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.
To order contact REGENT BOOKSTORE. Copyright © Irving Hexham 1994, 1998. For further information about the AUTHOR/compiler. To return to the INDEX PAGE. For further information about the book and the sources used to compile this text see the PREFACE. For a Religious Studies READING LIST. To go to NURELWEB.
Cross-references are indicated by the use of CAPITAL LETTERS.
BA AND KA: two aspects of the SOUL in ancient Egyptian RELIGION. BA was conceived of as a bird with a human head which left the body at death and KA was the intellect.
BAAL: "possessor" or "LORD" a term applied to the GODS in CANAANITE RELIGIONS.
BABEL, TOWER OF: from the Biblical story found in Genesis 11:1-9 it is symbolic of human arrogance and the desire to "be like God." According to the story the confusion of languages and human races began with the destruction of the tower which "reached to heaven."
BABYLON: one of the greatest cities of the ancient world located on the left bank of the Euphrates near modern Baghdad. In the BIBLE it is symbolic of human pride and a world system opposed to GOD.
BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY: the exile of JEWISH people from Jerusalem which began in 597 B.C. In CHRISTIAN thought it became a symbol of corruption in the CHURCH.
BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750): one of the greatest composers of all time whose strict LUTHERAN ORTHODOXY inspired such masterpieces as his Christmas Oratorio and St. Matthew's Passion.
BACON, Francis (1561-1626): English jurist and philosopher who championed EMPIRICISM, the use of INDUCTION and experimental SCIENCE. He is the author of The Advancement of Learning (1605) and The New Atlantis (1624).
BACON, Roger (1214-1292): English Franciscan philosopher who promoted ARISTOTLE and developed an interest in experimental SCIENCE. His major work is Opus Majus (1268).
BAHA'I FAITH: a NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT originating from ISLAM and considered HERETICAL by the ORTHODOX. It was founded in Persia by BAHA 'U'LLAH (1817-1892) who suffered imprisonment and exile for his beliefs. Towards the end of his life he lived at Bahji near Acre where he wrote Kitab-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude), which is the book of Baha'u'llah's laws and contains many of the basic teachings of his religion, in addition to numerous other works including the other major doctrinal work the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Most Holy Book) which codifies Baha'i laws. The Iqan was written before Baha'ullah announced himself as a prophet and concentrates on the interpretation of Biblical and Quranic symbolism, the mystical path, theological concepts and issues. GOD is held to be transcendent and unknowable; but makes Himself manifest by His creation and especially by prophets who are a mirror in which God, the will and attributes, are reflected. The movement seeks (1) universal peace, (2) holding to unity of the human race, (3) advocating removal of prejudice, (4) teaching that all religions have an essential unity, and (5) the establishment of an international body similar to the United Nations, (6) the creation and use of a universal language. Before his death he appointed his son, 'Abbas Effendi (ABDU'L-BAHA), as his successor and the recognized interpreter of his writings. 'Abbas Effendi appointed his grandson, Shoghi Effendi, as "The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith" and official interpreter of the religion, he also undertook MISSIONARY work in Europe and America. Today the movement is led by a nine member body, the Universal House of Justice, which is elected every five years from members around the world. The movement has spread widely in Europe, America, Africa and in Eastern countries. The administrative center is at Haifa, Israel.
BAILEY, Alice (1880-1949): English OCCULTIST who at the age of 15 had a vision of an entity she said was CHRIST but later, under Theosophical influence, decided it was a mystic teacher, Koot Hoomi. In later life she claimed to have contact with another "master," Djwhal Khul, a Tibetan, who dictated books through her by automatic writing. After a dispute with the THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY in 1920, she founded the ARCANE SCHOOL. Her most important idea was the coming of a new world master who would unite East and West. Her books include: The Unfinished Autobiography (1951), Initiation: Human and Solar (1922) and A Treatise on White Magic (1934).
BAKER-EDDY, Mary (1821-1910): the founder of The CHURCH OF CHRIST SCIENTIST, popularly known as CHRISTIAN SCIENCE, and author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1875). She was a physically weak woman but her teachings arose after she experienced a profound physical healing which she attributed to the work of GOD. They consist of a CHRISTIANIZED form of HINDUISM which draws inspiration from many other religious and metaphysical sources. Probably her most lasting achievement outside her Church was the establishment of The Christian Science Monitor as a world class newspaper with extremely high standards of journalism.
BALA: BUDDHIST term for power. In the PALI CANON there are five powers referred to as: (1) faith, (2) energy, (3) mindfulness, (4) concentration, (5) wisdom. Other powers are mentioned singularly, such as shame, or as members of groups. In the MAHYNA TRADITION there is a list of ten powers which are the attributes of a BODHISATTVA: (1) a mind turned from worldliness, (2) ever stronger faith, (3) disciplined exercises, (4) intuitive reading of minds, (5) fulfilled PRAYER, (6) ability to work to the end of time, (7) ability to create the means of SALVATION, (8) purification of world, (9) the awakening of ENLIGHTENMENT, (10) the ability to utter a phrase with UNIVERSAL appeal.
BALANCE: Islamic term referring to the LAST JUDGMENT when humans deeds will be weighed in the balance.
BALLARD, Edna Anne Wheeler (1886-1971: American OCCULTIST and co-founder, with her husband Guy BALLARD, of the SAINT GERMAIN FOUNDATION and leader of the "I-AM" MOVEMENT.
BALLARD, Guy (1878-1939): American OCCULTIST who in 1930, while hiking on Mount Shasta, California, had a MYSTICAL encounter with an entity he claimed was SAINT GERMAIN. During the remaining years of his life he and his wife promoted the teachings of Saint Germain and other ASCENDED MASTERS.
BALTHASAR, Hans Urs von (1905-): acclaimed ROMAN CATHOLIC theologian and philosopher whose multi-volume work The Glory of the Lord has been described as the most important theological work since Karl BARTH'S Church Dogmatics.
BANARAS: the most HOLY city in India referred to as the City of Light.
BAPTISM: RITUAL immersion or sprinkling with water symbolic of REPENTANCE and NEW BIRTH. It developed in JUDAISM prior to the time of JESUS and became a central practice in the work of JOHN THE BAPTIST and became the CHRISTIAN RITUAL of INITIATION. Within CHRISTIANITY strong DOCTRINAL disputes exist as to both the mode and appropriate subjects of baptism. Until the REFORMATION most Christian groups baptized entire families including children. Sectarian groups, later to be known as BAPTISTS, objected to this practice claiming that BELIEF was a necessary prerequisite for baptism. Defenders of infant baptism argue either that the act itself mystically REGENERATES the individual, or that the practice is justified in terms of GOD'S COVENANT with the CHURCH. Advocates of infant baptism usually accept sprinkling as an acceptable mode of baptism on the grounds that this was common in JUDAISM. Baptists usually insist on adult baptism by total immersion.
BAPTISTS: Baptists trace their origin to the seventeenth century and were once named "ANABAPTISTS." They believe that the BAPTISM of mature believers is the accepted mark of CHURCH membership. They strongly emphasize the independence of the local Church, although individual Churches are linked to associations of various kinds. Early on they split into two groups: General Baptists which are ARMINIAN in THEOLOGY and Particular Baptists which are CALVINIST. Today, Baptists form a loose family of Churches with their main numerical base in the USA. Although there are international and national bodies many Baptist Churches belong to neither, hence the great diversity of belief and practice.
BARLAAM AND JOASAPH: medieval Byzantine legend which is believed to be a legend of the BUDDHA and was adopted for CHRISTIAN purposes by JOHN OF DAMASCUS.
BARMEN DECLARATION: a statement issued by the German CONFESSION CHURCH in 1934 which renounced all political allegiances and declared its dedication to GOD alone in opposition to NAZI attempts to manipulate the CHURCH. It was strongly influenced by the theologian Karl BARTH.
BARTH, Karl (1886-1968): he began as a MINISTER at Geneva (1909-1911) and was for ten years (1911-1921) Pastor at Safenwil and it was here under the shadow of the war of 1914-1918, in direct relation to his pastoral responsibility, he was led to a radical questioning of current theological notions, and wrote his Commentary on Romans (1919). In 1921 he became a professor at Göttingen. The BARMEN DECLARATION of 1934 was largely the work of Karl Barth. In 1935 he became professor of Theology at Basle and retired in 1962. In 1927 he began publishing Church Dogmatics and the final volume appeared in 1967.
BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY MASSACRE: on the 23rd of August 1572, over 10,000 French HUGUENOTS in Paris and other cities were slaughtered on the orders of CATHERINE DE MEDICI. The event left a lasting impression on PROTESTANTS and greatly contributed to ANTI-ROMAN CATHOLIC feeling for several centuries.
BARZAKH: this term originates with Sura XXIII.102 in the QUR'N which speaks of the unrighteous dead seeking to return to earth to do some GOOD. It is taken to be either the period between death and RESURRECTION or the place of the dead.
BASIL, RULE OF: the MONASTIC RULE followed by members of the GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH named after BASIL THE GREAT who propagated it in the fourth century.
BASMALA: an abbreviation for the ARABIC phrase which is translated "In the name of GOD, the Merciful, the Compassionate."
BATHING: ritual bathing is found in many religions and appears to have been practiced in the Indus Valley civilization around 2,500 B.C. Today it remains an important practice in HINDUISM and SHINT.
BATSON, Gregory (1904-1980): British ANTHROPOLOGIST and one of Margaret Mead's many husbands. His work Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972), played an important role in the development of many NEW RELIGIONS in the 1970s as well as the so-called NEW AGE MOVEMENT of the 1980s.
BAUER, Bruno (1809-1882): German theologian and historian. Originally a conservative HEGELIAN he adopted a position even more extreme than that of D. F. STRAUSS in 1839 and attributed the Gospel story to the imagination of the CHRISTIAN community. In 1842 he was deprived of his teaching post. The guiding principle of his many writings was a BELIEF that the origins of Christianity were to be found in Greco-Roman PHILOSOPHY.
BAUR, Ferdinand Christian (1792-1860): German theologian and founder of the Tübigen School. He was a disciple of SCHLEIERMACHER and greatly influenced by HEGEL'S PHILOSOPHY of HISTORY. He caused great controversy by suggesting there was an essential conflict between the views of SAINT PAUL and the DISCIPLES of JESUS. This interpretation came from his application of HEGEL'S theories to the NEW TESTAMENT.
BAVINCK, Herman (1854-1921): Dutch theologian and associate of Abraham KUYPER. His works include: The Doctrine of God (1895), The Philosophy of Revelation (1908-1909), and Our Reasonable Faith (1909).
BAVINCK, J. H. (1895-1964): nephew of Herman BAVINCK. An outstanding MISSIOLOGIST whose works include An Introduction to the Science of Missions (1960) and The Church Between Temple and Mosque (1961).
BAXTER, Richard (1615-1691): English PURITAN divine whose work The Saints Everlasting Rest (1650) is considered a SPIRITUAL classic. His Reformed Pastor (1656) was taken as a model for the ministry in REFORMED Churches while his Christian Directory (1673) gave practical instruction on a host of subjects including economic life within a household.
BAYLE, Pierre (1647-1706): French RATIONALIST philosopher whose work inspired many ENLIGHTENMENT thinkers.
BEATIFIC VISION: a vision of GOD.
BEATIFICATION: the practice of ROMAN CATHOLICISM to confer the title "Blessed" on a deceased person to permit VENERATION. Prior to the twelfth century any BISHOP could perform the rite but it is now the exclusive right of the POPE.
BECKET, Thomas (1118-1170): English nobleman and friend of King Henry II. Appointed ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY in 1162 to help control the CHURCH OF ENGLAND. To the surprise of his contemporaries, Becket took his responsibilities seriously and upheld the rights of the Church. Disputes with the SECULAR authorities led to his murder on December 29th 1170. Soon after his death MIRACLES were reported from his tomb and he was eventually elevated to SAINTHOOD. Becket's life has been the subject of many studies: the most notable being a play and film, Murder in the Cathedral (1935), by T. S. ELIOT.
BECOMING: any being, the characteristic of which is change and FLUX.
BEDE, the Venerable (673-735): called the "Father of English history." He was a CHRISTIAN MONK who spent his life at the monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow where he devoted himself to scholarship. He is best remembered for his classic work The Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
BEHAVIORISM: a MATERIALISTIC school of PSYCHOLOGY associated with B. F. SKINNER which seeks to interpret human actions in terms of conditioned reflexes similar to the action of a computer or mechanical device.
BEING: the existent. The Greek philosopher PARMENIDES believed the real is not subject to change, FLUX, and motion, it is pure being.
BELGIC CONFESSION: a statement of FAITH drawn up by Flemish and Walloon Churches in 1561 which became one of the basic documents of Dutch CALVINISM.
BELIEF: what is believed, trust, FAITH or intellectual accent. A form of knowledge which may or may not be based on FACTS. In religion belief is often a form of commitment to a way of life and the acceptance of the DOGMA of a religious community.
BELLARMINE, Robert (1542-1621): outstanding Jesuit theologian and ROMAN CATHOLIC APOLOGIST who was made a CARDINAL in 1599. He played an important role in the dispute between the CHURCH and GALILEO where he argued that all SCIENTIFIC THEORIES should be treated as tentative ideas subject to revision and not ABSOLUTE TRUTH.
BENDA, Julien (1867-1956): French RATIONALIST philosopher and novelist who strongly opposed the system of Henri BERGSON. His work The Treason of the Intellectuals (1928) was a prophetic analysis of FASCISM and the dangers implicit in certain types of IDEALIST PHILOSOPHY.
BENEDICT OF NURSIA (480-547): the founder of Western MONASTICISM and author of The Rule of St. Benedict. He was sent to Rome to study but revolted by the degenerate life of the capital, fled to a cave near Subiaco where he became a HERMIT. Later he established the monastery of Monte Cassino where he remained until his death.
BENEDICT, RULE OF: the MONASTIC RULE, based on the RULE OF BASIL, drawn up by BENEDICT at MONTE CRISTO which became the basis of the BENEDICTINE ORDER.
BENEDICTINE ORDER: one of the great MONASTIC Orders which evolved out of the work of BENEDICT and was based on his MONASTIC RULE. The Order encouraged both learning and the practice of PIETY. It played an important role in the development of Western LITURGY. Its members are recognized by their black robes.
BENEDICTION: the pronouncement of a blessing in CHRISTIAN CHURCHES.
BENTHAM, Jeremy (1748-1832): English philosopher, political theorist and founder of UTILITARIANISM. His work The Handbook of Political Fallacies is a classic of common sense.
BERDYAEV, Nikolai (1874-1948): born in Kiev, Russia. He was attracted to MARXISM, although he was a member of the RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. He was brought to trial by the Church in 1914 for his NONCONFORMIST religious views and was only saved from sentencing by the onset of the Russian REVOLUTION. He was expelled from his post as a professor of philosophy at Moscow University and from the USSR in 1922. He was a prolific writer, emphasizing freedom, creativity, and the reality of the TRANSCENDENT. He is often referred to as a CHRISTIAN EXISTENTIALIST. Books: The Destiny of Man (1933), Freedom and the Spirit (1935), The Beginning and the End (1952).
BERG, David, "Moses" (1919): known as "Mo" to his followers, founder of the infamous CHILDREN OF GOD. Berg began as a PENTECOSTAL Preacher whose SPIRITUAL REVELATIONS and PROPHECIES led him further and further from ORTHODOXY. In his writings he claims to have received "revelations" from a host of SPIRITUAL BEINGS including "The Abominable Snowman" and "The Pied Piper" which led him to advocate polygamy, sexual recruitment of new members--known as "flirty-fishing"--and various other questionable sexual practices.
BERGER, Peter L. (1934-): American/Austrian SOCIOLOGIST who is best known for his work on the social construction of reality. Many of his ideas have been misinterpreted to imply RELATIVISM which Berger strongly denies. His best known works are: Invitation to Sociology (1963), The Social Construction of Reality (1966) with Thomas Luckmann, The Social Reality of Religion (1967). More recently he has written The War Against the Family (1984), in collaboration with his wife Brigitte Berger, and various books on RELIGION, economics and social theory such as Pyramids of Sacrifice (1974).
BERGSON, Henri Louis (1859-1941): French philosopher whose theories of COSMIC EVOLUTION have inspired various religious thinkers and contributed to the growth of process THEOLOGY. His best known PHILOSOPHICAL work is Creative Evolution (1907).
BERKELEY, George (1685-1753): Irish clergyman and philosopher. Author of A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710).
BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX (1090-1153): French CISTERCIAN MONK, and Abbot of Clairvaux, whose book Loving God is regarded as a classic of medieval MYSTICISM. He praised knighthood and supported both the Order of Templars and the Second Crusade. In his heyday he was probably the most influential man in Europe.
BERNARDETTE OF LOURDES (1844-1879): a French peasant who at age 14 claimed to have received many VISIONS of the VIRGIN MARY. Her visions led to the establishment of a SHRINE at LOURDES where many people claim to have received MIRACULOUS HEALING.
BESANT, Annie (1847-1933): born of EVANGELICAL parents. She married a pious but dull clergyman whom she eventually divorced. Her religious PILGRIMAGE led from ANGLICANISM to ATHEISM, and from SPIRITUALIST to THEOSOPHIST. In England she was notorious for her affair with Charles BRADLAUGH and the promotion of radical causes, including birth control. After her CONVERSION to Theosophy she moved to India in 1889 where she established a number of educational institutions including the Central Hindu College of Banaras (1898) and the University of India (1907). She played an important role in agitating for Indian independence from British rule and was active in the Indian National Congress and was even elected its president. She proclaimed her adopted son Jiddu KRISHNAMURTI a new Messiah but he later repudiated this view. After the death of Helena BLAVATSKY, she became the president of the THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY. Her works include: The Ancient Wisdom (1897) and The Religious Problems of India (1902).
BETHEL: "the HOUSE of GOD."
BETHLEHEM: the city of the BIBLICAL King DAVID and birthplace of JESUS.
BEZA, Theodore (1519-1605): author of the first critical edition of the text of the NEW TESTAMENT and important CALVINIST theologian.
BHAGAVAD-GTA: literally translated "The Song of the Lord." Probably the most popular book of HINDU SCRIPTURE in the West. In context it forms part of the great Indian EPIC, the MAHBHRATA, which can be dated somewhere between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D. For many modern Hindus it represents the ESSENCE of their religion with its message that there are many ways to SALVATION. It consists of a long dialogue between the hero ARJUNA and his chariot-driver who, unknown to Arjuna, is really the Lord KRISHNA in human form. On the eve of the battle of Kuruksetra, Arjuna has scruples about the prospect of killing his fellow men, some of whom are his kinsmen, but he is told by Krishna that he must perform his duty in a disinterested way appropriate to his CASTE as a warrior. The BUDDHIST scholar Edward CONZE, and others, have argued that the DEVOTIONAL tone of the Gta reflects the influence of CHRISTIANITY and that it was probably written to counter Christian teachings.
BHAKTI: this term means DEVOTION: it denotes movements within Indian RELIGIONS, especially HINDUISM, which emphasize the love of GOD or GODS. Bhakti is the loving submission of the believer to the deity as a means of GRACE and SALVATION. The HARE KRISHNA MOVEMENT is probably the best known Bhakti movement in the West.
BHATTA: a title of respect for a BRAHMIN.
BHUTAS: a EVIL spirit in HINDUISM.
BIBLE: the SACRED book of CHRISTIANS comprising the HEBREW BIBLE and NEW TESTAMENT.
BIBLICAL CRITICISM: a type of academic inquiry which arose in the nineteenth century through the application of eighteenth century RATIONALIST assumptions to the study of the BIBLE. It originated with ANTI-CHRISTIAN writers who sought to discredit the Biblical text by ridiculing on the basis of arguments derived from a Newtonian WORLDVIEW and DEISTIC ETHICS. More sympathetic scholars developed Biblical criticism to accommodate CHRISTIANITY to the Newtonian worldview by deleting the SUPERNATURAL from the Biblical text by explaining away references to PROPHECY and MIRACLES on literary and textual grounds. Eventually ORTHODOX scholars also accepted the validity of many methods created by the Biblical critics to answer such questions as: "What are the most reliable and trustworthy texts of the HEBREW BIBLE and NEW TESTAMENT? What is the relationship between the various books? When and by whom were the texts written and for what purpose? What are the sources, if any, the authors used? What is the relationship of these sources to other oral and written materials of the time?" Biblical criticism today is understood as the application of general historical principles and RATIONALIST assumptions to the BIBLE and has evolved into various sub-disciplines such as redaction criticism, source criticism, form criticism, literary criticism, etc. CONSERVATIVE scholars often make a distinction between "higher criticism" which they see as essentially rationalist and "lower criticism" which is understood as a legitimate quest for textual purity.
BIORYTHEMS: a fad of the 1970s NEW AGE MOVEMENT which sought to find links between human emotional changes, physical well-being, etc., and a rhythmic cycle in nature. The idea goes back to a nineteenth century physician Wilhelm Fliess whose work was popularized by George S. Thommen in various books published in the late 1960s and 1970s. There seems to be no scientific basis for this view and it is rapidly loosing popularity through its failure to really help people cope with living.
BISHOP: literally an "overseer." From as early as the second century A.D. Bishops formed part of an organization hierarchy in CHRISTIANITY. IGNATIUS, the "Church Father," speaks of Bishops, PRESBYTERS and DEACONS referring to the structure of AUTHORITY in the CHURCH. Originally each Church seems to have had its own Bishop; later on Bishops came to control a specific territory or DIOCESE, then Archbishops and eventually the POPE were added by the Western Church. In the East, Bishops retained much of their earlier status and powers. Bishops had the power to ordain PRIESTS and were the guardians of ORTHODOX DOCTRINE.
BLACK FRIARS: a common name for the Dominican Order derived from their black hood.
BLACK MASS: a blasphemous RITUAL enactment of the MASS used by SATANIC groups.
BLACK MUSLIMS: a remarkably successful NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT which began as a bizarre CULT and developed into an ORTHODOX branch of ISLAM in North America. The group was founded by F. W. Fard around 1930 and originally preached a race war against Whites in which Blacks would be aided by spacemen. Under the able leadership of Elijah Muhammad and his successors, the group has become increasingly Islamic and has reached out to embrace the MUSLIM world. Today it is a fast growing movement with an impressive record of social action among American Blacks. The most famous member of the movement was MALCOLM X who was assassinated in 1965.
BLAKE, William (1757-1827): English poet and MYSTIC whose writings inspired the COUNTER CULTURE of the 1960s.
BLASPHEMY: action or speech which is derogatory to GOD, the SACRED or RELIGION. In the HEBREW BIBLE and in ISLAMIC lands, blasphemy is a capital offence. Until the ENLIGHTENMENT it was severely punished in Europe and America.
BLAVATSKY, Helena Petrovna (1831-1891): born and educated in Russia she appears to have led an adventurous life with numerous affairs before becoming a SPIRITUALIST in New York in the 1870s. Claiming to have visited Tibet and India, she elaborated on the basic practices of spiritualism by adding a rich ECLECTIC MYTHOLOGY. Eventually she called her system THEOSOPHY and formed the THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY in 1875. Her most important books are Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888).
BLIK: a term used by R. M. HARE, English philosopher, to describe a religious stance, outlook, or basic PRESUPPOSITION.
BLOCH, Ernst (1880-1959): German MARXIST philosopher whose work strongly influenced Jürgen MÖLTMANN and Harvey Cox. His major works are The Spirit of Utopia (1918) and Thomas Munzer as Theologian of Revolution (1921).
BOAS, Franz (1858-1942): German/Jewish/American whose is considered one of the founders of ANTHROPOLOGY. He pioneered the technique fieldwork among the Kwakiutl of British Columbia. His works include: The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians (1897), The Mind of the Primitive (1911) and Kwakiutl Ethnography (1966).
BODHI: Indian term for SPIRITUAL "ENLIGHTENMENT" or "awakening" which takes on particular meaning in BUDDHISM.
BODHI-TREE: the traditional tree under which GAUTAMA--the BUDDHA--received ENLIGHTENMENT.
BODHISATTVA: SANSKRIT term used in BUDDHISM for one who aspires to BODHI or Buddhahood. In the MAHYNA TRADITION the idea is developed to replace the term RHANT as the Buddhist ideal and the Bodhisattva becomes a SAVIOR figure who forgoes ENLIGHTENMENT to bring SALVATION to all sentient BEING.
BODIN, Jean (1530-1596): French ROMAN CATHOLIC political philosopher and theorist whose work legitimating monarchy and political absolutism provided a basis for various "DIVINE RIGHT" theories. His main works are Method for the Easy Comprehension of History (1566) and Six Books of the Republic (1576).
BODYWORK: a popular NEW AGE expression referring to various massage and other techniques associated with HOLISTIC HEALTH.
BOEHME, Jacob (1575-1624): German LUTHERAN MYSTIC whose speculations about GOD and His relationship to CREATION drew upon NEOPLATONISM, the JEWISH CABBALA and ALCHEMY and was expressed in his The Way to Christ (1624). An obscure writer who has been accused of being both a PANTHEIST and a DUALIST. His work influenced PIETISM, ROMANTICISM and modern NEW AGE mystical movements as well as the writings of William LAW and Isaac NEWTON.
BOETHIUS, Ancius Maniatus Severinus (480-524 A.D.): Roman CHRISTIAN philosopher executed by the ARIAN Emperor Theodoric. His most influential work was The Consolation of Philosophy which he wrote as a vindication of DIVINE PROVIDENCE while in prison awaiting execution.
BONAVENTURE (1217-1274): ROMAN CATHOLIC mystical theologian whose childhood religious experience, associated with a vision of FRANCIS OF ASSISI, led him to a religious life and a MYSTICISM founded on DOGMA, moral theology and contemplative prayer. His works include The Seven Journeys of Eternity and The Journey of the Mind to God.
BONHOEFFER, Dietrich (1906-1946): German CONSERVATIVE LUTHERAN theologian whose opposition to the Nazi regime led to his brutal execution. He is the author of The Cost of Discipleship (1937) and Letters and Papers from Prison (1951).
BONIFACE (680-754): APOSTLE to the Germans whose courage in felling the sacred oak tree of Thor at Geismar won him a considerable following. After establishing a thriving CHURCH in Germany he was martyred in Frisland.
BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER: one of the classics of CHRISTIAN LITURGY originally written by Archbishop CRANMER to provide services in English but subsequently revised. It contains many memorable phrases; e.g. "Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes," and has had a profound influence on the development of the English language.
BOOK OF LIFE: an idea found in Egyptian, HEBREW CHRISTIAN and ISLAMIC sources that GOD, or the GODS, keeps a record of human activities until the DAY OF JUDGMENT.
BOOK OF THE DEAD: in Egyptian and Tibetan religious traditions a book of MAGICAL texts which was placed in the grave alongside the corpse to secure blessing in the afterlife.
BOOTH, William (1829-1912): a native of Nottingham of JEWISH parentage he converted to METHODISM in 1844 to become a REVIVALIST preacher. In 1861 he left the Methodists and with the help of his wife, who was also a powerful preacher, established his own Christian MISSION which became the SALVATION ARMY noted for its revivalist preaching and social concern. His book In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890) drew a vivid picture of social evil and decay.
BORN AGAIN: to become a CHRISTIAN--to be CONVERTED. The term is based on a dialogue of JESUS recorded in chapter three of the Gospel of John.
BOURGEOIS: the solid citizen whose mode of life is at once stable and solvent. The earliest adverse meanings show an aristocratic contempt for the middle class and a PHILOSOPHICAL and intellectual disdain for their ideas. MARX attacked what he called "bourgeois political theory" based on UNIVERSAL CONCEPTS and institutions which he argued were the concepts and institutions of a specifically bourgeois society.
BRACKETING: a term used in PHENOMENONLOGY to designate the practice of attempting to lay aside one's presuppositions and experience or understand how things occur in human awareness. In RELIGIOUS STUDIES it is common to ask students to "bracket," i.e. temporarily lay aside their own BELIEFS while attempting to understand the beliefs of others.
BRADLAUGH, Charles (1833-1891): Free-thinker and follower of Thomas PAINE. Made a name for himself as a lecturer under the title of "Iconoclast." Became President of the London SECULAR SOCIETY (1858-1890). From 1860 he ran the National Reformer in defense of free thinking and was elected Member of Parliament for Northampton in 1880. In his last years he was actively interested in promoting SOCIAL and political REFORM in India and attended the Indian National Congress of 1889. He disassociated himself from Annie BESANT after she became a theosophist. Works: The Bible: What It Is (1861).
BRADLEY, Francis Herbert (1846-1924): English philosopher and advocate of ABSOLUTE IDEALISM who opposed UTILITARIANISM. His book Appearance and Reality (1893) has been described as the most original English work on METAPHYSICS in the nineteenth century.
BRAHE, Tycho (1546-1601): Danish astronomer noted for his work in confirming the COPERNICAN view of the UNIVERSE which he subsequently modified.
BRAHM: creator GOD in HINDUISM often associated with VISHNU and iva. Brahm is not mentioned in the VEDIC HYMNS where Prajpati is the CREATOR GOD. Brahm is the masculine word for the neuter BRAHMAN or SACRED power which is ultimate REALITY. Although VISHNU and iva are worshiped, there is no CULT of Brahm as an object of BHAKTI or DEVOTION.
BRAHMAN: a neuter term which refers to the MAGICAL or SACRED power implicit in the RITUAL SACRIFICES of VEDIC RELIGION. It forms the basis of the word Brhmana or BRAHMIN which refers to the PRIESTLY class that performed the SACRED rituals. In some UPANISHADS, Brahman is sometimes identified with the UNIVERSE; in others Brahman is regarded as a personal GOD, or identified with TMAN or the eternal self within men. Within medieval HINDU theology there were various disputes about the true nature of Brahman. The most important were between ANKARA, who denied personal attributes, and RMNUJA who treated Brahman in a highly personalized manner.
BRHMAAS: a collection of prose works giving instruction on sacrifice which were appended to the VEDIC HYMNS.
BRAHMACRIN: first of the four stages of life for an ORTHODOX HINDU. It is the life of the young student who must remain celibate.
BRAHMA-STRA: the basic text of the VEDNTA tradition within HINDUISM. They were probably composed in the second or third centuries A.D. but this is uncertain and are traditionally ascribed to Bdaryaa. These texts expound the UPANISHADS. They were used extensibly by ANKARA, RMNUJA and MDHAVA to develop their theologies and provide the basic "NON-DUALISM" of modern VEDNTA.
BRAHMINS: priestly caste within HINDUISM. This is the anglicized form of the SANSKRIT BRHMAA--"one endowed with Brahman"--or sacred power derived from sacrificial ritual. They were the highest of the four Varnas--or CASTES--of Vedic Society and retain high status even today.
BRHMO SAMJ: a HINDU reform movement founded by RAM MOHAN RAY in 1828. It developed a UNITARIAN THEOLOGY influenced by British UTILITARIANISM and was strongly opposed to such things as TEMPLE CULTS, SUTTEE and the CASTE system. The movement fostered Western education and sought to renew Indian society of European principles.
BRAINWASHING: a theory originated by London University psychiatrist William SARGENT in his book Battle for the Mind (1957) to explain CHRISTIAN CONVERSION in the wake of the BILLY GRAHAM CRUSADE. Sargent concentrated on Biblical accounts of CONVERSION and the work of John WESLEY using the theories of PAVLOV to discredit religious experience. When the book first appeared it was attacked by such prominent Christians as the physician-preacher Martin LLOYD-JONES in Conversions: Psychological and Spiritual (1958) as "extremely dangerous." But in the early 1970s Sargent's ideas were picked up by the American ANTI-CULT MOVEMENT and popularized in such books as Snapping by Flo Conway and Jim Seigelman.
BRANHAM, William Marion, "Bill" (1909-1966): REVIVALIST preacher who popularized PENTECOSTALISM and "healing" ministries in America. His crusades developed into "prophetic" events which led him to see himself as a PROPHET in his later years. His influence is important in shaping the CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT of the 1980s.
BREATHING CONTROL: an essential aspect of YOGA and other meditation practices within YOGIC RELIGIONS.
BRETHREN OF THE COMMON LIFE: a ROMAN CATHOLIC association founded in the fourteenth century to promote SPIRITUALITY and LAY education.
BRITISH ISRAELITES: a form of FUNDAMENTALISM originating in the eighteenth century which claimed that the English people were the descendants of the ten "Lost Tribes" of ISRAEL and therefore heirs to all the Biblical promises made in the BIBLE to the JEWISH people. Today the most common form of this BELIEF is to be found in its Americanized version preached by Herbert W. ARMSTRONG and the WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD.
BRUNNER, Emil (1889-1966): Swiss theologian and of the most influential scholars of the interwar years. He parted company with Karl BARTH over his acceptance of NATURAL THEOLOGY in the 1930s. His early thought was influenced by CHRISTIAN SOCIALISM. His book The Mediator (1927) was the first presentation of the doctrine of CHRIST in terms of DIALECTICAL THEOLOGY. Brunner saw the Gospel as an exposition of the FIRST COMMANDMENT and was deeply influenced by both KIERKEGAARD'S dialectic and Martin BUBER'S "I-THOU" CONCEPT. He regarded SCRIPTURE as somehow normative, though not above criticism and REVELATION as always indirect. Unlike BARTH, he believed in an already existing point of contact between the Gospel and non-Christian people.
BRUNO (1032-1101): founder of the ROMAN CATHOLIC Carthusian Order (1084).
BRUNO, Giordano (1548-1600): Italian Dominican PRIEST and theologian who developed a PANTHEISTIC view of the universe based on the COPERNICAN THEORY. He was burnt at the stake for HERESY.
BUBER, Martin (1878-1965): JEWISH philosopher and theologian who did much to bring about a Jewish intellectual RENAISSANCE in Central Europe in the 1920s. Influenced by KANT, NIETZSCHE and KIERKEGAARD, Buber drew upon the Jewish HASIDIC TRADITION with its DOCTRINE that GOD is to be found in everything and everything in God and that the created world is to be redeemed rather than escaped from. His most famous work is the poem-essay I and Thou (1923-1937), which influenced many Christian thinkers including Paul TILLICH and Gabriel MARCEL.
BUCER, Martin (1491-1551): German DOMINICAN who became a follower of LUTHER and a leader of the PROTESTANT REFORMATION in Switzerland before becoming professor of Theology at Cambridge, England, in 1549. His THEOLOGY of the EUCHARIST mediated between that of LUTHER and ZWINGLI.
BUCHMANN, Frank (1878-1961): American CHRISTIAN MYSTIC and EVANGELIST who was strongly influenced by the KESWICK CONVENTION and became the founder of MORAL REARMAMENT in 1938.
BUDDHA: a title in BUDDHISM which means an ENLIGHTENED being. Just like the title "CHRIST" has become a name for JESUS, so the title Buddha has become associated with GAUTAMA.
BUDDHAGHOSA (4th-5th century A.D.): THERAVDA BUDDHIST MONK and scholar who lived in Ceylon around the fourth or fifth century A.D. Famous for his commentaries on the PALI CANON of Buddhist SCRIPTURES and a compendium of Buddhist thought, the VISUDDHIMAGGA or Path of Purification.
BUDDHISM: the Western name for what is generally known in Asia as the Buddha-asana, the RELIGION or discipleship of the BUDDHA. Buddhism appears to have originated in north-east India in the sixth century B.C. and according to TRADITION was the result of the religious experience of GAUTAMA a young prince and son of a ruler of the akya tribe. His home was in the foothills of the Himalayas but his awaking or ENLIGHTENMENT occurred at a place now known as Bodh-Gay, on the banks of one of the southern tributaries of the Ganges. The doctrine which he began to preach is known as the DHAMMA (Dharma) and consists of an analysis of the human situation, existence, and personality to provide a means whereby the suffering and mortality of mankind may be transcended and a new state of BEING achieved. The Buddha's personality and preaching attracted disciples, who were subsequently organized into communities known as the SAGHA. The doctrine was independent of belief in a CREATOR GOD, priestly rites or functions. It was regarded by contemporary HINDU priests (BRAHMAN) as HERETICAL. In many discourses (Sutta) the Buddha is represented as engaging in controversy with BRAHMANS. The new community of the Sagha was an egalitarian society in which CASTE differences were disregarded.
BUDDHIST SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT: the first major division in the SAGHA is traditionally connected with the Council of Vail approximately 100 years after death of the BUDDHA (383 BC). Disagreement arose concerning degree of strictness with which monastic discipline was to be observed. The dissenting body henceforth became known as the Mahsaghikas--the Great Sagha Party--since they claimed a greater following for their more LIBERAL interpretation of the rules. The Sthaviras (Elders) were the stricter more CONSERVATIVE group which subsequently divided into eighteen different schools, among the more important of which were the THERAVDINS. The Mahsaghikas also divided into numerous separate schools, the most important being the Lokottaravdins, Prajñaptivdins and the Caitiyas. The MAHYNA developed out of the Mahsaghikas tradition although its origins are obscure. The two principal Mahyna schools in India were the MDHYAMIKA and the YOGCRAS. In China and Japan, Mahyna developed into a number of schools notably the T'ien-t'ai or TENDAI, CH'AN or ZEN, Chên-yen or SHINGON, the PURE LAND, and the NICHIREN.
BULTMANN, Rudolf (1884-1976): from 1921 until 1951 professor of NEW TESTAMENT studies at Marburg. Bultmann developed the method of FORM-CRITICISM as a radical methodological SKEPTICISM. With this historical skepticism he combined DIALECTICAL THEOLOGY and the LUTHERAN DOCTRINE of sola fide (faith alone) to create an EPISTEMOLOGY that separated HISTORY and FAITH. In his later work he developed a program of DEMYTHOLOGIZING of the NEW TESTAMENT in terms of the existentialist PHILOSOPHY of Martin HEIDEGGER. His works include The History of the Synoptic Tradition (1921), Jesus Christ and Mythology (1960) and Theology of the New Testament (1952 and 1955 Vols. 1 and 2).
BUNYAN, John (1628-1688): one of the greatest influences on popular CHRISTIAN PIETY of all time. A PURITAN PREACHER and writer, he was frequently imprisoned for his radical CHRISTIAN and political BELIEFS. While in prison he wrote Grace Abounding (1666), The Pilgrim's Progress (1678), and The Holy War (1682). These classical works have been translated into many languages and have had a significant effect on popular religious and political movements throughout the world.
BUREAUCRACY: derived from "bureaucratie" the french word meaning bureau, writing-desk or office. Max WEBER developed the term technically to refer to a system of managerial control. In the SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION the role of bureaucracy is used to explain the process by which the original enthusiasm of a NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT, often based on a CHARISMATIC leader, is transformed into a formalized--and often dead--religious organization.
BURIAL: the practice of laying the dead in the ground rather than disposing of their bodies by CREMATION, exposure, or some other means of rapid destruction. It is the TRADITIONAL means of disposing of the dead in CHRISTIANITY and remains the only really accepted method in ISLAM because of BELIEFS associated with the RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.
BURKE, Edmund (1729-1797): Anglo-Irish orator and founder of British CONSERVATISM who supported the American REVOLUTION and opposed slavery. His best known work is Reflections on the French Revolution (1790) which is a telling critique of revolutionary doctrines based on a TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN ANTHROPOLOGY.
BURNS, Robert (1759-1796): National Poet of Scotland whose poetry is highly skeptical and reflects ENLIGHTENMENT VALUES.
BUSHIDO: the way of the SAMURAI; a moral discipline and controlled life based on the SHINT religion in Japan.
BUSHNELL, Horace (1802-1876): American CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER and theologian who argued in Christian Nature (1874), that CHRISTIAN CONVERSION is a result of education and not a sudden experience. He also declared in The Vicarious Sacrifice (1866), that the ATONEMENT was an illustration of the eternal principle of love rather than a satisfaction by which GOD was reconciled to mankind.
BUTLER, Joseph (1692-1752): English philosopher and ANGLICAN BISHOP who deplored "enthusiasm." His book The Analogy of Religion (1736) is a profound attack on DEISM and a thorough refutation of deistic views.
BYZANTIUM: Greek city founded 667 B.C. at the entrench to the Bosphorus which became the "New Rome" of CONSTANTINE in 330 A.D. After that date the city was called Constantinople until its fall to the Turks in 1453 when it became Istanbul. Byzantium has come to be identified with the civilization developed by EASTERN ORTHODOXY and has taken on SEMI-MYSTICAL connotations.