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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(297 words)

Author(s): Hezser, Catherine
[German Version] In Judaism yahrzeit denotes the anniversary of a parent’s death, observed every year. The word itself appears to have been borrowed from the language of the church in the Middle Ages by Ashkenazic Jews (Judaism: II). According to Rashi (on b. Yebam. 122a), the anniversary of the death of famous rabbis was already being solemnly observed in the talmudic period, when their students and the people would make a pilgrimage to the rabbi’s burial site. Although the Talmud ( b. Ned. 12a; 14a) already speaks of fasting on the day of a parent’s death and its anniversar…


(5 words)

[German Version] Pentateuch

Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī, Abū Zakarīyāʾ

(181 words)

Author(s): Endreß, Gerhard
[German Version] (893, Takrit – 974, Baghdad), Arab Christian philosopher and theologian, translator and commentator on Aristotle, apologist of the Christian faith vis-à-vis Islam, and champion of Monophysite Christology against Nestorianism. As a mediator of the Aristotelian sources, especially logic, ontology, and physics, as a teacher of logic – in this case a follower and transmitter of the Nestorian Abū Bišr ¶ Mattā ibn Yūnus –, and as author of a compendium of rationalistic ethics, he came to be the leading authority of Arabic Aris…

Yak-jong, Chóng

(165 words)

Author(s): Koschorke, Klaus
[German Version] (also called Augustine Chong; 1760, Korea – 1801, Korea), Korean theologian and martyr. Yak-jong belonged to the pioneer generation of Confucian scholars around P.I.S. Hun who – long before the first European missionary entered Korea in 1836 – accepted Christianity and established an enduring Christian presence in Korea, then hermetically isolated. They knew of “Western teaching” through Jesuit tracts in Chinese published by M. Ricci and his successors in Beijing. Despite the pers…


(185 words)

Author(s): Hultkrantz, Åke
[German Version] also called Sakha, a Turkic-speaking tribe in the Republic of Sakha in north-eastern Siberia. The Yakuts split off from the Turkic people of Central Asia about 800 years ago. Besides horse breeding and cattle raising, they devote themselves to hunting and fishing. Despite having been Christianized around ¶ 1800, they have largely maintained their traditional religion to the present day. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, shamanism gained new influence. After prison terms, many shamans continue their traditional pra…

Yale University

(292 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] was founded as the Collegiate School of Connecticut in 1701. It relocated permanently to New Haven in 1717 and, in 1718, took its name from Elihu Yale, a British philanthropist. J. Edwards was an early graduate (1720) and then tutor. Under the moderate E. Stiles (president 1778–1795) and the energetic T. Dwight (1795–1817), Yale became a leading center of broadly evangelical Christianity in the United States. A divinity school was added in 1822 under N.W. Taylor, which rapidly bec…

Yaroslav the Wise

(164 words)

Author(s): Hauptmann, Peter
[German Version] (Mudry; c. 978 – Feb 20, 1054), son of St. Vladimir the Great. As vice-regent of Novgorod, in 1019 he expelled his elder brother Svyatopolk from Kiev; in 1036, after the death of his younger brother Mstislav of Chernigov and Tumutarakan, he became sole ruler of the Kievan Rus’ empire, which experienced its golden age under him. He expanded his capital after the model of Constantinople; among other building projects, he oversaw the building of the stone Cathedral of St. Sophia in K…


(519 words)

Author(s): Hezser, Catherine
[German Version] (Jabne, Jamnia). Situated in the Judean coastal plain, the town of Yavne became an important center after the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, according to Josephus ( Bell. IV 444), Vespasian (69–79 ce) settled the Jews who had surrendered to the Romans without a struggle in Yavne (and Lydda). Rabbinic literature has preserved several versions of the story of Yohanan ben Zakkai’s flight to Yavne and his founding of a school there ( ARN A 4, ARN B 6, 13, b.Giṭ. 56b, Lam. Rab. 1.31). This story claims that Yohanan had pr…

Yeats, William Butler

(211 words)

Author(s): Meller, Horst
[German Version] (Jun 13, 1865, Sandymount, Ireland – Jan 28, 1939, Roquebrune, France), Irish poet, playwright, and mystic. Yeats was the son of a Protestant lawyer in Sligo. After attending the Metropolitan School of Art, in 1887 he joined the circle of the Decadents and the Yellow Book in London, where he was one of the founders of the Rhymers’ Club. Politically he championed the Celtic Revival; religiously he was sympathetic to theosophy and Rosicrucianism (Rosicrucians). In 1917 he married a …

Yehiel ben Yekutiel Anav of Rome

(134 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] Jewish physician, halakhist, and ethical writer in the second half of the 13th century in Italy. His best-known work is the ethical treatise, Maʾalot ha-Midot (“The ascending ethical qualities”), written c. 1287, one of the most important ethical works of that age. Yehiel bases his teachings on both traditional rabbinic education and rationalistic philosophical ideology which was dominant among Jewish intellectuals at that time. His attitude is moderate and worldly (among the recommended qualities, “weal…

Yehuda ben Samuel ha-Levi

(460 words)

Author(s): Bekkum, Wout J. van
[German Version] (c. 1075, Tudela – 1141,Egypt). When the Almoravides conquered Andalusia after 1090, Yehuda moved from town to town in Christian Spain during the next 20 years. When his benefactor, Solomon Ibn Ferrizuel, was murdered in Toledo, he went to Cordoba, Granada, and Almeria. He was a doctor, businessman, and courtier, as well as a prolific composer of Hebrew secular and sacred poetry. His poetic oeuvre consists of more than 1,000 works. By mid-life he was already a revered public figur…

Yehuda he-Chasid

(163 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (“the pious,” Yehuda ben Samuel of Regensburg; c. 1150, Speyer, Germany – 1217, Regensburg, Germany), leader of the school of esotericists and pietists of the Kalonymus family in the Rhineland. He wrote ethical works, especially the Sefer Hasidim (Hasidism, Ashkenazi) and a series of esoteric-mystical ones: Sefer ha-Kavod (“Book of Divine Glory,” ms. Oxford, Bodleiana 1566f.) and a lost six-volume Commentary on the Prayers (the earliest work of this genre known to us). In all three works his positions are radical: his view of the kavod is that of a divine power in…


(5 words)

[German Version] Midrash


(835 words)

Author(s): Müller, Walter W.
[German Version] country in the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, bordered to the north by Saudi Arabia and to the east by Oman. The name derives from the Arabic word for “right” (as opposed to “left”) and originally meant the territory lying to the right, i.e. in the south. Yemen, divided into 21 administrative divisions, has an area of 527,968 km2 and a population of 25,130,000 (April 2011), almost exclusively Arabic-speaking Yemeni Muslims, about half Shiʿite Zaidi and half Sunnis of the Shāfiʿite legal school. Yemen is a presidential repub…


(259 words)

Author(s): Fram, Edward
[German Version] (Heb. הבָישִׁיְ), literally “sitting”; in the talmudic period it referred to the academies, in the Land of Israel and Babylonia, in which men studied rabbinic law. A rabbinic court was an integral part of the academies, each of which was led by a prominent scholar. In the course of the talmudic period and throughout almost all the geonic period (mid-6th cent. to mid-11th cent.; Gaon) the academies in the Babylonia communities of Sura and Pumbedita were considered authoritative, and …

Yetzirah, Sefer

(440 words)

Author(s): Rebiger, Bill
[German Version] or Book of Creation is one of the most influential texts in the Jewish tradition. The anonymous work dates from either the 3rd century to 6th century (Scholem, Hayman), or the 7th century to 8th century (Gruenwald). It is often ascribed pseudepigraphically to Abraham, who is mentioned in the final paragraphs. There are three recensions: one short, one of medium length with a commentary by Saadia Gaon, and one long. The book describes the creation and structure of the world through “32 ways of wisdom”: the ten sefirot plus the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The s…


(570 words)

Author(s): Kreyenbroek, Philip G.
[German Version] a religious minority group living in the Kurdish-speaking areas of modern Iraq, Turkey and Syria, and in Armenia and Georgia. In the late 20th century many Yezidis were forced to migrate to Europe, notably to Germany. The center of the community’s religious life is the Valley of Lāliš in northern Iraq, where ʿAdī ibn Musāfir (died c. 1160 ce), the founder of the community, had settled in the early 12th century and where his tomb continues to be venerated. Although ʿAdī was an Islamic mystic (Mysticism: VI), the isolation of his Kurdish f…


(6 words)

[German Version] World Tree