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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…

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…

God

(13,726 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Heintel, Erich | Reichenbach, Bruce R. | Preuss, Horst Dietrich | Roloff, Jürgen | Et al.
1. Ideas of God in the Religions Ideas are phenomena. We may interpret them in broader social and intellectual contexts, but they also speak for themselves in images, words, names, and texts. Even when deity is their content, they can display only themselves, not show whether revelation or merely human imagination underlies them, though this observation does not mean that we can rule out divine revelation. To speak of an idea of God tacitly presupposes horizontal comparison between societies and cultures. We set different ideas of God on different levels, thou…

Sacrifice

(4,171 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Janowski, Bernd | Hahn, Ferdinand
1. General 1.1. Words and Concept The English words “sacrifice” and “offering” come from Lat. sacrificium and offero. Ger. Opfer goes back to Lat. operari, “be active.” The terms suggest an active relation to the reality concerned in the different religions. The various ways in which the relation is described may thus affect the concept. Even though a distinction might arise between real and symbolic sacrifice, sacrifice is always at the heart of religion and widely influences human conduct in other spheres as well. In religious history we may un…

Hell

(1,543 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Heron, Alasdair I. C.
1. Religious History The word “hell” comes from Old Ice. hel, the term in Nordic mythology for the place of the dead in the underworld and for its female ruler. All the dead are there or under her rule except for those killed in battle. The idea was not negative from the outset, as the etymology also shows, for the meaning of the root is “hide, conceal.” The concept became a negative one only with the demonization of virtually all pre-Christian material by the repressive methods of missionaries and by those who after conversion engaged in committing German myt…

Ānanda Mārga

(297 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
Meaning “way of blessedness” in Sanskrit, Ānanda Mārga is the name of a Hindu reforming movement that was started in 1955 at Jamalpur, in Bihar, India. Its originator was Prabhata Ranjana Sarkar (b. 1921), who called himself Shree Ānanda-murti, and to whom his followers attached a further title “shree.” With the Ānanda he thought of himself as a member of the classical Vedanta triad sat (being), chit (thought), and nanda (bliss), which, as attributes of Atman or Brahman, compose the true nature of humanity and the univers…

Divine Light Mission

(470 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
The Divine Light Mission originated as a humanitarian organization seeking to propagate a method of meditation for the achievement of “perfect knowledge.” It was founded in 1960 at Patna (Bihar, India) by Shree Hans (Skt. haṇsá, “goose,” symbol of the white color of the soul and the migratory bird), who died in 1965. At the funeral of Shree Hans, his son, Prem Pal Singh Rawat, who was born on December 10 or 16, 1957, in Hardwar (Uttar Pradesh, India), comforted those who mourned his father’s death with the thought that they still had perfect kn…

Ecstasy

(940 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Scope of the Term The broadest usage of “ecstasy” encompasses several semantic domains. Ethologically, the moment when the earliest hunter and his prey first met was probably one of united concentration on the encounter, of holding of breath and silence, of tense quiet along with the ability to spring very quickly into action. 1.1. On the human side the continuation and development of this basic attitude is a history of self-interpretation, with new social contexts and anthropologies as inalterable presuppositions. This was first the case probabl…

Miracle

(3,480 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Böcher, Otto | Grözinger, Albrecht
1. Basic Considerations 1.1. Distinctions No systematic hermeneutical examination of miracles in the larger sense can avoid articulating exactly which elements are to be addressed as objective facts and which as part of the concept itself. Because arguments on the two sides can no longer be adduced in support of one another, the modes in which the two aspects are examined necessarily also diverge. The remaining conceptual content prompts even further distinctions, depending on whether one is dealing with a simple or a complex concept. Only simple concepts mu…

Marranos

(373 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
A Marrano is a Christianized Jew or Moor of medieval Spain, especially one who converted only to escape persecution (Conversion 1). From the 11th century Spanish Jews (Judaism), showing that they too had to avoid things, borrowed from the Arabs the term maḥram (something prohibited), which, in its Castillian form marrano, they used to refer to pigs. The reconquistadores then took over the word and applied it to the Jews themselves. When baptism was forced on the Jews, it became a common term of contempt for those thus baptized (they called themselves ʾănûsı̄m, “coerced ones”), who w…

Kurds

(1,033 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Names Kurdistan, originally a term for “steppe country” and later for the land of the Kurds, was the term given by the Seljuk government of Iran (1092–1194) to a region that must have stretched from between Lakes Van (in present-day western Turkey) and Urmia (in eastern Iran) south to the Zagros Mountains (extending along the Iran-Iraq border). The basic word came to be used, as in Arabic, as a collective and denoted “tiller of the field” or “shepherd.” Today some scholars identify the Kurds as the Karduchoi of Xenophon’s Anabasis (3.5.15–4.1.11), a group living east of the Upper T…

Krishna Consciousness, International Society for

(1,285 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Founder Abhay Charan De (1896–1977), founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), was born in Calcutta, where he received university training in philosophy, English, and economics. In 1922 he came in contact with the Vishnu Gaudiya Mission (Hinduism 3.3), whose founder, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (d. 1937), had prepared the way for the worldwide work of the 32d guru in a succession that had begun with the prehistorical avatars, or “descents,” of the gods (see 3). In 1933 De became a formal disciple of B…

Soul

(4,080 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Ritschl, Dietrich | Hailer, Martin
1. Religious History 1.1. Variety of Terms and Views The word “soul” (cf. Ger. Seele) embraces the meanings of many other words with a history of their own. These meanings differ not only in ancient cultures but also among themselves. They stand for various human experiences, of which we no longer know whether they were as numerous as the terms used—but do know that historically they represent basic realities of existence. A common feature of these realities is that they are regarded as essentially different from the materials of which we and nature and our world are composed. We may divide …

Monotheism

(1,465 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Term Monotheism is a religious, theological, or philosophical position whose normative feature is recognition of only one God. Those who use the term “monotheism” in either confession or research are differentiating between different views of God. Like other isms, this term also tends to denote a movement, sphere, or epoch in which, whether the respective inhabitants or contemporaries use the term or not, a specific outlook or opinion prevails. Whether those who define their own position claim the validity of t…

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

(404 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
“Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh” is the guru name of Rajneesh Chandra Mohan (1931–81). It combines with the given name “Rajneesh” the appellative “Bhagwan,” commonly used in India for gods, demigods, and holy men (from Skt. bhag(a)van, meaning “reverend” or “divine”), and the title “Shree.” Rajneesh was born in Kuchwada (Madhya Pradesh), India, on December 11, 1931. On March 21, 1953, he experienced the “other reality,” which his philosophy enabled him to interpret as God, truth, dharma, tao, and so forth. He deepened the experience by techniqu…

Rite

(1,912 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Bieritz, Karl-Heinrich
1. Religious History The term “rite” (Lat. ritus, orig. “what is correctly reckoned,” then “what is appropriate; usage, custom”) came into use in Roman religion for an ordered and solemn ceremony. The adjective ritualis thus means “that which relates to religious usage.” 1.1. Theology tends to use “rites,” and religious studies and social anthropology prefer “ritual,” for religious ceremonies or for sequences of such ceremonies. Ethnology recognizes that whole groups of human actions and animal modes of behavior have a set and standar…

History of Religion

(1,016 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. According to the view one takes of religious studies, the history of religion is either one department of such studies or it is the main discipline itself. In about 1694 G. W. Leibniz (1646–1716) became the first to differentiate the histoire des religions from church history. In his Natural History of Religion (1757), D. Hume (1711–76) became probably the first to juxtapose critically religion’s “natural history” (terminology adopted by the whole Enlightenment) with the salvation history represented by the church. In French and Italian, for ex…
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