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(823 words)

Author(s): Gerlitz, Peter
1. General Like heaven and the kingdom of God, paradise has a place among the great religious (and secular) utopias of human history (Secularization). In the Old Iranian language Avestan pairidaeza referred to a walled area, a garden (also a zoo). Believers linked it to an eschatological hope viewed as the inbreaking of the beyond into the here and now, of time into eternity, and hence as an alternative to suffering and death (or hell). It is a kind of counterworld, a cosmological prototype. 2. As Garden The symbol of the garden was an apt one for this hope. The prototype for the …

Priest, Priesthood

(4,566 words)

Author(s): Gerlitz, Peter | Stolz, Fritz | Garhammer, Erich | Siegele-Wenschkewitz, Leonore
1. Religion 1.1. Definition No adequate definition of “priest” or of the institution of the priesthood exists (Religious Studies). We cannot make generalized statements about the functions of the office and its social status, for they depend on each culture-specific context. Yet structures of priestly action may be found in all religious systems, even in those in which priests in the strict sense are unknown (e.g., Islam and Theravada Buddhism). Help in understanding the term may perhaps be found in the Babylonian term for priest, ērib bīti (i.e., one who may go into the temple…


(2,836 words)

Author(s): Gerlitz, Peter | Ohst, Martin | Sattler, Dorothea | Root, Michael | Ivanov, Vladimir | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Church History – III. Dogmatics – IV. Practical Theology – V. Missiology I. Religious Studies Confession and absolution, expressive of the substantiality of guilt (I) and the impact of the spoken word with its magico-ritual power, are among the “most widespread means of structured confrontation of the ego with itself” (Hahn & Knapp, 7). They appear already in tribal societies (Kikuyu, Nuer, Acholi in East Africa) as part of purificati…