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Mystery Religions

(3,778 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Richard L. | Betz, Hans Dieter | Felmy, Karl Christian | Brüske, Gunda | Stolz, Michael | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. The Christian Cult and the Mysteries – III. Art History I. Religious Studies Modern discussion of the Greek mysteries goes back to the material collected by the Dutch scholar Jan de Meurs (1619), which served as the main source for I. Casaubon's argument that the Early Church borrowed but changed some terminology and institutions from the mysteries ( Exercitationes, 1655). The belief that there was a specific religious phenomenon, “the mystery cults of antiquity,” that could be compared directly with the practice…

Mysteries

(486 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Richard L.
[German Version] The basic meaning of the Greek root μυ/ my is “to close”; the noun μύστης/ mýstēs, “initiate,” refers to the oath by which initiates swore not to give away the content of the rites. The basic form of the Greek mysteries is the cult of Demeter and Kore at Eleusis in Attica (from the 7th cent. bce). Its rites were directly imitated elsewhere in the Greek world, for example Pausanias II 14.1 (Keleiai); VIII 15.1–4 (Pheneus). However, the term “mysteries” itself is extremely imprecise in the classical period. It is best to speak not of “my…

Mysticism

(17,207 words)

Author(s): Brück, Michael v. | Gordon, Richard L. | Herrmann, Klaus | Dan, Joseph | Köpf, Ulrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. The Concept – II. Religious Studies – III. History – IV. Philosophy of Religion – V. Practical Theology – VI. Islamic Mysticism – VII. Hindu Mysticism – VIII. Taoist Mysticism I. The Concept The concept of mysticism is closely linked to the development of the history of religion in Europe and the term must not be taken and applied uncritically as a general term for a phenomenologically determined group of phenomena in other religions (see also II, 3 below). Attempts at definition are either phenomenolog…

Mystagogy

(1,551 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Richard L. | Felmy, Karl Christian | Tebartz-van Elst, Franz-Peter
[German Version] I. Greco-Roman Antiquity – II. The Orthodox Church – III. Practical Theology I. Greco-Roman Antiquity Mystagogical theology is a useful term for the doctrine of the so-called “Platonic underworld,” the main features of which are: a dualistic view of the cosmos (Dualism); a clear distinction between an absolutely good supreme being and an often feminine demiurgical principle; a negative view of material existence; a fundamental change from philosophical to mythical discourse, and belief in a s…