Belief systems in CONTEXT
Historians view belief systems 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 though some of the core beliefs remained
Historians view belief systems as an
influence ON culture AND influenced BY
For example: Christianity changed Roman culture
and the Renaissance in Europe influenced
Christianity Jesus of Nazareth –
Began as a Jewish sect &
spread through the
Daoism & Christianity
Belief Systems of the Classical
There is no recorded founder of
Hinduism – it is the oldest
institutional religion of the early
Judaism began in the Middle East
around the 1200s bce when it had
its own political empire.
First monotheistic religion
Daoism emerged in East Asia in the
600s to 300s BCE from the
teachings of Laozi
Zoroastrianism arose in Persia in
the 500s BCE from the teachings of
Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha),
the founder of Buddhism, was
originally a Hindu in the
Buddhism emerged in South Asia
out of Hinduism starting in the 500s
Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of
Christianity, was a lower-class Jew
living in Roman controlled Middle
The Jesus movement became
Christianity with non-Jewish
Existence after Death
Hinduism and Buddhism – Existence is
cyclical until one breaks from the cycle
and becomes eternally spirit.
Zoroastrianism & Christianity – Existence
is linear; one lives and then becomes
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
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
How does this compare to Zoroastrianism?
How does this compare with Hinduism?
Judaism spread after the Romans exiled
Jews to new territories in Europe
Christianity spread into the Roman
Empire, into North and East Africa, and
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
The founders of Buddhism and
Christianity did not record their own
statements or life story.
Which belief systems are connected to
Vedas and Upanishads
Gospels & Epistles
Challenges to Society
Both Buddhism and Christianity, more
than the other belief systems, challenged
the social class system and women’s
Especially in the early centuries, these
religions appealed to lower classes and
Greek Rationalism…What’s up with that???
In Greece, some intellectuals like
SOCRATES, PLATO, and ARISTOTLE
abandoned mythology and created a
philosophy that emphasized. . .
Natural laws govern the world & humans can
understand those laws through reason
Using reason to understand human behavior
(first histories – Herodatus)
questioning of earlier “wisdom” and
---had a major influence on Western Civilization