Timeline of religion

The timeline of religion is a chronological catalogue of important and noteworthy religious events in pre-historic and modern times. This article reaches into pre-historic times, as the bulk of the human religious experience pre-dates written history. Written history (the age of formal writing) is only c.5000 years old.[1] A lack of written records results in most of the knowledge of pre-historic religion being derived from archaeological records and other indirect sources, and from suppositions. Much pre-historic religion is subject to continued debate.


Middle Paleolithic (300,000-50,000 BCE)

Despite claims by some researchers of bear worship, belief in an afterlife, and other rituals, the archaeological evidence does not support the presence of religious practices by modern humans or Neanderthals during this period.[2]

100,000 BCE
Earliest known human burial in the Middle East.
70,000-35,000 BCE
Neanderthal burials take place in areas of Europe and the Middle East.[3]

50th to 11th millennium BCE

40,000 BCE
The remains of one of the earliest known anatomically modern humans to be discovered cremated, was buried near Lake Mungo.[4][5][6][7][8]
38,000 BCE
The Aurignacian[9] Löwenmensch figurine, the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world and one of the oldest known sculptures in general, was made. The sculpture has also been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, although it may have represented a deity.[10]
35-000-26,000 BCE
Neanderthal burials are absent from the archaeological record. This roughly coincides with the time period of the Homo sapiens' introduction to Europe and decline of the Neanderthals;[3] individual skulls and/or long bones began appearing, heavily stained with red ochre and separately buried. This practice may be the origin of sacred relics.[3] The oldest discovered "Venus figurines" appeared in graves. Some were deliberately broken or repeatedly stabbed, possibly representing the murders of the men with whom they were buried,[3] or owing to some other unknown social dynamic.
25,000–21,000 BCE
Clear examples of burials are present in Iberia, Wales, and eastern Europe. These, too, incorporate the heavy use of red ochre. Additionally, various objects were included in the graves (e.g. periwinkle shells, weighted clothing, dolls, possible drumsticks, mammoth ivory beads, fox teeth pendants, panoply of ivory artifacts, "baton" antlers, flint blades etc.).[3]
13,000–8,000 BCE
Noticeable burial activity resumed. Prior mortuary activity had either taken a less obvious form or contemporaries retained some of their burial knowledge in the absence of such activity. Dozens of men, women, and children were being buried in the same caves which were used for burials 10,000 years beforehand. All these graves are delineated by the cave walls and large limestone blocks. The burials share a number of characteristics (such as use of ochre, and shell and mammoth ivory jewellery) that go back thousands of years. Some burials were double, comprising an adult male with a juvenile male buried by his side. They were now beginning to take on the form of modern cemeteries. Old burials were commonly re-dug and moved to make way for new ones, with the older bones often being gathered and cached together. Large stones may have acted as grave markers. Pairs of ochred antlers were sometimes mounted on poles within the cave; this is compared to the modern practice of leaving flowers at a grave.[3]

10th Millennium to 1st century BCE

9130–7370 BCE
This was the apparent period of use of Göbekli Tepe, one of the oldest human-made sites of worship yet discovered; evidence of similar usage has also been found in another nearby site, Nevalı Çori.[11]
7500–5700 BCE
The settlements of Catalhoyuk developed as a likely spiritual centre of Anatolia. Possibly practising worship in communal shrines, its inhabitants left behind numerous clay figurines and impressions of phallic, feminine and hunting scenes.

The Ancient Era

c.3750 BCE
The Proto-Semitic people emerged from a generally accepted urheimat in the Levant. The Proto-Semitic people would migrate throughout the Near East into Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ethiopia and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.
3300–1300 BCE
Extent and major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization. The shaded area does not include recent excavations.
The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system and multi-storeyed houses.
Extent and major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization. The shaded area does not include recent excavations.
3200–3100 BCE
Newgrange, the 250,000 ton (226,796.2 tonne) passage tomb aligned to the winter solstice in Ireland, was built.[12]
3100 BCE
The initial form of Stonehenge was completed. The circular bank and ditch enclosure, about 110 metres (360 ft) across, may have been completed with a timber circle.
3000 BCE
Sumerian Cuneiform emerged from the proto-literate Uruk period, allowing the codification of beliefs and creation of detailed historical religious records.
The second phase of Stonehenge was completed and appeared to function as the first enclosed cremation cemetery in the British Isles.
2635–2610 BCE
The oldest surviving Egyptian Pyramid was commissioned by Pharaoh Djoser.
2600 BCE
Stonehenge began to take on its final form. The wooden posts were replaced with bluestone. It began taking on an increasingly complex setup (including an altar, a portal, station stones, etc.) and shows consideration of solar alignments.
2560 BCE
This is the approximate time accepted as the completion of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest pyramid of the Giza Plateau.
2494–2345 BCE
The first of the oldest surviving religious texts, the Pyramid Texts, was composed in Ancient Egypt.
2200 BCE
The Minoan Civilization developed in Crete. Citizens worshipped a variety of goddesses.
2150–2000 BCE
The earliest surviving versions of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh—originally titled He who Saw the Deep (Sha naqba īmuru) or Surpassing All Other Kings (Shūtur eli sharrī)—were written.
1700–1100 BCE
The oldest of the Hindu Vedas (scriptures), the Rig Veda was composed. This is the first mention of Rudra a fearsome form of Shiva as the supreme god.
1600 BCE
The ancient development of Stonehenge came to an end.
1500 BCE
The Vedic Age began in India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
1351 or 1353 BCE
The reign of Akhenaten, sometimes credited with starting the earliest known recorded monotheistic religion, in Ancient Egypt.
1300–1000 BCE
The "standard" Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh was edited by Sin-liqe-unninni.
1250–600 BCE
The Upanishads (Vedic texts) were composed, containing the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
1200 BCE
The Greek Dark Age began.
1200 BCE
The Olmecs built the earliest pyramids and temples in Central America.[13]
877–777 BCE
The life of Parshvanatha, 23rd Tirthankara of Jainism.[14][15]
800 BCE
The Greek Dark Age ends.
8th to 6th centuries BCE
The Chandogya Upanishad is compiled, significant for containing the earliest to date mention of Krishna. Verse 3.17.6 mentions Krishna Devakiputra (Sanskrit: कृष्णाय देवकीपुत्रा) as a student of the sage Ghora Angirasa.
6th to 5th centuries BCE
The first five books of the Jewish Tanakh, the Torah (Hebrew: תורה‬), are probably compiled.[16]
6th century BCE
Possible start of Zoroastrianism; however some date Zarathustra closer to 1000 BCE . Zoroastrianism flourished under the Persian emperors known as the Achaemenids. The emperors Darius (ruled 522–486 B.C.E.) and Xerxes (ruled 486–465 B.C.E.) made it the official religion of their empire.[17]
600–500 BCE
The earliest Confucian writing, Shu Ching, incorporates ideas of harmony and heaven.
599–527 BCE
The life of Mahavira, 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism.[18]
c.563/480–c.483/400 BCE,[19][20][21]
Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism was born.
551 BCE
Confucius, founder of Confucianism, was born.[13]
399 BCE
Socrates was tried for impiety.
369-372 BCE
Birth of Mencius and Zhuang Zhou
300 BCE
The oldest known version of the Tao Te Ching was written on bamboo tablets.
300 BCE
Theravada Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Venerable Mahinda.
c.250 BCE
The Third Buddhist council was convened by Ashoka. Ashoka sends Buddhist missionaries to faraway countries, such as China, mainland Southeast Asia, Malay kingdoms, and Hellenistic kingdoms.
140 BCE
The earliest grammar of Sanskrit literature was composed by Pāṇini.
100 BCE–500 CE
The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, constituting the foundational texts of Yoga, were composed.

The Common Era

1st to 5th Centuries

c.4 BCE–c.30/33 CE
The life of Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Christianity.
The death of John the Baptist.
The first Christian Council was convened in Jerusalem.
The Siege of Jerusalem, the Destruction of the Temple and the rise of Rabbinic Judaism.
Manichaean Gnosticism was formed by the prophet Mani.
Some of the oldest parts of the Ginza Rba, a core text of Mandaean Gnosticism, were written.
Classic Mayan step pyramids were constructed.
The Edict of Milan decreed religious toleration in the Roman empire.
The first ecumenical council (the Council of Nicaea) was convened to attain a consensus on doctrine through an assembly representing all Christendom. It established the original Nicene Creed and fixed the date of Easter. It also confirmed the primacy of the Sees of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, and granted the See of Jerusalem a position of honour.
The oldest record of the complete biblical texts (the Codex Sinaiticus) survives in a Greek translation called the Septuagint, dating to the 4th century CE.
Theodosius I declared Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.
The second ecumenical council (the First Council of Constantinople) reaffirmed and revised the Nicene Creed, repudiating Arianism and Pneumatomachi.
Theodosius proscribed paganism within the Roman Empire.
A council of early Christian bishops listed and approved a biblical canon for the first time at the Synod of Hippo.

Middle Ages (5th to 15th centuries)

5th to 10th centuries

St. Jerome completed the Vulgate, the first Latin translation of the Bible.
The Western Roman Empire began to decline, signalling the onset of the Dark Ages.
The Church of the East in Sassanian Empire (Persia) formally separated from the See of Antioch and proclaimed full ecclesiastical independence.
The third ecumenical council (the First Council of Ephesus) was convened as a result of the controversial teachings of Nestorius of Constantinople. It repudiated Nestorianism, proclaimed the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos (the God-bearer or Mother of God). It also repudiated Pelagianism and again reaffirmed the Nicene Creed.
The Second Council of Ephesus declared support for Eutyches and attacked his opponents. Originally convened as an ecumenical council, its ecumenical nature was rejected by the Chalcedonians, who denounced the council as latrocinium.
The fourth ecumenical council (the Council of Chalcedon) rejected the Eutychian doctrine of monophysitism, adopting instead the Chalcedonian Creed. It reinstated those deposed in 449, deposed Dioscorus of Alexandria and elevated the bishoprics of Constantinople and Jerusalem to the status of patriarchates.
The Oriental Orthodox Church rejected the christological view put forth by the Council of Chalcedon and was excommunicated.
Benedict of Nursia wrote his Rule, laying the foundation of Western Christian monasticism.
The fifth ecumenical council (the Second Council of Constantinople) repudiated the Three Chapters as Nestorian and condemned Origen of Alexandria.
The life of Muhammad ibn 'Abdullāh, the Prophet of Islam.
The Rashidun Caliphate heralded the Arab conquest of Persia, Egypt and Iraq, bringing Islam to those regions.
The verses of the Qur'an were compiled in the form of a book in the era of Uthman, the third Caliph of Islam.
The Umayyad Caliphate brought the Arab conquest of North Africa, Spain and Central Asia, marking the greatest extent of the Arab conquests and bringing Islam to those regions.
The sixth ecumenical council (the Third Council of Constantinople) rejected Monothelitism and Monoenergism.
The division between Sunni and Shiites Muslims developed.
The Quinisext Council (also known as the Council in Trullo), an amendment to the 5th and 6th ecumenical councils, established the Pentarchy.
Kojiki, the oldest Shinto text, was written.[13]
The migration of Zoroastrian (Parsi) communities from Persia to India began, caused by Muslim conquest of their lands and the ensuing persecution.
The latrocinium Council of Hieria supported iconoclasm.
The seventh ecumenical council (the Second Council of Nicaea) restored the veneration of icons and denounced iconoclasm.
The life of Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara, who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedānta.
The oldest extant manuscripts of the vocalized Masoretic text, upon which modern editions are based, date to 9th century CE.

11th to 15th centuries

The life of Milarepa, one of most famous yogis and poets of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Great Schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches was formalised.
The First Crusade led to the capture of Jerusalem.
Sigurd I of Norway led the Norwegian Crusade against Muslims in Spain, the Balearic Islands and in Palestine.
The Second Crusade was waged in response to the fall of the County of Edessa.
In the Third Crusade European leaders attempted to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin.
The Fourth Crusade, originally intended to recapture Jerusalem, instead led to the sack of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire.
The Delhi Sultanate was established.
The Albigensian Crusade was conducted to eliminate Catharism in Occitania, Europe.
With the Fifth Crusade, Christian leaders again attempted (but failed) to recapture Jerusalem.
The life of Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law and founder of Nichiren Buddhism.. Based at the Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple Taisekiji (Japan), this branch of Buddhism teaches the importance of chanting the mantra Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.
The Sixth Crusade won control of large areas of the Holy Land for Christian rulers, more through diplomacy than through fighting.
The Codex Gigas was completed by Herman the Recluse in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim.
Jerusalem was sacked again, instigating the Seventh Crusade.
The Eighth Crusade was launched by Louis IX of France but largely petered out when Louis died shortly after reaching Tunis.
The Ninth Crusade failed.
Pope John XXII laid the groundwork for future witch-hunts with the formalisation of the persecution of witchcraft.
The Roman Catholic Church split during the Western Schism.
The death of Jan Hus who is considered as the first reformer of the Western Christianity. This event is often considered as the beginning of the Reformation.[22][23]
The life of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism.
Pope Innocent VIII marked the beginning of the classical European witch-hunts with his papal bull Summis desiderantes.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu popularised the chanting of the Hare Krishna and composed the Siksastakam (eight devotional prayers) in Sanskrit. His followers, Gaudiya Vaishnavas, revere him as a spiritual reformer, a Hindu revivalist and an avatar of Krishna.

Early modern and Modern eras

16th Century

In the Spanish Empire, Catholicism was spread and encouraged through such institutions as the missions and the Inquisition.
Martin Luther posted The Ninety-Five Theses on the door of All Saints' Church, Wittenberg, launching the Protestant Reformation.
African religious systems were introduced to the Americas, with the commencement of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Henry VIII separated the English Church from Rome and made himself Supreme Head of the Church of England.
The Massacre of Vassy sparked the first of a series of French Wars of Religion.

17th Century

Guru Gobind Singh Ji created the Khalsa in Sikhism.

18th Century

Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the last Sikh guru, died after instituting the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, as the eternal Guru.
Baron d'Holbach published The System of Nature said to be the first positive, unambiguous statement of atheism in the West.[24]
Ghanshyam, later known as Sahajanand Swami/Swaminarayan, was born in Chhapaiya at the house of Dharmadev and Bhaktimata.
In the Dechristianisation of France[25][26] the Revolutionary Government confiscated Church properties, banned monastic vows and, with the passage of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, removed control of the Church from the Pope and subordinated it as a department of the Government. The Republic also replaced the traditional Gregorian Calendar and abolished Christian holidays.
The Second Great Awakening, a Protestant religious revival in the United States.
Freedom of religion, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, was added as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, forming an early and influential secular government.

19th Century

The French Revolutionary Government and Pope Pius VII entered into the Concordat of 1801. While Roman Catholicism regained some powers and became recognized as "the religion of the great majority of the French", it was not afforded the latitude it had enjoyed prior to the Revolution and was not re-established as the official state religion. The Church relinquished all claims to estate seized after 1790, the clergy was state salaried and was obliged to swear allegiance to the State. Religious freedom was restored.
The life of Siyyid 'Alí Muḥammad Shírází (Persian: سيد علی ‌محمد شیرازی), better known as the Báb, the founder of Bábism.
The life of Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith.
The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith claimed to see the Angel Moroni and prophesied of what is now the Book of Mormon.
Adventism was started by William Miller in the United States.[27]
The Church of Christ was founded by Joseph Smith on 6 April — initiating the Latter Day Saint restorationist movement.
The life of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the messianic Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam.
The life of Ramakrishna, saint and mystic of Bengal.
Satguru Ram Singh Ji created the Namdhari sect within the Sikh religion.
Joseph Smith was murdered on 27 June, resulting in a succession crisis in the Latter Day Saint movement.
First great popular uprising against British colonial government in India. Also called Sepoy Mutiny.
The Theosophical Society was formed in New York City by Helena Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others.
Christian Science was granted its charter in Boston, Massachusetts.
Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was formed by Charles Taze Russell, initiating the Bible Student movement.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established.
Swami Vivekananda's first speech at The Parliament of World Religions, Chicago, brought the ancient philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world.
Aradia (aka The Gospel of the Witches), one of the earliest books describing post witchhunt European religious Witchcraft, was published by Charles Godfrey Leland.[28]

20th Century

The incorporation of the Spiritualists' National Union legally representing Spiritualism in the United Kingdom.
Thelema was founded by Aleister Crowley.
In France the law on the Separation of the Churches and the State was passed, officially establishing state secularism and putting an end to the funding of religious groups by the state.[29]
Becoming a place of pilgrimage for neo-druids and other pagans, the Ancient Order of Druids organised the first recorded reconstructionist ceremony in Stonehenge.
The Khalifatul Masih was established in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as the "Second Manifestation of God's Power".
The October Revolution in Russia led to the annexation of all church properties and subsequent religious suppression.
The Self Realization Fellowship Church of all Religions with its headquarters in Los Angeles, CA, was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda.
Cao Dai founded.
The Cristero War, fought between the secular government and religious Christian rebels in Mexico, ended.
The Rastafari movement began following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as Emperor of Ethiopia.
The Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit, Michigan.
A neo-Hindu religious movement, the Brahma Kumaris or "Daughters of Brahma", started. Its origin can be traced to the group "Om Mandali", founded by Lekhraj Kripalani(1884–1969).
Jehovah's Witnesses emerged from the Bible Student movement under the influence of Joseph Franklin Rutherford.[30]
Millions of Jews were relocated and murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
First nation in the name of Islam was created called Pakistan. British India was partitioned into the Islamic nation of Pakistan and the secular nation of India with a Hindu majority.
The modern state of Israel was established as a homeland for the Jews.
The Church of Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard.[31]
Wicca was publicised by Gerald Gardner.[32]
Navayana Buddhism (Neo-Buddhism) was founded by B. R. Ambedkar, initially attracting some 380,000 Dalit converts from Hinduism.
The 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet amidst unrest and established an exile community in India.
Various Neopagan and New Age movements gained momentum.
Unitarian Universalism was formed from the merger of Unitarianism and Universalism.[33]
The Church of All Worlds, the first American neo-pagan church, was formed by a group including Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, and Richard Lance Christie.
The Second Vatican Council was convened.[34][35][36][37]
Srila Prabhupada established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and introduced translations of the Bhagavad-Gita and Vedic Scriptures in mass production all over the world.
The Church of Satan was founded by Anton LaVey on Walpurgisnacht.[38]
The Stonehenge free festivals started.[39]
Germanic Neopaganism (aka Heathenism, Heathenry, Ásatrú, Odinism, Forn Siðr, Vor Siðr, and Theodism) began to experience a second wave of revival.[40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50]
Claude Vorilhon established the Raëlian Movement and changed his name to Raël following a purported extraterrestrial encounter in December 1973.
The Temple of Set was founded in Santa Barbara, California.
The Iranian Revolution resulted in the establishment of an Islamic Republic in Iran.
The Stregherian revival continued. "The Book of the Holy Strega" and "The Book of Ways" Volume I & II were published.
Operation Blue Star in the holiest site of the Sikhs, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, led to Anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and adjoining regions, following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The Battle of the Beanfield forced an end to the Stonehenge free festivals.[39][51][52]
Following the revolutions of 1989, the overthrow of many Soviet-style states allowed a resurgence in open religious practice in many Eastern European countries.[53]
Reconstructionist Pagan movements (Celtic, Hellenic, Roman, Slavic, Baltic, Finnish, etc.) proliferate throughout Europe.
The European Council convened in Copenhagen, Denmark, agreed to the Copenhagen Criteria, requiring religious freedom within all members and prospective members of the European Union.
The Strega Arician Tradition was founded.[54]

21st century

21 terrorists from Al-Qaeda killed 2,977 on September 11, 2001 in the name of Islam against the United States of America. Osama Bin Laden claimed responsibility and praised the attacks.[55]
Sectarian rivalries exploded in Iraq between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, with each side targeting the other in terrorist acts, and bombings of mosques and shrines.[56]
Nepal, the world's only Hindu Kingdom, was declared a secular state by its Constituent Assembly after declaring the state a Republic on 28 May 2008.[57]
The Church of Scientology in France was fined €600,000 and several of its leaders were fined and imprisoned for defrauding new recruits of their savings.[58][59][60] The state failed to disband the church owing to legal changes occurring over the same time period.[60][61]
Civil war broke out in Syria over domestic political issues. The country soon split along sectarian lines between Sunni, Alawite and Shiite Muslims.[62] War crimes and acts of genocide were committed by both parties as religious leaders on each side condemned the other as heretics.[63] The Syrian civil war soon became a battleground for regional sectarian unrest, as fighters joined the fight from as far away as North America and Europe, as well as Iran and the Arab states.[64]
A supposed Islamic Caliphate was established by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in regions of war torn Syria and Iraq, drawing global support from radical Sunni Muslims.[65][66] This was a modern-day attempt to re-establish Islamic self-rule in accordance with strict adherence to Shariah-Islamic religious law.[67][68] In the wake of the Syrian civil war, Islamic extremists targeted the indigenous Arab Christian communities. In acts of genocide, numerous ancient Christian and Yazidi communities were evicted and threatened with death by various Muslim Sunni fighter groups.[69] After ISIS terrorist forces infiltrated and took over large parts of northern Iraq from Syria, many ancient Christian and Yazidi enclaves were destroyed.[69][70][71][72]

See also


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  2. ^ Wunn, Ina (2000). "Beginning of Religion" (PDF). Numen. 47 (4).
  3. ^ a b c d e f Pettitt, Paul (August 2002). "When Burial Begins". British Archaeology. No. 66. Archived from the original on 2 June 2007.
  4. ^ Bowler JM, Jones R, Allen H, Thorne AG (1970). "Pleistocene human remains from Australia: a living site and human cremation from Lake Mungo, Western New South Wales". World Archaeol. 2 (1): 39–60. doi:10.1080/00438243.1970.9979463. PMID 16468208.
  5. ^ Barbetti M, Allen H (1972). "Prehistoric man at Lake Mungo, Australia, by 32,000 years BP". Nature. 240 (5375): 46–8. doi:10.1038/240046a0. PMID 4570638.
  6. ^ Bowler, J.M. 1971. Pleistocene salinities and climatic change: Evidence from lakes and lunettes in southeastern Australia. In: Mulvaney, D.J. and Golson, J. (eds), Aboriginal Man and Environment in Australia. Canberra: Australian National University Press, pp. 47–65.
  7. ^ Bowler JM, Johnston H, Olley JM, Prescott JR, Roberts RG, Shawcross W, Spooner NA (2003). "New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia". Nature. 421 (6925): 837–40. doi:10.1038/nature01383. PMID 12594511.
  8. ^ Olleya JM, Roberts RG, Yoshida H, Bowler JM (2006). "Single-grain optical dating of grave-infill associated with human burials at Lake Mungo, Australia". Quaternary Science Reviews. 25 (19–20): 2469–2474. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2005.07.022.
  9. ^ "Images for Chapter 20 Hominids". ucdavis.edu. Archived from the original on 19 May 2008.
  10. ^ Martin Bailey Ice Age Lion Man is world’s earliest figurative sculpture The Art Newspaper, 31 January 2013, accessed 1 February 2013.[1]
  11. ^ "The World's First Temple", Archaeology magazine, Nov/Dec 2008 p 23.
  12. ^ "PlanetQuest: The History of Astronomy – Newgrange".
  13. ^ a b c Smith, Laura (2007). Illustrated Timeline of Religion. ISBN 1-4027-3606-1.
  14. ^ Fisher 1997, p. 115.
  15. ^ "Parshvanatha". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  16. ^ Old Testament Canon, Texts, and Versions. Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  17. ^ The Encyclopedia of World Religions, Revised Edition, 2007, by DWJ BOOKS LLC
  18. ^ "Mahavira." Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2006. Answers.com 28 Nov. 2009. http://www.answers.com/topic/mahavira
  19. ^ Rawlinson, Hugh George. (1950) A Concise History of the Indian People, Oxford University Press. p. 46.
  20. ^ Muller, F. Max. (2001) The Dhammapada And Sutta-nipata, Routledge (UK). p. xlvii. ISBN 0-7007-1548-7.
  21. ^ India: A History. Revised and Updated, by John Keay: "The date [of Buddha's meeting with Bimbisara] (given the Buddhist 'short chronology') must have been around 400 BCE."
  22. ^ "Jan Hus - Bohemian religious leader".
  23. ^ "Jan Hus". 11 June 2014.
  24. ^ Jonathan Miller in Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief
  25. ^ Tallet, Frank Religion, Society and Politics in France Since 1789 p. 1, 1991 Continuum International Publishing
  26. ^ Tallet, Frank Religion, Society and Politics in France Since 1789 p. 2, 1991 Continuum International Publishing
  27. ^ Mead, Frank S; Hill, Samuel S; Atwood, Craig D. "Adventist and Sabbatarian (Hebraic) Churches". Handbook of Denominations in the United States (12th ed.). Nashville: Abingdon Press. pp. 256–76.
  28. ^ Clifton, Chas (1998). "The Significance of Aradia". in Mario Pazzaglini. Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, A New Translation. Blaine, Washington: Phoenix Publishing, Inc.. p. 73. ISBN 0-919345-34-4.
  29. ^ "100th Anniversary of Secularism in France". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 9 December 2005.
  30. ^ Leo P. Chall, Sociological Abstracts, vol 26 issues 1–3, "Sociology of Religion", 1978, p. 193 col 2: "Rutherford, through the Watch Tower Society, succeeded in changing all aspects of the sect from 1919 to 1932 and created —a charismatic offshoot of the Bible student community."
  31. ^ "What is Scientology and who was L. Ron Hubbard?". The Telegraph. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  32. ^ Gardner, Gerald B (1999) [1954]. Witchcraft Today. Lake Toxaway, NC: Mercury Publishing. OCLC 44936549
  33. ^ "About Oberon Zell". 24 November 2007. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  34. ^ Faculty of Catholic University of America, ed (1967). "Vatican Council II". New Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV (1 ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 563. OCLC 34184550.
  35. ^ Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 69. ISBN 1-57075-638-4.
  36. ^ Hahnenberg, Edward (2007). A Concise Guide to the Documents of Vatican II. City: Saint Anthony Messenger Press. pp. 44. ISBN 0-86716-552-9.
  37. ^ Alberigo, Giuseppe; Sherry, Matthew (2006). A Brief History of Vatican II. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. pp. 1. ISBN 1-57075-638-4.
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External links

Ancient Egyptian religion

Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals that formed an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians' interaction with many deities believed to be present in, and in control of, the world. Rituals such as prayer and offerings were provided to the gods to gain their favor. Formal religious practice centered on the pharaoh, the rulers of Egypt, believed to possess a divine power by virtue of their position. They acted as intermediaries between their people and the gods, and were obligated to sustain the gods through rituals and offerings so that they could maintain Ma'at, the order of the cosmos. The state dedicated enormous resources to Egyptian rituals and to the construction of the temples.

Individuals could interact with the gods for their own purposes, appealing for help through prayer or compelling the gods to act through magic. These practices were distinct from, but closely linked with, the formal rituals and institutions. The popular religious tradition grew more prominent in the course of Egyptian history as the status of the pharaoh declined. Egyptian belief in the afterlife and funerary practices is evident in great efforts made to ensure the survival of their souls after death, providing tombs, grave goods, and offerings to preserve the bodies and spirits of the deceased.

The religion had its roots in Egypt's prehistory and lasted for more than 3,000 years. The details of religious belief changed over time as the importance of particular gods rose and declined, and their intricate relationships shifted. At various times, certain gods became preeminent over the others, including the sun god Ra, the creator god Amun, and the mother goddess Isis. For a brief period, in the theology promulgated by the Pharaoh Akhenaten, a single god, the Aten, replaced the traditional pantheon. Ancient Egyptian religion and mythology left behind many writings and monuments, along with significant influences on ancient and modern cultures.

Ancient Mesopotamian religion

Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices of the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, particularly Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia between circa 3500 BC and 400 AD, after which they largely gave way to Syriac Christianity. The religious development of Mesopotamia and Mesopotamian culture in general was not particularly influenced by the movements of the various peoples into and throughout the area, particularly the south. Rather, Mesopotamian religion was a consistent and coherent tradition which adapted to the internal needs of its adherents over millennia of development.The earliest undercurrents of Mesopotamian religious thought date to the mid 4th millennium BC, and involved the worship of forces of nature as providers of sustenance. In the 3rd millennium BC objects of worship were personified and became an expansive cast of divinities with particular functions. The last stages of Mesopotamian polytheism, which developed in the 2nd and 1st millenniums, introduced greater emphasis on personal religion and structured the gods into a monarchical hierarchy with the national god being the head of the pantheon. Mesopotamian religion finally declined with the spread of Iranian religions during the Achaemenid Empire and with the Christianization of Mesopotamia.

Ancient Semitic religion

Ancient Semitic religion encompasses the polytheistic religions of the Semitic peoples from the ancient Near East and Northeast Africa. Since the term Semitic itself represents a rough category when referring to cultures, as opposed to languages, the definitive bounds of the term "ancient Semitic religion" are only approximate.

Semitic traditions and their pantheons fall into regional categories: Canaanite religions of the Levant, the Sumerian tradition–inspired Assyro-Babylonian religion of Mesopotamia, the Ancient Hebrew religion of the

Israelites, and Arabian polytheism. Semitic polytheism possibly transitioned into Abrahamic monotheism by way of the god El, whose name "El", or elah אלה is a word for "god" in Hebrew, cognate to Arabic ilah اله, and its definitive pronoun form الله Allah, "(The) God".

Evolutionary origin of religions

The evolutionary origin of religions and religious behavior is a field of study related to evolutionary psychology, the origin of language and mythology, and cross-cultural comparison of the anthropology of religion. Some subjects of interest include Neolithic religion, evidence for spirituality or cultic behavior in the Upper Paleolithic, and similarities in great ape behavior.

History of Ayyavazhi

The History of Ayyavazhi traces the religious history of Ayyavazhi, a belief-system originated in the mid-19th century in Southern India. Ayyavazhi came to be noticed by the large number of people gathering to worship Ayya Vaikundar in the middle of the 19th century. The majority of the followers of Ayyavazhi were from marginalised and poor sections of society.Right from the beginning of its development Ayyavazhi was seen in competition by the Christian missionaries on their mission. This is evident by the reports on Ayyavazhi presented by the Christian missionaries. Although the majority of the followers of Ayyavazhi were from the Chanar caste (a social group), people of other castes also crowded around Vaikundar. It was not usual at the time for people of different castes to intermingle.

History of Islam

The history of Islam concerns the political, social, economic and developments of the Islamic civilization. Despite concerns about the reliability of early sources, most historians believe that Islam originated in Mecca and Medina at the start of the 7th century, approximately 600 years after the founding of Christianity. Muslims, however, believe that it did not start with Muhammad, but that it was the original faith of others whom they regard as prophets, such as Jesus, David, Moses, Abraham, Noah and Adam.In 610 CE, Muhammad began receiving what Muslims consider to be divine revelations. Muhammad's message won over a handful of followers and was met with increasing opposition from Meccan notables. In 622, a few years after losing protection with the death of his influential uncle Abu Talib, Muhammad migrated to the city of Yathrib (now known as Medina). With Muhammad's death in 632, disagreement broke out over who would succeed him as leader of the Muslim community.

By the 8th century, the Islamic empire extended from Iberia in the west to the Indus River in the east. Polities such as those ruled by the Umayyads (in the Middle East and later in Iberia), Abbasids, Fatimids, and Mamluks were among the most influential powers in the world. The Islamic Golden Age gave rise to many centers of culture and science and produced notable astronomers, mathematicians, doctors and philosophers during the Middle Ages.

In the early 13th century, the Delhi Sultanate took over the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. In the 13th and 14th centuries, destructive Mongol invasions and those of Tamerlane from the East, along with the loss of population in the Black Death, greatly weakened the traditional centers of the Islamic world, stretching from Persia to Egypt. Islamic Iberia was gradually conquered by Christian forces during the Reconquista. Nonetheless, in the Early Modern period, the Ottomans, the Safavids, and the Mughals were able to create new world powers again. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, most parts of the Muslim world fell under the influence or direct control of European "Great Powers." Their efforts to win independence and build modern nation states over the course of the last two centuries continue to reverberate to the present day.

History of New Thought

The history of New Thought started in the 1830s, with roots in the United States and England. As a spiritual movement with roots in metaphysical beliefs, New Thought has helped guide a variety of social changes throughout the 19th, 20th, and into the 21st centuries. Psychologist and philosopher William James labelled New Thought "the religion of healthy-mindedness" in his study on religion and science, The Varieties of Religious Experience.

History of religion

The history of religion refers to the written record of human religious experiences and ideas. This period of religious history begins with the invention of writing about 5,200 years ago (3200 BCE). The prehistory of religion involves the study of religious beliefs that existed prior to the advent of written records. One can also study comparative religious chronology through a timeline of religion. Writing played a major role in standardizing religious texts regardless of time or location, and making easier the memorization of prayers and divine rules. The case of the Bible involves the collation of multiple oral texts handed down over the centuries.The concept of "religion" was formed in the 16th and 17th centuries, despite the fact that ancient sacred texts like the Bible, the Quran, and others did not have a word or even a concept of religion in the original languages and neither did the people or the cultures in which these sacred texts were written.The word "religion" as used in the 21st century does not have an obvious pre-colonial translation into non-European languages. The anthropologist Daniel Dubuisson writes that "what the West and the history of religions in its wake have objectified under the name 'religion' is ... something quite unique, which could be appropriate only to itself and its own history". The history of other cultures' interaction with the "religious" category is therefore their interaction with an idea that first developed in Europe under the influence of Christianity.

Jewish history

Jewish history is the history of the Jews, and their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Although Judaism as a religion first appears in Greek records during the Hellenistic period (323 BCE – 31 BCE) and the earliest mention of Israel is inscribed on the Merneptah Stele dated 1213–1203 BCE, religious literature tells the story of Israelites going back at least as far as c. 1500 BCE. The Jewish diaspora began with the Assyrian captivity and continued on a much larger scale with the Babylonian captivity. Jews were also widespread throughout the Roman Empire, and this carried on to a lesser extent in the period of Byzantine rule in the central and eastern Mediterranean. In 638 CE the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Levant. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.

During the Classical Ottoman period (1300–1600), the Jews, together with most other communities of the empire, enjoyed a certain level of prosperity. In the 17th century, there were many significant Jewish populations in Western Europe. During the period of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, significant changes occurred within the Jewish community. Jews began in the 18th century to campaign for emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society. During the 1870s and 1880s the Jewish population in Europe began to more actively discuss emigration back to Israel and the re-establishment of the Jewish Nation in its national homeland. The Zionist movement was founded officially in 1897. Meanwhile, the Jews of Europe and the United States gained success in the fields of science, culture and the economy. Among those generally considered the most famous were scientist Albert Einstein and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. A large number of Nobel Prize winners at this time were Jewish, as is still the case.In 1933, with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, the Jewish situation became more severe. Economic crises, racial anti-Semitic laws, and a fear of an upcoming war led many Jews to flee from Europe to Palestine, to the United States and to the Soviet Union. In 1939 World War II began and until 1941 Hitler occupied almost all of Europe, including Poland—where millions of Jews were living at that time—and France. In 1941, following the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Final Solution began, an extensive organized operation on an unprecedented scale, aimed at the annihilation of the Jewish people, and resulting in the persecution and murder of Jews in political Europe, inclusive of European North Africa (pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa and Italian Libya). This genocide, in which approximately six million Jews were methodically exterminated, is known as The Holocaust or Shoah (Hebrew term). In Poland, three million Jews were killed in gas chambers in all concentration camps combined, with one million at the Auschwitz camp complex alone.

In 1945 the Jewish resistance organizations in Palestine unified and established the Jewish Resistance Movement, which attacked the British authorities. David Ben-Gurion proclaimed on May 14, 1948, the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel to be known as the State of Israel. Immediately afterwards all neighbouring Arab states attacked, yet the newly formed IDF resisted. In 1949 the war ended and the state of Israel started building the state and absorbing massive waves of hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the world. Today (2019), Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a population of over 9 million people, of whom about 7 million are Jewish. The largest Jewish communities are in Israel and the United States, with major communities in France, Argentina, Russia, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Germany. For statistics related to modern Jewish demographics see Jewish population.

List of founders of religious traditions

This article lists historical figures credited with founding religions or religious philosophies or people who first codified older known religious traditions. It also lists those who have founded a specific major denomination within a larger religion.


Monotheism is the belief in one god. A narrower definition of monotheism is the belief in the existence of only one god that created the world, is all-powerful and intervenes in the world.A distinction may be made between exclusive monotheism, and both inclusive monotheism and pluriform (panentheistic) monotheism which, while recognising various distinct gods, postulate some underlying unity.Monotheism is distinguished from henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity, and monolatrism, the recognition of the existence of many gods but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The term "monolatry" was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.The broader definition of monotheism characterizes the traditions of Bábism, the Bahá'í Faith, Balinese Hinduism, Cao Dai (Caodaiism), Cheondoism (Cheondogyo), Christianity, Deism, Eckankar, Hindu sects such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism, Islam, Judaism, Mandaeism, Rastafari, Seicho no Ie, Sikhism, Tengrism (Tangrism), Tenrikyo (Tenriism), Yazidism, and Zoroastrianism, and elements of pre-monotheistic thought are found in early religions such as Atenism, ancient Chinese religion, and Yahwism.

Paleolithic religion

Paleolithic religions are a set of spiritual beliefs thought to have appeared during the Paleolithic time period. Paleoanthropologists Andre Leroi-Gourhan and Annette Michelson believe Religious behaviour emerged by the Upper Paleolithic, before 30,000 years ago at the latest, but behavioral patterns such as burial rites that one might characterize as religious — or as ancestral to religious behaviour — reach back into the Middle Paleolithic, as early as 300,000 years ago, coinciding with the first appearance of Homo neanderthalensis and possibly Homo naledi.

There are suggested cases for the first appearance of religious or spiritual experience in the Lower Paleolithic (significantly earlier than 300,000 years ago, pre-Homo sapiens), but these remain controversial and have limited support.


Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists, and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.

Religions of the ancient Near East

The religions of the ancient Near East were mostly polytheistic, with some examples of monolatry (for example, Yahwism and Atenism). Some scholars believe that the similarities between these religions indicate that the religions are related, a belief known as patternism.Many religions of the ancient near East and their offshoots can be traced to Proto-Semitic religion. Other religions in the ancient Near East include Ancient Egyptian religion, the Luwian and Hittite religions of Asia Minor and the Sumerian religion of ancient Mesopotamia. Offshoots of Proto-Semitic religion include Assyro-Babylonian religion, Canaanite religion, and Arabian religion. Judaism is a development of Canaanite religion, both Indo-European and Semitic religions influenced the ancient Greek religion, and Zoroastrianism was a product of ancient Indo-Iranian religion primarily the Ancient Iranian religion. In turn these religious traditions strongly influenced the later monotheistic religions of Christianity, Mandeanism, Sabianism, Gnosticism, Islam, and Manicheanism, which inherited their monotheism from Judaism and Zoroastrianism.

Religious text

Religious texts, also known as scripture or scriptures (from the Latin scriptura, meaning "writing") are texts which religious traditions consider to be central to their practice or beliefs. Religious texts may be used to provide meaning and purpose, evoke a deeper connection with the divine, convey religious truths, promote religious experience, foster communal identity, and guide individual and communal religious practice. Religious texts often communicate the practices or values of a religious traditions and can be looked to as a set of guiding principles which dictate physical, mental, spiritual, or historical elements considered important to a specific religion. The terms 'sacred' text and 'religious' text are not necessarily interchangeable in that some religious texts are believed to be sacred because of their nature as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired, whereas some religious texts are simply narratives pertaining to the general themes, practices, or important figures of the specific religion, and not necessarily considered sacred by itself. A core function of a religious text making it sacred is its ceremonial and liturgical role, particularly in relation to sacred time, the liturgical year, the divine efficacy and subsequent holy service; in a more general sense, its performance.

It is not possible to create an exhaustive list of religious texts, because there is no single definition of which texts are recognized as religious.

Roman School (history of religion)

In the history of religions, the Roman School is a methodology that emerged after World War II and was prominent in Italy throughout the 1950s. It was a competitor to the French structuralist approach.

One of its main characteristics was the ambition to study religion from a neutral or politically aloof perspective. It began with Raffaele Pettazzoni, who had been one of the first academics to propose a historical approach to the study of religion. One of its most influential contributors was Angelo Brelich, whose works on rituals and initiation have had a lasting impact. Other prominent disciples of the Roman School include Dario Sabbatucci and Giulia Piccaluga.The school and its body of work have been examined by later scholars including Giampiera Arrigoni (2003, "Il ritorno di Angelo Brelich", Mythos 11:3-8) and Marcello Massenzio (2005, "The Italian school of 'history of religions'", Religion 35:209-222).


A timeline is a display of a list of events in chronological order. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with dates paralleling it, and usually contemporaneous events; a Gantt chart is a form of timeline used in project management.

Timelines can use any suitable scale representing time, suiting the subject and data; many use a linear scale, in which a unit of distance is equal to a set amount of time. This timescale is dependent on the events in the timeline. A timeline of evolution can be over millions of years, whereas a timeline for the day of the September 11 attacks can take place over minutes, and that of an explosion over milliseconds. While many timelines use a linear timescale -- especially where very large or small timespans are relevant -- logarithmic timelines entail a logarithmic scale of time; some "hurry up and wait" chronologies are depicted with zoom lens metaphors.

Timeline of Jainism

Jainism is an ancient Indian religion belonging to the śramaṇa tradition. It prescribes ahimsa (non-violence) towards all living beings to the greatest possible extent. The three main teachings of Jainism are ahimsa, anekantavada (non-absolutism), aparigraha (non-possessiveness). Followers of Jainism take five main vows: ahimsa, satya (not lying), asteya (non stealing), brahmacharya (chastity), and aparigraha. Monks follow them completely whereas śrāvakas (householders) observe them partially. Self-discipline and asceticism are thus major focuses of Jainism.

Timelines of religion
Greek polytheism
Other religions
Major groups
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