The Spread of Salvation Religions in the Roman and Han Empires

Essay by silentwatcherUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, December 2008

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“Politics shaped religion, and religion shaped politics” (Tignor, 322)Religion for many of us is a tool we use to explain the world around us. Religion helps us define a standard of living, a code of conduct that describes the most appropriate way to live our lives and deal with situations. Religion also provides us with a meaning for our existence. In other words, religions such as Christianity and Buddhism for instance are a means of solace, a safety net that explain our adversities and consoles us with a better tomorrow; it assures us with salvation. The above mentioned salvation religions evolved under the framework of political institutions and states. Therefore, the salvation religions of Christianity and Buddhism were able to spread through the Roman and Han empires respectively because the political structure and the principles of the religions were able to find some common ground. This enabled a collective framework to emerge in the light of several political, economic and social factors.

These elements include weakening political stability, nomadic invasions, economic hardships and class struggles. The purpose of this essay is to place the spread of Christianity and Buddhism within the context of the factors mentioned above and examine how the political and religious elements were able to reconcile within the Roman and Han Empires.

The Roman and Han Empires established themselves as the epitome of empire building in the Mediterranean and East Asia around 2 BCE (Tignor, 277). Both the Roman and Han Empires were complex political and social structures that governed vast distances of land and large numbers of people. The paths for socio-political and economic developments were different for the Roman and Han Empires. Where the Han Empire built up on the tradition and the imperial culture of the previous empires, the Roman Empire without the past...