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Moon

(1,832 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Archaeology I. History of Religion Owing to its high degree of observability, the moon (like the sun and Venus; cf. constellations, astrology, astral religion) plays an important role in various mythological traditions. Analogies to cosmological processes and to the sequence of life/fecundity and death were seen in the alternation of the lunar phases, but they also served as a paradigm for calendrical cycles (Calendar). The dates of the new moon and of the full…

Divine Messengers

(394 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Divine messages may be imparted to human beings in a non-personal way (e.g. through omens, dreams) or through (semi-)divine beings or angels. Divine messengers are “religious border crossers” for they can cross the boundaries between the terrestrial-human and the extraterrestrial-divine cosmos; in this respect, angels in Judaism, Christianty and Islam also rank …

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…

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…

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…

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…

Nomads

(476 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Ideally, nomads are defined as living off the yield of their flocks and herds; they therefore move about as shepherds in response to climatic conditions, which dominate their animal husbandry, their livelihood, and their worldview. Pure nomadism is (or was) found primarily in three geographical regions. 1. The (semi)nomadic peoples of northern Eurasia (Finno-Ugrian religions) adapt to clear seasonal changes, with transhumance in the spring and fall. The basis of their livelihood is raising reindeer (Saami, Samoyeds, Evenk) or …

Statistics, Religion Adherence

(845 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] In the first instance, religious statistics report the data that provide information on the local or global distribution of individual religions or religious groups. They are one aspect of a larger “religiometrics,” which includes all measurable factors associated with religion (e.g. sacred buildings, production of religious books and media, endowments) in order to take these quantitative values into account in interpreting religious phenomena or developments. “Counting procedures” in the context of religion go back to the dawn of the 1st millennium bce, if Da…

Contest

(454 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Originating in Greek antiquity, contest or competition carried out on a field with the objective of victory entered metaphorical usage, in Christianity as elsewhere, as Agon. In a broader sense, however, competition and sport are attested in many religious contexts or can be used and interpreted in religion. In this regard, competition continues essentially to be competition with the goal of victory, while the term “sports,” used in England since the 16th century (from Latin disportare, “to amuse, entertain oneself”), refers to physical training i…

Astral Religion

(537 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] (from Gk ἄστρα/ ástra, “stars”) refers to the cultic worship of heavenly bodies or deities associated with them. The relationship between a heavenly body and a deity may range from identification to mere association – the boundaries are fluid. There is no astral religion per se, but elements of astral religion appear within particular religious systems. Some scholars have attempted to trace the whole of mythology to astral religion or astral …

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…

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,…

Hemerology

(103 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred

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 …

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 λάβρ…

Trees and Plants

(1,210 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Rüterswörden, Udo | Gemünden, Petra von
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The worldwide significance that trees and plants have in cultus and mythology is connected to the essential relationship between plants, animals and human beings. Trees and plants play an important part in archaic cultures and tribal religions. In religious studies three overlapping areas may be identified: 1. Cosmic connections. The world tree holds the cosmos together as axis mundi, with its roots in the underworld, its trunk in the human world, and its top in the …

Tithing

(1,866 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Otto, Eckart | Reichman, Ronen | Strohm, Christoph
[German Version] I. History of Religion Instances in which a certain share of a person’s gains were ceded to the gods are known from the religions of the ancient Near East and of Classical Antiquity; on the evidence of the Old Testament (e.g. Lev 27:32f.; 1 Sam 8:15), Judaism and Christianity were also familiar with tithing (see III, IV below). Even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), which only cultivates a loose relationship to biblical tradition, takes up this notion in the Book of Mormon (cf. Alma 13:14f.), although it provides it with a new justification by citing a revelation to J. Smith (Doctrine and Covenants 119:4). The term “tithing” must be understood against this ultimately biblical background. In practical respects, other religions are also familiar with the notion that a certain portion of one’s agricultural or economic proceeds belongs to a deity or religious institution; in many cases, the purpose of such levies is to support the disadvantaged members of the religious community or to further the general interests of the re…

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…

Wisdom Literature

(4,476 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Lange, Armin | Lips, Hermann v. | Bagordo, Andreas
[German Version] I. Religious Studies

Politics

(7,247 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Hutter, Manfred | Schieder, Rolf | Thiemann, Ronald | Badry, Roswitha | Et al.
[German Version] I. Social Sciences Since its Greek origins, politics has meant (a) an action with a specific object, aiming to achieve the best way for all the inhabitants of the ancient city-state ( pólis) to live together and hence achieve the common good of the ¶ community ( koinón), and (b) the theory of this action (Sellin; see also Political science). Given that we no longer live in small urban societies but in large, open, and functionally complex societies (Society), politics includes – but cannot be limited to – the system of state g…

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 inaccessible regions, for example; tombs, caves, and springs are popular gateways to it. The upper air (“heaven”) can also serve as a beyond or hereafter. The hereafter can also have sociological aspects; this is the case when its inhabitants are together in family groups or are united with their ancestors (Ancestors, Cult of). Not uncommonly deities associated with the hereafter appear in groups or hierarchies analogous to social groups on earth. Such observations show that concepts of the hereafter are substantially shaped by the cultures in which they are set; generalizations about concepts of the hereafter are hardly feasible. The close…

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,…

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/ synkeránnymi, “mix.” In fact, however, it is a neologism coined by Plutarch ( Mor. 490b), who called the way Cretans came together in the face of external enemies synkretismos. Erasmus of Rotterdam than borrowed the term and introduced it into the language of Christian theology. In theology th…

Demons and Spirits

(6,288 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Görg, Manfred | Kollmann, Bernd | Haustein, Jörg | Koch, Guntram | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion (Ancient Near East and Antiquity) – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Church History – V. Iconography – VI. Practical Theology – VII. Judaism – VIII. Islam I. History of Religion (Ancient Near East and Antiquity) The term “demon” as used in European language groups derives from the Greek (δαίμων/ daímōn), where it initially also referred simply to gods (ϑεοί/ theoí; cf. Homer Iliad 1.122) without either positive or negative connotations. The exclusively “negative” charge associate…

Devil

(8,622 words)

Author(s): Felber, Annelies | Hutter, Manfred | Achenbach, Reinhard | Aune, David E. | Lang, Bernhard | Et al.
[German Version] I. Names and Terms – II. Religious Studies – III. Ancient Near East and Old Testament – IV. New Testament – V. Church History – VI. Philosophy of Religion – VII. Fundamental Theology – VIII. Dogmatics – IX. Judaism – X. Islam – XI. History of Art and Literature I. Names and Terms 1. Devil The secular Greek noun διάβολος/ diabolos comes from one of the meanings of the verb διαβάλλω/ diaballō, “separate, sever,” which led to meanings such as “accuse, slander, deceive.” From the Greek noun came Latin diabolus, from which the English …
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