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Comparative religion
Comparative religion
is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices of the world's religions. In general the comparative study of religion yields a deeper understanding of the fundamental philosophical concerns of religion such as ethics, metaphysics, and the nature and form of salvation. Studying such material is meant to give one a richer and more sophisticated understanding of human beliefs and practices regarding the sacred, numinous, spiritual, and divine.[1] In the field of comparative religion, a common geographical classification[2] of the main world religions includes Middle Eastern religions (including Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
and Iranian religions), Indian religions, East Asian
East Asian
religions, African religions, American religions, Oceanic religions, and classical Hellenistic religions.[2]

Contents

1 History 2 Geographical classification

2.1 Middle Eastern religions

2.1.1 Abrahamic or Western Asian religions 2.1.2 Iranian religions

2.2 Indian religions 2.3 East Asian
East Asian
or Taoic religions

3 Comparing traditions

3.1 Bahá'í Faith 3.2 Buddhism 3.3 Christianity 3.4 Confucianism 3.5 Hinduism 3.6 Islam 3.7 Jainism 3.8 Judaism 3.9 Paganism and Neopaganism 3.10 Sikhism 3.11 Taoism 3.12 Zoroastrianism

4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

History[edit] Social scientists in the 19th century took a strong interest in comparative and "primitive" religion through the work of Max Müller, Edward Burnett Tylor, William Robertson Smith, James George Frazer, Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Rudolf Otto.[3] Nicholas de Lange, Professor of Hebrew
Hebrew
and Jewish Studies at Cambridge University, says that

The comparative study of religions is an academic discipline which has been developed within Christian theology faculties, and it has a tendency to force widely differing phenomena into a kind of strait-jacket cut to a Christian pattern. The problem is not only that other 'religions' may have little or nothing to say about questions which are of burning importance for Christianity, but that they may not even see themselves as religions in precisely the same way in which Christianity
Christianity
sees itself as a religion.[4]

Geographical classification[edit] According to Charles Joseph Adams, in the field of comparative religion, a common geographical classification discerns[2] the main world religions as follows:[2]

Middle Eastern religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, and a variety of ancient cults; East Asian
East Asian
religions, the religious communities of China, Japan, and Korea, and consisting of Confucianism, Daoism, the various schools of Mahayana
Mahayana
(“Greater Vehicle”) Buddhism, and Shintō; Indian religions, including early Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, and sometimes also the Theravada
Theravada
(“Way of the Elders”) Buddhism
Buddhism
and the Hindu- and Buddhist-inspired religions of South and Southeast Asia; African religions, the ancient belief systems of the peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa, but excluding ancient Egyptian religion, which is considered to belong to the ancient Middle East; American religions, the beliefs and practices of the various Indigenous peoples of the two American continents; Oceanic religions, the religious systems of the peoples of the Pacific islands, Australia, and New Zealand; and Classical religions of ancient Greece and Rome and their Hellenistic descendants.

Middle Eastern religions[edit] Abrahamic or Western Asian religions[edit] Main articles: Abrahamic religion
Abrahamic religion
and Western religion In the study of comparative religion, the category of Abrahamic religions consists of the three monotheistic religions, Christianity, Islam
Islam
and Judaism, which claim Abraham
Abraham
( Hebrew
Hebrew
Avraham אַבְרָהָם ; Arabic Ibrahim إبراهيم ) as a part of their sacred history. Smaller religions such as Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
that fit this description are sometimes included but are often omitted.[5] The original belief in the One God
One God
of Abraham
Abraham
eventually became strictly monotheistic present-day Rabbinic Judaism. Christians believe that Christianity
Christianity
is the fulfillment and continuation of the Jewish Old Testament. Christians believe that Jesus
Jesus
( Hebrew
Hebrew
Yeshua יֵשׁוּעַ) is the Messiah
Messiah
(Christ) foretold in the Old Testament prophecy, and believe in subsequent New Testament revelations based on the divine authority of Jesus
Jesus
in Christian belief (as the Incarnation
Incarnation
of God). Islam
Islam
believes the present Christian and Jewish scriptures have been corrupted over time and are no longer the original divine revelations as given to the Jewish people and to Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. For Muslims, the Qur'an
Qur'an
is the final, complete revelation from God
God
(Arabic الله Allah), who believe it to have been revealed to Muhammad
Muhammad
alone, who is believed by Muslims to be the final prophet of Islam, and the Khatam an-Nabiyyin, meaning the last of the prophets ever sent by Allah
Allah
("seal of the prophets"). Based on the Muslim figure of the Mahdī, the ultimate saviour of humankind and the final Imām of the Twelve Imams, Ali Muhammad
Muhammad
Shirazi, later known as Bab, created the Bábí movement out of the belief that he was the gate to the Twelfth Imām. This signalled a break with Islam
Islam
and started a new religious system, Bábism. However, in the 1860s a split occurred after which the vast majority of Bábís who considered Mirza Husayn `Ali or Bahá'u'lláh to be Báb's spiritual successor founded the Bahá'í Movement, while the minority who followed Subh-i-Azal came to be called Azalis.[6] The Bahá'í division eventually became a full-fledged religion of its own, the Bahá'í Faith. In comparison to the other Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity
Christianity
and Islam, the number of adherents for Bahai faith and other minor Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
are not very significant. Out of the three major Abrahamic faiths, Christianity
Christianity
and Judaism
Judaism
are the two religions that diverge the most in theology and practice. The historical interaction of Islam
Islam
and Judaism
Judaism
started in the 7th century CE with the origin and spread of Islam. There are many common aspects between Islam
Islam
and Judaism, and as Islam
Islam
developed, it gradually became the major religion closest to Judaism. As opposed to Christianity, which originated from interaction between ancient Greek, Roman, and Hebrew
Hebrew
cultures, Judaism
Judaism
is very similar to Islam
Islam
in its fundamental religious outlook, structure, jurisprudence and practice.[7] There are many traditions within Islam
Islam
originating from traditions within the Hebrew
Hebrew
Bible
Bible
or from post-biblical Jewish traditions. These practices are known collectively as the Isra'iliyat.[8] The historical interaction between Christianity
Christianity
and Islam
Islam
connects fundamental ideas in Christianity
Christianity
with similar ones in Islam. Islam accepts many aspects of Christianity
Christianity
as part of its faith – with some differences in interpretation – and rejects other aspects. Islam
Islam
believes the Qur'an
Qur'an
is the final revelation from God and a completion of all previous revelations, including the Bible. Iranian religions[edit] Main articles: Proto-Indo-Iranian religion
Proto-Indo-Iranian religion
and Iranian religions Several important religions and religious movements originated in Greater Iran, that is, among speakers of various Iranian languages. They include Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Ætsæg Din, Yazdanism, Ahl-e Haqq, Zurvanism, Mandaeism, Manichaeism, and Mazdakism. Indian religions[edit]

The Rig Veda
Rig Veda
is one of the oldest Vedic texts. Shown here is a Rig Veda manuscript in Devanagari, early nineteenth century.

Main articles: Indian religions, Buddhism
Buddhism
and Hinduism, Jainism
Jainism
and Buddhism, and Jainism
Jainism
and Sikhism Further information: Buddha as an Avatar of Vishnu
Buddha as an Avatar of Vishnu
and Gautama Buddha in world religions Indian religions
Indian religions
refers to a number of religions that have originated on the Indian subcontinent. They encompass Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Buddhism
Buddhism
and modern Hinduism
Hinduism
are both post-Vedic religions. Gautama Buddha is mentioned as an Avatar
Avatar
of Vishnu
Vishnu
in the Puranic
Puranic
texts of Hinduism. Some Hindus believe the Buddha accepted and incorporated many tenets of Hinduism
Hinduism
in his doctrine, however, Buddhists disagree and state there was no such thing as Hinduism
Hinduism
at the time of Buddha and in fact, "Indeed, it absorbed so many Buddhist traits that it is virtually impossible to distinguish the latter in medieval and later Hinduism."[9] Prominent Hindu reformers such as Gandhi[10] and Vivekananda[11] acknowledge Buddhist influence. Gandhi, like Hindus, did not believe Buddha established a non-Hindu tradition. He writes, "I do not regard Jainism
Jainism
or Buddhism
Buddhism
as separate from Hinduism."[12] East Asian
East Asian
or Taoic religions[edit]

The Chinese character
Chinese character
depicting Tao, the central concept in Taoism

Main articles: East Asian religions
East Asian religions
and East Asian
East Asian
Buddhism See also: Tao
Tao
and De (Chinese) A Taoic religion is a religion, or religious philosophy, that focuses on the East Asian
East Asian
concept of Tao
Tao
("The Way"). This forms a large group of religions including Taoism, Confucianism, Jeung San Do, Shinto, I-Kuan Tao, Chondogyo, Chen Tao
Tao
and Cao Dai. In large parts of East Asia, Buddhism
Buddhism
has taken on some taoic features. Tao
Tao
can be roughly stated to be the flow of the universe, or the force behind the natural order. It is believed to be the influence that keeps the universe balanced and ordered and is associated with nature, due to a belief that nature demonstrates the Tao. The flow of Ch'i, as the essential energy of action and existence, is compared to the universal order of Tao. Following the Tao
Tao
is also associated with a "proper" attitude, morality and lifestyle. This is intimately tied to the complex concept of De, or literally "virtue" or "power." De is the active expression of Tao. Taoism
Taoism
and Ch'an Buddhism
Buddhism
for centuries had a mutual influence on each other in China, Korea and Vietnam. These influences were inherited by Zen
Zen
Buddhism
Buddhism
when Ch'an Buddhism
Buddhism
arrived in Japan and adapted as Zen Buddhism. Comparing traditions[edit] Further information: Eastern religions, Western religions, prehistoric religion, religions of the Ancient Near East, Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, and Proto-Indo-European religion Bahá'í Faith[edit]

Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
and the unity of religion Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
and Buddhism Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
and Hinduism Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
and Zoroastrianism

Buddhism[edit]

Buddhism
Buddhism
and Christianity Buddhism
Buddhism
and Eastern religions Buddhism
Buddhism
and Gnosticism Buddhism
Buddhism
and Hinduism Buddhism
Buddhism
and Jainism Buddhism
Buddhism
and Theosophy Comparison of Buddhism
Buddhism
and Christianity

Christianity[edit]

Christianity
Christianity
and other religions Buddhism
Buddhism
and Christianity Comparison of Buddhism
Buddhism
and Christianity Christianity
Christianity
and Islam Christianity
Christianity
and Judaism Christianity
Christianity
and Neopaganism Christianity
Christianity
and Paganism Christianity
Christianity
and Vodou

Mormonism

Mormonism
Mormonism
and Christianity Mormonism
Mormonism
and Islam Mormonism
Mormonism
and Judaism

Confucianism[edit]

Confucianism
Confucianism
and eastern religions Confucianism
Confucianism
and western religions

Hinduism[edit]

Hinduism
Hinduism
and other religions Ayyavazhi
Ayyavazhi
and Hinduism Buddhism
Buddhism
and Hinduism Hindu–Islamic relations

Islam[edit]

Islam
Islam
and other religions Christianity
Christianity
and Islam Hindu–Islamic relations Islam
Islam
and Jainism Islamic–Jewish relations Ahmadiyya–Jewish relations Islam
Islam
and Sikhism Mormonism
Mormonism
and Islam

Jainism[edit]

Buddhism
Buddhism
and Jainism Islam
Islam
and Jainism Jainism
Jainism
and Sikhism

Judaism[edit]

Christianity
Christianity
and Judaism Islamic–Jewish relations Ahmadiyya–Jewish relations Hinduism
Hinduism
and Judaism

Paganism and Neopaganism[edit]

Christianity
Christianity
and Paganism Christianity
Christianity
and Neopaganism

Sikhism[edit]

Hinduism
Hinduism
and Sikhism Islam
Islam
and Sikhism Jainism
Jainism
and Sikhism

Taoism[edit]

Taoism
Taoism
and other religions

Zoroastrianism[edit]

Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
and other religions

See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Comparative religion.

Comparative mythology Comparative theology Comparison of the founders of religious traditions Hierographology Inclusivism Institute for Interreligious Dialogue Interfaith List of religions Panbabylonism Parallelomania Parliament of the World's Religions Patternism Religious pluralism Religious universalism

References[edit]

^ "Human beings' relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual, and divine" Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
(online, 2006), cited after "Definitions of Religion". Religion
Religion
facts.  ^ a b c d Charles Joseph Adams, Classification of religions: geographical, Encyclopædia Britannica ^ Hans Kippenberg, Discovering Religious History in the Modern Age (2001). ^ Nicholas de Lange, Judaism, Oxford University Press, 1986 ^ Why Abrahamic? Archived 8 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions at the University of Wisconsin ^ "But the upshot of the whole matter is, that out of every hundred Bábís probably not more than three or four are Ezelís [sic], all the rest accepting Behá'u'lláh [sic] as the final and most perfect manifestation of the Truth." (Browne (1889) p. 351) ^ Rabbi David Rosen, Jewish-Muslim Relations, Past and Present Archived 16 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine., November 2003 ^ Rabbi Justin Jaron Lewis, Islam
Islam
and Judaism
Judaism
Archived 5 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine., October 2001 ^ "monasticism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 14 August 2007 <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 January 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2007. > ^ “owes on eternal debt of gratitude to that great teacher,”Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi
and Buddhism
Buddhism
Y.P. Anand An Encounter with Buddhism
Buddhism
"Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.  ^ "The ideal of karma-yoga". Archived from the original on 25 October 2009. He is the ideal Karma-Yogi, acting entirely without motive, and the history of humanity shows him to have been the greatest man ever born; beyond compare the greatest combination of heart and brain that ever existed, the greatest soul-power that has ever been manifested. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) ^ P. 17 Gandhi
Gandhi
By Ronald Terchek

Further reading[edit]

Saso, Michael R. (2015) Mystic, Shaman, Oracle, Priest (MYSHOP): Prayers Without Words. Sino-Asian Institute of America, US. ISBN 978-1624074059. Eastman, Roger (1999) The Ways of Religion: An Introduction to the Major Traditions. Oxford University Press, US; 3 edition. ISBN 978-0-19-511835-3. Momen, Moojan (2009) [Originally published as The Phenomenon of Religion
Religion
in 1999]. Understanding Religion: A Thematic Approach. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications. ISBN 978-1-85168-599-8.  Muhiyaddin, M. A. (1984) A Comparative Study of the Religions of Today. Vantage Press, US. ISBN 978-0533059638. Shaw, Jeffrey M. (2014) Illusions of Freedom: Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on Technology and the Human Condition. Wipf and Stock. ISBN 978-1625640581. Smith, Huston (1991) The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions. HarperOne, US; Rev Rep edition. ISBN 978-0062508119. Chopra, R. M. (2015) A Study of Religions, Anuradha Prakashan, New Delhi, ISBN 978-9382339-94-6.

External links[edit]

Patheos.com's Side-By-Side Comparative "Lenses" ReligiousTolerance.org ReligionFacts.com Comparative-religion.com Studies in Comparative Religion[permanent dead link] Answers to Questions of Faith
Faith
From Several Worldviews "The Faith
Faith
versus Reason Debate"  – comparative religion studies inspired by Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy

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