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Sir Edwin Arnold and Henry Olcott) converted to Buddhism, and in the beginning of the 20th century the first westerners (e.g.

Ananda Metteyya and Nyanatiloka) entered the Buddhist monastic life. Rhys Davids wrote that the earliest missionaries to Tibet observed that similarities have been seen since the first known contact.

Nevertheless, modern Christian scholars generally hold that there is no direct evidence of any influence of Buddhism on Christianity, and several scholarly theological works do not support these suggestions.

It is known that prominent early Christians were aware of Buddha and some Buddhist stories.

Starting in the 1930s, authors such as Will Durant suggested that Greco-Buddhist representatives of Emperor Ashoka who traveled to Syria, Egypt and Greece may have helped prepare the ground for Christian teaching.

Buddhism was prominent in the eastern Greek world (Greco-Buddhism) and became the official religion of the eastern Greek successor kingdoms to Alexander the Great's empire (Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BC – 125 BC) and Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC – 10 CE)).

Though some early Christians were aware of Buddhism, which was practiced in both the Greek and Roman Empires in the pre-Christian period, the majority of modern Christian scholarship has roundly rejected any historical basis for the travels of Jesus to India or Tibet or direct influences between the teachings of Christianity in the West and Buddhism, and has seen the attempts at parallel symbolism as cases of parallelomania which exaggerate resemblances.

In time, Buddhism gathered followers and at the end of the 19th century the first Westerners (e.g.Pagels suggested that there are parallels with teachings attributed to Jesus Christ and teachings found in Eastern traditions, but concludes that these parallels might be coincidental, since parallel traditions may emerge in different cultures without direct influence.Buddhist Jack Mc Quire has suggested that in the 4th century, Christian monasticism developed in Egypt, and it emerged with a corresponding structure comparable to the Buddhist monasticism of its time and place.And of these there are two classes, some of them called Sarmanæ and others Brahmins.And those of the Sarmanæ who are called 'Hylobii' neither inhabit cities, nor have roofs over them, but are clothed in the bark of trees, feed on nuts, and drink water in their hands.

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Gnostics (a small number of sects) are not considered part of mainstream Christianity and some have been declared heretical.