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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-...


63

I believe it to be an euphemism similar to how today one might say something like gazillions for a large number. In a society that is mostly innumerate as well as illiterate, where neither pencils nor paper exist and both slateboards and chalk are fragile and rare, the scale of numbers readily accessible to the common population are much smaller than today. ...


61

There seems to be a bit of pushback on Pieter's (correct) answer, so perhaps a bit more detail is in order. It is not at all uncommon in languages to have words that, while technically a specific number, are usually used just to indicate an unspecified large amount. One of the technical terms for this is non-numerical vague quantifiers. The most well-known ...


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 ...


44

No. You can read some on the Maryland Toleration Act in the wiki article, but it basically was for Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, Anglican, Puritan or Quaker. The Maryland Toleration Act, also known as the Act Concerning Religion, was a law mandating religious tolerance for Trinitarian Christians... Specifically, the bill, now usually ...


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 ...


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 ...


19

Sex and nudity weren't as taboo then as they are now - particularly since the puritan Victorian days. Olympic athletes, for instance, raced naked. Homosexuality was pervasive enough to have been called "the principal cultural model for free relationships between citizens." And sex practices were creative enough to have left an actual word behind for oral ...


15

The question can be restated as: Why do only religions that have doctrine fight doctrinal wars? With no disrespect intended, I believe that OP's question relies on unstated assumptions. If I were to examine this further, I'd look for evidence of: Doctrinal conflict in polytheistic religions. Most polytheistic (and henotheistic, and even, I believe ...


15

Swedish army I have one word for you in this case: hymns. Religion and prayer were very systematically organized in the Swedish army: [Gustavus Adolphus] led troops in singing hymns as they marched to war, ordered prayers twice daily by the whole army, and assigned pastors to every regiment. This blend of prayer and black powder made the Swedish ...


12

I will answer this in two parts, concerning historical tradition and actual historical documents. Historical Tradition and Writings None of the stories from the Hebrew Book of Names, which you know as the "Exodus" are found either in Egyptian sources or in later Greek sources describing Egyptian mythology with the exception of the account of Manetho. The ...


12

Religions are essentially power networks, means of influence/indoctrination and community creators. Religious conflicts are disguised turf wars/power struggles. Monotheistic religions are more effective at that task than polytheistic ones and create more powerful communities -- at the cost of being limited to one seat of power per religion. A religion is ...


11

No. Maryland was not the birthplace for religious freedom in the United States. Maryland's Toleration acts (1649) only applied to Christians, not Moslems and not Jews. Maryland's "tolerance acts" are not the model for United States religious freedom, that title goes to another state which pioneered separation of church and state earlier than the Maryland'...


11

If the restriction was applicable only to Lethbridge and not the surrounding communities, then any official action would have been a community by-law or ordinance. But according to Wikipedia, Lethbridge was not incorporated as a town until November 29, 1890, and only became a city on May 9, 1906. That leaves the possibility of corporate discrimination or ...


11

I think the premise is basically false. Buddhism is neither Western nor monotheistic. Yet there are enormous doctrinal differences between different schools. On the one hand, consistent with what you have said, in Christianity, you have the two major branches of monophysite and duophysite. The duophysites have the three major subbranches of Orthodox, ...


11

Biblically, Forty is a number associated with testing and trials https://www.thoughtco.com/biblical-numerology-700168 Jesus wandered in the wilderness 40 days, Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years etc. It's a number that indicates enough time passed for God to achieve a goal. Fullness of time.


10

Early Israelite religion was not monotheistic, and it remained in that classification for at least several hundred years. YHWH was developed very slowly in a syncretistic process were he was ascribed with all the attributes of the other deities in the region. This process of accumulation of powers and status reached a first high point during the ...


10

This could be a totally false premise. In all my time reading history I have never read of such doctrinal conflicts occurring in societies that were polytheistic. I think your premise is false: According to the German Wikipedia there was a crime named "asebeia" in ancient Greece. People saying some religious convictions that were not compatible with ...


8

First: A warning. What you're going to get on this website is going to be the fruits of the Documentary Hypothesis and similar historical approaches. This often clashes with some folks' "fixed beliefs". I'm a Christian myself, and have no issue reconciling my faith with secular scholarship, but some faith traditions have big problems with it. The first ...


7

Nobody really knows for sure. El/Elohim (which by the time of the writing of most of the Hebrew scriptures had become synonymous) has ancient Semitic roots, but Yahweh appears to be (nearly) unique to the Hebrews. There is almost no agreement on the origins and meaning of Yahweh's name. It is not attested other than among the Israelites, and seems ...


7

The Native Americans were organized into hundreds of different tribes and kingdoms, many of which were completely unrelated to each other. There was no single overreaching religion. What a Sioux believed would have been very different from an Inuit, which in turn would have been completely different than an Aztec. So there was no single big religion. For ...


7

In general, it's hard to have religious wars if the religions involved don't care what you believe. If you look at the Greek or Roman religions, for example, they didn't have a coherent body of beliefs, but they did have a set of rituals which they considered important. The Romans by and large didn't think the gods cared what they did or what they believed ...


7

In his History of the Councils of the Church, Volume 3, Charles Hefele records that: ... the Latin Emperor Valentinian III came with his wife Eudoxia (a daughter of Theodosius II.), and his mother Galla Placidia (aunt of Theodosius), to Rome, in order to pay his devotions there on the Festival of the holy Apostle Peter (at the Festival of the See of ...


7

Motivation for the answer I'll take a literary approach, aiming less at the surrounding historical context and more at an internal analysis of what "significance" the document's authors intended to convey. However, rereading your question and David Robinson's comment, I see that you're not asking about this significance so much as the motivation to use "40"...


7

"Ancient people" are a very broad group culturally, geographically, and temporally. Their beliefs were extremely varied and rich, and probably included most things people think today, especially since many of our ideas are inherited. Here are some general strains, ordered from least to most personal / individualized: No god. Despite our modern idea that the ...


7

If it was common to have priests at high positions the court, then it was also common to have priests traveling in behalf of the King. Cardinal Wolsey He travelled to Scotland. I also think he traveled some times to deal with organizing the Field of the Cloth of Gold (or at least he traveled there and worked during the encounter). He may also have traveled ...


6

The short answer is we aren't sure. There are two basic methods that are commonly used to derive a birth year based on information from the Gospels. The first is the nativity accounts in Luke and Mathew. Both reference the reign of Herod the Great. Since he died in 4 BC, that means it couldn't possibly have been any later than then. The main issue with ...


6

Question: What made monotheism so prone to intra-religion conflict as opposed to polytheism? I don't believe the premise is valid. Christianity's history is clearly full of strife, but what history are you reading if you are suggesting that polytheists religions from the Western perspective are more peaceful amongst themselves? Prior to Christianity, ...


6

Question: Which Catholic priests were given diplomatic missions? Are there prior cases, (before 1822) of Catholic priests tasked to travel on secular diplomatic or administrative missions? The Catholic Church has been active in international diplomacy for a very long time. Instances of Catholic Priests performing diplomatic missions (secular and ...


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