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Dead, Cult of the

(1,522 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
Death is part of the order of this world. Almost without exception, however, people have protested against its dominion, refused to acknowledge it, and even denied it. Accounts like that in Gen. 25:8, according to which people die contentedly after becoming sated with life, or the idea of a “good death” after a fulfilled life (Confucianism), are the exception. The protest against death underlies the cult of the dead, and at the same time these cults aid in coming to terms with the psychological and social conflicts among the s…

Human Sacrifice

(591 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
1. Almost all religions include reports of people sacrificing the dearest thing they have, even life. Only in rare cases, however, do we find accounts of the regular killing of people as sacrifices, as among the Mayans and Aztecs. Human sacrifice usually took place in times of extraordinary danger such as prolonged drought, with expiation being attempted in the face of serious pestilence, disaster, or other emergencies. Reports of the practice almost always reflect distaste for the horror. In its aims human sacrifice differs in principle from other forms of sacrifice. It …


(359 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
[German Version] The terms pseudo-religion (from Gk pseúdos, “lie, falsehood”) and ersatz religion are used colloquially – and unfortunately sometimes in scholarly writing – for two different social phenomena, without clear distinction: (a) constructs for which their adherents claim a religious quality, while churches and critics dispute these claims (e.g. some of the so-called new religious movements); and (b) constructs such as sporting events, certain political events, concerts, and shows to which a reli…


(380 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
[German Version] The pseudo-sciences or parasciences (“alternative sciences”) generally include such phenomena as alchemy, acupuncture, anthroposophy, astrology, esotericism, geomancy, homeopathy, occultism, and parapsychology, and ¶ sometimes also psychoanalysis, radiesthesia, etc. insofar as their claim to be sciences is rejected by science on theoretical and methodological grounds. Both terms derive from Greek (ψεῦδος/ pseúdos, “deception, lie”; παρά/ pará, “beside”) and imply criticism. In the pseudo-sciences, the alleged phenomena, theories, etc…

Auditory Hallucination

(167 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
[German Version] (Lat. auditio, hearing) denotes an experience in which someone hears something although there is no real speaker. Therefore, from a psychological point of view this experience is, like a vision, regarded as a hallucination. Both events occur in a waking state and are different from dreams. Auditory hallucination becomes an important phenomenon …


(315 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
[German Version] Today, esotericism (Gk ἐσωτερικόv/ esōterikón, “the internal”) encompasses all those writings, doctrines and practices that either (1), to the extent that they involve religious matters, contradict the declared doctrines of the churches or (2), to the extent that they understand themselves as knowledge, are irreconcilable with the knowledge and methods of science and, consequently, claim to be “higher knowledge,” or (3) whatever can be sold on the esoteric market as eso-¶ tericism. In antiquity, philosophical writings intended…


(23,549 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut | Kaiser, Otto | Lindemann, Andreas | Brümmer, Vincent | Schwöbel, Christoph | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Philosophy of Religion – V. Dogmatics – VI. Practical Theology – VII. Missiology – VIII. Art – IX. Judaism – X. Islam I. Religious Studies 1. It is fundamentally true that God is not an object of religious studies, since God – as theology teaches – cannot be made an object of empirical scientific study. Religious studies can only address the concepts that human beings have expressed concerning their God (or gods: God, Representations and sym…