The ancient religions have one peculiarity, common to them all, by which they are distinguished from the modern: they are all tribal or national religions ; they are all based on particularism. Even a superficial observer will notice that religious history naturally divides itself into two great parts, two periods or ages of the world which are essentially and markedly distinct. The prehistoric period as to which we can only venture upon conjectures and hypotheses, and the study of which properly constitutes the palseontological section of the science of religion, is everywhere followed by that of the tribal, national, and state religions, during which every religion belonged, as a matter of course, to a particular tribe or tribal league, to a nation or a state, and no one dreamed of spreading it more widely. To belong to a nation, to be counted as one of a tribe, is one and the same thing as to worship the gods of the country, the national gods. Whether a separate and ordered priesthood existed or not, whether the priests dominated the princes, or the princes the priests, as soon as a state was formed, be it monarchy, oligarchy, or republic, extending like the Celestial Empire over half a continent, or, like Carthage, confined to a town and its colonies, in every case the religion of the people became the religion of the state, closely bound up with it, and by it maintained, defended, and, when necessary, imposed by force. The idea of a separation between religion and the state is utterly foreign to all the religions of antiquity. To deny the gods of one's fathers is the same thing as to deny one's nationality. The existence of foreign gods was not denied.

 

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History of the Egyptian Religion - C Tiele 1882

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