In today’s world, there are a huge range of religions which all have varying dates of origin. There are also a number of different factors to consider when looking at the age of religion. In this article, we will aim to answer questions such as ” How old is Christianity?’’ as well as looking at how this compares to the age of other religions including Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. This will all be with the intention of deciding what the oldest religion in the world is. We’ll start off by exploring some of the difficulties we face in answering such a question.
What was the first religion?
Trying to discover the oldest known religion is a difficult mission to undertake. So there are a few things to consider before answering: how old is Christianity? For starters, the oldest known religion may not necessarily be the first religion.
For example, what do we base our information on? Holy books, writings and teachings of any modern day religion arguably started much later than the events described within them. We know this because the oldest forms of writing so far discovered belong to the people of Ancient Sumer.
This writing ( known as cuneiform ) didn’t begin until around 3400BCE. Before this, pictograms were they only written forms of information transference.
The difficulty, of course, is that these were usually very simply drawings that may have had meaning to those who created them but ultimately mean very little to us beyond being artwork and evidence of a civilization having existed in that area.
Arguably, the oldest known pictogram (and arguably the earliest form of writing that predates actual written languages) has been discovered at Gobeklitepe and is estimated to be from about 12,000 years ago (10,000BCE).
Everything that happened before this is simply passed on orally which can be difficult to keep track of. This is where the problem lies as there are dark areas to our knowledge.
How old is Islam?
So how old is Islam? In order to fully understand any religion and its start date, we have to explore its holy texts and writings. Islam is one of the more recent religions to be born into this world.
Islam (like many religions) starts with a prophet. In this instance, that prophet is Muhammed who is regarded as the founder of Islam. Muhammed was born in the year 570CE but didn’t begin receiving the divine revelations until 610CE which arguably marks the start of Islam. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple.
Arguably, Islam didn’t start at this point in history but rather this marks the point where it detached itself from other religions.
This is due to the fact that Islam views there have been prophets before Muhammed whose names you may recognize from other religions, names such as Jesus, David, Noah, Adam, and Abraham.
This is why Islam is considered an Abrahamic religion as it views Abraham and his decedents as pivotal figures in the world’s history, particularly within religious beliefs. So to establish how old Islam is, we have to explore the other Abrahamic religions.
How old is Christianity?
So how old is Christianity in comparison to Islam? Well, Christianity is another of the three main Abrahamic religions.
Similarly to Islam, we have the issue that the same beliefs exist beyond the point where Christianity itself came into existence. Christianity separated from those of the same faith during the 1st century CE.
This was due to the birth, teachings, and following of Jesus Christ, the son of God and the Messiah. Many Jews were aware of the prophesized coming of the Messiah before the birth of Jesus due to messages from angels such as Gabriel but Christianity as a religion wasn’t born until near the end Jesus’s life.
How old is Judaism?
How old is Christianity in comparison to Judaism? Well, Judaism existed prior to Christianity and is, in fact, the 3rd main Abrahamic faith. Judaism is arguably the core belief system through which Christians and Muslims were born.
This is due to Abraham being viewed as the first Hebrew and therefore father to the Jewish people. So as you can see, answering: How old is Islam? And: How old is Christianity? Leads us into having to answer: How old is Judaism?
This is also where we start running into problems as historical records become fuzzy, documents contain contradicting accounts and as such, discovering the age of Judaism becomes a little more difficult.
If we view the covenant between God and Abraham as the start of Judaism then current estimates put this event as occurring during the Bronze Age in the Middle East.
This would probably be around 1812BCE but it’s hard to date the event exactly. What we can work with is the birth of The Torah (the Holy Book of Judaism) which was given to the Hebrews by the prophet Moses around 1313BCE.
How old is Buddhism?
As we leave the Abrahamic faiths behind, we encounter a similar problem with asking: how old is Buddhism? Buddhism is to Hinduism what Christianity is to Judaism.
The founder of the practice (which often separates itself from religious belief at all) was Siddhartha Gautama (or Buddha Gautama) who was himself a Hindu. The actual dates when Buddhism began to gather a following very.
Accounts differ but we can place the life of Gautama as between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is believed to have died at the age of 80, by which point his teachings had amassed a following.
How old is Hinduism?
How old is Hinduism? Well, some argue that Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world. The difficulty is that unlike the other religions there is no single moment marking the starting point.
Most estimates place the earliest writings which depict the Hindu beliefs as being from 2000BCE. These texts were written in Sanskrit which is matched in age only by the Ancient Sumerian Cuneiform.
So what was the first religion? The answer is that we may never know for sure. We can only mark the starting points of religions based on their interaction with societies and cultures at the time or through the Holy Books that they pass down to us.
We can ask the question such as how old is Christianity in comparison to Hinduism or Judaism but the answers will always be speculation. Religions may have started long before any form of writing existed and because of that, we may never know their true origin date.