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Celibacy of the Clergy

(1,541 words)

Author(s): Felber, Anneliese | Lüdecke, Norbert | Puza, Richard
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. In the Christian Church – III.  Ethics I. History of Religions Celibacy, from Latin caelebs, “living alone,” refers to the unmarried state with the accent on sexual abstinence as practiced by a specific social group, while chastity represents a comprehensive form of abstinence going beyond the sexual. Celibacy is practiced for cultic reasons (purity [Pure and impure], defense against demons), societal needs (vestals; the preservation of ass…

Underworld, Journey to the

(470 words)

Author(s): Felber, Anneliese
[German Version] Journeys to the underworld fall within the category of journeys to the hereafter, classically as catabasis, “descent,” in Christianity as Christ’s Descensus ad inferos or descent into hell. The journey to the underworld, usually reserved to a god or hero, is undertaken to bring an individual back from the dead, to overcome the powers of the underworld, or to gain information about the world of the hereafter and the life to come (Eternal life). Mythological accounts presuppose a tripartite cosmos (Worldview; see also Hell). Ancient Near Eastern examples include the descent of Inanna/Ishtar and Baal to the underworld in an unsuccessful attempt to seize power; N…


(614 words)

Author(s): Felber, Anneliese | Thümmel, Hans Georg
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The myth and symbolism of the phoenix (Gk ϕοῖνιξ/ phoínix, probably “Phoen. [= purple] bird”) are determined by the solar tradition (Sun; hence, parallels inter alia to the Egyp. sun-bird, benu): it comes from the East (India, Arab countries), dies through immolation, appears periodically (Tacitus,


(5,513 words)

Author(s): Felber, Anneliese | Köpf, Ulrich | Plank, Peter | Hafner, Johann Ev. | Mohr, Hubert
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Relics are the remains (Lat. reliquiae) of individuals endowed with power, such as warriors, chiefs, sorcerers, heroes, prophets, martyrs, and saints – their bodies, their clothing, or objects they have used. Veneration of relics reflects the belief that these forces continue beyond the grave; the intent is to benefit from this power or blessing by erecting structures over the grave, lighting candles or leaving flowers, processions, touching or kissing, or burial nearby. There are also secondary contact relics, objects that have com…