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Cristianity And Buddhism Essay, Research Paper

The Spread of Christianity


1) Redemptions of sins, personal immortality, and future life where material adversities are absent.

2) Easy message from Jesus that everyone could understand.

3) Free of , cumbersome regulations (Judaism) and costly rituals ( Mystery Cults)

4) Accessible to all- male, female, rich, poor, free, or a slave.

5) Its Historical Credibility- The fact that Jesus had lived among men and women and practiced the morality he preached.

Roman Empire at the Time

The was a large gap between the rich and the poor. The majority of the people were the poor.

Attempts to restore Roman Values (Octavian) did not stop imperialism and bureaucratic corruption.

Germanic tribes were migrating west and attacking Rome s borders

Official Approval

1. Failed to win official approval from Roman government.

Christianity was monotheistic.

Refused to worship emperor as divine.

Denied existence of Roman gods.

Christians refused to serve in Roman army.

Rome tried to annihilate Christians.

Destroyed Jerusalem

Christian converts expelled from Rome

Those who refused to make sacrifices to Roman gods were tortured, burned, beheaded, or thrown to wild beasts.

Edict of Milan

Christians faced their deaths joyously, shocking Roman audiences.

In 313, Constantine issues Edict of Milan, which proclaimed religious toleration in the West

It liberated Christians from physical and political oppression, and encouraged the development of Christianity as a legitimate faith.

They were free to establish uniform doctrine of belief, and administrative hierarchy, the rituals of worship, and a symbolic vocabulary.

By the late fourth century Christianity became official religion of Roman Empire


Siddhartha Gautama ( Buddha)

Lived in India three to five centuries before Jesus.

Life spanned from 560-480 to 440-360.

Born into a Hindu family.

Well educated.

At 19 he married his cousin and fathered a son.

Buddha reaching nirvana

Three Truths


Old Age


Renounced wealth, abandoned wife and child.


Sitting under a Bo ( fig) tree he began his meditation

Concluded human suffering was desire, or attachment to material things and ignorance

Next forty years he preached his message

Humility and compassion.

Pursuit of which might lead followers to Nirvana.

Nirvana ultimate release form illusion and from wheel of rebirth


Buddha s Message

Reach nirvana by avoiding all extremes in accordance with the Eightfold Path:

Right views

Right intention

Right speech

Right action

Right livelihood

Right effort

Right mindfulness

Right concentration

Buddhism vs. Hinduism

Enlightenment can be achieved by all people, not just a gender or caste.

Followers were to renounce the gods of the Vegas

Followers worked out their own salvations on there spiritual journey which would take them on the Middle Path, which consists of the Four Noble Truths:

Pain is universal

Desire causes pain

Ceasing to desire relives pain

Practice of Eightfold Path leads to release of pain

Similar to Jesus

Both Criticized the current Religion ( Jesus criticized Judaism, Buddha criticized Hinduism).

Buddha also assembled disciples (5), who founded first Buddhist Monastic order.

Just like Jesus, Buddha s life was surrounded by miraculous tales

Sermons were preserved and recorded by his followers


Written in Pali or Sanskrit they were the there main books that recorded Buddha s teachings and divided into chapter called sutras .

Sermon of Benares

Nothing will cleanse a man who isn t free from delusions.

Reach Nirvana by finding the middle path.

Tells his disciples about the noble truths.

Return of good from evil

Spread of Buddhism

In third century emperor Asoka made Buddhism the state religion of India.

Asoka sent Buddhist missionaries as far West as Greece and southeast into Ceylon.

Because of fast migration to spread Buddhism there became many Buddhists sects , 500 in India alone

Hinayana Buddhism: emphasizes pursuit to nirvana, close to original teaching

Mahayana Buddhism: added Buddha to a divine being and added new teachings and legends, Buddha was now path of salvation.

Mahayana Buddhists

Those who postponed reaching nirvana to help human suffering were called bodhisattvas. (Guanyin)

In India Asoka s attempt failed to popularize Buddhism, the Hindu caste system eventually absorbed the Buddhists

In China he Mahayana’s were regarded Buddha as not only a teacher but also as a savior.

The Mahayana great vehicle influence spread into China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam

The Hinayana little vehicle spread only into Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia

Buddhism in China

Entered in First century and rose in power during last years of Han Era.

Similar to Rome there was conflicts between wealthy landowners and peasants.

Also there were repeated attacks to the north by Mongol tribes (great wall)

The Buddha s sermons were translated into Chinese and popularized in China by Indian poet Asvaghosha.

Daoism and Confucianism were replaced by Buddhism and many sects were formed

The Language of Faith: Symbolism and the Arts

Diocletian : divided Roman Empire into Western and Eastern Halves and appointed a coemperor to share with administration

Constantine: levied new taxes and tried to revive money economy

In 330 he moved the seat of power form Rome to the Eastern capital of the empire, Byzantium which he named Constantinople (Istanbul), forming the Byzantine Empire, and it prospered while the Western Rome Languished

Byzantine Emperors formed alliances with church leaders and flourished until mid-fifteenth century.

Slavic regions converted into Orthodox Christianity during ninth and tenth century

Arch of Constantine

Christian Identity

Roman catholic Church replaced Roman Empire as dominant authority in West

In 313 followers of Jesus moved to fix hierarchy dogma and Liturgy. Archbishops for provinces, Bishops for dioceses, and priests in the parishes.

Rome became the administrative center of faith and the bishop of Rome, Leo the Great, advanced the Petrine Doctrine claiming that Roman pontiffs inherited positions as successors to Peter, the First Apostle.

Formulated uniform doctrine of belief, the ecumenical (worldwide) council of men called by Constantine met to explain life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

At Nicaea church representatives laid basis for Christian Dogma

Christian Identity cont d

The council at Nicaea issued statement of belief called the Nicene Creed:

It pledges commitment to a variety of miraculous phenomena, virgin birth, resurrection of dead, and trinity comprising Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

Stands as turning point between rationalism and Christian mysticism.

Anticipates shift between homocentric classical worldview to medieval worldview.

It advances faith and the intuition of truths that transcend ordinary understanding

Christian Monasticism

Separated selves from secular world to avoid worldly temptation and preserve Christian ideas.

Fasting, poverty, and celibacy were the essential lifestyles instituted by Greek bishop Saint Basil and still followed by the Monastic of Eastern Church.

In 529, the Western monastic community was founded at Monte Cassino in Southern Italy, and was named after is founder Benedict of Nursia, Benedictine.


Required members to take vows in poverty, chastity, and obedience to the governing abbot (father of monastic community).

At least two hours daily of religious study and a daily recitation of the Divine Office, a cycle of prayers that marked eight devotional intervals in a twenty-fur hour period was required.

There motto was, mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a sound body) this characterized Benedictrine.


Women regarded as daughters of Eve, inherently sinful and dangerous as objects of sexual temptation.

Women were prohibited from holding church positions and from receiving ordination as secular clerics, but were allowed to join the clergy.

In Egypt twice as many women lived in monastic communities than women, as nuns.

Throughout time period perception of women were as weak, self-indulgent, and intrinsically inferior to men.


Over time Greek and Roman forms of education dried up and fewer people knew how to read and write.

The monks and nuns hand-copied manuscripts and stored them in libraries.

Also sponsored many programs of education and this contributed to developing music and art, and many missionaries, scholars, and Church reformers

The Latin Church Fathers

Most important Latin scholars between 4th an 6th centuries:

Saint Jerome: (342-420) translated into Latin the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. Task resulted in Vulgate, which became the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.

Ambrose: (339-397) was bishop of Milan, and wrote some of earliest Christian hymns. Ancient Morning Hymn (pg. 18)

Gregory the Great: (540-604) elected to papacy in 590 , he established administrative machinery used by all subsequent popes. He sent missionaries to convert England to Christianity and organized liturgical music of the early church.

Augustine of Hippo: (354-430) he was a native of Roman Africa and came under spell of Plotinus and Paul and converted to Christianity at 33. Before converting he was in a turbulent life which included gambling, womanizing, and a fathering illegitimate child. In his autobiography Confessions: he talks about distinction of physical and spiritual satisfaction, and the three everyday temptation: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the ambition of the world

Augustine con t

He defended that Christianity was not the downfall of Rome.

In The City of God he distinguished between earthly city of humankind and heavenly city that is the eternal dwelling place of Christian soul.

Augustine believed matter was a matrix in which God s message was hidden, Gods invisible order must be discovered.

Augustine used the Hebrew Bible as a symbolic Guide to Christian belief and history was a cloaked message of divine revelation.

The City of the God illustrated his perception of reality and suggests importance of Christian allegory.

Symbolic and Early Christian Art

Iconography: is the study of subject matter and its visual imagery, is essential to an understanding of transition form classical to Christian art.

Symbolic significance was now more importance than the literal meaning.

Used fish because Greek letters are combination of Greek words Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.

Used Alpha and Omega to designate Chris s presence at beginning and end of time.

The Latin work peace, pax, a symbolic reference to Christ.

More Symbols

On sarcophagus of archbishop Theodorus of Ravenna the chi and rho and the alpha and omega were made into a crucifix ( symbolizing Christ as Savior) and a pastoral cross ( symbolizing Christ as shepherd).

In art, music, and literature numbers and combinations of numbers were thought to carry allegorical meaning.

The man for Matthew, lion for mark, ox for Luke, and the eagle for John.


Underground burial chambers outside Rome.

Walls covered in Frescoes illustrating scenes of Old and New Testaments.

Jesus is symbolized as protector (shepherd) and sacrificial victim (lamb)

Message is of salvation and deliverance , but style is of secular Roman Art

Early Christian Art and Architecture

In the West, early Church building was modeled after Roman basilica, one would enter the basilica through an atrium that was covered on three sides by a covered walkway or ambulatory and fourth side in directly in front of church by a narthex or vestibule. In interior featured a long narrow hall wall called a nave, and the upper wall of nave consisted of the gallery and clerestory. At east end of church across from nave was the transept. The after transept was the semicircular apse where there was a alter.

Roman Basilica

More on Christian Churches

They served as not only place to worship but also tombs.

They were massive so they could accommodate thousands but had wood roofs which made them vulnerable to fire, none have survived.

The Latin Cross plan was model for medieval churches in West, the exterior was left plain, but interior had mosaics made of colored glass or marble set in wet cement. ( borrowed form Romans)


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