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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 …

Regen

(343 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[English Version] Regen, religionswissenschaftlich. Die Bewertung des R. hängt damit zus., ob es sich um auf Bewässerungsfeldbau oder Regenfeldbau beruhende Kulturen handelt. Dabei betont man entweder die Abwehr des das Wachstum vernichtenden R., der unkontrollierte Überschwemmungen bringt, oder die Sorge um das Ausbleiben des R. sowie den Wunsch nach R. R. wird als Gabe von Berg- und Wettergöttern gesehen (z.B. im Vorderen Orient, wobei auch JHWH Züge solcher Götter aufweist; Indra im vedischen Pa…

Nomaden

(406 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[English Version] Nomaden, religionsgeschichtlich. In idealtypischer Form leben N. von den Erträgen ihrer Herdentiere und ziehen entsprechend den klimatischen Bedingungen als Hirten umher. Diese Bedingungen bestimmen dabei Tierhaltung, Lebensgrundlage und Weltbild. Ausgeprägter Nomadismus existiert(e) v.a. in folgenden drei geographischen Bereichen: 1. Die (halb-)nomadisch lebenden Völker im Norden Eurasiens (finno-ugrische Religionen) werden vom deutlichen Wandel der Jahreszeiten und dem Wechsel der Weideplätze im Frühling und im Her…

Wettkampf

(414 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[English Version] Wettkampf, religionswissenschaftlich. Der an einem Kampfort ausgetragene W. mit dem Ziel des Sieges hat ausgehend von der griech. Antike auch innerhalb des Christentums als Agon in metaphorischer Verwendung Eingang gefunden. In einem weiteren Sinn sind aber W. und Sport in vielen rel. Kontexten bezeugt bzw. können rel. rezipiert und interpretiert werden. W. bleibt dabei grundsätzlich Wettbewerb mit dem Streben nach Sieg, während der seit dem 16.Jh. in England verwendete Begriff »s…

Talisman

(174 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[English Version] . Seit dem 17.Jh. wird das Wort T. als Lehnwort im Dt. verwendet, wobei die etym. Herleitung bislang nicht eindeutig geklärt ist (Sefrin 163). Terminologisch und inhaltlich ist sowohl in der Umgangssprache als auch im wiss. Gebrauch eine exakte Differenzierung zu Amulett nicht möglich. Bei T. handelt es sich um künstliche oder natürliche Objekte, die von ihren Trägern bzw. Benutzern als »machtbeladen« (Mana) verstanden werden. Eine äußerliche Unterscheidung eines T. von bloßem Sc…

Hunters/Hunting Rites

(1,595 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. Definition – II. Distribution –III. Ideological Backgrounds – IV. Hunting as Life-Preserving Killing – V. Economic Change and the Continuation of Ritual I. Definition The hunter's task comprises the tracking down, trapping, and killing of free-living animals that are used for nourishment within the hunter's own society. In ideal/typical form, ethnology categorizes hunters, with hunter-gatherers and planters, as the simple economic forms. More developed are the means of production of agriculture an…

Nomads

(476 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Ideally, nomads are defined as living off the yield of their flocks and herds; they therefore move about as shepherds in response to climatic conditions, which dominate their animal husbandry, their livelihood, and their worldview. Pure nomadism is (or was) found primarily in three geographical regions. 1. The (semi)nomadic peoples of northern Eurasia (Finno-Ugrian religions) adapt to clear seasonal changes, with transhumance in the spring and fall. The basis of their livelihood is raising reindeer (Saami, Samoyeds, Evenk) or …

Parsiism

(1,019 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The Parsis (Parsees) are Zoroastrians (Zarathustra) who once lived in Iran. After Iran was Islamized, they emigrated via a complex route to their future home in Gujarat (India). Their emigration is recalled with a theological slant in the Qissa-i Sanjan, “The Story of Sanjan.” The Persian text, written in 1599 or 1600, is the earliest source describing the arrival and settlement of the Zoroastrians in India, where they were called Parsis because of their Persian background. The Parsi tradition dates the emigration in t…

Rain

(352 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The value accorded to rain is related to whether cultures practice agriculture based on irrigation or on rain. There may be a focus either on preventing uncontrolled flooding that destroys growth, or on anxiety lest there be no rain, and on desire for rain. Rain is seen as a gift of mountain and weather gods (e.g. in the Near East, where YHWH, too, displays traits of such gods; Indra in the Vedic pantheon [Vedic and Brahmanic religion]; Chac or Tlaloc [Aztec religion: V] in Centra…

Talisman

(171 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The etymology of the word has not been explained satisfactorily (Sefrin, 163). In both popular and academic language, there is no precise difference in meaning or usage between a talisman and an amulet. A talisman is an artificial or natural object understood by the person who wears or uses it to be endowed with power (Mana). There is no visible distinction between a talisman and a piece of jewelry; as a result, there is a wide range of talismans in different cultures. Someone who uses a talisman expects either to be strengthened ¶ (and enabled to resist negative influenc…

History of Religions

(1,831 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. Definition – II. History – III. Sources – IV. Challenges and Accomplishments I. Definition The history of religions deals descriptively and empirically with all religions, past and present. All observable manifestations of these religions are the subject matter of the discipline: teachings, actions, structures and forms of community, individual expressions of faith, and collective modes of behavior. The history of religions thus studies religions in the plural – their emergence, their dev…

Proskynesis

(160 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] As a communicative gesture, proskynesis (from Gk προσκυνεῖν/ proskyneín, “to kiss toward [someone]”; cf. Lat. adorare, venerari) expresses humility and deference: accompanied by genuflection or prostration, it consisted of placing one’s hand to one’s mouth and then extending it toward the person being honored. In Assyria and ancient Persia, it was common as a gesture of homage when entering a ruler’s presence; Greek religion considered proskynesis appropriate only when offered to the gods. During…

Israel and Asia Minor

(615 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Its location between Egypt and northern Syria/ Asia Minor involved Canaan/ Israel in diplomatic relations beginning in the middle of the 2nd millennium. These relations increased after the peace treaty that followed the Battle of Kadesh (1274). Although there is archaeological evidence of diplomatic and cultural contacts between the Hittites and the region of Israel (e.g. discovery of Hittite seal [impressions] and ivory plaque with the Hurrian goddess Šawuška at Megiddo; gate lio…

Astral Religion

(537 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] (from Gk ἄστρα/ ástra, “stars”) refers to the cultic worship of heavenly bodies or deities associated with them. The relationship between a heavenly body and a deity may range from identification to mere association – the boundaries are fluid. There is no astral religion per se, but elements of astral religion appear within particular religious systems. Some scholars have attempted to trace the whole of mythology to astral religion or astral …
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