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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…

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…

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 B…

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…

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 …

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 …

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…

Grave/Tomb

(558 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
The grave or tomb is a place of repose for the dead, and a station along their journey. It has (1) the character of a defense in their regard, inasmuch as it preserves them from desecration by persons, from devastation by animals or natural catastrophes, and from hurtful assaults by demons: inscriptions or protective symbols reinforce this aspect. It has (2) a function of security for the living: the dead are kept in the tomb lest, frightening and terrorizing, they be able to penetrate the realm…

Manichaeism

(1,143 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
1. Manichaeism is a vanished world religion that once extended from Western Europe to China. Often simplistically attached to ‘Gnosis’ (→ Gnosticism), Manichaeism was a major threat to the early Christian church, and many misrepresentations are the result of interreligious conflicts. The dark ‘Manichean vision of the world,’ for instance, is a travesty concocted by the religion's conquerors, who themselves received more from it than they admitted. Mani 2. a) Although Manicheans themselves referred to their ‘church’ (Gk, ekklesia) as “Religion of Light,” as ‘Manichaeism’ t…

Baha'i

(1,121 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
Baha'i Today 1. The Baha'i religion rests on traditions of Iranian Islamic history of religion, as well as on interweavings with the more ancient revelatory religions Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. Thus, its type is that of a monotheistic prophetical religion. The cultural conditions of its appearance in Islamic Iran in the nineteenth century weigh upon relations between the Islamic world and Baha'i to this day. At present the religion extends across the globe, with some 6.5 million …

Funeral/Burial

(1,330 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
1. a) The purpose of a funeral is not only the ritual removal of the corpse, but also the ritual defeat or management of the experience of death and separation. The funeral ritual fulfills several functions in these categories. With reference to the dead, it excludes them, and sets them in their new context (the smoke of the funeral pyre indicates the route of the soul to the beyond; the grave marks the departed one's new residence and abode). But it can also render the memory of the dead a public affair, or account for the…
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