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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Nabatean Kingdom

(898 words)

Author(s): Wenning, Robert
[German Version] The first historical witness to the Nabateans in 311 bce (Diodorus Siculus Geographia 2.48f.; 19.94–100) describes them as a nomadic tribe responsible for trade along the Frankincense Road from Dedan in northern Arabia to Gaza. Their origin remains obscure (see Knauf). In the late 3rd century at the earliest, a process began that turned major trading posts into permanent tent settlements, with domestic architecture beginning in the early Roman period (Petra). Possibly it is wrong to speak of a Nabatean kingdom until the late 2nd century bce, when some of the Nabate…


(214 words)

Author(s): Kitschen, Friederike
[German Version] A group of artists and an association of friends founded by Paul Sérusier in Paris in 1888. It included, among others, Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, and from 1890 Édouard Vuillard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Paul Valloton, and Aristide Maillol. The term nabis comes from the Hebrew nebiʾı̑m, “prophets” or “enlightened ones,” and stressed the group's idealistic and symbolistic artistic claims in contrast to the illusionist imitation aesthetics of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. The object depicted should be subordinate to the means of…


(339 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Moses ben Nachman, acronym “Ramban”; 1194, Gerona – 1270, Akko) was a rabbi, physician, preacher, exegete, and a great halakhic authority. In the first half of the 13th century, Nachmanides was the spiritual leader of Spanish Jews ¶ (Judaism: II) and the head of the Kabbalistic school (Kabbalah: II) of Gerona, where Rabbi Ezra and Rabbi Azriel were among his teachers. He was a defender of Judaism in disputations with his Christian contemporaries. His exegetical work on the Pentateuch is a landmark in medieval Jewish culture; it combines traditional mi…

Nadere Reformatie

(232 words)

Author(s): Kaufmann, Thomas
[German Version] The term nadere reformatie denotes a movement in the Netherlands Reformed tradition (Reformed churches), under personal (W. Ames) or literary Puritan influence, tending toward a “second Reformation,” “reaching further” and “more closely” into believers' personal way of life. Its aim was to deepen and take further the renewal of doctrine achieved in the “first Reformation,” in the direction of ethically binding devotional practice of ascetic stamp. The term nadere reformatie occurs in reform proposals of the Utrecht Consistory of 1665, influenced by…

Nagara, Israel ben Moses

(185 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Naǧara; c. 1555, Damascus – c. 1625) is regarded as the great poet of the “golden age” of Jewish culture of the 16th century in Zefat. Following the destruction of the Jewish communities in Spain (1492) this Upper Galilean region, where various kabbalistic schools (Kabbalah) were situated, flourished. Although Nagara is often regarded as a kabbalistic poet, the Kabbalah did not occupy a meaningful place in his work. He served as the rabbi of the Gaza Jewish community for several …


(319 words)

Author(s): Oetke, Claus
[German Version] (c. 2nd–3rd cent. ce) is regarded as the founder of the Madhyamaka doctrine (Mādhyamika) and the first philosophical school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. According to legend, Nāgārjuna spent most of his life in South India in the Āndhra kingdom. Accounts of his life and traditional information concerning his literary output are dubious. Nāgārjuna's fundamental opus is a tractate containing 27 chapters: the Mūlamadhyamakakārikās ( MMK). The greater part of this work is devoted to proof of the ultimate non-existence of the things considered to exist in…

Nagel, Julius

(206 words)

Author(s): Wolfes, Matthias
[German Version] (Sep 17, 1809, Bahn, Pomerania – Jan 17, 1884, Breslau [Wrocław]). From 1835 Nagel was a pastor in Colzow, Wollin Island. Although influenced during his theological studies in Berlin by F.D.E. Schleiermacher, Nagel was very critical of church union. His attitude led in 1847 to his resignation as pastor of Trieglaff, Pomerania province, a post he had held since 1841, and to his withdrawal from the Protestant Church of Prussia. Nagel joined the separate, not officially recognized Lu…

Nag Hammadi

(2,060 words)

Author(s): Bethge, Hans-Gebhard
[German Version] I. General – II. The Texts Discovered at Nag Hammadi – III. Significance I. General Nag Hammadi is an Upper Egyptian industrial town on the west bank of the Nile, about 125 km downstream from Luxor. At nearby Jabal al-Tarif, in December 1945 a peasant accidentally found, in a jug deposited in a cave, twelve codices from the first half of the 4th century ce and the remains of another, with much original evidence of Gnosis, and further texts in the Coptic language. The content of the Nag Hammadi codices (NHC) is related to that of the 5th-cen…

Nag Hammadi Abbreviations

(1,118 words)

Author(s): David E. Orton
[German Version] Text editions: The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices, published under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities of the Arab Republic of Egypt in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), introduced by J.M. Robinson, 15 vols., Leiden 1972–1984. NHS Nag Hammadi Studies, Leiden 1971ff. From 1991 continued as NHMS Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies NHMS 33, 1995; NHS 2, 1972; NHS 22/23, 1985; NHS 20/21, 1989; NHS 4, 1975; NHMS 27, 1991; NHS 26, 1984; NHS 11, 1979; NHMS 30…


(299 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Heb. נָגִיד, pl. nagidim) is the Hebrew title of the head of the Jewish community in an Arabic-speaking country. It followed the Babylonian title “Rosh ha-Gola” (“exilarch”; Resh Galuta) which developed in the early Middle Ages. In Spain, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and the Yemen there arose several dynasties of nagidim. Many Jewish poets, scholars, philosophers and scientists served in this position, and in several cases it became hereditary for three or four generations. The establis…


(274 words)

Author(s): Müller, Walter W.
[German Version] (Najran) is an oasis town situated on the ancient Frankincense Road in the southwestern part of Saudi Arabia. Naǧrān originally designated the oasis, and later became the name of its main settlement, attested as Rgmtm in Old South Arabian inscriptions and as Ragma in Ezek 27:22, where it is mentioned as a trading partner of the Phoenician city of Tyre (LXX ῾Ραγμα, MT רַעְמָה/Raʿmāh). A Christian community was established in Naǧrān in the 5th century and stood under the authority of its own bishops (Arabian Peninsula: I, 1). Late Sabaean inscr…

Nahman ben Simhah of Bratslav

(306 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (1771, Medshibosh, Ukraine – 1811, Uman, Ukraine). Rabbi Nahman ben Simhah was one of the most influential leaders of the Hasidic movement (Hasidism). Although he was the great-grandson of Baʾal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, only a small group of adherents gathered around him. On his pilgrimage to the Land of Israel (1798) he was able to escape Napoleon's siege of Akko aboard a Turkish warship. When he returned to Europe he preached a new doctrine according to ¶ which there is only one true Zaddik, who is the redeemer of all the people of Israel. He did …


(133 words)

Author(s): Wißmann, Hans
[German Version] is one of a group of languages in the Uto-Aztec linguistic family; also the collective name for the peoples who speak these languages in Central America (Mexico). According to their nominal ending, the languages are divided into those of the Nahuatl and the Nahuat̲ groups. The second group probably included the now extinct Toltecs in the highlands of Mexico, and Pipil in El Salvador, who died out only at the beginning of the 20th century; the first group probably included the language of the Aztecs (Aztec religion). Hans Wißmann Bibliography R. Siméon, Dictionnaire de la…

Nahum/Book of Nahum

(1,590 words)

Author(s): Matthias, Köckert
[German Version] I. Place in the Canon – II. Structure –s III. Origin – IV. Influence – V. Name I. Place in the Canon Nahum is the seventh within the Book of the Twelve Prophets (Prophetic books). In the Hebrew canon, it is preceded by Micah, in the Greek canon by Jonah (probably because of Nineveh). The order in the Masoretic Text is reinforced by keyword links to Nahum in Mic 7:8–20 (Nogalski). Nahum is linked ¶ with Habakkuk not only by the form of the superscription but also by the redactionally created links in Hab 1 to Nah 3. The two books were perhaps once co…

Nahum, Saint

(232 words)

Author(s): Söllner, Konstanze
[German Version] (Nahum of Ochrid; died Dec 23, 910); feast day Dec 23, pupil of Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavs. Nahum presumably belonged to the group around Cyril and Methodius who lived in Rome from 867 to 869, where he may also have been ordained priest. After the destruction of Cyril and Methodius's mission work in Greater Moravia, he fled to Bulgaria in 885 with Clement of Ochrid and Angelarij, and was active in the neighborhood of the capital Pliska. After Clement was consecrate…


(7 words)

[German Version] Clothing and Nakedness


(5,597 words)

Author(s): Udolph, Jürgen | Figal, Günter | Hutter, Manfred | Assel, Heinrich | Rüterswörden, Udo | Et al.
[German Version] I. Linguistics – II. Philosophy – III. Religious Studies – IV. Philosophy of Religion – V. Old Testament – VI. New Testament – VII. Church History – VIII. Judaism – IX. Islam I. Linguistics Linguistically, a name is a proper noun ( nomen proprium) as opposed to a common noun ( nomen appellativum); both function grammatically as substantives. Proper nouns (names) designate individual persons, places, things, and ideas or collectives thought of as individuals; they do not ascribe common attributes to their referents. Outside…

Name, Belief in the

(332 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The name of a person or divinity (Names of God) expresses in many cultures an individual and unmistakable mark of that person's essential being. From this the idea grows that anyone who knows that name can have authority over the person in question. Partly bound up with this is the fear that if the name is known, enemies or demons may gain power over the bearer of the name; thus the real name must be kept secret. The revelation of the name by a divinity (cf. Exod 3), the discovery…

Name Day

(339 words)

Author(s): Schlemmer, Karl
[German Version] The name has special significance for human beings, whether or not this means “pre-signification” in the sense of predestiny. In any event, parents generally pay great attention to the choice of their children's names. Therefore, in some predominantly Catholic regions the name day is celebrated rather than the birthday. In early Christianity men and women retained their original names even after baptism. A formal demand for parents to name their children after saints is found c. 288 in John Chrysostom. This may have led in the E…

Name of Jesus, Festival of the

(173 words)

Author(s): Brüske, Gunda
[German Version] As a consequence of stronger emphasis on Christ's incarnation as a human being (Bernard of Clairvaux), spread by the popular preachers of the mendicant orders (esp. Bernardino of Siena, John of Capistrano), the feast was introduced in 1530 in the Franciscans' own calendar for Jan 14 (now Jan 3), and extended in 1721 to the whole Catholic ¶ Church. In 1913 Pius X set it on the Sunday between Jan 1 and 6 (or Jan 2), thus closer to Christmas and the day of the octave (Jan 1), with the Gospel of the Circumcision and Naming of Jesus (Luke 2:2…
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