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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(679 words)

Author(s): Bernard, Jutta
The concept ‘oracle’ (from Lat., oraculum; from orare, ‘to speak’) is strongly marked by the ancient system of prophecy. It designates, as a way of entering into contact and → communication with gods or powers, two meanings: (1) the ‘verdict,’ or answer of the deity to a concrete question, usually posed in a received formulation; and (2) the place where this sentence is pronounced, usually in ‘sacred’ locales, such as springs or glades. Thus, oracles are always the phenomenon of a particular place (as …

Oral Tradition

(2,353 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
One could say that Western culture is coming to the end of a phase in its history, which has been characterized by literacy and the dominance of the written texts. Technologies like telephone and radio as well as computers controlled by speech contribute to the rise of a new type of oral tradition, as do cultural trends toward deviating from traditional prescribed texts or agendas, such as the value placed on improvisation in → music, → theater and religious services. The current emphasis on → d…


(618 words)

Author(s): Bechmann, Hendrik
Concept 1. The term ‘religious order’ (from Lat., ordo) denotes a union of women or men in a community that obligates itself, most commonly according to determinate rules, to live together permanently or for a given time, and usually under a superior. Shutting out familial or societal areas, they devote themselves primarily to religious activities. The order community here functions as a second family, which is often made clear by the adoption of a new name. As they constitute a sign that is visible to …


(1,507 words)

Author(s): Kuske, Silvia | Czerny, Astrid
Exotism 1. The term ‘exoticism’ (from Gk., exotikós, ‘foreign-style’) denotes a certain manner of confrontation with foreign cultures. The latter are perceived as distant—whether temporally, spatially, or socially—and as different from one's own culture. This presumes, on the one hand, a division between one's own culture and the culture thought of as foreign. On the other hand, a foreign culture is necessarily perceived against the background of one's own. That perception is reflected in the conceptua…


(1,353 words)

Author(s): Bumbacher, Stephan Peter
1. Originally, the word ‘orientation’ meant directing someone or something in the direction of ‘sunrise.’ (The Latin root of the word is [sol] oriens, ‘rising [sun],’ ‘morning.’) Hence the further meaning of ‘East’ as an area of the earth. The chief types of orientation are (1) astronomical orientation: the laying out of cultic installations for example, according to the chief directions of the compass; (2) environmental orientation: as the erection of churches and chapels at the highest point of an area (hill, mounta…


(1,251 words)

Author(s): Gantke, Wolfgang
The Question of Origins in Myth and Philosophy 1. A concern with the origins of the human being and the world—a concern with anthropogony and → cosmogony—is characteristic of all societies rooted in tradition. As early as the Indian Upanishads, the question is posed as to the origin of all—the ultimate, total ground, from which the multiplicity of phenomena has emerged. Interpretations of the origin of the world are found in the cosmogonic myths of all of the peoples of the earth. Enuma Elish and the Gilgamesh epic can be cited as myths of origin from the Mesopotamian culture. In…

Orthodox Churches

(1,422 words)

Author(s): Schnider, Franz
Concept 1. A distinction is made among (a) the “Orthodox churches of the two Ecumenical Councils,” that have accepted only the first two Councils, Nicaea I (325) and Constantinople I (381)—namely, the Old Church of the East and the Old Church of the East in India, (b) the “Orthodox churches of the three Ecumenical Councils,” which also accepted the Council of Ephesus (451), namely, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Syrian Church of the East in India, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Apostolic Church, and (c) the “Orthodox churches of…


(157 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
Orthodoxy may refer primarily either to right faith or right behavior. When we consider religion as a social phenomenon, orthodoxy as right behavior is the more relevant understanding of this term. On this understanding orthodox persons are concerned to follow certain patterns of behavior such as giving alms, praying, fasting and appearing at religious services. Conformity with these patterns identifies certain individuals as parts of a given community, while failure to conform identifies others as other—heterodox, outsiders. Orthodoxy may also be understood as referring…

Osho Movement

(995 words)

Author(s): Gietz, Karl-Peter
1. The Osho Movement is a new religious movement, whose name is the one last adopted by its founder, who had become known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Other names of the Movement are Shree Rajneesh Foundation and Neo-Sannyas Movement, the latter being derived from the Sanskrit samnyāsa, ‘renunciation,’ ‘abandonment of all that is worldly,’ or from samnyāsin, ‘one who has surrendered all.’ This abandonment is traditionally the fourth and last stage of a Hindu's life, in which he abandons all possessions and status. ‘Sannyasin’ is also the name adopted b…