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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Original State

(3,622 words)

Author(s): Grünschloß, Andreas | Arneth, Martin | Dietz, Walter R.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Bible – III. Dogmatics I. Religious Studies Myths of an original state are usually associated with cosmogonic and anthropogonic (Anthropogony) myths concerning the origins of the world, life, animals, and human beings, for the original state refers to a primal age (Protology) before all time, falling between creation and history. Many religious traditions describe a harmonious, even paradisal eon when humans or (sometimes theriomorphic) protohumans were “still” in d…

Origin of the World, On the (NHC II, 5; XIII, 2; OW)

(167 words)

Author(s): Bethge, Hans-Gebhard
[German Version] a Gnostic tractate or treatise of the late 3rd or early 4th century, supposed to have been written in Alexandria. It is extant only in a Coptic translation, and belongs to no known school. It is marked by the criteria of ancient rhetoric, and has no title. Following a prologue, it contains long descriptions, especially of primeval times (theogony, cosmogony, events from Gen 1–3), and the end times, viewed apocalyptically. It is based on numerous heterogeneous traditions, including earlier Jewish traditions, refers to other literary works, has affinities to the Hypostas…


(1,438 words)

Author(s): Horyna, Břetislav | Wesche, Tilo | Zachhuber, Johannes
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Philosophy – III. Dogmatics I. Religious Studies The origins (Ger. Ursprung) of something are an event or a set of events which, as a cause and in causal relationship with one another, constitute the initial shape of further events that ensue from the origins. Accordingly, the concept of origins must be understood on two levels of explication: (1) origins as a temporal conception in which the chronological beginning as well as the chronological proximity of origins and…

Origins of Religion

(10 words)

[German Version] Primitive Religion Traditional Religion


(185 words)

Author(s): Wolf, Gerhard Philipp
[German Version] is a French city on the Loire (Département Loiret). The Gallo-Roman foundation became the seat of a bishopric in the 4th century, as civitas Aurelianorum. In 451 Bishop Aignan saved Orléans from siege by Attila. In Merovingian times the city was several times the meeting place of councils. Under Charlemagne the scholar Theodulf was bishop of Orléans. At the end of the 10th century, the city was the starting-point for the rule of the Capetians. In 1022 the son of Hugo Capet, Robert II, had the Orléans her…

Orosius, Paulus

(288 words)

Author(s): Leppin, Hartmut
[German Version] (of Braga; attested 414–418), a presbyter from Iberian Bracara who went to Africa in 414. He was close to Augustine, and took documents to Jerome in Jerusalem, where he became an early ¶ opponent of Pelagianism (Pelagius). On his return to Africa he became more prominent in his opposition to Pelagianism. In addition to anti-heretical writings ( Liber Apologeticus, Commonitorium de errore Priscillianistarum et Origenistarum), Orosius wrote his most important work, the Historiarum adversum paganos in seven books, which he completed in 416–417/418, with en…

Orphaned Missions Fund (OMF)

(289 words)

Author(s): Jackson, E.M.
[German Version] . Created in May 1940 by International Missionary Council (IMC) officers to avert the problems experienced in World War I by Protestant “orphaned missions” cut off from their sponsoring home boards, the OMF created a level of ecumenical cooperation which to some extent protected missions from political manipulation or asset confiscation by colonial governments, enabled work to continue with indigenous leadership and anticipated the development of postwar aid networks. The inspirat…

Orphans, Care of

(808 words)

Author(s): Götzelmann, Arnd
[German Version] The care of orphans as an important area of Jewish and Christian social responsibility goes back to Moses and the social legislation of the Bible (Exod 22:21–23; Deut 24:17). Historically, it was the germ that grew into services for children and young people (Youth service) and social education. Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire already had to deal with the danger of numbers of pauperized orphans (Heb. יָתוֹם/ yātôm, Gk ὀρϕανός/ orphanós, Lat. orbus). To meet this challenge, they established a system of legal guardianship, supplemented by food relief…


(1,142 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph | Sed-Rajna, Gabrielle | Arnulf, Arwed
[German Version] I. Mythology – II. Art I. Mythology The stories of Orpheus reflect the emergence and rejection of a religious movement in Archaic Greece: a prince from Thrace in northern Greece enchants everyone with his artistry; the psychagogic and ecstatic power of music (Ecstasy) is recalled in a journey to the netherworld. Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus, dies; to win her back, he descends into Hades. Through his music, he charms even the rocks and persuades the implacable gods of the dead to release…


(1,858 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph | Wandrey, Irina | Graf, Fritz
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Responses I. History of Religions 1. Orphic-Dionysian mysteries. The earliest Greeks anticipated a short and active life without any form of existence after death. The 6th century bce saw the appearance of religious alternatives that promised an afterlife in the beyond. One of these spread anonymously under the name of Orpheus; myths of Orpheus speak of deliverance from a senseless and cheerless netherworld. There was never a coherent religion practiced by Orphics, but there is discu…

Orr, James

(160 words)

Author(s): Scorgie, Glen
[German Version] (Apr 11, 1844, Glasgow – Sep 6, 1913, Glasgow), Scottish theologian and polemicist; studied at the United Presbyterian Divinity Hall, Edinburgh (1868–1872) and Glasgow University (M.A. 1870; B.D. 1872; D.D. 1885); pastoral ministry in Hawick, Scotland (1874–1891); professor at United Presbyterian College, Edinburgh (1891–1900), and United Free Church College, Glasgow (1900–1913). His Christian View of God and the World (1893) launched his academic career. His subsequent theological contribution was a wideranging call for continued adhere…

Ortega y Gasset, José

(261 words)

Author(s): Steinmann, Michael
[German Version] (May 9, 1883, Madrid – Oct 18, 1955, Madrid), studied in Madrid, where he was appointed professor of metaphysics in 1910. Study trips brought him to Germany from 1904 to 1907, including Marburg, where he came under the influence of Neo-Kantianism. To escape the civil war, he left Spain in 1936 and did not return permanently until 1948. His wide-ranging work was devoted to topics of philosophy, art, and politics; he always dealt with culture in its totality. He combined the insight…

Orthodox Churches

(9,446 words)

Author(s): Hauptmann, Peter | Thöle, Reinhard | Felmy, Karl Christian
[German Version] I. Church History – II. The Branches of Orthodoxy – III. Orthodoxy throughout the World – IV. History of Orthodox Theology I. Church History 1. Terminology. The term orthodox (cf. also Orthodoxy: I) goes back to Hellenistic Judaism. Flavius Josephus, for example, commends τὴν ὀρϑὴν δόξαν περὶ Θεοῦ/ tḗn orthḗn dóxan perí Theoú instead of Greek myths and reports that the Essenes viewed other Jews as ἑτερόδοξοι/ heteródoxoi ( Apion. II 256; Bell. II 129). ¶ This idiom passed into Christian usage in the 2nd century. The critical moment for its ecclesiastica…

Orthodox Churches, Mission

(7 words)

[German Version] Mission

Orthodox Judaism

(6 words)

[German Version] Orthodoxy

Orthodox Theology

(7 words)

[German Version] Orthodox Churches


(11,720 words)

Author(s): Slenczka, Notger | Hünermann, Peter | Wallmannb, Johannes | Kaufmann, Thomas | Morgenstern, Matthias | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. Christianity – III. Judaism – IV. Islam I. Terminology The term orthodoxy derives from Greek ὀρϑός/ orthós, “right, true, straight,” and δόξα/ dóxa, “opinion, teaching.” The word and its derivatives appear in pre-Christian literature (Liddell & Scott, s.v.) but acquired their specifically religious sense only in the context of Christianity, where confession of Jesus as Lord or Christ plays a constitutive role in religious practice (Rom 10:10; Matt 10:32f.) and the need appeared early on to identify a…

Ortíz, Tomás

(190 words)

Author(s): Eggensperger, Thomas
[German Version] (c. 1490, Calzadilla, Extremadura, Spain – 1538, Tocuyo, Venezuela). In 1510 Ortíz entered the order of the Dominicans, and in 1513 traveled to the New World, where he founded new settlements of the order and was active in mission; in 1526 he became vicar general of the order for New Spain. At first he worked with B. de las Casas, but later, confrontation with him grew because Ortíz increasingly rejected his policy of friendship with the Indians; he accused the natives of cannibal…

Ortlieb of Strasbourg

(138 words)

Author(s): Müller, Daniela
[German Version] All that is known of Ortlieb is that his teaching was condemned c. 1216 by Innocent III. His followers, the Ortliebers, were mentioned in 1239 in an anti-heresy law of Frederick Hohenstaufen, and in 1254 in a papal bull, together with others. Even the content of his teachings remains ultimately obscure. The only doctrine traditionally ascribed to him is that human beings must keep themselves free from all external things, and only follow the inner leadings of the spirit. This coul…

Osho Movement

(468 words)

Author(s): Süss, Joachim
[German Version] The Osho Movement was founded in 1970 in Manali (Himachal Pradesh, northern India) as the Neo-Sannyas International Movement. Its organizing principle is the relationship of initiated disciples, the Sannyasins, to the movement’s founder as spiritual teacher. Neo-Sannyas religiosity departs from tradition in eschewing all asceticism and exhibits distinctly hedonistic features. The popular name “Osho Movement” derives from its founder, the Indian philosophy teacher Rajneesh Chandra …
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