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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(646 words)

Author(s): Mohr, Burkhard
[German Version] The passion play and Easter play were medieval precursors of (religious) opera, but the development of opera in the form that lives on today was closely related to classical mythology, a product of the late Renaissance view of music in ancient Greece as an artistic synthesis involving language, movement, and stage scenery. While Jacopo Peri’s Dafne (1598) and Euridice (1600, in collaboration with Giulio Caccini) made a beginning, other northern Italian composers were experimenting with cantata-like forms. The real beginning of opera dates from C. Monteverdi’s Orfeo…

Operation Mobilisation

(142 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Klaus
[German Version] Operation Mobilisation (OM) was founded in the United States in the 1950s and has been active in Europe and around the world since the 1970s. On the basis of its Evangelical missionary theology, it defines its task as spreading the gospel and encouraging young Christians to evangelize (Evangelism). This takes place primarily in short-term missionary outreach programs, in which young people are placed in various countries, or on OM’s own “mission ships.” In longer outreach programs…


(209 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] is a semilegendary land of gold, reachable by ship from Elath (1 Kgs 9:28; 10:11; 22:49). According to Gen 10:29 (post-P), which makes Ophir a “son of Joktan” and a “brother of Havilah” (Hā’il or the Nufũd desert?), it was probably on the western coast of Arabia; the alternative Punt (Somalia) is based on the catalogue of trade goods in 1 Kgs 10:22, including ivory and apes, but Ophir may also have been a transfer station for the transport of Somali goods. In the mid-10th century bce, gold was mined in the vicinity of Medina. The gold of Ophir was proverbial (Isa 1…


(159 words)

Author(s): Holzhausen, Jens
[German Version] The Ophites, a Gnostic Christian sect, are first mentioned in Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata (VII 17.108[2]). The name probably derives from their worship of the serpent in paradise, which conveys salutary knowledge of the transcendent God. Origen ( Cels. VI 24–38) attributes to the group the diagram cited by Celsus, but doubts that Ophites still exist (Hippolytus ignores the sect in Haer. VIII 20.3). Their spiritual father is said to have been Euphrates (called Perat in Hipp. Haer. V 13.9); they would curse Jesus. According to Theodoret, who equates the…

Ophrah (in Benjamin)

(191 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] (עָפְרָה; cf. for the meaning of the name ʿ āpār, “dust,” or more probably ‘ oper, “young deer, gazelle kid”), mentioned in Josh 18:23 in the list of places belonging to Benjamin. However, Ophrah lies beyond the northern frontier of Benjamin ( Josh 18:12f.) and has probably entered the place list from 2 Chr 13:19 (ʿ eprōn), plausibly identified with eṭ-Ṭayyibe (eudemonism because of the echo of the Canaanite Ephron with Arab. ʿ ifrīt, “goblin”), and matching details given by Jerome (5 Roman miles north of Bethel); probably to be identified with Aph…

Ophrah (in Manasseh)

(146 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] was home town and residence of the Abiezrite chieftain Gideon (Judg 6:11), where he used booty taken from the Midianites to build ¶ a sanctuary (Judg 8:27, in contrast to 8:22f.: the act of a ruler). Its identification within the territory of the clan of Abiezer (from the 10th/9th cent. bce Manasseh territory), well outlined in the Samaria ostraca (Samaria), depends on how one defines the clan’s relation to the town of Shechem: whether as close as possible (Donner: Tell Ṣōfar), or as distant as possible (Knauf: Ḡinṣāfūṭ Gan-[ha]S̄opeṭ). Ernst Axel Knauf Bibliograp…

Opitz, Martin

(326 words)

Author(s): Beutel, Albrecht
[German Version] (Dec 23, 1597, Bunzlau, Silesia – Aug 20, 1639, Danzig), late Humanist poet and diplomat. Opitz studied jurisprudence and philosophy in Frankfurt an der Oder (1618) and Heidelberg (1619), and in 1620 fled, at the approach of Spanish troops, to the Netherlands; in 1621 he moved to Jutland, in 1622 he was a teacher in Weissenburg, Transylvania (Alba Iulia, Romania), in 1623 counselor at the court of the dukes of Liegnitz and Brieg, in 1625 crowned poeta laureatus, between 1626 and 1632 diplomat in the service of Karl Hannibal, count of Dohna, a Catholic impe…

Oppenheim, Moritz Daniel

(418 words)

Author(s): Merk, Anton
[German Version] (Jan 12, 1800, Hanau – Feb 26, 1882, Frankfurt am Main). Oppenheim, the son of a Jewish tradesman, spent his childhood in the seclusion of the Hanau ghetto. He received his artistic training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he was one of the earliest artists to work with lithography, and in the atelier of Jean Baptist Regnault in Paris. His stay in Rome, Florence, and Naples from 1821 to 1825 left its mark on all his later work. The major works he completed in Italy include the Vertreibung der Hagar (1824/1826) and Die Heimkehr des jungen Tobias (1823). In 1825 Oppen…

Optatus of Milevis

(282 words)

Author(s): Löhr, Winrich
[German Version] Between 364 and 367, Optatus, an African bishop, wrote a treatise against the schismatic Donatists (Donatism), who had regained their strength as a result of the religious policies of Julian ¶ the Apostate. Initially his work comprised six books with an appended dossier of relevant documents, in response to a work by Parmenianus, the Donatist bishop of Carthage. During the pontificate of Siricius, Optatus added a seventh book. His argument was both historical and theological: in his polemical and apologetic rec…

Optatus of Thamugadi

(7 words)

[German Version] Donatism

Optimism and Pessimism

(1,311 words)

Author(s): Gilhus, Ingvild Sœlid | Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Philosophy I. Religious Studies Optimism (from Lat. optimus, “best”) and pessimism (from Lat. pessimum, “worst”) are used in the history of religions to characterize attitudes towards the world and this life. Some religions (e.g. Judaism) are described as having an optimistic view of life, while others have been characterized as pessimistic, as for instance religions which originated in India in the 7th to 5th centuries bce: Upanishadic religions (Upanisạds), Jainism, and Buddhism. Also Neoplatonism and Gnostic varieties …

Optina Pustyn’

(285 words)

Author(s): Hagemeister, Michael
[German Version] (Russ. “Hermitage of Opta”), an Orthodox monastery near Kozel’sk (Kaluga region) on the banks of the Zhizdra. It was founded in the 15th century, and for a long time had no great importance, but in the early 19th century it was reformed by followers of Paisius Velichkovsky in the spirit of ascetic renewal. The foundation of a colony of hermits ( skit) near the monastery made it a center for startsy (Starets). The startsy of Optina Pustyn’, of whom Leonid/Lev (1768–1841), Makarii (1788–1860) and Amvrosii became famous, were distinguished by their world-…


(347 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] For persons standing on the ground of the (externally or personally chosen) realized situation of their own personhood, in their pragmatic present, there are still determinations of their own being to be made, and in each case they must make a choice. It is always a matter of effective physical behaviors (Action), in accordance with physical and social rules of effectivity. Options are those selectable behaviors of which the function is known, and the effect foreseeable. They can …

Opus Dei

(548 words)

Author(s): Eder, Manfred
[German Version] (“God’s Work,” officially: Praelatura personalis Sanctae Crucis et Operis Dei), is one of the most influential and at the same time most controversial institutions within the Catholic Church. It was founded in 1928 in Madrid by the Spanish priest Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer (Saint, 1902–1975) as an association for laymen (in 1930 a strictly separate women’s branch was founded), for the sanctification of work and the Christianization of society; in 1941 it was approved as pia unio. In order to have their own clergy, the “Priestly Society of the Holy Cros…


(1,534 words)

Author(s): Vollmer, Ulrich | Hutter, Manfred | Wandrey, Irina | Egelhaaf-Gaiser, Ulrike
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. History of Religion I. Religious Studies The term “oracle,” derived from the Latin noun oraculum, denotes, (1) in close connection with the original meaning of the word, the oracle site, i.e. the place at which a divine statement ( orare, “to speak”) was communicated to a person (see II, 3 below); (2) also common in ancient usage, the oracular statement itself; (3) the oracle as an institution; (4) in individual cases also a specific person involved in issuing the oracle (e.g. the medium of Nechun…


(162 words)

Author(s): Strohm, Christoph
[German Version] In the southern French principality of Orange, which by inheritance had come to belong to the house of Nassau-Orange, the Reformation had taken an early hold. Orange, however, lost its sovereignty in the War of the Spanish Succession, and in 1703 Louis XIV issued a decree banning the Reformed church there. Those exiled for their faith, called Orangeois, mostly settled in Brandenburg-Prussia (Burg, Halberstadt, Magdeburg and Halle), after a temporary stay in Geneva or elsewhere in …

Orange Order

(268 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] The Orange Order is a Protestant fraternal organization founded in 1795 in the north of Ireland and dedicated to the victory of the English Protestant king William (from Orange in Holland) over the ¶ Roman Catholic James I at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 (Ireland: II). The order arose at a time of particular tension in County Armagh when both Catholic agitation and Enlightenment thinking threatened the social and political dominance of Protestantism. It developed through the construction of lodges, the for…

Orange, Synod of

(297 words)

Author(s): Löhr, Winrich
[German Version] On Jul 3, 529, on the occasion of a church dedication, Caesarius of Arles convoked a synod in the southern French city of Orange to consider the controversial doctrine of grace (Grace, Doctrine of) espoused by Augustine of Hippo. Not long before, a synod in Valence, in the diocese of Vienne, then a rival see to Arles, had dealt with the same topic. The Synod of Orange approved a document, presumably edited by Caesarius, comprising 25 canons framed by an introduction and a credal s…


(194 words)

Author(s): Arnulf, Arwed
[German Version] Orants, standing figures with arms raised and onstretched, appear in catacomb paintings and on sculpted sarcophagi in Late Antiquity; they also appear in various genres of the minor arts, depending on the primary iconographic theme. Pagan art had already used such figures to represent prayer; early Christian art employed them to symbolize powerful or salvific prayer, as in representations of Daniel in the lion’s den, Noah in the ark, and the young men in the fiery furnace. In cata…


(298 words)

Author(s): Pahl, Irmgard
[German Version] Latin oratio means “prayer” or “public speech.” In the Latin liturgical tradition, it means a prayer that obeys the stylistic rules of classical rhetoric, with a fixed structure: (1) invocation, (2) predication, (3) petition, (4) concluding formula, (5) congregational “amen.” In the Roman oratio, this structure is extremely concise; in the Gallican liturgy, however, it is often more expansive. Except in certain late forms, the oratio has always been addressed to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit (cf. the Council of Hippo …
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