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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(262 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar
1. The word ‘taboo’ comes from the Polynesian tápu and denotes, on one hand, a prohibition by which an object is withdrawn from everyday use, and on the other, the object itself. A taboo can pertain to gods, human beings, bodily parts, objects, types of relationship, words, areas or regions, or, for example, a tribe. Depending on who prescribes it—for example a chief or a transcendent power—the nature of the obligation, and in case of transgression the severity of the punishment, can oscillate. A taboo can also be removed. 2. At first, conceptions of the taboo were researched region…


(5,043 words)

Author(s): Deines, Roland
The Talmud as a Compendium of Jewish Life and Teaching 1. “The Talmud and all of its expansions form the backbone of Jewish tradition.”1 The Talmud (Heb., talmud, ‘study,’ ‘instruction,’ ‘doctrine’) is appropriately described as the compendium of the life and teaching of Judaism since the end of ancient times. More narrowly, this is true only of the Babylonian Talmud, so called from the place of its emergence in the Jewish academies of Sura and Pumbedita in Babylonia, from the fifth to the early eighth century. This text is what “ the Talmud” usually indicates. The Jerusalem, or Pales…

Tantra I: Hindu

(1,490 words)

Author(s): Gengnagel, Jörg
Concept 1. Tantra (Skt., ‘woven chain,’ ‘web,’ ‘instruction book’) denotes, in general, a pathway of practices along which ritual, corporeal, and mental techniques are applied, in order to obtain, in one's lifetime, extraordinary capacities ( siddhi) or deliverance from all worldly conditions ( mukti). Elements of the Tantra are found in various religions, as in the Hindu systems of Shivaism, Vishnuism, and Shaktism, as well as in → Buddhism (→ Tantra II). The Tantra, then, is not an independent religion, but an articulation, usually sec…

Tantra II: Buddhist

(1,161 words)

Author(s): Lovász, Stephanie | Hüge, Ursula
1. As it does in Hinduism, ‘Tantra’ in Buddhism denotes a system of texts that appeared in India in the second half of the first millennium, and that represent the groundwork of ‘esoteric Buddhism.’ The oldest texts date from around the fifth century CE. According to Buddhist Tantric tradition, the Tantras date back to the historical → Buddha or his pupils. Not all Buddhist schools acknowledge the Tantras, however. The texts are based on the foundation of the Mahayana philosophy (esp. Mādhyamika), and integrate an elaborate ritualistics, magical practices, and elements of → …


(1,095 words)

Author(s): Drexler, Josef
1. ‘Tattoo,’ from the East Polynesian tatau, to ‘strike correctly,’ denotes a pattern, image, or ornament, scratched, pricked, or struck through the human epidermis. With scar tattooing, used especially with darker skin, the skin is seared or scratched with an instrument (fragment of stone, bamboo or bone knife, razor-blade). Healing is delayed (rubbing in of ashes, clay), in order that a pattern of swelling may emerge. With color or pricking tattooing (used especially with fair skin), dyed material is brought in contact with, and introduced under, the epidermis t…


(420 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Georg
The word ‘teleology,’ formed from the Greek télos (‘end,’ ‘goal,’ ‘purpose,’ ‘completion’) and lógos (‘word,’ ‘reason,’ ‘teaching’), was originally a coinage by philosopher Christian Wolff (1679–1754). His neologism was based on the thought of the ‘purpose,’ or ‘final cause’ of a thing, which Aristotle had conceptualized in a framework of his doctrine of the four causes. Accordingly, the point of departure of teleological thought is the goal-directedness, or purposefulness, of changes or processes. As early as Homer's Iliad, a similar motif is to be found in the form of …


(1,016 words)

Author(s): Bernard, Jutta
Elements of Televangelism 1. ‘Tele-church,’ or ‘electronic church,’ designates a North American phenomenon, and denotes the evangelization of believers, with the assistance of the medium of television, by preachers who are usually from the conservative Protestant camp. This programming is the basis of another term, ‘televangelism.’ Various elements are presupposed for this special form of interior missionizing, or, better, ‘awakening.’ The principal elements in question are: • A special religious tradition is supported by a particular conceptualization of salvatio…


(2,582 words)

Author(s): Bernard, Jutta
Religion and Television 1. Between appropriation and criticism: The Christian churches have always made use of the various means available to them for the extension of their concerns, in every phase of the development of cultural techniques. They have not failed to participate in the emergence of television as the principal transmitter of social and cultural identity, and vehicle of everyday culture. In Germany, it was only six months after the first experimental radio broadcast of a popular concert on…


(2,331 words)

Author(s): Scheffler, Thomas
1. The word ‘terror’ (Lat., terror) designates fear and horror, whether or not intended. Terrorism, on the other hand, is a label for strategies that consciously introduce terror in order to reach goals extrinsic to it. It is a matter of a kind of ‘symbolical violence’ or ‘force’ (→ Conflict/Violence). The actual intended objects of terrorism are less the persons directly affected, or their pain, than those in whom the pain or fear of terror inspires its own terror; this result is an ulterior intent in the mi…


(1,156 words)

Author(s): Wolf, Jürgen
Discovery of the Teutons in Romanticism 1. a) The early nineteenth century's emphasis on appreciating one's own people and history resulted in a rediscovery not only of the Middle Ages, but also Teutonic prehistory. Research into the folktale, popular sagas, and folk usages began during this time. Jacob Grimm (1785–1863) attempted to expose ancient, concealed folk material, and thereby, presumably, to meet with a plethora of pagan relics of pre-Christian times. This work, however, has been surpassed by today's scholarship. In the popularization of ancient Teutonic myths ( Walhall, …

Text/Textual Criticism

(2,031 words)

Author(s): Eichner, Heidrun
1. The word ‘text’ derives from the Latin textus, ‘tissue,’ and then acquires the meaning, still familiar today, of a supply of linguistic signs written down and gathered in a ‘work’ or textual corpus—a manuscript, a novel, a sermon, a sacred writing such as the → Bible or the → Qur'an. The rhetorical concept of ‘text’ was coined by Roman orator Quintilian, first in the sense of an ‘address connection’ (9, 4, 13), in his influential work Institutio Oratoria (c. 95 CE). Humanistic philology adopted this concept, and applied it to the object of its work: a ‘text’ became tha…