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Chapter 2

Chapter 2- Religions of the Ancient World.docx

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Religious Studies
RELS 131

Chapter 2- Religions of the Ancient World  Religion religio o Romans believed it could come from two different words  Religare (To bind)  Relegere (To go over again) o In both cases emphasis is on the community, not the individual  The Greek phrase that approximating the Roman religio means “to honour the gods by participating in customary practices” o A comparable Mesopotamian phrase translates as “fear of god”  For the Egyptians, the most pious people of the ancient world, the true religion practitioners were those who met the following standards spelled out in the Book of the Dead o This understanding of religion combined ethical conduct, doing justice to other humans, and with the proper piety towards the gods  A Roman grammarian of the 2 century CE defined religious people as those who participated in the state’s traditional rituals and who avoided superstition  Christians redefined the term religio to refer solely to their own “true” faith in a single god, reclassifying the old traditions as false, not religion but superstition  The Theodosian Code, which was a compilation of all the laws enacted since the first Christian emperor, Constantine, legally defined religion from a single perspective of the Christian church Antiquity  The term antiquity, or the ancient world, encompassed a vast territory centred on south-western Asia, southern Europe and North Africa  This varied landscape supported three basic types of communities: o Desert or highland pastoralists tending herds o Agriculturalists dispersed across the countryside in rural villages o Concentrated urban centres  Over time they became:  Urban states  Territorial states  Eventually universal states/empires  The great age of territorial states was the mid-second millennium BCE, where Syria was central to the rivalries among the 1 millennium empires and its development reflected the cross-fertilization of peoples, goods, ideas, and cultures  The land where Judaism and Christianity emerged was adjacent to the most heavily traveled crossroads, and they both approached their definitive forms in the time of the last great empire of the ancient world  The end of antiquity was marked by continuing rivalry between the western and eastern spheres  The conflicts left them vulnerable to Arab forces and thereby contributing to
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