The following text is from Irving Hexham's Concise Dictionary of Religion, first published by InterVarsity Press, Carol Stream, USA, 1994, second edition, Regent College Press, Vancouver, 1999.
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Copyright © Irving Hexham 1994, 1998.
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For further information about the book and the sources used to compile this text see the PREFACE.
For a Religious Studies READING LIST
Cross-references are indicated by the use of CAPITAL LETTERS.
KA: the psychic double of the individual which is born with them at their physical birth and which protects that person during life in ancient Egyptian thought.
KA'BA: the building in MECCA towards which all MUSLIMS must face during PRAYER.
KABR, Kabir (1440-1518): a forerunner of the SIKHS, he grew up in a MUSLIM home in Banaras to become a prominent religious teacher who began to attack the external differences between Muslims and HINDUS. A disciple of RAMANANDA he opposed the WORSHIP of images and the caste system. He taught that there was only one GOD whom he called both Ram and Allah to emphasize that God transcends human understandings of Him. His disciple NNAK was the main founder of SIKHISM.
KAGAWA, Toyohiko (1888-1960): Japanese CHRISTIAN CONVERT from BUDDHISM who was a noted pacifist, democrat, social reformer and outstanding CHURCH leader.
KAHN, Herman (1922-1983): leading American FUTURIST who popularized the use of scenarios to create models of the future. His controversial views and optimism aroused strong criticism but unlike many other modern PROPHETS they have stood the test of time. His books include 1979 and Beyond (1979), and The Next 200 Years (1976).
KAIROS: Greek term used in the NEW TESTAMENT to mean a time of decision or moment of truth. It has been used in LIBERATION THEOLOGY to criticize more TRADITIONAL theologies and the conservatism of CHRISTIAN CHURCHES.
KAIROS DOCUMENT: an influential RADICAL critique of South African society produced after discussions by a group of Black ministers in Soweto which bears the stamp of the White DOMINICAN Albert Nolan. The document ably identifies the evils of South African society but goes on to critique LIBERALISM and the theology of RECONCILIATION.
KALI: HINDU GODDESS of time and destruction. She is the consort of IVA and us usually depicted as a ferocious figure wearing a necklace of skulls.
KALIYUGA: the fourth age of the present aeon which in traditional HINDU COSMOLOGY started with the MAHBHRATA war some 5,000 years ago. It is the last age of a series of ages during which RELIGION and SOCIAL LIFE were in decline and will end in social chaos.
KALPA (Sanskrit) KAPPA (Pali): a measure or rule; a period of time, age, an eternity.
KMA: an Indian term for pleasure or sensual enjoyment. It is one of the Four TRADITIONAL ends or aims of life in HINDU thought.
KAMI: a comprehensive Japanese word for DEITY meaning "above" or "superior."
KAMI-DANA: Japanese term for a family ALTAR.
KAN-NUSHI: term used to designate PRIESTS in SHINT temples. It comes from a term meaning "Master of the Deities." The Japanese Emperor is the highest Kan-nushi of all.
KANNON: the most revered BODHISATTVA in Japanese BUDDHISM to whom many TEMPLES are dedicated. He is the All Compassionate Lord of Mercy.
KANT, Immanuel (1724-1804): one of the most important philosophers of all time. Born in Königsberg, East Prussia, he spent most of his life in scholarly study. Awakened from what he called his "dogmatic slumber" by the works of HUME, he began to seek a philosophical basis for knowledge which avoided complete SKEPTICISM. The first exposition of his work came in The Critique of Pure Reason (1781), which was followed by works applying his ideas to METAPHYSICS, ETHICS, aesthetics, RELIGION and philosophy. He argued that our knowledge of things is conditioned by mental structures or "categories" that order our experience. As a result we cannot know "things-in-themselves, "the NOUMENA," but only the PHENOMENA which results from the interaction between our minds and what is observed. Kant argued that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of GOD with the result that religion must be based on FAITH. In his view RELIGION becomes practical morality.
KAPILAVATTHU: according to TRADITION this is the small town in the Himalayas which was the paternal home of GAUTAMA (BUDDHA).
KARAITES: a JEWISH SECT founded in Babylon in 750 by 'Anan ben David whose aim was to reform JUDAISM in terms of SCRIPTURE rather than TRADITION as represented by the TALMUD.
KARMA: means literally "action" and as variously an eternal law of COSMIC CAUSE and effect, or acts and deeds, which FORM the DESTINY of individuals. This is a highly complex term which is usually understood as the means by which a person's fate is determined by past actions. Karma has many levels of meaning but has been popularized in the West as a way of understanding FATE.
KEBLE, John (1792-1866): English TRACTARIAN leader and author of The Christian Year. In 1831 he was elected professor of poetry at Oxford. He became increasingly concerned about what he saw as the dangers threatening the CHURCH OF ENGLAND from the REFORMING and LIBERAL MOVEMENTS. On July 14, 1833, he preached a University sermon entitled "National Apostasy," from then on he took a leading part in the OXFORD MOVEMENT. In 1870 Keble College, Oxford, was founded in his memory.
KEGON SCHOOL: a branch of BUDDHISM introduced into Japan by the Korean monk JINJO (died 742) which had a significant influence on the rise of ZEN through its identification of NIRVNA and SASRA.
KEMPE, Margery (1373-1433): English MYSTIC whose work The Book of Margery Kempe outlines her mystical experiences.
KEPLER, Johannes (1571-1630): German ASTRONOMER who discovered the laws of planetary motion as a result of both observation and his BELIEF in MYSTICAL theories.
KERYGMA: "preaching" or "proclamation" used to refer to the essential message of CHRISTIANITY.
KESWICK CONVENTION: annual summer gathering of EVANGELICALS at Keswick in the English Lake District. It originated in the MOODY-SANKEY REVIVAL of 1875. The movement aims to promote "practical HOLINESS." Its motto is "All One in Christ Jesus."
KEYNES, John Maynard (1883-1946): the most influential economist of his time whose revolution in economic theory led to the break with classical economics and the boom following the Second World War with the result that this era is often referred to as the "Keynesian Era." His greatest work is General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). Keynes placed great stock in the role of ideas in society and believed that ultimately ideas determine events.
KHADJA (died 619): wealthy widow who at the age of 40 married her business manager MUHAMMAD who was then 25.
KHLID al-WALD (died 641/2): famous MUSLIM general who was given the name "Sword of God" by MUHAMMAD. Although at first he was opposed to Islam and actually defeated Muhammad's forces, he later converted and led the Islamic invasions of Persia and Syria.
KHANDHA (Pali) SKANDHA (Sanskrit): a term referring to a "group" or "aggregates" of factors in BUDDHISM. According to BUDDHIST analysis the individual person may be analyzed into five Khandha's which upon examination prove the non-existence of the person.
KHTM al-NUBUWWA: the Seal of PROPHETHOOD in ISLAM.
KHAZARS: a Crimean tribe of TURKISH or FINNISH origin which converted to JUDAISM around the tenth century.
KHNUM: ancient Egyptian Creator GOD.
KHOJAS: a MUSLIM community which originated through the CONVERSION of HINDUS, which is now found along the West coast of India and in East Africa, their allegiance is to the AGA KHAN.
KHOMEINI, Ruhullah Al-Musavi (1902-1989): Islamic scholar and jurist known in the West for his role in the IRANIAN ISLAMIC REVOLUTION. He is conceivably the most important religious figure in the twentieth century because of the new confidence he has injected into Islam. Khomeini was a MYSTIC deeply immersed in daily affairs. Exiled by the Shah of Iran for his protests against SECULARIZING policies, Khomeini learnt of the brutal murder of his eldest son by the Shah's secret police on November 23, 1977. On February 1st 1979, he returned in triumph to Iran after the Shah had fled. Following his return, he directed the creation of a modern Islamic state based on TRADITIONAL practices and BELIEFS. His most important translated work is Islam and Revolution (1981).
KHOMIAKOV, Aleksei Stepanovitch (1804-1860): Russian philosopher and theologian who attacked both ARISTOTELIANISM and HEGELIANISM arguing instead for a form of PLATONISM which found expression in EASTERN ORTHODOXY.
KHONSU: ancient Egyptian Moon GOD.
KHUDDAKA-NIKAYA: a collection of CANONICAL books which form the Fifth section of the PALI CANON in BUDDHISM
KIERKEGAARD, Soren Asby (1813-1855): Danish Christian philosopher and "Father" of EXISTENTIALISM. Reared in the atmosphere of HEGELIAN DIALECTICS he opposed HEGEL's work with his own existential dialectics in works such as Either-Or (1843). His statement "SUBJECTIVITY is TRUTH" powerfully expresses his viewpoint which links truth to the existing subject not an object. His works have deeply influenced twentieth century philosophy and theology through the writings of HEIDEGGER, SARTRE, BARTH AND BULTMANN.
KIMBANGU, Simon (19-?-1951). AFRICAN Prophet and CHURCH founder who claimed to have received a VISION of JESUS. After preaching for a few months in 1921, he was arrested by the Belgian authorities and spent the rest of his life in prison. However, people began to "see" him in DREAMS and his church spread until it is one of the largest in Africa and a member of the WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES.
KINDI, Abu Yusuf Ya'qub bin Ishaq (813-873): known as "the philosopher of the Arabs" he is the only MUSLIM philosopher of pure Arabic descent. Deeply influenced by NEO-PLATONISM even his Theology of Aristotle was Neo-Platonic.
KING, DIVINE: many religious TRADITIONS associate DIVINITY with a Monarch thus legitimating the political order.
KING, Martin Luther Jr. (1929-1968): American BAPTIST minister and Black Civil Rights leader. In 1957 he became the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which created the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. He is best remembered for his 1963 speech "I Have A Dream" which reflected the goals and IDEOLOGY of the Civil Rights Movement. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. His works include Stride Towards Freedom (1958) and Why We Can't Wait (1964).
KINGDOM OF GOD: a symbol that has an extraordinarily rich and varied history. The term means "REIGN of GOD." NEW TESTAMENT scholars are divided as to the exact meaning of the term in the preaching of JESUS. AUGUSTINE identified the Kingdom of God with the elect. His usage easily slipped over into the identification of the Kingdom of God with the CHURCH in medieval Europe. CHRISTIANS, who tend to equate the Kingdom of God with God's sovereignty tend to see it both as present and as the final culmination of world history.
KINGSLEY, Charles (1819-1875): English ANGLICAN theologian, social reformer and novelist who helped promote CHRISTIAN SOCIALISM.
KINTU: legendary King of the Baganda people of UGANDA who both founded the nation and through various exploits interacted with a sky GOD to bring both BLESSINGS and death to earth.
KNIGHT, J. C. (1946-): highly successful American OCCULTIST and promoter of TRANS-CHANNELING and founder of the CHURCH I AM. She claims to be the MEDIUM through which a SPIRIT entity named Ramtha communicates with humanity. Raised in a CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALIST home, she dabbled in the occult and drifted into SPIRITUALISM before developing her own unique teachings. Shirley MACLAINE was one of her many clients.
KNOX, John (1513-1572): Scottish CALVINIST REFORMER whose famous The First Blast Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558) aimed at MARY TUDOR (Catholic) for persecuting PROTESTANTS backfired when her sister, ELIZABETH I (Protestant) came to the throne in England and took offence at Knox's writings.
KLUCKHORN, Clyde (1905-1960): American ANTHROPOLOGIST with a particular interest in RELIGION. His famous work Navaho Witchcraft (1944) presents a highly ROMANTICIZED vision of the function of WITCHCRAFT as a social mechanism for the maintenance of social harmony.
KOAN: a term in ZEN BUDDHISM meaning an exercise given by a ZEN MASTER to a Disciple designed to break their intellectual limitations and produce a sudden flash of ENLIGHTENMENT.
KOBO DAISHI (774-835): the posthumous name of Kukai a Japanese BUDDHIST SAINT and founder of the SHINGON sect of Buddhism. After studying in China, he introduced TANTRIC PRACTICE and pantheistic mystical ideas into Japanese BUDDHISM. His teachings involved a syncratic mysticism which influenced the development of SHINT.
KOESTLER, Arthur (1905-). HUNGARIAN novelist and journalist who developed strong interests in the PARANORMAL. Author of Darkness at Noon (1940), The Sleepwalkers (1959) and The Lotus and the Robot (1966).
KO HUNG (3rd-4th CENTURY): Chinese TAOIST philosopher whose mammoth work Pao P'u Tzu (317) popularized ALCHEMY and the magical aspects of TAOISM. He taught that men have two SOULS which survive for a short time after death before entering the Great Unity where personality is finally lost. Anyone wishing to continue a personal existence needed to become a "Hsien" (immortal) through Taosist practice.
KONKO KYO: a SHINT sect founded by Kawade Bunjiro (1814-1883) in 1881 which seeks to revitalize Shint for contemporary society. The name means "Golden Lustered Teaching." It emphasized One GOD and good health as a result of fellowship with God and the repudiation of superstition associated with ritual practice and magical charms.
KORAN: See QUR'N
KORE: ancient Greek Earth GODDESS important in the ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES.
KRÄMER, Hendrik (1888-1955): Dutch CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY educator and theorist who ministered in Indonesia from 1922-1937. His most important book is The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World (1938) which emphasizes the uniqueness of the Biblical message.
KRISHNA (Krsna - Sanskrit): the most important incarnation of VISHNU (Viu - Sanskrit) in HINDU MYTHOLOGY. The name literally means "the Black One." The stories of the MAHBHRATA are about aspects of his earthly existence the most important SPIRITUAL section of which is the BHAGAVAD-GTA. Legends about Krishna abound and often contain erotic love stories. Other accounts involve his rescue from a massacre of children and death by an arrow which struck his heal which was the only vulnerable spot. Some scholars see these latter stories reflecting the influence the CHRISTIAN Gospels and Greek LEGENDS about ACHILLES. Others suggest that the Krishna stories are based on an historical figure who later became a GOD.
KRISHNAMURTI, Jiddu (1895-1986): Indian MYSTIC who, from the age of 12, was reared and educated by C. W. LEADBEATER, Annie BESANT, and other THEOSOPHISTS at Adyar, outside Madras to prepare him to become the next World Teacher. A fever of excitement built up in the 1920s as the THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY geared itself for the expected manifestation of the Lord Maitreya through Krishnamurti. But the period of preparation culminated in a series of shattering PSYCHIC and physical experiences for Krishnamurti that led him to reject all religions, philosophies, and preconceptions about enlightenment. In 1929 he parted company with the Theosophical Society and began teaching a kind of therapeutic DIALECTIC.
KRONOS: the Greek GOD of Time.
KATRIYAS: the second of the Four VARNAS or Castes in traditional Indian society. They are the WARRIOR CASTE which share power with the BRAHMINS.
KUAN-TI: a popular Chinese DEITY revered as a GOD of war who was also the PATRON of literature and giver of wealth.
KUBLAI KHAN (1216-1294): the grandson of the Mongol Emperor GENGHIS KHAN who deliberately adopted Chinese CULTURE and founded the Yüan Dynasty. During his reign China was open to foreign influences. Until 1255 he tolerated all RELIGIONS but thereafter sided with the BUDDHISTS and had TAOIST books destroyed. He seems to have favored TIBETAN BUDDHISM but continued to protect CHRISTIANS and MOSLEMS. In 1274 and 1281 he made unsuccessful attempts to invade Japan which failed disastrously but had far reaching religious impact in Japan through the preaching of NICHIREN.
KUEI: Chinese term for disembodied SPIRITS, DEMONS, GHOSTS and other incorporeal BEINGS.
KUHN, Thomas Samuel (1922-): very influential philosopher of science whose book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) has had immense impact especially in THEOLOGY, the SOCIAL SCIENCES and EDUCATION where his ideas have been used to promote RELATIVISM and question the OBJECTIVITY of scientific scholarship. He argues that science advances by a series of unrelated jumps rather than gradual improvements. The key term in his work is PARADIGM which he uses to express the outlook of a given scientific community. In recent years the HISTORICAL basis for his arguments have been severely criticized and rejected by most historians of science.
KULTURKAMPF: the struggle for CIVILIZATION used in nineteenth century Germany to depict the LIBERAL conflict with REACTIONARY ROMAN CATHOLICISM.
KUMRAJVA (344-413): although the exact details of his life appear uncertain he was a Indian BUDDHISM MONK kidnapped by Chinese raiders when he was about 40. He spent the rest of his life in China where he became an important translator of BUDDHIST literature and EVANGELIST for BUDDHISM. It was largely through his efforts that Buddhism developed in China where it came to be regarded as an equal PHILOSOPHY with TAOISM and CONFUCIANISM.
KUNDALINI: feminine serpent power according to traditional HINDU physiology which plays an important role in TANTRA. It is believed to coil itself around the LINGAM thus preventing the movement of vital powers towards the head. When awakened by YOGA, tremendous heat is produced and the YOGI can gain purification and power which ultimately results in LIBERATION. Kundalini is also identified with the coiled serpent power which gave birth to the UNIVERSE.
KÜNG, Hans (1928-): Swiss ROMAN CATHOLIC theologian who studied at the German College in Rome. He gained fame as a progressive but not radical thinker within the Roman Catholic Church and an important figure in the discussions of the SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL. His early works such as Justification (1965) and Infallible? (1971) dealt with ECCLESIASTICAL matters. His On Being a Christian (1977) became a best selling APOLOGETIC which was supplemented by Does God Exist? (1980). More recently in books like Christianity and World Religions (1986) he has moved towards UNIVERSALISM and sought to create an inter-religious ECUMENICISM.
KUR-NU-GI-A: the Sumerian term for underworld or "land of no return" to which the dead go.
KUYPER, Abraham (1837-1920): Dutch CALVINIST theologian, philosopher and statesman who converted from the theological LIBERALISM he espoused at the University of Leyden to Calvinist orthodoxy during his first pastorate in the small fishing village of Beesd. As a result of his educational and ecclesiastical concerns, he entered politics in 1869 where he quickly became the leader of the ANTI-REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT founded by GRONE VAN PRINSTERER. Among his many accomplishments are the founding of a daily newspaper, weekly religious magazine, a labor union, political party, the Free University of Amsterdam (1880) and a period as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901-1905. A voluminous writer his translated works include: Lectures on Calvinism (1898), Principles of Sacred Theology (1898) and The Work of the Holy Spirit (1900).
KYRIE ELEISON: Greek term used in Christian LITURGY meaning "Lord have mercy."
KYRIOS: used to speak of GODS and Rulers--this is the Greek for "LORD."