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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(1,778 words)

Author(s): Reichert, Andreas
Name 1. The name ‘Bible’ comes from the name of the city Byblos, the most important transshipment port for Egyptian papyrus on the eastern coast of the Levant. From this name the word biblion is derived—the Greek word for the written page of papyrus, as well as for the scroll or book which it composes. The plural, bíblia, usually meant all sacred and liturgical books, and was adopted by the Christians restrictively, as the name denoting their canonical writings. Now it could be used in Latin as a singular: biblia, ‘the book,’ simply, the ‘book of books’ or ‘writing of writings,’ sac…


(2,769 words)

Author(s): Engels, Eve-Marie
Need of a Bioethical Orientation Bioethics is one of the main fields of interdisciplinary applied ethics. Its aim is to gain a normative understanding of the scope and limits of human interference with nature, including human life. As an academic discipline, but also as an area of public as well as institutionalized reflection, bioethics proper began to establish itself in the 1960s. Undesirable consequences of industrial and technological developments, along with the generation of ever-new methods f…


(1,491 words)

Author(s): Rippl, Gabriele
General 1. The concept, ‘biography’ (Gk., ‘description of a life’), is not a univocal one. It is the name for inscriptions on ancient tombstones and for literary or scientific presentations of the entire life of a well-known person. The concept of biographical writing also includes shorter life-descriptions (vitae; pl. of Lat. vita, ‘life’), memoirs, and autobiographies. Biographical writing is closely tied to given conceptualizations of individuality. In function of a particular historical or cultural context, a biography can either show homoge…


(1,070 words)

Author(s): Hensel, Sabine
1. ‘Birth,’ also known as confinement (‘lying-in’) or delivery (i.e., liberation) is often understood purely as a biological occurrence: the expulsion of a child from the uterus at the close of pregnancy. Over against this reductionist view, birth can be conceptualized as a ‘biosocial’ event—a biological event imbedded in the social processes of an immediate or extended family, and whose form and process are specific to a particular culture. Birth is everywhere understood as an extraordinary eve…


(1,371 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar
Blasphemy (Gk., blasphemía, ‘abuse’ e.g., verbal; also ‘abuse of God’) is disparagement of God. The status of blasphemy is indicated in Jewish and Roman law themselves. It was adopted by the medieval imperial and canonical codes from Justinian's Novels 77 (c. 540 CE). The concept is marked by the European legal tradition, and, to a lesser degree, by the monotheistic notion of God. Its generalization is therefore not unproblematic. For the sake of a specification of the concept in religious studies, these origins are first rendered explicit,1 and then abstract criteria are drawn u…


(341 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
While prayer expresses wishes in one's own or another's behalf, blessing expresses God's benevolent power ( salus, ‘salvation’) upon others. The Aaronite blessing, with which Christian divine service is concluded, expresses blessing not solely as wish, but at the same time as fulfillment: the minister or priest confers it upon the other in God's name (“The Lord bless you,” Num 6:21–27). He bestows his name upon Aaron, brother of lawgiver Moses, since the former is the model for all later priests. The authoritat…


(1,579 words)

Author(s): von Braun, Christina
Blood as the Seat of Life 1. The meaning of blood as the seat of life, and as the repository of the power of the soul, explains the pivotal role of blood in many religions, archaic and lettered alike. Here blood has an ambivalent meaning that can promise good or danger, life or death, and thus it is akin to the concept of ‘The Holy,’ which denotes all that is filled with special power. The early Teutonic word haila was the name for powers that can be useful as well as harmful. This ambivalence is revealed in the very etymology of the word ‘blood,’ which derives from the Indo-European bhle (‘pour,’ ‘bur…