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The Oldest Religions in the World
Posted In: Religion Articles  1/11/11
By: Yona Williams

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When it comes to the oldest religions in the world, it is easy to see why there would be controversy regarding this matter. In this article, you will learn some of the characteristics associated with ancient belief systems.

Hinduism

Many experts agree that the oldest organized religion in the world is Hinduism, which dates back to 1,500 BCE. The sacred texts of Hinduism (the Vedas) were written at this time and serve as a historical marker for the religion. Interestingly, Hinduism is a religion that has no known creator. The basis of the belief system is comprised of various cultures and myths. There are many different texts associated with Hinduism, which allow adherents to study philosophy, mythology, theology, as well as learn how to follow the practice of dharma – also known as religious living. Today, Hinduism is the largest religion in the world.

Judaism

Another religion that has roots dating back thousands of years ago is Judaism. Born around 1800 BCE, Abraham is recognized as the founder of Judaism. When tracing the origin and history of the religion, the Torah plays an important role. For many, the start of Judaism is often marked by the existence of the Torah.

The Torah (also known as the Five Books of Moses) represents the text surrounding the founding legal and ethical beliefs of Judaism. The Torah is the first of three parts of the Tanakh, which is the Hebrew Bible. The books are separated into five different sections with names written in English: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The first individual to put the Torah in writing was Moses, who did so about 1400 BCE.

Paganism

Not all religions or forms of worship are organized. Many feel that Paganism is the oldest belief system in the world. It is from Paganism that Wicca and other extensions of earth-related worship get their start. The concept of Mother Earth as a goddess is one that was embraced as far back as 30,000 years ago during Paleolithic times. The modern version of paganism is linked to Celtic religious beliefs that date back to around 1000 BCE.

Common Misconception

Across the world, Islam and Christianity currently have the most adherents, but they are actually among the newest forms of worship. Islam dates back to 610 CE with Abraham serving as the oldest prophet of the religion. Adherents of Islam believe that their religion is the complete and universal version of a prehistoric belief system that has been revealed many different times and at various places, involving religious figures, such as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus.

Christianity has roots that trace back to about 30 CE. The religion is based on the life and word of Jesus of Nazareth. Gospels and other writings, such as the Bible, play an important role in the religion. Those who follow and practice the faith are referred to as Christians. They typically belong to various churches, such as the three largest organizations in the world: the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and churches of Protestantism.


 

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