The Brill Dictionary of Religion

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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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→ Sunday/Sabbath Bibliography


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Author(s): Drexler, Josef
1. On New Year's Eve, on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, toilet articles for women, champagne, mineral water, white corn pudding, or flowers are placed in the water. It is the festival of the Sea Goddess Yamanjá (see picture), one of the most meaningful feasts in the life of the Afro-Brazilian population. The breakers carry the gifts out to sea, and then the people have assurance that their gifts have been acceptable to the goddess, and that their hope for the granting of their requests is justified.1 Still more ‘exciting,’ however, to the Western observer and the media, are the ri…


(984 words)

Author(s): Gietz, Karl-Peter
1. Derived from the Sanskrit verb sadh (‘to attain,’ ‘to perfect’ or ‘to improve’), sadhu is the designation for holy men (and/or, rarely, women) in India. Any religious ascetic or holy person can be called a sadhu. In the more proper sense, sadhus are initiates of various ascetical orders, who either live in settlements ( matha) similar to monasteries, or wander about homeless. Although most of these orders, like Indian religions across the board (→ Hinduism), can be considered as Shivaites or Vishnuites, in their religious practices many traits of…

Salvation Army

(1,120 words)

Author(s): Czerny, Astrid
William Booth 1. The Salvation Army goes back to the former Methodist preacher William Booth (1829–1912). In view of the enormous misery—including moral misery—and great alienation from religion, of the inhabitants of the poor quarters of East London, Booth saw the need for a radical spiritual conversion. Economic and social circumstances were depressing, especially in districts of industrial concentration, and were characterized by great material poverty. Large areas of the population were plunge…


(1,453 words)

Author(s): Brodbeck, Gabi
Salvation and Disaster 1. a) Extra-worldly and intra-worldly salvation: Any striving for salvation is a quest for an ideal condition, a ‘better world.’ It presupposes the experience of the contrary, of ‘disaster,’ as with war, imprisonment, sickness, or even simply the finitude, the limitedness, of life. One hopes to be freed, rescued, or redeemed, in a lasting or eternal condition delivered from such disaster. Over against a reality felt and experienced as imperfect, a perfect world is set, (1) which, …

Santiago de Compostela

(1,327 words)

Author(s): Hassauer, Friederike
Center of Europe at the End of the World 1. As a place of pilgrimage, a city, a diocese, and later, an archdiocese, in Galicia in the Northwest of Spain, Santiago de Compostela, along with and in rivalry with the far older centers of Rome and Jerusalem, is to be numbered among the three most important centers of extended pilgrimage ( peregrinatio maior) of Western Christianity. The pilgrims' goal is the supposed tomb of Apostle James the Greater, who as ‘Sant'Yago’ gives his name to the city of Santiago. The legendary discovery/creation of the Apostle's gr…


(1,441 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Joachim
Satan in Christian Theology 1. The notion of Satan was coined by Christian theology; in the course of the last two centuries, however, an independent Satanism has developed that can no longer adequately be described through only theological approaches. In terms of religious history, the forerunners of the Christian doctrine of Satan, as well as of explicit Satanism, can be considered to be Iranian → dualism, ancient Hebrew demonology (→ Demon/Demonology), and → gnosticism. The Christian image of Sat…


(1,421 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Stefan
Faith/Reason 1. Definition, eras, and main currents: a) In the abstract, the principal theme of scholasticism (from Lat. schola, ‘school’) may be regarded to be the relationship between ‘reason’ and ‘Christian faith,’ or, better, the tension between the principles of faith and the requirements of rationality. A comprehensive material definition understands scholasticism as the totality of the sciences established in the European Middle Ages, which, with theology and philosophy, also included mathematics and the s…


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Author(s): Oexle, Otto Gerhard
Knowledge, Science, Research 1. ‘Science’ (from Lat., scientia ‘knowledge’; cf. German Wissenschaft, Dutch wetenschap, etc.) is a form of → knowledge, distinguished from everyday knowledge, the knowledge of the ‘ordinary man,’ in two respects. For one, it is systematic: that is, it orders knowledge, creates connections, and promotes it to a completeness and integrity. For another, it reflects upon the conditions of its knowledge. In the history of cultures, including those of the European West, there are sev…

Science Fiction

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Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Mythic Reports 1. Mythic reports of gods and heroes, such as Gilgamesh, Odysseus, or Thoth, who had come to the boundaries of the world and of their own existence, have, over millennia, formed the narrative style that connects a mythic geography with reflections on ‘other gods and other persons.’ The fundamental enclosure of the traditional world thus remains preserved, even if, in journeys to the beyond, and heaven, or to ‘new realms,’ frontiers are overcome in narrative, and new spaces of existe…


(1,722 words)

Author(s): Rink, Steffen
1. Lafayette Ron Hubbard (1911–1984), active in the 1940s as a → science-fiction writer, in 1950 published a bestselling book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, in which he set forth a model for the analysis and healing of psychic sufferings. It has remained a component of Scientology to this day. According to the (etymologically erroneous) asseverations of Scientology, dianetics derives from the Greek dia-, ‘through,’ and nous, ‘soul,’ ‘mind.’ The aim of dianetics is to detect and remove ‘engrams’—mental/spiritual images impressed into the soul/min…


(1,250 words)

Author(s): Boneberg, Hemma
Secrecy as an Evolutionary Strategy 1. Secrecy is a strategy developed by evolution, in the case of beast and human alike within the biological food chain, that attains an elevated degree of individual opportunities and possibilities for survival and reproduction by way of the accumulation of various informational prospects. The person or animal with a successful disguise does not become prey, the one that hides his/her/its food survives times of want, the creature of restrained impulses and hidden intents …


(1,120 words)

Author(s): Remus, Babett
Concept 1. In antiquity, the concept ‘sect’ (from Lat., sequi, ‘to follow’; free translation of Gk. haíresis, ‘choice,’ → Heresy) served to denote the followers of a philosopher; in republican Rome, it was also used for political followings. In Acts 24:5 (cf. 24:14), the concept appears in connection with the High Priest's indictment of Paul before the Roman governor as “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Christianity adopted the concept ‘sect’ quite early. The term denoted the members of a community a…


(1,404 words)

Author(s): Kehrer, Günter
Concept 1. The term ‘secularization’ can represent either of two distinct concepts, as it denotes either of two distinct events. One of the latter is any process either of ‘making worldly’ or ‘becoming worldly,’ while the other refers to the state appropriation of church property. ‘Secularization’ has a somewhat different meaning in the legal terminology of the Catholic Church, where it has its place in the distinction between ‘order’ priests and ‘secular’ priests or deacons, and denotes the juri…


(1,431 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Needs for Security 1. From prehistoric times, security and shelter from the hardships of nature, from threats by hostile animals and human enemies, and from the risks of illness and death, have been among the key concerns of cultural practice. As civilizing and cultural achievements have multiplied, certain elements of security and expectations of safety, in various areas of that civilization and culture, have multiplied as well, and determinable risks have been reduced. Attire and housing, nutriti…


(1,419 words)

Author(s): Dober, Hans Martin
1. The word ‘sermon’ denotes that form of religious → communication fitted to the condition of public discourse. Sermon forms in this sense are found especially in the book religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In the Christian tradition, the sermon is usually incorporated into the liturgical connection of a divine service, for the purpose of strengthening the certitude of faith entertained by the audience, as well as to provide an orientation in various life situations. History of the Christian Sermon 2. In its historical origin, one of the orientations of the Christ…


(4,169 words)

Author(s): Grieser, Alexandra
An Approximation: Sexuality in Myth 1. The relationships between sexuality and religion appear on many levels, and are reciprocal. On the one side, religions have a powerful effect on the meaning of sexuality and gender roles in a society (→ Gender Stereotypes), and on the other, sexuality is a key theme in religious systems of interpretation. Especially, the myths of the various religions illustrate the complex meaning of sexuality as a frontier between ‘nature’ and ‘culture,’ and their close connec…