Without a doubt, this question is one of the biggest posed to Christians today. Many, out of either ignorance or pre-determined rejection of God’s Word, have stated that Christianity is not the oldest living religion in existence. Instead, they point to Hinduism as the oldest and cite their historical backing to prove its age. Upon hearing such a statement and listening to the evidence, many Christians have left the conversation without knowing how to respond. Is Hinduism truly the oldest functioning religion in the world or have the skeptics been somewhat misguided in their facts? I write the following so that you will be prepared to make a defense to the next person who asks you for a reason for the hope that is within you.
Hinduism vs. Judeo-Christianity
First, why do I say Judeo-Christianity opposed to simply Christianity? To clarify, Christianity did not begin with the apostles after the death and resurrection of Christ. While it is true that the name Christian did not originate until Christ’s disciples went to Antioch in the first century , the Christian religion is founded and based upon the Old Testament Scriptures of Judaism (Genesis – Malachi). This then takes Christianity’s origin even further back in time than the entrance of Jesus.
Ultimately speaking, determining the exact year and even day of when these religions came into existence can be rather difficult. I have included seven links at the bottom of this blog regarding the arrival of Hinduism. All seven admit that no one really knows exactly when it began; even so, the consensus is placed sometime around the 1500’s B.C.
In contrast, Judeo-Christianity conservatively began at the time God called Abraham when he was seventy-five years old in 1876 B.C. An argument can be made and well defended of a much earlier arrival, but for the sake of word count I will leave it with Abraham. Therefore, there is nearly four hundred years between when Judeo-Christianity began and Hinduism. Thus, Judeo-Christianity is much older.
Those who would still push that Hinduism is the oldest religion would counter with an argument similar to the following well articulated rebuttal quoted from the last sentence in the third paragraph in the article found on http://www.ancient.eu/hinduism/:
It is a mistake to reduce all early Hinduism to Vedic religion: there were many other non-Vedic religious traditions in early Hinduism which have left no early texts and that can be known to some extent by archaeological evidence.
However, the exact same argument could be and is used of Judeo-Christianity. The Bible records many real historical accounts of God interacting with His people long before Abraham. We could look back at the account of Noah who, with his three sons and their wives, repopulated the world after the Great Flood. Noah, like Abraham, was a believer in Jehovah which was Judeo-Christianity in its earlier forms of God’s progressive revelation. The Christian Scriptures record specifics regarding the first man and woman walking with God in truth. As a result, both Biblically and historically we know that Judeo-Christianity is the single oldest religion in the world bar none.
In regards to the Veda scriptures of Hinduism, they were not written until sometime between 1300 and 1200 B.C. On the flipside, the Biblical record of the Holy Scriptures began to be inscribed roughly 150 years earlier during Israel’s wandering in the desert for forty years from 1445 – 1406 B.C. This is yet another example of historical authenticity attributed to the Bible. While it is impossible for believers to have the answer to every question posed on the spot, that should not cause us to shy away from studying and learning about our faith!
Sources regarding Hinduism and its origin are cited from the links below: