Religion Past and Present

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(243 words)

[German Version]

In chemistry polyvalence is the potential of an element to combine with other elements in different ways, producing a variety of chemical compounds. In an extended sense, polyvalence can be used in various contexts to express a potential for multiple uses. In religious discourse, the term can be used in connection with the referential function of symbols in a religious symbol system. Such usage can characterize the ambiguity and multifunctionality of symbolic elements within a complex context. A symbol can realize its pointing function on several levels simult…

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Pezzoli-Olgiati, Daria, “Polyvalence”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 22 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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