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World religions

(1,257 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten
1. ConceptThe concept of world religions became increasingly prevalent in the long 19th century, but its origins and first use are impossible to establish with precision. Moreover, it does not denote any specific variant of religion (Religions), but addresses generalities. Religionswissenschaft, professionalizing as a discipline from the 1870s onwards, used the term in contradistinction to “national religions” (Dutch  volksgodsdiensten, German Landesreligionen). It also used it when discussing “universalist” or universal religions. As a result of thi…
Date: 2023-11-14

Colonial wars

(5,028 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten | Rinke, Stefan | Ahuja, Ravi
1. Introduction Colonial wars belong to the context of European expansionism. They include a variety of typical manifestations of physical violence against those colonized and being colonized, which might serve to maintain authority or to establish colonial rule (Colonialism). Colonial wars are to be distinguished from forms of settler violence independent of state action. They become more clearly definable, however, in the 19th century. It was at this late date that they tended to purs…
Date: 2019-10-14

Christianity, global

(1,403 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten
1. Introduction Modern-period Christianity is generally understood to be a Christianity centered on Europe, and marked in theological as well as institutional terms by historical developments in Europe. Orthodoxy (Orthodox churches) has frequently been characterized as the third Christian confession alongside Catholicism and Protestantism. One consequence has certainly been that, within Europe, attention has been given to the interaction between the confessions mentioned, and that a his…
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,909 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter | Rüther, Kirsten
1. Historical surveyThe term syncretism (French  syncrétisme, German  Synkretismus) was first used in the early modern period by Erasmus of Rotterdam with reference to the classical Greek term  synkrētismós, which implied that the Cretans would bury their internal conflicts and unite in the face of external threats. Erasmus counseled syncretism in dealing with controversies, which he ascribed to un-Christian vindictiveness. He believed it was possible to join in a political alliance despite religious differences – as did …
Date: 2022-11-07


(3,380 words)

Author(s): Noack, Karoline | Rüther, Kirsten | ter Haar, Barend J.
1. Concept and historical contextThe Christian term millenarianism is etymologically derived from “millennium” (Latin:  millen(n)ium) – also known as chiliasm (from the Greek  chília, “thousand”), though its roots are within ancient Judaism. It covers a broad spectrum of expectations of salvation taking place in this world rather than in the heavenly afterlife [2]. The idea of a thousand-year interim kingdom unstained by evil, as developed in the Gospel of John, was anticipated by various prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures (e.g. Isa 24-27, 65…
Date: 2020-04-06


(839 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten
In the context of the global religious interaction of the early modern period, and in relation to the narratives of the gods of the other peoples and societies that Europeans and especially the missionaries working in the name of Christianization depicted and created, those gods were essentially subjected to demonization. In this process, the gods, spirits, and ancestors of non-European cultures were assigned to the categories “good” or “evil” and, in the case of the latter, defined almost exclu…
Date: 2019-10-14


(7,822 words)

Author(s): Laube, Martin | Reichmuth, Stefan | Kummels, Ingrid | Rüther, Kirsten
1. Christianity 1.1. Preliminary noteOne of the unique aspects of Christianity is that from the very outset it developed a theology, and in order to explicate its own faith made use of the conceptual tools of contemporary (i.e. Greek and Roman) philosophy. This interweaving of theological and philosophical thought was constantly reflected quintessentially in the doctrine of God. A series of fundamental tensions pervaded the development of the idea of God even in the early modern period. These includ…
Date: 2019-10-14

Voyages of discovery

(3,081 words)

Author(s): Rinke, Stefan | Rüther, Kirsten | Mann, Michael | Wendt, Reinhard
1. IntroductionThe European voyages of discovery undertaken for various reasons between the 15th and 19th centuries are a defining feature of the history of the early modern period. Traditional historiography saw them as a key element of European expansionism and the beginning of the “Europeanization of the world.” The discovery in 1492 of what to Europeans was a New World in the Americas (America, discovery of) has often been (and still is) portrayed as a historical watershed (Epoch) se…
Date: 2023-11-14

Settler colony

(6,012 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten | Rinke, Stefan | Stange, Marion | Wendt, Reinhard | Nolte, Hans-Heinrich
1. Introduction Colony (from the Latin  colere, “to cultivate”, “to till”) originally meant a human “plantation” or “offshoot” of the original society, and hence essentially a settlement. The word became more closely associated with foreign rule in the 19th century [5. 47 f.] (Colonialism). Since then, “settler colony” has become a sub-category of colony (alongside, for instance, “colony of control” and “trading colony” [8. 16–18]), particularly associated with aspects of inequality, difference, and gradients of authority. Until the 19th century and long…
Date: 2021-08-02


(5,651 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten
1. Definition and placementThe concept of Christianization correlates closely with terms that describe the implementation of the Christian religion and ways of life along with the conversion of societies and individuals to Christianity; they include those religious traditions that historically emerged from these interactions. Mission, Christianity, and conversion are therefore topics closely related to the concept of Christianization, which intertwine in the context of global interaction. Nowhere d…
Date: 2019-10-14

Mission school

(1,085 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten
1. Research trends Especially for the period after 1850, mission schools have been studied by historians. In Protestant schools, literacy was emphasized as the basis for reading the Bible and thus the most important precondition for conversion and leading a Christian life. General discipline and social control were also emphasized, which ruling groups of both colonial and indigenous provenance used for their own purposes. The establishment of mission schools assumed that the purpose of m…
Date: 2020-04-06

Religious interaction, global

(7,827 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten
1. Descriptive category 1.1. IntroductionReligious interaction in the early modern period cannot be described in global terms or using concrete global comparisons. Rather, it is a descriptive category that is based on a view rooted in empiricism. It makes it possible to understand religious aspects of exchange processes, interactions, and power-driven shifts that took place in the context of global interaction in multi-perspectival and interrelating ways, and to study the problems this reveals. Acco…
Date: 2021-08-02


(7,623 words)

Author(s): Walter, Peter | Huber, Friedrich | Rinke, Stefan | Rüther, Kirsten
1. IntroductionMission (Neolatin  missio, “[act of sending]”; “dispatch”) denotes what was originally an exclusively Christian phenomenon: the active propagation of a religion, Christianity, by annunciation and sacramental incorporation into the church. A distinction is drawn between this “outer mission” ( missio externa) and the “inner mission” ( missio interna) that aims to recruit or recover to the faith people in already Christian countries.The literate religions that existed before and alongside Christianity did spread through migration, like Judaism…
Date: 2020-04-06

Health culture, global

(6,931 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten | Holler, Ursula | Deacon, Harriet | | Kummels, Ingrid | Et al.
1. Introduction It is not unusual in the contextualization of the global history of health-related practices and health cultures to bring in themes such as quarantine, epidemic, ecological imperialism and hence the Demographic Catastrophe and Columbian Exchange [2]; [3]. Yet the concept of health cultures, particularly in the context of global interaction, also allows us to shed light on the wide-ranging and variously-accented mechanisms of exchange and negotiation, because it includes all modes of action and thought related to …
Date: 2019-10-14


(1,439 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten
1. Definition and political background The history of the Antonians in the Kingdom of Kongo, whose name goes back to St. Antony, is documented in the archives of the Italian Capuchins. The methods of oral history have also made it possible to reconstruct other aspects of the Antonians and their historical milieu. The secondary literature occasionally reduces the movement to the followers of the prophetess Kimpa Vita, whom some see as a heretic, others as a hero of resistance against European invaders…
Date: 2019-10-14

African religion

(3,635 words)

Author(s): Rüther, Kirsten
1. Term, meaning, scope for research African Religion is a term used in recent scholarly literature to describe the common features of a plethora of religious practices in African societies as manifest in shrines and healing movements, divination practices and ancestor and cult figures. Largely uninfluenced in its constituent elements by the world religions as African religion may be, its description and analysis are closely linked to their narrative, and they form a stifling category or ba…
Date: 2019-10-14