The Brill Dictionary of Religion

Purchase Access
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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(2,215 words)

Author(s): Hergesell, Burkhard
Race and Racism 1. Franco-Algerian sociologist Albert Memmi defines racism as the “generalized and absolutized evaluation of actual or fictitious differences, to the advantage of the complainant and the disadvantage of his or her victim, with the intent of justifying the privilege or aggression of the former.”1 This in an oft-cited definition…


(1,597 words)

Author(s): Imhof, Agnes
Concept 1. The Arabic word Ramaḍān designates the ninth of the twelve months of the Islamic lunar year, to which a special holiness is ascribed in the Qur'an itself (sura 2:185, Paret ed.), where it is the only month to be mentioned. Ramadan h…


(1,130 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
Assertions and Truth 1. The fifteenth-century Renaissance effected a completely new orientation of the sciences. The manner of thinking appeared that was typical of the sixteenth century: rationalism. Here, it was the philosophy of René Descartes (1596–1650) that founded a new form of thought and made it the standard of the sciences. As Descartes demonstrated in his Discours de la Méthode (Fr. “Discussion of Method”; 1637), reason was no longer satisfied that it only maintain assent to received teachings. A doubt abiding in the reason prevents the latter from giving unconditional assent even to received truths, though these be pronounc…


(1,357 words)

Author(s): Grätzel, Stephan
Understanding/Reason 1. Today's concept of reason is a product …


(516 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
Rebirth may refer to both the idea of → reincarnation and that of being spiritually born again. Reincarnation involves a person being physically reborn into the world after having exited it through death in a previous individual existence. The previous existence cannot be consciously remembered by the individual, but still affects the person. For example, deeds and experiences in a previous life may influence the type of incarnation a person now has. Around 1900 European religious historians tended to …


(5,436 words)

Author(s): Hehn, Georg | Mohr, Hubert
1. The term ‘reception’ derives from the Latin recipere, ‘to receive,’ ‘to take up.’ It is applied with various meanings in scholarship. In the cultural sciences, it found wide application after its adoption from the Constance theory of option in literary reception. In the area of anthropology and religious studies, it denotes any orientation of a cultural or religious current to a tradition. The bearers of the latter are varied. Correspondingly, religious receptions are identified as forms of religion that, according to their own self-concepts, ref…


(701 words)

Author(s): Leppin, Volker
New Type of Religiosity 1. The Reformation radiating from Germany hosted a confluence of social, political, and religious developments. In terms of religion, the various motifs were focused through scriptural principles, and a teaching on justification. The criticism of the Church by that Church itself led to a collapse of the medieval concept of a unitary Christianity, the Corpus Christianum. Into its place stepped the co-existing confessional churches. In the Protestant regional churches, there arose a new type of Christian religiosity, one characteri…


(1,909 words)

Author(s): Naacke, Claudia
1. Fertility can be described as the capacity of human being, animal, and plant to reproduce and maintain life. ‘Regeneration’ comes from the Latin re-generare, ‘beget again/anew,’ a process including the moment of discontinuance, death. This peculiarity of living matter is bound up in shapes, specific to each respective culture, which also subject the human bei…


(1,775 words)

Author(s): Zander, Helmut
Concepts 1. The standard word ‘reincarnation’ is a coinage of the nineteenth century: it appeared in the movement known as → spiritism, and is based on the term ‘incarnation,’ the Christian theological ‘enfleshment’ of the Divine Word as Christ. The concept of reincarnation designates the return of someone's aspect of soul or spirit in another person, or, less frequently, in an animal or a plant. In European thought, for centuries, the → soul itself has stood for this aspect. Only in the nineteenth centu…

Relics (Veneration of)

(1,440 words)

Author(s): Raach, Marcus
1. Relics (Lat. reliquiae, ‘leavings’), in the religious understanding of the term, are remains having a relation to the Holy. Thus, especially in Christian veneration of relics, ‘memorial pieces’ of chief figures, or of figures who have served as models of Christian life or Christian death (saints and martyrs), such as their blood, bones, or ash…


(6,742 words)

Author(s): Auffarth , Christoph | Mohr, Hubert
The Power of Definition 1. a) The boundary between what religion is and is not, has important effects: it excludes it from undeserved privileges, and lays out its concerns as either illegitimate or unlawful. These issues arise in the debates over ‘fundamentalism,’ Islamic religious education, or over ‘sects and cults,’ as, for example, in the disagreement over whether Scientology is a religion o…

Religious Contact

(1,671 words)

Author(s): Nanko, Ulrich
1. ‘Religious contact’ denotes the encounter of at least two religions. In the following, → religion is intentionally applied in the broad sense. The concept ranges, then, from systems of belief, to → ideologies, and to liturgy and cult. Thus, it can relate to societies with a high degree of differe…


(2,206 words)

Author(s): Imhof, Agnes
Concept and Period


(555 words)

Author(s): Bernhardt, Reinhold
1. The word ‘revelation’ (in Gk., apokalypsis; in Lat., revelatio) is a category of reflection and abstraction, belonging to theological ‘second-order discourse.’ It can denote either the occurrence, or the content of a manifestation of the divine, by which, not infrequently, it performs a function of legitimization. After all, anyone professing to have received a revelation claims to be able, and to have the right, to make authoritative pronouncements concerning God or other things of faith. In this for…

Revolution, French

(1,444 words)

Author(s): Sekler, Manuela
Development of a Civil Religion 1. The importance of the French Revolution (1789–1799) for → European history of religion emerges primarily through the → secularization process for which the Enlightenment had supplied a theoretical preparation. That process identifies the transition to the modern age. At the same time, the Revolution developed its own myths and cults—oriented, in the main, to Greco-Roman antiquity—with which it hallowed both its abstract values, such as liberty, reason, and homeland,…