History of Religion: Answers
- In Exodus chapter 32, Moses had just come from the mountain after receiving the 10 commandments. On his return, he realized that the people had made a calf for worship and subsequently requested those who were of the Lord to separate them from the reveling. The Levites, who came out, were commanded to go back and forth among their brothers, killing those who had defied the Lord. This led to the massacre of about three thousand people. This was one among the many important events in Moses’ life which include his birth, flee from Egypt, experience with the burning bush, return to Egypt for his mission, and the journey from slavery. Van Seters (par. 1- 3) gives descriptions of some of the ancient Egyptian texts such as ‘The Admonitions of Ipu- Wer (2050 BCE), which affirm the occurrence of certain events such as the plagues.
- In 586BCE, the kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians and the citizens taken into exile. This was before the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, which later took place in 722BCE (IJS par. 3-4). The Assyrians were responsible for Israel’s destruction. During these years, some of the prophets included Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. They played the role of the evangelism, encouraging people to change their ways from evil. They rebuked specific sins and called for repentance and acceptance of God’s commandments. This is relatively comparable to the actions of Jesus in the New Testament, although Jesus focused more on teaching rather than rebuking sin.
- Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion founded by Zoroaster more than 3500 years ago. It was also the main religion in Persia between 650 to 600 BCE. Most of the principal beliefs of the religion are still held across various religious platforms. For instance, the belief in monotheism also extended to the Israelites through a promise. It can be said to be the driving force behind many of the contemporary religions which believe in the existence of one God and his capability to punish people for the sins they commit.
- The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D 70 for the last time by the Romans. This was after laying siege in the city for six months as a way of pushing the Israelites to compliance following the Maccabean revolt. This revolt begun in 1966 and was conducted as a way of rebelling against the Roman efforts towards conquering Jerusalem. It also acted as the point of divergence between Christianity and Jewish religion. The zealots were strict adherents to law. On the other hand, the Sadducees emphasized the maintenance of priestly caste while being liberal while the Essenes held the other groups in disgust due to their perceived corruption (Jewish Virtual Library par. 1-3).
- The orthodox Jews consider the Torah to be divinely written. The reform movement on the other hand considers the Torah to be divinely inspired but written by men over generations. The conservative movement holds a mixed perspective as they consider the Torah to be divinely written as well as inspired to be written by men over time. The Reconstructionists consider the Judaism to be a civilization, reconstructed during each generation. The Kaballah and Hasidic mysticism also differ in terms of their perceptions about Judaism. The Hasidic perception is more traditional than the Kaballah.
- State of Israel in 1948 and was opposed by many Islamic religions in the world due to its consideration of Jerusalem as its capital. Religions such as Islam, Christianity and Jewish religions consider Jerusalem to be important to their faith. These are some of the factors that led the Jewish Holocaust in which more than 600,000 Jews were murdered by the German, Adolf Hitler.
- Mithras is an Indo Persian mythological god of oath and covenant whose main objective was to uphold the truth and protect the harvest and the cattle. There are approximately 2.2 billion Christians in the world today. Although there are many sources about Jesus today, the gospels provide most of the information about him. The four gospels included in the Bible as well as those excluded such as the gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene, also provide other information about Jesus.
- The resurrection is described as a condition where an individual undergoes a death- like experiences and rises back to life. In the New Testament, Jesus underwent a resurrection process after having been crucified for the salvation of mankind. Similarly, in the Greco- Roman history, gods such as Osiris, Dionysius and Attis underwent the resurrection process for various reasons. While the childhood, youth stage and adolescence of Jesus are not deeply discussed in the Bible, the Bible clearly explains various points of convergence between Judaism and the life of Jesus. Examples include cultural celebrations such as the Passover.
- Jesus made his stance on various aspects of religious life clear. For instance, he emphasized that no one should judge another as all are sinners and that accumulating wealth without focus on spiritual growth would amount to foolishness. Separation of state and religion is also emphasized through payment of taxes and tithes to the respective sectors. Such positions have been stressed in the mainstream Christianity practices as the religious cycles pay more attention to spirituality without ignoring the position of the state.
- John the Baptist was the last prophet and evangelist before the time of Jesus. His main role in spirituality was to usher in Jesus to the people of Israel by rebuking sin and calling people into repentance. Prior to his mission, Jesus himself took 40 days in the desert to pray and fast. He needed preparation for his mission in order to succeed in his objective as the magi had prophesized. The magi were wise men from the East who came to visit Jesus immediately after his birth, bringing him gifts of gold, Frankincense and myrrh recognizing him as the king of the Jews.
- Saints Paul and Augustine were apostles of the gospel who were key players in the early church immediately following the resurrection of Jesus. The image of the end times guided the message delivered by the two as they emphasized the need for faith, repentance and righteous living in the early church. They also encouraged the people to accept and follow the teachings of Jesus. In Augustine’s time, the church was experiencing great persecution and this made him fine-tune his teachings to the need for persistence and perseverance in the face of persecution.
- The Edict of Theodosius in 395 declared the Orthodox Nicene Christianity to be the official state religion of the Roman Empire. This was met with resistance and rebellion from the Roman citizens and other authorities due to the presumption that Christians supported the overthrowing of the Roman government. The teachings of the Christians which purported that Jesus was the son of God and the king of Jews led to this presumption hence the hatred in a conventionally tolerant society.
- The inquisition referred to a group of institutions put in place within the Roman Catholic Church in the 12th Century to help in combating heresy. The institutions ran up to about 15th The witch hunt in particular became prevalent in the 13th century where those accused of witchcraft were subjected to the trial procedures. The determination of the presence of a witch was founded on evidence based confessions which characterized witch craft into white and black magic. Manifest destiny is where the future of individuals was observed using sorcery and other divination methods. To ensure conversion, Saint Augustine initiated forceful conversions for the convicted sorcerers and those who practice witch craft.
- John Calvin was a powerful protestant theologian who helped shape Protestantism in its early years. Through his actions, aspects that advocated for individualistic capitalism rather than communism in the church were advanced. Although his approach was adapted to a large extent by Protestant religions at the time, Martin Luther king seemed to adopt a mid-way position between this approach and communism as was practiced in the Roman Catholic Church. He however differed with the concept of religious celibacy while criticizing Saint Francis of Assisi for not fully realizing his life’s capacity. His reasoning was that it was not divine intention for man to suffer.
- Protestantism did not occur peacefully due to the opposing messages learnt by the people and the interest of the different churches involved. On the other hand, the teachings of Martin Luther aligned with the desires of many of the religious leaders as they easily identified with the facts he presented. This was however contradicted by the Roman Catholic Church which also refuted the findings of Copernicus and Galileo as they contravened the creation story in the Bible. The second Vatican Council however enhanced liberalization of Christianity in the Catholic Church through incorporation of the church doctrine.
- The seven Catholic sacraments include: Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Anointing of the sick, Ordination, and Matrimony. In the traditional Christian religion, women were considered to be subordinate based on Biblical teachings which placed women as helpers to the men until the female liberalization movements led by Martin Luther King. The current decline of Christianity in Europe has been caused by the introduction of other religions, which have led to reduction of emphasis on Christian principles. The three major branches of Christianity remain Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy.
- Muhammad was born in Mecca, Arabia in 570. He is accepted as the prophet of Islamic religion which had approximately 1.6 billion followers spread in 49 countries across the world as at 2010. Although Muslims follow some of the teachings of Muhammad, it would be wrong to refer to Islam as Muhammadism since the main guide of the religion, the Quran and its inventor was not Muhammad. Islam means surrender and its teachings were rejected by the Meccan elite due to their divergence from the traditional and Christian beliefs of the time (Pennington 124).
- The five pillars of Islam include: faith, charity, prayer, fasting and pilgrimage to Mecca. The Islamic religion focuses on these pillars as the core of religious practice. There are two major sub-divisions of the Islamic religion which include Sunni and Shia Muslims. The Sunni are the majority, comprising of about 87- 90% of the total Muslim population (Pew Research par. 3). Sufism on the other hand takes a mystic approach to Islamism, with focus on the aspect of worship and total dedication. The hostility observed from the orthodox Muslims can be linked to the ignorance of other pillars of Islamic religion among the Sufis. The Hadith, which are the stories about the life of Muhammad, written by the prophet himself is one of the teachings of the Islamic religion. There is only one version to it and it is used in combination with the sharia, which is the national constitution in Islamic countries.
- In most cases, Islamic governments have practiced great intolerance to people of other religions. The main basis for the persecution of other religions is that they are infidels, or do not adhere to the Islamic laws. With globalization, this persecution has come to be recognized as terrorism and is treated so. The Islamic countries are also becoming more tolerant of other religions due to globalization.
- While the Islamic nation under Elijah Muhammad was peaceful and tolerant, the orthodox Islamic nation is at war and intolerant of other religions. The Afghan war and the 1979 revolution were both recognized for their contribution to the building of Islamic fundamentalism. The two instituted somewhat extremist teachings in Islam contrary to the teachings of the Quran. The 9/11 occurrence was thus not warranted based on the Quran teachings.
- Across the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the history of the Israel nation is similar. Besides this, the stance on the Torah and the place of prayer and fasting are also similar. Between Judaism and Islam, the differences lie in the New Testament stories and in the belief about Jesus. This is similar to the differences between Christianity and Islam. Judaism and Christianity differ in terms of various aspects of the New Testament.
- In the traditional Christian religion, sexuality was appreciated and viewed as holy and for pro-creation purposes. This is in line with the teachings of Islamic and Judaism. However, the three differ in terms of the esteem and the level of secrecy associated with sex. On the other hand, Taoism considers sex to be an opportunity for exploration and inter-personal awareness. All the mentioned religions however discourage the practice of Tantarism.
- Stannard’s arguments on genocides committed against the Jews and against the Christians by Islamic groups are that both were unfounded on religious principles (Stannard 189). All religions, that committed genocide has peace teachings hence their actions were unwarranted. In the Christian religion, sex is considered sacred and should only be between married couples. Similarly, religions such as Islam and Hinduism hold sex in high esteem and consider fornication and adultery to be mortal sins. Homosexuality and other unnatural acts such as bestiality are also frowned upon by all the religions. Saint Paul emphasizes this even more by discouraging immorality while Jesus says there should be no reason for divorce except marital infidelity.
- Amanita muscaria is a mushroom type fungus used as a psychotic substance by various religious sects such as Buddhism in combination with other substances such as tobacco. Some of the religions that practice such psychotic approaches include; Buddhism in practices such as Vadhrayana and in Judaism, which uses alcohol and some other substances for psychotic purposes. One of the ways of being religious is through meditation. This is what the use of various substances to influence psychotic encourages.
- The Native American church gained popularity in the 15th Century after the spread of Christianity to the Roman Empire and beyond. In their –teachings, the American native church borrows from the biblical teachings on moral practice, the traditional teachings of the native societies and the sage teachings of the contemporary societies. Because of their adherence to traditional teachings, the Native American Church advances some practices including use of marijuana and occult practices which led to the increase in number of arrests against the members of the church. Today, the Native American Church remains a free religion in some of the states of North America but still a challenge in most of the metropolitan states.
- The Baha’i religion begun in the Middle East in 1863. It currently has between 5 and 7 million adherents across the world. The religion is based on the belief that there is only one God and that all regions are purposely unified. They advocate for a new world order founded on unity of religions, races and genders. It can thus be said that the Baha’i religion holds women in equal esteem to men, and upholds the importance of state through their structural organizations.
- The modern day religions hold the values of universalism, which is that all mankind would be saved at one time and that people should hold concern for others regardless of individual differences. At the same time, the value of fundamentalism also takes a center place in most of these religions as people believe in strict adherence to scriptural teachings and direct interpretation of the same as is applied in the most basic livelihoods. Such values enhance globalization acceptance as they encourage tolerance. The division of the church and state becomes problematic as it implies that state leadership could fail to apply the principles of moral teachings.
- The ‘Age of Reason’ was published in 1794. The book by Thomas Paine, presents arguments in support of Deism and countering the actions of Christians based on the argument that they are corrupt. In the book, Thomas Paine mentions three reasons why the Bible is an ordinary book. He mentions that some of the things therein, such as the book of proverbs can be linked to other traditions; the Bible lacks consistency and depicts a tyrannical God, which is least likely to be accurate. Based on Paine’s creed that emphasizes his belief in one God, it is expected that he cannot believe in Jesus or even the stories about him as he assumes the Bible to be a myth. From his perspective however, religion and science should be intertwined in the provision of rational explanations of natural occurrences (Paine 42-59).
- While Paine’s position regarding the Bible is questionable, he is not an atheist. It can be said he conforms to the naturalness in the world today. For instance, Paine argues that most of the stories in the Bible, including the book of Ruth, stories of Saint Paul and those of Jesus are myths just like any other myths in the society today. He also purports that God is not tyrannical and thus redemption is by choice and not to be pushed. The miracles in the Bible, to him are commonplace stories.
- The Confucian ideals place females at the bottom of the gender hierarchy as opposed to the descriptions of Jerusalem as a bride in spite of its high status. The Khujaraho temples are famous because of their erotic symbolism and structure. In the Judeo- Christian teachings, God’s punishment for the sin of Eve was that man should work for his food while the woman would bear children. In most of the contemporary religions, the position of the women is slightly changing, resulting in their rise to more cognizable positions in religious settings. While the Old Testament emphasized the importance of wealth through God’s promises and conquers, the New Testament holds the message that wealth without spiritual maturity is in vain.
- The Ojibwa beliefs on “wendingo” go contrary to the Christian teachings on wealth accumulation as they encourage the stifling of others for personal growth. In his argument, Jesus claimed to be unable to heal a non- Jewish woman because there was no relationship between Jews and non- Jews. The connection between religious dogma and laughter is not clear in any of the religions although a cheerful spirit is encouraged in most of them. Similarly, faith and fanaticism cannot be explained from the religious perspective but can be deduced through people’s reactions.
- Reason cannot be considered a reliable epistemological tool due to various factors. For instance, it is influenced by personal biases and has the potential of being skewed. However, when combined with basic theological teachings, it can give a strong foundation in religious life. As such, religion, just like the Yin- Yang symbol is full of paradoxes. The opposing sides of the pictures in the Yin –yang sign juxtaposes the positive with the negative. The bad with the good hence is a perfect exemplification of paradox.
IJS. The story of the Jewish people. Israel and Judaism Studies, 2017. Retrieved from www.ijs.org.au/The-Story-of-the-Jewish-People/default.aspx
Jewish Virtual Library. Ancient Jewish history: Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. A project of Aice, 2017. Retrieved from www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/pharisees-sadducees-and-essenes
Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason: Being an investigation of true and fabulous religion. Liberal and Scientific Publishing House, 1974. Retrieved from www.books.google.co.ke/books/about/The_Age_of_Reason.html?id=4ktMAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
Pennington, Brian. Teaching religion and violence. USA: OUP, 2012. Retrieved from www.books.google.co.ke/books?id=7BW_RA-7AtQC&dq=Pennington+-+Muhammad&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Pew Research. Mapping the global Muslim population. Pew Research Center, 2009. Retrieved from www.pewforum.org/2009/10/07/mapping-the-global-muslim-population/
Stannard, David. ‘Sex, race and holy war’ In American Holocaust. Oxford University Press, 1992. Retrieved from www.thirdworldtraveler.com/History/Sex_Race_AH.html
Van Seters, John, The Hyksos; A New Investigation. New Haven- Yale University Press, 1966. Excerpt retrieved from www.cojs.org/admonitions_of_ipuwer_papyrus/