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(420 words)

Author(s): Greschat, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] (in the history of religion). The Polynesian word has been known in Europe for more than a century. Similar expressions had been heard from Native American Indians ( manitu from the Algonquin, wakanda from the Sioux [Lakota], orenda from the Iroquois). The scholarly interpretation of this discovery (dynamism) states that “primitives” see themselves surrounded by impersonal powers which they set out to control with the help of magic. The original meaning of mana remains a mystery, since European thinking lacks an equi…


(3,491 words)

Author(s): Greschat, Hans-Jürgen | Müller, Peter | Schlapkohl, Corinna | Hanisch, Helmut
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Bible – III. Dogmatics – IV. Social Ethics – V. Social Sciences, Education, and Practical Theology I. History of Religions Some cultures draw a clear distinction between religious matters and medical, legal, political, and other concerns; other cultures do not. For the latter, religion includes everything that is of importance to human beings. 1. Newborn children a. Acceptance. In some cultures, an examination takes place to determine whether the newborn is really a human being and not a spirit. Others ch…

Old Age

(1,684 words)

Author(s): Greschat, Hans-Jürgen | Eibach, Ulrich | Failing, Wolf-Eckart
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Ethics – III. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies Secular society distinguishes different periods in a person’s personal and professional life; religions do much the same. Awareness of people’s age gives a sense of their capabilities and standing. Childhood and adulthood are lengthy periods in a person’s life. Two transitional stages (Rites of passage) are usually much shorter: they serve to prepare young people for adulthood and the elderly for their death. Rituals signal the transition to …

New Zealand

(1,549 words)

Author(s): Greschat, Hans-Jürgen | Davidson, Allan K.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The two main islands of New Zealand (North Island and South Island) together with several smaller islands have an area of 270,534 km2, making it the largest island nation of Polynesia. New Zealand experienced several waves of immigration from small islands. The present-day Maori (“normal, ordinary”; used as a collective term only since the arrival of the whites in the 18th cent.), for example, came from the Society Islands. Maori ¶ identity is determined primarily by individual ancestry, the kinship group, and the meeting house. Gen…