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(153 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt
[German Version] "Barbelo" is the name or epithet of a female entity who appears in Gnostic texts as the first emanation of the (androgynous) supreme being and as the cause for the appearance of the pleroma (including the heavenly Christ). The meaning of the Semitic/Aramaic name is uncertain ("God is in the four," "daughter of the lord," "mighty through God"). Barbelo comes from a semi-Jewish wisdom tradition. Irenaeus calls one Gnostic group "Barbelo Gnostics" ( Haer. I, 29; possibly from a gloss); the same group appears again in Epiphanius…

Religious Studies

(4,620 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Seiwert, Hubert | Hock, Klaus
[German Version] I. History 1. The history of religious studies, or the science of religion (Ger. Religionswissenschaft) is a function of its definition or conception; it is thus somewhat ambiguous at ¶ times and is viewed in a variety of ways. Strictly speaking, religious studies did not acquire a more or less fixed framework of tasks and standard methods in Europe until the 20th century; this framework subsequently gained acceptance throughout the world, especially through the efforts of the International Association for the…


(4,527 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Roloff, Jürgen
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Religious studies has adopted the term redeemer from the biblical language of Christianity to represent Latin redemptor (Vulgate) and Greek ῥυόμενος/ rhyómenos or λυτρωτής/ lytrōtḗs (Job 19:25; Isa 63:16; Acts 7:35; Rom 11:26). Luther used Erlöser (“redeemer”) in these cases, but Heiland (“savior”) to represent Latin salvator and Greek σωτήρ/ sōtḗr. The terms are synonymous in both German and English. The worldwide use of the term in non-Christian contexts has increasingly made it part of the metalinguistic te…


(218 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt
[German Version] a Gnostic Christian group with libertine elements. Mentioned by Epiph. Haer. XXV–XXVI, they existed in Egypt (Alexandria) during his lifetime (4th cent.). They were also called Borborites, Gnostics, Koddians, Stratiotics, Phibionites, Secundians, Zachaeans or Barbeliots (Barbelo/Barbeliots). The name means “filthy beggars” (from the Greek borboros) and was probably introduced by Epiphanius himself in allusion to the Barbelo whom they revered. Their meals, described as …


(2,928 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Holzhausen, Jens | Lory, Pierre | Blum, Paul Richard | Colpe, Carsten
[German Version] I. Literature – II. History of Influence I. Literature The literature that has come down to us under the name of the Greek-Egyptian god Hermes (Hermes Trismegistus) is not a unity, neither literarily nor in terms of content. Its beginnings reach back into the 3rd century bce to Egypt (III, 2), and its influence extends beyond the Arabic-Islamic and Christian-European Middle Ages into the 18th century (see II below). This literature has been divided into “popular” or “occult” and “scholarly” or “philosophical” writings. The …


(228 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt
[German Version] The book of Hystaspes. Early Christian literature (Just. 1 Apol. 20.44; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 4.5, 43; esp. Lact. Inst. 7.15–21, 24) cites an ¶ apocalyptic work under this name of an old Persian ruler (Avestic Vištāspa), in the theosophy of Aristokritos (5th cent.) with the title Sayings (chrḗseis) of Hystaspes, King of the Persians. In the context of a dream interpretation, it describes the fall of a western power (Rome) with eschatological images (fire, chaos, judgment), from which the “Great King” sent by Jupiter delive…

History/Concepts of History

(12,750 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Görg, Manfred | Schlüter, Margarete | Römer, Nils | Cancik, Hubert | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Ancient Near East and Israel – III. Judaism – IV. Greece and Rome – V. New Testament – VI. Church History – VII. Dogmatics – VIII. Ethics – IX. Philosophy I. Religious Studies History is a major aspect of the study of religion. Apart from its roots in the Enlightenment idea of tolerance, it owes its scholarly development to the historicism of the 19th century. As a result, the expression history of religions ( Religionsgeschichte, histoire des religions, storia delle religioni) has remained dominant in continental Europe, in con…

Hermes Trismegistus

(195 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt
[German Version] The “three-times greatest Hermes” is a Greco-Egyptian god (Egypt: III, 2) who combines aspects of the Greco-Stoic Hermes Logios as well as of the ancient Egyptian “three-times great” god of wisdom Thot (from 3rd cent. bce; cultic center: Hermopolis). Primarily in the so-called Hermetic writings (Hermeticism/Hermetism), he is assigned the central role of revealer, founder, and mystagogue of the monotheistic doctrine of redemption propagated therein (2nd/3rd cent. ce), although he also appears as panto-¶ crator in the Greek magical papyri ( PGrM V 172, 400–421; …