Vocabulary for the Study of Religion

Purchase Access
Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Robert A. Segal & Kocku von Stuckrad.

The Vocabulary for the Study of Religion offers a unique overview of critical terms in the study of religion(s). This first dictionary in English covers a broad spectrum of theoretical topics used in the academic study of religion, including those from adjacent disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, historiography, theology, philology, literary studies, psychology, philosophy, cultural studies, and political sciences.

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(4,507 words)

Author(s): Randall Styers
Abstract: This entry explores the history and use of the term magic, with particular focus on scholarly theories of magic over the past two hundred years. There are long cultural traditions stigmatizing and marginalizing magic, and that history has shaped modern attempts to define the nature of magic and to account for its relation to religion and science. Many of the most prominent scholars of comparative religion and the social sciences have struggled to find a stable, cross-cultural, and trans-historical definition of magic, and through those conflicting efforts scholars have used magic as a tool with which to clarify the nature of religion and to articulate a broad set of norms for life in the modern world. The invocation of magic thus…

Marketplace Model

(1,197 words)

Author(s): Alexander Nagel
Abstract: Two interrelated marketplace models of religion are discussed. While the sociology of knowledge perspectives have focused on the secularizing impact of a rel…


(1,896 words)

Author(s): Katie Barclay
Date: 2014-09-16


(3,458 words)

Author(s): Gary Edson

Material Culture

(4,344 words)

Author(s): David Chidester
Abstract: Referring to bodies, objects, and places, material culture in religion is the sacred vitality of things. Living extensions of the human body can become sacred, while inanimate objects can become lively. Rejecting the division between spirit and matter, soul and body, recent research on religion and material culture has attended to the senses, embodied practices, meaningful objects, built environments, and the material possibilities and constraints of technology, with special attention to the communication technology of media. As an entry into the study of religion and material culture, this essay focuses on the relic and the icon as material objects in religious practice; the fetish in the Atlantic World and the cargo in the Pacific World as focal points for conflicts over about the meaning, power, and value of objects; and the material conditions of religious media, from the s…
Date: 2014-09-16

Matriarchy / Patriarchy

(5,036 words)

Author(s): Peter Davies
Abstract: This entry considers the origin and implications of the term “matriarchy,” as it has been applied to the study of religion since the Enlightenment. It examines some of the ideas that have c…
Date: 2014-09-16


(4,087 words)

Author(s): Lenn Goodman
Abstract: Significance in an expression and purpose in an activity can both be called meaning. It seems worthwhile, with that thought in mind, to distinguish meaning in its semantical sense from the …
Date: 2014-09-16

Measurements of Religion

(3,439 words)

Author(s): David Voas
Date: 2014-09-16


(4,396 words)

Author(s): Oliver Krüger
Abstract: Media technology is always embedded in certain cultural and social patterns of reception. Media are — apart from their content …


(2,325 words)

Author(s): Helen Lambert
Abstract: This article reviews relationships between “medicine” and “religion” historically, c…
Date: 2014-09-16

Memory / Memorization

(3,255 words)

Author(s): Barbara Jones Denison
Abstract: Memory and memorization in the academic study of religion are linked to the use of history as a background and the examination of content as a…


(5,218 words)

Author(s): Norman Simms
Abstract: The history of mentalities (the key term should always be used in the plural and coup…


(3 words)

Millenarianism / Millennialism 


(2,004 words)

Author(s): Raymond Gibbs
Abstract: Religious texts and discourse contain numerous instances of metaphoric language, in which speakers or writers refer to one, usually abstrac…