Slide Show #9

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Transcript Slide Show #9

Slide Show #9:
The Rise of World Religions:
Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism
Review Questions
1.) WHY DID Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam become world religions?
2.) WHAT role did trade and warfare play in the spread of these religions?
3.) WHY DID missionaries seek to convert rulers and elites?
4.) HOW DID Christian and Muslim rulers deal with religious minorities?
5.) WHAT was the role of monasticism and asceticism in each of these
6.) WHAT ROLE did women play in the consolidation and spread
of world religions?
7.) HOW DID Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam accommodate themselves
to local cultures?
World Religion: Necessary Conditions
Religion must be open to all
 Most ancient religions are gender-specific or culturally specific
Religion must appeal to all levels of society: poor, middle, elites
 Offering spiritual transcendence--personal salvation
 Allowing one to belong to something larger than oneself
Need for opening to conversion:
 times of turmoil, unrest, feeling that old religion isn’t working
 in personal circumstances that makes converting to new
religion a great advantage, or
 in a position in which they can be coerced (defeated in war)
The Rise of World Religions to 1000 C.E.
How do religions spread?
All four of the following are often interlinked,
but let’s think about how each one works by itself.
Exchange of goods and exchange of ideas
 Buddhism to East Asia along the Silk Route
 Islam into West Africa along the Saharan caravan routes
Islamic Empire
 Jihad: war as religious duty
Charlemagne’s conquests of pagan Germans
 War in the service of the church
Conversion of Elites (Military, Political, Commercial)
 Christianity
 Roman
 Ethiopian
 Persian
 Georgians, other Central Asians
 Buddhists
 Koreans
 Japanese
Case Study: Rome and Christianity
Mideast & Islam
Elite sponsorship: Christianity
Constantine and Rome
 Imperial favor brought Christian clergy into state bureaucracy.
 Christians redefined educational system for the elite.
 State religion by the end of the fourth century
 Conversion by general population takes off
 Conversion of neighboring states (Armenia, Georgian kingdoms, Ethiopia) as a
means of associating with Rome
 Persecution of non-Christians accelerates as Christianity spreads
Elite sponsorship: Islam
Takeover of Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia
Tolerance of Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians
 Move to Arabic as official language throughout Dar al-Islam
 Taxes on non-Muslims create incentives to convert to Islam
 Periodic persecutions
Galla Placidia. As matriarchs of
households, and sometimes as
powerful agents in the Roman state,
women played vital roles in spreading
and shaping Christianity. In the early
fifth century, Galla Placidia, an
emperor’s daughter, depicted here on a
gold coin as “Principessa Augusta,”
converted her first husband, the
Visigoth King Athaulf, from heresy and
from opposition to Rome. She not only
built churches; she also intervened in
the elections of popes and bishops and
tried to influence church doctrine.
The Cathedral Doors of Gniezno. The
bronze doors of the cathedral in Gniezno
in Poland are both a masterpiece of the
eleventh century and a document of the
way political alliances spread Christianity.
Boleslaus I (r. 992-1025)—the first ruler
of Poland to call himself “king”— grew up
at the court of the Emperor Otto III, who
presented him with a relic incomparably
sacred to a soldier— the lance that was
supposed to have pierced Christ’s side at
his Crucifixion. Of almost, equal
importance were the relics of St. Adalbert
-- a Slav martyr whose body Boleslaus
bought from pagans in Prussia.
Christian and pagan cultures were so similar and
so mixed in the fourth-century Roman Empire that
it is sometimes hard to tell them apart. Here an
emperor, having ridden in life in triumph on an
elephant, is hoisted skyward by the chariot of the
sun, which pagans worshipped as a god and
Christian artists used as an image for Christ.
Winged spirits ascend with the emperor’s soul,
through the spheres of heaven, marked by the
signs of the zodiac, top right, to the heavenly home
of his ancestors. This is one of the last works of art
that portrays a Roman emperor in a predominantly
pagan setting. (But a Christian meaning)
The Jelling Stone. The Norse King
Harold Bluetooth adopted Christianity in
965 and had commemorative stones
carved with Christian symbols in
memory of his parents, to atone for their
paganism. The detail here shows the
Crucifixion. “This Harold,” claims the
inscription on the stones, “conquered all
Denmark and Norway and turned the
Danes to Christianity.”
Camel caravan is still the most practical way to cross the Sahara, and camels still carry part
of the traditional salt trade there. Like other long-range trade routes, those across the Sahara
in the middle ages were avenues for the transfer of culture, spreading Islam, for example, from
North Africa to the kingdoms of the West African Sahel and the Niger valley.
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem marks the spot where, according to Muslim tradition, the
Prophet Muhammad ascended to paradise. The Caliph Abd al-Malik built it in the late 600s,
marking as sacred to Islam a city that Christians and Jews already revered. The splendor and
scale of the building outdazzled and dwarfed the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the
remains of the last Jewish Temple.
Case Study: Buddhism in Tang China
Tang dynasty in China.
 Imperial favor brought Buddhist clergy into the state bureaucracy.
 Buddhist clergy give heightened legitimacy to rulers by recognizing
them as “enlightened” beings (Bodhisattvas), who are capable of
helping others to ‘enlightenment’
 Buddhism spreads to neighboring states (Korea, Japan, Indochina)
that want to associate themselves with China.
Missionary activity
Buddhist monks to China
Christian monks into Britain
Islamic scholars, judges move across Asia, Africa, Mideast
Dunhuang. The Silk Roads spread
Buddhism as well as trade. Here—in a
tenth-century example of the thousands of
devotional paintings merchants endowed
at the monastery of Dunhuang in Central
Asia—a convert and his family pray at the
feet of a Bodhisattva. Many Chinese
converts to Buddhism retained the family
values characteristic of Confucianism.
Xuanzang was the foremost Chinese
Buddhist of the seventh century. He traveled
the Silk Roads on a pilgrimage to India to
visit the sites where the Buddha had lived
and taught and to retrieve Buddhist
manuscripts. He is depicted, some 250 years
after his death, with typical items a Buddhist
monk took on pilgrimage, including a censer
to burn incense in worship and a rattle to
attract alms from pious passersby. The tiger
alludes to his visit to the spot where,
according to legend, the Buddha, moved by
compassion, gave his life to feed a starving
tiger. Reunion des Musees Nationaux/Art
Resource, NY
Priests, officials, and bystanders (shown prostrating themselves, on the right) greet the pilgrim Xuanzang
on his return to China from India, where he had traveled to find Buddhist scriptures. Pack horses bear the
sacred texts he had acquired to a temple on the left. Monks at the rear carry holy relics.
Prince Shotoku. As regent for the first
reigning Japanese empress in the early
seventh century, Prince Shotoku, shown
here with two of his sons in a Korean
painting, used his influence to promote
contacts with China, remodel the
Japanese government on Chinese lines,
and spread Buddhism in Japan.
Monasticism in Christianity and Buddhism
Both religions were founded by ascetics: Jesus and Buddha
 What does “ascetic” mean? aceticism? Make sure you know
Monks represent those who attempt to live up to each religions
 Buddhism: most clerics are monks; keepers of tradition and
scripture, sometimes become “holy” or saintlike
 Christianity: separate groups of monks and priests; both are
keepers of tradition and scripture, and either may become “holy”
or saintlike
 Monks more involved in missionary work
 Essential in maintaining literacy and culture in Europe
 Benedict of Nursia (500s CE) father of western monasticism
 St. Benedict’s rule focused monks on work, study, prayer
St. Catherine’s Monastery,
Sinai. For almost 1,800 years,
Christian monks have lived in
the desert, imitating Jesus and
John the Baptist, who, the
Bible says, both withdrew into
the wilderness to think and
pray. St. Catherine’s
monastery in Sinai in Egypt is
in an oasis in a desert gorge,
nearly 5,000 feet deep. Its
remoteness protected it for
centuries and helped to keep
its collection of early Christian
writings intact.
Samye monastery. The first Buddhist monastery in Tibet at Samye in the valley of Lhasa. It
illustrates the importance of royal patronage in bringing Buddhism to Tibet. According to
legend, King Trisong Detsen in the 770s invited an Indian sage into the kingdom, who
consecrated the site of the monastery after a battle with the demons who infested it. (Part of
Tibet’s indigenous Bon religion.)
Islamic Monasticism: Why Not?
Muhammad was not an ascetic: he married, had children, was a
political as well as spiritual leader.
Islam: all male Muslims are “priests” capable of performing
any ceremony. Muslim clerics are men who devote themselves
to study of scripture and many gain followings. Any Muslim
may convert others to Islam.
No need for monks or separate religious clerical orders
The Kaaba. Promoters of new religions often reconsecrated pagan sites—it was easier to do
that than to persuade worshippers to abandon them. Muhammad made pilgrimage to the black
rock housed in a building known as the Kaaba in Mecca compulsory for Muslims. As the
picture shows, thousands of pilgrims circle the site each year at the beginning of the hajj. But
the rock had already been a place of pagan pilgrimage in Arabia, and a shrine of many gods,
for generations, perhaps centuries, before Muhammad’s time.
The Muslim World, ca. 1000 C.E.
Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity became world
religions because each had:
A general appeal to all persons
No specific connection to any particular group or gender
Sponsorship by a powerful elite or elites
The ability to spread through trade
Missionaries who could spread the message of the religion and
convert new believers
The Spread of Buddhism to 1000 C.E.
Discussion/Essay Question
Is religious harmony possible?
 Religious division of the world by the major world religions has
deep and often antagonistic roots
 Yet the world religions share many basic ideas about peace, justice
and the equality of all people
 And migration and conversion is bringing members of all religious
communities—Buddhist, Islamic, Christian, Hindu, and others—
into closer and more varied contact
Can the major faiths of the world come to peaceful co-existence and
mutual respect?
Even more radically, are there any prospects for the emergence of a
universal world religion encompassing all faiths?