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(419 words)

Author(s): Rebiger, Bill
[German Version] is an exegetical-hermeneutical technique that calculates equivalences for words and verses by means of the numeric values of letters. At times, it merely serves mnemonic purposes. Derived from Greek, the loanword gematria is traced back by scholars either to γεωμετρία/ geōmetría or to γραμματεία/ grammateía. The method itself is attested not only among the Greeks, but also in Babylon. Rabbinic literature frequently employs gematria, which constitutes the 29th of Rabbi Eliezer's 32 hermeneutical rules (2nd cent. ce). An additional gematria technique, known…


(623 words)

Author(s): Rebiger, Bill
[German Version] The name Leviathan (Heb. לִוְיָתָן/ liwyātān) derives from the Hebrew root lwy and means “one that twists / curls up.” It denotes a serpentine marine creature mentioned in the Old Testament together with such other sea-monsters as Tannin, Rahab, and Yam (Dragon: I), from which it is sometimes indistinguishable. Numerous monsters, which can often be identified as personified forces of nature like the sea or the heavens, are part of the basic mythological stock of the OT (Myth/Mythology: II, 1…

Yetzirah, Sefer

(440 words)

Author(s): Rebiger, Bill
[German Version] or Book of Creation is one of the most influential texts in the Jewish tradition. The anonymous work dates from either the 3rd century to 6th century (Scholem, Hayman), or the 7th century to 8th century (Gruenwald). It is often ascribed pseudepigraphically to Abraham, who is mentioned in the final paragraphs. There are three recensions: one short, one of medium length with a commentary by Saadia Gaon, and one long. The book describes the creation and structure of the world through “32 ways of wisdom”: the ten sefirot plus the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The s…

Names of God

(1,714 words)

Author(s): Rebiger, Bill | Assel, Heinrich | van Ess, Josef
[German Version] I. Judaism – II. Christianity – III. Islam I. Judaism The main biblical names of God are the tetragram YHWH and the expression אֶהְיֶה אֶשֶׁר אֲהְיֶה/ ʾeh eyeh ʾašer ʾeh eyeh (lit. “I am who I am”) or also ʾeh eyeh alone (Exod 3:14); during the Second Temple period, the tetragram was allowed to be spoken only on the Day of Atonement (Feasts and festivals: II) by the high priest. Biblical attributes and epithets of God are understood as additional names of God. Rabbinic literature knows certain circumlocutions for God …


(1,077 words)

Author(s): Rebiger, Bill | Mädler, Inken | Reymaier, Erich Konstantin
[German Version] I. History of Religions Numerology (or number symbolism) is a central feature of all religions and cultures. The orderly structure of arithmetic serves as a model for observed or postulated relationships in space and time. The relationality or even harmony of numerology evokes meaning and order. The symbolism of numbers reduces the complexity of reality and provides meaning (N. Luhmann). In the face of chaos and chance, number symbolism promises knowledge of God’s will and the orderli…


(5,515 words)

Author(s): Pezzoli-Olgiati, Daria | Waschke, Ernst-Joachim | Leiner, Martin | Rebiger, Bill | Heine, Peter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Bible – III. History of Doctrine and Dogmatics – IV. Judaism – V. Islam – VI. Buddhism – VII. History of Art and Literature I. Religious Studies The history of the term “paradise” is informative for determining its meaning. The word “paradise” is derived from the ancient Iranian * paridaēza, literally “surrounding wall.” It appears as a loanword in many other languages, for example as the Akkadian pardēsu, the Hebrew פַּרְדֵּס/ pardes or the Greek παράδεισος/ parádeisos. These terms denote an enclosed park or garden (cf. Xeno-¶ phon, Anabasis V…


(8,918 words)

Author(s): Neu, Rainer | Fabry, Heinz-Josef | Alkier, Stefan | Gregersen, Niels Henrik | Evers, Dirk | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Church History – V. Philosophy of Religion – VI. Fundamental Theology – VII. Dogmatics – VIII. Education and Practical Theology – IX. Judaism – X. Islamic Theology I. History of Religions Miracles are extraordinary, mystifying human experiences that cannot be explained by normal causes, which in many cases suggest the intervention of a deity or superhuman power. Miracles are found in all cultures and are among the traditions of almost all religi…