The Brill Dictionary of Religion

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Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Kocku von Stuckrad

The impressively comprehensive Brill Dictionary of Religion (BDR) Online addresses religion as an element of daily life and public discourse, is richly illustrated and with more than 500 entries, the Brill Dictionary of Religion Online is a multi-media reference source on the many and various forms of religious commitment. The Brill Dictionary of Religion Online addresses the different theologies and doctrinal declarations of the official institutionalized religions and gives equal weight and consideration to a multiplicity of other religious phenomena. The Brill Dictionary of Religion Online helps map out and define the networks and connections created by various religions in contemporary societies, and provides models for understanding these complex phenomena.


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Labyrinth

(913 words)

Author(s): Hehn, Georg
1. The labyrinth is one of the symbols that exercise an enduring fascination upon human beings. Labyrinthine tracings and rituals are demonstrably present in many eras and cultures, and are applied with astounding persistence and identity of form. What is often called the ‘original’ labyrinth (Kerényi) lies beside its mythic place of origin, in Minoan Crete, and is propagated across the whole of the ancient Greek world, as well as perhaps received from the Mediterranean basin in India and Southe…

Laicism

(1,162 words)

Author(s): Grasmück, Oliver
1. Laicism is a political ideology developing in Catholic-dominated France, under the name laïcité, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. The French word laïcité is a neologism, derived from laïque (French, ‘secular,’ or ‘lay’), which is in turn derived from the Greek laós (‘simple people,’ as distinguished from their rulers and priests). It arises as a counter-concept to the polemical expression ‘clericalism,’ which has been used since the Revolution of 1848 as a deprecating designation for the dominance of the Catholic Church in society. The aim for laïcité is the strict leg…

Lamaism

(1,063 words)

Author(s): Marković, Željko
1. Lamaism denotes the version of → Buddhism practiced in → Tibet. Nowadays the concept refers especially to the theocratic system of Tibet before 1959 (→ Theocracy). (The prevailing Tibetan religion is now usually called ‘Tibetan Buddhism.’) ‘Lamaism’ comes from the word Lama (religious teacher), a title for ranking monks. History 2. The first attempts to convert the Tibetans to Buddhism were made through Indian → Tantra Buddhism, beginning in 640 CE. Only through the efforts of Indian missionary Padmasambhava, however, did Buddhism begin to ga…

Landscape

(1,260 words)

Author(s): Pieschel, Ursula
Definition 1. Landscapes appear by way of the perception and formation of the ‘natural environment.’ They are the consequence of special forms of subsistence (‘cultured landscapes’), and the expression of social conceptions of order. Religiously motivated ‘imprints’ on a landscape are of various kinds. The structuring of space, the formation of centers, → boundaries, sacred places, or taboo zones, are all lasting manifestations of value concepts. The contrast between ‘cultured land’ civilization …

Language

(3,177 words)

Author(s): Despland, Michel
Just as there is a necessity to write this article in only one of the many natural languages, so too we can not discuss language in general, but must start with some historical examples. Scriptural and non-Scriptural Religions In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, God's revelation was made available to humans through a language: Hebrew, Greek, or Arabic. The three religions attribute speech to God; in each the Word of God is associated with Creation (‘God said’ or ‘God decreed’). In Judaism and Christianity human reason ( logos in Greek) became intimately linked with this Word (also logos).…

Late Antiquity

(1,600 words)

Author(s): Fuch, Markus E.
Concept and Time Span 1. Until the mid-twentieth century, researchers understood late antiquity “as the long decay of ancient times, or as the commencement of the European-Byzantine Middle Ages.”1 Since then it has been regarded as an era ‘of its own,’ a genuine part of antiquity. Its characterization as a ‘time of decay’ arose from the evaluation of a humanistic, partly anti-Christian classicism—unless it was positively conceived in terms of the décadence-ideal of the fin de siècle. To be sure, the boundaries of eras always have something of the arbitrary or optional ab…

Law

(4,473 words)

Author(s): Rink, Steffen
Concept Law 1. ‘Law,’ as a continuous quantity, usually denotes anything that pertains to state statutes (‘laws’ in the discrete sense), is fixed in writing, and is applied by way of specialized state organs. State ‘law,’ then, is characterized by its expression in ‘laws,’ which latter unambiguously determine the regulation of factual circumstances and situations, and to the violation of which are attached predetermined punishments (sanctions)—these too, applied by the state. Thus, state law is ‘posited’ in positive, objective, law, and is invested with a note of coercion…