This chapter first provides a historical background for the development of Christianity in Rome and Buddhism in China. It illustrates in both China and Rome, the story of a new religion cannot be told in simple terms of “conquest” or even “success.” Both Buddhism and Christianity faced resistance from elites and commoners alike; to gain acceptance, both engaged in processes of accommodation and adaptation that changed the new faith as much as they changed the old culture. Chapters in the volume are grouped into three parts: Part 1, “Initial Encounters and Causes of Resistance,” considers the obstacles each new religion encountered; Part 2, “Interaction, Influence, and Accommodation,” pursues this theme of adaptation and cross-pollination; Part 3, “Synthesis and Assimilation,” looks at a further stage in this process whereby these new belief systems both altered and were altered by the material life of the old society, including art, architecture, and daily life.
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