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(1,039 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G.
1. Term and Meanings The term “magic” derives by way of Lat. magia and Gk. mageia from OPer. magu-, a word of uncertain etymology denoting a priestly clan. In antiquity the term came to denote the more general practice of magic. Supernatural ability, rituals (Rite), automatic writing, and secret information were its stock-in-trade. Despite Christian opposition, it persisted in the Christian era. The study of comparative religion (Religious Studies) made the concept a basic category in the 19th century, treating magic as no less fundamental than religion. In 1931 B. Malinowski (…

Sacred and Profane

(2,506 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G. | Otte, Klaus
1. Religious and Biblical Aspects 1.1. Religious, Psychological, and Sociological The terms “sacred” and “profane” are significant in the vocabulary of comparative religion (Religious Studies). When the 19th century found that we do not encounter ideas of God always and everywhere, but that God “is a late comer in the history of religion” (G. van der Leeuw, Religion, 104), a new and universally applicable term for religion was needed. In 1871 E. B. Tylor (1832–1917) thought that a belief in spiritual beings might be a suitable minimal definition (chap…


(867 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G.
Dualism, in contrast to monism, assumes that two antagonistic principles underlie existence. It found classic expression in Zoroastrianism, in some tendencies in early Judaism, and in Gnosticism and its aftermath. In milder form it also appears implicitly in the worldviews of prescientific cultures. A characteristic of modern scientific culture is to find in such hostile factors as disasters and illnesses a challenge to human knowledge and ability. Prescientific cultures, however, push such anom…


(834 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G.
1. Religious Aspects The term “Messiah” derives from the biblical title māšı̂aḥ, “the anointed.” Anointing confers legitimacy upon a person as king or high priest. The Jewish view rested on the divine promise of an eternal kingship to the descendants of David (2 Sam. 7:12–16; monarchy in Israel). When Israel came under foreign rule in the sixth century b.c., this promise lay behind the hope that Zerubbabel of the house of David might be the king of the age of salvation (see Hag. 2:20–23; Zech. 3:8; 6:12–13). The promise was handed down up to the rise of Christianity (e.g., Pss. Sol.  17; Q…


(5,663 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G. | Koch, Klaus | Deppermann, Klaus | Boyer, Paul
1. Scope 1.1. Definition Apocalypticism, which was forged within the Judeo-Christian tradition, comprises a literary genre, a set of eschatological concepts, and a world-renouncing lifestyle. Apocalypticism differs from eschatology, millenarianism, and messianism. Eschatology reflects on the end of the old aeon, apocalypticism on the way to the new aeon. Millenarianism appeals to the vision of a millennium without work or government, apocalypticism to an otherworldly lifestyle. Messianism counts on …