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ziq wrote (edited )

christianity's early influences were actually mostly jewish (obviously) and greek.

That's what establishment Christian scholars claim, but there's clearly strong similarities to the teachings of Mithras, Zarathustra and Buddha... which is hardly surprising since that particular religion was making strong inroads as Christianity was being born in West Asia and Greece:

Buddhism was prominent in the eastern Greek world (Greco-Buddhism) and became the official religion of the eastern Greek successor kingdoms to Alexander the Great's empire (Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BC-125 BC) and Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC - 10 CE)). Several prominent Greek Buddhist missionaries are known (Mahadharmaraksita and Dharmaraksita) and the Indo-Greek king Menander I converted to Buddhism, and is regarded as one of the great patrons of Buddhism. (See Milinda Panha.) Some modern historians have suggested that the pre-Christian monastic order in Egypt of the Therapeutae is possibly a deformation of the Pāli word "Theravāda,"a form of Buddhism, and the movement may have "almost entirely drawn (its) inspiration from the teaching and practices of Buddhist asceticism". They may even have been descendants of Asoka's emissaries to the West. It is true that Buddhist gravestones from the Ptolemaic period have also been found in Alexandria in Egypt, decorated with depictions of the Dharma wheel, showing the Buddhists were living in Hellenistic Egypt at the time Christianity began. The presence of Buddhists in Alexandria has led one author to note: "It was later in this very place that some of the most active centers of Christianity were established".

Jainism also shares strong similarities with Christianity:

The concept of the Trinity is almost certainly borrowed from elsewhere.

that is... not actually true, literally no religion exists in stasis

How has Eastern Orthodox Christianity changed in the past few hundred years? There hasn't been any kind of reformism that I can perceive. It prides itself on maintaining that sameness. The monks here still live the same way, and in the same places as they did almost 2000 years ago; rejecting the outside world. The church services are exactly the same as they've been for hundreds of years, given in the same ancient language even.


Dumai wrote (edited )

first century palestinian jews would not have known too much about buddhism, nor would they have been very amenable to what they did know. there's a chance some small buddhist influence survived in christianity's hellenistic roots, but not much research has been done on this thesis and i'm not aware of any direct textual evidence for it, so i'd be hesitant to jump to conclusions too quickly. for the most part, right now it's conjecture. the similarities are not so major that they indicate appropriation, nor is the evidence strong enough (a few buddhist gravestones in alexandria does not prove buddhism had any impact on the christian community there).

ancient christians, jewish and gentile, would have disapproved strongly of what they saw as pagan religions, so you're going to need to do more than point to other trinitarian traditions to prove that they influenced the holy trinity. the hellinistic jewish concept of logos, alongside neoplatonist thought, have stronger evidence for direct influence (as in, we actually have ancient christian texts that refer to them directly and positively, and many others that indicate some borrowing took place). so again, the non-jewish influence on early christianity seems to mostly be hellenistic.

and just to be clear, i'm not saying christians have nothing to learn from buddhism. i actually think we have a lot to learn! i i just don't think there's much evidence buddhism had any significant influence on the early church.

How has Eastern Orthodox Christianity changed in the past few hundred years? There hasn't been any kind of reformism that I can perceive. It prides itself on maintaining that sameness.

you don't really need to outline any conscious act of reformism to show that a religion might change in the space of hundreds of years. it's impossible to preserve anything in total cultural stasis, let alone a massively diverse denomination of 250 million people in a number of different cultures. if you want one example, then take russian orthodoxy; the russian church was more politically independent as a patriarchate than it was under the holy synod, which obviously affected its doctrine regarding state, along with its identity as a community in relation to the state. those two things would undergo a profound change again after 1917, and again when stalin relaxed state atheism practices during WWII, and again under khrushchev... it goes on. historical circumstances matter a lot in religion.