All in the Family
October 13, 2014 1:50 PM   Subscribe

The World Religions Tree

While not complete by any means, this dense infographic commissioned by the nonprofit organization The 40 Foundation offers a broad view of the world's largest religious lineages. A full-resolution image (suitable for printing your own poster) is available upon request.
posted by overeducated_alligator (65 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hey, isn't that a map of Black Rock City?
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:03 PM on October 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Eureka! Finally we spy the spaghetti tree where the Flying Spaghetti Monster nests!!!
posted by taff at 2:07 PM on October 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


no paganism?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:11 PM on October 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


how do you print it
posted by niphates at 2:14 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Splitters!
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:15 PM on October 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


This tree shows Islam descending directly from Judaism. Didn't it descend from Christianity? I thought most people in the Middle East were Arian Christians before Muhammad. Islam certainly shares a lot of beliefs with Arianism, like Jesus being a prophet, not God incarnate.

I am no expert on the subject so I could be wrong.
posted by foobaz at 2:17 PM on October 13, 2014


how do you print it
I think you have to RTFA
(and have some A4 paper)
posted by MtDewd at 2:19 PM on October 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


> Splitters!

it's all One, do0d.
posted by jfuller at 2:21 PM on October 13, 2014


Seems to completely ignore the effects of syncretism, the blending of ideas. E.g., gnosticism did not "branch off" from christianity but had a big influence on christianity. In fact, some folks maintain that christianity grew out of gnosticism. Certain concepts of gnosticism remain in christianity (or so I've been told) and some current christian sects maintain gnostic principles. There are tons more examples of cross fertilization. This chart seems to be a huge over- simplification of the ways ideas develop.
posted by charlesminus at 2:31 PM on October 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


This chart seems to be a huge over- simplification of the ways ideas develop.

Charts gonna chart yo.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:39 PM on October 13, 2014 [21 favorites]


This looks cool but I doubt it will hold up to any strong scrutiny or analysis.

Still, it will be a one cool and huge poster.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 2:39 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is beautiful. Well I'm not sure if it's beautiful or depressing but am going to settle on beautiful. Can't speak to overall accuracy but the tradition I grew up in (PCUSA offshoots) looks like it traces back pretty well, and it's fascinating to be able to visualize the history in such a large context.

Is there a reason the Shinto sects explode out of the tree? Just too many to fit? It doesn't look like a chronological thing (i.e. they branch off before 2000).

Odd that the earliest date is noted as 4000bce but the most recent is 2000ad.
posted by torticat at 2:40 PM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Zeus isn't mad--just a little disappointed, maybe- that you guys didn't include him. Odin on the other hand? Like, totally pissed.
posted by thivaia at 2:44 PM on October 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh man I never knew there was a religion called GREAT SCHISM I hope there's a church in town or just some...jagged rocks in a big line or something.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:46 PM on October 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


omg there are loads of Great Schisms. Which is the one true Great Schism?
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:47 PM on October 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


I thought this post was pointing to this particular poster, but I figured there was something a bit simplistic about that one to begin with.

Great FPP, thank you!
posted by JoeXIII007 at 2:52 PM on October 13, 2014


Zurvan is not dead; this is all wrong.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 2:57 PM on October 13, 2014


"There are tons more examples of cross fertilization."

Particularly the Second Temple era. Literally dozens of flavours of YHWH worship were floating around in Palestine, writing a broad spectrum of texts from the Book of Enoch to weirdo texts like The War Scroll, all of them eagerly stealing from each other. It featured groups ranging from religious terrorists to celibate monks, all revolving around the Temple, which was both the world's most potent religious symbol and the world's largest slaughterhouse.

The era came to an end with the Roman holocaust, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and re-destruction in 135AD; combined with a series of pogroms throughout the Roman world, a total body count of two million is not an unreasonable estimate. What is now called Christianity and what is now called Judaism were the only survivors of the Second Temple stew, but neither should be thought of as dominant within the Second Temple Era. Indeed, inside the Second Temple era it might be most accurate to say that there were a cluster of rival mini-religions that happened to later coalesce into Christianity and Judaism. The major player sects (political-messianic and/or Temple-oriented) were simply annihilated. Judaism and Christianity stayed alive partly because they were lucky enough to have leadership that survived the slaughter, and partly because they were theologically pre-adapted to survive in a world without a Jewish polity and without a Temple. (Christianity had the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ and Judaism had the "study is equivalent to temple service" thread).

When thinking about the spread of religions, it's easy to overstate the importance of theological distinctions and understate the importance of politics and chance.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:16 PM on October 13, 2014 [32 favorites]


I interpret this as all religions stemming from one giant tapeworm.

I may be wrong.
posted by arcticseal at 3:19 PM on October 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Odin on the other hand? Like, totally pissed.

Odin isn't pissed; he's amused, because he knows the real world tree of religion is called Yggdrasil.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:23 PM on October 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


The spread of world religions in 90 seconds. Aptly on the website 'maps of war'.
posted by el io at 3:34 PM on October 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


speaking of syncretism, it fails to connect mormonism to either roscuinism or the methodists
posted by PinkMoose at 3:34 PM on October 13, 2014


I interpret this as all religions stemming from one giant tapeworm.

Ah, yes. Jörmungandr.

(Usually understood as a serpent, but tapeworm is close enough, right?)
posted by weston at 3:42 PM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


no paganism?

Firstly, "pagan" was an umbrella pejorative term coined by Roman Christians to refer to country bumpkins who still worshiped various gods and practiced traditional folk rituals after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman power structure by around 400-500 AD. Depending on who's using the term, "pagan" might refer to Nordic, Hellenic, pre-Islam Arabic, Germanic, Celtic, and other traditions. (As someone who was raised Southern Baptist, it might be broad enough to refer to everything from Native American Shamanism to Shinto to Roman Catholicism!)

That being said...

Where the hell is Hellenic paganism on this chart?! I guess your religion only gets included if it (or a near cousin) still explicitly survives. Maybe.

This is an admirable and futile project that could never satisfy anyone.
posted by General Tonic at 3:48 PM on October 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


This tree shows Islam descending directly from Judaism. Didn't it descend from Christianity? I thought most people in the Middle East were Arian Christians before Muhammad. Islam certainly shares a lot of beliefs with Arianism, like Jesus being a prophet, not God incarnate.

Islam accepts Jesus are not just a prophet, but the actual Messiah. As the majority of Jews never accepted Jesus as the Messiah, Islam should not be shown diverging directly from Judaism. That said, Islam doesn't descend quite directly from Christianity either. It's more a syncretion of Christianity, Judaism, and native Arab religion, with some original aspects from Muhamed.
posted by Thing at 3:48 PM on October 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Odd that the earliest date is noted as 4000bce but the most recent is 2000ad.

Do they worship the Mighty One?
posted by biffa at 3:53 PM on October 13, 2014


Biffa - I'm sure they didn't include the Mighty Quinn.
posted by jefflowrey at 4:28 PM on October 13, 2014


Islam accepts Jesus are not just a prophet, but the actual Messiah.

What? Absolutely not. I halfway agree with you that Islam branches from Christianity as much as it does from Judaism, but, Islam paints the Arab Semitic tribes as the descendants of Abraham via his and his slave Hagar's offspring Ishmael. This, I expect, is why it is written as an offshoot of Judaism instead of Christianity, as several people have pointed out the huge importance of syncretism to the development of religions.

But, unless I'm misunderstanding your use of the term "messiah," you're right for the wrong reasons. In Islam, Jesus is a prophet of great import and arguably second only to Muhammad in importance. He is certainly not seen as divine or a traditionally messianic figure.
posted by absalom at 4:42 PM on October 13, 2014


Ain't too much recombining depicted there. Very much not "All in the Family" as depicted. And obviously they're ignoring religions like Zoroastrianism, maybe because Christians hate being reminded that they ripped off that whole virgin birth thing.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:47 PM on October 13, 2014


This is an admirable and futile project that could never satisfy anyone.

With minor editing, I think I just found my epitaph.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:53 PM on October 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


MetaFilter: an admirable and futile project that could never satisfy anyone.
posted by brundlefly at 4:55 PM on October 13, 2014 [21 favorites]


absalom, Islam explicitly considers Jesus to be "Al-Masih", i.e. "the Messiah". The word just means something different than what most Christians nowadays believe it to mean, that's all.
posted by Flunkie at 5:08 PM on October 13, 2014


Religion: an admirable and futile project that could never satisfy anyone.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:08 PM on October 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Awesome: Thanks. Interesting.
posted by absalom at 5:34 PM on October 13, 2014


Seems to completely ignore the effects of syncretism, the blending of ideas.

This was noted btw in the "by any means" link in the FPP.

But yeah, it's interesting to see the history of religion simplified as if it only ever splinters, never joins together. There are some odd joinings at various points of protestant reform ("protestant reformation" and "waldenses" meet at "john wesley reform"?), and an unlabeled loop that closes in lutheranism, but that's about it.
posted by torticat at 5:37 PM on October 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Foci for Analysis: "This chart seems to be a huge over- simplification of the ways ideas develop.

Charts gonna chart yo.
"

Death to the false charters! Up with the one true chart!
posted by symbioid at 5:58 PM on October 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I interpret this as all religions stemming from one giant tapeworm.

Obligatory (extremely NSFW) reference.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:01 PM on October 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


jeffburdges: "Ain't too much recombining depicted there. Very much not "All in the Family" as depicted. And obviously they're ignoring religions like Zoroastrianism, maybe because Christians hate being reminded that they ripped off that whole virgin birth thing."

Zoroastrianism is there, right above 1000 BC, branching off of Early Vedic (just before Brahmanical)...

The one thing that blew my mind is the astounding number of Shinto sects since the 1800s. Why so many? What happened? I mean, I suppose some of it might be due to the influx with the opening of the borders and competition against Christianity? But it seems it continues to multiply compared to many other religions.

They spell Sikhism as "Sykhism" and it... spontaneously appears? WTF is it like a poke-religion?

And yeah - placing Islam as directly to Judaism and not a bit of a cross between Christianity + Judaic mythos + Arabian Pagan elements is a bit weird, but then again - I suppose if you're not gonna have multiple parentages, you have to choose one, but then why not Christianity? Certainly seems more connected than directly to Judaism (save for the whole Ishmael thing).

Learned about Kaifeng Jews, just now though :)

Why is the Church of England shown as coming off of the main line of Christianity before the Schism and then leading TO the Catholic Church and not the other way around? WTF?
posted by symbioid at 6:18 PM on October 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I couldn't find Dudeism.
posted by rmmcclay at 6:20 PM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


And where's Rastafarianism?
posted by symbioid at 6:22 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


And Shamanic and Animist Traditions? And yeah, I thought someone was joking about Paganism, but the closest I saw was Shinto.

Poor Odin's single eye is weeping.
posted by symbioid at 6:23 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's misleading because it makes it look like religions evolve instead of being intelligently designed.
posted by Renoroc at 6:25 PM on October 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's misleading because it makes it look like religions evolve instead of being intelligently designed.

Most religions aren't Scientology.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:26 PM on October 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wish we could search it -- the tiny font makes me nauseated to decipher, even when zoomed in.
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:32 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Most religions aren't Scientology.

He said intelligently designed.
posted by VTX at 6:41 PM on October 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


I spend an unusual amount of time thinking about the layout of grocery stores.

Like, spices are with the baking stuff, except for garam masala and fenugreek, which are in the "International" aisle for some reason. There's a regular "Cheese" section with the milk and yogurt, but then there's a "Fancy Expensive Cheese" section on the other side of the store, near the deli. Tomato sauce has its own aisle...unless you want fresh tomato sauce, which is elsewhere, because that has to be refrigerated. You can never find applesauce, because...is that with the canned vegetables? Or the baking stuff? Or somewhere else? Honey is equally likely to be with the pancake syrup, or with the sugar, or with the jelly, or someplace else entirely. Items which contain vinegar (pickles, olives, marinades) are likely to be in general proximity to the actual vinegar, but they could be with the condiments. Canned beans are with the other canned vegetables, unless they're Goya beans, in which case they're with the Hispanic stuff. You will never find tahini.

This chart is like that.

(A hierarchical tree ain't enough to express the complexity of religious history, just as two dimensions ain't enough to accomodate the full taxonomy of wares in a grocery store.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:45 PM on October 13, 2014 [25 favorites]


Seems to completely ignore the effects of syncretism, the blending of ideas.

Charts gonna chart yo.

Charts are perfectly capable of showing syncretism. E.g. think of kinship charts.
posted by feral_goldfish at 6:57 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re: genealogy of Islam, there are 25 prophets mentioned in the Quran, including the major Jewish and Christian ones. Here is their genealogy charted according to the Islamic tradition. Here it is in a prettier but less legible version.
posted by BinGregory at 7:06 PM on October 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


This tree shows Islam descending directly from Judaism. Didn't it descend from Christianity?

Not quite. In a similar way that Christ was Jewish but his gospel was accepted more by gentiles, Mohammed's message was based in Jewish tradition but spread through the Arab pagan world. There wasn't much conversion of Jews and Christians, at least not in the first centuries.

(This is of course a horribly broad simplification)
posted by kanewai at 8:02 PM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think the dotted green line on the chart is meant to show that Islam kinda-sorta arose out of monotheistic faiths associated with last Second-Temple Judaism. The actual roots of Islam are not really well known, but that would be a reasonable summary of what we know. Judaism in the Second Temple era (and centuries after) was much more popular than most people appreciate; it took several wars and centuries of suppression to turn it into a minority faith.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:04 PM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


No People's Front of Judea?

should be right there, just before the branching off of Brianism
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:46 PM on October 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


And no Sithrak either. He's not going to be happy about that.
posted by sneebler at 9:10 PM on October 13, 2014


I like how Nation of Islam, Dances of Universal Peace and other very small recent heterodox American movements are represented on the branch of Islam. Great attention to detail! The taxonomy is wonky down at the base though. The kalam branches and sufism branches need to be overlaid on the sunni and shia lines. As if there is an ash'ari who is not also a sunni. Seems like a lot of extinct lineages are shown extending to the present day, too, which is confusing. There are about as many Haruriyyah running around as there are Abecedarians nowadays.
posted by BinGregory at 9:28 PM on October 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


And WTF is "Babilonian Jews"? Even without the typo, I have no idea.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:38 PM on October 13, 2014


Babylonian Jews are were perhaps the most ancient continuous community of Judaism, living in Iraq since the Babylonian captivity in the 6th Century BC. There were still hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Baghdad up to the 1940s.

Today the estimated population of Jews in Baghdad is somewhere between 5 and 8. No joke.
posted by General Tonic at 10:07 PM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: an admirable and futile project that could never satisfy anyone.
Religion: an admirable and futile project that could never satisfy anyone.

Therefore...

Metafilter = Religion

Add it to the tree.
posted by salishsea at 10:25 PM on October 13, 2014


Does anyone have a link to one of the high-res versions? I can't read the ones that are on this Web page.
posted by koavf at 10:37 PM on October 13, 2014


Yes, I know who Babylonian Jews were, I just don't know why they're thought to be a different religion. I mean, modern Judaism is basically organised around the Babylonian Talmud.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:50 PM on October 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Why is the Church of England shown as coming off of the main line of Christianity before the Schism and then leading TO the Catholic Church and not the other way around? WTF?

I actually think that's accurate more or less, as the CoE predated the Reformation by 1000 years or so, and was part of the Catholic church (I think? Maybe someone more knowledgeable can explain more). The Great Schism on the chart isn't the Reformation but the divide between Eastern Orthodoxy and the western (RC) church.

If you follow the CoE branch, it continues and eventually joins up with "protestant reformation" and "Lollardy" (huh--John Wycliffe--did not know that) at "Henry VIII reform." Out of that come Anglicanism and the CoE as we know it today.

It's kinda funny how missable on the chart "Martin Luther reform" is. I'm sure it reflects my western/American mindset that to me the Reformation is HUGE--but worldwide, it's really not, as protestantism is fairly localized (with offshoots of course), while Catholicism is widespread and contains far greater numbers.
posted by torticat at 1:40 AM on October 14, 2014


Grocery stores are actually n-dimensional and arrange all things in adjacent spectra for each quality, but of course we're only able to perceive a 3D slice of them. (Also there's really only one grocery store, separated by a thin membrane of spacetime from the Bodega Continuum.)
posted by XMLicious at 1:55 AM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seems to completely ignore the effects of syncretism, the blending of ideas.

Yeah, the absence of syncretic religions, especially the indigenous and afro-caribbean ones, seems kind of troublesome when you notice they bothered to include shit like the Golden Dawn.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:49 AM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


No People's Front of Judea?

Of course not, it being a perverse mockery of the Judean People's Front.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:55 AM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seems to completely ignore the effects of syncretism.

The horizontal gene transfer of religion.
posted by Kabanos at 11:02 AM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Looking at the way it handles Shinto, Taoism and Confucianism, well, there's a lot that this misses. (Disclaimer, I am going to get some of this wrong, this is drawn from conversations with my girlfriend who is working on Japanese religion in the 8th century but per force, has learned a great deal of the history of the islands.) The Yayoi came over to Japan in about 300 BCE, which is when Shinto can really said to have started. The religious practices of the Jomon, the inhabitants of the islands up till that point are different from what constitutes Shinto. The Jomon created lots and lots of Dogu figurines (which are really cool and one actually shows up as a boss in Atomic Runner), which do not show up in Yayoi religion at all.

Also, as soon as Buddhism shows up in Japan, you start to see Buddhist gods being integrated as Kami (I can't remember any examples off the top of my head), with successive governments either using Buddhism or trying to limit its power. There are also shades of Confucianism that show up here or there, due to China being for a long time a principle trading partner. There is tons of cross-fertilization here.

Also, where are the now deadish religions? Where are the Egyptians, the Norse, the Greek? The Egyptian pantheon (in one form or another) was worshiped for longer than Christianity or Islam has existed.
posted by Hactar at 12:21 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Zoroastrianism is there, right above 1000 BC, branching off of Early Vedic (just before Brahmanical)...

Wow... does that ever take me back...
posted by homunculus at 4:36 PM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


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