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

Sacred (the); Sacred and Profane

(4,322 words)

Author(s): Robert Segal
Abstract: The sacred can apply to gods, to places, to times, and to persons. It is one of several terms used to describe the object of worship in religion. Other terms are holy, divine, and gods. The opposite of the sacred is the profane, which means ordinary rather than sinful or offensive. This entry considers the use of the term sacred in the study of religion. It also considers are the changing uses of the…


(3,789 words)

Author(s): Kathryn McClymond
Abstract: The entry provides an overview of the study of sacrifice as a religious and cultural phenomenon. It offers examples of sacrificial rituals  a discussion of definitions and characterizations of sacrifice, emphasizing the need for a polythetic approach that pays attention to the full spectrum of activity performed during sacrifice. In addition, the entry discusses comparative studies of sacrifice, followed by a summary of noteworthy theoretical approaches to the study of sacrifice. Specifically, the author discusses approaches that focus on sacrifice as cuisine; sacrifice as a form of exchange; sacrifice as violence; and sacrifice as a gendered phenomenon, both in its practice and in its theorizing. Finally, the entry comments on the continuing relevance of “sacrifice” as a category for religious studies, noting how sacrifice occurs in different forms (material, spiritual, met…

Sanctuary / Shrine / Temple

(5,139 words)

Author(s): Johanna Buß
Abstract: Since the earliest times, human beings have been constructing buildings and consecrated sites for the worship of deities and natural or supernatural powers. These serve a variety of purpose…


(2,307 words)

Author(s): Milo Kearney | James Zeitz
Abstract: This entry defines savior as a supernatural being who is believed to intervene on behalf of others to redeem them from an ill fate. Examples are given of six types: (1) those in "primitive"…


(1,736 words)

Author(s): David Dawson
Abstract: Though coined by the translat…
Date: 2014-09-16

Schism / Schismogenesis

(2,359 words)

Author(s): Joëlle Rollo-Koster
Abstract: The word “schism” derives from the Greek
Date: 2014-09-16


(3,375 words)

Author(s): Willem B. Drees
Abstract: The natural sciences in their diver…


(2,304 words)

Author(s): William A. Graham
Abstract: The generic t…

Sect / Sectarianism / Cult

(5,574 words)

Author(s): David Bromley
Abstract: Growing out of the Protestant Reformation, religious diversity has continued to increase in almost every Western nation. This growing diversity has led scholars to seek a vocabulary that wo…

Secularization and De-secularization

(2,584 words)

Author(s): Gary Gabor
Abstract: Secularization is the decrease of either religion or its influence in any sphere of human activity. The extent to which a decrease can and does take place, as well as whether the decrease i…

Secular religion

(2,362 words)

Author(s): Sindre Bangstad
Date: 2014-09-16

Secular, Secularism

(2,017 words)

Author(s): Paul Cliteur


(2,143 words)

Author(s): Jens Kreinath
Abstract: The semiotics of religion is a theoretical approach to the study of signs and…


(3,957 words)

Author(s): Harry Cocks
Abstract: Sexuality should be understood in historical terms. In the modern period it has been an umbrella term used to refer to sexual feelings, nature and orientation, with the emphasis on question…
Date: 2014-09-16