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Priest, Priesthood

(4,566 words)

Author(s): Gerlitz, Peter | Stolz, Fritz | Garhammer, Erich | Siegele-Wenschkewitz, Leonore
1. Religion 1.1. Definition No adequate definition of “priest” or of the institution of the priesthood exists (Religious Studies). We cannot make generalized statements about the functions of the office and its social status, for they depend on each culture-specific context. Yet structures of priestly action may be found in all religious systems, even in those in which priests in the strict sense are unknown (e.g., Islam and Theravada Buddhism). Help in understanding the term may perhaps be found in the Babylonian term for priest, ērib bīti (i.e., one who may go into the temple…