize the authority of non-Orthodox rabbis (if not Orthodox, then not really Jewish).
9. Conservative Judaism: sought to maintain (conserve) traditional Jewish laws and practices while also using modern means of historical scholarship, sponsoring critical studies of Jewish texts from all periods.
-Believe that Jews have always searched and added to their laws, liturgy, Midrash, and beliefs to keep them relevant and meaningful in changing times.
10. Reconstructivism: holds that strong measures were needed to preserve Judaism in the face of rationalism.
-As long as Jews adhered to the traditional conception of the Torah as supernaturally revealed, they would not be amenable to any constructive adjustment of Judaism that was needed to render it viable in a non-Jewish environment.
-Judaism is an evolving religious cultural and spiritual civilization in which the Jewish people are the heart of Judaism.
11.Secular Jews: affirming their Jewish origins and maintaining Jewish cultural traditions while eschewing religious practice.
-The possibilities for total assimilation into western culture are evident in statistics indicating that over 50% of Western Jews marry non-Jews.
The idealization of science, rationalism, industrialization, and materialism.
A faith based on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
-Emerged and split from Judaism some 1800 years after Abraham.
-At its core is the belief that Jesus is the son of God and savior whose sacrificial death and resurrection make it possible for souls to have eternal life in heaven.
-Christian scriptures consist of the Tanakh, which Christians refer to as the
Old Testament and, and the writings of Jesus's followers, known as the
-The largest of the world's religions with approximately 2.1 billion adherents.
Born as a Jew about 2000 years ago in Roman occupied Palestine.
-He taught for fewer than 3 years before being executed by the Roman government.
-Nothing was written about him at the time, but years after his death, attempts were made to record what he had said and done.
-During the three years of his ministry, Jesus traveled around Palestine preaching with parables, and is known for performing miracles.
-Among the miracles ascribed to Jesus are: healing the sick and disabled, casting devils out of the possessed, restoring the dead to life, walking on water, cleansing lepers, and feeding 5,000 people with just a few loaves and fish.
-The miracles were interpreted as confirming his special status and possible divinity.
-In addition to devotion to God, the core of Jesus's message was a love and devotion to others.
-Jesus preached that in extending ourselves to the less fortunate in society, we are symbolically worshipping God.
-Although the Jews were expecting a Messiah to provide immediate relief from their current oppressed state under Roman rule, Jesus instead promised a spiritual kingdom that would be fully realized only in the future.
-By devoting themselves to God and following the path of righteousness, people could become spiritually transformed in this life and prepare themselves for eternal life at the end of time
The New Testament.
Contains the teachings of Jesus, a Jew who lived in Palestine under Roman rule at the beginning of the first millennium.
There is very little historical proof of the life of Jesus.
-The Jewish historian, Josephus, made two brief references to Jesus that may be regarded as proof that Jesus did exist.
The Background of Christianity.
Christianity emerged out of three distinct cultural traditions:
2. Near Eastern (West Asia).
3. Hebraic (Jewish).
The Greco-Roman Background.
Roman religion was a blend of native and borrowed traditions.
-Ancient pagan religious rituals marked seasonal change and celebrated seedtime and harvest.
-As with Greece, Rome's favorite deities were looked upon as protectors of the household, the marketplace, and the state: *Vesta, for instance, guarded the hearth fire, and Mars, God of war, ministered to soldiers.
-Rome enjoyed a full blown imperial cult that honored the living emperor as semi-divine, and deified him after his death.
The Near Eastern Background.
In Greece, Egypt, and throughout southwest Asia, there had long flourished numerous religious cults whose central feature was the promise of personal immortality.
-The cults of Isis in Egypt, Cybele in Phrygia, Dionysus in Greece, and Mithra in Persia, had a heritage dating back to Neolithic times (4000-8000 BC).
-Their initiation into these mystery cults participated in symbolic acts of spiritual death and rebirth, including ritual baptism and communal meal at which they might consume the flesh of the deity.
1. The *Cult of Isis originated in the Egyptian myth of the descent of the goddess Isis, into the underworld to find and resurrect her mate Osiris.
-Followers identified *Isis as Earth Mother and Queen of Heaven, and looked to her to ensure their own salvation.
-Initiation into the cult included formal processions, a ritual meal, purification of the body, and a ten day period of fasting that culminated in the ecstatic vision of the goddess herself.
2. While the worship of Isis, Dionysus, and Cybele was peculiar to the Mediterranean, *Mithraism, the most popular of the mystery cults, originated in Persia.
-Looked back to one of the oldest religious, Zoroastrianism.
-Featured strict initiation rites, periods of fasting, ritual baptism, and a communal meal of bread and wine.
-Mithra's followers celebrated his birth on December 25th, just after the sun's rebirth at the winter solstice.
-Mithraism was the chief rival of Christianity.
Similarities Between Mithraism and Christianity:
A man-god hero, ritual baptism, a communal meal, and the promise of deliverance from evil.
-Many educated Romans considered Christianity to be an imitation of Mithraism.
The Jewish Background.
Judaism differed from the other religions and religious cults of this period in its strongly ethical bias, its commitment to monotheism, and its exclusivity (its emphasis on a special relationship, or covenant, between God and the chosen people, the Jews themselves).
-With the eastern expansion of Alexander the Great, the Jews were Hellenized and repeated contact with Greek and Persian peoples influenced Hebraic thought.
-*The book of Daniel makes the first clear reference to resurrection and the afterlife in the Hebrew bible.
-The homeland of the Jews became the Roman province of Judea when the Roman general ,Pompey, captured Jerusalem and the neighboring territories.
-Judaism, a monotheistic faith, forbade the worship of Rome's rulers and Rome's gods. Hence, the Roman presence in Jerusalem caused mutual animosity and discord which resulted in the destruction of the second temple by the Romans.
-The Romans renamed Judea 'provincial Syria Palestine,' after the philistines who had settled there.
-Unrest in Judea was complicated by disunity of opinion and biblical interpretation. Even as a special group of rabbis met to draw up the authoritative list of thirty six books that would constitute the canonic Hebrew bible, there was no agreement concerning the meaning of many scriptural references.
Sadducees: a learned sect of Jewish aristocrats who advocated cultural and religious solidarity among the Jews; envisioned the
Messiah (Anointed One) as a temporal leader who would consolidate Jewish ideals and lead the Jews to political freedom.
-Defending the literal interpretation of the Torah, they denied that the soul survived the death of the body.
2. The *Pharisees: the more influential group of Jewish teachers and the principle interpreters of Hebrew law; believed in the advent of a messianic redeemer who, like a shepherd looking after his flock, would lead the righteous to salvation.
-In their view, the human soul was imperishable and the wicked would suffer eternal punishment.
Essenes: lived in monastic communities near the dead sea. Renouncing worldly possessions, they practiced
Asceticism: strict self denial and self discipline.
-Believed in the immortality of the soul and its ultimate release and liberation from the body.
-They may have been responsible for the *Dead Sea Scrolls, which forecast the apocalyptic age marked by the coming of the teacher of righteousness.
The Rise of Christianity.
Jesus's name was not mentioned in literature until almost the end of the first century.
-The Christian writings that describe his life and teachings, known as the *Gospels (Good News), date from at least forty years after his death.
-Written in Greek and Aramaic, the Gospels describe the life of a charismatic teacher, healer, and reformer, who proclaimed his mission to complete Hebrew law and fulfill the lessons of the prophets.
-Many questioned his legitimacy as the biblical messiah.
-Jesus was put to death by crucifixion by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.
-All four gospels tell of Jesus raising from the dead on the third day, after his death, and that he ascended into heaven.
-Jesus urged the renunciation of material possessions as a measure of freedom from temporal enslavement, preparation for eternal life, and ultimate reward in the kingdom of heaven.
-Stoics, Neo-Platonists, and Essenes shared these teachings.
-Jesus taught to love your neighbor as yourself, accept persecution with humility, pass no judgment on others, and treat others as you would have them treat you.
The Teachings of Paul.
Only a small percentage of the population of the Roman empire became Christians in the first 100 years after Jesus's death (estimated 10 to 15%).
-Through the efforts of *Paul, a Hellenized Jew, the message of Jesus gained widespread appeal due to his preaching to the gentiles of Greece, Rome, and Asia Minor.
-Believed to have written nearly half of the 27 books of the Christian scriptures known as the New Testament.
-Taught that the death of Jesus was an act of atonement that acquitted humankind of original sin. Where Adam's sin would condemn humankind, Jesus, the new Adam, would redeem humankind.
-Jesus's resurrection confirmed the promise of eternal salvation.
-Paul taught that the faithful would be rewarded with everlasting life.
The Spread of Christianity.
During the first century, Christians were simply expelled from Rome, but during the late third century, a time of famine, plague, and war, Christians who refused to make sacrifices to the Roman Gods of state suffered horrific forms of persecution: they were tortured, burned, beheaded, or thrown to wild beasts in the public amphitheaters.
-Christian martyrs astonished Roman audiences by going to their deaths joyously, proclaiming their anticipation of a better life in the hereafter.
-When emperor Constantine issued the *Edict of Milan, the public persecution of Christians came to an end.
-The Edict not only liberated Christians from physical and political oppression, but also encouraged the development of Christianity as a legitimate faith.
-Christian leaders were free to establish a uniform doctrine of belief, an administrative hierarchy, the guidelines for worship, and a vocabulary for religious expression.
-The minor religious sect, called Christianity, eventually became the official religion of the Roman empire.
The Early Church.
Testing their faith, persecution became the lot of Jesus' followers.
-Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
-There was a major difference between Jews and Christians over the central importance given to Jesus.
-It is possible that Jesus himself may not have claimed that he was the messiah, but that it was Paul who developed this claim.
-To this day, Jews tend to feel that to put heavy emphasis on the person of Jesus takes attention away from his message and from God.
-The Jews who emphasized that Jews had been especially chosen by God, were offended by interpretations of Jesus' life and teachings that saw Christianity as a universal mission of salvation for all peoples.
-Their interpretations made the new sect, Christianity, seem irreconcilable with exclusive versions of Judaism, and the gap between the two became deep and bitter.
-Opposition in Jerusalem led to Christians spreading out to carry the gospel elsewhere, thus helping expand their mission.
-Christianity spread rapidly and soon became largely non-Jewish in membership.
-The rise of Constantine to imperial rule lead to the official embracing of Christianity.
-Constantine said that God showed him a vision of a cross to be used as a standard in battle. After he used it, and won a major victory, he instituted tolerance of Christianity alongside the state cult, of which he was the chief priest.
-Just before his death, Constantine was baptized as a Christian.
-People of other religions were stripped of their rights and ordered into Christian churches to be baptized.
-Some paid outward service to Christianity but remained faithful to their old traditions.
-Christianity became the faith claimed by the majority of people in the Roman Empire, spreading from Ireland in the west to India in the east.
-It soon had a bureaucracy that carried on the rights of the church and attempted to define mainstream Christianity, denigrating trends that it judged heretical.
-One form that was judged to be outside of the mainstream was *Gnostic Christianity, which appeared as a movement in the second century.
-*Gnosticism means mystical perception of knowledge. The Nag Hammadi library, found in Egypt, presents Jesus as a great Gnostic teacher. His words are interpreted as the secret teachings given only to initiates.
-The Gnostics held that only spiritually mature individuals could apprehend Jesus' real teaching, that the kingdom of heaven is a present reality experienced through personal realization through the light.
-When the New Testament texts were translated into Latin, the Gnostic gospels were not included. Instead, the church treated possession of Gnostic texts as a crime against church law because of conflicted teachings of the Christian community.
The Holy Trinity.
Christians believed that the transcendent and invisible God had become immanent and visible in Jesus.
-This led to the early development of the doctrine of the *Holy Trinity, which speaks of three equal persons within one divine being: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
1. The father: the one who sends the son to become incarnate in Jesus with the mission to reveal God's love to the world.
2. The son (or word): manifests God in the world in many ways, but the incarnation in Jesus is a culmination of that revelation.
3. The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost): who Jesus promises will be sent after his death; is the power and presence of God, actively guiding and sustaining the faithful.
Major divisions of Christianity today.
1. Calvinism: teaches that human actions are insignificant as God already decided the destiny of each person.
2. Presbyterianism: reformed church which sprang from Calvinism in which the congregation is governed by presbyters which rank 2nd below bishops, ministers, and elders.
3. Congregationalism: emphasizes the independence of each local church and the priesthood of all members.
4. Anglicanism: rejects the authority of the pope in favor of the archbishop of Canterbury.
5. Baptists: emphasizes people being are baptized as conscious adult believers rather than infants.
6. Lutheranism: maintains a strong emphasis on liturgy and sacraments.
7. Unitarianism: rejects original sin, the trinity, and Jesus' divinity in favor of a simple theism and imitation of Jesus.
8. Seventh Day Adventists: believe that the second coming of Christ will soon occur and they regard the Bible as an absolute guide to faith and spiritual practice in anticipation of his return.
9. Quakers: traditionally worship without any liturgy or minister in hope that if they sat in worshipful silence, God would speak through any one of the members.
10. Jehovah's Witnesses: criticize other religions as having developed false doctrines from the 2nd century onward and urge people to leave these false religions and prepare for the coming time when all who do not hold true belief will be destroyed.
The worlds youngest major religion.
-Born in the seventh century among the people of the Arabian peninsula.
-The faith of the followers of Muhammad; it became the unifying force in the rise of the first global civilization to flourish following the fall of Rome.
-Forged the historical link between Classical and early modern civilization, and stretched from Spain across North Africa in to India.
-Islam embraced the cultures of Arabia, the Near East, and Persia.
-Practiced today by some 1 billion people, more than 2/3 of whom live outside of Southwest Asia.
-In the US, home to over 6 million Muslims, Islam is the fastest growing religion.
History of Islam.
Centuries before the time of Christ, nomadic Arabs, known as Bedouins, lived in the desert peninsula of Arabia east of Egypt.
-*Bedouin Arabs were an animistic, tribal people who worshiped some 300 different nature deities.
-Statues of these Gods, along with the sacred Black Stone (probably an ancient meteorite), were housed in the *Kuaba, a cubical sanctuary located in the city of Mecca (modern day Saudi Arabia).
-Arabs remained polytheistic and disunited, but the birth of the prophet Mohammad, in 570 CE, in Mecca, changed these circumstances.
History of Muhammad,
Orphaned at the age of 6, Muhammad received little formal education.
-He travelled with his uncle on caravan journeys, which brought him in contact with Jews, Christians, and Pagans.
-At the age of 24 he married *Khadijah, a wealthy widow fifteen years his senior, and assisted in running her caravan trade.
-According to Muslim teachings, the angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad and commanded him to receive the revelation of the one and only *Allah (Arabic for God).
-Now forty one years old, Muhammad declared himself the final messenger in a history of religious revelation that had begun with Abraham and continued through Moses and Jesus.
-While Muhammad preached no new doctrines, he emphasized the bond between Allah and his followers, and the importance of the community of faithful, whose unswerving love of God would govern every aspect of their lives and conduct.
-His message reinforced many of the basic precepts of Christianity and Judaism. Ex: Some of Allah's revelations to Muhammad (such as the immortality of the soul, the anticipation of the final judgment, and the certainty of Heaven and Hell) were staples of Early Christianity. Ex: Others (such as an uncompromising monotheism, a strict set of ethical and social injunctions, and special dietary laws) were fundamental to Hebraic teaching.
-At first, those from Mecca resisted the teachings of Muhammad due to his attack on idolatry and Mecca becoming a prominent pilgrimage site.
-After 12 years of fighting with the Meccans, Muhammad travelled to Medina with 70 Muslim families, and later returned with 10,000 men to capture Mecca and destroy its idols, except for the Black Stone, and established political and spiritual authority.
-By the time Muhammad died in 632, the entire Arabian Peninsula was united in its commitment to Islam.
Muhammad's followers (those who follow Allah), honor him as the last of the prophets, human rather than divine in nature.
-They acknowledge Allah as the one true God.
Fulfilling the Judeo.
Christian tradition of deliverance; *Islam (literally submission to God's will) claims to complete God's revelation to humankind.
-The declaration of faith in Allah and his messenger is the first of the so-called Five Pillars of Muslim practice.
Written in Arabic; literally recitations; the holy book of Islam.
-Muhammad himself wrote nothing, but his followers memorized his teachings and wrote them down some 10 years after his death.
-The Muslim guide to spiritual and secular life, the
Quran, consists of 114 chapters (
sutras), each of which opens with the *bismillah (invocation): "In the name of God, the Lord of mercy, the giver of mercy."
-As the supreme authority and fundamental source of Muslim ritual, ethics, and laws, the Quran provides guidelines for worship and specific moral and social injunctions for everyday conduct.
-Condemns drinking wine, eating pork, and all forms of gambling.
-Limits *polygamy (marriage to several women) to no more than 4 wives, provided that the man can support and protect all of them.
-Although the Quran supports equality of men and women before God, it describes men as being a degree higher than women (in that they are providers) and endorses the pre-Islamic tradition requiring women to veil their bodies from public view.
-A husband has unrestricted rights of divorce and can end a marriage by renouncing his wife publicly.
-Nevertheless, Muhammad's teachings raised the status of women by condemning female infanticide, according to women property rights, and ensuring their financial support in an age when such protections were not commonly guaranteed.
-Muslim scripture reveals the nature of God and the inevitability of judgment and resurrection.
-Teaches that beings are born in the purity of God's design, free from Original Sin.
-To the righteous, those who practice submission, humility, and reverence for God, it promises a hereafter resembling a garden of paradise, filled with cool rivers and luscious fruit trees.
-The wicked and to infidels (nonbelievers), it promises the terrifying punishments of *Hell, as hot and dusty, as the desert itself.
-Consider the Quran the eternal and absolute word of God.
-It's chanted, or cited, rather than read silently, and is often committed to memory by the devout.
-The Quran is the primary text for the study of the Arabic language. It is considered untranslatable, not only because its contents are deemed holy, but because it is impossible to capture in other languages the musical nuances of the original Arabic.
The Spread of Islam.
Islam's success in becoming a world faith is in large part due to the fact that the outset, religious, political, and military goals were allied.
-Also offered rules of conduct, and ritual practices that resembled those of Christianity and Judaism.
-Early Muslim expansion exceeded not so much by the militant coercion of foreign populations as it did by the economic opportunities Muslims offered conquered people.
-In that Muhammad did not designate a successor, disputes concerning the leadership of Islam followed his death.
-Here began the splintering of Islam into the Shiite and Sunni partisans.
1. The first four deputies: carried Islam outside of Arabia, initiating the rise of a Muslim empire.
2. The Umayyad Caliphs: took the faith west, across North Africa into Spain.
3. The Abbasid Caliphate: established its authority across the Middle East.
-The great centers of Muslim urban life (Baghdad in Iraq, Cordoba in Spain, and Cairo in Egypt) surpassed the cities of Western Europe in learning and the arts.
-Their cultural primacy was shattered at the hands of the Mongols, who destroyed Baghdad.
-Muslims dominated a system of world trade that stretched from Western Europe to China.
The Muslims created the first *Global Culture: a culture united by a single system of belief, but embracing a wide variety of religions, languages, and customs.
-Muslim scholars produced original work in the fields of mathematics, optics, philosophy, geography, and medicine.
-They translated, into Arabic, the valuable corpus of Greek writings which they transmitted to the west along with the technological and scientific inventions of Asian civilizations.
-Themes of unrequited love were popular in Arabic lyric verse.
-The poetry of the Islamic mystics, known as the *Sufi, drew on the intuitive and mystical dimensions of religious experience. Lyrical repetition and infinite extension are notable features of the classic collection of prose tales.
-The Great Mosque in Cordoba, and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, are two examples of Islamic architectural ingenuity.
-Resistant to image making, Islamic religious art is dominated by geometric, floral, and calligraphic motifs, often interlaced in patterns of infinite extension.
-Secular manuscripts, such as herbals and chronicles, feature lively scenes of everyday activities.
-Islamic music, confined to secular rather than religious purposes, is rich in song and unique in the invention of early instrumental ensembles.
Branches of Islam.
1. Sunni: a follower of the majority branch of Islam which tells that successors to Muhammad are to be chosen by the Muslim community.
2. Shiites (Shi'a): the minority branch of Islam which tells that Muhammad's legitimate successors were Ali and a series of Imams; a follower of this branch.
3. Sufi: the mystical path in Islam.
-All of these accept the five pillars.
The Five Pillars.
Spell out the way of Muslim life and its purpose:
1. Shahadah: the profession of faith, "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet."
2. Salat: the principle of praying five times a day in a prescribed manor.
3. Zakat: spiritual tithing.
4. Sawm: fasting as a means of spiritual devotion.
5. Hajj: the holy pilgrimage to Mecca.
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Test #1 (Ch 1-2)--World Religions (Benjamin)
Test #2 (Ch 3-5)--World Religions (Benjamin)
Test #3 (Ch 6-7)--World Religions (Benjamin)
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