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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Vagaggini, Cyprian

(224 words)

Author(s): Klöckener, Martin
[German Version] (Oct 33, 1909, Piancastagnaio, near Siena – Jan 18, 1999, Camaldoli), Catholic theologian, liturgist (specializing in the basis of liturgy in systematic theology), and expert on the Eastern Church. A Benedictine since 1927, he taught as a professor at universities in Rome (esp. Sant’ Anselmo), Milan, and Bologna. He played an important role in drafting the Constitution on the Liturgy of Vatican II and liturgical reform, especially the composition of the new eucharistic prayers. He also published works on monastic life and spirituality. Martin Klöckener Bibliograph…


(686 words)

Author(s): Hüsken, Ute
[German Version] refers here to the organized and institutionalized forms of Hinduism in which a form of Viṣṇu represents the highest god, this particularly in demarcation from Śaivism and Śāktism. Vaiṣṇavism is not a monolithic religion with a homogeneous development and uniform beliefs. The most important texts are the Bhagavadgītā, the Rāmāyaṇa, and the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa (Purāṇas). The earliest form of Vaiṣṇavism combines Vedic elements with the veneration of Viṣṇu (as Nārāyaṇa, Kṛṣṇa…


(336 words)

Author(s): Kollmar-Paulenz, Karénina
[German Version] literally “diamond vehicle,” name of the form of Mahāyāna Buddhism practiced throughout the Himalayan region, in Tibet, Mongolia, and Buryatia, and as far as the lower Volga. The term Vajrayāna as a generic name for Tantric practices (Tantrism) developed after the 7th century from the symbolic significance of the term vajra in Tantric texts. Sanskrit vajra means “diamond” but also “thunderbolt,” the weapon of Indra, the Indian king of the gods; in Tantric texts, it stands for the indestructibility and power of the enlightened consciousness (Sanskrit bodhi). On the …

Vakhtang Gorgasal

(151 words)

Author(s): Hauptmann, Peter
[German Version] (1st half of the 5th cent. – 502), king of Iberia (East Georgia). His byname, which means “wolf ’s head,” relates to the decoration on his helmet. After his accession c. 446, he pursued the goals of strengthening his royal authority, extending it throughout Georgia, and freeing Georgia from dependence on the Persian Sassanian Empire. He achieved these goals temporarily in 483. At the same time, he persuaded the patriarch of Antioch to consecrate his candidate Peter as catholicos a…

Valaam Monastery

(305 words)

Author(s): Troitski, Aleksandr N.
[German Version] The Valaam Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior was founded by St. Sergius and St. Herman on an archipelago in Lake Ladoga no later than the early 15th century (Russian monasteries). In the 15th and 16th centuries, it was one of the centers of the monastic colonization of the Russian north. After repeated episodes of destruction, the monastery’s spiritual rebirth began in 1781 under Abbot Nazarii (Kondrat’ev), under whom three forms of monastic life were instituted: a ce…


(256 words)

Author(s): Scheible, Heinz
[German Version] 1. Alfonso de (c. 1500, Cuenca – Oct 6, 1532, Vienna), from 1520 or earlier secretary in the chancery of Emperor Charles V, for whose policies he acted as spokesman after 1525. He was present at the diets in Worms in 1521 and Augsburg in 1530, where he debated with Melanchthon. Heinz Scheible Bibliography J.C. Nieto, EncR IV, 1996, 212 E. Wenneker, BBKL XII, 1997, 1035–1037 K. Ganzer, LThK 3 X, 2001, 511. 2. Juan de (1509?, Cuenca – August 1541, Naples), brother of Alfonso; Spanish humanist and theologian. He began his studies in 1526 at the University of…

Valdivieso, Antonio

(132 words)

Author(s): Eggensperger, Thomas
[German Version] (born in Villahermosa – Feb 26, 1550, Leon, Nicaragua), a Dominican who traveled from Spain to Nicaragua in 1543. Following a request ¶ by Charles V to Paul III that B. de Las Casas be made bishop of the diocese of Chiapas and Valdivieso be made bishop of the diocese of Nicaragua, he was consecrated bishop on Nov 9, 1545. His campaign for the rights of indigenous Americans earned him the sobriquet padre de los indios, found for example in several letters he and Las Casas addressed to the Spanish administration. His commitment earned him martyrdom. Thomas Eggensperger Bibliogra…

Valencia, Martín de

(183 words)

Author(s): Nebel, Richard
[German Version] (1474? Valencia de Don Juan, León, Spain – Mar 31, 1534?, near Amecameca, Mexico), Spanish Franciscan and “founder of the Mexican church.” After a novitiate at the convent of Mayorga, he saw to the building of the monastery of Nuestra Señora de Berrogal, near Belvís; he was a co-founder of the custody of San Gabriel in Extremadura and its first provincial. He traveled to central Mexico in 1524 as leader of the “12 apostles of Mexico,” a group of Franciscans sent to Christianize th…

Valens of Mursa

(9 words)

[German Version] Ursacius and Valens

Valentinian Exposition (NHC XI,2; Val. Exp.)

(10 words)

[German Version] Valentinianism


(1,084 words)

Author(s): Wucherpfennig, Ansgar
[German Version] designates a group of differing doctrines and schools in ancient heresiological literature. The expression “Valentinians” is first encountered in the writings of Justin Martyr ( Dial. 35.6). According to Irenaeus of Lyon ( Haer. I Prooemium 2), the Valentinians from the school of Ptolemy the Gnostic traced themselves back to the Christian teacher Valentinus. Owing to this internal and external designation, Valentinus became the identification figure of a highly diversified theological orientation from the second ha…


(395 words)

Author(s): Wucherpfennig, Ansgar
[German Version] (c. 120–160 ce). In combination with Gnosticism (Gnosis: III, 1), Valentinus responded to new questions that Christianity was asking itself in the 2nd century, as it spread among an educated urban class. Heresiologists (Heresy: II, 2) since Irenaeus of Lyon have treated Valentinus as the founder of a Gnostic school; he is often named alongside Marcion, despite substantial differences in their teaching. But Irenaeus’s refutation was already directed not against Valentinus but against…


(192 words)

Author(s): Hahn, Johannes
[German Version] (Publius Licinius Valerianus; 199 – after [?] 260), Roman emperor 253–260 ce, of noble birth. After the murder of Trebonianus Gallus in Raetia in 253, Valerian was proclaimed emperor by his troops and headed to Rome, where he was proclaimed emperor by the Senate; his son Gallienus became co-regent. In August of 257, attacks in the East induced Valerian – probably adopting the policies of Decius – to proceed against the Christians (Eus. Hist. eccl. VII 10f.): ban on assembly; supplicatio by the clergy before the Roman gods on pain of banishment (Persecutions o…

Valerius, Adrian

(256 words)

Author(s): König, Christopher
[German Version] (c. 1575, Middelburg – Jan 27, 1625, Vere), Dutch Reformed poet and politician, who held influential offices in Zeeland, especially as a tax official and a city councilor of Vere. His Nederlandtsche Gedenck-clanck, published posthumously in 1626, quickly became popular; it was a celebration of the wars of the Netherlands against Spain compiled for the most part from earlier works. Valerius included in it 76 songs, most of which he composed himself and set to earlier tunes with lute tablature; they are pervaded b…

Valesius, Henricus

(104 words)

Author(s): Strohm, Christoph
[German Version] (Henri de Valois; Sep 10, 1603, Paris – May 7, 1676, Paris), philologist. After studying law in Bourges from 1622 to 1624, he worked as a parliamentary lawyer in Paris, but from 1630 on he devoted himself to classical philology. In 1634 he published a first edition of several Greek church fathers. In 1650 he was commissioned by the French episcopate to work on an edition of the Greek church historians (Eusebius of Caesarea, 1659; Socrates Scholasticus and Sozomen, 1668; Theodoret of Cyrrhus and Evagrius Ponticus, 1673). Christoph Strohm Bibliography A. de Valois, De vita …


(859 words)

Author(s): Figal, Günter | Dreier, Ralf | Grube, Dirk-Martin
[German Version] I. Philosophy The term validity was already used by I. Kant ( Akademie-Ausgabe IV, 460f.), but it did not play a prominent role in philosophy until the late 19th century. Validity is an actuality, not further explicable, that is understood primarily in contrast to existence. In this sense, R.H. Lotze distinguished between things, which exist, events, which take place, and propositions, which are valid ( Grundzüge der Logik und Encyklopädie der Philosophie, 1902; ET: Outlines of Logic and of Encyclopædia of Philosophy, 1892). To say that a proposition is valid …

Valignano, Alessandro

(136 words)

Author(s): Ross, Andrew C.
[German Version] (Feb, 1539, Chieta, Italy – Jan 20, 1606, Macao, China), administrator of the Jesuit missions from Ethiopia to Japan from 1573 until 1595; from 1595 his authority was over Japan and China only. The appointment of the young Italian aristrocrat was part of the effort to regenerate and reform the work in the East, which had become too closely identified with Portugal. Valignano shaped a strategy of inculturation of Christianity in Japan, which was a radical development of the break, …

Valla, Lorenzo

(421 words)

Author(s): Gerl-Falkovitz, Hanna-Barbara
[German Version] (De Valla, Vallati, Vallensis; 1405/1407 Rome – Aug 1, 1457, Rome). After studying humanae litterae with Giovanni Aurispara (1369–1459) and Leonardo Bruni (1370–1444), Valla occupied the chair of rhetoric at Pavia from 1431 to 1433. In 1435 he was appointed secretary and historian to Alfonso V of Aragón in Naples; in 1448 he was appointed apostolic secretary to Nicholas V and Callistus II. After 1450 he also served as professor of rhetoric in Rome. His fame rests on numerous translations and invectives, coupled with provocative employment of philology and ¶ rhetoric fo…


(288 words)

Author(s): Merz, Birgit
[German Version] a reforming branch of Benedictine monasticism (Benedictines), initially eremitic, late cenobitic (Cenobites; see also Monasticism: III, 3.e). Their habit was originally gray; today it is black. The Vallombrosans go back to John Gualberto (died 1073), who founded a monastery between c. 1037 and 1039 in Acquabella (later Vallombrosa), near Florence, followed by additional monasteries in Tuscany, other parts of Italy, and France. The Vallombrosans had received papal approbation sever…

Value Change

(464 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef
[German Version] The expression value change usually refers to the change of attitude from materialistic to post-materialistic values that took place in highly industrialized Western societies in the 1960s and 1970s. Ronald Inglehart, whose work substantially influenced the theory of value change, spoke of a “silent revolution.” What he meant was that despite structural continuity during these decades, a change in fundamental cultural orientation took place among the populations of Western Europe and…
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