Religion Past and Present

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Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning†, Bernd Janowski and Eberhard Jüngel

Religion Past and Present (RPP) Online is the online version of the updated English translation of the 4th edition of the definitive encyclopedia of religion worldwide: the peerless Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (RGG). This great resource, now at last available in English and Online, Religion Past and Present Online continues the tradition of deep knowledge and authority relied upon by generations of scholars in religious, theological, and biblical studies. Including the latest developments in research, Religion Past and Present Online encompasses a vast range of subjects connected with religion.

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Saadia Gaon

(368 words)

Author(s): Leicht, Reimund
[German Version] (acronym RaSaG; 882, Faiyum, Upper Egypt – 942, Sura, Babylonia), from 928 the first non-Babylonian head (Gaon) of the rabbinic academy in Sura. As a philologist, exegete, controversialist, and philosopher, he was an outstanding figure in 10th-century Judaism. In 915 he settled in Palestine, where he wrote his first philological work, Sefer ha-Agron. From the year 921 at the latest, Saadia – who appears to have been a contentious character all his life – lived in Babylonia. There he became involved in the so-call Ben Meir controver…


(6 words)

[German Version] Finno-Ugric Religions


(439 words)

Author(s): Müller, Walter W.
[German Version] a Semitic people in the area of modern Yemen, home of an advanced civilization in antiquity. The center of the kingdom of Saba was t…


(5 words)

[German Version] God

Sabas Monastery

(298 words)

Author(s): Plank, Peter
[German Version] The monastery was established between 483 and 490 by St. Sabas alongside the Kidron Valley nine km southeast of Jerusalem. It was founded as a laura, consisting of individual caves in the rock with a communal building as its center. Despite its deep involvement in the Origenist controversies, by the time of the Persian invasion in 614 it had already experienced an initial spiritual and intellectual flowering (Cyril of Scythopolis); it played an essential role in the development of the church’s L…

Sabas (Saint)

(174 words)

Author(s): Goehring, James E.
[German Version] (439, Cappadocia – May 12, 532, Palestine), founder of the Great Laura (Mar Saba). Sabas moved to Palestine as an ascetic at the age of 17, where he was sent to a monastery by Euthymius. He eventually embraced an anchoritic life, wandering in the desert for a number of years before settling in a cave in the Cedron Ravine. He began to attract disciples, which marks the beginning of the Great Laura. Its success led to the foundation of other related ascetic communities nearby. Sabas…

Sabatier, Paul

(268 words)

Author(s): Kracht, Klaus Große
[German Version] (Aug 3, 1858, Saint-Michel-de-Chabrillanoux – Mar 4, 1928, Strasbourg), Protestant theologian and historian. The son of a Reformed pastor, Sabatier began his study of Protestant theology in Paris in 1880. Inspired by the works of E. Renan, his teacher, he dedicated himself after 1884 to exploring the life and impact of Francis of Assisi. From 1885 to 1889 he served as an assistant minister in Straßburg, then a German city; when the German authorities demanded that he either adopt …


(219 words)

Author(s): Bonnet, Corinne
[German Version] (Sebazios, Sabadios, Sabos), a Thraco- Phrygian god (5th cent. bce), found throughout the Mediterranean region. In Anatolia he was associated with Attis, Men, and Cybele; in the Greek milieu, his orgiastic cult led him to be associated with Dionysus. Little is known of his original nature, but some evidence (in part iconographic) suggests that he had power over nature and the animal world and hence also “cosmic” power, which could benefit humankind and promote mental and physical wellbeing (c…


(573 words)

Author(s): Kirn, Hans-Martin | Solberg, Winton U.
[German Version] I. Europe Sabbatarians is a collective designation for various Christian groups in the context of Bible-oriented reform and revival movements; their common characteristic is observance of the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week (“Saturday Sabbatarians”). In English Puritanism (Puritans), advocates of strict Sunday observance could also be called Sabbatarians (“Sunday Sabbatarians”). Besides small medieval groups like the 12th-century Passagini in northern Italy, Sabbatarians in t…


(2,991 words)

Author(s): Otto, Eckart | Doering, Lutz | Hollender, Elisabeth | van Henten, Jan Willem | Volp, Ulrich | Et al.
[German Version]

Sabbath Songs

(357 words)

Author(s): Newsom, Carol A.
[German Version] (ShirShabb). The Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice is a liturgical cycle of 13 related compositions. Each is dated to one of the first 13 Sabbaths of the year, according to the solar calendar. Nine manuscripts were found at Qumran (4Q400–407, 11Q17), and one at Masada (Mas 1k). The songs invoke and describe the praise of the angelic priests in the heavenly temple. Each song begins with a heading, “For the Maskil” (“Instructor”), and the date formula. The song proper opens with a call to praise, introduced by the imperative “halle…

Sabbatical Year

(277 words)

Author(s): Morgenstern, Matthias
[German Version] The Zionist (Zionism) settlement of Palestine made the sabbatical year newly relevant to Orthodox Judaism (Orthodoxy: III), even though its practical realization, the significance of its observance for salvation history, and the question whether discussion of the sabbatical year from the perspective of legal history provides a material basis for political claims to the Land of Israel all remain controversial issues. Independently of these developm…


(304 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] In the theological conflicts of the 4th century, the Modalistic Monarchianism that was condemned as a heresy was often called Sabellianism. Marcellus of Ancyra and his followers in particular were considered “Sabellians,” because they rejected the doctrine of three divine hypostases (Hypostasis; cf. Origen) as tritheism, emphasizing God’s unity as μονάς/ monás instead, citing John 10:30. Eusebius of Caesarea considered Marcellus a “new Sabellius” but had nothing more to say about the author o…


(5 words)

[German Version] Talmud


(287 words)

Author(s): Olechowski, Thomas
[German Version] (Saxon Law Code), the most important me…

Sachs, Hans

(292 words)

Author(s): Hahn, Reinhard
[German Version] (Nov 5, 1494, Nuremberg – Jan 19, 1576, Nuremberg), son of a tailor, apprenticed as a shoemaker; at the same time, he was introduced to mastersinging. During his journeyman travels (1511–1516), he composed his first songs and poems in rhymed couplets ( Spruchgedichte); then he settled in Nuremberg as a craftsman. Increasing p…

Sackmann, Jakobus (Jobst)

(104 words)

Author(s): Lütze, Frank Michael
[German Version] (Feb 13, 1643, Hanover – Jun 4, 1718, Limmer), pastor in Limmer, near Hanover, from 1680. His Low German sermons (Plattdeutsch, Services in), often employing crude imagery, gained him a reputation beyond the local congregation. Direct criticism of individual members of the congregation and ¶ the nobility in his sermons brought him before the consistory on several occasion. Only four transcribed sermons can be considered authentic. Sermons and anecdotes associated with him at a later date increasingly turned the headstrong preacher into a caricature. Frank Michael…

Sacrality, Transfer of

(294 words)

Author(s): Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm
[German Version] The origins of the concept of transfert de sacralité are obscure. The earliest known occurrence is in the works of the historian Mona Ozouf, who since 1976 has studied the symbolic worlds, rituals, and “implicit theologies” (Assmann) in the festivals celebrated by the French Revolution. Syncretistic combination of pagan, Christian, and Masonic symbols and ceremonies, she believes, created a post-Christian politico-religious cult in which the revolutionary nation staged and constituted its…
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