Cycles of Faith: The Development of the World's Religions by Robert Ellwood

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 phases of Apostolic, Imperial, Devotional, Reformation, and people faith. a totally revised variation of his 1988 booklet, The background and way forward for religion, Ellwood's readable textual content supplies an invaluable, theoretical framework to many periods in spiritual stories.

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Sample text

What kind of language would be religious? The definition of religion is a notoriously thorny problem, and the difficulty probably tells us that, as in the case of the origin of religion, the definitional question is the wrong, or at least a highly artificial, way to put the issue. Although we may be talking about where religion (as we call it) came from, to think of our early ancestors’ gestures and acted stories as their “religion”is anachronistic by hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of years.

From the beginning, however, varying degrees of emotional relation to religious images was no doubt found. At some point, we know not when, humanity made the ultimate discovery: death. Avoidance of death-or seeking it whether for altruistic or suicidal reasons-was then not merely based on instinctual fear; rather, it was compounded by conscious awareness of what death was and extrapolation from the sight of death in others. Death, too, came under the canopy of religious language, for death above all had to be dealt with in a way that fused inner feelings and their images with outer, observed realities.

RELIGIOUS ORIGINS AND MEANINGS from other traditions into the faith, such as the adaptation of the ancient Mediterranean cult of the Great Goddess into the Christian cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He called it assimilation, and he lauded the way such wise accommodations help ordinary people adjust to a new faith. “ Our assumption will be that as a descriptive device, such a universalization of Newman’s development of doctrine concept is a valid way of looking at religious history, and it is one not inconsistent with Diltheyan verstehen.

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