Why Is The Axial Age So Important In The History Of Religion?

Assignment: Religion

Why is the axial age so important in the history of religion?

Respond to the following questions below: Using APA style. Your answer should be between 150-300 words.

1. Why is the axial age so important in the history of religion?

2. Define the axial age and tell why it so important in the history of religion?

3. How is religion different after the axial age from before?


The term “Axial Age” was coined by philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883 – 1969) to refer to the years 800 to 200 before the Common Era.  Other thinkers such as scholar Karen Armstrong (b. 1944), in her book The Great Transformation (2007), has expanded the phrase to include the beginning of the Common Era.  During this period a number of great thinkers arose in both the East and the West who transformed religion.  A large part of this transformation was an emphasis on human behavior rather than metaphysical speculation.

Some of the thinkers who have been included in the Axial Age are the Buddha, Confucius, and Tao Te Ching in the East, Moses, Socrates, and Zoroaster in the West, and later Jesus and Paul, Hillel and Mohammed.  Obviously we are dealing with a huge period of time.  The key idea is that, through the insights of a number of great thinkers throughout the world, religion was revolutionized.  According to Armstrong, suddenly in a number of parts of the world, there was a concern was how to live a life of compassion.  The thinking of all these thinkers is at the center of the world’s great religions today.

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