Religion Past and Present

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Edited by: Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning†, Bernd Janowski and Eberhard Jüngel

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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Sagittarius, Kaspar

(161 words)

Author(s): Albrecht-Birkner, Veronika
[German Version] (Sep 23, Lüneburg – Mar 9, 1694, Jena). After studying in Jena (1660) and Helmstedt (1662) and elsewhere, he was appointed principal in Saalfeld in 1668. He received his M.A. in 1671, his Lic.theol. in 1673, and his Dr.theol. in 1678 at Jena. In 1674 he was appointed professor of history in Jena and 1688 to the additional post of historiographer of the Ernestine court. Sagittarius published many works, primarily on history and church history (e.g. Introductio in historian ecclesiasticam, 2 vols., 1718) with special emphasis on Saxony and Thuringia. He was in contact with ¶ P…

Sägmüller, Johann Baptist

(201 words)

Author(s): Aymans, Winfried
[German Version] (Feb 24, 1860, Winterreute, near Biberach – Oct 22, 1942, Tübingen), Catholic canonist. After studying philosophy and theology in Tübingen, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1884; after three years as a parish priest, he served as a lecturer at the Wilhelmsstift in Tübingen from 1887 to 1893. In 1888 he received his doctorate and in 1893 was appointed adjunct professor of medieval history in Tübingen; from 1896 to 1926, he taught as professor of canon law and pedagogics in the Catholic faculty of theology in Tübingen. Sägmüller’s magnum opus was his historically org…

Saguna, Andrei

(185 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Johann
[German Version] (baptized Anastasiu; Jan 1, 1809, Miskolc – Jun 28, 1873, Sibiu/Herrmanstadt). Saguna, born to an Aromanian merchant family, studied law and philosophy in Pest and attended the Serbian Orthodox seminary in Vršac. A monk since 1833, he was ordained priest in 1837 and consecrated bishop of the Orthodox Romanians in Transylvania in 1848 in Sremski Karlovci. In 1864 he became the first archbishop of the autonomous Romanian Orthodox metropolitanate in Hungary. He created an independent…

Sahagún, Bernardino de Ribeira

(583 words)

Author(s): Nebel, Richard
[German Version] (born Ribeira, B. de; Dec 1499?, Sahagún, León – Oct 1590?, Mexico City), Spanish Franciscan, pioneer of ethnography in America and cultural anthropology. Almost nothing is known of his childhood and youth. He probably studied at Salamanca, where he joined the Franciscans; in 1529 he was in Mexico, conquered only shortly before by H. Cortés. He stayed in Mexico until the end of his life, serving as a missionary, teacher, and researcher, and sometimes holding high office in his ord…

Šahrastānī, Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdalkarīm

(175 words)

Author(s): van Ess, Josef
[German Version] (1086, Šahristān, a village on the edge of the Qara Qum desert [modern Turkmenistan] – 1153, Šahristān), trained in Šāfiʿite law and Ašʿarite theology, he was noted primarily for a doxographic work in which he described the Islamic “sects,” as well as the orientations of the other Eastern religions and the views of ancient and modern philosophers. The book remains impressive for its transparency, but its value as a source is slight. More important were Šahrastānī’s dispute with Av…


(241 words)

Author(s): Hübner, Ulrich
[German Version] (Tell es-Saʿīdīyeh). Pritchard’s excavations between 1964 and 1967 and Tubb’s since 1985 show that occupation of this site in the central Jordan valley began in the Early Bronze period at the latest; at the end of the Late Bronze period and in the early Iron Age it experienced an urban florescence, probably as the residence of an Egyptian governor. The unique water supply system consisted of a roofed staircase leading to a spring outside the walls. After an occupation gap, the cit…

Šaiḫ al-Azhar

(125 words)

Author(s): Lohlker, Rüdiger
[German Version] The office of rector ( šaiḫ) of al-Azhar university in Cairo (Madrasah) was established toward the end of the 17th century. As the structures of traditional religious scholarship dropped away in the 19th century (Clergy: III), the associated centralization at the Azhar (Teaching authority: III) made the office increasingly important as the primary authority of Egyptian Islam. Since a reform implemented in 1961, the office has played an increasing role (not without tension) in legitimat…

Šaiḫ al-Islām

(171 words)

Author(s): Krawietz, Birgit
[German Version] This title first came into use toward the end of the 10th century in northeastern Iran. In the Islamic world, it is given to outstanding scholars of Šarīʿa (ʿ ulamāʾ: Clergy and laity: III) like the Syrian mufti Ibn Taimīya (died 1328) or Sufi authorities (Islam: II, 5). In the course of time (and with regional variations), it was given to certain important government offices or functionaries of religious law. The most famous holder of the title was the grand mufti of the Ottoman Empire (Ottomans), with his r…

Sailer, Johann Michael

(563 words)

Author(s): Wolf, Hubert
[German Version] (Nov 17, 1751, Aresing, near Schrobenhausen – May 20, 1832, Regensburg), ¶ Catholic theologian and bishop. He began his studies at Ingolstadt in 1770 (as a Jesuit novice until the Jesuits were suppressed in 1773) and was ordained to the priesthood in 1775. He began his academic career in Ingolstadt, where he was appointed second professor of dogmatics in 1780 (alongside his teacher M. Sattler), but he was dismissed the next year along with the other ex-Jesuits as an “obscurantist.” In 1794 he…

Saint Denis, Ruth

(146 words)

Author(s): Siebald, Manfred
[German Version] (Jan 20, 1879, Newark, NJ – Jul 21, 1968, Hollywood, CA), dancer and choreographer. After initial success in vaudeville and on Broadway, she focused her style on ethno-religious themes and became a pioneer of modern American dance. Particularly interested in the traditions of Egypt and India, she created the dances “Radha” (1906), “The Incense” (1909), and “The Cobra” (1909). On her tours in Europe and India, she danced in oriental costume. In 1915 she and her husband T. Shawn fou…

Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de

(186 words)

Author(s): Milde, Nadine
[German Version] (in full Antoine-Marie Roger, Comte de Saint-Exupéry; Jun 29, 1900, Lyon – Jul 31, 1944 missing over the Mediterranean, probably shot down), French aviator and author. Saint-Exupéry’s life as a worldwide pioneer of civil and military aviation, including working for the Allies, provided the raw material for his literary work: novels ( Courrier Sud, 1929; ET: Southern Mail, 1933; Vol de nuit, 1931; ET: Night Flight, 1932; Pilote de guerre, 1942: ET: Flight to Arras, 1942) as well as reports and stories increasingly interspersed with philosophical reflections ( Terre de…

Saint Gall Abbey

(432 words)

Author(s): Berschin, Walter
[German Version] arose in the early 7th century on the site of the eremitic cell of St. Gall, a disciple of the Irish missionary Columbanus. The Benedictine Rule (Benedict, Rule of Saint) was introduced under the Alemannic abbot Otmar (719–759); numerous gifts enabled Abbot Gozbert (816–837) to build an enormous Carolingian basilica, for which Reichenau provided the inspiration (“the plan of St. Gall”; Monasteries: II, 2, with fig.). The abbey experienced a golden age under the abbots Grimalt (841…

Saint-Martin, Louis Claude de

(385 words)

Author(s): Decot, Rolf
[German Version] (Jan 18, 1743, Amboise, Département Indre-et-Loire – Oct 13, 1803, Paris), French theosophist (Theosophy). After study-¶ ing law and pursuing a military career, in 1771 he got to know Martinez de Pasqualis (1715–1799) in Bordeaux, who introduced him to mystical Freemasonry (Freemasons). This group of “Martinists,” with its center in Lyon, practiced a mysticism drawn from kabbalistic sources (Kabbalah: II), in which magical and theurgic rites played a role. In his travels he encountered other myst…

Saint-Saëns, Charles-Camille

(237 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Burkhard
[German Version] (Oct 9, 1835, Paris – Dec 16, 1921, Algiers), French composer. Quickly recognized as a child prodigy, Saint-Saëns spent some 80 years in the public eye, and was organist of the Made­leine in Paris from 1858 to 1877. From 1878 on, he led an unsettled itinerant life, continuing to travel even in old age. He remained true to his classicizing style with hints of Impressionism, so that as musical fashions ¶ changed, phases of admiration and condemnation alternated (the latter esp. incisive in the journalistic controversy surrounding R. Wagner). Saint-Saën…

Saints’ Days

(512 words)

Author(s): Harnoncourt, Philipp
[German Version] The dedication of certain dates to the commemoration of one or more saints is a special form of Christian veneration of saints (Saints/Veneration of the saints). On saints’ days, the liturgy (Mass, Liturgy of the hours) usually focuses on the day itself. Today there is a distinction between saints’ days (1) in the strict sense and (2) in a graduated broader sense. 1. Strict sense. Saints’ days originated in the commemoration of the dead in antiquity on the anniversary of their death ( dies obitus) or burial ( dies depositionis) or, in the case of relics, the day of th…

Saints, Icons, and Attributes

(1,593 words)

Author(s): Götz, Roland | Thümmel, Hans Georg
[German Version] I. Terminology Pictorial representation of saints using all available artistic techniques has played a role in the evolution of the cult of the saints (Saints/Veneration of the saints) as well as of images in Christianity (Veneration of images). The image of Mary (Mary, Representations of) has always had a special place among images of the saints. Images of the saints combine commemoration, instruction, and cult: they keep alive the memory of the saints and tell how they lived and d…

Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy

(332 words)

Author(s): Kracht, Klaus Große
[German Version] (Count of; Oct 17, 1760, Paris – May 19, 1825, Paris), French social theorist. Born to an impoverished noble family, during the French Revolution (which he supported) Saint-Simon took part in the American Revolutionary War. Afterwards land speculation quickly brought him wealth, which he lost totally in the following years. With the support of his two secretaries, the historian Jacques-Nicolas-Augustin Thierry (1795–1856) and A. Comte, who later pioneered scientific Positivism, be…

Saints/Veneration of the Saints

(4,185 words)

Author(s): Bergunder, Michael | Köpf, Ulrich | Müller, Gerhard Ludwig | Ivanov, Vladimir | Barth, Hans-Martin | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies In comparative religious studies, veneration of saints generally refers to the posthumous cultic veneration of a holy person more or less identifiable as a historical individual; it is centered at the place that preserves the saint’s mortal remains, thought to have miraculous powers. Occasionally veneration of living individuals is subsumed under the same category, but this extension results in a dubious diminution of terminological precision, since to this day no one …


(722 words)

Author(s): Gengnagel, Jörg
[German Version] is a collective term for numerous theistic Hindu sects and traditions that worship Śiva or one of his forms. Its multitude of religious practices and philosophico-esoteric teachings fall into two main groups. In the popular epic forms of Śaivism based on the Purāṇas, Śiva is invoked as the “Great Lord/God” ( Maheśvara, Mahādeva; God, Representations and symbols of: IV, 1) and is usually worshiped as a phalliform liṅga, a practice based on a corpus of orthodox texts ( smārta). The tantric traditions (Tantrism) of sectarian esoteric Śaivism possess a canon o…


(201 words)

Author(s): Gengnagel, Jörg
[German Version] In Hinduism śakti (Sanskrit: “force, power”) stands for various embodiments of the feminine creative force. The great goddess Devī is worshiped in numerous manifestations, for example as Durgā or Kālī. Also important are Sarasvatī, Pārvatī, and Lakṣmī, the consorts of the Hindu high gods Brahmā, Śiva, and Viṣṇu. In the tantric tradition (Tantrism), the meaning of śakti ranges from the impersonal creative power of a male god through the equal status of a female deity associated with a male god to a position of supremacy and dominance…
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