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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(1,758 words)

Author(s): Oberlies, Thomas
Definition The expression name indicates a certain category of words that serve to designate persons and groups (peoples, classifications of peoples, families), localities (countries, places, mountains, rivers), things (animals, plants, stars, days of the weak, months and seasons, institutions, colors) and events (Waterloo, Bethlehem) in their individuality and singularity. Proper names ( nomen proprium) refer to individual objects. This distinguishes them from appellatives (and: classifications, nomen appellativum), which denote an entire kind (‘angels,’ ‘dev…

National Socialism

(4,414 words)

Author(s): Behrenbeck, Sabine
1. It is a characteristic of the modern age to have separated, ever since the Enlightenment, the political sphere from the religious (→ Secularization). Laicistic state entities justify their rule by reasonable laws and free elections, not by the divine right of the powers. At the same time, however, politics in the age of mass societies has appealed to a new legitimatization, with the help of which it has expressed → collective representation and identities that were often religious in tone. Se…


(228 words)

Author(s): Polzer, Claudia
The concept of ‘Nativism’ (from Eng., ‘native,’ ‘inborn’ in the sense of ‘one's own’) denotes those religious movements that draw their justification from their own tradition and expressly appeal to it. This tradition can be imaginary. Nativistic currents arise mostly in a situation of colonial oppression, and can also be regarded as a reaction on the part of the colonized to structural, open → violence. The birth of a consciousness of inequality, and the feeling of an existential threat from wi…

Natural Science

(1,490 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
1. Natural science as a subject in a dictionary bearing on religion seems to combine leading concepts of two divided ‘cultures.’ In a framework of European history of religion, not only have ‘religion’ and ‘science’—at first sight—developed in irreversible distinction from each other, but especially the natural sciences have postulated an object of knowledge and sketched a method that seemed to exclude ‘religion’ as a ‘subject.’ Indeed, when both fields undertook to speak on the same matters, their propositions see…


(3,025 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
State of the Problem 1. For the religious dimensions of the relationship between the human being and nature, between human beings and their environment, the seventeenth century offers the decisive reorientation that takes up ancient, medieval, and current positions of a Christian confessionalism. Sketching a religious history of nature also means addressing the question of how the concept of nature has been applied to the structuring of modern discourse on the human being, God, and the world. Modern…

Nature Piety

(717 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Religion in Romanticism 1. Since Schleiermacher's new definition of religion as “contemplation and feeling of the universe,” or as a “sense of and taste for the infinite,” concepts arise that no longer seek to grasp religion only through the definitions of Christian theology—or through its attempted destruction at the hands of criticism of religion—but to ascribe it “its own province in the heart and soul” (Schleiermacher). With this new approach, possibilities open up for the injection of a romant…

New Age

(1,348 words)

Author(s): Hammer, Olav
The Concept The concept ‘New Age’ emerged during the 1970s and 1980s as a common term for a variety of contemporary popular practices and beliefs. Among these one finds an interest in the paranormal, a belief in → reincarnation, methods of healing including varieties of self-improvement and positive thinking, messages putatively revealed from various transcendent sources (a process referred to within the New Age milieu itself as → channeling) and several forms of divination (→ astrology and the tarot in particular). The term itself originally arose in theosophical literature…

New Myths/New Mythologies

(1,289 words)

Author(s): Magin, Ulrich
1. Myths are attempts to comprehend the world. → Myth was still accounted a pre-scientific explanation in the nineteenth century, with its emphatic belief in progress. It now happens that myth can exist contemporaneously with science. Especially today, when science has become so complex that scientists themselves have a difficult time with a general overview, mythologic interpretations of everyday occurrences find great acceptance. Myth gives simple answers, where ratio apparently declines to. (Question: “Why do ships still disappear?” Answer: “The Bermuda Trian…

New Religions

(673 words)

Author(s): von Stuckrad, Kocku
Difficulties of the Concept ‘New religions’ or ‘new religious movements’ is a broadly inclusive term that has emerged in academic discussions to refer to a cornucopia of religious communities entering the scene in the wake of colonialism and—particularly—modernity. The theoretical difficulties are enormous: (1) Just like the → demise of a religion, it is a normal historical and social development that new communities and new forms of religious tradition arise against a background of changing cultura…

New York

(1,377 words)

Author(s): Anselm, Sigrun
From the Dutch Colony to the City of Millions 1. a) Founded as a Dutch colony in 1626, New York was a multi-religious city from the very start. New Amsterdam—as it was called until the English colonists conquered it and renamed it as New York in 1664—had to be grateful for every inhabitant, regardless of origin. The religious history of New York has always been characterized by immigration, and remains so today. First, the great Protestant Denominations established themselves (Reformed Church, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Evangelicals). The…