The Development and Codification of Religious and Cultural Traditions
I. Codifications and further developments of existing religious traditions provided a bond among the people and an ethical code to live by.
A. The association of monotheism with Judaism was further developed with the codification of the Hebrew Scriptures, which also reflected the influence of Mesopotamian cultural and legal traditions. The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman empires conquered various Jewish states at different points in time. These conquests contributed to the growth of Jewish diasporic communities around the Mediterranean and Middle East.
B. The core beliefs outlined in the Sanskrit scriptures formed the basis of the Vedic religions – later known as Hinduism – which contributed to the development of the social and political roles of a caste system and in the importance of multiple manifestations of Brahma to promote teachings about reincarnation.
II. New belief systems and cultural traditions emerged and spread, often asserting universal truths.
A. The core beliefs about desire, suffering, and the search for enlightenment preached by the historic Buddha and recorded by his followers into sutras and other scriptures were, in part, a reaction to the Vedic beliefs and rituals dominant in South Asia. Buddhism changed over time as it spread throughout Asia – first through the support of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, and then through the efforts of missionaries and merchants, and the establishment of educational institutions to promote its core teachings.
B. Confucianism’s core beliefs and writings originated in the writings and lessons of Confucius and were elaborated by key disciples who sought to promote social harmony by outlining proper rituals and social relationships for all people in China, including the rulers.
C. In the major Daoist writings, the core belief of... [continues]
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