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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(1,306 words)

Author(s): Rüpke, Jörg
Lunar/Solar Year 1. A calendar presents a system for ordering time by dividing a unit, the year, into a framework whose smallest components are days. This system coordinates a society's social, economic, and religious activities. Objectification and communication are served through ‘natural’ rhythms, impressive meteorological phenomena (seasons), the world of plants and animals, and, frequently, the phases of the visibility of the moon (‘lunation,’ ‘month’). A year built by lunar months (12 × 29.5…


(1,099 words)

Author(s): Cootsona, Gregory S.
The “Golden State” California's dream of boundless frontiers continues to lure religious seekers. This state, whose shores overlook the expansive Pacific Ocean, offers a place for the spirit to roam free in search of new vistas. The frontier is, as Cotton Mather once wrote, “a temporary condition through which we are passing to the Promised Land” (Dyrness 1989, 29). And this Promised Land of California has seemed to guarantee economic, spatial, and religious fulfillment. It is not surprisingly that…


(836 words)

Author(s): Hensel, Sabine
Concept 1. After landing in the isles of the West Indies in 1492, Columbus reported ‘man-eating’ inhabitants of the islands, the ‘Caribs’ ( caribes, caniba, ‘strong,’ ‘shrewd’). The word ‘cannibalism’ was derived from their name. With the discovery of the New World, it replaced the concept of ‘anthropophagy’ (Gk., ánthropos, ‘human being’; phageín, ‘to eat’), the term that had been used since antiquity and the Middle Ages. Anthropophagy in the strict sense is the actual consumption of human flesh; the broader sense includes the drinking of blood,…


(1,210 words)

Author(s): Bahr, Petra
Canonization as a Process 1. The concept of canonization (from Heb., qana, ‘staff,’ ‘[measuring] reed,’ adopted as a loan word in Greek) describes the process in which a set of symbols, texts, actions, or artifacts is fixed as authoritative and normative. The collection, ordering, and commitment to canonical writing of self-evident daily relationships, cultic practices, styles of piety, and moral conceptions serves to reinforce tradition. It is a process of crystallization that can go on for centuries, as …


(1,009 words)

Author(s): Kehrer, Günter
1. The concept of capitalism, fallen from fashion today—the preferred term is market economy—denotes an economic mode whose constitutive condition is the exchange of goods, on a theoretically transparent market, by its formally free economic subjects, with labor being counted as one of these goods. A long-term equilibrium between supply and demand is supposed. Whether the value of these goods is ‘objectively’ determinable—for example, when it is measured by the average amount of work time spent in their prod…

Capital Punishment/Execution

(2,049 words)

Author(s): Wachowski, Markus
1. Whether it is permissible in law to kill a person, either in the name of the state, or indeed of religion, ranks as one of the most fundamental and most disputed of ethical problems. As the heaviest and ultimate form of punishment, its implementation awaits the correct solution to the problem of what societal or political instance has the right of life and death. Historically, capital punishment developed out of crimes regulated by private, family, tribal, and sacral rights and their atonement, and was committed to a community of law as its apposite instan…


(992 words)

Author(s): Lützenkirchen, Hans-Georg | Helmut, Zander
Fasting Eve—Fasching— Carnival 1. The word ‘carnival’ is derived from the Italian carne (‘meat’) and levale (‘removal’), recalling the practice of abstinence from meat during the penitential season of Lent. It was originally used for the name of Shrove Tuesday, the eve of the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday). Derived from the Old English lengten (‘springtime,’ implying the lengthening of the days), ‘lent’ is the annual forty-weekday Christian season of fasting, abstinence from meat, and sobriety of manner, in the spirit of a memorial of the sufferi…


(1,323 words)

Author(s): Schweer, Thomas
1. The concept of caste is usually associated with some of the seemingly most deplorable phenomena of the Indian social order. These include a fatalism opposed to progress, discrimination against large parts of the Indian population, and a religious determination of social class. Let it be pointed out, however, that this is a conceptualization maintained in Europe, which, in principle, can no longer think justice apart from an egalitarian society. It can even be argued that ‘caste’ as a conceptual h…


(1,113 words)

Author(s): Treml, Martin
Concept 1. Generally, the ancient Greek concept catharsis denotes ‘cleansing’ or ‘purification.’ By way of a determinate, prescribed action—usually cultic and ritual—a condition regarded as unclean is forsaken, and, either as novelty or anew, replaced with a state of purity. The opposition of clean and unclean is universal and enters a system of classification as an ordering of experiences (M. Douglas). In a more restricted sense, ‘catharsis’ is a medical expression, and denotes a procedure intended t…


(1,419 words)

Author(s): Blaschke, Olaf
The spectrum of the concept ‘Catholicism’ is broad, stretching from a vague understanding to concretely identifiable phenomena. In the widest sense, Catholicism describes the Catholic Church together with all of the manifestations of Catholic Christianity, without spatial or temporal limitation. In the narrowest sense, it is provided with an attribute (for instance, in the expression, ‘political Catholicism’), and denotes functional or ideological segments of a given ‘milieu Catholicism.’ Along …


(1,245 words)

Author(s): Porr, Martin
The Cave as Place of Worship 1. Caves, as places of cultic, ritual or religious actions in the broadest sense, are a worldwide phenomenon. They can neither be circumscribed by a historical period, nor simply connected with particular societal forms. Caves, in all times and on all continents, serve as particular fixed points in the landscape of nature. By way of their natural structure as ‘gates to another world,’ they play an important role in human beings' cultural and mythological interpretation of the environment. Old Stone Age 2. In the section of human history accessible only…


(1,790 words)

Author(s): Tepper, Leo
1. In Western society, sexuality is considered an important component of being human. In most cultures, one's own procreation in one's children is fully as basic a need as a perspective on one's life. When the Catholic Church demands of its priests the unmarried state as a charisma specific to their office, it stands in stark contrast to the values of modernity. The Catholic Church theologically grounds a compelled renunciation of sexuality and family in the unmarried state of Jesus himself. W…


(1,028 words)

Author(s): Kurre, Silvia
Concept 1. Today's denotation of the concept Celtic (from ‘Celts’; Gk., Keltoi, Galatai; Lat., Celtae, Galli), from the soccer team to harp music, can be seen as the product of a lengthy, repeatedly interrupted history of its reception. Generally, the concept designates at least three distinct stocks of content: (a) certain ethnic groupings, (b) an Indo-European language group (Irish, Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton are still actively spoken today), and (c) an archaeological complex in western Middle Europe, distinguished by its synonymous style of art. Antiquity 2. The name Keltoi first…

Celts and Teutons: Time Chart

(2,460 words)

Author(s): Hehn, Georg
Era 1: Pre-Christian Northern Europe 8th-6th cent. BCE Hallstatt culture The Hallstatt Culture, named for a cemetery near Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut, extends from its nucleus to the middle Danube, then across Central Europe. It replaces the Bronze Age Urn-Field Culture. Numerous large grave hills and high forts appear. 4th cent. BCE La Tène culture Influenced by the Scythians, the Greek trading colonies, and the Etruscan culture, the Celtic La Tène Culture stretches to Spain, Northern Italy, and Britain, accompanied by a major social organization, with certain city centers. The V…


(606 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
Surrounded by a wall, and near a church (or even partly within), and enjoying the latter's ‘immunity’ from assault lies the cemetery (Middle English cimiterie, from Lat., coemeterium, Greek koimētērion, and ultimately from koiman, ‘to put to sleep’; compare Ger., Frieden, denoting ‘peace’; cf. Friedhof, ‘cemetery’). Even fugitives seeking asylum could find safety here. The social prestige of the departed is reflected in the choice and form of the burial place. In the course of the nineteenth century, locations of burial were established …

Central America

(1,976 words)

Author(s): Neitzke, Dietmar
Pre-Spanish Time 1. In the pre-Spanish era, the cultural space of Central America, reaching from the region of the Maya to northern Mexico, was a land of rival, hierarchical central states, all nevertheless penetrated by a practically homogeneous religion. Their cities were also cultural centers with temple pyramids in which an influential priesthood celebrated the polytheistic state religion, with its complex rites and rituals, to maintain the fragile cosmic equilibrium. Their rituals were all observed on …

Central and South America: Time Chart

(2,567 words)

Author(s): Drexler, Josef
Era 1: Precolumbian era (c. 15,000 BCE–1492 CE) around 15,000 BCE Settling of America: hunter-gatherer cultures. Phases: Paleo-Indio, formative, era of the regional developments. Shamanism, hunting rituals (cave paintings). Economic base: hunting (deep rain forest). After the end of the last glacier period (c. 5000 BCE), shallower forest. In the case of the coast dwellers, mussel heaps (Puerto Hormiga, in Colombia). Manioc raising. around 1500 BCE–1600 CE Sacred Kazikism of Colombia (Kalima, Quimbaya, Sinú, Tairona, Muisca) Raising the storable vegetable maize makes pos…