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.

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Cross-references are indicated by the use of CAPITAL LETTERS.


JACOB (18th century B.C.?): grandson of ABRAHAM through Isaac and twin brother of Essau who appears as a very unsavory character until he "struggles with GOD" (Genesis 32) after which he takes the name Israel. The JEWISH race, the children of Israel, are his descendants. His favorite and most famous son was JOSEPH. His life story is told in Genesis 25, 21-50:13.


JAINISM: although this RELIGION probably dates to at least the eighth century B.C. most Western scholars trace its founding to MAHVIRA in the sixth century B.C. A highly conservative movement, it stressed ASCETICISM and holds BELIEFS similar to those of BUDDHISM and HINDUISM which were its main rivals. The UNIVERSE is conceived as an everlasting succession of HEAVENS and HELLS to which all BEINGS are bound by KARMA and from which liberation is desirable through ascetic practice.


JALL, al-Dn Rm (1207-1273): MUSLIM MYSTIC and the founder of the Mwlawi Order in Islam commonly known as the "Whirling Dervish." His most famous work is the Mathnawi which contains stories interspersed with THEOLOGICAL discussions. His mystical theology sees the world as being created for man as a microcosm which reflects the ATTRIBUTES of GOD. Although men can choose GOOD and EVIL and are responsible for their actions, the religious RITES are obligatory. The aim of life is to love God and through devotion lose one's individuality by being absorbed into God. His theology has a distinctly PANTHEISTIC tinge which also sees an the essential unity of all religions.


JAMES (1st century): the brother of JESUS OF NAZARETH and a leader in the EARLY CHURCH. He is the TRADITIONAL author of the Epistle of Saint James in the NEW TESTAMENT.


JAMES, William (1842-1910): Brother of the American novelist Henry JAMES (1843-1916) whose Father was a SWEDENBORGIAN theologian. James was successively professor of psychology (1889-1897) and philosophy (1897-1907) at Harvard University. His book The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), laid the basis for the PSYCHOLOGY of RELIGION while his Pragmatism (1907) strongly influenced the development of American thought during the first half of the twentieth century.


JANSEN, Cornelius Otto (1585-1638): ROMAN CATHOLIC theologian and educator who opposed the JESUITS and theologians of the COUNTER REFORMATION through his educational activities and major work Augustinus (1640). His followers became known as the JANSENISTS and strongly influenced Blaise PASCAL.


JANSENISM: French religious movement within the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH named after Cornelius Otto JANSEN. Jansenists stressed vigorous personal PIETY and predestination. They opposed the theology of the JESUITS.


JANUS: the Roman GOD of beginnings represented by two faces looking in opposite directions.


JASPERS, Karl (1883-1973): German EXISTENTIALIST philosopher. Practiced in psychiatry and then moved via psychology to philosophy, finally accepting a professorship at Heidelberg in 1921. He was ousted from his post during the Nazi era but returned after the war. In Nietzsche and Christianity (1946), The Perennial Scope of Theology (1948), and Myth and Christianity (1954), Jaspers sees religious answers emerging from METAPHYSICAL descriptions of BEING. He rejects THEISM, PANTHEISM, REVEALED RELIGION, and ATHEISM as mere ciphers or symbols which should not be taken literally, and argues that one should look to PHENOMENOLOGICAL descriptions of the fringes of inward and outer experiences for understanding.


JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826): American DEIST and author of the Declaration of Independence who played an important role in shaping American thought and became the third President of the United States.


JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES: a highly RATIONALIST ADVENTIST type SECT founded by Charles Taze RUSSELL in the late nineteenth century. It originally mixed a blend of interpretation of Biblical PROPHECY with PYRAMIDOLOGY and various other ESOTERICS to foretell the end of the world. As the THEOLOGY developed such orthodox CHRISTIAN BELIEFS as the TRINITY and INCARNATION of CHRIST were rejected and a unique DEISTIC theology similar to ARIANISM developed. EVOLUTION is totally rejected as are blood transfusions.




JEREMIAH (7th century B.C.): Biblical PROPHET who denounced his people, JUDAH, for trusting in Egyptian military armament rather than GOD against the might of the Babylonians. By TRADITION he was stoned to death for his truthful criticism. He was conscious of the value of a living relationship with God and writes in a sensitive manner conscious of his own shortcomings. His personal suffering and gloomy view of his nation's future have caused his name to be associated with a pessimistic attitude to life.


JEROME, SAINT (342-420): BIBLICAL scholar who translated the HEBREW BIBLE and NEW TESTAMENT into the common language of his day which was Latin. He wrote commentaries on virtually all the books of the BIBLE and through his great scholarship, made a tremendous impact on the development of Western CHRISTIANITY.


JERUSALEM: ancient city in Palestine which is SACRED to CHRISTIANS, JEWS and MUSLIMS.


JESUITS: the name given in 1540 to the SOCIETY OF JESUS a brotherhood founded six years earlier by Ignatius LOYOLA. During the period 1540-1555 it grew rapidly, acquiring an autocratic structure provided by Loyola's military training and discipline which he promoted in his Spiritual Exercises (1548). They established MISSIONS, orphanages, houses for reclaiming prostitutes, schools, centers of poor relief, and even a system of banking for destitute peasants. Francis XAVIER is perhaps the most famous Jesuit missionary. By the time of Loyola's death in 1556, the Society was one thousand strong with its influence being felt more acutely among the aristocracy than the poor. Through the establishment of Colleges in university settings, the Society became a teaching Order and a leader in CATHOLIC higher education. The Jesuits strongly supported the POPE at the COUNCIL of TRENT and found themselves spearheading the intellectual attack on the REFORMATION by becoming the foremost Roman Catholic APOLOGISTS. Today they are still a powerful force in education and run numerous universities including the Gregorian University in Rome.


JESUS OF NAZARETH (5 B.C.?-30 A.D.?): the founder of CHRISTIANITY. He was given the title "Christ" by his followers to acknowledge their BELIEF that he was the expected MESSIAH of Israel. JEWISH authors reject this claim although some, along with MUSLIMS, accept that he was a PROPHET--or at least performed a prophetic role. Traditionally, however, Jews have regarded Him as an imposter and attacked Him in such works as the medieval Toledoth Yeshu. Most of our evidence about his life comes from CHRISTIAN sources, although he is mentioned by several Roman and Jewish writers. Although documentary evidence about his life is scant, it is far more extensive and reliable than for any other ancient figure or religious leader. Very little is known of his life before the age of thirty: our only reliable source is the NEW TESTAMENT which records many of his sayings, tells about his birth and one incident in Jerusalem at the age of twelve, all other stories concern his MINISTRY after the age of 30. Tales that he visited England or India during the hidden years are pure speculation with no basis in fact. He began proclaiming the KINGDOM OF GOD and the FATHERHOOD OF GOD at around the age of thirty and his message of REPENTANCE was associated with HEALING and other extraordinary acts and lasted about three years. Finally, his criticism of corruption and established religion provoked the TEMPLE authorities in JERUSALEM who conspired to have him executed. After a summary trial of dubious legality, by both Jewish and ROMAN authorities, he was executed by crucifixion. His death took place on the eve of the Jewish PASSOVER. After being buried in a rock tomb for three days, his body disappeared and his disciples claimed that he had risen from the dead. Forty days later he was said to have ascended into heaven where he reigns with God. CHRISTIANITY is based upon the story of the life, death and RESURRECTION of Jesus. In recent years various accounts of his "death" which assume a swoon and slow recovery followed by flight to Kashmir, Tibet, even Japan have circulated, however, like the tales about his life before the age of thirty, such accounts are wild speculations lacking all historical basis.


JEWISH CHRISTIANITY: that branch of the EARLY CHURCH which had its roots firmly planted in JUDAISM and the teachings of PETER rather than PAUL.


JEWISH CHRISTIANS: sometimes known as MESSIANIC JEWS these are contemporary converts from JUDAISM to CHRISTIANITY who attempt to preserve Jewish TRADITIONS while accepting JESUS OF NAZARETH as the MESSIAH.


JEWS FOR JESUS: a NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT founded by Moshe ROSEN, a Jewish convert to CHRISTIANITY, which seeks to CONVERT JEWS. It originated in the COUNTER CULTURE of the 1960s as part of the JESUS MOVEMENT.


JIHD: a HOLY war or striving with infidels by force or intellectual persuasion to make CONVERTS. Traditionally ISLAM divides the world into dar al-Islam--the realm of Islam, and dar a-harb--the realm of war: a notion which reflects the idea that war must continue until Islam is the UNIVERSAL RELIGION.


JINN: a class of beneficent or malevolent BEINGS in ISLAMIC cosmology that inherit the earth and are capable of assuming many forms and exercising supernatural powers.


JVANMUKTA: an "Enlightened One" in HINDUISM who continues to live in this world following their ENLIGHTENMENT.




JNA: HINDU term meaning WISDOM, knowledge, comprehension.


JOACHIM OF FIORE (1132-1202): on a PILGRIMAGE to Jerusalem, he experienced a religious CONVERSION and later entered the CISTERCIAN ORDER. After a short spell as ABBOT of Corazzo, he resigned to devote himself to APOCALYPTIC writings which develop an elaborate interpretation of HISTORY involving three great stages based on the persons of the TRINITY. Although he said little about the third phase, or age of the SPIRIT, except that it would see the rise of new religious Orders which would CONVERT the whole world, it became the focus of speculation in the movement known as JOACHIMISM. The spiritual FRANCISCANS, various PROTESTANT groups and in recent times NEW AGE movements, have all been influenced by his work.


JOACHIMISM: a medieval APOCALYPTIC movement which developed a forward looking eschatology anticipating the Age of the Spirit based on the works of JOACHIM OF FIORE.


JOAN OF ARC (1412-1431): known as the "Maid of Orleans." A peasant girl who as a teenager began to experience visions, heavenly voices and PROPHETIC REVELATIONS from various ROMAN CATHOLIC SAINTS. Believing that her mission was to save France, she made several prophecies which brought her to the notice of the King of France. A series of successful military campaigns followed until she was betrayed to the English by the Duke of Burgundy and burnt for HERESY as a WITCH.


JOB (?): BIBLICAL character whose trials and triumphs of faith are depicted in the Book of Job.


JOD: a Japanese school of PURE LAND BUDDHISM founded by HNEN which proclaimed AMIDA the BUDDHA of Infinite Light and Great Compassion to become the most popular form of Buddhism in Japan. Under SHINRAN it developed into Jod-Shinsh which proclaimed the doctrine of TARIKI or "Other Power" which offered salvation by GRACE and FAITH through the recitation of Amida's name. Through trust in the vow of Amida, devotees were promised REBIRTH in the WESTERN PARADISE from where they would achieve LIBERATION.


JOHN (1st century): a disciple of JESUS OF NAZARETH who is traditionally credited with writing both the Gospel of John and the three Letters of John in the NEW TESTAMENT.


JOHN BAPTIST of LA SALLE (1651-1719): ROMAN CATHOLIC educator who is credited with creating the modern secondary school and courses for training teachers: also known for his PIETY.


JOHN CLIMACUS (570-649): an ASCETIC spiritual writer who became an ANCHORITE and promoted the dispassionateness as the ideal of CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.


JOHN OF DAMASCUS (675-749): an ARAB CHRISTIAN theologian and earliest Christian commentator on ISLAM. His work deeply influenced GREEK ORTHODOXY as well as Western theologians such as Thomas AQUINAS. He was a strong defender of ICONS and the use of IMAGES as aids to WORSHIP. His most important theological work was The Fount of Wisdom; his Tractate on Islam is the first CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC against Islam.


JOHN OF SALISBURY (1115-1180): one of the leaders of the twelfth century RENAISSANCE and the first medieval scholar to be acquainted with the entire works of ARISTOTLE.


JOHN OF THE CROSS, SAINT (1542-1591): ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTICAL writer and CAMELITE reformer best known for his meditation The Dark Night of the Soul which shows profound insight into spiritual and PSYCHOLOGICAL states based on his own experience. His work, which was guided by TERESA of AVILA, encountered strong opposition and he was repeatedly persecuted by CHURCH authorities for his views.


JOHN THE BAPTIST (1st. century): a JEWISH Preacher, prophet figure, and ASCETIC who, according to the NEW TESTAMENT, was the cousin of JESUS OF NAZARETH and prepared the way for Jesus' ministry. John proclaimed JUDGMENT, and preached REPENTANCE and BAPTISM for the remission of SINS in anticipation of the imminent arrival of the KINGDOM OF GOD. He was executed by HEROD ANTIPAS for denouncing his immorality. John's disciples seem to have formed a distinct community which for a time co-existed with CHRISTIANITY.


JOHN XXIII (1881-1963): Italian POPE who convened the SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL (1962-1963). His reforms and attempts to modernize the CHURCH had a far reaching effect on ROMAN CATHOLICISM.


JOHNSON, Samuel (1709-1784): English ESSAYIST, man of letters and defender of CHRISTIANITY against DEISM and other criticisms of his age.


JJITSU: a school of BUDDHISM introduced into Japan by Korean MONKS around 625. It was nihilistic in tone being based upon a study of COSMOLOGY and PSYCHOLOGY strongly influenced by HINDU thinkers such as NGRJUNA and DEVA. It taught that both the ego and all DHARMAS are equally illusory and conceived the past and future as non-existent while the present vanishes as soon as it occurs.


JONES, Bob (1883-1968): American FUNDAMENTALIST leader known for his SEPARATIONIST policies. He founded Bob Jones University.


JONES, Jim (1931-1978): Minister of the DISCIPLES OF CHRIST and founder of the PEOPLES TEMPLE whose followers committed mass SUICIDE at JONESTOWN, Guyana, in 1978. A professed MARXIST he was active in numerous left-wing causes and widely respected for his social work before his final bizarre suicide.


JOSEPHUS, Flavius (37-100): JEWISH historian whose writings are our chief source of information about first century JUDAISM.


JOSEPH [1] (17th century B.C.?): the eleventh son of JACOB and great-grandson of ABRAHAM whose "coat of many colors" led to his brothers selling him into slavery in Egypt. His subsequent success, imprisonment, and elevation as PHARAOH'S chief advisor is recounted in Genesis 37-50 and sets the stage for the story of MOSES and the EXODUS.


JOSEPH [2] (1st century B.C.?): the husband of the VIRGIN MARY and, according to the NEW TESTAMENT, the legal but not biological father of JESUS OF NAZARETH.


JOWETT, Benjamin (1817-1893): Master of Balliol College, Oxford, IDEALIST philosopher and translator of Greek classics, who promoted liberal THEOLOGY in England. He contributed a highly controversial essay titled "The Interpretation of Scripture" to the Victorian theological world in Essays and Reviews (1860).


JUDAISM, ANCIENT: the religion of the HEBREW BIBLE which proclaims a COVENANT between GOD and the PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. From ABRAHAM the JEWISH People develop as a distinct nation who experience the SALVATION of God and were given His laws by MOSES during the EXODUS. In Sinai, the Covenant is renewed and the Israelites enter Canaan. A new state occurs during the second half of the fifth century B.C. when EZRA reorganizes the community and reinstitutes the Covenant. Slowly HELLENISM influenced Jewish thought and the theocratic State gave way to a Commonwealth. At the same time a more liberal interpretation of the TORAH emerged as Persian and Greek ideas influenced Jewish thought. Various schools, about which we really know little, such as the PHARISEES, SADDUCEES, ZEALOTS and the QUMRAN COMMUNITY developed until the religion was brought to an abrupt end with a revolt against Roman rule and the destruction of JERUSALEM in 70 A.D.


JUDAISM, MODERN: when Eastern Europe--the place of refuge--became a death trap with Cossacks slaughtering JEWS, ISRAEL ben Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov, "The good master-of-the-name," became spokesman for those who had no learning but a simple PIETY. He taught the love of nature, music, dancing, direct communion with GOD. His followers told each other stories: the peasant who recognized the alphabet and asked God to order it into the proper prayer and of the boy whose whistling in the synagogue was more important than the scholars learning. Thus Hasidism arose as a mixture of PIETISM, MYSTICISM and ANTINOMIANISM which swept through Polish Jews at a time when the Western religious authority was dying due to the Age of Reason. Hasidism came into its own as the commercial middle class gained power and confidence and there was a lowering of religious and class barriers. The largest Jewish community today is in the United States.


JUDAISM, RABBINIC: after the loss of JERUSALEM and the destruction of the TEMPLE in 70 A.D. the scattered JEWISH community sought a new center which it found in a new interpretation of its religious heritage known as MIDRASH. Everything worth knowing was to be found in the TORAH--and interpreted by the TALMUD--which evidences concern for the whole of life. The central motive of Rabbinic Judaism was henceforth the quest for underlying meaning and ethical action in Jewish life.


JUDAIZERS: CHRISTIANS who seek to restore the requirements of JEWISH law within the CHRISTIAN community. A movement among early Christians which sought to reform JUDAISM and make GENTILE converts conform to Judaic practice. After the destruction of the TEMPLE in 70 A.D. and the disappearance of the JERUSALEM CHURCH, the movement seems to have lost its force although similar groups appear throughout Church HISTORY.


JUDAS ISCARIOT (11th century?): a disciple of JESUS OF NAZARETH whom he betrayed to the authorities.


JUDGMENT: this can mean either the LOGICAL act of reaching a conclusion or a BELIEF in an act of judgment in the afterlife which judges, in judicial terms, acts committed in this life. Many religious systems believe in the judgment of the dead as well as a LAST JUDGMENT at the end of time.


JULIAN (332-363): nephew of CONSTANTINE and reforming Roman Emperor who did everything possible, short of open persecution, to eradicate CHRISTIANITY through the REVIVAL of PAGANISM which he encouraged by his own writings and through education. He is generally known as "Julian the Apostate."


JULIAN OF NORWICH (1342?-1413?): obscure English MYSTIC and HERMIT possibly influenced by NEO-PLATONISM who claimed to have received sixteen REVELATIONS from GOD on May 8th and 9th, 1373. She wrote about these revelations twenty years later in The Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love which extol divine love as the answer to all problems especially the PROBLEM OF EVIL.


JUNAYAD, Ab Al-Qsim al (died 910): famous SUFI leader who was convinced that Sufi FAITH and practice was fully compatible with ORTHODOX SUNNI Islam. Although he taught that everything comes from and returns to GOD he rejected PANTHEISM.


JUNG, Carl Gustav (1875-1961): Swiss PSYCHIATRIST and early disciple of FREUD who developed his own system of psychology with strong religious and even OCCULT overtones. Drawing upon ALCHEMY, YOGIC RELIGIONS and various ESOTERIC TRADITIONS, he developed a theory of ARCHETYPES which verge on PSEUDO-SCIENCE and are generally rejected by modern PSYCHIATRY although they are very popular with many religious and literary writers. Works include: Psychology and Alchemy (1953).


JUNO: the ITALIAN GODDESS identified with the Greek GODDESS Hera, who is closely associated with life and sexuality.


JUPITER: the ancient ITALIAN sky GOD who was associated with the Greek God ZEUS--a God of the STATE and of WAR.


JUSTIFICATION: a technical THEOLOGICAL term used in the NEW TESTAMENT writings of PAUL to signify that act by which GOD restores humans to relationship with Himself. PROTESTANT REFORMERS and ROMAN CATHOLIC theologians disagreed as to how justification was to be interpreted. For the ROMAN CATHOLIC it means making just the SINNER through the infusion of SUPERNATURAL GRACE that blots out sin to regenerate the SOUL and makes it worthy of God the CREATOR. For the REFORMERS, justification is an act of divine FORGIVENESS brought about by FAITH on the basis of the SACRIFICE of CHRIST.


JUSTIN MARTYR (100-165): CHRISTIAN CONVERT from PAGANISM who was the first Christian thinker to attempt to reconcile FAITH and REASON. He taught that the truths of pagan PHILOSOPHY find their fullest expression in CHRISTIANITY. His Apologies and Dialogues with Typho are amongst the earliest Christian APOLOGETICS.


JUSTINIAN (483-565): late Roman/early BYZANTINE Emperor who sought to restore the unity of the Empire. He is remembered for his legal reforms resulting in the CODE of Justinian which became the basis for much European law. In particular he was the first ruler to formally recognize a clear distinction between religious and SECULAR affairs. To him, the CHURCH and STATE were separate but interdependent entities.


JUWAYN, al-MA'L Abd al-Malik (1028-1085): famous ISLAMIC scholar and teacher of AL-GHAZZL.