The German philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) coined the expression “axial point” to describe the period 800-200 BCE. According to him, these were the years which produced key characters who had great influence in shaping humanity. Jaspers had the Israelite prophets and the Buddha in mind. A number of scholars took over his idea but preferred the name “axial period” and shifted the borders to include the prophets Zoroaster and Mohammed. According to them the axial period stretched from 12 000 BCE to 600 CE. Still others said that these dates merely indicated the “first axial period” during which the major religions known today, originated. According to them we are now living in the “second axial period”. The main characteristíc of the second axial period is the fact that the religions which originated during the first axial period are now confronted with modernity. What the net effect of modernity on the religions will be, is not yet evident. The rise of fundamentalism is but one reaction. Some believers are reacting negatively on de- velopments in the modem world. They struggle to adjust and fear changes. There are, however, signs that a large number of people are adjusting to changes in the world and that they will not abandon religion. They are becoming more and more aware that humans are part of all living beings and that they need to protect life on earth. Moreover, they need to adjust their truth-claims and enter into dialogue with the followers of other religions.
Professor Maurice Wiles once wrote: “So giving expression to Christian belief is never a matter of simply being faithful to the teaching of the past, of preserving the deposit of truth as it has been handed on to us by previous generations. Every generation has the task of constructing forms of belief and practice appropriate to its own times and culture.” Albie Gibson took this advise to heart when he wrote his book.