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(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…


(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…


(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…

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 …

Freedom of Religion

(314 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
Freedom of religion is to be distinguished from religious → tolerance. Religious tolerance is accorded the followers of another cult, and of deviant conceptualizations of belief. Meanwhile, since the French → Revolution of 1789, religious freedom represents a constitutionally guaranteed right of every citizen, and is limited only by laws that are valid for every citizen. Article 18 of the United Nations' “Declaration of Human Rights” states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscie…

Group, religious

(3,682 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
1. With few exceptions, religions have always been a social phenomenon. The forms of their community formation and societal nature, as well as their types of social organization, are worthy of inquiry. Individual paths, such as those of hermits, or pillar-dwellers, or mystics, are to be found at least in all differentiated religions. The significance of these “religious virtuosi” (M. Weber) for the shaping of concepts of the saints, for example, and the significance of the paths to salvation tha…

Freud, Sigmund

(1,016 words)

Author(s): Palmer, Gesine | Zinser, Hartmut
1. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, was born May 6, 1856 in Freiberg (Mähren), and died September 23, 1939 in London. He studied medicine from 1873 to 1881. In 1885 he was named Privatdozent (unsalaried university lecturer) for nervous diseases, and received a travel stipend that placed him in a position to study hysterical phenomena, especially their generation through hypnotic suggestion, for some five months, at the Salpetriere, Paris, with Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893). The impres…


(1,296 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
A Commandment of Peace 1. Tolerance means the ‘enduring,’ ‘bearing,’ or (colloquially) ‘standing’ or ‘putting up with’ the views, lifestyles, goals, interests, and so forth, of others, which do not conform to one's own positions, or that, indeed, contradict them. Socially, or societally, an obligatory organization, like a political state, which possesses the corresponding (or necessary) means of power to impose its position, can accord ‘tolerance’ to deviant groups, minorities and individuals. Howev…


(406 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
[English Version] . Zu den Pseudo- (Ps.) und Parawiss. (Pa.) werden z.B. Alchemie, Akupunktur, Anthroposophie, Astrologie, Esoterik, Geomantie, Homöopathie, Okkultismus, Parapsychologie, bisweilen auch die Psychoanalyse, Radiästhesie u.v.a. gerechnet, insoweit diese selber in Anspruch nehmen, Wiss. zu sein, dieser Anspruch aber von den Wiss. aus methodischen und theoretischen Gründen abgewiesen wird. Beide Ausdrücke kommen aus dem Griech. (ψευ˜δος/pseu´dos, »Täuschung, Lüge, Betrug«; παρα´/para´, »neben«) und haben eine krit. Bedeutung. Bei den Ps. gelte…


(343 words)

Author(s): Zinser, Hartmut
[English Version] Pseudoreligion/Ersatzreligion, religionswissenschaftlich. Mit dem Begriff P. (von griech. pseudos, »Lüge, Täuschung«) und E. werden umgangssprachlich, bisweilen leider auch in der religionswiss. Lit. zweierlei soziale Erscheinungen bez., ohne daß die Verwendungen eindeutig unterschieden werden: a) Gebilde, für die von ihren Anhängern die Qualität der Rel. reklamiert werden, dies aber z.B. von den Kirchen und Kritikern bestritten wird (z.B. einige der sog. neuen religiösen Bewegun…