Vocabulary
of the World’s Religions

Beit Midrash (House of Study)
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Vocabulary of the World’s Religions

Why are Words Important?

The term “word” may be defined as “the exact representation of an idea or concept.” Words make communication possible … without them we would only grunt or bark or snort or hiss … without them it would be impossible for us to share ideas or concepts with other human beings. However, in order for us to communicate with words, we must share a common definition of the terms that we use.

In order to communicate ideas effectively we must use the exact word that produces the desired mental image in the mind of the person with whom we wish to communicate. For example, the word “truck” conjures up many different mental images. When used alone the word produces in the minds of some some people the image of a very large vehicle with 18 (or more) wheels, for others it produces an image of a much smaller vehicle with only four wheels, or even a “hand truck” with only two wheels. Even when used with other words, the image produced is not always the image intended. The term “fire truck” may define anything from a small rescue vehicle to a large hook-and-ladder truck and, depending on the area of the country in which you live, it may be red, yellow, white, or blue.

When we begin discussing the religious beliefs of the peoples around the world, an exact definition of the words that we use becomes of critical importance, because without a precise agreement on the meaning of the words that we use we can never communicate accurately the concepts that we wish to convey. The term “salvation,” for example, means a great number of different things to those of different religions. To some, “salvation” means to be glorified to the status of godhood and given a planet to rule over. To others it means to be granted the privilege of living forever in a re-created and perfect Earth. To still others the word means to become one with the essence of deity.

On the pages in this section we have attempted to define some of the key terms that are used in the various major religions of the world, so that we may come to correctly understand them the same way they are understood by the members of those religions.

Vocabularies are currently available for the following religions:

Buddhism

Confucianism

Hinduism

Islam

Jainism

Judaism

Shintoism

Sikhism

Taoism

Zoroastrianism

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Page last revised on Friday, 04 September 2015 10:47 AM