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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God/Gods/The Sacred

(3,221 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz
1. Should one seek to apply the expression ‘God,’ ‘the Sacred,’ or ‘the Holy,’ academically, one would first have to become clear on the presuppositions involved. The Christian tradition has long opposed the one true God to the many false gods, first those of antiquity. God is essentially a ‘person,’ that is, a ‘vis-à-vis.’ The concept of God implies evaluations (true/false, good/bad) and a distinction between monotheism and polytheism. The one excludes alternatives, and the other presupposes them. This classification underwent a relativization in the Renaissance. Antiquity then…


(432 words)

Author(s): Haydt, Claudia
The golem (Hebr., ‘unformed mass’), a figure from Jewish folk mythology, is an artificial anthropoid, whose magical creation is attributed in most literary sources to historical Rabbi Loew (c. 1512–1609). The origin of the legend of the golem is difficult to trace. Its first mentions (in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries) refer to a golem narrative said to date from the fourth century BCE. The key setting of the presentation of the golem is most often a situation of need or persecution among …


(3,689 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
Secular and Religious Power 1. a) As Jesus is interrogated before Pilate as to whether he has planned an overthrow of Roman rule, the Roman governor asks him: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answers (in John 18:33–19:30): “My kingdom is not of this world.” The philosophically trained general presses the higher ruler of the world, as he has understood things, to defend himself; however, the latter does not see the meaning of his mission in the preservation of his life: “You would have no power …


(558 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
The grave or tomb is a place of repose for the dead, and a station along their journey. It has (1) the character of a defense in their regard, inasmuch as it preserves them from desecration by persons, from devastation by animals or natural catastrophes, and from hurtful assaults by demons: inscriptions or protective symbols reinforce this aspect. It has (2) a function of security for the living: the dead are kept in the tomb lest, frightening and terrorizing, they be able to penetrate the realm…

Group, religious

(3,682 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
1. With few exceptions, religions have always been a social phenomenon. The forms of their community formation and societal nature, as well as their types of social organization, are worthy of inquiry. Individual paths, such as those of hermits, or pillar-dwellers, or mystics, are to be found at least in all differentiated religions. The significance of these “religious virtuosi” (M. Weber) for the shaping of concepts of the saints, for example, and the significance of the paths to salvation tha…


(1,243 words)

Author(s): von Soosten, Joachim
Category “Guilt” 1. The essential notes of the category of guilt are two. For one, ‘guilt’ evinces the person as the author of a delinquency to whom the consequences of his or her actions must be ascribed even beyond the concrete deed. For another, ‘guilt’ indicates the instances before which the person becomes guilty. Guilt stands the person before a court of justice—God, others, and one's own ego (→ Conscience)—before which his or her responsibility can be established and attributed for the consequences of an act or omission. This attribut…


(1,305 words)

Author(s): von Somm, Christian
1. Derived from the Sanskrit root for ‘heavy,’ ‘mighty,’ guru denotes an outstanding religious personality and teacher—originally one's natural → father, who undertook the religious education of his son, taught him parts of the Veda (→ Hinduism), and arranged his → rites of passage ( saṃskāra). Soon, however, religious specialists undertook these duties as ācārya (‘teacher’) gurus, who instructed the sons of the upper three → castes ( varṇa) in the Vedic literature, in religious and socially (ethically) correct comportment, as well as in profane subjects. Through fulfillment of the d…