Vocabulary for the Study of Religion

Purchase Access
Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Robert A. Segal & Kocku von Stuckrad.

The Vocabulary for the Study of Religion offers a unique overview of critical terms in the study of religion(s). This first dictionary in English covers a broad spectrum of theoretical topics used in the academic study of religion, including those from adjacent disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, historiography, theology, philology, literary studies, psychology, philosophy, cultural studies, and political sciences.

Subscriptions: Brill.com


(4,507 words)

Author(s): Randall Styers
Abstract: This entry explores the history and use of the term magic, with particular focus on scholarly theories of magic over the past two hundred years. There …

Marketplace Model

(1,197 words)

Author(s): Alexander Nagel
Abstract: Two interrelated marketplace models of religion are discussed. While the sociology of knowledge perspectives have focused on the secularizing impact of a religious market situati…


(1,896 words)

Author(s): Katie Barclay
Abstract: ‎Marriage has taken many forms, involving different numbers and genders and entailing different rights and responsibilities. Anthropologically, marriage is often considered a means of controlling re…
Date: 2014-09-16

Martyrdom / Martyr

(2,513 words)

Author(s): Jolyon Mitchell | Jeremy Kidwell
Abstract: The study of martyrs and their stories is a much debated subject. The early history of martyrdom can be found in the commemoration of the deaths of the Maccabean Martyrs (Judaism), …


(3,458 words)

Author(s): Gary Edson
Abstract: This article is about masks and the role they play in human cultural development. The process of transformation, whether by body alteration or masks, is a distinctive human character…

Material Culture

(4,344 words)

Author(s): David Chidester
Abstract: Referring to bodies, objects, and places, material culture in religion is the sacred vitality of things. Living extensions of the human body can become sacred, while inan…
Date: 2014-09-16

Matriarchy / Patriarchy

(5,036 words)

Author(s): Peter Davies
Abstract: This entry considers the origin and implications of the term “matriarchy,” as it has been applied to the study of religion since the Enlightenment. It examines som…
Date: 2014-09-16


(4,087 words)

Author(s): Lenn Goodman
Abstract: Significance in an expression and purpose in an activity can both be called meaning. It seems worthwhile, with that thought in mind, to distinguish meaning in its semantical sense from the broader, perhaps metaphorical sense applied in speaking of an activity or even a life as meaningful. Semantically, an expression is called meaningful when it successfully communicates some idea. Meaning in its broader sense touches a wider array of values. Donations to the local foodbank are called meaningful not so much because of any message they convey but because of the benefits they provide in alleviating hunger and preserving human dignity. Some notion of translation is still at work here, perhaps — not of ideas into understandings by way of words but of energies and intentions into benefits or other goods by way of actions. Semantically, meaning seems at first blush simply to link an expression to an object. But that description, prompted by a bias against all talk of ideas, slights the rich variety in our ways of characterizing the things of which we speak. Frege’s distinction between sense and reference reclaims that richer terrain. It sees meaning as a three-term relation: Meanings link expressions with things or facts by way of ideas or intensions. The logical positivists, sensitized by biases of their own, branded as meaningless any sentence they deemed unverifiable by reduction to sense experience (if factual) o…
Date: 2014-09-16

Measurements of Religion

(3,439 words)

Author(s): David Voas
Abstract: Measuring religion is not only or even mainly a matter of recording affiliation; most of the difficulty comes in determining the degree of religious involvem…
Date: 2014-09-16


(4,396 words)

Author(s): Oliver Krüger


(2,325 words)

Author(s): Helen Lambert
Date: 2014-09-16

Memory / Memorization

(3,255 words)

Author(s): Barbara Jones Denison
Abstract: Memory and memorization in the acad…


(5,218 words)

Author(s): Norman Simms
Abstract: The history of mentalities (the key term should always be used in the plural and coupled with “history”) is a dynamic complex of…


(3 words)

Millenarianism / Millennialism 


(2,004 words)

Author(s): Raymond Gibbs