Vocabulary for the Study of Religion

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

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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(1,659 words)

Author(s): Peter Forshaw
Abstract: Alchemy, with its dreams of transmutation, transformation, and perfection, its quest for the Philosophers’ Stone capable of transmuting base metals into gold, and search for the Elixir capa…
Date: 2014-09-16


(2,244 words)

Author(s): Christopher Ro
Abstract: The entry examines the modern idea of alienation, or estrangement: the notion of a rupture in the relation of human beings to themselves or to the world they inhabit. The entry briefly surv…


(2,901 words)

Author(s): M.A.R. Habib
Abstract: The term “allegory” derives from the Greek allegoria, which means “speaking otherwise.” An allegory is a narrative in poetry or prose or images with several levels of meaning. It is often used to ex…
Date: 2014-09-16


(2,750 words)

Author(s): Anna-Margaretha Horatschek
Abstract: Alterity has become a central concept especially in ethics (Lévinas), psychoanalysis (Lacan, Kristeva), deconstruction (Derrida), postcolonial (Said, Bhabha, Spivak) and gender studies (Cix…


(2,815 words)

Author(s): Andrew Flescher
Abstract: Altruism pertains to motivations and acts committed by the self, or a group of selves, on behalf of another or others. Auguste Comte coined the term “altruism” in the early nineteenth centu…


(1,036 words)

Author(s): Peter Busch
Abstract: Amulets appear in various types and forms. They are labeled by different terms presumably reflecting their use as attractive or as repellent forces to supernatural powers, the etymology of …


(2,276 words)

Author(s): Earline Jennifer Ashworth
Abstract: In one sense, analogy refers to a kind of argument, but its main importance in religion is that it enables us to explain how we can use the same words to talk about a transcendent God and a…
Date: 2014-09-16

Ancestors and Ancestor Worship

(2,309 words)

Author(s): Nicola Harrington
Abstract: This entry begins with a consideration of the basic terms: Are “ancestors” and “ancestor worship” appropriate in describing the interaction between the living and the dead? The main charact…
Date: 2014-09-16


(1,153 words)

Author(s): Rosemary Radford Ruether
Abstract: Androcentrism is defined as “male-centeredness,” rooted in the cultural view of the male as normative human being. The historical roots of this cultural view are discussed, together with it…


(2,350 words)

Author(s): Andrea Piras
Abstract: God’s intervention within the world may also take place by means of intermediary spirits between heaven and earth, playing an auxilary and supporting role to his will. They are ancillary en…


(3,536 words)

Author(s): Graham Harvey
Abstract: Animals participate in religions in many ways. Gratitude may be expressed to them or for them for the provision of sustenance. They symbolize or exemplify both right and wrong behavior, esp…
Date: 2014-09-16


(2,598 words)

Author(s): Graham Harvey
Abstract: Four uses of the term ‘animism’ are discussed. First, Tylor’s definition of religion (which he had wanted to call Spiritualism but found this referred to a specific religion) as “belief in …
Date: 2014-09-16


(1,157 words)

Author(s): Andrew Linzey | Clair Linzey
Abstract: Defined as the taking of humankind, rather than of either God or animals, as the most important element of existence, anthropocentrism has been buttressed by religious concepts, such as those of imago dei and incarnation. T…
Date: 2014-09-16

Anthropology of Religion

(3,924 words)

Author(s): Robert Winzeler
Abstract: Most of the terms used by anthropologists to identify, describe, analyze, and explain religion are Western in origin. Some have differing scholarly and popular uses, and some still-popular …
Date: 2014-09-16


(1,307 words)

Author(s): Stewart Guthrie
Abstract: The attribution of human characteristics to non-human things and events. Anthropomorphism pervades human perceptions and conceptions of the world, and appears central to religion. It result…
Date: 2014-09-16


(1,099 words)

Author(s): Shaul Magid
Abstract: Antinomianism ( contra nomos) is the belief that one can gain access to God or fulfill God’s will outside existing religious practices. Access can come through religious experience, as in certai…


(6 words)

Abstract:   ⸙Reductionism / Anti-reductionism Bibliography