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Grave/Tomb

(558 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
The grave or tomb is a place of repose for the dead, and a station along their journey. It has (1) the character of a defense in their regard, inasmuch as it preserves them from desecration by persons, from devastation by animals or natural catastrophes, and from hurtful assaults by demons: inscriptions or protective symbols reinforce this aspect. It has (2) a function of security for the living: the dead are kept in the tomb lest, frightening and terrorizing, they be able to penetrate the realm…

Manichaeism

(1,143 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
1. Manichaeism is a vanished world religion that once extended from Western Europe to China. Often simplistically attached to ‘Gnosis’ (→ Gnosticism), Manichaeism was a major threat to the early Christian church, and many misrepresentations are the result of interreligious conflicts. The dark ‘Manichean vision of the world,’ for instance, is a travesty concocted by the religion's conquerors, who themselves received more from it than they admitted. Mani 2. a) Although Manicheans themselves referred to their ‘church’ (Gk, ekklesia) as “Religion of Light,” as ‘Manichaeism’ t…

Amulet

(353 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
By way of the French or the Italian, the words ‘amulet’ (Arab., hammālāt, ‘necklace’) and ‘talisman’ (arab., tilsamān, ‘magical images’) were adopted in European languages in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The character of the amulet tends rather to be protective and resistant (apotropaic), while that of the talisman is more positive and fortifying. The quality of an amulet, to be sure, depends on the ‘material’ (precious stones, noble metals, rare minerals, or striking appearance), but such quality is…

Funeral/Burial

(1,330 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
1. a) The purpose of a funeral is not only the ritual removal of the corpse, but also the ritual defeat or management of the experience of death and separation. The funeral ritual fulfills several functions in these categories. With reference to the dead, it excludes them, and sets them in their new context (the smoke of the funeral pyre indicates the route of the soul to the beyond; the grave marks the departed one's new residence and abode). But it can also render the memory of the dead a public affair, or account for the…

Death and Dying

(4,726 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
Death as a Boundary Rejected 1. a) Death and human attitudes that are to be observed in connection with it, underlie a transformation. Death concerns all human beings. The precise entry of death, and ‘life’ thereafter, has its own meaning for every culture. The scientific biological connections, the ‘itinerary’ of death, are, of course, available to documentation: Western school medicine can describe the gradation between clinical death as cessation of the circulation of the blood, as brain death, an…

Baha'i

(1,121 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
Baha'i Today 1. The Baha'i religion rests on traditions of Iranian Islamic history of religion, as well as on interweavings with the more ancient revelatory religions Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. Thus, its type is that of a monotheistic prophetical religion. The cultural conditions of its appearance in Islamic Iran in the nineteenth century weigh upon relations between the Islamic world and Baha'i to this day. At present the religion extends across the globe, with some 6.5 million …

Death (Personification of)

(1,333 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
1. “We must defeat death!” Arrogant illusion of an immortality to be achieved by technology? Surely. But out of the mouth of someone who is ill, it can express the conceptualization of death as a person attempting to lay hands on his victim and can lend courage for the battle against death and dying. That God will defeat death as ‘the last enemy’ is a religious proposition with a long pre-Christian history. This mythological figure is the subject that we here seek to address: death as a person. In the process of death and dying, physical death marks a caesura that can be variously …