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.

Subscriptions: see


(281 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
The term ‘holocaust’ was proposed at the beginning of the 1960s by Elie Wiesel, who himself was nearly killed at Auschwitz. This term was intended to designate the unspeakable murder of six million European Jews, whose destruction was bureaucratically organized and industrially executed. Although the term originated in America, it has become current in Europe especially through the American media. The Greek word holókaustos is a translation of a term from the Hebrew Bible meaning ‘wholly burned’ or ‘burnt offering’ and describing the type of sacrifice in wh…


(369 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar
The word ‘holy,’ or ‘sacred,’ denotes an area completely bounded off from the everyday (‘profane’), and simply never to be available to the human being. Accordingly, special rules are in force for dealing with sacred objects, buildings, and persons. A type of theory of the Holy attributes the latter to other quantities, for example, sociologically to society (Durkheim), or to aggression (Girard) in anthropological sociology. On the other hand, the Holy can be conceived as a category of its own, incapable of reduction, as in the pheno…

Holy War

(351 words)

Author(s): Rüpke, Jörg
The concept of the holy war is customarily associated with the thought of a war whose basis or justification is religious in a special way. The connection between ‘holy war’ and ‘holy struggle’ was coined by poets of the time of the wars of liberation against Napoleon, especially Ernst Moritz Arndt (1769–1860). The fact that, after the Enlightenment and the Revolution of 1789, war is presented as holy, rests not on the fact that it was (only) then that the church appealed to war, but on the fact that…


(1,518 words)

Author(s): Lang, Sabine
Homosexuality—sexual acts between two persons of the same sex—is found today all over the world, in a multiplicity of societies, and is also historically attested for many cultures. The sources give information principally on male homosexuality. Religious Rejection of Homosexual Activity: the Judeo-Christian Tradition 1. The stance regarding homosexual conduct is very different in different cultures and religions. In many religious traditions, homosexual behavior is subjected to a negative appraisal, as, for example, in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the Hebrew Bible…


(1,347 words)

Author(s): Tepper, Leo
Private Domain 1. a) Doubtless there is no society, however simple it be, without some kind of ‘housing.’ The form of the house is dependent on such factors as climate, environment, societal form (nomadic or sedentary), and social position. In Western societies, the house is the place at which many spend most of the day. The house is the territory of the individual's or family's private sphere. Other rules can prevail there than in public. The erection of the house is a copy of one's own self, and any changes or additions will suit the taste of the people livi…


(180 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
There are various nuances to the term ‘humanism’ which arise out of its diverse uses throughout European history. The Renaissance has often been characterized as the age of humanism because of its fascination with and idealization of human achievement in the literature, philosophy, and art of antiquity, which were then being re-discovered. As an ideological continuation of this trend, humanism came to signify a belief in the value and dignity of the human being and an optimistic image of humanit…

Human Rights

(4,237 words)

Author(s): Bielefeldt, Heiner
1. The purpose of human rights is to win political and juridical acknowledgment, and to afford effective protection, in a specifically modern manner, of the dignity and liberty of every human being. An example from recent times: In July 1998, Ruholla Rohani, a member of → Baha'i, was executed in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Over the preceding years, several members of the post-Islamic religious community of Baha'i had been sentenced to death in Iran on grounds of apostasy from Islam. It is not only members of religious minori…

Human Sacrifice

(1,507 words)

Author(s): Hensel, Sabine
1. Under ‘human sacrifice’ is understood the killing of a human being—or the use of human blood, flesh, bones—as a cultic offering or → sacrifice, that is, a sacrifice for ritual purposes. The concept of human sacrifice merely denotes the material of the sacrifice more exactly: the intent and external form of sacrificial procedures can be very different. Common to them is the meaning of the renunciation or alienation of the sacrificial material. As a ritual act, (human) sacrifice is usually part…