History of Religion - A Sketch of Primitive Religious Beliefs and Practices, and of the Origin and Character of the Great Systems
262 Pages
English
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History of Religion - A Sketch of Primitive Religious Beliefs and Practices, and of the Origin and Character of the Great Systems

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262 Pages
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, History of Religion, by Allan Menzies
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Title: History of Religion
A Sketch of Primitive Religious Beliefs and Practices, and of the Origin and Character of the Great Systems
Author: Allan Menzies
Release Date: September 2, 2009 [eBook #29893]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HISTORY OF RELIGION***
E-text prepared by Ron Swanson
HISTORY OF RELIGION
A SKETCH OF PRIMITIVE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND PRACTICES, AND OF THE ORIGIN AND
CHARACTER OF THE GREAT SYSTEMS
BY
ALLAN MENZIES, D.D.
PRO FESSO R O F BIBLICAL CRITICISM IN THE UNIVERSITY O F ST. ANDREWS
Known unto G od are all his works from the beginning of the world.—ACTSxv. 18.
NEW YORK CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 597-599 FIFTH AVENUE 1917
FIRSTEDITION
SECONDEDITION
Reprinted
Reprinted
Reprinted
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THIRDEDITION
FOURTHEDITION
Reprinted
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April1895
 September1895
March1897
June1900
January1902
March1903
October1905
January1908
September1911
June1914
October1918
PREFACE
This book makes no pretence to be a guide to all the mythologies, or to all the religious practices which have prevailed in the world. It is intended to aid the student who desires to obtain a general idea of com parative religion, by exhibiting the subject as a connected and organic whole, and by indicating the leading points of view from which each of the great systems may best be understood. A certain amount of discussion is emplo yed in order to bring clearly before the reader the great motives and ide as by which the various religions are inspired, and the movements of thought which they present. And the attempt is made to exhibit the great manifestations of human piety in their genealogical connection. The writer has ventured to deal with the religions of the Bible, each in its proper historical place, and trusts that he has not by doing so rendered any disservice either to Christian faith or to the science of religion. It is obvious that in a work claiming to be scienti fic, and appealing to men of every faith, all religions must be treated impartially, and that the same method must be applied to each of them.
In a field of study, every part of which is being illuminated almost every year by fresh discoveries, such a sketch as the present can be merely tentative, and must soon, in many of its parts, grow antiquated an d be superseded. And where so much depends on the selection of some facts out of many which might have been employed, it will no doubt appear to readers who have some acquaintance with the subject, that here and there a better choice might have been made. The writer hopes that the great difficulty will not be overlooked with which he has had to contend, of compressing a vast subject into a compendious statement without allowing its life and interest to evaporate in the process.
For a fuller bibliography than is given in this volume the reader may consult the works of Dr. C. P. Tiele, and of Dr. Chantepie de la Saussaye. It will readily be believed that the writer of this volume has been indebted to many an author whom he has not named.
ST. ANDREWS, 1895.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD (REVISED) EDITION
Since this book first appeared twelve years ago it has been several times reprinted without change. Advantage has now been taken, however, of a call for a fresh issue, to introduce into it some alterations and additions, such as its
stereotyped form allows. Some mistakes have been corrected, the names of recent books have been added to the bibliographies, and in some chapters, especially those dealing with the Semitic religions, considerable changes have been made. In going over the book for this purpose, I have seen very clearly that if it had been called for and written at this time instead of twelve years ago, some things which are in it need not have appeared, and additions might have been made which are not now possible. The last twel ve years have made a great change in the study of religions; the prejudices with which it was regarded have almost passed away, powerful forces have been enlisted in its service, and admirable works have appeared dealing with various parts of the vast field. Yet I am glad to think that the attempt made in thi s book to furnish a simple introduction to a deeply important study, and espec ially to promote the understanding of the religions of the Bible by placing them in their connection with the religion of mankind at large, may still prove useful.
ST. ANDREWS,June1907.
PREFACE TO THE FOURTH EDITION
This book is now being reprinted in a somewhat larger type, and an opportunity is given, less restricted than the last, for making changes in it. It is impossible for me at present to re-write it; it appears substa ntially as it was. Some alterations and additions have been made in the earlier chapters, and the bibliographies have been brought more nearly up to date. I would take this opportunity of directing the attention of readers of this book to the published Proceedings of the Oxford Congress of the History o f Religion, held in September 1908. They will there see how large this field of study has now grown, and what varied life and movement every part of it contains. I have given references only to the addresses of the Presidents of the Sections of the Congress, in which a fresh review will be found of recent progress in the study of each of the great religions.
ST. ANDREWS,July1910.
CONTENTS
PART I THE RELIGION OF THE EARLY WORLD
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Position of the science—Unity of all religion—The growth of religion continuous —Preliminary definition of religion—Criticism of other definitions—Fuller definition—Religion and civilisation advance together
CHAPTER II
THE BEGINNING OF RELIGION
Origin of civilisation—It was from the savage state that civilisation was by degrees produced—The religion of savages—All savages have religion—It is a psychological necessity
CHAPTER III
THE EARLIEST OBJECTS OF WORSHIP
Nature-worship—Ancestor-worship—Fetish-worship—A su preme being —Which gods were first worshipped?—Fetish-gods came first—Spirits, human or quasi-human, came first—Theories of Mr. Spencer and Mr. Tylor—Animism —The minor nature-worship came first—Theories of Mr. M. Müller and of Ed. von Hartmann—The great nature-powers came first—Both nature-worship and the worship of spirits are sources of early religion—Conclusion
CHAPTER IV
EARLY DEVELOPMENTS—BELIEF
Growth of the great gods—Polytheism—Kathenotheism—T he minor nature-worship—The worship of animals—Trees, wells, stones—The state after death —Growth of the great religions out of these beliefs
CHAPTER V
EARLY DEVELOPMENTS—PRACTICES
Sacrifice—Prayer—Sacred places, objects, persons—Magic—Character of early religion—Early religion and morality
CHAPTER VI
NATIONAL RELIGION
Classifications of religions—Rise of national religion—It affords a new social bond—And a better God—Example—The Inca religion
PART II ISOLATED NATIONAL RELIGIONS
CHAPTER VII
BABYLON AND ASSYRIA
People and literature—Worship of spirits—Worship of animals—The great Gods—Mythology—The state religion
CHAPTER VIII
CHINA
History of China—The literature of the religion—The state religion of ancient China—Heaven—The spirits—Ancestors—Confucius—His li fe—His doctrine —Taoism—Buddhism in China
CHAPTER IX
THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT EGYPT
History and literature—1. Animal worship—Theories accounting for it—2. The great Gods—They also are local—Mythology—Dynasties of gods—Ra—Osiris —Ptah—Was the earliest religion monotheistic?—Syncretism—Pantheism —Worship—3. The doctrine of the other life—Treatment of the dead—The spirit in the under-world—The Book of the Dead—Conclusion
PART III THE SEMITIC GROUP
CHAPTER X
THE SEMITIC RELIGION
Home of the Semites—Character of the race—Their early religious ideas —Difference between Semitic and Aryan religion
CHAPTER XI
CANAANITES AND PHENICIANS
The Religion of the Canaanites—The Phenicians—Their gods—Astral deities of Phenicia—Influence of Phenician art
CHAPTER XII
ISRAEL
The sacred literature—The people—Jehovah—The early ritual was simple —Contact with Canaanite religion—Danger of fusion—R eligious conflict—The monarchy—Religion not centralised—The Prophets—The old religion national —Criticism of the old religion by the prophets—Appearance of Universalism —Ethical monotheism—Individualism of the prophetic teaching—The reforms —Deuteronomy—Earlier codes—The exile—The return; the reform of Ezra —Character of the later religion—Heathenish elements of Judaism—Spiritual elements—The Psalms—The Synagogue—The national hope s—The state after death
CHAPTER XIII
ISLAM
Arabia before Mahomet—The old religion—Confusion of worship—Allah —Judaism and Christianity in Arabia—Mahomet, early life—His religious impressions—The revelations—His preaching—Persecution—Trials; decides to leave Mecca—Mahomet at Medina—New religious unio n—Breach with Judaism and Christianity—Domestic—Conquest of Mecca—Mecca made the capital of Islam—Spread of Islam—The duties of the Moslem—The Koran —Islam a universal religion
PART IV THE ARYAN GROUP
CHAPTER XIV
THE ARYAN RELIGION
The Aryans, their early home—Their civilisation described—Little known of their gods—Their worship was domestic
CHAPTER XV
THE TEUTONS
The Aryans in Europe—The ancient Germans—The early German gods—The working religion—Later German religion—Iceland—The Eddas—The gods of the Eddas—The twilight of the gods
CHAPTER XVI
GREECE
People and land—Earliest religion; functional deiti es—Growth of Greek gods —Stones, animals, trees—Greek religion is local—Artistic tendency—Early Eastern influences—Homer—The Homeric gods—Worship in Homer—Omens —The state after death—Hesiod—The poets and the working religion—Rise of religious art—Festivals and games—Zeus and Apollo—C hange of the Greek spirit in sixth centuryB.C.—New religious feeling; the mysteries—Religion and philosophy
CHAPTER XVII
THE RELIGION OF ROME
Roman religion was different from Greek—The earliest gods of Rome are functional beings—The worship of these beings—The g reat gods—Sacred persons—Roman religion legal rather than priestly—C hanges introduced from without—Etruria—Greek gods in Rome—The Graeco-Roman religion—Decay and confusion
CHAPTER XVIII
THE RELIGIONS OF INDIA
I.The Vedic Religion
Relation of Indian to Aryan religion—The Rigveda—The Vedic gods—Hymns to the gods—To what stage does this religion belong ?—It is primitive—It is advanced—In spite of many gods, a tendency to Monotheism
CHAPTER XIX
INDIA
II.Brahmanism
The caste system: the Brahmans—The growth of the sa cred literature —Sacrifice—Practical life—Philosophy—Transmigration—Later developments
CHAPTER XX
INDIA
III.Buddhism
The literature—Was there a personal founder?—The story of the founder—Is Buddhism a revolt against Brahmanism?—The Buddha—Th e doctrine —Buddhist morality—Nirvana—No gods—The order—Buddhi sm made popular—Conclusion—Buddhism is not a complete religion
CHAPTER XXI
PERSIA
Sources—The contents of the Zend-Avesta are composi te—Zoroaster —Primitive religion of Iran—The call of Zarathustra —The doctrine—Its inconsistencies—Man is called to judge between the gods—This religion is essentially intolerant—Growth of Mazdeism—Organisation of the heavenly beings—The attributes of Ahura—Ancient testimonies to the Persian religion —The Vendidad: laws of purity—How this doctrine ent ered Mazdeism —Influence of Mazdeism on Judaism and in other directions
PART V UNIVERSAL RELIGION
CHAPTER XXII
CHRISTIANITY
State of Jewish religion at the Christian era—The teaching of Jesus—His person and work—Universalism of Christianity—The Ap ostle Paul—What Christianity received from Judaism—And from the Greek world—The different religions of Christian nations and the common Christianity
CHAPTER XXIII
CONCLUSION
Tribal, national, and individual religion—This the central development—Has to be studied in nations—Periods of general advance in religion—Conditions of religious progress
INDEX
PART I
THE RELIGION OF THE EARLY WORLD
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
The science to which this little volume is devoted is a comparatively new one. It is scarcely half a century since the attention of Western Europe began to fix itself seriously on the great religions of the East, and the study of these ancient systems aroused reflection on the great facts that the world possesses not one religion only, but several, nay, many religions, and that these exhibit both great differences and great resemblances. The agitation of mind then awakened by the thought that other faiths might be compared with Christianity, has to a large extent passed away; and on the other hand fresh fie lds of knowledge have been opened to the student of the worships of manki nd. By new methods of research the religions of Greece and Rome have come to be known as they never were before; and all the other religions of w hich we formerly knew anything have been led to tell their stories in a new way. A new study—that of the earliest human life on the earth—has brought to light many primitive beliefs and practices, which seem to explain early religious ideas; and the accounts of missionaries and others about savage tribes now existing in different parts of the world, are seen to be full of a significance which was not noticed formerly. We are thus in a very different position from our fathers for studying the religion of the world as a whole. To them their own religion was the true one and all the others were false. Calvin speaks of the "immense welter of errors" in which the whole world outside of Christianity is immersed; it is unnecessary for him to deal with these errors, he can at once proceed to set forth the true doctrine. The belief of the early fathers of the Church, that all worships but those of Judaism and Christianity were directed to demons, and that the demons bore sway in them, practically prevailed till our own day; and it could not but do so, since no other religions than these were really known. That ignorance has ceased, and we are responsible for forming a view of the subject according to the light that has been given us.
The science of religion, though of such recent orig in, has already passed beyond its earliest stage, as a reference even to its earlier and its later names will show. "Comparative Religion" was the title given at first to the combined study of various religions. What had to be done, it was thought, was to compare them. The facts about them had to be collected, the systems arranged according to the best information procurable, and then laid side by side, that it
might be seen what features they had in common and what each had to distinguish it from the others. Work of this kind i s still abundantly necessary. The collection of materials and the specifying of t he similarities and dissimilarities of the various faiths will long occupy many workers.
Unity of all Religion.—But recent works on the religions of the world regarded as a whole have been called "histories." We have the well-knownHistory of Religion of M. Chantepie de la Saussaye, now in its third e dition, and the Comparative History of the Religions of AntiquityM. Tiele. A history of of religion may be either of two things. The word history may be used as in the term Natural History, to denote a reasoned account of this department of human life, without attempting any chronological sequence; or it may be used as when we speak of the History of the Romans, an attempt being made to tell the story of religion in the world in the order of time. In either case the use of the term "history" indicates that the study now aims at some thing more than the accumulation of materials and the pointing out of resemblances and analogies, namely, at arranging the materials at its command so as to show them in an organic connection. This, it cannot be doubted, is the task which the science of religion is now called to attempt. What every one with any interest in the subject is striving after, is a knowledge of the religions of the world not as isolated systems which, though having many points of resemblance, may yet, for all we know, be of separate and independent growth, but as connected with each other and as forming parts of one whole. Our science, in fact, is seeking to 1 grasp the religions of the world as manifestations of the religion of the world.
1  The above statement is criticised by Mr. L. H. Jordan in his excellent work, Comparative Religion, p. 485, but is in the main a true account of what has taken place. Mr. Jordan strongly holds that Comparative Religion is a science by itself, and ought to be distinguished from the History of Religion, though the latter is, of course, its necessary foundation.
In rising to this conception of its task, the science of religion is only obeying the impulse which dominates every department of study i n modern times. What every science is doing is to seek to show the unity of law amid the multiplicity of the phenomena with which it has to deal, to gather up the many into one, or rather to show how the one has given rise to the many. In the study of religion, if it be really a science, this impulse of all science must surely be felt. Here also we must cherish the conviction that an order does e xist amid the apparent disorder, if we could but find it. We must believe that the religious beliefs and practices of mankind are not a mere chaos, not a mere incessant outburst of unreason, consistent only in that it has appeared i n every age and every country of the world, but that they form a cosmos, and may be known, if we take the right way, as a part of human life from which reason has never been absent, and in which a growing purpose has fulfilled and still fulfils itself. Some theories, it is true, from which the world formerly hoped much, are not now relied on, and the present tendency is to abstain from any general doctrine of the subject, and to be content with careful collection and arrangement of the facts in special parts of the field. Caution is no doubt most needful in the attempt to form a view of this great study as a whole. Yet something of this kind is possible, and is beyond all doubt much called for. It is the aim of this little work not only to describe the leading features of the great religions, but also to set forth some of the results which appear to have been reached regarding the