The Axial Age is a term used to describe the period of intellectual and spiritual growth that took place around 800 BC. It was a time when people began to question their existence, ask philosophical questions, and ponder the nature of religion. Religion during this period shifted from simple tribal beliefs to more complex systems, as individuals sought to make sense of the world around them. This period saw the emergence of major world religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. While these religions shared common features such as an ethical code and a belief in a Supreme Being or gods, they all developed differently due to regional differences in culture and environment (Kaufman & Stausberg 2019). With this shift in religious thinking came greater emphasis on transcendent values such as justice and compassion rather than material possessions or power. Thus religion was no longer seen simply as an instrument for controlling behavior but also for guiding moral action (Durkheim 1912).
Prior to the Axial Age most religions were polytheistic—based on worshiping multiple deities—and focused on appeasing them with offerings of food or sacrifices in order to ensure protection from harm or bad fortune (Meyer 2018). In contrast, subsequent religious thought tended towards monotheism—belief in one God—as well as ethics that promoted morality beyond just superstitious magic or taboo behaviors (Harris 2013). For example Judaism emphasized laws found within its sacred texts while Christianity would later focus on unconditional love for others through Jesus’ teachings (Schaberg 2007). Similarly Buddhism stressed non-violence towards all living beings even if it meant sacrificing individual desires whereas Confucianism advocated communal harmony through obedience to social roles like filial piety (Ebrey 2006). Thus we can see how post-Axial Age religion placed greater emphasis on personal faith over ritual practices like ancestor worship which had been dominant before this era.
How is religion different after the axial age from before
Also important was how religious leaders became increasingly respected figures due their beliefs based upon divine revelation and knowledge of scripture rather than status related to birthright or wealth. This facilitated larger communities by granting authority not just based upon birth right but instead upon spiritual insight into truths beyond conventional wisdom (Von Rad 1961). Furthermore since salvation could be achieved not only through rituals but also through living according to certain moral principles this enabled greater inclusion within societies regardless of class distinctions while creating more equitable opportunities for gaining access into heaven after death (Dawson 2008).
In conclusion we can say then that prior to the Axial age many religions were polytheistic with rigid hierarchies that limited access outside particular castes while post-Axial age religions evolved into more ethical systems stressing monotheism along with acceptance within society regardless of class differences which ultimately enabled larger communities capable of transcending political boundaries .