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ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE MEDIEVAL AND REFORMATION PERIODS

During the Middle Ages, anti-Semitic activity shifted from the regions around the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Jews were systematically barred from many economic institutions. The theologian Thomas AQUINAS taught that because Jews were guilty of deicide ("killing God"), princes were permitted to take their property whenever they wanted. Especially from 1200 on, Jews were required to live in separate areas, sometimes surrounded by walls. In Italian these areas...

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ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE ANCIENT WORLD

Although the word was fi rst coined in 1879, anti- Semitism is by no means new. After the conquests of Alexander the Great (d. 323 B.C.E.), Greekspeaking or "Hellenistic" culture became the norm throughout the eastern Mediterranean region and the Near East. Those who favored Hellenistic culture at times looked down upon Jews. Many Greeks valued reason in pursuit of the truth. Some of them saw...

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Anti-Semitism

Words, actions, and attitudes directed against Jews because they are Jews. The term was actually coined in 1879 by Wilhelm Marr, a German conservative politician, to identify an anti-Jewish racial policy that he and his fellow conservatives advocated. In the 20th century anti- Semitism led to the murder of roughly 6 million Jews in the HOLOCAUST....

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Antichrist

In Christianity, a fi gure opposed to CHRIST. The Antichrist is expected to come at the end of time. In the NEW TESTAMENT (see BIBLE, BIBLICAL LITERATURE) only the letters of John mention the Antichrist. In these letters the Antichrist is the person "who denies the Father and the Son." Furthermore, John's letters suggest that many Antichrists are already in the world. That, the letters...

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Anselm

(c. 1033–1109) a medieval Christian thinker Anselm was a BENEDICTINE monk (see MONKS AND NUNS) who rose to become archbishop of CANTERBURY, the most important Christian leader in England. After he died, the Roman Catholic Church offi cially declared him a SAINT. He is venerated on April 21, the date of his death. Anselm is remembered most for the way he tried to prove...

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Animism

Belief in spirits. Strictly speaking, the term animism refers to a theory about the origin of religion. The theory is now widely rejected. Some still use the word to refer to the religious beliefs and practices of indigenous peoples. But the beliefs and practices to which animism refers vary widely. As a result, what animists believe and do must be determined on a case-by-case...

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Animals and religion

The symbolism and role of animals in religion. Animals have had a profound signifi cance for religion as far back as religion can be traced. The famous Old Stone Age cave paintings of game animals undoubtedly had some kind of spiritual meaning. But meaning and attitude have varied greatly from one religious culture to another. In hunting cultures, where animals are a major source of...

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Anglicanism

The form of CHRISTIANITY represented by the Church of England and churches in other parts of the world in "communion" or offi cial association with it. In the early 1530s King Henry VIII (1491–1547) of England wanted to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon (1485–1536). The pope refused to grant him an annulment, so Henry and Parliament, in the Act of Supremacy of 1534, declared...

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Angels

Pure spirits devoted to the worship and service of GOD. Most developed religious traditions have a class of beings that range between the human realm and the supreme God or Ultimate Reality. They include lesser gods, SAINTS, ancestral spirits (see ANCESTOR WORSHIP), BODHISATTVAS, and today even aliens from other planets. Angels are among the most prominent, especially in monotheistic (believing in one God) religions. They...

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Ancestor worship

Rituals directed to relatives who have died, based on the belief that the spirits of the dead continue to infl uence the living. Ancestors are concerned with the well-being of their descendants, but also with upholding traditional morality and the traditional family structure. They will bless those who keep traditional sacred values, but they may turn malevolent against unworthy descendants. This entry uses the term ancestor...

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Analects of Confucius

The most important book containing the teachings of CONFUCIUS (551– 479 B.C.E.), the founder of CONFUCIANISM. Confucius was one of the most infl uential teachers who ever lived. But he did not actually write down his teachings. After his death, his followers gathered his sayings. They were eventually collected into a book, the Analects. The Analects was put together perhaps in the third century B.C.E. The...

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Amos

(active mid-700s B.C.E.) a prophet of ancient Israel Amos is also a book in the BIBLE containing the sayings of this prophet. Amos was a shepherd who lived in the town of Tekoa in Judea during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judea (783–742 B.C.E.), and Jeroboam II, king of Israel (786–746 B.C.E.). He claims to have received messages from the GOD YHWH ("the...

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Amon

Also spelled Amun; the chief god of Egypt in the New Kingdom. At fi rst Amon was only the god of a small place. Around 2000 B.C.E. his cult was brought to Thebes, the capital of Egypt. He became identifi ed with Re, the sun god. When the New Kingdom began in 1570 B.C.E. Amon-Re became the god of the kings and the...

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Amish

Particular groups of MENNONITE Christians. The most traditional Amish are the Old Order Amish. They are probably the most visible and best known Mennonites. That is because, paradoxically, they are so assiduous in avoiding the ways of the world. The Amish split off from other Mennonites in the 1690s. The issue was discipline. All of the "plain people"—conservative Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren—observe a strict discipline. It...

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Amida

Japanese name of Amitabha, a cosmic BUDDHA. Amida is best known as the principal fi gure in the form of BUDDHISM known as PURE LAND BUDDHISM (Jodo in Japanese), which is very popular in East Asia. It tells us that many aeons ago on becoming a buddha, Amida vowed that, out of compassion, he would bring all who called upon his name in simple faith...

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Amaterasu

SHINTO goddess associated with the sun and believed to be the ancestress of the Japanese imperial house. In mythology, she is said to inhabit the High Plain of HEAVEN. There she once hid in a heavenly cave as protest against her brother Susanoo, a storm god, when he desecrated her celebration of the harvest festival. She was enticed out when another GODDESS did a...

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Altar

A place, usually elevated, on which people offer SACRIFICES. Altars vary greatly. There are home altars, public altars, portable altars, stationary altars, freestanding altars, and altars associated with temples. Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and some Protestant Christians call the table on which the EUCHARIST is celebrated an altar, too. At times this altar has been shaped like a sarcophagus and required to hold a RELIC. Many altars...

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Allah

The Arabic word for GOD; specifi cally, the designation for God in ISLAM. The basic Islamic attitude to God is given in the profession of faith: "There is no god but God [Allah]." Islam emphasizes the unity of God. In doing so, it explicitly rejects as polytheistic Christian notions that God is a TRINITY and that JESUS was divine. In Islam, God is the...

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Alchemy

The practice of using chemical experiments or processes for such purposes as making potions of immortality or transmuting commoner metals into gold. Alchemy was widespread in the Middle Ages and early modern times in Europe, China, and elsewhere. In Europe a supreme goal of the practice was isolating what was called the "philosopher's stone," which was believed to give eternal life. Alchemy was intertwined with...

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Akhenaton

(ruled approx. 1350–1334 B.C.E.) a king of Egypt He is remembered for changes he made to EGYPTIAN RELIGION. When Akhenaton came to the throne, Egyptian religion focused on the WORSHIP of the god AMON-Re. In the sixth year of his reign, however, Akhenaton made the Aton or sun's disk the central god of Egypt. He changed his name from Amenhotep to Akhenaton, "Servant of the...

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Ahimsa

Sanskrit word for "non-injury"; a central ethical principle in the religion of JAINISM. Many Hindus and Buddhists also teach ahimsa. Jains believe that any injury to another being produces KARMA and binds people to the world of rebirth. Therefore, Jains avoid injuring others as much as possible. As a result, they act out of a supreme respect for life. At a minimum Jains adopt a...

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Agni

God of fi re in the VEDA. Vedic HINDUISM— a form of Hinduism that scholars often suggest entered India from the northwest around 1500 B.C.E.—centers upon performing SACRIFICES. As a result, the fi re into which sacrifi ces are made assumes tremendous importance. It is worshipped as the god Agni. In the sacrifi cial grounds three fi res represent Agni in the three levels...

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Aga Khan

Persian for "great commander"; the title of the leader of the Nizari Ismaili community in ISLAM. The Aga Khan is the IMAM or inspired leader of a community in SHI'ITE ISLAM known as the Nizari Ismaili community. Aga Khan I (1800–81) received the designation from the shah of Persia in 1817. Later he rebelled against one of the shah's successors and immigrated to India....

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Afterlife in world religions

Belief in continuing life after death. Most religions hold that there exists an afterlife. The way in which this afterlife is pictured varies greatly among the world's religions. Some envision a shadowy other world or one similar to this one; some see eternal reward or punishment in HEAVEN or HELL; some believe in REINCARNATION (or coming back to be born again) in human or animal...

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African religions

The indigenous religions of Africa. This entry discusses African religions south of the Sahara Desert. North of the Sahara ISLAM has been the dominant religion since the 600s C.E. People have lived in Africa for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years. Indeed, many believe that the genus Homo fi rst evolved in Africa. Hominid bones found at Olduvai Gorge in Kenya from 1959...

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