The Brill Dictionary of Religion

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Edited by: Kocku von Stuckrad

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The impressively comprehensive Brill Dictionary of Religion (BDR) Online addresses religion as an element of daily life and public discourse, is richly illustrated and with more than 500 entries, the Brill Dictionary of Religion Online is a multi-media reference source on the many and various forms of religious commitment. The Brill Dictionary of Religion Online addresses the different theologies and doctrinal declarations of the official institutionalized religions and gives equal weight and consideration to a multiplicity of other religious phenomena. The Brill Dictionary of Religion Online helps map out and define the networks and connections created by various religions in contemporary societies, and provides models for understanding these complex phenomena.

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(1,343 words)

Author(s): Schlatter, Gerhard
1. One hundred fifty thousand years after the arrival of the original Australian people, the first colonization of Australia began with Captain Cook. The ‘natives,’ from now on all called Aborigines, had so little interest in Cook's paltry presents, his material gifts, that Cook wrote in his journal: “All of the things that we gave them, they left lying on the spot and paid no attention to them. On my view, this means that they believe themselves to be provided with all of the necessities of life.” The key to the Aborigines'…


(1,701 words)

Author(s): Knecht, Michaela
1. Unplanned pregnancies, family planning, and the limitation of fertility and births have posed a problem for all cultures and eras. Abortion—the termination of an already existing pregnancy—as well as contraceptive means and methods intended to prevent a new pregnancy, are attempts to respond to this human problem, and as such are anthropological universals. In a historical perspective, and in an intercultural comparison, an important role has been played with respect to unwanted or illegitima…

Academic Study of Religion

(1,898 words)

Author(s): Junginger, Horst
Religious Studies and Theology 1. The academic study of religion ( Religionswissenschaft), or religious studies, appeared only in the last third of the nineteenth century. Being of such recent date, and disposing of such a limited number of academic chairs, it is not well established in the public consciousness. Not infrequently, the ‘new’ discipline is confused with Christian theology, and it can easily happen that, when its students are asked what it is they study, they are confronted with the additional…


(737 words)

Author(s): Sabarowski, Markus
1. The term “advertising” denotes a competition-oriented form of mass communication, through various media, for economic, cultural, or religious purposes. Unlike other forms of information transmittal, the communication content of advertising is usually received adventitiously, rather than being purposely sought by recipients. As a significant factor in the economy, and as a part of popular culture, advertising is more and more frequently the object of analyses on the part of cultural studies, …

Africa II: Central and Southern Africa

(2,282 words)

Author(s): Adogame, Afe
1. Unlike Northern Africa, where Islam is the predominant religion, Africa south of the Sahara is mainly Christian. The process of the Christianization of Africa can be divided into four phases, of which the first, that of late antiquity, was limited to Northern Africa ( Africa I). Portuguese; the Catholic Mission 2. a) The second phase of Christianization—this time south of the Sahara—occurred in connection with the establishment of a Portuguese trade network, in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, on the west coast of Africa, in the Kingdom of Congo, in …

Africa I: Northern Africa Including the Sahel

(3,413 words)

Author(s): Rebstock, Ulrich
1. In the course of history, the part of the African continent lying north of the equator has been constantly spliced into the cultural development of its neighboring regions. Favored by the environment of the Mediterranean basin, the valley of the Nile, and the West African coastal region, Northern and Northeastern Africa were periodically influenced by (and at times out-and-out integrated with) the high cultures of their neighbors. The dry desert area of the Sahara and the neighboring caravan …

Africa: Time Chart

(2,342 words)

Author(s): Hock, Klaus
1. Pre- and Ancient History (c. 4 million-5000 BCE) c. 4 million BCE Australopithecus Afarensis Skeletal finds suggest that the ‘cradle of humanity’ lies in Africa. c. 70.000 Evidence of burials in Southern Africa from c. 26.000 Earliest African rock paintings, in Southern Africa (today's Namibia) The rock paintings document the experience of ritual specialists; the painted places are ‘power centers’ at which contact may be had with the supra-terrestrial world. from c. 20.000 Clay figures in Algeria, carved objects in Southern Africa 2. The Ancient Kingdoms (c. 6th millenium BCE-1st …

Afro-American Religions

(1,216 words)

Author(s): Mattes, Claudio
Name Gender Function/Sphere of Activity/Sphere of Responsibility Color for Worship Day of the week Christian Analog Exú m Revelation/Foretelling of good or evil Reddish brown Monday Devil Ogum m Air, energy, activity, war Sea blue Tuesday St. George Xangó m Thunder and lightning White and red Wednesday St. Jerome Inhansā f Wind and storm Red and brown Wednesday St. Barbara Oxóssi m Forest, hunt, vegetation, fertility Light blue Thursday St. Sebastian Oxumaré f/m Water and air, rainbow Yellow and green Thursday St. Barbara Oxalá m Supreme divinity, Lord of Starlight Pure white Friday Jes…

Afro-Caribbean Religions

(1,268 words)

Author(s): Murphy, Joseph M.
The Concept The category ‘Afro-Caribbean Religions’ may be defined as religious initiatives by people of African descent in the Caribbean region. They are often characterized by the preservation and development of religious beliefs and practices brought from Africa during the period of the slave trade, particularly in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when the majority of enslaved Africans were transported. While each region of the Caribbean presented different patterns of govern…


(260 words)

Author(s): Wohlrab-Sahr, Monika
In a modern understanding, the concept of age refers either broadly to one's life span, or in a narrower sense to its last phase. The commencement of the latter can be marked in various fashions, depending on the social context. However, it is often reckoned in terms of discharge from important formal social functions, especially from the labor process (retirement), and the loss of the capacity for sexual reproduction. Age is therefore always ‘social age,’ as well, and—as with gender—an essentia…

Agrarian Religion/Agrarian Magic

(1,097 words)

Author(s): Naacke, Claudia
Agrarian Ritual and the Formation of a Nation 1. In 1865, folklorist Wilhelm Mannhardt (1831–1880), through the use of questionnaires, undertook extensive research in the cultural usages of various agricultural groups. The study of harvest customs in particular, he anticipated, ought to yield information on vestiges of Teutonic paganism—relics that would have survived as testimonials of earlier stages of culture among farming people. He tied this to an investigation of the Romantic myths, thereby seekin…