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 holy, divine, and gods. The…


(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…


(3,466 words)

Author(s): Dylan M. Burns
Abstract: “Salvation” is a concept drawn from Jewish and Christian Scripture which addresses the post-mortem fate of individuals and the transformation of the cosmos they inhabit. The relationship be…

Sanctuary / Shrine / Temple

(5,139 words)

Author(s): Johanna Buß
Abstract: Since the earliest times, human beings have been constructing buildings and consecrated sites for the worship of deities and natural or supernatural powers. These serve a variety of purpose…


(2,307 words)

Author(s): Milo Kearney | James Zeitz
Abstract: This entry defines savior as a supernatural being who is believed to intervene on behalf of others to redeem them from an ill fate. Examples are given of six types: (1) those in "primitive"…


(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 acquire a second, figurative meaning. The millennial history of …
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 creation of a partition. Schism is not heresy. Schism involves the rej…
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 are always provisional, but well-established theories are the most reliable forms of …


(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 clas…

Sect / Sectarianism / Cult

(5,574 words)

Author(s): David Bromley
Abstract: Growing out of the Protestant Reformation, religious diversity has continued to increase in almost every Western nation. This growing diversity has led scholars to seek a vocabulary that wo…

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 i…

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 the social sciences, religious studies, and philosophy. Following Talal Asad, Jürgen Habermas, and Charles Ta…
Date: 2014-09-16

Secular, Secularism

(2,017 words)

Author(s): Paul Cliteur
Abstract: The word “secular” means not connected with religious matters. “Secularization” is the development towards a secular culture. “Secularism” is the ideology that favors secularization. There…


(2,143 words)

Author(s): Jens Kreinath
Abstract: The semiotics of religion is a theoretical approach to the study of signs and processes of signification found in religious beliefs and practices. Semiotics allows for a theoretical grasp o…


(3,957 words)

Author(s): Harry Cocks
Abstract: Sexuality should be understood in historical terms. In the modern period it has been an umbrella term used to refer to sexual feelings, nature and orientation, with the emphasis on question…
Date: 2014-09-16