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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Sacred (the); Sacred and Profane

(4,322 words)

Author(s): Robert Segal
Abstract: The sacred can apply to gods, to places, to times, and to persons. It is one of several terms used to describe the object of worship in religion. Other terms are ho…


(3,789 words)

Author(s): Kathryn McClymond
Abstract: The entry provides an overview of the study of sacrifice as a religious and cultural phenomenon. It offers examples of sacrificial rituals  a discussion of definitions and characterizations of sacrifice, emphasizing the need for a polythetic approach that pays attention to the full spectrum of activity performed during sacrifice. In addition, the entry discusses comparative studies of sacrifice, followed by a summary of noteworthy theoretical approaches to the study of sacrifice. Specifically, the author discusses approaches that focus on sacrifice as cuisine; sacrifice as a form of exchange; sacrifice as violence; and sacrifice as a gendered phenomenon, both in its practice and in its theorizing. Finally, the entry comments on the continuing relevance of “sacrifice” as a category for religious studies, noting how sacrifice occurs in different forms (mater…


(3,466 words)

Author(s): Dylan M. Burns


(2,307 words)

Author(s): Milo Kearney | James Zeitz
Abstract: This entry defines savior as a supernatural being w…


(1,736 words)

Author(s): David Dawson
Abstract: Though coined by the translator William Tyndale for his sixteenth-century translation of Leviticus, the word “scapegoat” has since come to…
Date: 2014-09-16

Schism / Schismogenesis

(2,359 words)

Author(s): Joëlle Rollo-Koster
Abstract: The word “schism” derives from the Greek skhisma, meaning division. Schismogenesis is a term used when discussing the origin or…
Date: 2014-09-16


(3,375 words)

Author(s): Willem B. Drees
Abstract: The natural sciences in their diversity have a major impact on ideas and practices. Scientific theories a…


(2,304 words)

Author(s): William A. Graham
Abstract: The generic term “scripture” is used today for any text(s) revered in a given religious tradition as uniquely sacred and authoritative. The scope of the concept in the Near Eastern and classical world began by referring specifically to one’s own authoritative sacred text(s). The important Jewish and Christian use of the concept seems to have been borrowed by others, notably Mani, but was developed only in a more generic sense in the Quran. In the Christian West there are instances of generic use of “scripture” for nonbiblical texts before 1800, but it is only since that time that the concept…

Secularization and De-secularization

(2,584 words)

Author(s): Gary Gabor
Abstract: Secularization is the decrease of either religion or its influence in any sphere of human activity. The extent to which a decrease can and does take place, as well as whether the decrease is reversible, is much debated. Secularization has been studied by sociologists, philosophers, theologians, political theorists, and historians. De-secularization means the return of the influence of religion to any sphere. This entry focuse…

Secular religion

(2,362 words)

Author(s): Sindre Bangstad
Abstract: In this entry I explore how the term the “secular” has come to be understood in t…
Date: 2014-09-16


(2,143 words)

Author(s): Jens Kreinath


(3,957 words)

Author(s): Harry Cocks
Date: 2014-09-16