Introducing World Religions:
The eBook

Introducing World Religions Online:
Comprehensive Glossary of Terms

Term Definition

East-West diptych

A metaphor that emphasizes the orientalist view of the world as divided into two opposing flat plates.

Eisai and Dōgen

Two Buddhists who founded the Rinzai and Sōtō branches of Zen in  Japan around the start of the thirteenth century CE.


A word used in the Torah with reference to the Israelite God; general Semitic term for a god.

Eliade, Mircea

(1907-1986) Historian of religions who used the term homo religiosus to describe the fundamentally religious nature of human beings; he also referred to human beings as homo symbolicus because he felt that they have an innate propensity to manufacture cultural meaning through symbols.


Hebrew prophet (ca. 800s BCE) famous for being taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, and will return to mark the coming of the Messiah on Judgment Day.


The acquisition of equal legal status for Jews in 18th century Europe, starting with US and French citizenship after the American and French Revolutions.


Letter; twenty-one letters written in Greek attributed to Jesus' apostles to Christian communities threatened by loss of faith, and organizational difficulties; the earliest New Testament writings.


Term used in Christian theology to mean the "last things" or the final condition of humanity and the cosmos; for a Greek word meaning "last."

Eternal Beings of the Dreaming

Supernatural beings discussed in the sacred lore of the Australian Aboriginal peoples.


The central ritual of Christian worship, based on the last meal shared by Jesus with his disciples prior to the crucifixion. Also known as Holy Communion, or the Lord's Supper; from a Greek word meaning "thanksgiving."

European colonialism

Refers to Europeans in modern times (sixteenth to twentiety centuries) taking political and economic control of foreign territories to gain control of maritime trade.

European Enlightenment

A European cultural movement spanning the late 1600s to the late 1700s.

Evangelical Christians

Protestant Christians whose spirituality centers on experience of personal conversion and salvation through Jesus Christ, with an emphasis on millenarian expectations.


Authors of the four New Testament gospels; more generally, Christians who dedicate themselves to preaching the word of God.

existential value

The intellectual or emotional weight of an experience that bears on a person's very existence. (Term from existentialist philosophy.)


Exit; name of the Torah scroll that tells of the Israelite escape from bondage in Egypt (ca. thirteenth century BCE or later).

expressive traditions

Performance based traditions that rely on oral transmission of sacred lore, and many non-verbal expressions to build religious meaning.


Hebrew priest and scribe who led the second wave of Judeans from Babylon for settlement in Jerusalem (ca. 458 BCE).

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