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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(1,952 words)

Author(s): Frohn, Elke Sofie
1. Originally, ‘theater’ denotes a ‘space for viewing’ (in Gk., théatron, from theásthai, ‘consider,’ ‘contemplate,’ ‘observe’). In this space, human beings and their acting (in Gk., dráma), are brought before an audience as a scene, whether in free, improvised performance, or on the basis of (poetical) narrative. To theater as an art form, then, belong players (actors), audience, and theater as a place where acting occurs. Depending on whether the presentation—or performance—prioritizes verbal or nonverbal means of comm…


(1,051 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
1. What has occurred in → Iran and in Algeria in the last two decades of the twentieth century, in terms of deadly violence, deprivation of individual rights, and coercion to live according to the rules of religious laws, is perceived in the West with horror and revulsion, and labeled ‘theocracy.’ ‘Theocracy’ (Gk., ‘God's government’) contradicts ‘democracy’ (Gk., ‘people's government’). The former designation fuses a criticism of the religious grounding of political crimes with a criticism of r…


(658 words)

Author(s): Bernard, Jutta | Hartmann, Stefan
The question of the meaning of this world's → evil—of natural evil (natural catastrophes), of moral evil, in the sense of war and crime, and of personal suffering (hunger, disease, death)—is encountered by every human being. It seems to have become fundamental for personal meaning. Thus, for some religions, the fact that there is such a thing as ‘bad’ poses problems of no little significance. How is a good and caring God to be reconciled with blind fate, and evil? The believer feels frequently e…


(2,071 words)

Author(s): von Stietencron, Heinrich
Reflected Speech 1. The word ‘theology’ (from Gk., theología) denotes “reflective discourse concerning the being and acting of God or gods.” The function of theology is to solve (1) the individual's problems of meaning, and (2) society's problems of interpretation of the world, as well as those of order or structure—in reference to the bases and foundations of a given religious system (which not infrequently means: in terms of a transcendent point of reference). Theology—Not Only in Christianity 2. Until the mid-twentieth century, theology was a concept referred primarily…

Theory of Evolution

(373 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Stefan
The theory of evolution (from Lat., evolvere, ‘turn out,’ ‘develop’), in the strict sense, means a series of biological concepts that gives a scientific explanation for the arrival of life and the development of species. It is common to these interpretations that they do not regard life as a divine and inalterable creation, but hold life forms to be the product of a progressive development (theory of derivation, origin of species). By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck (…

Theosophical/Anthroposophical Society

(2,156 words)

Author(s): Linse, Ulrich
1. The object of the following considerations will be not the older, Christian theosophy (Gr., theosophía, ‘divine wisdom’) of Jacob Böhme and others,1 but that of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891). This, the most important neo-religious creation of the nineteenth century, ostensibly gathered Europe's various ‘occult’ traditions (Neoplatonism, → Gnosticism, → Kabbalah, → Hermeticism, the Rosicrucian teaching, → Freemasonry; → Esotericism) into an assembly also containing elements of extra-European religions (Copt…


(981 words)

Author(s): Holzapfel, Kirsten
1. With its extreme climatic conditions, the highland of Tibet is only sparsely populated. Few live here other than cattle-raising nomads. Soil is farmed until an altitude of 4,000 m. The center of gravity of settlement and agricultural geography lies in the Tsangpo Valley. Politically, today, what exists is the ‘Autonomous Region of Tibet,’ established in 1965 in the People's Republic of China. Parts of the region that had stood under the regime in Lhasa were annexed to Chinese provinces after the incursion of Chinese troops. Popular Religion 2. In Tibetan popular religion, the ob…


(3,168 words)

Author(s): Rüpke, Jörg
A Primary Category 1. Like space, time belongs to the primary categories of human perception and human construction of the world. There is no priority between the two. Time is repeatedly described in metaphors of space (length of time, axis of time), concrete space, at the same time by movements, and therefore by time (three-day trip, or three light-years away). Time appears as a fixed property of the world—unchangeable, encompassing, and subjecting everything to temporalization. Acts and events ca…