Religion Past and Present

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Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning†, Bernd Janowski and Eberhard Jüngel

Religion Past and Present (RPP) Online is the online version of the updated English translation of the 4th edition of the definitive encyclopedia of religion worldwide: the peerless Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (RGG). This great resource, now at last available in English and Online, Religion Past and Present Online continues the tradition of deep knowledge and authority relied upon by generations of scholars in religious, theological, and biblical studies. Including the latest developments in research, Religion Past and Present Online encompasses a vast range of subjects connected with religion.

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(140 words)

Author(s): Arffman, Kaarlo
[German Version] (Finnish Turku). Åbo lies at the mouth of the Aura River, on the southwest coast of Finland. The ancient commercial center took on increased importance in the 13th century, when it became the religious and political center of Finland (Swedish Eastland). Until 1554, the diocese of Åbo encompassed all of Finland. The cathedral, the burial site o…


(311 words)

Author(s): Queen II, Edward L.
[German Version] the movement to abolish slavery in the USA, derived its power from its emphasis on the equality of all people before the law, which was a heritage of the Enlightenment, and the high regard for moral perfectibility typical of 19th-century evangelicalism. While some religious groups, primarily the Quakers and Methodists, had attacked slavery as early as the 18th century, the actual movement to abolish slavery began in 1831 with the appearance of W.L. Garrison's newspaper The Liberator. The movement to free the slaves, sparked by Garrison …


(866 words)

Author(s): Beckwith, Francis J.
[German Version] I. The Unborn and Personhood – II. Bodily Rights – III. Legal Arguments The procured or spontaneous premature termination of pregnancy Unlike spontaneous abortion (or miscarriage), procured abortion is intended to terminate a pregnancy. Its moral and legal permissibility depends on the nature of the unborn, the mother's bodily rights, and/or how the law ought to address controversial matters of life and death. I. The Unborn and Personhood The dominant view is that abortion's permissibility depends on the nature of the u…


(544 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] 1. Isaac ben Judah (1437, Lisbon – 1508, Venice) was an important Jewish leader, diplomat, exegete and philosopher in the period before and after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492). Abrabanel was from a prominent family who were reputed to stem from the house of David. He was a financial advisor to King Alfonso V of Portugal, although he was forced …


(3,604 words)

Author(s): Blum, Erhard | Attridge, Harold W. | Anderson, Gary A. | Dan, Joseph | Nagel, Tilman
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. New Testament – III. Judaism – IV. Qur’ān I. Old Testament 1. Name. The name אַבְרָהָם/ 'abrāhām is a by-form of אַבְרָם/ 'abrām or אֲבִירָם/ 'abîrām (Num 16:1, etc.). With the meaning "Father (= God) is exalted," it corresponds to a widely dispersed West-Semitic name pattern and, as a praise or confessional name, belongs in the realm of personal piety. The otherwise unattested extended form is interpreted in Gen 17:4f. in a popular etymology as "Father (אָב/ 'āb) of a multitude (הָמוֹן/ hāmôn) of nations" - in an entirely …

Abraham Abulafia

(9 words)

[German Version] Abulafia, Abraham

Abraham a Sancta Clara,

(258 words)

Author(s): Breuer, Dieter
[German Version] Catholic preacher and writer (Aug 2, 1644, Kreenheinstetten, Swabia – Dec 1, 1709, Vienna; secular name Johann Ulrich Megerle). The son of a tavern keeper, he received a thorough humanistic education in Ingolstadt and Salzburg. In 1662, at the monastery of Mariabrunn near Vienna, he joined the order of Augustinian Hermits and …

Abraham ben Azriel

(152 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] was one of the major authors belonging to the Kalonymus circle of 13th-century Rhineland esoterics and mystics; he was among the third generation of scholars produced by this school. He came to Speyer from Bohemia to study with Rabbi Judah the Pious (died 1217) and especially with Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms, whom he referred to as his immediate teacher. He is the author of Arugat ha-bosem (“Bed of Spices”: Song 5:13), completed in 1234, an exhaustive commentary on the piyuttim of the Jewish prayer book. Its encyclopedic compass makes Arugat ha-bosem unique …

Abraham Ecchellensis

(101 words)

Author(s): Kaufhold, Hubert
[German Version] (Feb 18, 1605, Ḥāqil – Jul 15, 1664, Rome). The name is Latinized from the Arabic (al-)Ḥāqilānī (“from Ḥāqil” in Lebanon). A Maronite, he studied in Rome, was deacon, teacher of Syriac and Arabic in Rome, Pisa, and Paris, a collaborator in the Parisian Polyglot Bible, and from 1660 scriptor in the Vatican Library. Through editions and translations, he acquainted Europe with many Arabic and Syriac works. Hubert Kaufhold Bibliography G. Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, vol. III, 1949, 354–359 N. Gemayel, Les échanges culturels entre les …

Abrahamic Religions

(90 words)

Author(s): Khoury, Adel-Theodor
[German Version] are not the Abrahamists (according to Sozomen [5th cent.], known at least in Gaza: cf. Crone), and not the Abrahamites of Bohemia (18th cent.). Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic religions that trace themselves to Abraham: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religions argued over him (cf. John 8:30–47; Gal 3:7–10; 4:22–31; Qur'ān 2:135–141; 3:67–68), but he could still form a bridge between them. Adel-Theodor Khoury Bibliography P. Crone, Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam, 1987, 190–191, n. 4 H.J. Kuschel, Streit um Abraham, 1994.

Abrahamic Writings

(539 words)

Author(s): Himmelfarb, Martha
[German Version] I. Apocalypse of Abraham – II. Testament of Abraham I. Apocalypse of Abraham The Apocalypse of Abraham is one of several Apocalypse written in reaction to the destruction of the second temple. The text begins with a description of Abraham's rejection of idol worship while assisting his father in the fabrication of idols. God then dispatches the angel Iaoel to fetch Abraham. With the…

Abraham I of Aghbatan

(84 words)

Author(s): Hannick, Christian
[German Version] was Armenian Catholicos from 607 to 610. His time saw the schism of the Georgian church from unity with the other Caucasian churches, the Armenian and the Albanian. While the Georgian Catholicos, Kyrion, joined with the Chalcedonians (Chalcedonian Definition), Abraham insisted on the positions of monophysitism. Christian Hannick Bibliography F. Tournebize, DHGE I, 1912, 163 E. Boshof, ed., Bischöfe, Mönche und Kaiser, vol. IV, 1994 R.W. Thomson, A Bibliography of Classical Armenian Literature to 1500 AD, 1995.

Abraham Maimuni

(209 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Abraham ben Moses ben Maimon; 1186, Cairo – 1237, Cairo), son of M. Maimonides, inherited the position of his father as the leader of the Jewish community in Egypt; he extended the philosophical work of his father. When the great controversy over the rationalistic work of Maimonides arose in 1232–1235 in northern Spain and the provinces, Abraham responded with “The War of the Lord” ( Milchamot ha-Shem), an apology for the rationalistic style of writing of his father; he defended vigorously …

Absolute Necessity

(881 words)

Author(s): Danz, Christian | Sandkaulen, Birgit
[German Version] I. Philosophy of Religion – II. Philosophy I. Philosophy of Religion The German word das Unbedingte (lit. “the unconditional”) is first found in philosophical texts from the last third of the 18th century, as a translation of the Latin absolutum. It was I. Kant (see II below) who gave this concept its specific connotation, which had a long-lasting influence on subsequent theology and the philosophy of religion. The absolute necessity is the ultimate principle, which is not conditioned by any…

Absolute, The

(937 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen | Rosenau, Hartmut
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Philosophy of Religion I. Philosophy Etymologically, the word “absolute” means something separate from and independent of everything that is only relative. In this sense, the absolute can be understood ontologically as substance, logically as principle. If the absolute is taken as a singulare tantum, then it refers to something apart from which there is nothing that exists independently. This raises the question of how to conceive the …


(712 words)

Author(s): Root, Michael | Müller, Hans-Martin
[German Version] I. Dogmatics – II. Practical Theology I. Dogmatics Absolution is the assurance, in the context of confession (II; III), that sins have been forgiven. The history of absolution traces back to Matt 16:19; 18:18; John 20:22f. Drawing on Thomas Aquinas ( Summa theologiae III, q. 84), the Councils of Florence ( DH, 1323) and Trent ( DH, 1673) defined absolution as the form of the sacrament of penance or repentance (IV), which has as its matter the actions of…


(646 words)

Author(s): Lehmann, Hartmut
[German Version] From the middle of the 16th century to the last third of the 18th, when absolutism was the dominant form of government in Europe, the term itself was not used. Not until the 1790s, when absolutism was fundamentally challenged by the outbreak of the French Revolution, did people in France begin to use the term “absolutisme” to describe the noti…


(6 words)

[German Version] Asceticism

Abstract Expressionism

(1,005 words)

Author(s): Vinzent, Jutta
[German Version] is the internationally acknowledged American art movement of the 1940s/1950s, which developed mainly independently of Europe and which is of singular importance since it signals the shift of the Western art center from Europe to the United States. Abstract expressionism is also known by the names “New York School,” stressing its geographical l…

Absurd, The

(312 words)

Author(s): Kodalle, Klaus-M.
[German Version] Absurd (Lat. “dull-sounding”) is widely understood as “ridiculous,” cf. “reductio ad absurdum”. In literary contexts the term Absurd has been in great demand since existentialism. 20th-century literature frequently testifies (often in a grotesque way) to the experience of the Absurd; cf. F. Kafka, Eugène Ionesco, S. Beckett, Harold Pinter, Luigi Pirandello, Thomas Bernhard, Elfriede Jelinek and others. In the 19th century, S. Kierkegaard is the respected thinker of the Absurd (partly synonymous with …
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