Silk Road Trade and Prophetic Paths: Unveiling Mechanisms of Religious Spread - Free Paper

Published: 2024-01-15
Silk Road Trade and Prophetic Paths: Unveiling Mechanisms of Religious Spread - Free Paper
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Culture Religion Christianity
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1062 words
9 min read

Trade mechanism was the primary way of spreading religion along the Silk Road. Trade along the Silk Road led to communication and relating among people, and eventually, different religions spread to many countries, including China, India, and other countries. Ideas of religion were communicated along the Silk Road by merchants meeting people around them (Foltz, 2017). There was a need for goods, and there was also an exchange of ideas such as religion. An example of this is the spread of Buddhism. In China, there was a high demand for silk, which brought about the spread of Buddhism. Buddhist culture was ever-present in China, and the Chinese assimilated it. The trans-Asian trade network had been linking Mediterranean East Asia for well over 400 years, and with this, religions spread like wildfire (Foltz, 2017).

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As much as Buddhism spread along the Silk Road, other religions were shared using trade mechanisms. Nestorian Christianity spread with this trade along the Silk Road. It is stated that "Nestorian Christianity expelled as a heresy from the Byzantine realm, moved eastwards touching hundreds of thousands among the Eurasian people and centuries later goes to China." (Foltz, 2017). It shows that Christianity was also a religion that benefited from the Silk Road trade and made its way through the two continents.

Arabs brought Islam with them. The Arabs military success brought them to the Silk Road in the 18th century, although it came to an end after the battle of Tallas (Foltz, 2017). It is stated that Islam would be carried east through trade. It is also asserted that the Turks and Indians would absorb the Arab traditions with Islam and the Chinese, and they would feed on their cultures (Foltz, 2017).

In the Middle East, people were followers of Egypt's old religions, but with the emergence of trade along the Silk Road, this changed to Islam. The same happened in India because before the emergence of the silk trade, there was Brahmanism, and eventually, it gave way to Hinduism and Buddhism (Foltz, 2017).

The trade mechanism of spreading religion has its effects on religion. Firstly, the trade along the Silk Road brought up new cultures in Buddhism, for example, in their rituals and ceremonies. There was increased demand for silk to use in ceremonies and rituals (Foltz, 2017). Another example comes with the Arab traditions being absorbed by the Persians, Indians, Chinese, and Turks. It was due to the trading relationship among them along the Silk Road.

Secondly, the Silk Road trade led to the joining of diverse cultures from ancient times (Foltz, 2017). During the trade, religious ideas like technology and other aspects of culture could spread through the trade networks and spread across Eurasia (Foltz, 2017). Merchants would socialize and exchange cultures on their religion; some of these cultures would be borrowed and implemented in their respective religions

Thirdly, the emergence of trade along the Silk Road brought about a religious war. The presence of so many religions and the intention of making one religion superior brought about war. An excellent example of this was the war on Islam. It is evident in the battle of Talas. The Arabs were spreading Islam along the Silk Road, which eventually came to a temporary grinding halt after Talas's battle (Foltz, 2017).

Lastly, trade as a mechanism for the spread of religion brought about a change of religious beliefs. Regarding the trade along the Silk Road, the trade brought about different religions like Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, and Islam. Before the trade, these were not the religions practiced in those areas giving India's example where they practiced Brahmanism, and in the Middle East where they were followers of Egypt's religion (Foltz, 2017). Trade along the Silk Road brought about these new religions and caused the occupant of these regions to change their religious beliefs and embrace the new religions that were introduced during this trade

Nissinen Biblical Prophecy

Prophecy is another mechanism used in the spread of Christianity. An example of a prophetic image is a free spirit preaching in squares (Nissinen, 2017). Biblical prophecy is a good example of prophetic material. It is stated that "sources of these prophetic texts originate from different periods enabling the appreciation of prophecy as an integral and permanent part of the Socio-religious landscape of Western Asia."(Nissinen, 2017)

The prophecy was done in different ways, according to the Hebrew Bible. Firstly, there is the use of music. In the Hebrew Bible, two of the five biblical prophetesses were said to use song to make prophesies (Nissinen, 2017). An example of Miriam, who would make use of drums during the song, would be followed by women who would dance to the music. Music in prophecy was widely seen as a source of inspiration and closely related to the prophetic state of mind (Nissinen, 2017). It made religion more famous because the music would attract crowds, and the message would make people consider joining that specific religion.

Secondly, there was the use of lamentations. This would be used when prophets were using songs to relay a prophetic message but had no prophecies; therefore, they would use lamentations as a form of prophecy to spread religion (Nissinen, 2017).

Lastly, there is the use of divine possession. "It is a state of mind required for prophetic inspiration" (Nissinen, 2017). An example of this is the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Elijah managed to bring down fire from the sky to make a sacrifice to God. It can be seen as a prophecy in action, bearing evidence of religion and its power. It brought about the people present to acknowledge Elijah's religion and join his cause.

A drawback of prophecy as a mechanism of spreading religion is that comparative studies are used to challenge prophecies from biblical texts. In controlling the accuracy of biblical texts, there are many generalizations and unreliable results (Nissinen, 2017).

Both prophecy and trade mechanisms have one thing in common: they have played a significant role in spreading religion in the world. Without these mechanisms, religions and cultures would remain transfixed to their area of origin, and the world would miss out on so many diversities.


Smart, N., Shepherd, J. J., & Foltz, R. (2017). Religion of the Silk Road. In ninian smart on world religions (pp. 1–22). Routledge.

Smart, N., Shepherd, J. J., & Nissinen, martti. (2017). Biblical prophecy from a near eastern perspective: The cases of kingship and divine possession. In ninian smart on world religions (pp. 442–468). Routledge.

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