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Proskynesis

(160 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] As a communicative gesture, proskynesis (from Gk προσκυνεῖν/ proskyneín, “to kiss toward [someone]”; cf. Lat. adorare, venerari) expresses humility and deference: accompanied by genuflection or prostration, it consisted of placing one’s hand to one’s mouth and then extending it toward the person being honored. In Assyria and ancient Persia, it was common as a gesture of homage when entering a ruler’s presence; Greek religion considered proskynesis appropriate only when offered to the gods. During…

History of Religions

(1,831 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. Definition – II. History – III. Sources – IV. Challenges and Accomplishments I. Definition The history of religions deals descriptively and empirically with all religions, past and present. All observable manifestations of these religions are the subject matter of the discipline: teachings, actions, structures and forms of community, individual expressions of faith, and collective modes of behavior. The history of religions thus studies religions in the plural – their emergence, their dev…

Name, Belief in the

(332 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The name of a person or divinity (Names of God) expresses in many cultures an individual and unmistakable mark of that person's essential being. From this the idea grows that anyone who knows that name can have authority over the person in question. Partly bound up with this is the fear that if the name is known, enemies or demons may gain power over the bearer of the name; thus the real name must be kept secret. The revelation of the name by a divinity (cf. Exod 3), the discovery…

Parsiism

(1,019 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The Parsis (Parsees) are Zoroastrians (Zarathustra) who once lived in Iran. After Iran was Islamized, they emigrated via a complex route to their future home in Gujarat (India). Their emigration is recalled with a theological slant in the Qissa-i Sanjan, “The Story of Sanjan.” The Persian text, written in 1599 or 1600, is the earliest source describing the arrival and settlement of the Zoroastrians in India, where they were called Parsis because of their Persian background. The Parsi tradition dates the emigration in t…

Hemerology

(103 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] As a technique of divination/manticism, day-selection is a practice that assumes that specific days are auspicious or inauspicious for carrying out certain actions. Hemerologies containing lists of such days have come down to us from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, the cultures of Classical Antiquity, and Judeo-¶ Christian tradition, as well as from the Chinese and Aztec cultures. Manfred Hutter Bibliography M. Kalinowski, “Les traités de Shuihudi et l'hémérologie chinoise à la fin des Royaumes-Combattants,” T'oung Pao 72, 1986, 175–228 C. Leitz, Tagewählerei. …

Rainbow

(242 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] As a sign of God’s covenant (Gen 9:12–17; according to Zenger, God’s war bow) after the Flood, the rainbow has largely positive connotations in Western history; this causes the ancient Greek tradition, according to which the rainbow is considered an ominous sign of future continuous rain (Ovid, Met. I, 270), to recede into the background. Both traditions, as omen and as link between the cosmic regions, are widespread in religious history. The rainbow is thought of as a bridge on which the gods walk across the sky, down to the …

Oracle

(1,534 words)

Author(s): Vollmer, Ulrich | Hutter, Manfred | Wandrey, Irina | Egelhaaf-Gaiser, Ulrike
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. History of Religion I. Religious Studies The term “oracle,” derived from the Latin noun oraculum, denotes, (1) in close connection with the original meaning of the word, the oracle site, i.e. the place at which a divine statement ( orare, “to speak”) was communicated to a person (see II, 3 below); (2) also common in ancient usage, the oracular statement itself; (3) the oracle as an institution; (4) in individual cases also a specific person involved in issuing the oracle (e.g. the medium of Nechun…

Hereafter, Concepts of the

(5,151 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Janowski, Bernd | Necker, Gerold | Haase, Mareile | Rosenau, Hartmut | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. History of Religions – III. Philosophy of Religion – IV. Art History I. Religious Studies All cultures have concepts of a hereafter or beyond (“the next world”), although they are extremely diverse. They involve a realm of existence different from the visible earthly world but nevertheless thought of as real. Concepts of the hereafter are part of cosmology and therefore are related to the real world: the hereafter may be localized above or below the earth, in inaccessib…

Labyrinth

(700 words)

Author(s): Hiller, Stefan | Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. Minoan and Mycenaean Religion – II. Symbolism I. Minoan and Mycenaean Religion The Greek word λαβύρινϑος/ labýrinthos and the presumably cognate λάβρυς/ lábrys, “(double-headed) axe,” come from a non-Greek or pre-Greek language stratum, from which the Greeks borrowed them somewhere in the Aegean-Anatolian region. In Asia Minor the toponym Labranda in Caria, with its shrine and the archaic cultic image of Zeus wielding a labrys (“Zeus Labraundeus”), points to Crete, where myth identifies the labyrinth at Knossos, designed by …

Talisman

(171 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The etymology of the word has not been explained satisfactorily (Sefrin, 163). In both popular and academic language, there is no precise difference in meaning or usage between a talisman and an amulet. A talisman is an artificial or natural object understood by the person who wears or uses it to be endowed with power (Mana). There is no visible distinction between a talisman and a piece of jewelry; as a result, there is a wide range of talismans in different cultures. Someone who uses a talisman expects either to be strengthened ¶ (and enabled to resist negative influenc…

Gods, Groups of

(481 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Gods, Groups of, in the history of religions. The assembly of individual gods into a group of gods serves to structure polytheistic panthea (Pantheon: I) and results from cosmological classification or priestly-theological speculation. Frequently, groups of gods are arranged binarily, triadically or according to some other simple number (dyads e.g.: heaven/earth; triads: heaven/earth/sea, sun/moon/morning star). Additional criteria for the assembly of gods include: (fictive) genea…

Hunters/Hunting Rites

(1,595 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. Definition – II. Distribution –III. Ideological Backgrounds – IV. Hunting as Life-Preserving Killing – V. Economic Change and the Continuation of Ritual I. Definition The hunter's task comprises the tracking down, trapping, and killing of free-living animals that are used for nourishment within the hunter's own society. In ideal/typical form, ethnology categorizes hunters, with hunter-gatherers and planters, as the simple economic forms. More developed are the means of production of agriculture an…

Name

(5,597 words)

Author(s): Udolph, Jürgen | Figal, Günter | Hutter, Manfred | Assel, Heinrich | Rüterswörden, Udo | Et al.
[German Version] I. Linguistics – II. Philosophy – III. Religious Studies – IV. Philosophy of Religion – V. Old Testament – VI. New Testament – VII. Church History – VIII. Judaism – IX. Islam I. Linguistics Linguistically, a name is a proper noun ( nomen proprium) as opposed to a common noun ( nomen appellativum); both function grammatically as substantives. Proper nouns (names) designate individual persons, places, things, and ideas or collectives thought of as individuals; they do not ascribe common attributes to their referents. Outside…

Rain

(352 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The value accorded to rain is related to whether cultures practice agriculture based on irrigation or on rain. There may be a focus either on preventing uncontrolled flooding that destroys growth, or on anxiety lest there be no rain, and on desire for rain. Rain is seen as a gift of mountain and weather gods (e.g. in the Near East, where YHWH, too, displays traits of such gods; Indra in the Vedic pantheon [Vedic and Brahmanic religion]; Chac or Tlaloc [Aztec religion: V] in Centra…

Rite and Ritual

(6,139 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Stausberg, Michael | Schwemer, Daniel | Gertz, Jan Christian | Hollender, Elisabeth | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. The terms The terms rite and ritual are often used synonymously, both in daily speech and in the specialized language of religious studies, leading to a lack of clarity. “Rite” is etymologically related to Sanskrit ṛta, “right, order, truth, custom,” and may thus be regarded as the “smallest” building block of a ritual, which can be defined as a complex series of actions in a (logical) functional relationship. Within a three-level sequence, cult (Cult/Worship : I, 2) must also be taken into cons…

Israel and Asia Minor

(615 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Its location between Egypt and northern Syria/ Asia Minor involved Canaan/ Israel in diplomatic relations beginning in the middle of the 2nd millennium. These relations increased after the peace treaty that followed the Battle of Kadesh (1274). Although there is archaeological evidence of diplomatic and cultural contacts between the Hittites and the region of Israel (e.g. discovery of Hittite seal [impressions] and ivory plaque with the Hurrian goddess Šawuška at Megiddo; gate lio…

Afghanistan

(3,022 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has a population of about 30 million. Next to the dominating Sunni Islam, there is a considerable Šīʿa minority of about 15% of the population. The non-Muslims in Afghanistan also include Hindus and Sikhs, but the total number of them in 2012 is only a guess and varies widely. Some sources calculate that there might be only 500 Sikhs and Hindus, others say there might be 1,100 Hindus and 4,900 Sikhs, or even more in recent years (Ballard, 2011, 9, 21-22). Geo…
Date: 2019-01-30

Vietnam

(2,926 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
While the main religious traditions in Vietnam focus on Sino-Vietnamese Buddhism and Confucianism; Roman Catholicism as a result of the French colonial rule; and more recent religions like Protestantism, Cao Dai or Hoa Hao Buddhism, and the veneration of Ho Chi Minh (see Taylor, 2007, 11f.), we also find two different groups of Hindus, which make up less than 0.1% of the country’s total population. On the one hand, this small group of Hindus living among people of other religions may signify the…
Date: 2019-01-30

Austria

(2,800 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
There have been contacts between Austria and the Indian subcontinent since the early 20th century, when some Indian students came mainly to Vienna. But these contacts were rather limited and remained restricted to individuals. When in 1963 an Austrian-Indian cultural society was established, some exchange in the fields of arts and music started, followed up by the creation of associations such as the World Malayalee Council, Kerala Cultural Society, and the Association of Nepalese in Austria. Be…
Date: 2019-01-30

Burma/Myanmar

(4,219 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
Legendary traditions say that contact between Burma and India already existed in the 3rd century BCE, when the Buddhist ruler Aśoka sent his missionaries to Suvarṇabhūmi (“Golden Land”), a part of Lower Burma, in order to spread Buddhism. This legend has twofold historical information, showing that Buddhism has always been more important than Hinduism in the process of “Indianization” of Burma and that the earliest contact between India and Burma had been established in Lower Burma. But such an…
Date: 2019-01-30
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