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Metaphysics

(1,086 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
Sense of Being Human 1. The word ‘metaphysics’ was originally coined simply as a result of the order of certain writings of Aristotle as they were kept in libraries, where some appeared metà ta physiká, ‘after the [writings pertaining to] nature.’ But they form a unit, inasmuch as they all represent a ‘first philosophy,’ or inquiry into being as such. They investigate being's fundamental determinations, divisions, and the mutual relations of the latter. As they especially inquire into ‘the beginning,’ they also pose the question of God in the ancient sense. In the stricter sense, then…

Existentialism

(1,194 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
1. Existentialism is the colloquial designation of a philosophical current of the twentieth century. The common element of the philosophies in question is the methodological reduction of their content to the existence of the individual person. Existentialism presents a generalizing, alien designation for otherwise quite different philosophical outlines of the world. As a specific designation, the concept is found solely with Jean-Paul Sartre. A synonym antedating Sartre's application is philosophy of existence, which was current as early as 1929, and in German-spea…

Will, Free

(1,426 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
1. In general, ‘will’ (in Lat., voluntas; in Ger., Wille; in Fr., volonté) denotes the motivation of an acting subject in the direction of a particular goal. The subject of a will is not necessarily an individual human being, but, in the transferred sense, can also be a collectivity (‘general will,’ Fr. volonté générale), or a power conceived as transcendent, and as influencing the human being and the world (will of God). Insofar as the will is qualified as free, it presupposes the possible autonomy of the actor/agent. A distinction must then be m…

History

(3,583 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
Happenings and Histories 1. The word ‘history’ is a translation of the Greek historía (basic meaning: ‘gaining of information,’ ‘investigation,’ ‘narration’). Toward the turn of the eighteenth/nineteenth centuries, this word developed into the latinized form história. Between the ‘happenings’ and (hi-)story, however, four fields of meaning can be distinguished: (1) History means past events, connections or structures, how they change in the temporal succession of their human world and environment, and the history of collective groupin…

Chronology

(6,064 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Lichtenberger, Hermann | Jewett, Robert | Mosshammer, Alden A. | Fagg, Lawrence W.
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Old Testament and Early Judaism – III. New Testament – IV. Christian Time-Reckoning – V. Chronology in Scholarly Study I. History of Religions Not every culture has a word for what we call time and, if so, then with clearly different nuances of meaning. ¶ From the perspective of the history of religions, therefore, chronology can only refer figuratively to the division, arrangement, and measurement of what modern European languages call time. A distinct division of time is t…

Enemy/Love of One's Enemy

(1,755 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Otto, Eckart | Theißen, Gerd | Körtner, Ulrich H.J.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Ethics I. History of Religion The theme of the enemy is connected with the development or protection of identity and is directed toward people of other tribes or states, those of other faiths, or a hostile region of the world. The enemy can represent what is foreign and threatening or be localized within the worl…

New Year Festival

(992 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Praßl, Franz Karl
[German Version] I. Religious Studies In societies that must adapt and respond to an environment dominated by marked seasonal variations (Seasons), the rhythms of the year are fundamental to the economic and social life of the community. Each New Year festival reflects a specific social structure, which is characterized in turn by a specific perception and assessment of the natural environment. Therefore a phenomenological listing of the various religious elements of the festival does not do justice …

Solstice

(314 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[German Version] In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice marks the reversal of the sun’s apparent movement and hence the beginning of summer (with Jun 21/22 as the longest days); the winter solstice on Dec 21/22 with the shortest days similarly marks the beginning of winter. These turning points determine the chronology of the recurrent seasons of the year in the form of a calendar. The calendar in turn determines major feast days and times of ritual observance (Feasts and festivals). Preh…

Friendship

(3,210 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Berges, Ulrich | Fitzgerald, John T. | Gandler, Hans-Helmuth | Vowinckel, Gerhard | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Philosophy – V. Social Sciences – VI. Systematic Theology I. Religious Studies Religious studies have paid little attention to friendship, since it appears initially not to be a phenomenon of primary relevance to religion but to denote simply a personal relationship between individuals, culturally conditioned and codified, that represents a form of identityforming social life. As a result, very different understandings of friendship…

Calendar

(3,500 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Lichtenberger, Hermann | Meßner, Reinhard | Gerö, Stephen | Nagel, Tilman | Et al.
[German Version] I. General – II. Jewish Calendar – III. Christian Calendar – IV. Islamic Calendar – V. Liturgical Calendar I. General 1. The term calendar derives from the Roman “calendae,” the day on which a new month was proclaimed. It designates the structuring and hence the consequent mediation of time, i.e. records in pictorial and literary media to communicate structures of time. Calendars are concrete translations of chronologies. The performance of activities to be collectiv…

Sun

(2,816 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Hartenstein, Friedhelm | Cancik, Hubert | Schroer, Silvia | Wallraff, Martin | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The sun is omnipresent; in the phenomenal world, it marks and accentuates the course of our chronological and spatial lifeworld. The range of associated structures, interpretations, and ambivalences (light and dark, life-giving and life-consuming) makes it only natural that the sun should acquire religious symbolisms and orientations in many ways and in many areas: (1) orientation in time (annual calendrical cycle, identification of sacral seasons and hours of th…

Dwarfs

(458 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[German Version] The appearance of small-sized beings in the beliefs of various cultures and religions finds its premise in the real occurrence of small-sized people. In ancient and medieval tradition, beings that are conceived of as smaller than humans are usually located at the periphery of the known world. In the third song of the Iliad (Homer), the dwarf peoples are referred to as pygmies; Megasthenes located them in distant India, while 15th-century cartographers such as Klausen Svart placed them …

Laying-On of Hands

(1,802 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Janowski, Bernd | Lips, Hermann v. | Biehl, Peter
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies The laying-on or imposition of hands is a physical gesture usually performed in the context of a ritualized series of actions or as a symbol by itself. It can be ascribed to a divine being conceived anthropomorphically. The ritual gesture is attested in many cultures, especially in the ancient Near East, but it is not universal – it is unknown, for example, in Buddhism and Islam. Its mean…

Day and Night

(403 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[German Version] The unity of the duality of day and night is one of the most striking and constitutive phenomena in the divisions of the natural flow of time. Within the unity of day and night, cultural variations, conditioned upon socio-mythological and geographical-climatic factors, determine when a day is to begin or end (in the night, in the morning, or at noon) or how …

Time

(10,035 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Koch, Klaus | Frey, Jörg | Zachhuber, Johannes | Mesch, Walter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. General. The words for time denote in different languages, according to their etymological derivation and symbolic semantic field, different ways of dividing natural and cultural forms of progression and sequences of events into parts separated and distinguished from one another. The German word for time, Zeit, comes from Old High German zīt; “divide (up)”, from the root *dāi, “divide,” and implies the general dividing function of ideas of time, as factors in ordering experience of the world. Different ideas of time …

Suffering

(8,720 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Mürmel, Heinz | Halm, Heinz | Fabry, Heinz-Josef | Avemarie, Friedrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. General Suffering is a concept that needs to be approached constructively in comparative religious study as it takes fundamental negative human experiences to a comparative level. On this interpretive level, suffering is understood as one of the fundamental experiences of human life. What people experience as suffering depends on their particular interpretation of the world and hence on their religious system for interpreting the world. The point at which religi…

Giants

(316 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[German Version] In the history of religions. In the mythologies (Myth/Mythology) of the most divergent religious traditions, giants or mostly anthropomorphous protagonists of extraordinary bodily dimensions, envisioned as composite beings, play a role between humans and deities. The giant figure can have a positive or a negative connotation, and it can be either ugly or beautiful, threatening or protective, with raw power or wisdom, female or male. Its size expresses through physical superiority …

Neujahrsfest

(821 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Praßl, Franz Karl
[English Version] I. Religionswissenschaftlich Die Jahresrhythmen sind grundlegende wirtschaftliche und sozial einschneidende Ereignisse in Gesellschaften, die sich in einer von markanten Wechseln der Jahreszeiten geprägten Umwelt orientieren und behaupten müssen. Jedes N. ist auf eine konkrete gesellschaftliche Gruppenstruktur bezogen, die wiederum durch eine spezifische Wahrnehmung und Bewertung der natürlichen Umwelt gekennzeichnet ist. Aus diesem Grund ist eine religionsphänomenologische Auflis…

Riesen

(284 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[English Version] Riesen, religionsgeschichtlich. In den Mythologien (Mythos/Mythologie) unterschiedlichster rel. Traditionen spielen R. bzw. körperlich überdimensionierte, zumeist anthropomorphe Protagonisten als Mischwesen zw. Menschen und Göttern eine Rolle. Die Gestalt des R. kann positiv oder negativ konotiert sein, diese können sowohl häßlich als schön, bedrohlich oder beschützend, von roher Kraft als auch weise, weiblich oder männlich sein. Ihre Größe drückt mit physischer Überlegenheit das …

Tag und Nacht

(351 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen
[English Version] Tag und Nacht, religionsgeschichtlich. Die Einheit der Dualität von T. und N. ist eines der markanten und grundlegenden Phänomene in den Einteilungen des natürlichen Zeitverlaufs. Innerhalb der Einheit von T. und N. gibt es kulturvariante, durch sozialmythologische und geographisch-klimatische Voraussetzungen bedingte Möglichkeiten, wann der Beginn oder das Ende eines T. (in der N., am Morgen oder am Mittag) festgesetzt werden oder wie die Binnengliederung dieser Einheit strukturier…
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