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Demonic, The

(2,174 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Sparn, Walter
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Dogmatics – III. Philosophy of Religion I. Religious Studies R. Otto used the concept of the demonic in close association with the concept of the numinous, which occupied the center of his theory of religion. The essence of the numinous includes the element of the tremendum, the unnerving or unsettling element corresponding on the human side to numinous or religious awe – whose “preliminary stage” according to Otto is de…

Eclecticism

(769 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Albrecht, Michael
[German Version] I. Comparative Religion – II. Philosophy I. Comparative Religion The term “eclecticism” denotes philosophical or religious systems in which elements of various provenance have been deliberately combined; it was already used in this sense by ancient writers (Diogenes Laertius; cf. II below). In modern usage, the term usually carries a negative connotation, based on the assumptio…

Incarnation

(4,457 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Williams, Rowan D. | Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Religious Aspect 1.1. Term The term “incarnation,” which is now used in religious discussion as well as Christian theology, is not always plainly distinct from related terms like “manifestation” or “epiphany.” There is thus no uniform usage, and the employment of the word is much debated. It seems best to limit its use to the idea that a ¶ divine being has embodied itself in human form and in this form lived on earth. A distinction might be made between continuous incarnation in an institu…

Hope

(4,048 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Kaiser, Otto | du Toit, Andrie | Beißer, Friedrich | Moxter, Michael
[German Version] I. Religious Studies / History of Religions – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Dogmatics – V. Ethics I. Religious Studies / History of Religions Various versions of the Greek Prometheus myth characterize hope ( elpís) as one of the requirements for human existence (Hesiod Opera et dies V 96; Aesch. Prometheus V 250). In Roman religion, hope ( spes) is one of the concepts personified and venerated as divine powers (Cic. De legibus II 28). It seems reasonable to assume that religious hope differs from nonreligious hope in extending its time frame beyond this ear…

Syncretism

(5,112 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Hutter, Manfred | Auffarth, Christoph | Leicht, Reimund | Roxborogh, John | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology The word syncretism in its broadest sense denotes any blend or combination of diverse cultural phenomena. This usage derives from an apparently reasonable but false etymology: syncretism is commonly derived from the Greek verb συνκεράννυμι/

Symbols/Symbol Theory

(9,049 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard | Recki, Birgit | Schlenke, Dorothee | Biehl, Peter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Use of the Greek word σύμβολον/ sýmbolon in a sense relevant to religious studies is attested quite early in the history of European religions; Dio of Prusa (1st/2nd cent. ce), for example, used it in his speech on Phidias’s statue of Zeus in Olympia ( Oratio 12.59). In this context, the Greek term reflects the problem posed by images of the gods: what is intrinsically inaccessible to human vision (Vision/Intuition) is somehow to be represented visually. In religious studies, especially in the phenomenology of religion, the concept of symbols has played an important role. It presupposes the distinction between God and the world assumed by Christian and Western tradition as well as the possibility of an indwelling of the divine in the world or the assumption of a representational relationship between the world and God. On this basis, scholars attempted to explore the symbolic significance of religious objects or the symbolic interpretation of mundane phenomena. The “most authentic symbol,” according to G. van der Leeuw, is “the altar, the throne or table of God, because here in fact the holy becomes ‘local,’ taking up residence, so to speak” (511f.). M. Eliade devoted extensive study to the symbolism of the world tree and included the Christian cross (Cross/Crucifixion) in the same context …