Christianity was founded in the early first century, meaning that the religion is nearly 2,000 years old. Long before Christianity was founded, however, a number of religions were practiced. Some of those faiths that believe in one God, as Christianity does, are practiced today.
Thought to be the oldest living religion, the Hindu tradition is closely related to other Indian religions, such as Buddhism and Jainism. While there is no single founder of Hinduism, no single sacred text and no single set of teachings, most Hindus believe in a supreme God, believe that the cycle of life is governed by karma and that the soul passes through many different lives, with each successive reincarnation depending upon the way the life before it was lived.
Founded more than 3,500 years ago in the Middle East, Judaism was established based on a covenant between God and the Jewish people. As the original Abrahamic faith, Judaism traces its founding to the patriarch Abraham, who is also considered an important patriarch of Christianity and Islam. Judaism teaches that there is only one God and the Jewish people seek to follow his laws.
The Buddhist tradition is more than 2,500 years old. Established in the sixth century B.C. as a result of Siddhartha Gautama’s quest for enlightenment, Buddhism teaches that nothing is permanent and encourages followers to seek the path of enlightenment through morality, meditation and wisdom
An ancient Indian religion, Jainism took its current form from the teachings of Mahavira, whose teachings are collected in the Agamas. Jainism teaches five mahavratas, or great vows: nonviolence, nonattachment to possessions, not lying, not stealing and celibacy or, at least, sexual restraint. Jains also believe in reincarnation and seek to break the cycle of birth, death and rebirth and gain ultimate liberation, where the soul lives forever in a state of bliss.
Founded in China more than 2,000 years ago, Taoism encourages virtuous living, harmony with nature and the pursuit of spiritual immortality. Based upon the Tao, or “the Way.” the religion includes many deities, which are worshipped in temples, and teaches the practices of feng shui, meditation and the reading and chanting of Taoist scriptures.
Though it is one of the smallest monotheistic religions practiced today, Zoroastrianism was, a thousand years ago, one of the most influencial religions in the world. Zoroastrianism was founded nearly 3,500 years ago by the Prophet Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism's sacred text, the Avesta, teaches that there is one God, Ahura Mazda, who revealed his truth through the Prophet Zoraster. Fire, which is considered a representation of God's light and wisdom, is still revered by those who practice Zoroastrianism.
Amanda Graber has been a writer and editor since 2009. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications. As an editor, she has worked for both a commercial magazine and a children's literary agency. Graber holds a master's degree in writing and publishing from DePaul University.