Introducing World Religions:
The eBook

Introducing World Religions Online:
Comprehensive Glossary of Terms

Term Definition


Jewish mystical tradition.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu

(1485-1533) Hindu saint from Bengal; founded the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sect whose members worship Kṛṣṇa, particularly in his form as flute-playing cowherder.

Calvin, John

(1509-1564) Frenchman who set up a Protestant community in Geneva, Switzerland; he believed in predestination coupled with the notion that God's "elect" could come from any social class.


A Yoruba-based tradition in Brazil, related to other African diaspora traditions including Santería, Umbanda and others.

Catholic Counter-Reformation

Term given to the Roman Catholic movement that began with the Council of Trent (1545-1563), aimed at counteracting heresy and schism among western Christians.


The man who was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in the year 800 CE by Leo III, the new pope.


1158-1210) Korean Buddhist reformer who established the monastic center and school of Korean Sŏn named Chogye after the mountain on which the sixth patriarch Hui-neng lived in south China.

Chitrabhanu, Gurudev Shree

(b. 1922) A modern Jain who renounced "renunciation" itself, giving up the life of a monk to do social work and teach in the West.


Christian term meaning Messiah; from the early days of Christianity used to qualify the name of Jesus; from a Greek word meaning "anointed one."


Name of a medieval monastery (which was the largest, covering 25 acres) that became a center of Christian culture and pilgrimage; monks there followed the Rule of Benedict, and developed a new style of choral music.

Common Era

Words abbreviated by C.E. used after dates.


Early Muslims who saw or heard Muḥammad speak at least once.


(d. 337 CE) The first Christian emperor; he had a hierophanic vision of the Christian Cross, decided to fight in the name of Christ, and legalized the practice of Christian tradition via the Edict of Milan in 313 CE.


 Jews forcefully converted to Roman Catholic Christianity in Spain and Portugal mainly during the 1400s.

Cortés, Martín

The first mestizo, according to traditional Mexican memory.

Council of Nicea (I)

A Christian council held in a town in what is now Turkey in 325 CE that affirmed the Incarnation, composed a famous creed, and condemned Arius as a heretic for denying the divinity of Jesus.


Bahá’í term for God's assurance of continuing guidance to humanity based on divine guidance that came through Bahá’u’lláh.

creative imagination

Humans use this to perceive beings or forms of the imaginal realm.


Death by hanging on a cross, used as a form of capital punishment in the Roman Empire. Christians gave great meaning to the death of Jesus on the cross, as atoning for the sins of humankind.


A movement with both religious and economic roots whose object was to reestablish Christian control of the Holy Land (centered on Jerusalem), which was under Muslim jurisdiction; the first attempt to wrest control of Jerusalem started with a group leaving from France in 1096; thereafter the movement continued for about 250 years.


The hero, known as "young grandfather," whose resurrection is awaited by Mexicans expecting the redemption of history through him.

cultural imperialism

The domination that results from the spread of cultural values and customs from a politically or economically powerful nation or civilization.


(r. 550-530) King who founded the Achaemenid dynasty in Persia and was familiar with worship of Ahura Mazdā, but not necessarily with Zarathushtra.

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