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Gender Relations

(529 words)

Author(s): Heller, Birgit
[German Version] The many and varied gender relations interact with their religious context and are also, in many religions, significant as symbols/metaphors. Gender relations are by no means a new phenomenon, but have only become the object of explicit scholarly attention within the study of religions through the influence of gender studies, so that a number of important questions have as yet only been treated in a preliminary manner. In the various religions, the socio-cultural reality of gender…

Mother Goddesses

(763 words)

Author(s): Heller, Birgit
[German Version] The supposed priority of mother symbolism in anthropomorphic ideas of God (God, Representations and symbols of) led many scholars in the past to postulate a “cult of the mother goddess as an archetypal phenomenon” (Heiler, but also van der Leeuw and others). But mother symbolism is only one aspect in the complex world of goddess worship. The definition of the term mother goddess is inconsistent and problematic, because it mixes biological elements (such as “mother of the gods” or “she who creates humankind”) and social elements of the matern…


(379 words)

Author(s): Heller, Birgit
[German Version] As part of an extraordinary transitional phase that includes birth, pregnancy is surrounded by taboos and rituals in ethnic religions, but also in Hinduism and the popular religion of most cultures. The rituals serve in part to ward off malignant influences that might issue from the pregnant woman, but primarily to protect and preserve intact the developing child and assure an easy birth. Pregnancy rituals intended to guarantee the birth of a son are also known. Taboos primarily i…


(7,176 words)

Author(s): Heller, Birgit | Körtner, Ulrich H.J. | Schubert, Anselm | Braun, Karl | Ziemer, Jürgen | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Religions have various assessments and guidelines regarding sexuality, which shape the concrete ways people deal with it and influence certain social attitudes. Religious sexual morality (Sexual ethics) regulates sexual relations through various sexual taboos and by ¶ prohibiting premarital and extramarital sex as well as homosexuality, but also by requiring temporary continence, for instance during menstruation or periods of fasting. It protects procreation (Generativity) in general by commandments…

Mourning Customs

(3,303 words)

Author(s): Heller, Birgit | Podella, Thomas | Triebel, Lothar | Goldberg, Sylvie-Anne | de Boer, Martinus C. | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. Judaism – IV. New Testament – V. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies As an element of burial rites and the cult of the dead (Dead, Cult of the), mourning customs serve not only the survivors but also the departed. Ritual support of the dead or protection against them is usually one of the functions of a mourning period, which often concludes with a change in the status of the departed (e.g. admission to the realm of the dead at the end of a jour…


(11,861 words)

Author(s): Heller, Birgit | Cancik, Hubert | Liess, Kathrin | Necker, Gerold | Goldberg, Sylvie-Anne | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies and History of Religions – II. Death and the Realm of the Dead in the Old Testament – III. Judaism – IV. New Testament – V. Philosophy – VI. Philosophy of Religion – VII. History of Dogma and Dogmatics – VIII. Ethics – IX. Practical Theology – X. Art – XI. Islam – XII. Buddhism – XIII. Hinduism I. Religious Studies and History of Religions 1. General Modern religious criticism regards religion as compensation for human anxiety in the face of death. …


(10,627 words)

Author(s): Heller, Birgit | Gerstenberger, Erhard S. | Lichtenberger, Hermann | Greschat, Katharina | Markschies, Christoph | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. Primitive Christianity – IV. Church History – V. Judaism – VI. Islam – VII. Asia, Africa, and Latin America – VIII. Social Sciences – IX. Psychology – X. Philosophy of Religion – XI. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies To date there have been hardly any works devoted to men from the perspective of religious studies. Given the androcentrism of traditional scholarship, the category of homo religiosus has usually yielded knowledge of the religious male, but this work must …


(11,554 words)

Author(s): Heller, Birgit | Bird, Phyllis A. | Wischmeyer, Oda | Ehrenschwendtner, Marie-Luise | Albrecht, Ruth | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Traditionally research on religion has rarely dealt with women. Exceptions include Moriz Winternitz ( Die Frau in den indischen Religionen, 1915–1916) and F. Heiler ( Die Frau in den Religionen der Menschheit, 1977). In the 1970s, gender studies introduced a broad paradigm shift, which also affected religious studies. The principle that has guided this change from the traditional approach is that homo religiosus is not coincident with vir religiosus but equally has to include femina religiosa. The various questions can be assigned to th…