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Hermeticism/Hermetism

(2,928 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Holzhausen, Jens | Lory, Pierre | Blum, Paul Richard | Colpe, Carsten
[German Version] I. Literature – II. History of Influence I. Literature The literature that has come down to us under the name of the Greek-Egyptian god Hermes (Hermes Trismegistus) is not a unity, neither literarily nor in terms of content. Its beginnings reach back into the 3rd century bce to Egypt (III, 2), and its influence extends beyond the Arabic-Islamic and Christian-European Middle Ages into the 18th century (see II below). This literature has been divided into “popular” or “occult” and “scholarly” or “philosophical” writings. The …

Schaeder

(776 words)

Author(s): Voigt, Friedemann | Colpe, Carsten | Schwöbel, Gerlind
[German Version] 1. Erich (Dec 22, 1861, Clausthal – Feb 18, 1936, Berlin). After studying in Berlin and Greifswald from 1881 to 1886, Schaeder began lecturing in systematic theology at Greifswald in 1891. In 1894 he was appointed adjunct professor at Königsberg (today Kaliningrad) and in 1895 at Göttingen. In 1899 he was appointed ¶ to a full professorship at Kiel and in 1918 at Breslau (Wrocław). He was one of the theologians of the Greifswald school led by A.H. Cremer. In his most important work, Theozentrische Theologie (vol. I 1909, 31925; vol. II 1914, 21928), Schaeder criticized th…

Nature Religion

(661 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
The term “nature religion” has been used in a great variety of senses, of which seven are distinguished here. Philosophical. In the second and first centuries b.c. (later, the Stoics), and also in the 18th century (D. Hume), early doctrines of human nature came to completion with the observation or postulation of a disposition that in the modern period would be called religious. Theological. In the light of the revelation of the true knowledge of God, such a religious disposition became a problem for the second-century Christian apologists. Various terms wer…

Cyprus

(1,081 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Cyprus (Heb. Kittim, after the harbor Citium, mentioned often by the Phoenicians and the site of present-day Larnaca), from the Greek “Kypros” (etymology unknown), is a Mediterranean island 100 km. (60 mi.) west of the Syrian coast and 65 km. (40 mi.) south of the coast of Turkey. 1. Late Paleolithic and Neolithic settlement of Cyprus before the fourth millennium b.c. points to close relations with the Near East. During the third and second millennia the Copper and Bronze Age of Egypt, Crete, Mycenae, Syria, and Anatolia made Cyprus, with its rich m…

Afghanistan

(554 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Afghanistan became a separate kingdom under Aḥmad Shāh Durrāni (ruled 1747–73), who, as an officer of Nāder Shāh of Persia, left the army and was able to build his small Pashtuni state on the subjection of various ethnic groups in northeast Iran and central Asia. About 90 percent of the present-day population are rural peasants or nomads. Approximately 78 percent belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, 20 percent are Shiites, and 1 percent are Ismailis. The rest consist primarily of Hindus, Si…

Yezidis

(795 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. History The Yezidis are a religious community in the Syrian district of Simʿān and across to Ossetia. Though not unlike Iraqi Arabs, their Kurdish dialect (Kurds) and distinctive tradition make them a distinct ethnic group. Around 1900 they numbered up to 300,000, but after World War I only 100,000 and by 1983 only around 20,000. In 2005 estimates of the number of Yezidis worldwide ranged up to several times this reduced figure, mainly in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Armenia, with a sizable group in Germany as guest workers. Yezidis call themselves Dāsin (pl. Dawāsin; Syr. Dasnīyē), after a…

Religious Studies

(1,134 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Term The prophets of Israel with their criticism of Canaanite worship, as well as the philosophers of antiquity with their attacks on Greek myths, held aloof from what we now call religion, an attitude that is essential in the study of religion. The same applies to Islamic geographers, Christian missionaries, European explorers, and students of mythology from the days of the Enlightenment, also of comparative linguistics from the days of Romanticism, especially when new knowledge was brought to light. The whole complex of what might be called religion in the form of a secta, lex, latr…

Devil

(2,130 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Concept 1.1. Gk. diabolos, from which the Eng. “devil” is derived, is the usual LXX translation of śāṭān (adversary). In the NT it is used more in the Greek sense as “accuser” or “slanderer.” By way of the Gothic Bible it was taken over in Frankish, Anglo-Saxon, and German. It has retained its full meaning only as a Christian term, which also refers to the leader and representative of unbelief and heresy (Heresies and Schisms) and to the seducer and perverse paramour of witches (Witchcraft). To this extent, as one might say also of “God” (G. van der Leeuw, Phänomenologie der Religion [4…

Iranian Religions

(2,807 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Definitions Iranian religions are the authentic religions of peoples and tribes that spoke or speak Iranian languages. One may also refer to other religions whose features appear in Iranian religions and are material variants of them. We do not include religions in non-Iranian languages that are native to territories that came under the rule of Iran (e.g., the Elamites) or that came to Iran later and in so doing underwent changes (e.g., the many Turkic tribes) or that are regarded as their own only by a few Iranian speakers (e.g., the Buddhism of the Sakas and Sogdians). The Iranian la…

Phenomenology of Religion

(1,533 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Term and Beginnings 1.1. Between G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831; Hegelianism) and E. Husserl (1859–1938), “phenomenology” was a simple methodological term designed to indicate the fullest possible recording of facts and data. The phrase “phenomenology of religion” was used by P. D. Chantepie de la Saussaye (1848–1920) for the phenomenological part of his Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte (vol. 1; Freiburg, 1887; ET Manual of the Science of Religion

Yoga

(416 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Yoga, the Vedic term for “exertion,” “strain,” or “venture” (related to Gk. zygon and Lat. iugum, “yoke”), is a technical term used in various senses. 1. In a less technical sense yoga has to do with forms of trance (Ecstasy), asceticism, and meditation¶ . Two or three such rituals reach back to the end of the second century b.c. in southern Asia. Then in a more crystallized sense we find jñānayoga, bhaktiyoga, and karmayoga (yoga through the ways of knowledge, surrender/devotion, and action) in the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali (lived between 2d cent. b.c. and 2d cent. a.d.).…

Egypt

(2,787 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Swanson, Mark N.
1. Data Egypt is the most populous Arab country, even though the Nile makes only 4 percent of its land mass suitable for habitation and cultivation. The foundation of the modern Arab Republic of Egypt (Jumhūrīyat Miṣr al-ʿArabīyah), as it has been called since 1971, was laid in July 1952, when the reforming Free Officers under Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918–70) seized power. Egypt had previ…

Transcendental Meditation

(819 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a spiritual, neo-Hindu movement (Hinduism). 1. Founder The founder of TM was Mahesh Prasad Warma (b. 1911 or 1918). He was initiated into the traditions of meditation by Himalayan and South Indian masters. The last of these, and the most influential, was Shankara (700?–750?). When Mahesh had developed his own method, Transcendental Meditation (TM), he put “Maharisha” (great seer) before his name and “Yogi” (one who practices yoga) after it. In Madras on January 1, 1958, Mahesh founded the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in order to ma…

Fire

(503 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Fire has played a role in human history at least since Peking man (dated perhaps as early as 500,000 b.c.). In its use by the human race, fire can be both positive (providing light, warmth, and a means of cooking) and negative (bringing burning and destruction). It has been regarded as of heavenly origin, especially when kindled by lig…

Quaternity

(423 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
The number four ranks high among the symbolically significant numbers (Symbol). In translations of Monophysite arguments both for and against Apollinarius of Laodicea (d. ca. 390), theological Latin refers to quaternitas along with trinitas. “Two natures,” it was argued, means “two sons,” and hence we have a tetrad instead of a triad (Trinity). In religious history the term “quaternity” denotes a fourfold structure. On the basis, for example, of the four points of heaven, the four ages, the four sides of a square, the four temperaments, the four…

Animism

(630 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Georg Ernst Stahl (1660–1734), a German physician and chemist who established the phlogiston theory, used the term “animism” from the psychology of the early modern period, wanting as a doctor to give scientific form to the classical identification of the life principle and the soul. The English anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor (1832–1917) then took it over from Stahl, proposing it in a lecture to the Royal Asiatic Society in London in 1867 as a substitute for the term “fetishism” to denote m…

Polytheism

(616 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Term From Thales, the Greeks believed that “all things are full of gods” (Aristotle, De anima 1.5, 411a8–9; Aristotelianism). Only in concrete cases, however, did they call this idea polytheism (e.g., Aeschylus Supp.  424 mentions polytheos hedra, “seat of many gods,” for an altar; Greek Religion). Neither they nor other peoples made of polytheism an abstract concept. The Jews did so when, distancing themselves from polytheism, they criticized the lovers of polytheïa (Philo De mut. nom.  205). So too did Christians, for whom Orpheus taught the Greek polytheotēs (thus the asc…

Visions

(864 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Cultures that have loanwords from Lat. visio (a seeing, view) often use them for visionary hallucinations. Such a vision, which takes place when the person is awake, is not a dream. Psychokinetic phenomena may accompany it, and it may include paranormal information. If the visionary is religiously inclined, it might seem to contain a revelation. The vision itself is not a revelation and must be interpreted. The visionary might be the interpreter, or some other person might be. Interpretation imparts mystical knowledge, falling between the rational and the occult (Occultism). 2. A …

Llullian Method

(359 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
“Llullian method” denotes the overall approach of Ramón Llull (ca. 1233-ca. 1315)—Catalan writer, Scholastic, polymath, adviser of popes and princes, ¶ Islamic and Jewish scholar and missionary—whose basic goal in his writings was to see Jews and Muslims converted. Of his 263 writings, 36 contain the word ars (method, way, art) in the title. Llull called this literary work, and especially the summary of it, Ars generalis ultima (1305–8), or Ars magna. This title, similar to the Ars maior and Ars minor of Roman grammarian Aelius Donatus (4th cent. a.d.), whose influence extended …

Theogony

(378 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
¶ “Theogony” (Gk. theogonia, “birth of the gods”), the title of an epic poem by Hesiod (ca. 700 b.c.), refers to the origin of the gods. Many of the almost 300 gods whose names and qualities Hesiod gives in this work make up the world, so that a theogony is also a cosmogony. When the world is constituted, it is ruled by the great gods (Uranus, Cronus, Zeus). Hesiod makes use here of the concept that northern Syria and Asia Minor employed: a succession of gods instead of a genealogical list or an anthropomorphizin…
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