Codification of Traditions: c. 600 BCE - 600 CE

AP Concept: 2.1 The Development and Codification of Religious and Cultural Traditions
Key Concepts
  • Codification of religious traditions provided ethical codes and bonded people together
  • New religious and cultural traditions developed and spread
Religious Traditions
  • Around 600 BCE, societies developed new religions to address questions and concerns that previous religions may not have been able to answer
  • While some civilizations retained their polytheistic, nature-based traditions, others moved to more complex traditions
  • Hinduism developed in India in this era as a polytheistic religion and a way of life
  • Hindus believe they have a dharma, or duty, to perform in life, determined by their birth and stage in life. If they follow their dharma, they receive good karma and the world runs smoothly
  • They are reincarnated after death and assume a new position based on how well they performed in their previous life, and eventually they reach moksha, or oneness with the universe, to end the cycle of rebirth
  • Followers of Hinduism also adhere to India's caste system, which divides people based on occupation and purity
  • Buddhism emerged in India from followers of the Buddha (born as Siddhartha Gautama, 563 BCE - 483 BCE)
  • Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, which stated that followers must adhere to the Eightfold Path in order to escape the world's suffering
  • A Buddhist who lives a righteous life will ultimately attain nirvana, or oneness with the universe, and a release from reincarnation
  • Buddhism spread via missionaries through Central and Southeast Asia
  • Zoroastrianism developed as a monotheistic religion in Persia around 600 BCE
  • The prophet Zoroaster taught that people must choose between the forces of good and evil
  • Judaism developed among the Hebrews, who migrated from Mesopotamia to Palestine around 2000 BCE; they eventually migrated into Egypt, where they were enslaved, and were led to Israel, or their promised land, on the Mediterranean
  • Hebrews (later known as Jews) followed one god, YHWH, whom they believed had chosen them to honor the Ten Commandments and live righteously
  • They had a covenant with God, which stated that if they followed the Ten Commandments, God would lead them to their promised land, Israel
  • Christianity developed from Jewish and Zoroastrian traditions, and from the teachings of Jesus, who was born around 4 BCE
  • Jesus taught his followers to love one another, and his followers believed he was the son of God, which led them to break off from traditional Judaism
  • Missionaries spread Jesus' teachings throughout the Roman Empire, Central Asia, and Mesopotamia
  • Islam developed at the end of this period, based on the teachings of Muhammad, born in Mecca in 570 CE
  • Muhammad served as the prophet of Allah, the one true God, and promised salvation to those who followed the Five Pillars of Islam
  • Islam quickly spread through Arabia
Cultural Traditions
  • A number of cultural traditions emerged in China during the Warring States period (600 - 221 BCE), as thinkers and philosophers attempted to bring order to the world
  • Daoism probably developed from the ideas of Laozi (c. 500 BCE), who believed in harmony with nature
  • Problems could be solved by focusing on values like patience and selflessness, rather than by using government to rule people
  • Confucianism developed from the teachings of Confucius (551 - 479 BCE), a philosopher who believed that understanding one's proper role could bring peace
  • Filial piety (respect for one's parents) and obeying five key relationships were crucial
  • Legalism was the belief that only an absolute ruler could govern people, as humans are inherently evil
  • The first Qin emperor used Legalism as part of his rule, which ended the Warring States period

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Gender Roles and Artistic Expression: c. 600 BCE - 600 CE