Vocabulary for the Study of Religion

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Edited by: Robert A. Segal & Kocku von Stuckrad.

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The Vocabulary for the Study of Religion offers a unique overview of critical terms in the study of religion(s). This first dictionary in English covers a broad spectrum of theoretical topics used in the academic study of religion, including those from adjacent disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, historiography, theology, philology, literary studies, psychology, philosophy, cultural studies, and political sciences.

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(4,507 words)

Author(s): Randall Styers
Abstract: This entry explores the history and use of the term magic, with particular focus on scholarly theories of magic over the past two hundred years. There are long cultural traditions stigmatiz…

Marketplace Model

(1,197 words)

Author(s): Alexander Nagel
Abstract: Two interrelated marketplace models of religion are discussed. While the sociology of knowledge perspectives have focused on the secularizing impact of a religious market situation, economy…


(1,896 words)

Author(s): Katie Barclay
Abstract: ‎Marriage has taken many forms, involving different numbers and genders and entailing different rights and responsibilities. Anthropologically, marriage is often considered a means of contr…
Date: 2014-09-16

Martyrdom / Martyr

(2,513 words)

Author(s): Jolyon Mitchell | Jeremy Kidwell
Abstract: The study of martyrs and their stories is a much debated subject. The early history of martyrdom can be found in the commemoration of the deaths of the Maccabean Martyrs (Judaism), Jesus of…


(3,458 words)

Author(s): Gary Edson
Abstract: This article is about masks and the role they play in human cultural development. The process of transformation, whether by body alteration or masks, is a distinctive human characteristic t…

Material Culture

(4,344 words)

Author(s): David Chidester
Abstract: Referring to bodies, objects, and places, material culture in religion is the sacred vitality of things. Living extensions of the human body can become sacred, while inanimate objects can b…
Date: 2014-09-16

Matriarchy / Patriarchy

(5,036 words)

Author(s): Peter Davies
Abstract: This entry considers the origin and implications of the term “matriarchy,” as it has been applied to the study of religion since the Enlightenment. It examines some of the ideas that have c…
Date: 2014-09-16


(4,087 words)

Author(s): Lenn Goodman
Abstract: Significance in an expression and purpose in an activity can both be called meaning. It seems worthwhile, with that thought in mind, to distinguish meaning in its semantical sense from the …
Date: 2014-09-16

Measurements of Religion

(3,439 words)

Author(s): David Voas
Abstract: Measuring religion is not only or even mainly a matter of recording affiliation; most of the difficulty comes in determining the degree of religious involvement. A crucial issue in the stud…
Date: 2014-09-16


(4,396 words)

Author(s): Oliver Krüger
Abstract: Media technology is always embedded in certain cultural and social patterns of reception. Media are — apart from their content — received differently through time in diverse social, cultura…


(2,325 words)

Author(s): Helen Lambert
Abstract: This article reviews relationships between “medicine” and “religion” historically, culturally, and analytically. Evolutionist approaches to the history of medicine as a form of scientific p…
Date: 2014-09-16

Memory / Memorization

(3,255 words)

Author(s): Barbara Jones Denison
Abstract: Memory and memorization in the academic study of religion are linked to the use of history as a background and the examination of content as a methodology. Researchers debate the importance…


(5,218 words)

Author(s): Norman Simms
Abstract: The history of mentalities (the key term should always be used in the plural and coupled with “history”) is a dynamic complex of ideas. Though its origins go back into classical antiquity, …


(3 words)

Millenarianism / Millennialism 


(2,004 words)

Author(s): Raymond Gibbs
Abstract: Religious texts and discourse contain numerous instances of metaphoric language, in which speakers or writers refer to one, usually abstract, topic through explicit or implicit reference to…