Belief systems in CONTEXT Historians view religion in the context of time and place. For example: Buddhists in India in the 300s ce were not the same as Buddhists in Southeast Asia in the 1800s ce thogh some of the core beliefs remained unchanged. Historians view religions as an influence ON culture AND influenced BY culture. For example: Christianity changed Roman culture and the Renaissance in Europe influenced Christianity.
Belief systems as a study topic Historians view religions as a part of human experience For example: Hinduism is not judged as right or wrong in its beliefs or practices, but interpreted in how it influenced human history as it started in South Asia and spread elsewhere. Confucianism is not judged as good or bad, but understood in the ways it influenced Chinese social classes, etc.
Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Daoism & Christianity Belief Systems of the Classical Period
Foundations There is no recorded founder of Hinduism – it is the oldest institutional religion of the early belief systems. Judaism began in the Middle East around the 1200s bce when it had its own political empire. First monotheistic religion
Foundations Daoism emerged in East Asia in the 600s to 300s BCE from the teachings of Laozi and later Zhuangzi Zoroastrianism arose in Persia in the 500s BCE from the teachings of Zarathustra
Foundations Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha), the founder of Buddhism, was originally a Hindu in the upperclass. Buddhism emerged in South Asia out of Hinduism starting in the 500s bce.
Foundations Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of Christianity, was a lower-class Jew living in Roman controlled Middle East. The Jesus movement became Christianity with non-Jewish converts.
Existence after Death Hinduism and Buddhism – Existence is cyclical until one breaks from the cycle and becomes eternally spirit. Judaism (some forms), Zoroastrianism, & Christianity – Existence is linear; one lives and then becomes eternally spirit.
Spread Groups within Buddhism and Christianity supported missionaries – men and women who purposely took the message of a religion into different regions. Religions also spread through conquest, along trade routes, and through migrations.
Spread Buddhism spread from South Asia into East and SE Asia. Buddhism by the 500s ce was stronger in areas where it spread than where it originated. How does this compare to Zoroastrianism? How does this compare with Hinduism?
Spread Judaism spread after the Romans exiled Jews to new territories in Europe Christianity spread into the Roman Empire, into North and East Africa, and beyond. Christianity by the 1200s was stronger in areas where it had spread than in where it originated.
Spread & CHANGE As religions spread and new interpretations arose – there were changes, splits into different sects (or groups), and new influences
Texts The founders of Buddhism and Christianity did not record their own statements or life story. Which belief systems are connected to these texts? Vedas and Upanishads Torah Gospels & Epistles Analects Sutras
Challenges to Society Both Buddhism and Christianity, more than the other belief systems, challenged the social class system and women’s status. Especially in the early centuries, these religions appealed to lower classes and women.