GLOSSARY FOR THE STUDY OF JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, AND ISLAM
Version 10.06 (2010 June), uncopyrightable factual information
Prepared initially by Robert A. Kraft, University of Pennsylvaniaz,
and intended to be used freely in the public domain in this and
any updated versions (based partly on materials from introductory
textbooks by Phillip Sigal, Jacob Neusner, Michael Fishbane,
Sandra Frankiel, R. Dean Peterson, Frederick Denny, Kenneth Cragg,
F. E. Peters; see also Cyril Glassé, The Concise Encyclopedia
of Islam [Harper, 1989]). Corrections, additions, and suggestions
will be greatfully accepted: email@example.com.
||indicates the title of a book or similar work.
||Arabic word, especially used in Islamic studies.
||Hebrew (or Aramaic) word, especially used in Judaism.
||Greek word, especially used in Christianity.
||Latin word, especially used in Christianity.
Note that in the Semitic languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic), the apostrophe and
reversed apostrophe distinguish between two different "a" letters.
ab (Heb., "father [of]"; see Arabic abū)
Used in numerous phrases and constructions, such as <h>ab bet din</> (lit.
"father of/in the house of judgment") for one of the presiders in the Jewish
sanhedrin (see also bet/beit).
See also abbot.
The second major Muslim dynasty (following the Umayyads), centered in Iraq (Baghdad,
750-1258 CE), under which Islamic civilization achieved maturity.
Abbot (from Greek and Latin forms based on Hebrew av/ab,
Used especially in Christian monasticism for the head or supervisor of the monastery.
‘abd (Arabic, "servant [of]")
Often used in Arabic naming conventions. See also ibn, bint, abū.
abelut (Heb., "mourning")
Abraham (adj. Abrahamic)
The patriarch who is acknowledged as a special early figure in the histories and folklore
of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Presumed to have lived sometime in the period 2000-1700 BCE; father of
Ishmael by Hagar and of Isaac by Saraḥ See Bible Genesis 12-25; NT Galatians 3-4; Quran 37.83=113, 2.124-140, and frequently.
absolution (from Latin, to absolve or make to go away)
A term used especially in classical Christianity for forgiveness of sin, as when a priest
grants "absolution" to one who is penitent.
abū (Arabic, "father [of]"; see Heb. ab)
Often used in Arabic naming conventions. See also
AD = <l>anno domini</> ("year of the Lord")
Adam (and Eve) (Hebrew for "human, man")
Name given to the first created male (with Eve as female) in the creation story in the
Jewish scriptures (Genesis 1). Has been interpreted over the centuries both literally (as an actual historical
person) and symbolically (as generic humankind; see allegory).
adhān (Arabic, "call")
The adhan is the Muslim call to prayer
(salat) by the muadhdhin
from the mosque 5 times each day.
An early Christian interpretation of Jesus’ relationship to the one
God (father) which held
that the exemplary human Jesus was adopted by God
to be God’s son and to serve in rescuing
humankind. See also monarchianism.
agapē (a Greek word for "love")
In early Christianity, the name given to a community fellowship meal (the "love-feast").
In modern Christian theologizing,
sometimes used to indicate the highest level of love (divinely oriented).
aggada(h) (adj. aggadic; Aramaic, "telling, narration")
Jewish term for non-halakic (nonlegal) matter, especially in Talmud and Midrash; includes folklore, legend,
theology/theosophy, scriptural interpretations, biography, etc.; also spelled
haggada(h), not to be confused, however, with the Passover Manual called "the Haggada(h)."
agnostic (from Greek, "not knowing"), agnosticism
A general term to indicate suspension of judgment regarding the existence of God/deity
(compare atheism, theism)
AH = <l>anno hegirae</> or year after the Hijra on 16 July 622 CE; the years
AH (or before H) are Muslim lunar years (see calendar)
ahl (Arabic, "people [of]")
Used in technical terminology such as <a>ahl al-bayt</> ("people of the
house"), for the family of Muhammad; <a>ahl al-hadith</> ("people who focus on hadith") for certain traditionists; <
a>ahl al-kalam</> ("people who emphasize
kalam") for a type of rationalists; <a>ahl al-kitab</> ("people of the Book"), for Jews and Christians (and some Zoroastrians/Sabaeans) as tolerated groups under Islamic rule
Akiba (or better, Aqiba) ben Joseph
Famous Jewish rabbi (c. 50-135 CE) in ancient Palestine; a major legal scholar, who
established an academy in Bne Brak, and was also a legendary mystic and martyr. He was tortured and
killed by the Romans in 135 CE.
‘Alawīs (Arabic "of ‘Ali")
An Islamic group in Syria (ruling party), Lebanon and Turkey with affinities to Shiite groups such as the Seveners and the Druzes. See also gnostic, syncretism.
A term used in modern Judaism especially for migration (Heb., "going up") to
the land of Israel (see also hajj in Islam, pilgrimage). Aliya can also be used for "going up" to
the altar bimah to read from Torah.
Son-in-law (husband of Fatima) and cousin of Muhammad, and the 4th of the
"rightly guided caliphs," having moved his capital from Medina to Kufa in Iraq. Ali was murdered
by a Kharijite in 661 CE, and is especially revered by Shiites.
Arabic word for "God"; a contraction of <a>al-ilāh</>, "the
god." See YHWH.
allegory (Greek term), adj. allegorical, vb. allegorize
Usually used in reference to symbolic interpretation of scriptures or
materials, in Judaism and Islam as well as in Christianity. See
Historically, it usually refers to a raised surface (like a table) or platform on which
sacrifices were performed. Thus it came to
designate the central location for liturgical
functions such as reading Torah (Jewish;
see bima) or administering the
am haaretz (pl. <h>ammey haaretz</>; Heb., "people of the
A term used in Jewish scriptures for citizens, or some particular class of citizens; in
rabbinic literature, for persons or groups that dissented from or were uninstructed in rabbinic halaka and
rigorous purity and tithing norms. It sometimes signifies the unlearned, sometimes is used condescendingly
(boor). It was also used of the broad mass of Jewish people of the 1st century CE, who cannot be
categorized into any of the sub-groups of the time. See also Pharisees.
amida(h) (Heb., "standing"; pl. <h>amidot</>)
The main section of rabbinic Jewish
prayers, recited in a standing posture; also known
as *tefillah or shemoneh esreh
amora (pl. amoraim; Heb., "speaker")
Rabbinic Jewish teachers of the 4th and 5th centuries
CE who produced the gemara for the Babylonian and
Greek term for a religio-political federation with its common focus a
to God; an association of neighboring states or
tribes in ancient Greece that banded together for common interest and protection.
This model has sometimes been used to describe the situation in "the period of
the judges" (prior to Saul and David) in Ancient Israel.
Anabaptists (from Greek, to baptize again, rebaptize)
Those Christians in the Protestant Reformation who taught that infant baptism was
inadequate, but that baptism was appropriate for those adults who profess faith in Jesus Christ, in an attempt to emulate what was considered early Christian practice. Anabaptist groups often diverged extensively from
other Christians, including other protestants — and this aspect of the protestant movement sometimes came to be called the "Radical Reformation."
anathema (Greek, lit. something [such as a statuette] "set up" as
dedicated to a deity; thence off limits for normal use)
Something or someone considered "anathema" is strongly forbidden, under a
curse. The formal curse itself can be called an "anathema."
anchorite (Greek, lit. "without fixed home/location, itinerant")
A term applied to early Christian wandering hermits (living in caves, etc.), and later in
general to monastics of various sorts (including the feminine form "anchoress").
angel (Greek, lit. "messenger")
Came to be used specifically for a class of extrahuman ("spiritual") beings,
both good (usually) and bad ("demons", "the devil"/Satan) who become involved in human affairs; common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A leader or special functionary among the angels is sometimes c
alled an "archangel" (e.g. Michael, Gabriel).
Anglicans, Anglicanism (from Anglo, "English")
Refers to the results of the Reformation movement in England under Henry the 8th, which
developed largely separate from the protestant movements on the European continent. Also called
"Church of England," which gave rise to what came to be called the "Episcopal"
church in the USA.
aniconic (Greek, without image)
Refers to religious perspectives that forbid physical representation (pictures, statuary) of
anṣār (Arabic, "helpers")
Muhammad’s Medinan supporters in the early establishment of his Arabic power base are
called the ansar.
Greek term for the attribution of human behavior or characteristics to inanimate objects,
animals, natural phenomena, or deity. With regard to deity, anthropomorphism became a point of theological discussion in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
antichrist (Greek, "against [the] Christ")
Term used in Jewish and early Christian eschatology to designate an evil person or force opposed to the Messiah (Christ) in the last days of the eartḥ
antinomian (from Greek, "opposing law")
A general term for persons or positions that consciously take a stand against the
established rules and laws. In Christian tradition, a name given to those who felt that salvation by grace excused them from obeying temporal law(s).
Literally means opposed to Semites (which would include Arabic and other semitic
peoples as well), but usually applied specifically to opposition to Jews (anti-Judaism).
apocalypse (adj. apocalyptic)
From the Greek, meaning "revelation." A genre of literature (attested in Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions) in which the author claims to have received revelation(s), usually about the end
-time, and expresses them in vivid symbolism. The intertestamental Jewish and the early Christian apocalypses are often pseudepigraphical. The final book of the Christian NT is sometimes called (in accord with its Greek title) "the Apocalypse" (it is also known as "the book of
Apocrypha (adj. apocryphal)
From the Greek, meaning "to hide" or "to uncover." It is used in a
technical sense to refer to certain Jewish books written in the Hellenistic-Roman period that came to be
included in the Old Greek Jewish scriptures (and thus in the Eastern Christian biblical canon) and in the Latin Vulgate Roman Catholic canon (as "deutero-canonical"), but not in the Jewish or Protestant biblical canons. See
also Bible, Septuagint.
A formal defense of the Christian faith. Several such writings were issued by Christian "apologists" such as Justin the Martyr during the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, addressed to the
Greek for "ambassador, legate"; compare Arabic rasul. In early Christian circles, it was used to refer especially to the earliest missionaries sent out to preach the gospel message concerning Jesus/Joshua, among whom Paul included himself (although he had not been an associate of
Jesus/Joshua); traditionally, twelve of Jesus’ close associates come to be called "the 12 Apostles" (also "the 12 disciples").
Name given to one of the earliest known Christian creeds (prior to the "Nicene creed"), used extensively among protestant groups as well as classical
The idea in classical Christian circles that spiritual and ecclesiastical authority was transmitted from Jesus’ apostles to thei
r successors (often called bishops), and so forth in a continuous chain, usually formalized by the rite of ordination. Rabbinic ordination (semikah) is conceptually similar, tracing its succession back to Moses. In Islam, the concept of the isnad provides a weaker parallel.
aqedah (Heb., "binding" [of Isaac])
The Jewish biblical account of God’s command to Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22).
Aristotle was a famous Greek thinker (died in 322 BCE), a student of Plato, whose interpretation of what constitutes reality (metaphysics, ontology) and of how reality is organized was widely influential
both in ancient times and in the "medieval" period of Judaism and Christianity, influenced by the "classical" period of Islamic learning. See e.g. scholasticism.
Arius was a Christian presbyter in early 4th century Alexandria who argued that the Christ was the first of God’s creations, through whom God made the
world, etc. This position was condemned as heresy by classical Christianity (see Athanasius, Nicea), but was widely influential for a
long time in that world.
arkān (Arabic, "pillars")
See the pillars of Islam (din).
Jacob(us) Arminius (1560-1609) was a Dutch Calvinist protestant Christian teacher and
pastor whose interpretation of predestination caused much unrest and discussion.
Muslim term for group feeling, national pride.
ascetic (from Greek, to hold oneself under control), asceticism
A general term for one who follows rigorous bodily and spiritual discipline to enhance
spiritual experiences and rewards. Often connected with mysticism.
Ashkenazi(m) (adj. Ashkenazic)
The term now used for Jews who derive from northern Europe and who generally follow the customs originating in medieval German Judaism, in contradistinction to Sephardic Judaism, which has its distinctive roots in Spain and the Mediterranean (
see Sephardim). Originally the designation Ashkenaz referred to a people and country bordering on Armenia and the upper Euphrates; in medieval times, it came to refer to the Jewish area of settlement in northwest Europe (northern France and western German
y). By extension, it now refers to Jews of northern and eastern European background (including Russia) with their distinctive liturgical practices or religious and social customs.
assassins (from Arabic <a>ḥashshāshīn</>, "hashish
A general term for persons who justify terminating the lives of their opponents on political
and/or religious grounds, derived from the name given by crusaders to the Islamic Arabic Shiite Nizārīs in
the 11th-12th centuries. For a similar development in early Judaism, see the Zealots (and *Sicarii).
The process of becoming similar to something; used in discussion of regligious and
cultural developments to describe the process in which the characteristic traits of a person or group may be
lost or modified during adaptation to differing surroundings or conditions. See syncretism.
assumption (of Mary)
A term used technically to indicate the "taking up" of a human to heaven (e.g.
Enoch or Moses or Elijah in some Jewish traditions), applied specifically in classical Christianity to the
belief that the body of the Virgin Mary was not allowed to decay on earth after death, but was "assumed" into heaven.
A 4th century Christian leader in Alexandria and Egypt who opposed Arianism and the council of Nicea and afterwards
atheism (from Greek, "no deity")
A general term for the position that there is no God/deity (compare agnosticism, theism).
Famous Christian thinker/author around the year 400 CE, who was influenced by
Manicheism and neo-Platonism, but especially by Paul. He was himself very influential for Luther.
That to which submission of some sort is due, whether a person (as "the authority of the rabbi/bishop/imam") or an institution ("of the
church/community") or some other appropriate focus ("of the law/scripture/tradition").
See also canon, apostolic succession, ordination, See.
Ayatollah (from Arabic <a>āyat Allāh</>, "sign of
A title used in Iranian Islamic Shiism for highly honored members of the ulama.
Av (or Ab)
A month in the Jewish calendar;
the 9th of Av is a day of mourning for the destruction of the
in 586 BCE and again in 70 CE.
Ba’al Shem Tov (BeSHT; lit. "Master of the Good Name") Founder of mid 18th century Jewish Hasidism (proper name was Israel).
In earliest Christianity, the rite of ritual immersion in water which
initiated a person
(usually as an "adult") into the Christian church.
Very soon, pouring or sprinkling with water came into use in some churches,
and the practice of baptizing infants. See also
bar (bat) mitzvah (Heb.,
The phrase originally referred to a person responsible for performing the divine
commandments of Judaism; it now refers to the occasion
when a boy or girl reaches the age of religious majority and responsibility
(thirteen years for a boy; twelve years and a day for a girl).
In Christianity, compare confirmation.
baraka(h) (Arabic; see also Heb. berakah)
In Islam, "blessing" or "spiritual power" believed to reside in holy
places and persons, especially the Sufi master.
Basmala or Bismillah (Arabic)
The name for the sacred Islamic invocation "In
the name of God, the merciful,
the compassionate" <a>bi’smillāh al-rahmān al-raḥīm</>
that introduces each Quranic
(except sura 9) and is uttered frequently by pious Muslims, as before meals,
before writing something down or making a speech, before conjugal relations,
before reciting the Quran, and at other times.
bat (Heb., "daughter," "daughter of";
Arabic bint) Used frequently in
"matronymics" (naming by identity of mother); see also
ben, *bar, ibn.
Jewish shorthand term for the Babylonian Talmud.
BCE or bce = "before the common era"
An attempt to use a neutral term for the period traditionally labeled "BC"
(before Christ) by Christians. Thus 586 BCE is identical to 586 BC.
Abū Bakr was a father-in-law of Muhammad and became the first caliph, under whom the collection of Quranic materials was expedited.
belief (see also creed,
A term with multiple applications, from general
assent or fidelity to a religious idea or
position (constituting someone as a "believer"),
to specific reference to well defined religious
conceptual objects (beliefs). In Islam, along with the
general ideal of pious adherence (iman), five or six central beliefs are traditionally listed:
and (not always included in the list)
For classical Judaism, see the
Christianity has tended to be more preoccupied
with defining beliefs (see orthodox)
than have classical Judaism or Islam (see
ben (Heb., "son," "son of"; Aramaic *bar; Arabic
Used frequently in "patronymics" (naming by identity of father);
Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph means Akiba son of Josepḥ
See also bat, bint.
berak(h)ah (Heb., "blessing"; Arabic
In Judaism, an offering of thankfulness that praises
God for a benefit conferred or a great
event experienced (pl. <h>berakot</>). See also
berit or brit (Heb., "covenant")
Used in Judaism especially for the special relationship believed
to exist between God
and the Jewish people.
bet/beit midrash (Heb.; Arabic <a>bayt</>);
see also midrash,
In Judaism, a place (<h>beit</> = "house") of study, discussion,
and prayer; in ancient times a school
of higher learning (see, for example, "house of
<h>bet am</> ("house of people"), <h>bet kneset</>
("house of assembly") and <h>bet tefilla</>
("house of prayer")
are designations for locations/functions that came to be included
in the general term synagogue;
<h>bet din</> ("house of judgment") refers to a
halakic law court (see also
Bible (adj. biblical; from the Greek <g>biblos</> meaning
Designation normally used for Jewish scriptures
plus the Apocrypha in classical
Christianity) or Christian scriptures
("OT" plus the Christian
See also canon, Quran,
bid‘a (Arabic, "innovation")
The term bida came to be used in Islam for "heresy."
bimah (from Greek <g>beema</>, "altar")
Location in a synagogue from which worship (see liturgy) is led. See also minbar.
bint (Arabic, "daughter," "daughter of"; Hebrew bat)
Used frequently in "matronymics" (naming by identity of mother); see also
ben, *bar, ibn.
birkat haminim (Heb., "(bene)diction concerning
A prayer that invoked divine wrath upon Christian Jews and other heterodox Jewish
groups. 12th section of the shemoneh esre.
bishop (see also episkopos)
The rank in the clergy of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches above a
priest, with authority to ordain priests as well as perform other sacraments. In the early church, an
elected head of the church for an entire city; now, an appointed head of a diocese (or "See"). (A
few other churches, such as the Methodist and Mormon, also have the office of bishop.)
blasphemy (Greek, "speak ill, defame")
A general term for speaking against the deity
or things associated with the deity. See sacrilege,
In modern Christianity, having experienced a true conversion and/or total dedication to
Christ, usually in an intense emotional experience. Such language is usually used by
brit (or berit) milah (Heb., "covenant of circumcision")
In Roman Catholic Christian contexts, refers to a formal proclamation from the pope or other high religious authorities.
Byzantium (adj., byzantine)
The old Greek name for what in 330 CE became the city of
Istanbul), the "new Rome"
and capital city of the eastern Roman Empire from the early 4th
century (see Constantine) through the
mid 15th (see Ottomans). This
predominantly Greek speaking half
of the Roman Empire comes to be called the "Byzantine"
Empire by western historians. It was
highly structured and bureaucratic in its political organization,
thus giving rise to the modern adjective
"byzantine," with the sense of excessively complex and rigid.
In general, Christianity operates on a "solar" calendar based on the
relationship between the sun and the earth (365.25 days per year).
The main Christian observances are
and Christmas. The Islamic calendar is "lunar,"
based on the relationship
of earth and moon (354 days in a year). Thus every 100 solar years are equal to
about 103 lunar years.
Muslim calendric observances include fasting
during the month of Ramadan, followed by the
feast of fast
breaking (id al-fitr), and the time for
pilgrimage to Mecca
(hajj) and associated practices such as
the Feast of Sacrifice.
Judaism follows a lunar calandar adjusted every three years or so to the
solar cycle (by adding a second 12th month) — thus "lunisolar."
The oldest Jewish annual observances are Passover/pesah,
*Shevuot, Yom Kippur and
Sukkot; other ancient celebrations include
Purim. See also BCE,
caliph (Arabic <a>khilāfah</>, "successor, deputy,
In the Quran it refers to people who
submit in voluntary service to God and are thus
empowered to carry on a free and active life as God’s vice-gerents on earth; in the early
history of Islam, caliph is the title for the military/political leader of the
umma functioning as Muhammad’s
"successor" in all but the prophetic role. The "four rightly
guided caliphs" are Abu
‘Uthman, and ‘Ali.
calligraphy (Greek, "beautiful writing")
In general, artistic attention to the written
formation of letters and words. More specifically,
the practice developed especially in Muslim circles of creating
attractive and often meaningful patterns and
forms through the artistic manipulation of letters (usually
passages from the Quran).
Since classical Islam
discouraged realistic (pictoral) art in religious contexts,
this sort of calligraphy may have been developed in
part as a decorative substitute.
Calvin, Calvinist, Calvinism
John Calvin (1509-1564) was an influential French
protestant thinker and churchman who
spent most of his adult life leading the Swiss
Reformation in Geneva. His famous work called
"Institutes of the Christian Religion"
remains influential among conservative
canon, canonical scripture
The books of the Bible recognized as
authoritative and divinely revealed. See also
cantor (from Latin, one who sings)
In Judaism, a reciter and chanter/singer of
liturgical materials in the
used similarly in Christian contexts (choir leader, etc.).
Compare hazzan (Islam).
An official in the Roman Catholic
Christian church next below the
pope, appointed by
the pope as a member of the "college" of cardinals
which was formed in the middle ages to
assist the pope and elect new popes.
In early Christian usage, oral instruction (Greek, catechesis) in doctrine, especially prior
to baptism; can mean any official summary of doctrine used to teach newcomers to the faith.
One receiving instruction in basic doctrines
(catechism) before baptism
or, if already baptized as an infant, before confirmation
or first communion.
catholic, catholicism (from Greek meaning "universal,
A selfdesignation used in early Christianity to suggest universality over against
factionalism (see orthodoxy, heresy); thence it became a technical name for the western, Roman Catholic
CE or ce = "common era"
An attempt to use a neutral term for the period traditionally labeled "AD"
(<l>anno domini</> or "year of the Lord") by Christians. Thus 1992 CE is identical to
The practice of refraining from sexual relationships in the interest of religious purity, known
in Judaism among the Essenes and developed extensively in Christianity (see monk, priest).
From the Greek for "1000." Pertaining to the (Christian)
belief that Christ will reign for a thousand years in
the end-times; also called millenarian (from the Latin).
Greek translation of <h>meshiah</> (see
messiah, below). Applied to Jesus/Joshua of Nazareth by his followers as a title,
but soon came to be treated as a sort of second name.
One who self-identifies or is identified as a follower of Jesus/Joshua the Christ (thus an
adherent of the broadly defined abstract classification "Christianity").
The totality of the Christian world (with focus on extent, whereas "Christianity"
Christmas (mass for birth of Christ)
A relatively late developing annual Christian festival (see calendar), now held on the fixed
date of 25 December in most churches. In earlier times (by the 4th century), the celebration of Jesus’ birth
tended to be in the spring, around the time of Easter. Its observation in proximity to the winter solstice
(shortest day of the year) encouraged the inclusion and development of many aspects that were not present
or important in this celebration.
christology (from Greek)
Study of the christ concept/title in its various associations and applications (e.g. as royal or priestly or prophetic figure, as eschatological agent, etc.).
church (Greek <g>ekklesia</>, "summoned group"; see
The designation traditionally used for a specifically Christian assembly or body of people,
and thus also the building or location in which the assembled people meet, and by extension also the
specific organized sub-group within Christianity (e.g. Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, etc.). Similar to
synagogue and kahal in Judaism. See also mosque.
circumcision (from Latin, to cut around)
The minor surgical removal of the skin covering the tip of the penis. In Judaism, it is
ritually performed when a boy is eight days old in a ceremony called <h>brit milah</>, which
indicates that the ritual establishes a covenant between God and the individual. In Islam, it is performed at
any time up to the age of puberty, depending on the cultural tradition (e.g. birth, 7 years, puberty, etc.).
See also initiation, baptism.
classical Judaism, Christianity, Islam
The forms of the religions that have survived as traditional throughout the centuries. See
rabbinic, orthodox, Sunni. See also conservative.
In Christian contexts, the body of ordained men (and in some churches women) in a
church, permitted to perform the priestly and/or pastoral duties, as distinct from the *laity to whom they minister. In Judaism, the rabbinate (see rabbi). Islam
has no formal clergy in this sense.
See kohen. Priest (Judaism).
commandments (Heb., mitzvot; sing,
According to rabbinic Jewish tradition, there are 613 religious commandments referred
to in the Torah (and elaborated upon by the rabbinic sages). Of these, 248 are positive commandments
and 365 are negative. The numbers respectively symbolize the fact that divine service must be expressed
through all one’s bodily parts during all the days of the year. In general, a <h>mitzvah</> refers to
any act of religious duty or obligation; more colloquially, a <h>mitzvah</> refers to a "good
communion; also, "holy communion"
A term used especially in Christian Protestant circles for the sacrament of receiving bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ (or as symbols thereof), also known
as the Lord’s supper or
confirmation (from Latin, "to firm up, establish")
A Christian rite admitting a baptized person into full church membership, originally by anointing with oil. In Judaism, compare *bar (bat) mitzvaḥ
One of the types of protestant Christian denominations, in which church government is
conducted primarily by the membership (the "congregation"), rather than by some leadership
level. Early American Puritan Christianity was congregationalist.
To bless formally, especially in the context of classical Christian sacraments.
A term often used in religious discussions (frequently in express or implied contrast to
"liberal" or "modernist") to indicate a relatively traditional (even classical) stance towards the
matters considered centrally important. See also fundamentalist.
A modern development in Judaism, reacting to early Jewish Reform movements in an attempt to retain clearer links to classical Jewish law while at the same time adapting it to m
situations. Its scholarly center in the US is the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
Co-emperor and then (from 324) sole emperor of the Roman Empire in the early 4th
century CE, under whom the city of Constantinople (formerly Byzantium) was established (in 330) as the
"new Rome" and capital of the Empire. He publicly embraced Christianity near the beginning of his rule, granted Christians official toleration for the first time, and was instrumental in convening the council of Nice
a in 325 and in developing Constantipole as a "Christian" city. Thus he was very important for the establishment of an "officially" sanctioned Christian orthodoxy as well as the growth in Christ
ian political influence and power.
Constantinople (Greek, "Constantine’s city"; see also
The city on the Bosphorus strait at the southwestern tip of the Black Sea that became
Constantine’s "new Rome" in 330 CE. The modern name of the site, in Islamic Turkey, is Istanbul.
In Lutheran Christianity, the belief that in the eucharist, Jesus Christ is present
mystically, along with the elements of wine and bread.
conversion, convert (from Latin, "to turn around")
In general religious usage, the act of changing alliegance from one group to another. In
(especially evangelical) Christian usage, it can also mean to accept a particular interpretation of the Christian faith (see also born again).
In modern Christianity (especially of the "evangelical" sorts), the state in
which one recognizes one’s sinfulness and guilt before God, preliminary to experiencing conversion.
A pact between two parties.
The major covenants in Jewish scriptures are God’s
covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15), and the Sinai/Moses covenant
(Exodus 19-24) between God and Israel.
In Judaism, the covenant (Hebrew, <h>brit</>) is a major
theological concept referring to
the eternal bond between God and the people of Israel grounded in
God’s gracious and steadfast concern (Hebrew, <h>ḥesed</>)
that calls for the nation’s obedience to the divine commandments
(mitzvot) and instruction (torah). For Christianity (e.g. Paul), God
has made a "new covenant" (rendered as "new testament"
in older English) with the followers of
Jesus/Joshua in the last times,
superseding the "old covenant" (thus, "old testament")
with Moses at Sinai (see Jeremiah 31.31-34).
A general term (from Latin) for "belief" declarations or summaries such as the
Christian apostles’ or Nicene creeds, or in Judaism the shema affirmation, or in Islam the shahada
crucifix, crucifixion (from the Latin, to affix to a cross)
In Christian symbolism, the cross-form (crucifix, with or without Jesus attached) is an expression of the death of Jesus/Joshua on the cross (crucifixion) and
its theological significance.
A series of military operations by Christians from western
Europe in the late 11th through the late 13th centuries (1096-1270)
aimed at "freeing" the "holy land" of
and Palestine from its
Muslim rulers (considered "infidels" by the crusaders). The results were
varied and complex.
cult (sometimes "cultus," from Latin)
A general term for formal aspects and interrelationships of
religious observance, often as
focused on a particular phenomenon (e.g. the
the "cult of saints").
Dār al-Islām (Arabic, "the household
The territories governed by Muslims under the
sharia constitute Dar al-Islam; the term’s
opposite is <a>Dār al-Ḥarb</>, "The Household of Warfare,"
those lands lacking the security and guidance of God’s
Jewish folkhero around 1000 BCE, to whom many biblical
psalms are attributed and who is credited with politically and militarily
uniting the ancient Israelite
amphictyony into a centralized
kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital.
David is said to have planned for the Temple
which his son and successor Solomon built.
The "calling" of people to the
religion of Islam; thus, "missions."
deacon (from Greek, "to serve")
the lowest ordained office in the Roman Catholic
Church (together with subdeacon),
originally in charge of gathering and distributing the
later a stage in seminary training.
in modern Protestant churches,
a deacon may be an official elected to a certain responsibility in worship or
Dead Sea Scrolls
A Greek term referring to the ten commandments
(Heb. <h>’aseret hadibrot</>)
received by Moses on Mount
Sinai according to Jewish scriptures
(Exodus 2O.1-17; Deuteronomy 5.1-21).
deify (see deity)
To make something or someone God-like.
deity (from Latin deus = God)
demiurge (from Greek, "maker" [literally,
"one who works in the context of the community/people"])
A philosophical concept found in
Platonism to designate the divine
agency by which the physical world came into existence.
The idea was taken over in Christian gnosticism
to distinguish the creator of the physical world (often seen as evil) from
the superior/good God who is completely
unconnected with matter.
Subdivision within a religious movement, especially with
reference to mainstream
where Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. are called
"denominations." Usually distinguished from "sects"
or "cults" which by
implication have less "official" status.
"Remembering" or "mentioning"
God by means of his names in response
to his words in the Quran is the
central practice of Sufi meditation
(see also prayer).
dhimmī (Arabic, "protected")
Refers to one of the "people of the Book" (see
ahl) who receives protective treatment in exchange
for certain obligations such as paying a head tax
Greek "scattering." Often used to refer to the Jewish communities living
among the gentiles outside
the "holy land" of Canaan/Israel/Palestine.
For Judaism, see kosher.
Islam also has certain prohibitions regarding foods.
dīn (Arabic, "religion")
In Islam, din is a general term for religion, but usually
for the true religion of Islam
(compare millah) or for religious
practice in particular. See pillars of Islam.
In other contexts, din can also
mean divine judgment
(e.g. <a>yawm al-din</>);
compare in Judaism the <h>bet
din</> (see uunder *bet/beit).
A modern conservative
protestant position that
divides history into various periods of
divine activity (dispensations), each of which is identified
by a specific characterization.
A general term for a formally defined belief
(e.g. the doctrine of the resurrection in Christianity), or for the
total system of beliefs ("Christian doctrine").
In Christianity, an authoritative statement of
belief; official doctrine;
can also be used as
a general term.
An Islamic group in Israel, Syria and Lebanon, with affinities to
the sevener Shiites.
See also Alawi, gnostic.
du‘ā’ (Arabic, lit. "calling")
Individual, private prayer in Islam. See also salat, dhikr.
Refers to ideas or systems that emphasize significant polarities or oppositions, as for
example with regard to reality (e.g. immaterial/spiritual versus material/physical,
God vs Satan), to human
nature (body vs soul), and to ethics (good vs evil).
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Wednesday, 30-Jun-2010 19:46:28 EDT