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Symbols of various religions of the world.

Religion may be defined as a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.

The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.

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Faravahar, The depiction of the Human soul before birth and after death.
Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra, Zartosht). Mazdaism is the religion that acknowledges the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed by Zoroaster to be the one uncreated Creator of all (God). As demonstrated by Zoroastrian creed and articles of faith, the two terms are effectively synonymous.

Other basic beliefs include creation is attacked by violence and destruction. The resulting conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity, which has an active role to play in the conflict. Ahura Mazda will ultimately prevail, at which point time will end. Active participation in life through good thoughts, good words and good deeds are necessary to ensure happiness and to keep the chaos at bay. There is a concept of free will, to decide whether to perform good thoughts, words and deeds.

Zoroastrianism was once the dominating religion of much of Western- and Central Asia but is today practiced only by a small worldwide community, with its largest center in India.

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St. Joan of Arc at the Notre Dame Cathedral, where she was beatified.

Joan of Arc, also known as Jeanne d'Arc, was a national heroine of France and is a canonized saint of the Roman Catholic Church. She asserted that she had visions from God which told her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War.

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Moses with the Tablets, 1659, by Rembrandt
Moses or Mosheh (Hebrew: Standard Mo?é Tiberian Meh; Arabic: ?, M?s?; Ge'ez? Musse) was an early Biblical Hebrew religious leader, lawgiver, prophet, and historian. Moses is traditionally considered the transcriber of the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible, and is also an important prophet in Islam and the Bahá'í Faith.

According to the Bible, he was born to a Hebrew mother who protected him during a genocide of all boys born, and was adopted into the Egyptian royal family. After killing a slave master he fled and became a shepherd, and was commanded by God to deliver the Hebrews from slavery. After the Ten Plagues were unleashed upon Egypt, he led the Hebrew slaves through the Red Sea and in the desert for 40 years. Despite living to 120, he did not enter the Holy Land.

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Tetragrammaton scripts.svg

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November 18:

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The Meister Eckhart portal of the Erfurt Church
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "Thank You", that would suffice.

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The Septuagint: A page from Codex vaticanus
The Septuagint , or simply "LXX", is the name commonly given in the West to the ancient, Koine Greek version of the Old Testament translated in stages between the 3rd to 1st century BC in Alexandria. It is the oldest of several ancient translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. The name means "seventy" in Latin and derives from a tradition that 72 Jewish scholars (LXX being the nearest round number) translated the Pentateuch (or Torah) from Hebrew into Greek for one of the Ptolemaic kings, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, 285-247 BC. As the work of translation went on gradually, and new books were added to the collection, the compass of the Greek Bible came to be somewhat indefinite. The Pentateuch always maintained its pre-eminence as the basis of the canon; but the prophetic collection changed its aspect by having various hagiographa incorporated into it. Some of the newer works, those called anagignoskomena in Greek, are not included in the Hebrew canon. Among these books are Maccabees and the Wisdom of Ben Sira. Also, the LXX version of some works, like Daniel and Esther, are longer than the Hebrew.[1] Several of the later books apparently were composed in Greek.

The LXX was held with great respect in ancient times; Philo and Josephus ascribed divine inspiration to its authors. It formed the basis of the Old Latin versions and is still used intact within Eastern Orthodoxy. Besides the Old Latin versions, the LXX is also the basis for Gothic, Slavonic, old Syriac (but not the Peshitta), old Armenian, and Coptic versions of the Old Testament. Of significance for all Christians and for bible scholars, the LXX is quoted by the Christian New Testament and by the Apostolic Fathers. While Jews have not used the LXX in worship or religious study since the second century CE, recent scholarship has brought renewed interest in it in Judaic Studies. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls attest to Hebrew texts other than those on which the Masoretic Text was based; in many cases, these newly found texts accord with the LXX version. The oldest surviving codices of LXX date to the fourth century CE.


  1. ^ Rick Grant Jones, Various Religious Topics, "Books of the Septuagint," (Accessed 2006.9.5).

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