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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(3,643 words)

Author(s): Prohl, Inken
Illness as a Social Construct 1. ‘Illness’ denotes actual or perceived disturbances of the body, mind, or soul, accompanied by hardship, pain, alterations of body or mind, and a transformed perception of self and the environment. Illness and health are not, however, only bodily and mental facts; they are also social constructs. Which bodily or mental alterations are interpreted as illness, the origins of illness, and how illness is to be healed, all depend on the conceptions of a given society and hi…


(2,007 words)

Author(s): Engelbart, Rolf
Definitions 1. ‘Image,’ or ‘picture,’ in its broadest meaning is any presentation that—unlike the concept—presupposes and addresses sensory → perception and experience. In current speech, what is designated is first and foremost the visual presentation of things on a surface; in this perspective, the concept of the speech image is itself to be understood as imagery. Etymologically, ‘picture’ is from the Latin pictura, which in turn comes from pictus, ‘painted.’ ‘Image’ is derived from the Latin root imag-, ‘image,’ ‘copy’; it is related to our Latin-derived ‘emulate.’ In…


(1,199 words)

Author(s): Treml, Martin
1. ‘Immortality’ denotes an eternal duration of life, an existence without end and death. Principally, it counts as a characteristic of God or the gods, and constitutes one of the most important differences between their existence and that of human beings,1 who are therefore called ‘mortals.’ However, there are various approaches and transitions. The gods can die—only after a very long life, granted—as they, too (e.g. in certain Eastern religions), are caught in the chain of rebirths ( samsara). In addition, most religions celebrate extraordinary persons, who are snatched…

Indian Subcontinent

(2,980 words)

Author(s): Schweer, Thomas
Well over a billion people, of various languages and cultures, live together on the Indian subcontinent. Cohabitation of cultures and religions is astonishingly peaceful, and conflicts are the exception. It is not only religious groups as such that jostle one another, Hindus crowding against Muslims, Sikhs, and Tamils; confrontations cut through the religions themselves, as, for instance, in Hinduism, when nationalists see India's identity as embodied in religion, while liberal forces set their …

Indian Subcontinent: Festal Calendar

(705 words)

Author(s): Keul, István
Festal Calendar Feasts in Hinduism (selection) The feasts in the diagram (clockwise): New Year, the day of the last new moon before the spring equinox (in the year 2000, April 5). The Ninth of Rama ( Ramanavani, on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Caitra): in temples of Rama and Vishnu, Rama's birthday is celebrated. The Guru's Full Moon ( Gurupurnima, Ashada, 15, bright): veneration of the Guru. The Fifth of the Serpent ( Nagapancami, Shravana, 5, bright): the Nagas (serpentine divinities) are reverenced. The Binding of the Guardian Band ( Rakshabandhana), Shravana, 15, br…

Indian Subcontinent: Time Chart

(1,386 words)

Era 1: Pre-Vedic Era (until c. 1500 BCE) c. 6000 BCE Settlements in Baluchistan Finds in the Neolithic Age (stone weapons, painted and unpainted clay vessels) attest to cattle-raising and soil cultivation. c. 2500–1500 Indus Culture: Flourishing Moment and Late Phase In the industrial (Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro) and in other regions (Punjab and Gujarat), a culture around several cities, to some extent thickly settled (up to 40,000 inhabitants), with a developed infrastructure (irrigation and canals, streets; houses of ‘standardized’ bricks or tiles, …


(1,412 words)

Author(s): Jebens, Holger
One Religion, 300 Cultures 1. The Indonesian archipelago comprises more than 13,000 islands, and forms two bridges: between the Asian mainland and the Australian continent, and between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Of the more than 190 million persons who make the Republic of Indonesia the state with the fourth-largest population in the world, a scant ninety percent profess Islam: thus, more Muslims live in Indonesia than in any other nation in the world. This observation draws attention, however, …

Industrial Society

(1,062 words)

Author(s): Klöcker, Michael
Concepts and Contexts 1. Since the Second World War, the concept of the industrial society has become a broadly accepted earmark of that technologically and economically highly developed society that has replaced the primarily agricultural and laboring ‘pre-industrial' society in North America and Europe, just as, increasingly, in the countries of the ‘Third World’ as well. The denomination indicates, first and foremost, the dominant importance of the industrial method of production. In this method, a technic…


(1,491 words)

Author(s): Brunotte, Ulrike
Concept 1. The word ‘initiation’ derives from the Latin initium, ‘entry,’ which also denotes ‘introduction’ or, precisely, ‘initiation.’ With the Romans, initia became a term for participation in Mysteries (→ Antiquity). The concept generally denominates a series of ritual acts, behavioral precepts, and instructions, ‘staging’ and creation of a radical transformation of the social and religious status of an individual or group (→ Ritual). It can refer to such varied forms as collective initiation into an age group, …


(1,703 words)

Author(s): Tschacher, Werner
The term ‘Inquisition’ (Lat., inquisitio, ‘investigation’), denotes (1) a rational and reasonable juridical process in ecclesiastical law developed in the course of the thirteenth century, (2) an ecclesiastical office for the combating of → heresy, existing from 1231 to 1965, and (3) a symbol of religious or state intolerance and repression of dissidents and outsiders in a society. The Inquisition Process 1. The inquisition process was conceived by Pope Innocent III, between 1198 and 1213, as a new form of disciplinary procedure against clerics. A materia…


(609 words)

Author(s): Klosinski, Gunther
‘Insanity’ and ‘Delusion’ 1. The term ‘insanity’ no longer exists in recent international systems of psychiatric classification. There is, on the other hand, the concept of delusion, which can occur either (a) as a functional illusory disturbance (‘paranoia’), or (b) with diseases of the schizophrenic group, and further, (c) as an organic illusory disturbance occurring with illnesses of the brain (tumor, inflammation of the brain), or (d) as an induced psychotic disturbance through the ingestion of psychotropic substance…

Intellectual Religion

(1,193 words)

Author(s): Ulbricht, Justus H.
1. Intellectuals are customarily deemed to be advocates of a rationalistic, enlightened, and secular understanding of the world, and consequently the sheerest imaginable contrast to the religious person. However, aside from the fact that members of educated classes have at all times been (co-) formers of religious thought and the corresponding practice (→ priests, monks, clergy, theologians, highly educated laity), there have also always existed religious concepts that have been specially drafted, believed, and rationally attested by educated persons. History 2. Discourse u…


(1,116 words)

Author(s): Kathöfer, Karin
Market Economy/Solidarity 1. ‘Interest’ (from Lat., interesse, ‘be between’—here, the ‘difference’ between two amounts of money) is profit from a loan, that is, from the deposit of monetary capital for a determinate time. With the emergence of a united currency market, the legitimacy of the charging of interest is scarcely discussed any longer; but the demand that the interest owed by the countries of the so-called Third World be condoned in a ‘Jubilee Year 2000’ harks back to an ancient religious dem…


(2,708 words)

Author(s): Gietz, Peter | Tietze, Dierk
1. For millennia, human beings have applied the effect of various materials, primarily of vegetable origin, to their central nervous systems with varying intent: to alleviate pain, to intensify sensory perception, to calm or stimulate themselves, to invoke visions, or to have euphoric and spiritual experiences. The special physiological effect of this sort of ‘intoxicant’ results from the fact that it impacts certain mechanisms of the human brain: these materials often work on the sleeping-wakin…

Introduction: The Academic Study of Religion—Historical and Contemporary Issues*

(13,230 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph | Mohr, Hubert
* Introductory remark: The following survey is an attempt to present scientific trends and different schools and styles of research that have either been characteristic of the academic study of religion over the past century or that have recently entered upon the scene but have nevertheless already had an effect on religious research. This is, therefore, a study of the typical and the paradigmatic (which is not to imply that another approach would have been qualitatively inferior, this is simp…


(198 words)

Author(s): Bäumer, Michael
Ever since ancient times, ‘intuition’ (from the Latin intueri, ‘look at,’ ‘consider’) has denoted mental gaze and objective inspiration—the immediate, holistic knowledge or experience of things and facts, by contrast with mediated, discursive knowledge. Considered psychologically, ‘intuition’ means the spontaneous grasp of the connections of reality. ‘Brainstorming,’ for example, represents a procedure for the stimulation of creative thinking. It is through intuition, according to (1) Plato, that we come to know or experience the ultimate ‘Ideas’ by wh…