101

The hexagram is not an exclusively Jewish symbol. For that matter, the Star of David as a symbol of Judaism (as opposed to a symbol used by Jews) is far newer than people realize, dating only to 1897 and the First Zionist Congress. Given that, seeing a six-pointed star on top of a Christmas tree in 1924 is no surprise. Also, Jesus was of the house of ...


82

Many churches in Europe (not just Germany) were built centuries ago, when the church was by far the most important and prestigious building in any city. Building them took decades, sometimes even centuries. For quite some time, no other building project in any city could possibly contend with its church. And even if you could, why would you? One, you would ...


76

Well, it wasn't smooth. First of all, there was already a minority of "reform" viewpoint in England before Henry VIII. It was centered in the intelligentsia and gentry. So when Henry VIII decided to divorce the Church to marry Anne Boleyn, a significant and influential minority not only was in favor, but wanted to go further, faster. And, as always, a ...


65

A very astute observation. If you compare linguistic maps to sectarian maps (McEvedy's Penguin Atlas series are great for this), you'll notice something else: they have a distinct tendency to align. After the Roman Empire split into Greek and Roman halves, the Empire's Christian religion split that way as well. When German tribes started converting en-...


60

First, the easier part on Christianity. As the other reply says, the British were (mostly) unwilling to convert Indians in order to avoid inflaming local religious sentiments. In fact, the British were so cautious on this that they would probably even tolerated the practices of sati and child marriage had some Indian reformers (such as Ram Mohan Roy) not ...


56

Presumably no earlier than the ninth century, as there is this: 804 Hellenes of Laconia, Greece, resist the attempt of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, to convert them to Christianity. Further searching yields this, though it seems to be rather thinly sourced: The Maniots began to convert to Christianity in the 9th century AD, but it wasn't ...


49

This is incredibly complicated and almost always misleading. For example, in many countries the Catholic Church is called strictly the Roman-Catholic church. The higher up members of that community that acknowledges the papal supremacy call their own organisation most often just "the church". In that they are sharing this endonym with most other sects of ...


48

To expand on Kirsch's answer (see: quote in the question), a single god doesn't only remove the safety valve of multiplicity (where any doctrinal dispute about the intentions of one god can just be channeled into speculation about a new, additional god), it also dramatically raises the profile of the single remaining god. Monotheistic systems tend to ...


45

Judaism is very old, but it was not originally monotheistic (see below). An earlier instance of monotheistic or monotheistic-esque worship occurred in the form of Atenism, the worship of the deified sun-disk Aten in Ancient Egypt. The Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (later Akhenaten), reigning around 1353/1351-1336/1334 B.C., promoted it as an arguably monotheistic ...


42

I personally think that there might be something in the premise of "single god leads to wanting to have a single answer for everything, leading to sectarian violence". Nevertheless, I'm a little skeptical of that premise as well, and I think it behoves us to try to consider the other side for a bit. Were polytheistic religions actually less prone to ...


42

The biggest difference that I'm aware of is that the Classical Greek religion was much more the religion of myths that we all know, while the Classical Roman religion had fewer personifications and its gods were much more like numinous forces than like people. The Greek religion that we know was encapsulated by Homer who served in some respects like an Old ...


41

Not only was it not totally smooth, but it also wasn't much of a change. At least not on personal human timeframes. You have to realize that the break in England didn't happen because anybody had any kind of doctrinal issue with Rome. King Henry VIII was not a protestant, did not like Protestantism, and did not want protestants in his Church. The only part ...


39

"Is there any evidence to suggest whether either polytheism or monotheism came first, as an established form of religion? Or do we even have any way of knowing?" The oldest written records we have that mention religion are all polytheistic. The writer will sometimes claim that his god rules over the others, but this tends to have a 'my dad can beat up your ...


37

Catholic missionaries possessed a number of distinct advantages over the Protestants. First, they were well-trained, ordained priests, not merely well-meaning laymen, as many Protestants were. Unlike family men, they were free to travel about, to live among Indians, then among white settlers, then to move on again. They posed no threat of permanent ...


36

It would be very interesting to see a chart of rate of innovation over time in western civilization. Of course, this begs the question of what is "innovation". Do you count number of inventions? Do you give more weight to inventions that would have long lasting significance through history? Or ones that may have been less influential but providing a huge ...


35

For the vast majority of Germans, religious and non-religious alike, religion matters little in daily life. In some families, the babies are baptised, marriages have both civil and religious ceremonies, and one goes to the service on Christmas and perhaps on Easter. Yet in a survey or opinion poll, these people might report themselves as Christian. This kind ...


34

Religion is a great cultural differentiator. People have been killing each other for many millenia, with a preference for targeting other people who belong to a distinct "culture", a rather loose term. From the outside, the god(s) people worship are quite easy to work out; if they are not the same as yours, then these people are "foreigners". Historically, ...


31

That's an interesting question. There is a book by Michael Hesemann, a German historian, in which he is interpreting Hitlers religion (that is actually the title of the book) like this: Hitlers plans where going towards a "German pseudo-religion". Hitler got his first ideas from the "Ostara"-magazine, that was published between 1903 to 1931 and propagated ...


30

In my History of Islam classes there was some review of Pre-Islamic Arabia and a few things were covered, from my class notes we talked about: Arabia being a part of the major trade route along the Red Sea Coast, from southern Palestine to Yemen. Medina and Mecca were located along this route, Mecca was the more important city where caravans stopped and ...


30

That Poland avoided internal wars of religion can indeed be attributed to the religious tolerance of the state at this time, a tolerance that stretches back a long time. And this has to do with it's position, where many of its neighbouring countries were not Catholic. To the east the Kievan Rus adopted Orthodoxy, and further north the areas now known as ...


29

There actually are a number of sculptures depicting victorious Romans dominating the national personifications of subjugated peoples. Nonetheless, the Medium post fundamentally misrepresented Professor Pagels' book. In her Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, Elaine Pagels traced the life of John of Patmos who wrote the ...


28

Thomas Pornin's answer is very good answer to the question of "Can we know anything about Jesus?" But since your question was technically "What do we know about Jesus?", I thought I'd add a few facts about Jesus that the majority of secular and religious historians alike agree upon. Jesus existed Virtually no serious historian believes that Jesus never ...


28

There is almost no direct historical evidence that openly-practicing Muslims were LIVING in the British Isles in the decades and centuries after the Norman Invasion. But I guess I'll start this post by highlighting the one prominent fringe hypothesis that would say otherwise (note that I mean hypothesis in a loose scientific sense here, as in a well-...


27

The main storyline to Lucian's Αληθή διηγήματα (2nd century CE) is the war between the people of the Sun and the people of the Moon over colonization of the Morning Star. As you can probably imagine from the satire's topic, several alien life forms are mentioned. Here's a quote describing the narrator's encounter with Endymion, King of the Moon: We were ...


27

80% does not seem to be way off compared with other industrial countries like Sweden (85%), Denmark (80%), Norway (72%), Czech Republic (61%), Finland (60%)...


27

First of all, @LangLangC's answer is excellent. I intend only to expand on it. The unified Eastern (Greek-speaking) and Western (Latin-speak) churches called themselves "orthodox" as opposed to the many heresies (like Arianism). They also called themselves "catholic" -- universal. They were united in religion, but administratively united only in theory, as ...


26

Tokugawa Ieyasu banned it in 1614 for one. You would be killed for being a practicing Christian up until the Meiji restoration. Think about it like this. You've got Europeans coming in. They are seen as a direct threat[1] to your power base built on the divine authority of the God Emperor and the Shogun, his personal representative. The Buddhists don't claim ...


25

No, residual paganism was not a factor in Hitler's rise to power. As far as anyone can say, that is. This theory you reference posits that the German people claimed to be Christian, yet practiced secret worship "in the dark" to pagan gods. No one can prove that no German ever worshipped a pagan god in secret. But we can say this much: Christianity was ...


25

Time and again India has seen some reformers who revolutionize the thoughts of the masses. When Buddhism was in full force in India, Adi Shankara was born to revive Hinduism. During the Mughal Period, Tulsidas, Surdas and others deeply imposed the faith of Hindus in God. Tulsidas wrote Ram Charitra Manas whereas Surdas composed many devotional songs about ...


25

If you read "Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion", by John Cuthbert Lawson, you will see that, as late as 1910, there were are least significant vestiges of original Greek religion. Other useful material can by found in the works of Jane Ellen Harrison. I hesitate to try to summarize >300 pages here. Much of it is what you might call '...


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