The Brill Dictionary of Religion

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Edited by: Kocku von Stuckrad

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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(162 words)

Author(s): Bernard, Jutta
The fool, as ‘fool pope’ and ‘boy-bishop’ (or ‘ass-bishop’), was closely connected with Christmas (‘feast of the innocent children’). He was at once a figure of protest and a symbol of Christ, who entered Jerusalem on an ass, and later was crowned as ‘king of fools.’ Thus, in the Middle Ages the fool functioned as antitype of the ruler (the fool-scepter presented a contrast with the ruler's staff); as part of a ‘topsy-turvy world,’ he might ‘tell the truth’ (as still today, in the European carni…

Forest / Tree

(1,579 words)

Author(s): Pieschel, Ursula
Tree and Forest as Place of Worship and as Symbol 1. Trees and forests had been a component of cultic practice since time immemorial. A distinction must be made between ‘sacred trees’ and constructions such as the world tree, trees of life, ancestor trees, and tree diagrams. All of these forms can be read as an expression of an individual or a societal self-communication. There are contrary ascriptions of meaning, however. The tree can symbolize either the cyclic renewal of life and fertility, and thereby…

Francis of Assisi

(1,357 words)

Author(s): Feld, Helmut
1. Francis (1181/82–1226) is more than just one more saint in the Christian ‘pantheon.’ His importance for the history of religion and culture reaches far beyond the communities of the Franciscan Order and the Catholic Church, and was rediscovered at the end of the nineteenth century by Protestant theologian Paul Sabatier ( Vie de Saint François d'Assise; Fr., “Life of Saint Francis of Assisi”; 1894) and art historian Henry Thode ( Franz von Assisi und die Kunst der Renaissance in Italien; Germ., “Francis of Assisi and Renaissance Art in Italy”; 1885) for a middle-class sec…

Freedom of Religion

(314 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
Freedom of religion is to be distinguished from religious → tolerance. Religious tolerance is accorded the followers of another cult, and of deviant conceptualizations of belief. Meanwhile, since the French → Revolution of 1789, religious freedom represents a constitutionally guaranteed right of every citizen, and is limited only by laws that are valid for every citizen. Article 18 of the United Nations' “Declaration of Human Rights” states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscie…


(2,461 words)

Author(s): Rogers, Matthew D.
General Characteristics of Freemasonry 1. Freemasonry (or Masonry) is a traditional fraternal society that was developed on the basis of the customs and conventions of late medieval stonemasons. Its standard definition among contemporary Masons is “a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols” (Knoop/Jones 1947, 9). Freemasonry was the prototype of many modern social and fraternal organizations, and it has been accorded a fair level of undeserved notoriety as a paradi…

Freud, Sigmund

(1,016 words)

Author(s): Palmer, Gesine | Zinser, Hartmut
1. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, was born May 6, 1856 in Freiberg (Mähren), and died September 23, 1939 in London. He studied medicine from 1873 to 1881. In 1885 he was named Privatdozent (unsalaried university lecturer) for nervous diseases, and received a travel stipend that placed him in a position to study hysterical phenomena, especially their generation through hypnotic suggestion, for some five months, at the Salpetriere, Paris, with Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893). The impres…


(1,224 words)

Author(s): von Reibnitz, Barbara
The Problem 1. Statement of the problem: Friendship is a type of social relationship bearing distinct impresses in the various societies, and not a religious phenomenon. In its historical manifestations, however, in the concepts to which it has its orientation, and in the patterns of behavior in which it is realized, friendship exhibits multiple connections with religion and religious history. The group relationships that it shapes follow the pattern of religious societies (founder, fusion among membe…


(3,436 words)

Author(s): Harwazinski, Assia Maria
State of Question 1. The term and concept of fundamentalism are employed to designate various groups from the most widely varied areas. As a self-description, it is expressed with a certain pride, while as a designation for others it is usually pejorative. Originating in the religious context, it has meanwhile been taken over into the area of the political. It does not enunciate what fundamentalism ultimately is, as there is no such thing as fundamentalism plain and simple: it is a double-faced phe…


(1,330 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
1. a) The purpose of a funeral is not only the ritual removal of the corpse, but also the ritual defeat or management of the experience of death and separation. The funeral ritual fulfills several functions in these categories. With reference to the dead, it excludes them, and sets them in their new context (the smoke of the funeral pyre indicates the route of the soul to the beyond; the grave marks the departed one's new residence and abode). But it can also render the memory of the dead a public affair, or account for the…