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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Socialism I: Christian

(922 words)

Author(s): Pfeiffer, Arnold
1. Socialism, as a social and political movement, and as it developed in the nineteenth century, was nurtured by diverse sources, religious one among them. In the first half of the nineteenth century, social critics emerged who connected religious consciousness with the demand for a renewal of society. Claude Henri de Saint-Simon (1760–1825) represented ( Le Nouveau Christianisme, Fr., “The New Christianity”; 1825) a humanization of entrepreneur-led industrialism. Wilhelm Weitling (1808–1871) aimed at a social equality, on the basis of Jesus's teachin…

Socialism II: Islamic

(1,042 words)

Author(s): Walther, Wiebke
History 1. Intellectuals of the Islamic Middle East came in contact with socialist thought at the close of the nineteenth century, while studying in France and England. Beginning in 1908, and influenced by French models and anti-imperialist convictions, socialist notions stamped the Turkish National Movement under Ziya Gökalp. The first socialist party in Turkey was founded in 1910, shortly after the Young Turks' Revolution of 1908, but dissolved three months later. In 1912 it formed anew, for one year. The term ishtirāk-e emwāl (‘redistribution of wealth’) at a time when neo…


(3,943 words)

Author(s): Stausberg, Michael
Even if one's point of departure is the premise that the human being is by nature predisposed to religion (cf., Lat.: homo naturaliter religiosus; homo religiosus)—to a certain extent recent cognitive approaches to the study of religion present a resurgence of that view—it still remains to be explained how, ideally, a helpless nursling becomes a competent member or competent client of a given religion. From generation to generation, religions must be creatively reproduced. ‘Socialization,’ and ‘upbringing,’ ‘education,’…

Social Myths and Fantasy Images

(1,155 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Hubert
The Rumor of Orleans 1. On May 10, 1969, in the lovely French city of Orleans, a shop for women's clothing opened. Its name was provocative: Aux Oubliettes—Fr., “In the Dungeons.” The management had thought up something quite special that was certainly expected to stimulate attention: the changing cubicles were outfitted after the fashion of a medieval dungeon. This idea did not remain without consequence. A scant month later, a number of shops and city-centers began to display the motto: “Don't buy from Jews. They traffi…


(3,688 words)

Author(s): Haydt, Claudia
Definition and Overview 1. ‘Society’ denotes a comprehensive social connection, a holistic system of human life in common, signed by extensive autarchy. As a concept, society is never independent of the concrete historical framework-conditions in which it is being developed. Historically, it is a new concept that became possible only as the unity of state and society—and their close connection with religion—lost its self-evidence: a development that begins to materialize in Europe only with the beg…


(943 words)

Author(s): Tepper, Leo
A Piece of Me 1. Unlike that of ‘child,’ the concepts ‘son’ and ‘daughter’ have a special value in terms of parents' feelings. They are a piece of the parent that receives the opportunity to live life over again, and better—to continue life and work ‘a step ahead’ of the parent. When the corporeal daughter and son shake off these bonds to seek their own life, the parent's projection of self can transfer to other young persons: the junior partner in the business, the daughter-in-law. And then the con…


(1,488 words)

Author(s): Gladigow, Burkhard
Multiplicity of Souls 1. After the idea of God, the idea that a human person has one or more souls became a widespread driving force of religious orientation and cultic instruction books. By way of extremely different conceptualizations, the soul is bound up with, especially, the whole history of religion, but without being exhausted in the area of religion. In view of the broad spectrum of cultural constructions, different demands and needs present themselves by way of notions of the soul. Concept…

South America

(2,929 words)

Author(s): Drexler, Josef
The Holy Mountain of the Zenú 1. Some few years ago, in Colombia, the Zenú undertook their traditional Easter pilgrimage to a cave on Mt. Sierrachiquita, abode of the mythical Kazike, Mohana. The white proprietor of the mountain paralyzed the ‘pagan’ cultic system by having the cave filled. As his punishment—so the Zenú believe—Mohana blinded him. At the same time, a firm from Barranquilla consolidated the mountain, the nature sanctuary, the reservoir for medicinal herbs, and the place for shamanic ri…

Southeast Asia

(1,841 words)

Author(s): Heusel, Brigitte
The Region 1. a) Southeast Asia comprises (Islamic) Malaysia and the (primarily Buddhist) states of Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Laos, Kampuchea, and Vietnam. Wars and Crises without End? b) Imperialism, first that of the British and French, then of the United States in the Vietnam War, inflicted deep wounds. The Khmer Rouge reign of terror shocked and stunned the entire region. Even after the withdrawal of soldiers, however, cultures collided once more. Armies were succeeded by economy and tourism, both sometimes viewed as…

Southeast Asia: Time Chart

(904 words)

Era 1: Migratory movements from 3000 BCE Immigration from North to South Peoples unwilling to subject themselves to a China now expanding southward, emigrate to Southeast Asia, partially dislodging the original population. They dispose of better tools and farming methods than do the natives there. c. 300 BCE Dong Son culture Sacred bronze drums have been found throughout Southeast Asia. Their decorations break open notions of the other world, and to shamanic rituals of the time in question. 208 BCE The first empire in Southeast Asia Nam Viet (today's South China and North Vietnam…

South Sea/Australia

(2,961 words)

Author(s): Schlatter, Gerhard
The Area ‘South Sea’ is an old name for the Pacific Ocean. Today it means the part of the Pacific comprising the Islands of Oceania. This is an area of ca. 70 million square kilometers, all surrounding 7,500 Pacific islands between America, the Philippines, and Australia. Oceania can be divided into Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. New Zealand in the South, and Papua-New Guinea in the West, are also numbered among the states of the South Sea, while Australia, as a continent by itself, no long…

Specialists, Religious

(1,822 words)

Author(s): Rüpke, Jörg
1. a) The concept of religious specialist can denote the results of a permanent division of labor within a religion. The individual members of a religious → group possess distinct competencies when it comes to practicing religion and its acts. In many religions, those who lead religious acts are those who occupy a leading position of honor and power, such as the chiefs of an enterprise, or of the state. But religious specialists can be spoken of meaningfully only where a specific competency in r…


(555 words)

Author(s): Hermsen, Edmund
1. The (male!) sphinx, in Egypt, consists of a recumbent lion with the head of a Pharaoh (androsphinx). The lion has been the royal beast since time immemorial, so that, in the sphinx, the brute strength of the mighty predator is linked with the wisdom of the human governor, as a phenomenal image of royalty, and beyond this, as a divine → composite being. In the sphinxes watching at the entrances of temples or necropolises, the power of the Pharaoh is mightily displayed as guardian and defender …


(1,686 words)

Author(s): Linse, Ulrich
1. Spiritism or Spiritualism (from Lat. spiritus, ‘soul,’ ‘spirit’) is to be understood here not simply as belief in spirits, but as belief in the continued life of the soul in a beyond, and the possibility of communicating with the spirits of the departed. Often in the spiritistic literature, the designation ‘spiritualism’ is used instead. Spiritism is one of the important international new religions of the nineteenth century. It came from the United States and seized Europe in the latter half of the…


(1,122 words)

Author(s): Prohl, Inken
1. Spirits are supernatural beings of neither unambiguously human nor divine origin. It is difficult to distinguish spirits, ghosts, and → demons, and their concepts are usually employed synonymously. The concept of spirit has a broad spectrum of meaning. Under the concept of ‘spirits,’ for instance, fall super-sensory beings and departed persons who tarry yet in the world of the living. A related notion is that of the ‘revenant’ (Fr., ‘coming back’), which names a person who has died an unjust,…


(353 words)

Author(s): Bochinger, Christoph
‘Spirituality’ is a fashionable word, used in contemporary religious discourse for a spiritual attitude toward life, a style of piety. It occurs in the Christian and the non-Christian areas alike. This diffuse application is connected with a twin history. From the French ( spiritualité), the word has been taken over into other languages, especially so since the 1960s, by Catholic theologians, who wished to describe certain forms of piety actively lived: from a contemplative monastic life (for laity, as well, who occasionally share this l…


(1,680 words)

Author(s): Lützenkirchen, H. Georg
Sports as Pleasure and Contest 1. Since the nineteenth century, the term ‘sports’ (from ‘disport’; ‘to amuse oneself.’ ‘to frolic’)—to busy the body by play, and in pleasure, but, at the same time, in fair competition, and according to strict rules—has become an umbrella concept for all kinds of corporeal motion and playing (with or without the character of a competition). In the connection of the two components, a normative meaning resonates, influencing the ordering and acknowledgment of sports in modern society. The origin of all sports activity on the part of the human be…


(642 words)

Author(s): Schmid, Guido
‘Stigma’ (Gk., ‘brand,’ ‘tattoo’), generally denotes a mark artificially made on the body as ornament, proprietary sign (slaves, animals), or mark of criminality. In antiquity, slaves who attempted escape or theft were ‘branded,’ usually with a mark on the forehead. The phenomenon of stigmatization became important as a corporeal concomitant of Christian → mysticism. What is meant is the spontaneous, usually periodic, emergence of the bleeding wounds of Jesus crucified—on the palms of the hands, on the feet, and on the breast (‘wound …


(1,650 words)

Author(s): Kaiser, Peter
Basic Human Experience 1. a) Suffering can be defined as the experience of situations interpreted and felt psychically, physically, and/or socially (e.g., poverty) as painful. Frequently, these longer or shorter periods are accompanied by the conscious and/or unconscious perception of loss, frustration, fear, sadness, and vulnerability. As with pain, suffering as well has both a physical and a psychic dimension. Only the entity of suffering, however, broadens the preponderantly individual character…


(2,169 words)

Author(s): Dressler, Markus
Sufism and ‘Mysticism’ In traditional scholarship as well as in conventional usage, Sufism is commonly referred to as the ‘mystical tradition of Islam’ (→ Mysticism). This ascription is problematic for three reasons. First, it divides → Islam artificially into two traditions presumably separable from each other; secondly, not all manifestations of Sufism are ‘mystical’;1 and thirdly, the idea of a universally valid category of Mysticism manifesting itself in particular interpretations of different ‘world religions’ is itself increasingly disputed.2 Orientalist scholarship…
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