The timeline below was originally meant to show what was happening in the Judeo-Christian story as compared with other religious traditions. It has expanded to the point that it is has become a way to navigate much of the rest of the site.

As with all ventures of this sort, especially those dealing with ancient things, it is difficult to find consensus on dates. It should be noted that there are many who say that dates for events in the Bible cannot be accurately determined prior to the time of David which would explain some of the variations. Initially I relied most heavily on the "traditional" Biblical chronology of Ussher but note that I have been inconsistent as some of dates have come from other reading.  Ussher assumed that the genealogies in the Bible were complete. There are many these days that say they are not complete nor were they meant to be. Rather they are there to give some historical context and highlight important events. Additionally, especially the secular sources are based on completely different assumptions and so the dates are not be consistent even across this site.  As an example the Egypt time line starts at 8000 BC which would be before creation on this one.

It also turns out that the history of world religions is linked to the greater topic of world history. As important as that topic is, it can serve as a distraction and so, while there should be only minimal references here, as it stands there are probably far too many.  

Additionally the linear concept of time, with a beginning and an end, is a concept more at home in the Abrahamic religions than it is in say the Dharmic religions that view time as circular. Christianity and the other Abrahamic faiths are anchored to historic events more so than the other world religions which is why a time line of this sort seems important on a Christian site. The historicity of Christ's birth, death and resurrection are pivotal for the Christian message. Christ's resurrection is denied in one way or another by both the other Abrahamic faiths but the fact that He was an historical figure is not. The other main claim of this site is that there was an original monotheistic religion that mankind abandoned requires some notion of the time that various religious traditions developed. Illustrating this is a more difficult problem than I had first expected in no small measure because even fixing the dates of religious writings and the historical figures involved is difficult. Not to mention the fact that most religions claim to be based on something more ancient than the the date of the publication of their sacred writings.

If we accept that Moses wrote the Torah, the books of Moses, (even if he used more ancient sources) this places the written Biblical tradition about the same time as the Hindu Vedas. The Judeo-Christian tradition is indeed of the most ancient of religious traditions to be extant today.

Year Bible Other Traditions Comment
5199 BC -
3760 BC
Creation  

Various Christian Chronographers. For some details on this and other opinions on the age of creation and the meaning of time in general click here.

Adam and Eve had close fellowship with God and walked with Him in the cool of the day. At some point they declared their independence and subsequently lost this close relationship.

3228 - 3102 BC   Hindu

Traditionally accepted time of Krishna's life on Earth. As far as whether Krishna is historical we find statements like this:

Krishna is neither mythological nor historical, but transcendental. He is the Supreme Person who lives eternally in his transcendental abode and he descended five thousand years ago to this world to re-establish cosmic order. The activities he performed during his descent can be called historical, though, accurately speaking, they are eternal, manifesting to human vision through history. (quora.com)

That said there is archaeological evidence for some of the Hindu scriptures. 

2948 BC Noah Born   Dating according to Ussher's method.
Noah alone in his generation walked with God.
2635 - 2610 BC     The oldest surviving Egyptian Pyramid is commissioned by pharaoh Djoser
2349 BC Noah's Flood   Flood stories abound in diverse cultures and from all around the world.
2218 BC Nimrod born  

According to Jewish tradition Nimrod was the builder of the tower of Babel (at a site that will later become Babylon) and the first world ruler. He was ruling during the time of Abraham. There are traditional Jewish and Islamic stories that tell of confrontations that Abraham had with Nimrod over Abram's notion of God and Nimrod's claim to be a god.

c 1800 BC - c 1638 BC

Abraham

 

Abraham is a pivotal character in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Almost alone among the people of his time he believed in and followed the one true God.

1790 BC   Hammurabi's code

In my youth I learned that Hamurabi was thought by many to be the originator of notion of law but as the Law page shows he is part of a wider legal tradition. There are also those who say that Hammurabi's code was the basis for the Mosaic law, I do not think that they are similar enough to make that claim.

Hammurabi (ruled ca. 1796 BC – 1750 BC) believed that he was chosen by the gods to deliver the law to his people. In the preface to the law code, he states, "Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared god, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi)

1600-1046 BC     Shang Dynasty in China and the rise of Imperial China.
1600 - 1200 BC The children of Israel sojourn in Egypt  

Dates this far back in history are quite squishy.  There are many opinions on the matter including that it did not happen at all because it is not mentioned in the annals of the Kingdoms of Egypt.  It should be noted, however that there were several times in Egyptian history where Egypt was ruled by foreigners and times when there was no official court at all.  

1571 - 1471 BC Moses   Moses also called Moshe Rabbenu (Moses our Teacher) in Hebrew, he is the most important prophet in Judaism, he is foundational for Christianity and figures in the Islam where he is called Musa in the Qur'an.
1500 BC   VEDAS,
SUTRAS,
Brahmanas,
Code of Manu (Hindu)

The Vedas are said to be the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature. According to Hindu tradition they are based on an older oral traditions.

Of the three "ways" of Hinduism, these represent the works way.

1300 - 1000 BC    

The "standard" Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh was edited by Sin-liqe-unninni.

1200 BC    

The Greek Dark Ages begins. The Greek nation in one form or another lasts from 1200 - 295 BC (see Greek History).

Olmecs, located in ancient Mexico, prospered from c. 1200 - 400 BC. They are generally considered the forerunner of all subsequent Mesoamerican cultures including the Maya and Aztecs. 

 1000 - 586 BC    

Kingdom of Israel and Judah

c 1079 BC – 1007 BC Saul   Assyria (Ninive) were the great political powers of the day.
1010 – 970 BC David's rule   David's life is conventionally dated to c. 1040–970 BC, his reign over Judah c. 1010–1002 BC, and his reign over the United Kingdom of Israel c. 1002–970 BC.
970 - 931 BC Solomon   Solomon's reign circa 970 to 931 BC.
700 BC Isaiah Upanishads (Hindu)

The Upanishads are actually regarded as part of the Vedas by many. The oldest date from the 700 BC while some of the youngest may date form the middle ages.

They represent the second way of Hinduism; the way of "knowledge." The practice outlined is Mystical: recognition of Atman-Brahman identity and withdrawal form the world--monasticism.

753 BC    

Founding of Rome by Romulus. The Mythical story of Romulus and Remus is thought by some to have some historical basis. A roman timeline is here.

660 BC   SHINTO (Japan)

Shinto is considered animistic. That is the belief that plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena have spiritual dimensions and that supernatural power organizes and animates the material universe.

Shinto does not have a founder nor does it have sacred scriptures like the Sutras or the Bible. It is therefore hard to trace its beginnings. Dates from 660 BC to 300 BC have been proposed.

Shinto "gods" are called kami. They are sacred spirits which take the form of things and concepts important to life, such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility. Humans become kami after they die and are revered by their families as ancestral kami. The kami of extraordinary people are even enshrined at some shrines.

628 BC  

ZOROASTRIANISM

Chaldea (Babylonia)

Zoroaster (the Greek name by which the Persian prophet Zarathustra has become known) is traditionally believed to have lived and taught in the early part of the 6th century BC.

According to Corduan (1998: ) Zoroaster led or tried to lead a monotheistic revival. More than having a new idea himself, he was trying to call people back to the one God (Ahura mazda).

The Magi of the Christmas story were perhaps Zoroastrians or perhaps students of Daniel when he was in charge of the magicians in Babylon.

Many other prophets are mensioned in the Qur'an but not Zoroaster, although it is said...

...for every Ummah (a community or a nation), there is a Messenger; when their Messenger comes, the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged. (Qur'ân 10:47)

604 BC Daniel and his friends taken to Babylon. Book of Daniel covers from 605 - 515 BC

TAOISM (China)

The classic text of Taoism is the Tao Te Ching. According to tradition, it was written around 6th century BC by the Taoist sage Lao Zi (or Lao Tzu, "Old Master"), a librarian or record-keeper at the Zhou Dynasty court. The text is known by his name in China. The text's true authorship and date of composition or compilation are still debated.

599 BC  

JAINISM (India)

Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma is a religion and philosophy originating in Ancient India. The Jains follow the teachings of the 24 Jinas (conquerors) who are also known as Tirthankaras. The 24th Tirthankara, Lord Mahavira lived in ca. 6th century BC. One of the main characteristics of Jain belief is the emphasis on the immediate consequences of one's behavior (Instant karma years before John Lennon).
(Wikipedia 10/15/07)

587 BC Jerusalem Falls  

With the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the first temple and the exile of most of the rest of the Jews, the the political Kingdom of Judah is no more.

551 BC   CONFUCIANISM

Kong Fuzi (Confucius) (551–479 BC) was a famous sage and social philosopher of China whose teachings have deeply influenced East Asia for twenty centuries. The relationship between Confucianism and Confucius himself, however, is tenuous. Confucius' ideas were not accepted during his lifetime and he frequently bemoaned the fact that he remained unemployed by any of the feudal lords. (Wikipedia 10/15/07)

539 BC Jews permitted to return to the Land  

With the conquering of Babylon by the Persians. Cyrus the Great allows the beginning of the return home for the Jews. At least some of them took advantage of the offer and there were at least two waves of migration during the 530s and 520s.

528 BC   BUDDHISM

Siddhārtha Gautama (ca. 563 BC to 483 BC) was the founder of Buddhism but he left no writings of his own. His teachings and monastic rules were collected in written form some 400 years after his death.

Buddhism is a Dharmic religion coming out of the Hindu traditions but rejecting the caste system and, in some versions, the gods as well.

515 BC Restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem  

Restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem. 516 BC - 70 is widely considered the "Second Temple Period."  

334 – 323 BC   Alexander the Great

Alexander III of Macedon conquest and rule.

330 – 146 BC   Helenistic period.

This period is called the Helenistic (from what the Greeks called themselves) as it is the height of the Greek empire and culture. As can be seen by clicking the link, there is more to Greek history than just these few years. This date range is chosen from the conquest of Alexander the Great to the conquest of the Greek Hartland by the Romans. Many writers seem to use the Greco-Roman period as the beginning of all history, while it may well be the beginning of western thought, there is more to the story that that.

As far as Western Thought is concerned many just think of the big three.

Socrates (470 BC–399 BC)
Plato (427 BC – 347 BC)
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)

These are well before Alexander the Great and the Greek Empire. There is more to that story as well and a much longer history of Greco-Roman Philosophy as can be seen here.

270 BC    

Emperor Asoka of India, converts to Buddhism

200 BC   The addition to the Hindu scriptures of the Ramayana. and Mahabaratha-Gita

The Ramayana. and Mahabaratha-Gita are epic poems relating stories of Hindu gods and demi-gods. They are used as devotional texts in various forms of Hisnuism.

Bhakti Hinduism represents the third way of Hinduism, that is, devotion to a god or goddess; there are three main schools of Bhakti Hinduism according to the god or goddess that is the focus of devotion Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti.

226 - 201 BC   Great Wall of China

Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty in China. Building of the Great Wall.

206 BC - 220 AD   Han Dynasty in China

First dynasty to embrace Confucianism

146 BC    

Syria, Damascus

142 - 163 BC   Maccabees

The Maccabees were Jewish zealots who led a successful revolt against the Roman occupation and for a time reestablished a Jewish state. Known as the Hasmonean Dynasty, it lasted 80 years until Alexander the Great came through.

Chanukah, the feast of dedication, is the celebration of the rededication of the temple by Judas Maccabee and his bunch.

There are 4 books of the Maccabees, some apocryphal and some extra Biblical, that tell the stories of this time. The miracle of Chanukah is recorded only in the Talmud.

 44 BC - 476   Roman Empire

Julius Ceaser is assassinated in 44 BC which ends the Roman Republic.

The Western part of the Roman Empire falls in 476.

The Eastern part continues as what is known as the Byzantine Empire to those of us in the West.

4 BC-33 JESUS CHRIST  

Many think that Pope Gregory XIII (and his expert panel) got the Gregorian Calendar wrong and that Jesus was likely born around 4 BC, he began his ministry when he was 30 and taught for about 3 years before being crucified.

The Spread of Christianity and the Rise of the Institutional Church
1   Buddhism comes to China  
40 - 150 New Testament   Paul's writings are considered the oldest in the New testament some scholars putting them as early as the 40s. The traditional dating of the balance of the New Testament is before the 90s. Modern scholars have proposed the later dates.
49 Church in Antioch    
64 Roman Persecutions of Christianity begin   Since the fifth century or so, it has been customary to count ten major persecutions in the early church, a number that nicely parallels the ten plagues of Egypt. They run roughly from 64 until 324.
66 - 70 First Jewish War   Jews Rebel and expel the Romans from Jerusalem for a time. Known as the Great Revolt or the First Jewish-Roman War.
70     Fall of Jerusalem
160 Muratorian Fragment   Contains the earliest list of Christian Scriptures extant today. Date from Gonzalez others place it later. (see Canons)
200 - 500 Jewish scholars assemble the Talmud.   The Talmud is a codification of the Oral teachings and serves to define Jewish practice.
250 - 900   Mayas

The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Although their society peaked during this period they were no doubt founded on other more ancient peoples. Their influence is felt to this day in much of Central America where they still make up a portion of the population.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization 9/5/11

311 Edict of Toleration   May 5 – Emperor Galerius declares on his deathbed religious freedom and issues his Edict of Toleration, ending persecution of Christians in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire. Maximinus II divides the Eastern Empire between co-emperor Licinius. He recommences the persecution of Christians.
313 Edict of Milan  

Roman Emperors Constantine I and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan that legalized Christianity across the whole Roman Empire.

Christianity will eventually become the Official Religion of the Roman Empire. 

325 Council of Nicea  

Begins "unifying" definition of Christian Orthodoxy

380 Edictum de Fide Catholica  

Emperor Theodosius I makes Christianity the official state religion of Rome. Edictum de fide catholica dated 27 February 380.

391   Worship at pagan temples was outlawed in Roman empire.

Theodosian and the Theodocian decrees

The Theodosian decrees came about between 389-391. These produced a practical ban on paganism. Visits to the temples were forbidden, the remaining Pagan holidays abolished, the eternal fire in the Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum extinguished, the Vestal Virgins disbanded, auspices and witchcraft punished.

In 392 he became Emperor of the whole Empire (the last one to do so). He issued a comprehensive law that prohibited any Pagan ritual even within the privacy of one's home, and was particularly oppressive of Manicheans. He is likely to have suppressed the Ancient Olympic Games, whose last record of celebration is from 393.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodosius_I 9/27/11

431 Council of Ephesus  

Nestorian Schism – the issue is the nature of Christ: Human and/or Divine.

451 Council of Chalcedon  

Schism with Oriental Orthodoxy over Christological issues. Chalcedon declares that Jesus is God and man having two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation. Not a new concept but the details are disputed.

c. 6th Century   Zen Buddhism in China Zen Buddhism was brought to China by the Indian monk Bodhidharma in the 6th century CE. It was called Ch'an in China.

Zen's golden age began with the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng (638-713), and ended with the persecution of Buddhism in China in the middle of the 9th century CE. Most of those we think of today as the great Zen masters came from this period. Zen Buddhism survived the persecution though it was never the same again in China.

Zen spread to Korea in the 7th century CE and to Japan in the 12th century CE. It was popularised in the West by the Japanese scholar Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (1870 - 1966); although it was found in the West before that. (BBC)

525 BC/AD system   Our current year numbering system was developed for an Easter table published by Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Small, Dennis the Dwarf, Dennis the Little or Dennis the Short, meaning humble) (c. 470 – c. 544). He was a member of the Scythian monks community concentrated in Tomis, the major city of Scythia Minor. His system was not widely adopted until 800 or so.
550   Buddhism comes to Japan  
Rise and Spread of Islam (570-1918)
610 - 662   Qur'an Beginning of the revelation of the Qur'an to Mohammad, the beginning of Islam. The Qur'an will not be collected into its final form until 661.
c 600
(date from original time line. Not confirmed)
  Tantrism, with "mantras"
(Hindu)

The word Tantrism is of western construction but it refers to a philosophy according to which Shakti is usually the main deity worshipped, and the universe is regarded as the divine play of Shakti and Shiva. The Sanskrit word Tantra also applies to any of the scriptures (called "Tantras") commonly identified with the worship of Shakti.

Some references call it a feature of a Dharmic religion some call it a religion on its own.

622   The "Hegira"
(Islam)

Hegira is from an Arabic word meaning migration. The Hegira is the emigration of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to the city of Medina in 622, marking the first year of the Islamic calendar, 1 AH (anno higirae).

632   Abu Bakr succeeds Mohammed
(Islam)

Abu Bakr was Muhammad's father-in-law. This branch will become Suni Islam. War ensues and Islam becomes divided and remains so til this day.

656   "Shi'te" movement of Islam

The Shia were loyal to Ali, Mohammad's son-in-law, the husband of His favorite daughter.

691    Islam

Dome of the Rock built

ca 780   Buddhism in Tibet In the 8th century, King Trisong Detsen (755-797) established Buddhism as the official religion of the state. (There are legendary accounts of Buddhist influence prior to this.)
900 - 1300     Medieval Warming
1000   Incas (1000-1500).  
1054 Roman and Orthodox Schism   The primary causes of the Schism were disputes over papal authority—Pope Leo IX claimed he held authority over the four Eastern patriarchs—and over the insertion of the filioque clause into the Nicene Creed by the Western Church. The Eastern Orthodox today claim that the primacy of the Patriarch of Rome was only honorary, and that he has authority only over his own diocese and does not have the authority to change the decisions of Ecumenical Councils. There were other, less significant catalysts for the Schism, including variance over language and liturgical practices.
1095 - 1291 The Crusades   Wars fought by Christian Europe to "Liberate" the holy lands.
1096     First persecution of Jews in Europe begins
1135   Moses Maimonides (Jew). Also known as Abu Amran Musa in Arabic, to the Jews known as the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon) was a Jewish commentator and philosopher.
1300 - 1850     The Little Ice Age
1300   Bhakti Hindus Bhakti is often translated devotion. Key feature of Bhakti Hinduism is devotion to a single god or goddess.
1400 - 1500   SIKHISM Some say Sikhism is merger of Hinduism and Islam. Sikhism is monotheistic but Nanac came out of the Hindu Shant movement. In Nepal, Sikhs have to register as Hindus.
1478 - 1834     Spanish Inquisition
1492     Jews kicked out of Spain - America Discovered
Protestant Reformation/Roman Counter reformation
1517 MARTIN LUTHER   Lutherans
1518 Ulrich Zwingli   Roman Catholic Priest and Reformer. Viewed sacraments as symbols.
1534 Church of England.  

It is often said by non-Anglicans that king Henry VIII started the Anglican Church. Anglicans point to Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury in the time of King Henry VIII, who was able to bring Martin Luther's rediscovery of justification by faith alone into the heart of the Church of England.

Henry VIII could not have made the reforms on his own; he did need some the support of the Bishops and people.

Anglicans also point to the fact that the missionary Church in first century Briton was remote and autonomous at its founding and only became associated with Rome much later.

1536 Calvinism. J. Calvin  

Reformed Traditions

1545 - 63 Council of Trent  

Roman Catholic response to the reformers.

1560 John Knox   Presbyterians.
1582     The Gregorian Calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII
1582 Robert Brown.   Congregationalism.
1605 John Smith   Baptists.
1620 -  1717 Samuel Seabury  

Episcopalians. The Episcopal Church in the United States was formed primarily because the Anglican Church was and is an Established State Church of the British Empire.

As relations between Britton and the Colonies frayed so a Church that was not affiliated with the British Crown was necessary.

1744 John and Charles Wesley.   Methodists
Modern Turmoil
1774   Theophilus Lindsay Unitarians
1818 Adventists   William Miller
v1829   Mormons. Joseph Smith Although some Mormons now claim to be just another Christian denomination, in my youth they claimed to be the only true Church. The angel who appeared to Joseph Smith is said to have given him the priestly order of Malchezedek to reestablish the church.
1844   Baha'i Faith. Nirza Ali Muhammed

Teaches that all religions are the same but commonly thought to be an offshoot of Islam.

1852   Jehovah's Witnesses. Charles Russell
1865 Salvation Army   Michaelis Jones
1870 Old Catholics.   Doelinger, after Vatican I the main issue being the doctrine of Papal Infallibility which was made official by the council. Among other things they kept the Latin Mass. 
1875   Theosophy Petrovna Blavatsky
1879   Christian Science  Mary Baker Eddy
1915   Rosicrucians Spencer Lewis
1919   COMMUNISM Marx, Lenin

C. S. Lewis calls communism that greatest of Christian heresies.

1933   Humanist Manifesto I  
1934   Worldwide Church of God Armstrong-This group has made a turn toward Orthodoxy
 1935   est (Erhard Seminar Training) Ehrhard
 1936   Unification Church Sun M. Moon (Moonies)
1944   Silva Mind Control Jose Silva
1947     New State of Israel
1954   Scientology L. Ron Hubbard - base it on the ancient pantheism
1960   Rajmeesheism Bhagwan Rajneesh
1965   Hermandad Pio X. Cardinal Lefevbre- Transcendental Meditation. Maharishi  
1966   Hare Krishnas

B. Prabhupada

Hinduism repackaged for the west

1968   Children of God. "Moses" David Berg Now Family International
1962 - 65 Vatican II   Among other things, protestants declared separated brothers
1973   Humanist Manifesto II  
1978 The Palmarian Catholic Church   The Palmarian Catholic Church split from Rome when Clemente Domínguez y Gómez (Pope Gregory XVII) declared himself pope in 1978. He served as pope until his death in 2005, Manuel Corral (Pope Peter II) succeeded Domínguez in 2005 and led the church until his death in 2011. He was succeeded by Sergio María (Pope Gregory XVIII) who was elected by conclave in 2011.
2003   Humanist Manifesto III  

 

Inspired by and originally based on http://www.religion-cults.com/Overview/chronology.htm no longer posted

http://dc366.4shared.com/doc/ptTUHB8P/preview.html 1/16/14 current link to original post.