The following text is from Irivng Hexham's Concise Dictionary of Religion, first published by InterVarsity Press, Carol Stream, USA, 1994, second edition, Regent College Press, Vancouver, 1999.

To order contact REGENT BOOKSTORE Copyright © Irving Hexham 1994, 1998. For further information about the AUTHOR. 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.


DADHIKR: HINDU deity depicted as a horse representing knowledge.


DADUPANTHIS: HINDU REVITALIZATION MOVEMENT which rejected or reformulated many TRADITIONAL Hindu BELIEFS. REBIRTH as an animal was considered impossible and reinterpreted as symbolic of the mood of the individual. BHAKTI played an important role in this movement which was founded by a LAY-MAN, Dd (1544-1603). His followers included PRIESTS and the movement shared many of the characteristics of SIKHISM.


DAITYAS: demonic figures represented as giants in HINDU literature who are opposed to the GODS.


DKIN: powerful spirits which may be GOOD or EVIL in TANTRIC BUDDHISM and HINDUISM.


DALAI LAMA: the title given to the head of the Yellow School of MONKS in TIBETAN BUDDHISM.


DAMASCUS: the ancient capital of Syria where PAUL of TARSUS lived after his CONVERSION to CHRISTIANITY.


DANIEL: probably the most important apocalyptic book in the HEBREW BIBLE. It tells the story of Daniel and his companions who are taken as slaves to BABYLON and contains a series of VISIONS depicting events which are to take place in the future. Traditionally the book is dated in the sixth century B.C. although most critical scholars date it to around 165 B.C.


DARK AGES: a term used during the nineteenth century to refer to the MIDDLE AGES of European HISTORY. Today it is generally restricted to the period 500-800 A.D. which saw a sharp decline in the civilization of Western Europe.


DARANAS: a philosophical system or viewpoint in HINDUISM. Traditionally there were six classical schools: Nyya, Prva Mmms, Skhyua, Vaieika, VEDNTA and YOGA.


DATUM: the given, or what is offered in an ARGUMENT or system of thought.


DE FACTO: actually: as a matter of fact.


DEACON: the lowest rank of MINISTER in the CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Their original function in Acts 6:1-6 was to care for the poor and the needs of the CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.


DEAD SEA SCROLLS: a collection of early manuscripts of the HEBREW BIBLE discovered in a cave in 1948 near the Dead Sea. In addition to Biblical texts, the scrolls contain other documents relating to the RITUALS and discipline of an unnamed religious SECT often identified as ESSENES. Controversy surrounds the interpretation of this material.


DEAN: originally a term used to refer to someone in charge of education and similar functions at a CATHEDRAL. Today it designates an ECCLESIASTICAL office and an ACADEMIC post.


DEATH OF GOD THEOLOGY: a trendy theological movement of the early 1960s predicated on the assumption of continued SECULARIZATION. It is associated with John ROBINSON, the BISHOP of Woolwich, whose book Honest to God caused a sensation when first published in 1963. The term originated with the German philosopher Friedrich NIETZSCHE in his story of the madman in The Gay Science which was taken up by PROTESTANT theologians in the 1960s to express the REALITY of religion in a SECULAR SOCIETY. The leading exponents of this view were Paul van Burren in The Secular Meaning of the Gospel (1963); Harvey Cox in The Secular City (1965) and Thomas Altizer in The Gospel of Christian Atheism (1966). All three writers appealed to Dietrich BONHOEFFER'S Letters and Papers from Prison (1951) to support their views although it is unlikely that Bonhoeffer would have agreed with their development of his thought.


DECALOGUE: the TEN COMMANDMENTS of the HEBREW BIBLE which are found in Exodus 20:2-17.


DEDUCTION: a logical move from the general to the particular.


DEFINITION: the meaning of a term which indicates how it will be used in an argument or thesis.


DEIFICATION: the making of a person or thing into a DEITY which was characteristic of many PAGAN religions. This often involves the elevation of heroes to the rank of GODS. In EASTERN ORTHODOX THEOLOGY the term has a technical meaning similar to SANCTIFICATION in Western theology. Through the work of the HOLY SPIRIT, humans are believed to regain those attributes belonging to the "likeness of GOD" lost at the FALL. Orthodox theologians are careful to point out that this process does not mean a blurring of the distinction between the creature and creator found in PAGAN religions.


DEISM: a PHILOSOPHY which regards GOD as the intelligent creator of an independent and law-abiding world but denies that He providentially guides it or intervenes in any way with its course or destiny. REASON is the sole instrument through which God's EXISTENCE and NATURE can be deduced from the orderly workings of the UNIVERSE. Deism flourished in England in the eighteenth century and strongly influenced the rise of BIBLICAL CRITICISM and MODERNISM in the nineteenth century.


DELPHIC ORACLE: the famous PAGAN sanctuary on the slopes of Mount Parnassus in Greece which became a CULT center of APOLLO. The PRIESTESS answered questions, in a state of frenzy, which were mediated to the questioner by a PROPHET. The cult center also developed the worship of DIONYSUS alongside APOLLO. The cult was suppressed in 390 A.D. by the Emperor Theodosius.


DEMIURGE: the term used by PLATO for the CREATOR of the world. It was employed by PHILO and various EARLY CHURCH FATHERS as well as becoming an important term in GNOSTICISM.


DEMOCRACY: direct rule by the people. Only since the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have the majority of political parties and groups declared their BELIEF in democracy which was previously a very negative term connoting mob rule. In the thirteenth century AQUINAS defined democracy as popular power where ordinary people, by force of numbers, governed and oppressed all others thus the masses acted like a tyrant. Today democracy is usually confused with representative government where people delegate AUTHORITY to elected official to govern on their behalf.


DEMONS: EVIL SPIRITS who seek to harm humans.


DEMYTHOLOGIZATION: a type of NEW TESTAMENT interpretation systematically proposed by Rudolf BULTMANN who argued that the message of the New Testament is couched in the language of MYTH which is primitive and pre-scientific. According to Bultmann, the NEW TESTAMENT portrays DEMONS and ANGELS at war in the spirits of men, and all unusual events as directly caused by SUPERNATURAL powers. Theologians, Bultmann argued, should understand the NEW TESTAMENT as having a mythological form and seek to interpret its message in a form acceptable to modern, scientific, people.


DEONTOLOGY: any ethical system which seeks to determine correct action without reference to the consequences.


DERVISH: a member of a SUFI Order usually a mendicant or beggar.


DETERMINISM: the view that all events are to be understood as the necessary outcome of certain CAUSES and so may be regarded as instances of laws.


DEUTERO-ISAIAH: Chapters 40-55 of the Book of Isaiah which are ascribed to an unknown author of BIBLICAL CRITICISM.


DEVA: a PALI and SANSKRIT term meaning "Heavenly Being" or "Shining One." Deva's are not GODS because they are not eternal and are therefore subject to the law of REBIRTH. Nevertheless, they are powerful BEINGS living on a high spiritual plane.


DEVA-DTA: the three messengers of age, disease, and death sent to humans to remind them of their mortality.


DEVADSS: a class of women in HINDU practice who were dedicated to the service of a GOD and found within a TEMPLE complex. Although they often involve dancers and other artists, they were essentially Temple prostitutes.


DEVIL: a term applied in CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY to fallen ANGELS whose leader is also known as SATAN. Devils are in rebellion against GOD and seek to lure humans into their service. They are depicted as the cause of much suffering, strife and EVIL.


DHARMA: literally that which is established law, the wheel of EXISTENCE, ultimate TRUTH. A term used by BUDDHISTS, HINDUS and JAINS to describe the human situation and the way or means of SALVATION. It is a complex CONCEPT which is often misunderstood and needs to be seen in the context of Indian religious and philosophical thought. Among other things, DHARMA implies a moral order expressed through the network of human rights and obligations supported by a cosmic UNIVERSAL order and the CASTE system.


DHAMMAPADA: an ANTHOLOGY of sayings of the BUDDHA found in the PALI CANON containing some 423 verses. It was translated into English by Max MÜLLER in 1898.


DIALECTIC: a form of reasoning originally used by PLATO in his early dialogues as conversation. In medieval THEOLOGY the dialectical method took the form of stating an opinion using an established authority, then a different opinion was given from another authority before a final solution was proposed to reconcile the two contradictory opinions. In modern PHILOSOPHY the term is associated with the LOGIC of HEGEL. He argued that the very nature of REASON leads us to posit a THESIS which generates its ANTITHESIS, or opposite. This process, in turn, leads to a synthesis or reconciling of the two theses. Karl MARX claimed to see the laws of Hegelian dialectics at work in HISTORY and the economic affairs of humans. This led him to develop his materialist interpretation of history. Religiously the term was used by Soren KIERKEGAARD who saw the dialectic as two apparent opposites with profound EXISTENTIAL significance. Kierkegaard's ideas, in turn, influenced NEO-ORTHODOX theologians in the twentieth century.


DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM: the MARXIST theory of knowledge which seeks to explain the development of human society and thought in terms of a DIALECTIC based entirely on MATERIALISM without reference to SPIRITUAL factors. The term is often used as a synonym for Marxism.




DIAMOND STRA: a MAHYNA BUDDHIST text dedicated to the attainment of the PERFECTION OF WISDOM.


DIANETICS: a theory, book, and later therapy, developed by Ron L. HUBBARD, the founder of SCIENTOLOGY, who taught that psychological and other problems result from engrams or bad impressions in the subconscious mind. Negative engrams must be eliminated to enable the INDIVIDUAL to recognize and realize their natural and spiritual potential.


DIASPORA: a term used to refer to the scattering of a people among many nations which has particular relevance for JEWISH HISTORY following the enslavement of Jews in 722 and 597 B.C. and the destruction of JERUSALEM in 70 A.D.


DIGGERS: a radical SECT led by Gerrard WINSTANLEY (1609-1660) which emerged during the English Civil War to advocate agrarian communism and egalitarianism.


DING AN SICH: literally the "thing-in-itself." A term used by KANT to speak about REALITY as opposed to APPEARANCE or the phenomenal.


DIOCESE: administrative area recognized by the CHRISTIAN CHURCH which is under the authority of a BISHOP.


DIONYSUS: Greek GOD of wine around which an ecstatic CULT developed that held special appeal for women. Accounts of orgies and frenzied devotees whirling in dance before devouring live animals and even children characterize the cult's wilder aspects. In its milder form it eventually became associated with the ORPHIC MYSTERIES.


DPAKARA: the name of a legendary BUDDHA said to have been the first of twenty-four Buddhas to have preceded GAUTAMA (Buddha) who founded BUDDHISM.


DIPAVAA: the oldest historical chronicles of the PALI CANON which consists of a HISTORY of Ceylon and the introduction of BUDDHISM to the island. It was probably written between 350 and 450 A.D. using older sources.


DISPENSATIONALISM: a type of Biblical interpretation found among CHRISTIANS which divides GOD'S dealings with humans into "times" or "dispensations" characterized by unique opportunities and responsibilities. This view characterized the PLYMOUTH BRETHREN and was popularized in the Scofield Reference Bible published in 1910 and is very popular among FUNDAMENTALISTS.


DIVINATION: the foretelling of the future using such means as ASTROLOGY, augury, auspices, etc. In principle the future course of events is read from patterns found in the stars, the entrails of animals, and such things as the way bones or sticks fall when thrown. Divination plays an important role in many religious systems and is central to many FOLK RELIGIONS.


DIVINE KINGSHIP: a BELIEF found in many religions that the monarch is SACRED and in some sense responsible for the welfare of the land and people.


DIVINE LIGHT MISSION: a modern HINDU MISSIONARY movement founded by Shri Hans MAHARAJJI (?-1966) which came to the West in 1971 under the leadership of his son the 13 year old GURU Maharajji (1959-). After initial success and extensive media coverage, the movement floundered due to mounting debts and internal strife. The movement is an offshoot of the Sant Mat a SIKH SECT strongly influenced by HINDUISM.


DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS: a CHRISTIAN version of DIVINE KINGSHIP which makes the monarch GOD'S anointed leader and to whom loyalty and obedience are required. In the seventeenth century the PURITANS rejected such arguments on Biblical grounds resulting in the English Civil War and, eventually, the establishment of representative government.


DIVORCE: the dissolution of marriage. Of all the world religions, CHRISTIANITY has the most problem with divorce due to the difficulty of interpreting various sayings of JESUS and SACRAMENTAL views of marriage. In theory the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH forbids divorce although exceptions can be made through annulment of the marriage. The EASTERN ORTHODOX Churches allow divorce for a number of reasons, while PROTESTANTS are divided about the issue. More FUNDAMENTALIST groups usually totally deny the practice on Biblical grounds. One complicating factor is deciding exactly what constitutes a marriage. At the time of Jesus the JEWS practiced POLYGAMY thus undermining many of the more literalist interpretations of marriage as a sexual act. Although greatly neglected, John MILTON'S The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce is a classic statement about the meaning of marriage and Biblical teachings about divorce.


DOCETISM: a CHRISTIAN HERESY which maintained that CHRIST did not actually suffer and die on the Cross but only seemed to do so because Christ was a SPIRIT whose incarnate FORM was unreal. This view seems to have influenced MUHAMMAD and is found in the QUR'N Sura IV, 156-157.


DOGMA: a Greek term meaning "that which seems GOOD." It was used in antiquity to refer to such things as the decrees of Kings and principles regarded as axiomatic by various PHILOSOPHICAL schools. DOGMA is now applied somewhat generally to those official beliefs which are considered to be fundamental and the acceptance of which is a necessary condition of membership.


DOME OF THE ROCK: the site of a beautiful MOSQUE which is one of the HOLIEST sites in ISLAM due to its association with ABRAHAM and JESUS. It is located within the site of the JEWISH TEMPLE and is thus a source of friction between MUSLIMS and JEWS.


DONATION OF CONSTANTINE: forged in the eighth or ninth centuries A.D. this document was supposedly written by the Roman Emperor CONSTANTINE to confirm the religious AUTHORITY of the POPE. It was exposed in the fifteenth century.


DONATISM: a religious movement which developed during the fourth century in North Africa characterized by terrorist activity and exclusivistic BELIEFS. It was strongly opposed by AUGUSTINE who emphasized the CATHOLICITY of the CHURCH.


DORT, SYNOD OF: held in 1618-1619 in the Netherlands in the town of Dortrecht the Synod produced the CANON OF DORT defining their understanding of ORTHODOX CALVINISM. The Synod produced the so-called "Five Points of Calvinism," see CALVINISM.


DOUBLE EFFECT: an ethical theory which states that when a GOOD action may only be achieved by causing harm, it is permissible if the good outweighs the HARM that may result.


DOUBLE PROCESSION: in the EASTERN ORTHODOX Churches the HOLY SPIRIT is said to proceed "from GOD the Father through CHRIST His Son." In the WESTERN CHURCH it was maintained that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son."


DOUBLE TRUTH: the idea that religious TRUTH can be different from scientific or other truth. The theory was advocated by the ISLAMIC philosopher AVERROES and was rejected by ORTHODOX Christians although it has been popular since the nineteenth century as a means of escaping from problems arising from things like the theory of EVOLUTION. EVANGELICAL apologist Francis SCHAEFFER, referred to the theory in terms of UPPER AND LOWER STOREY theories of TRUTH.


DOUBT: although often contrasted with FAITH it really means uncertainty and has traditionally been seen as a means of strengthening faith through the need to search for TRUTH and make moral decisions.


DOUKHOBORS: literally "spirit wrestlers." A Russian religious SECT founded in the eighteenth century which is characterized by a rejection of CIVIC AUTHORITY and tendency towards communalism. Persecuted during the nineteenth century, they emigrated to Canada where small communities still exist.


DRVIDIANS: probably the original inhabitants of India. These darker skinned peoples of Southern India occupy a low position in the CASTE SYSTEM. They are believed to have made a significant contribution to HINDUISM and have certainly led the way in the development of various egalitarian religious movements of a PIETISTIC type associated with BHAKTI.


DREYFUS CASE: the false trial for treason, condemnation, retrial and eventual exoneration of a JEWISH Captain, Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), of the French General Staff. The case divided France into anti-Dreyfusard groups which were nationalist, monarchist and CATHOLIC and the republican ANTI-CLERICAL Dreyfusards. It is important because of its place in the history of anti-Semitism.


DRUZE: a SECTARIAN religious movement within ISLAM regarded as heretical by the ORTHODOX. Its founder was Caliph Al-Hakim Be Amrillah (966-1021 A.D.) who proclaimed himself an INCARNATION of the DIVINE. Today there are around 200,000 Druzes, the majority of whom live in Lebanon.


DUALISM: a dualist argues that to explain the FACTS of the world, or even particular facts encountered in daily life, requires a BELIEF in two different ultimate and irreducible PRINCIPLES. There are two major FORMS of dualism: the first offers an interpretation of the universe which sees it as a cosmic battleground between the principles of GOOD and EVIL: ZOROASTRIANISM is a classic example of this view within a religious movement. The second form argues for the strict division of human nature into SPIRIT and MATTER. This view first emerged in Indian religions and entered the West with PYTHAGOREANS and ORPHISM in the sixth century B.C. Both forms of dualism have influenced certain developments of CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY although many philosophers have maintained that the idea of GOD as the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE implies a form of MONISM while the early CREEDS stressed the RESURRECTION of the body not the IMMORTALITY of the SOUL.


DUKKHA (Pali) or DUHKHA (Sanskrit): one of the three characteristic marks of EXISTENCE in BUDDHISM. It is usually translated "suffering" but this should be understood as a radical suffering which characterizes the whole of existence.


DURG: the HINDU GODDESS depicted as a warrior who is often identified with KL. She rides on a tiger and is the slayer of DEMONS.