Just the facts on religion.

Glossary of Religion

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Paean
A ritual exclamation and name for the song addressed to gods of healing (originally Paean, later Apollo and Asclepius). Paeans were sung at religious festivals, during illness or plague, before a military action, after libations, and on public occasions like the ratification of peace.
Panchen Lama
Second highest ranking figure in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama.
pannychis
An "all-night" festival for a deity. In comedies, they are sometime the occasion of illicit sexual encounters, and Pannychis was also a common name for an upper-class prostitute.
papal cross
Cross with three bars; the official symbol of the papacy.
parasol
Buddhist symbol of royalty and spiritual power.
Parsi
(adj., "from Persia"). Name for Zoroastrians in India.
Passion of Christ
(Latin passio, "suffering"). The crucifixion of Jesus and the events leading up to it.
Passover
Jewish spring holiday commemmorating the Exodus with a meal (Seder) featuring unleavened bread.
paten
In Christianity, the plate that holds the consecrated bread during communion.
patriarch
(Gk. "father ruler") Generally, an early biblical figure such as Abraham or one of the "church fathers" of the early Christian church. Specifically, the spiritual leader of a major city in Eastern Orthodoxy. The Patriarch of Constantinople is the Eastern counterpart of the Catholic pope.
patripassianism
The view, associated with Praxeas, Noetus and Sabbellius and declared a heresy, that God the Father can suffer. Patripassianism is a logical consequence of modalist monarchianism, in which the Son is the same person as the Father.
Patristics
(Lat. pater, "father") Branch of Christian history and theology concerned with the church "fathers" (patres). The "Patristic period" generally refers to the period from the later first century to the mid-fifth century CE.
Pelagianism
Belief system that rejects original sin and asserts the ability of humans to choose good over evil with only external assistance from God. Pelagianism was attacked by St. Augustine and declared a heresy in the early church.
People of the Book
Muhammad's designation for Jews and Christians, and sometimes Zoroastrians and Hindus. Because their religions featured scriptures and some aspect of divine revelation, they were not required to convert. However, they were required to pay a special tax (the jizya) for the privilege.
pharmakos
A human scapegoat, chosen from among the poor and ugly and chased out of the city-state to purify it in times of famine or plague. In myths, sometimes aristocrats, princesses or kings sacrifice themselves for the city.
philosophy of religion
The philosophical study of religion and religious concepts.
Plotinus
(c. 205-270 CE) Founder of Neoplatonism and mystic. His thought centered around attaining to the One (or the Good) through contemplation. Plotinus' works were published by his pupil Porphyry in six "Enneads" (groups of nine).
pope
(Latin papa, "father") The bishop of Rome, who became the recognized leader of the entire Western church by medieval times.
praying the rosary
Catholic devotional practice in which 15 sets of 10 Hail Marys are recited, each set preceded by a Lord's Prayer and followed by a Gloria Patri. A string of beads is used to count the prayers. The number of sets represents the 15 "mysteries" (five joyful, five sorrowful, five glorious), which are events in the lives of Jesus and Mary.
predestination
The beliefs that all human events, especially those pertaining to salvation and the afterlife, have been determined by God.
pretas
Hungry ghosts, who populate the second to the lowest of the six realms of existence in Mahayana Buddhism. Usually depicted as having small mouths or necks and giant stomachs, hungry ghosts experience continual frustration and unsatisfied craving.
proagon
In Classical Athens, an official theatrical presentation taking place a few days before the Great Dionysia began.
Protestantism
A branch of Christianity dating from the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, characterized by rejection of the Pope, emphasis on Scripture, and the necessity of faith for salvation.
Purgatory
A temporary state of suffering and purification for believers who die in a state of sin.

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