Why “Axial Age Religions”?

Between 1500 BCE and 50 CE, a series of new religions appeared which were unlike any before.  These religions were founded by sages or prophets who emphasized various forms of universal ethics and morality.  These prophets or sages included Zoroaster, Confucius, Socrates-Plato, Siddhartha (Buddha), and Abraham.  Because Christianity and Islam are rooted in the Abrahamic tradition, they may be considered the progeny of Axial Age religions.  Karl Jaspers was the first to identify an “Axial Age” defined by new religious or metaphysical movements, and Karen Armstrong has recently published a book on this topic.  Although the religions which appeared during the Axial Age differ considerably in doctrines and details, they have things in common which give rise to the reasonable suspicion that they are somehow linked.  Posts in this Category will examine Axial Age religions, and the economic, social, and political circumstances in which they arose.

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