For millennia, images have acted as a bridge to the invisible and the transcendent.
The five major religions (by number of modern adherents): Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism.
The biblical Jesus, described in the Gospels as the son of a carpenter, was a Jew and a champion of the underdog.
Islam was founded by Muhammad, a 6th century merchant from the city of Mecca, in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Mecca was then a well-established trading city. The Kaaba, in Mecca, is the focus of pilgrimage and prayer for muslims around the world.
Hinduism is neither monotheistic nor is it polytheistic. Hinduism’s emphasis on the universal spirit, or Brahman, allows for the existence of a pantheon of divinities while remaining devoted to a particular god.
Among the founders of the world’s major religions, the Buddha was the only teacher who did not claim to be other than an ordinary human being. Other teachers were either God or were directly inspired by God. The Buddha was simply a human being who claimed no inspiration from any God or external power.
Judaism stems from a collection of stories that describe the origins of the “children of Israel” and the laws that their deity commanded of them. The stories explain how the Israelites came to settle, construct a Temple for their one God, and eventually establish a monarchy—as divinely instructed—in the ancient Land of Israel.
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Get familiar with the concepts that underlie the study of religion and art.