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Solstice

(314 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[German Version] In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice marks the reversal of the sun’s apparent movement and hence the beginning of summer (with Jun 21/22 as the longest days); the winter solstice on Dec 21/22 with the shortest days similarly marks the beginning of winter. These turning points determine the chronology of the recurrent seasons of the year in the form of a calendar. The calendar in turn determines major feast days and times of ritual observance (Feasts and festivals). Preh…

Giants

(316 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[German Version] In the history of religions. In the mythologies (Myth/Mythology) of the most divergent religious traditions, giants or mostly anthropomorphous protagonists of extraordinary bodily dimensions, envisioned as composite beings, play a role between humans and deities. The giant figure can have a positive or a negative connotation, and it can be either ugly or beautiful, threatening or protective, with raw power or wisdom, female or male. Its size expresses through physical superiority …

Dwarfs

(458 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[German Version] The appearance of small-sized beings in the beliefs of various cultures and religions finds its premise in the real occurrence of small-sized people. In ancient and medieval tradition, beings that are conceived of as smaller than humans are usually located at the periphery of the known world. In the third song of the Iliad (Homer), the dwarf peoples are referred to as pygmies; Megasthenes located them in distant India, while 15th-century cartographers such as Klausen Svart placed them …

Day and Night

(403 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[German Version] The unity of the duality of day and night is one of the most striking and constitutive phenomena in the divisions of the natural flow of time. Within the unity of day and night, cultural variations, conditioned upon socio-mythological and geographical-climatic factors, determine when a day is to begin or end (in the night, in the morning, or at noon) or how …

New Year Festival

(992 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Praßl, Franz Karl
[German Version] I. Religious Studies In societies that must adapt and respond to an environment dominated by marked seasonal variations (Seasons), the rhythms of the year are fundamental to the economic and social life of the community. Each New Year festival reflects a specific social structure, which is characterized in turn by a specific perception and assessment of the natural environment. Therefore a phenomenological listing of the various religious elements of the festival does not do justice …

Laying-On of Hands

(1,802 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Janowski, Bernd | Lips, Hermann v. | Biehl, Peter
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies The laying-on or imposition of hands is a physical gesture usually performed in the context of a ritualized series of actions or as a symbol by itself. It can be ascribed to a divine being conceived anthropomorphically. The ritual gesture is attested in many cultures, especially in the ancient Near East, but it is not universal – it is unknown, for example, in Buddhism and Islam. Its mean…

Friendship

(3,210 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Berges, Ulrich | Fitzgerald, John T. | Gandler, Hans-Helmuth | Vowinckel, Gerhard | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Philosophy – V. Social Sciences – VI. Systematic Theology I. Religious Studies Religious studies have paid little attention to friendship, since it appears initially not to be a phenomenon of primary relevance to religion but to denote simply a personal relationship between individuals, culturally conditioned and codified, that represents a form of identityforming social life. As a result, very different understandings of friendship…

Calendar

(3,500 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Lichtenberger, Hermann | Meßner, Reinhard | Gerö, Stephen | Nagel, Tilman | Et al.
[German Version] I. General – II. Jewish Calendar – III. Christian Calendar – IV. Islamic Calendar – V. Liturgical Calendar I. General 1. The term calendar derives from the Roman “calendae,” the day on which a new month was proclaimed. It designates the structuring and hence the consequent mediation of time, i.e. records in pictorial and literary media to communicate structures of time. Calendars are concrete translations of chronologies. The performance of activities to be collectiv…

Chronology

(6,064 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Lichtenberger, Hermann | Jewett, Robert | Mosshammer, Alden A. | Fagg, Lawrence W.
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Old Testament and Early Judaism – III. New Testament – IV. Christian Time-Reckoning – V. Chronology in Scholarly Study I. History of Religions Not every culture has a word for what we call time and, if so, then with clearly different nuances of meaning. ¶ From the perspective of the history of religions, therefore, chronology can only refer figuratively to the division, arrangement, and measurement of what modern European languages call time. A distinct division of time is t…

Enemy/Love of One's Enemy

(1,755 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Otto, Eckart | Theißen, Gerd | Körtner, Ulrich H.J.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Ethics I. History of Religion The theme of the enemy is connected with the development or protection of identity and is directed toward people of other tribes or states, those of other faiths, or a hostile region of the world. The enemy can represent what is foreign and threatening or be localized within the worl…

Time

(10,035 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Koch, Klaus | Frey, Jörg | Zachhuber, Johannes | Mesch, Walter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. General. The words for time denote in different languages, according to their etymological derivation and symbolic semantic field, different ways of dividing natural and cultural forms of progression and sequences of events into parts separated and distinguished from one another. The German word for time, Zeit, comes from Old High German zīt; “divide (up)”, from the root *dāi, “divide,” and implies the general dividing function of ideas of time, as factors in ordering experience of the world. Different ideas of time …

Sun

(2,816 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Hartenstein, Friedhelm | Cancik, Hubert | Schroer, Silvia | Wallraff, Martin | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The sun is omnipresent; in the phenomenal world, it marks and accentuates the course of our chronological and spatial lifeworld. The range of associated structures, interpretations, and ambivalences (light and dark, life-giving and life-consuming) makes it only natural that the sun should acquire religious symbolisms and orientations in many ways and in many areas: (1) orientation in time (annual calendrical cycle, identification of sacral seasons and hours of th…

Suffering

(8,720 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Mürmel, Heinz | Halm, Heinz | Fabry, Heinz-Josef | Avemarie, Friedrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. General Suffering is a concept that needs to be approached constructively in comparative religious study as it takes fundamental negative human experiences to a comparative level. On this interpretive level, suffering is understood as one of the fundamental experiences of human life. What people experience as suffering depends on their particular interpretation of the world and hence on their religious system for interpreting the world. The point at which religi…