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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Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior/Neurosis

(599 words)

Author(s): Beine, Karl-H.
[German Version] Obsessive or compulsive behaviors are characterized by the occurrence of obsessive thoughts and/or acts. In this mental disorder, obsessive thoughts find their way into a person’s conciousness unasked, and cannot be dispelled. They are accompanied by strong feelings of anxiety and fear. In most cases, it is aggressive mental images that keep imposing themselves, or notions concerned with pollution. A typical feature of compulsive behaviors is that the afflicted person feels compel…

Occam, William of

(2,010 words)

Author(s): Leppin, Volker
[German Version] I. Life – II. Work – III. Influence (Venerabilis Inceptor; c. 1285, Ockham, England – Apr 9, 1347, Munich) I. Life William probably studied a reduced program of arts at the Franciscan college in London before proceeding in 1308 to study theology at the University of Oxford. Here he delivered his lectures on the Sentences from 1317 to 1319. It is not clear whether, or to what extent, William was involved in the disputes between the mendicant orders and the university. In any case, he came under sharp philosophical attack, especially from t…


(413 words)

Author(s): Perler, Dominik
[German Version] is a theory of causality which disputes the existence of natural causes. It defines God as the sole true cause of all events in the world. Natural objects merely represent opportunities ( occasiones) for divine action. However, God does not intervene arbitrarily in the world, but brings about all events in accordance with natural law. Accordingly, the world is discernible to human beings as ordered creation. On the basis of the axiom that “God has the power to do all” (Qurʾān, sura 2:20, 106, 109), the 10th-century Muslim scholar al-Ašʿarī defen…


(7 words)

[German Version] Orient and Occident


(1,213 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl | Streib, Heinz
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies Especially in Germany, occultism (from Lat. occultum, “what is hidden [in the mysteries]”) became a collective term for all theories and practices dealing with “extrasensory” and “supernatural” forces after the appearance of H.P. Blavatsky’s theosophy in the 19th century. It differs from spiritualism in explaining spiritualist phenomena as being caused by an unspecified natural force. But since religions, Gnosis, and esotericism a…


(5 words)

[German Version] Water


(2,301 words)

Author(s): MacDonald, Mary N. | Garrett, John
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. History of Christianity I. History of Religion While in the widest sense Oceania embraces the region between Asia and the Americas this article is concerned only with the religious traditions of the island regions known as Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. Traditionally Oceania was home to small-scale societies which today persist as parts of nation states. Although the large majority of the people in Oceania are Christian (see II below) and there are small rep…

Ochino, Bernardino

(384 words)

Author(s): Campi, Emidio
[German Version] (actually Tomasini, Benedetto; 1487, Siena – end of 1564, Slavkov [Austerlitz]), was born in the Oca quarter of Siena, from which his later ¶ name is derived. In 1503 he entered the Order of Franciscan Observants (Franciscans), which he left, however, in 1534 following disputes, in order to join the more ascetic Capuchins. In 1538 and 1541 he was elected their vicar general. From 1536, under the influence of P. Waldo, he came in contact with Reformation ideas, which became increasingly prominent in his p…


(295 words)

Author(s): Kraft, Ekkehard
[German Version] is a town to the northeast of the lake of the same name in the republic of Macedonia. In antiquity it was known as Lychnidos and was the chief town in Illyrian Dassaretia. The place is first mentioned in 343 as a bishop’s seat. Probably around 842 it came under Bulgarian rule, and is mentioned again in 879/880 as a bishopric, under the name Ochrid, or (Gk) Achrida. From 886 Clement and Nahum, disciples of Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavs, made it a center of church and m…

Ockeghem, Jean d’

(185 words)

Author(s): Boisits, Barbara
[German Version] ( Jean de; c. 1410, Saint Ghislain near Mons – Feb 6, 1497, Tours?), Franco-Flemish composer. He sang in the choir of Antwerp Cathedral and in the chapel of Duke Charles I of Bourbon in Moulins. He was the leading singer and choir director at the French court under Charles VII, Louis XI, and Charles VIII. He also held the lucrative office of trésorier of St. Martin’s Abbey in Tours. He traveled to Spain, Flanders, and elsewhere. His main work was in religious compositions (Church music: IV, 2.a.y), particularly masses and motets; his requiem…

Ockenga, Harold John

(190 words)

Author(s): Curtis, Heather
[German Version] ( Jul 6, 1905, Chicago, IL – Feb 8, 1985, Boston, MA). After his studies at Taylor University (B.A. 1927), Westminster Theological Seminary (M. Div. 1930), and Pittsburgh University (Ph.D. 1939) Ockenga accepted a call to pastor Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1969. During the 1940s and 1950s ¶ Ockenga helped launch and lead the “new evangelical movement” (Evangelicalism). Ockenga coined the term “new evangelical” to describe efforts to encourage a more culturally engaged and intellectually respe…

O’Connor, Flannery

(172 words)

Author(s): Meller, Horst
[German Version] (Mar 25, 1925, Savannah, GA – Aug 4, 1964, Atlanta, GA), American story-teller who dissects with cool irony and black humor the consumerist, psychologically impoverished society of the southern United States in the early years of the Cold War. Her often shrilly satirical short stories, collected in A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965), and her novels Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), ensured a broad readership and admission to the academic canon. Her life was governed by unwavering Cathol…

Octava dies

(182 words)

Author(s): Brüske, Gunda
[German Version] Octava dies, from the Latin (dies) octava, the eighth day, denotes the liturgical celebration eight days after a festival, and also the period up to the day of the octave. Sources from the end of the 4th century attest the Easter octave (“White Sunday”), and the octaves of Epiphany (V) and church dedication. Whereas earlier scholarship saw its genesis in the context of Old Testament testimony (Lev 23:36; 1 Kgs 8:65; 2 Chr 29:17, 30:21ff.; 1 Macc 4:56), now a connection with baptismal ca…


(711 words)

Author(s): Düchting, Reinhard | Brusniak, Friedhelm | Felmy, Karl Christian
[German Version] I. Literature – II. Music – III. Orthodox Liturgy I. Literature Historically, the term ode (Gk ᾠδή/ ōdḗ, “song”; cf. the derivative lit. forms of the palinode, “poetic retraction,” and parody, “mock song/poem”) was increasingly reserved for a formal song or poem of exalted emotion ( carmen). Pindar (apart from four books of epinicia [victory songs], only frgms. extant) was the poetic muse of Horace (IV 2), whose four books of carmina ( odae), though little read in the Latin Middle Ages, provided a model for the Latin and vernacular strophic lyric poet…

Odes of Solomon

(8 words)

[German Version] Solomonic Writings

Odilo of Cluny (Saint)

(188 words)

Author(s): Barone, Giulia
[German Version] (c. 961 – Jan 1, 1049, Souvigny, Auvergne), came from the noble family of Mercour (Auvergne). He was first a canon in St. Julien ¶ in Brioude (Haute-Loire), and c. 990 became a monk in Cluny. From 993 Odilo was coadjutor of Abbot Maiolus of Cluny, and from 994 his successor. In 998 he received from Pope Gregory V exemption from the bishop of Macon. This privilege was extended in 1024 to all monasteries dependent on Cluny. Odilo was one of Emperor Otto III’s closest advisers, and wrote some important docum…


(306 words)

Author(s): Harris, Joseph
[German Version] (Old Norse Óðinn; Ger. Wodan, Wotan; Eng. also Woden) is the chief Germanic god of northern paganism in the Viking period, and also its most versatile figure. Myths about Odin include the search for wisdom (e.g. theft of the skaldic meal) and knowledge contests (e.g. with the giant Vafþrúðnir). In some myths he has to undergo shaman-like sufferings (e.g. hang himself in order to obtain runes). As a magician he even practices the black art of seiðr, unworthy of men. In order to attain wisdom he sacrifices one eye, and is therefore portrayed as one-eyed. He…


(241 words)

Author(s): Moser-Achuthath, Heike
[German Version] is the name of a classical dance style from the northeast Indian state of Orissa. Oḍissi mirrors the dancing figures of the temples of Bhubaneshwar, Puri, and Konarak (10th to 13th cent.) and is based on the praxis of certain (female) temple dancers (Devadāsī/Māhārī) still current, as well as on the “acrobatic” Gotipua tradition of dancing boys wearing women’s clothes. Today Oḍissi ranks almost as high as Bharata Nāṭyam, which originated in South India and was elevated to becom…

Odo of Cluny (Saint)

(187 words)

Author(s): Barone, Giulia
[German Version] (c. 879 – Nov 18, 942, Tours). After spending several years at the court of Duke William of Aquitaine, Odo, born to a noble family, entered the canonry of St. Martin’s in Tours and then studied with Remigius of Auxerre in Paris. At the age of 30, he entered the abbey of Baume-les-Messieurs at the western edge of the French Jura, founded by Berno, who later became the first abbot of Cluny. After Berno’s death, Odo succeeded him as abbot of Cluny, Déols, and Massay. In the years that followed, as abbot of Cluny – and with the support of popes and Alberic, the princeps of Rome – he fou…

Oecolampadius, John

(563 words)

Author(s): Jung, Martin H.
[German Version] (actually Häuschen/Heusgen;name Graecized from Haus-Schein, “House-light”; 1482, Weinsberg–Nov 24, 1531, Basel), Humanist who came ¶ on his mother’s side from Basel, and became Basel’s (Basel) most important reformer. From 1499 he studied philosophy, law, and theology in Heidelberg, where he was influenced by J. Wimpfeling among others, and in Bologna; from 1506 to 1508 he worked in Mainz as princes’ tutor. In 1510 he was ordained priest and occupied the office of preacher in Weinsberg. After le…
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