Unit 1.5 Religious beliefs - the major world religions (1).doc

Unit 1.5 Religious beliefs - the major world religions (1).doc

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Religious beliefs: the major world
Christianity originated 2,000 years ago as a development of the much older religion of Judaism.
Today it is the largest religion in the world, although there are many different denominations, the
largest of which are the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches.
It was founded by followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who at the beginning of his ministrytaught in
Jewish synagogues. He was a travelling preacher who was eventually crucified on the orders of the
Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. His followers proclaimed that he was the Messiah (Special
Messenger of God). For centuries the Jews had waited for a Messiah at the time when Jesus lived
they were waiting for someone who would free them from Roman rule. The Jews, however,
rejected the claim that Jesus was the Messiah, which led to Christians and Jews splitting.
Opposition to Jesus, sometimes based on jealousy and rivalry, grew quickly. Religious leaders
claimed he was breaking Jewish law and the Romans feared that he was trying to incite popular
uprisings against them.
In 1054 (long after the fall of the Roman Empire) there was a split between eastern Christianity (the
Orthodox Church) and western Christianity (Roman Catholicism -- a church headed by the Pope,
with a strong belief in the Virgin Mary as the mother of Jesus, who conceived him supernaturally). In
the early sixteenth century, a German monk, Martin Luther, led a protest movement against his own
Catholic church. This led to the start of the Reformation and the emergence of the Protestant
Church. Shortly afterwards, Henry VIII split from the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of
divorce, and the Church of England was born. Further splits in the Church of England occurred with
the start of the Baptist Church (early seventeenth century), the Quakers (midseventeenth century)
and John Wesley's Methodist Church (eighteenth century).
The teachings
Christianity's teachings are contained in the holy book (or collection of books), the Bible: 39 books
in the Old Testament, which is largely shared with Judaism, and 27 in the New, the specifically
Christian part. Four Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible provide information about the

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Jesus. The first might have been Mark's Gospel, probably written about 35 years after
Jesus had died. In these Gospels we are told about the miracles that Jesus performed.
On the night before his death, Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover with his disciples in
Jerusalem. He used bread and wine to teach the disciples, and this 'Last Supper' has been
commemorated ever since through the regular celebration of Communion (called Mass by Roman
Catholics and the Eucharist by Anglicans).…read more

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Estimates suggest that there are over 900 million Hindus scattered in over 100 countries, although
the great majority continue to live in India. One of the largest Hindu communities outside India is
probably Great Britain, as a result of immigration from Asia and the West Indies.
There are millions of Hindu gods and goddesses and all are reflections of Brahman -- the one
universal and supreme spirit. Brahman is the origin of all creation and can take male, female or
animal form.…read more

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Hindus visit the temple regularly. Each Hindu
temple is dedicated to a particular god. Worship takes place through the
acknowledgement of the sacred syllable, the singing of mantras and the
use of geometric patterns called mandalas.
There are many festivals, most notably Divali (the autumn Festival of
Lights), and sixteen ceremonies (samskaras) marking the most
important stages of life, from birth and namegiving to death and the
funeral ceremony. Festivals help to ensure the continuation of human
traditions and help to educate children.…read more

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Islam originated 1,400 years ago in Mecca through Muhammad (the greatest prophet of God and
his last messenger). Muhammad was a deeply religious, politically influential Arab, who was
concerned about social injustice and excesses such as drunkenness. Muslims believe that
Muharnrnad was human. They do not see him as the founder of a new religion. They recognise the
work of Abraham, Moses and Jesus but believe that their messages became distorted over time.…read more

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Muslim practice
Prayer is central to Islam and prayers are said five times a da}^, Muslims can pray anywhere, but all
males endeavour to be in the mosque for noon prayers on a Friday. The Qur'an teaches Muslims
how to live their lives and how to prepare for the Day of Judgement, when they will stand before
Allah and account for their lives. The mosque is both a place of prayer and a gathering place for the
Muslim community.…read more

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Examination Practice
The following six paragraphs are part of a longer passage typical of one that might be used for
Section A of Unit 1. Nine objectivetype (multiplechoice) questions are asked on these six
paragraphs. In a normal exam there will be 30 multiplechoice questions based on the whole
passage and, in all cases, there is only one correct answer.…read more

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It is all, seemingly, a long way from the world of alQaeda and its figurehead Osama bin Laden,
who declared war on the West in 1998, and from the mountains in or near the lawless, tribal areas
of Pakistan where he is said to hide -- from the training camps, fundraisers and idealogues.…read more

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It had certainly not been widely predicted so
A is out. D should go because, though there may have been an element of retaliation,
terrorists rather than Iraqi forces were involved. Although many rumours of weapons of mass
destruction circulated, no direct proof was ever found and 9/11 did not involve their use.
Part of the shock of the crashing of passenger planes on major US buildings was that the
attack was so unexpected.…read more

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Answer key: C
Another comprehension question it refers to the author's attitude to two people mentioned in
paragraph 3: Aishah Azmi and Shabina Begum. There is no evidence that the author is either
hostile or indignant towards the two females. Nor can we say that he or she is necessarily
sympathetic. The author is reporting in a factual way and the attitude of that particular paragraph
can only be described as neutral.…read more


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