Religion Past and Present

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Edited by: Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning†, Bernd Janowski and Eberhard Jüngel

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Religion Past and Present (RPP) Online is the online version of the updated English translation of the 4th edition of the definitive encyclopedia of religion worldwide: the peerless Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (RGG). This great resource, now at last available in English and Online, Religion Past and Present Online continues the tradition of deep knowledge and authority relied upon by generations of scholars in religious, theological, and biblical studies. Including the latest developments in research, Religion Past and Present Online encompasses a vast range of subjects connected with religion.

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Baader, Franz Xaver von

(670 words)

Author(s): Cesa, Claudio
[German Version] (Mar 27, 1765, Munich – May 23, 1851, Munich) studied medicine at Ingolstadt and Vienna, receiving his Dr. med. in 1785; from 1788 to 1792 he attended the mining academy in Freiberg. After a stay in England (1792–1795), he entered public service as superintendent of mines for Bavaria. In 1808 he was made a member of the Academy of Sciences and…


(1,042 words)

Author(s): Koch, Klaus
[German Version] In the canonical context, the Old Testament creates the impression that the territories adjacent to Israel were dominated by a great god Baal whose orgiastic rituals had, for centuries, tempted Israel to forsake Yahweh and thus to break the first commandment. This picture, however, is the result of a retrospective projection from the monotheistic tendencies of a later period. I. In the northwestern Semitic dialects, baʿal (in analogy to Akkadian belu[m]) designates the man who has the right to dispose of persons, animals …


(174 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] (Heliopolis) in the northern Biqaʾ (Bekaa valley, Lebanon) was an ancient Phoencian cult site for Baal. Construction of the monumental temple of Zeus, the largest in antiquity, began in the 3rd century bce and was completed between the 1st and 3rd cent. ce; in the 2nd cent. ce further temples were erected, while the city acquired colonnaded streets and public buildings. According to Eusebius of Caesarea ( Vita Constantini III 58), Constantine the Great had a temple to Aphrodite torn down to make room for a church (locat…

Baʾal Shem Tov

(337 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (c. 1700, Okop, Ukraine – 1760, Mezibuz, Silesia), acronym: “Besht,” Baal Shem Tov, lit. “Master of the Good Name,” figuratively “Master of White Magic” was actually called Israel ben Eliezer and is considered to be the founder of the modern Jewish religious movement of the “Hasidim” (Hasidism). Hasidic tradition makes him the disciple of the prophet Achiya Ha-Shiloni (1 Kgs 11:29), who was, according to midrashic tradition (Midrash), the teacher of the prophet Elijah. The collection of legends known as Shivkhey ha-Besht (“In Praise…

Babai the Great

(200 words)

Author(s): Abramowski, Luise
[German Version] (c. 550–628) became abbot of the “Great Monastery” on Mt. Isla in 604. A monastic reformer, he was against Messalian and Origenistic currents in the church and wrote a commentary on the moderate Evagrius Ponticus. He was a prolific writer and 36 titles are attributed to him, of which nine (ten) are extant and have largely been edited. He was a proponent of Antiochene Christology in its most differentiated form, as formulated on the basis of the Liber Heraclidis by Nestorius, and corrected older Christo…

Baba Yaga

(209 words)

Author(s): Schenkluhn, Angela
[German Version] Etymology partly uncertain: Baba (Russ. “grandmother”), Yaga (from Galician jaza “snake” or Russ. užas “terror”). Baba Yaga is a central figure in eastern Slavic and particularly in Russian fairy tales. She is a mythical figure who embodies the archetypal “old woman.” Attempts have been made to give her a place in the Slavic pantheon or to interpret her mythologically as a personific…

Babylas of Antioch

(127 words)

Author(s): Ritter, Adolf M.
[German Version] (died 250/251). Babylas died as an imprisoned bishop under emperor Decius (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. VI, 39.4). In the 4th century, he was the most revered Antiochene martyr (Persecutions of Christians) after Ignatius. His relics were moved several times to various sites (initially under Caesar Gallus, 351–354; the first recorded translation of relics in the h…


(1,093 words)

Author(s): Klengel-Brandt, Evelyn
[German Version] I. Identification and Discovery The ruins of Babylon lie on the banks of one of the arms of the river Euphrates, 90 km southwest of Baghdad. Known from the OT, the name of the city had always been associated with a mound of ruins in the northern-most part of the area called Babil. In the Middle Ages, the knowledge of the site was preserved by European travelers via the …


(6 words)

[German Version] Mesopotamia

Babylonian Captivity

(9 words)

[German Version] Babylon Papacy

Babylonian Exile

(854 words)

Author(s): Becking, Bob
[German Version] I. “Babylonian Exile” is the term used to describe a period in the history of Judah, in which much of the upper class was deported to Babylon in the years 598–587 bce, where they remained until after 539 bce. The period is named after the Neo-Babylonian empire. The notion of a Babylonian captivity is outdated and implies an overly negative view of the events. The Neo-Babylonian Empire which dominated the ancient Near East (ANE) from 605 to 539 bce represents the historical background. The Babylonians adopted the Assyrian strategy…

Babylonian Judaism

(1,503 words)

Author(s): Oppenheimer, Aharon | Cohen, Mark R. | Rejwan, Nissim
[German Version] I. Antiquity – II. Middle Ages – III. Modern Times I. Antiquity The Jewish community in Babylonia was the oldest in the Diaspora. From the days of the biblical Exile, it existed without interruption throughout antiquity. The decentralized, quasi-feudal structure of the state in Babylonia during the Parthian period allowed Jews there to govern themselves in various areas of life, not…


(8 words)

[German Version] Dionysos and Bacchus


(1,560 words)

Author(s): Petzoldt, Martin
[German Version] 1. Johann Michael (Aug 9, 1648, Arnstadt – May 17, 1694, Gehren). Son of the Arnstadt organist Heinrich Bach, brother of the grandfather and father-in-law of 2. Through his marriage with one of the five daughters of the Arnstadt town clerk Johann Wedemann, he founded a family clan of musicians and councilmen in the towns of Thurìngia, which was not without …

Bachkovo Monastery

(189 words)

Author(s): Döpmann, Hans-Dieter
[German Version] (Bulg. Bačkovski manastir), situated on the northern edge of the Rhodope Mountains and dedicated to the “Dormition of the Mother of God,” it is the second largest monastery in Bulgaria. As one of three Stavropigial monasteries, it stands under the authority of the Holy Synod. It was founded in 1083 …

Bachmann, Ingeborg

(252 words)

Author(s): Lermen, Birgit J.
[German Version] (Jun 25, 1926, Klagenfurt – Oct 17, 1973, Rome) was a lyricist, narrator, translator, essayist, and radio playwright. She studied philosophy, German philology and psychology at Innsbruck, Graz and Vienna, and received her doctorate in 1950 with a dissertation on M. Heidegger. From 1950 to 1953, she was an editor for the “Red-White-Red” net…

Bachmann, Traugott

(349 words)

Author(s): Bochinger, Christoph
[German Version] (Aug 25, 1865, Caana bei Niesky, Oberlausitz – Feb 27, 1948, Niesky). Of rural background, Bachmann attended the missionary school of the Bohemian/Moravian Brethren (II) in Niesky from 1890 to 1892, joining the order in 1891. From 1892 to 1916, he was active as a missionary in the Moravian mission territory in German East Africa, …

Bachofen, Johann Jakob

(177 words)

Author(s): Lanwerd, Susanne
[German Version] (Dec 22, 1815, Basel – Nov. 25, 1887, Basel) studied ancient cultures and jurisprudence (in Berlin), became professor of Roman law in Basel in 1841, judge in 1842, and city councilman in 1844. With the exception of his office as criminal judge, he resigned from all public offices in 1844/1845 and became a private scholar. Bachofen's most notab…

Backus, Isaac

(238 words)

Author(s): Dekar, Paul R.
[German Version] (Jan 9, 1724, Norwich, CT – Jan 20, 1806, Middleborough, MA) was a prominent Baptist minister in New England during a period that was marked by two religious revivals, the struggle for Freedom of Religion in the American colonies, and the achievement of independence by the USA. Backus lost his father Samuel, a wealthy farmer, at the age of 16. This experience influenced …

Bacon, Francis

(148 words)

Author(s): Winnekes, Katharina
[German Version] (Oct 28, 1909, Dublin – Apr 28, 1992, London) devoted himself to painting as an autodidact in 1931. His first significant paintings (several crucifixions) were made in 1933 under the influence of surrealism. Bacon's independent work started with the Triptych “Studies of figures at the base of a crucifixion” (1944; T…
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