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Blasphemy

(1,371 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar
Blasphemy (Gk., blasphemía, ‘abuse’ e.g., verbal; also ‘abuse of God’) is disparagement of God. The status of blasphemy is indicated in Jewish and Roman law themselves. It was adopted by the medieval imperial and canonical codes from Justinian's Novels 77 (c. 540 CE). The concept is marked by the European legal tradition, and, to a lesser degree, by the monotheistic notion of God. Its generalization is therefore not unproblematic. For the sake of a specification of the concept in religious studies, these origins are first rendered explicit,1 and then abstract criteria are drawn up for purposes of comparison.2 Lèse-Majesté 1. The point of departure for blasphemy as a crime is the third of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name” (Exod 20:7). In order to avoid violating this commandment, Jews refrained from pronouncing the name of God at all. Cursing, or any dishonoring of the name of God, was an assault upon God. As an offense against majesty ( crimen laesae majestatis), Christianity and Isl…

Holy

(369 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar
The word ‘holy,’ or ‘sacred,’ denotes an area completely bounded off from the everyday (‘profane’), and simply never to be available to the human being. Accordingly, special rules are in force for dealing with sacred objects, buildings, and persons. A type of theory of the Holy attributes the latter to other quantities, for example, sociologically to society (Durkheim), or to aggression (Girard) in anthropological sociology. On the other hand, the Holy can be conceived as a category of its own, incapable of reduction, as in the phenomenology of religion of Rudolf Otto, who thought to recognize, in the dimensions of feeling—and in the tremendum (‘terrible,’ ‘frightening,’ ‘fearsome’) and fascinosum (‘fascinating,’ ‘enchanting,’ ‘captivating’)—the essence of the religious experience. Subsequently, Mircea → Eli…

Taboo

(262 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar
1. The word ‘taboo’ comes from the Polynesian tápu and denotes, on one hand, a prohibition by which an object is withdrawn from everyday use, and on the other, the object itself. A taboo can pertain to gods, human beings, bodily parts, objects, types of relationship, words, areas or regions, or, for example, a tribe. Depending on who prescribes it—for example a chief or a transcendent power—the nature of the obligation, and in case of transgression the severity of the punishment, can oscillate. A taboo can also be removed.…

Alchemy

(1,700 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar
[German Version] I. Alchemy denotes a particular craft knowledge used first of all for transforming metals; however, its goal was not only the perfecting of the material but also of the human being (e.g. healing or immortality). The origins of Western alchemy are found in Antiquity; in the earliest literary sources (3rd cent. ce) Greek philosophy of nature played as much a part as Hellenistic astrology, Gnosis and mythology. Reciprocal contacts and influences between comparable …

Neid Gottes

(252 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar
[English Version] . Der N.G. ist insbes. in der griech. Mythologie belegt (ϕϑο´n̆ος ϑεω˜n̆/phtho´nos theō´n) und ist eine psychologisch-anthropomorphe Bestimmung der auf ihre Privilegien bedachten Götter. Der N. bezieht sich nicht nur auf die Götter untereinander, sondern im engeren Sinn v.a. auf den Menschen, insbes. den glücklichen und dadurch über…

Jealousy of God

(292 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar
[German Version] Divine jealousy is especially evident in Greek mythology (ϕϑόνος ϑεῶν/ phthónos theōn) and is a psychological and anthropomorphic characterization of the gods who are anxious to preserve their privileges. The jealousy relates not only to the gods in their relationships to each other, but, in a narrower sense, primarily to human beings, especially the fortunate and thus arrogant humans. This ultimately leads to ¶ their punishment, for example to the destruction of a kingdom (Xerxes), to pacify the jealousy of the gods. The various interpretatio…

Biography

(1,913 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar | Barbour, John D. | Schweitzer, Friedrich
[German Version] I.  History of Religion – II.  Biography and Religion – III.  Autobiography and Religion – IV.  Practical Theology and Education I. History of Religion The term biography denotes the life history of an individual, both in regard to its external course and in regard ¶ to spiritual and mental development. In a narrower sense biography is the narrative, whether oral or written, of curricula vitae. It is not always possible to …

Elite

(1,367 words)

Author(s): Münch, Richard | Jödicke, Ansgar | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Sociology – II. Comparative Study of Religions – III. Ethics I. Sociology “Elite” – from Lat. eligere “to elect” – designates a select group of persons who stand out from the crowd by virtue of distinctive features such as consanguinity, age (Old age), power, wealth, knowledge, technical, organizational or artistic skills (Competence), …

Functionalism

(1,146 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar | Stephan, Achim | Loder, James E.
[German Version] I. Science of Religion – II. Philosophy – III. Practical Theology I. Science of Religion A functional analysis describes the parts of a system on the basis of their function for the whole. Pioneered by É. Durkheim, functionalism was develo…

Humility

(4,021 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar | Mathys, Hans-Peter | Reeg, Gottfried | Wengst, Klaus | Köpf, Ulrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. Judaism – IV. New Testament – V. Church History – VI. Dogmatics and Ethics I. Religious Studies Humility is an attitude of conscious abasement (Humi…

Piety

(3,477 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar | Sparn, Walter | Koch, Traugott | Seiferlein, Alfred | Weismayer, Josef | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Piety (recently often also “spirituality”) is understood, first, as the forms of expression of lived religiosity; research in this area is particularly the subject of folklore studies and church history for the idividual, secondly, piety has to do with particular qualities of feeling, such as reverence, with which the psychology of religion (Gruehn, Sundén) is concerned. Objective and subjective components are combined in various ways in the historical developme…

Zorn Gottes

(2,907 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar | Achenbach, Reinhard | Herzer, Jens | Volkmann, Stefan | Bieritz, Karl-Heinrich
[English Version] I. ReligionswissenschaftlichWie andere Eigenschaften Gottes ist der Z.G. (vgl. Zorn) ein Anthropomorphismus, der sich in der Ikonographie (: I.; z.B. Thangkas [tʾan˙ Ka] in Tibet), aber v.a. in der Mythologie vieler Rel. findet und dort zu diversen Verwicklungen des Geschehens führt. In der griech. Mythologie z.B. schickt der von Prometheus hintergangene Zeus im Z. den Menschen die Büchse der Pandora und bringt so das Übel in die Welt.Je nach Situation kann der Z.G. Willkür oder Berechenbarkeit der Götter versinnbildlichen und sich für den Menschen zerstörerisch oder heilsbildend auswirken. Anlaß für theol. Spekulation und Kritik bietet deshalb der Zusammenhang des Z.G. mit dem menschlichen Handeln und Schicksal. Physische Übel wie Krankheiten, Kriege oder Katastrophen können als Ausdruck und Folge des Z.G. verstanden werden. Im Ṛgveda bestraft z.B. Varuṇa zornig moralische Verfehlungen (1,24.25;…

Wrath of God

(3,658 words)

Author(s): Jödicke, Ansgar | Achenbach, Reinhard | Herzer, Jens | Volkmann, Stefan | Bieritz, Karl-Heinrich
[German Version] I. Religious Studies As with other divine attributes, the wrath of God (cf. Wrath/Anger) is an anthropomorphism that is encountered in iconography (I; e.g. of Thangkas [ tʾaṅ Ka] in Tibet), but especially in the mythology of many religions, where it leads to various entanglements within the plot. In Greek mythology, for instance, the enraged god Zeus sends Pandora’s box to humanity after having being deceived by Prometheus, thereby bringing evil into the world. Depending on the situation, the wrath of God can illustrate the capriciousness or predictabil…