Comparative Religion

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By Robert Ellwood

In Cycles of religion, famous historian of faith Robert Ellwood makes the case that the 5 greatest global religions all go through the levels of Apostolic, Imperial, Devotional, Reformation, and folks faith. a very revised variation of his 1988 booklet, The background and way forward for religion, Ellwood's readable textual content gives you an invaluable, theoretical framework to many sessions in non secular reviews.

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Extra info for Cycles of Faith: The Development of the World's Religions

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This scenario is nothing more nor less, of course, than what culture does through all sorts of media. The archaic shaman may rightly be considered the spiritual ancestor of various later religious specialists (the prophet, priest, mystic, and heaven-faring savior) and of various other specialists as well (the artist, poet, singer, and psychotherapist). Not all shamans in all societies have played all the roles we have cited. But in all genuine cases, images of that which is more than biological and aligned to the realm of dream and vision break through in the shaman.

To this day, the most sacred power of the text, though written, is oral and auditory: the solemn reading of scripture in religious service, the chanting, recitation, or singing of Bible, Veda, or Koran. Yet the application of writing created the religious icon of the sacred text, a locus of the sacred that, though perhaps dimly foreshadowed in the pictograph or the hieroglyphic charm, is essentially coeval with the Great Religions. The discovery of history was a consequence of record keeping. Though at first perhaps no more than a succession of kings and victories, even the most primitive records would have engendered a sense of things changing and not changing back.

For a Great Religion, however, a moment in time-the time of the Buddha, the Christ, or the Prophet-becomes the moment of a second and even more powerful creation. In practical sacred importance, it exceeds the first creation; it is the centerpoint when “the hopes and fears of all the years are met” in a great new divine event associated with the work of an ideal archetypal person, together with the generation of a sacred text bearing witness to the event and the truths associated with it. Rather than the plant or animal, the master images of religion are now the person, the text, and the historical time in which divine purpose is worked out.

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