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Pure and Impure

(4,031 words)

Author(s): Stausberg, Michael | Seidl, Theodor | Kollmann, Bernd | Schneider-Ludorff, Gury | Wandrey, Irina | Et al.
[German Version] I. Comparative Religion In differentiated religious systems or cultures, the categories of clean and unclean, or purity and impurity, represent a key classificatory-communicative distinction which determines the course of inner boundaries (e.g. those between clergy and laity or women and men) and outer boundaries (e.g. between believers and “pagans,” in-group/out-group). It enjoys particular plausibility in the context of dualistic models such as Zoroastrianism, for example (Zarathu…

Purification

(2,436 words)

Author(s): Stausberg, Michael | Cancik, Hubert | Seidl, Theodor | Kollmann, Bernd | Schneider-Ludorff, Gury | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies As with many animals, purification is a basic area of human behavior. Mutual purifying implies and generates expectations, trust, solidarity, and hierarchy. Religious actions (e.g. the purifying of statues and pictures of gods) go back to identical structures. Purifying is a fundamental element of ritual actions. Ritual objects, but also the actors themselves, are purified. This process is often self-referential: purification happens not with regard to something unclean, but for the ritual. Purifica…

Rite and Ritual

(6,139 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Stausberg, Michael | Schwemer, Daniel | Gertz, Jan Christian | Hollender, Elisabeth | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. The terms The terms rite and ritual are often used synonymously, both in daily speech and in the specialized language of religious studies, leading to a lack of clarity. “Rite” is etymologically related to Sanskrit ṛta, “right, order, truth, custom,” and may thus be regarded as the “smallest” building block of a ritual, which can be defined as a complex series of actions in a (logical) functional relationship. Within a three-level sequence, cult (Cult/Worship : I, 2) must also be taken into cons…