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Humanities: Ancient Religion and Death

Ancient religions regarded death and the afterlife in many different ways. To some it was simply the end of existence while others believed it to be the beginning of ones true life. To the ancient Egyptians, death in this world was simply the doorway to life in another world. They spent most of their lives preparing for the journey and life that was to come after this one and buried themselves with all the things they might want or need in the next world. The ancient Greeks believed that the vital breathe or psyche of a person would leave the body at death and travel to the palace of Hades, the king of the dead.

This was a cold, dark realm that once entered, could never be left. The ancient Chinese followed the doctrine of karma and reincarnation. After death, a person would reincarnate either into another human or an animal. The type of reincarnation was based on the behavior of the person in life. Ancient Sumerians believed that a person descended into the grim underworld and once there, could never leave. Many of today’s religious beliefs about death are comparable to the ancient ones. As noted in the ancient world, the belief system varies from culture to culture and in some cases, denomination to denomination, within the same religious system.

Christianity is a very good example of this. The ancient Egyptians belief of a better afterlife is comparable to the Christian belief of Heaven However, like the Muslims, the Christians believe there will be a Judgment Day. Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Christians, like their ancient ancestors all believed that death is not the end. There are differences of opinion, however, as to what happens once death has occurred and like the ancients, there are as many beliefs as there are religions.

References

Adams, R. E. (1997). Ancient Civilizations of the New World. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Retrieved March 21, 2007, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=9966153 Bishop, P. (2004) Adventures of the Human Spirit. Prentice Hall Bremer, J. M. , Hout, T. P. , & Peters, R. (Eds. ). (1994). Hidden Futures: Death and Immortality in Ancient Egypt, Anatolia, the Classical, Biblical and Arabic-Islamic World. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Retrieved March 21, 2007, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=62340960

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