Rudolf Otto

Rudolf Otto (25 September 1869 – 7 March 1937) was an eminent German Lutheran theologian, philosopher, and comparative religionist. He is regarded as one of the most influential scholars of religion in the early twentieth century and is best known for his concept of the numinous, a profound emotional experience he argued was at the heart of the world's religions.[1] While his work started in the domain of liberal Christian theology, its main thrust was always apologetical, seeking to defend religion against naturalist critiques.[2] Otto eventually came to conceive of his work as part of a science of religion, which was divided into the philosophy of religion, the history of religion, and the psychology of religion.[2]

Rudolf Otto
Born25 September 1869
Died6 March 1937 (aged 67)
Marburg, Germany
Academic background
Alma mater
InfluencesFriedrich Schleiermacher, Immanuel Kant, Jakob Fries
Academic work
DisciplineTheology and comparative religion
School or traditionHistory of religions school
Notable worksThe Idea of the Holy
Notable ideasThe numinous
InfluencedEliade, Jung, Campbell, C. S. Lewis, Tillich, Barth, Rahner, Heidegger, Wach, Horkheimer, Gadamer


Born in Peine near Hanover, Otto was raised in a pious Christian family.[3] He attended the Gymnasium Andreanum in Hildesheim and studied at the universities of Erlangen and Göttingen, where he wrote his dissertation on Martin Luther's understanding of the Holy Spirit (Die Anschauung von heiligen Geiste bei Luther: Eine historisch-dogmatische Untersuchung), and his habilitation on Kant (Naturalistische und religiöse Weltansicht). By 1906, he held a position as extraordinary professor, and in 1910 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Giessen.

Otto's fascination with non-Christian religions was awakened during an extended trip from 1911-1912 through North Africa, Palestine, British India, China, Japan, and the United States.[4] He cited a 1911 visit to a Moroccan synagogue as a key inspiration for the theme of the Holy he would later develop.[3] Otto became a member of the German parliament in 1913 and retained this position through the First World War.[4] In 1917, he spearheaded an effort to simplify the system of weighting votes in Prussian elections.[2] He then served in the post-war constituent assembly in 1918, and remained involved in the politics of the Weimar Republic.[4]

Meanwhile, in 1915, he became ordinary professor at the University of Breslau, and in 1917, at the University of Marburg's Divinity School, then one of the most famous Protestant seminaries in the world. Although he received several other calls, he remained in Marburg for the rest of his life. He retired in 1929 but continued writing afterward. On 6 March 1937, he died of pneumonia, after suffering serious injuries falling about twenty meters from a tower in October 1936. There were lasting rumors that the fall was a suicide attempt but this has never been confirmed.[2] He is buried in the Marburg cemetery.



In his early years Otto was most influenced by the German idealist theologian and philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher and his conceptualization of the category of the religious as a type of emotion or consciousness irreducible to ethical or rational epistemologies.[4] In this, Otto saw Schleiermacher as having recaptured a sense of holiness lost in the Age of Enlightenment. Schleiermacher described this religious feeling as one of absolute dependence; Otto eventually rejected this characterization as too closely analogous to earthly dependence and emphasized the complete otherness of the religious feeling from the mundane world (see below).[4] In 1904, while a student at the University of Göttingen, Otto became a proponent of the philosophy of Jakob Fries along with two fellow students.[2]

Early works

Otto's first book, Naturalism and Religion (1904) divides the world ontologically into the mental and the physical, a position reflecting Cartesian dualism. Otto argues consciousness cannot be explained in terms of physical or neural processes, and also accords it epistemological primacy by arguing all knowledge of the physical world is mediated by personal experience. On the other hand, he disagrees with Descartes' characterization of the mental as a rational realm, positing instead that rationality is built upon a nonrational intuitive realm.[2]

In 1909, he published his next book, The Philosophy of Religion Based on Kant and Fries, in which he examines the thought of Kant and Fries and from there attempts to build a philosophical framework within which religious experience can take place. While Kant's philosophy said thought occurred in a rational domain, Fries diverged and said it also occurred in practical and aesthetic domains; Otto pursued Fries' line of thinking further and suggested another nonrational domain of the thought, the religious. He felt intuition was valuable in rational domains like mathematics, but subject to the corrective of reason, whereas religious intuitions might not be subject to that corrective.[2]

These two early works were influenced by the rationalist approaches of Immanuel Kant and Jakob Fries. Otto stated that they focused on the rational aspects of the divine (the "Ratio aeterna") whereas his next (and most influential) book focused on the nonrational aspects of the divine.[5]

The Idea of the Holy

Otto's most famous work, The Idea of the Holy, was first published in German in 1917 as Das Heilige - Über das Irrationale in der Idee des Göttlichen und sein Verhältnis zum Rationalen. It was one of the most successful German theological books of the 20th century, has never gone out of print, and is now available in about 20 languages. The first English translation was published in 1923 under the title The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational. Otto felt people should first do serious rational study of God, before turning to the non-rational element of God as he did in this book.[5][6]:vii

In The Idea of the Holy, Otto writes that while the concept of "the holy" is often used to convey moral perfection—and does entail this—it contains another distinct element, beyond the ethical sphere, for which he coined the term numinous based on the Latin word numen ("divine power").[6]:5–7 (The term is etymologically unrelated to Immanuel Kant's noumenon, a Greek term which Kant used to refer to an unknowable reality underlying sensations of the thing.) He explains the numinous as a "non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self". This mental state "presents itself as ganz Andere,[7] wholly other, a condition absolutely sui generis and incomparable whereby the human being finds himself utterly abashed."[8] Otto argues that because the numinous is irreducible and sui generis it cannot be defined in terms of other concepts or experiences, and that the reader must therefore be "guided and led on by consideration and discussion of the matter through the ways of his own mind, until he reach the point at which 'the numinous' in him perforce begins to stir... In other words, our X cannot, strictly speaking, be taught, it can only be evoked, awakened in the mind."[6]:7 Chapters 4 to 6 are devoted to attempting to evoke the numinous and its various aspects. He writes:[4][6]:12–13

The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its “profane,” non-religious mood of everyday experience. [...] It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it may be developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of—whom or what? In the presence of that which is a Mystery inexpressible and above all creatures.

He describes it as a mystery (Latin: mysterium) that is at once terrifying (tremendum) and fascinating (fascinans).[9] Otto felt that the numinous was most strongly present in the Old and New Testaments, but that it was also present in all other religions.[6]:74

According to Mark Wynn in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Idea of the Holy falls within a paradigm in the philosophy of emotion in which emotions are seen as including an element of perception with intrinsic epistemic value that is neither mediated by thoughts nor simply a response to physiological factors. Otto therefore understands religious experience as having mind-independent phenomenological content rather than being an internal response to belief in a divine reality. Otto applied this model specifically to religious experiences, which he felt were qualitatively different from other emotions.[10]

Later works

In Mysticism East and West, published in German in 1926 and English in 1932, Otto compares and contrasts the views of the medieval German Christian mystic Meister Eckhart with those of the influential Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara, the key figure of the Advaita Vedanta school.[2]


Otto left a broad influence on theology, religious studies, and philosophy of religion, which continues into the 21st century.[11]

Christian theology

Karl Barth, an influential Protestant theologian contemporary to Otto, acknowledged Otto's influence and approved a similar conception of God as ganz Andere or totaliter aliter,[12] thus falling within the tradition of apophatic theology.[13][14] Otto was also one of the very few modern theologians to whom C. S. Lewis indicates a debt, particularly to the idea of the numinous in The Problem of Pain. In that book Lewis offers his own description of the numinous:[15]

Suppose you were told there was a tiger in the next room: you would know that you were in danger and would probably feel fear. But if you were told "There is a ghost in the next room," and believed it, you would feel, indeed, what is often called fear, but of a different kind. It would not be based on the knowledge of danger, for no one is primarily afraid of what a ghost may do to him, but of the mere fact that it is a ghost. It is "uncanny" rather than dangerous, and the special kind of fear it excites may be called Dread. With the Uncanny one has reached the fringes of the Numinous. Now suppose that you were told simply "There is a mighty spirit in the room," and believed it. Your feelings would then be even less like the mere fear of danger: but the disturbance would be profound. You would feel wonder and a certain shrinking—a sense of inadequacy to cope with such a visitant and of prostration before it—an emotion which might be expressed in Shakespeare's words "Under it my genius is rebuked." This feeling may be described as awe, and the object which excites it as the Numinous.

German-American theologian Paul Tillich acknowledged Otto's influence on him,[2] as did Otto's most famous German pupil, Gustav Mensching (1901–1978) from Bonn University.[16] Otto's views can be seen in the noted Catholic theologian Karl Rahner's presentation of man as a being of transcendence. More recently, Otto has also influenced the American Franciscan friar and inspirational speaker Richard Rohr.[17]:139

Non-Christian theology and spirituality

Otto's ideas have also exerted an influence on non-Christian theology and spirituality. They have been discussed by Orthodox Jewish theologians including Joseph Soloveitchik[18] and Eliezer Berkovits.[19] The Iranian-American Sufi religious studies scholar and public intellectual Reza Aslan understands religion as "an institutionalized system of symbols and metaphors [...] with which a community of faith can share with each other their numinous encounter with the Divine Presence."[20] Further afield, Otto's work received words of appreciation from Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi.[16] Aldous Huxley, a major proponent of perennialism, was influenced by Otto; in The Doors of Perception he writes:[21]

The literature of religious experience abounds in references to the pains and terrors overwhelming those who have come, too suddenly, face to face with some manifestation of the mysterium tremendum. In theological language, this fear is due to the in-compatibility between man's egotism and the divine purity, between man's self-aggravated separateness and the infinity of God.

Religious studies

In The Idea of the Holy and other works, Otto set out a paradigm for the study of religion that focused on the need to realize the religious as a non-reducible, original category in its own right. The eminent Romanian-American historian of religion and philosopher Mircea Eliade used the concepts from The Idea of the Holy as the starting point for his own 1954 book, The Sacred and the Profane.[22][11] The paradigm represented by Otto and Eliade was then heavily criticized for viewing religion as a sui generis category,[11] until around 1990, when it began to see a resurgence as a result of its phenomenological aspects becoming more apparent. Ninian Smart, who was a formative influence on religious studies as a secular discipline, was influenced by Otto in his understanding of religious experience and his approach to understanding religion cross-culturally.[11]


Carl Gustav Jung, the founder of analytic psychology, applied the concept of the numinous to psychology and psychotherapy, arguing it was therapeutic and brought greater self-understanding, and stating that to him religion was about a "careful and scrupulous observation... of the numinosum".[23] The American Episcopal priest John A. Sanford applied the ideas of both Otto and Jung in his writings on religious psychotherapy.


The philosopher and sociologist Max Horkheimer, a member of the Frankfurt School, has taken the concept of "wholly other" in his 1970 book Die Sehnsucht nach dem ganz Anderen ("longing for the entirely Other").[24][25] Other philosophers to acknowledge Otto were, for instance, Martin Heidegger,[16] Leo Strauss,[16] Hans-Georg Gadamer (who was critical when younger but respectful in his old age), Max Scheler,[16] Edmund Husserl,[16] W. T. Stace, Joachim Wach,[3][16] and Hans Jonas. The war veteran and writer Ernst Jünger and the historian and scientist Joseph Needham also cited his influence.

Ecumenical activities

Otto was heavily involved in ecumenical activities between Christian denominations and between Christianity and other religions.[4] He experimented with adding a time similar to a Quaker moment of silence to the Lutheran liturgy as an opportunity for worshipers to experience the numinous.[4]


  • A full bibliography of Otto's works is given in Robert F. Davidson, Rudolf Otto's Interpretation of Religion (Princeton, 1947), pp. 207–9

In German

  • Naturalistische und religiöse Weltansicht (1904)
  • Die Kant-Friesische Religions-Philosophie (1909)
  • Das Heilige - Über das Irrationale in der Idee des Göttlichen und sein Verhältnis zum Rationalen (Breslau, 1917)
  • West-östliche Mystik (1926)
  • Die Gnadenreligion Indiens und das Christentum (1930)
  • Reich Gottes und Menschensohn (1934)

English translations

  • Naturalism and Religion, trans J. Arthur Thomson and Margaret Thomson (London: Williams and Norgate, 1907), [originally published 1904]
  • The Life and Ministry of Jesus, According to the Critical Method (Chicago: Open Court, 1908), ISBN 0-8370-4648-3 – Full text online at Internet Archive
  • The Idea of the Holy, trans JW Harvey, (New York: OUP, 1923; 2nd edn, 1950; reprint, New York, 1970), ISBN 0-19-500210-5 [originally published 1917] (full text)
  • Christianity and the Indian Religion of Grace (Madras, 1928)
  • India's Religion of Grace and Christianity Compared and Contrasted, trans FH Foster, (New York; London, 1930)
  • 'The Sensus Numinis as the Historical Basis of Religion', Hibbert Journal 29, (1930), 1-8
  • The Philosophy of Religion Based on Kant and Fries, trans EB Dicker, (London, 1931) [originally published 1909]
  • Religious essays: A supplement to 'The Idea of the Holy', trans B Lunn, (London, 1931)
  • Mysticism East and West: A Comparative Analysis of the Nature of Mysticism, trans BL Bracey and RC Payne, (New York, 1932) [originally published 1926]
  • 'In the sphere of the holy', Hibbert Journal 31, (1932-3), 413-6
  • The original Gita: The song of the Supreme Exalted One (London, 1939)
  • The Kingdom of God and the Son of Man: A Study in the History of Religion, trans FV Filson and BL Wolff, (Boston, 1943)
  • Autobiographical and Social Essays (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1996), ISBN 3-11-014518-9

See also


  1. ^ Adler, Joseph. "Rudolf Otto's Concept of the Numinous". Gambier, Ohio: Kenyon College. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Alles, Gregory D. (2005). "Otto, Rudolf". Encyclopedia of Religion. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson Gale. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Louis Karl Rudolf Otto Facts". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Meland, Bernard E. "Rudolf Otto | German philosopher and theologian". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  5. ^ a b Ross, Kelley. "Rudolf Otto (1869-1937)". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e Otto, Rudolf (1923). The Idea of the Holy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-500210-5. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  7. ^ Otto, Rudolf (1996). Alles, Gregory D. (ed.). Autobiographical and Social Essays. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. p. 30. ISBN 978-3-110-14519-9. ISBN 3-11014519-7.
  8. ^ Eckardt, Alice L.; Eckardt, A. Roy (July 1980). "The Holocaust and the Enigma of Uniqueness: A Philosophical Effort at Practical Clarification". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Sage Publications. 450 (1): 165–178. doi:10.1177/000271628045000114. JSTOR 1042566. P. 169. Cited in: Cohn-Sherbok, Dan, ed. (1991). A Traditional Quest. Essays in Honour of Louis Jacobs. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-567-52728-8. ISBN 0-56752728-X.
  9. ^ Otto, Rudolf (1996). Mysterium tremendum et fascinans.
  10. ^ Wynn, Mark (19 December 2016). "Section 2.1 Emotional feelings and encounter with God". Phenomenology of Religion. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d Sarbacker, Stuart (August 2016). "Rudolf Otto and the Concept of the Numinous". Oxford Research Encyclopedias. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  12. ^ Webb, Stephen H. (1991). Re-figuring Theology. The Rhetoric of Karl Barth. Albany, New York: SUNY Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-1-438-42347-0. ISBN 1-43842347-0.
  13. ^ Elkins, James (2011). "Iconoclasm and the Sublime. Two Implicit Religious Discourses in Art History (pp. 133–151)". In Ellenbogen, Josh; Tugendhaft, Aaron (eds.). Idol Anxiety. Redwood City, California: Stanford University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-804-76043-0. ISBN 0-80476043-8.
  14. ^ Mariña, Jacqueline (2010) [1997]. "26. Holiness (pp. 235–242)". In Taliaferro, Charles; Draper, Paul; Quinn, Philip L. (eds.). A Companion to Philosophy of Religion. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. p. 238. ISBN 978-1-444-32016-9. ISBN 1-44432016-5.
  15. ^ Lewis, C.S. (2009) [1940]. The Problem of Pain. New York City: HarperCollins. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-0-007-33226-7. ISBN 0-00733226-2.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Gooch, Todd A. (2000). The Numinous and Modernity: An Interpretation of Rudolf Otto's Philosophy of Religion. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-016799-9.
  17. ^ Rohr, Richard (2012). Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 978-1-118-42154-3.
  18. ^ Solomon, Norman (2012). The Reconstruction of Faith. Portland: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. pp. 237–243. ISBN 978-1-906764-13-5.
  19. ^ Berkovits, Eliezer, God, Man and History, 2004, pp. 166, 170.
  20. ^ Aslan, Reza (2005). No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, And Future of Islam. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks. p. xxiii. ISBN 1-4000-6213-6.
  21. ^ Huxley, Aldous (2004). The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. Harper Collins. p. 55.
  22. ^ Eliade, Mircea (1959) [1954]. "Introduction (p. 8)". The Sacred and the Profane. The Nature of Religion. Translated from the French by Willard R. Trask. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-156-79201-1. ISBN 0-15679201-X.
  23. ^ Agnel, Aimé. "Numinous (Analytical Psychology)". International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  24. ^ Adorno, Theodor W.; Tiedemann, Rolf (2000) [1965]. Metaphysics. Concept and Problems. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford University Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-804-74528-4. ISBN 0-80474528-5.
  25. ^ Siebert, Rudolf J. (1 January 2005). "The Critical Theory of Society: The Longing for the Totally Other". Critical Sociology. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications. 31 (1–2): 57–113. doi:10.1163/1569163053084270.

Further reading

  • Almond, Philip C., 'Rudolf Otto: An Introduction to his Philosophical Theology' (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984).
  • Davidson, Robert F, Rudolf Otto's Interpretation of Religion, (Princeton, 1947)
  • Gooch, Todd A, The Numinous and Modernity: An Interpretation of Rudolf Otto's Philosophy of Religion. Preface by Otto Kaiser and Wolfgang Drechsler. (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2000). ISBN 3-11-016799-9.
  • Ludwig, Theodore M, ‘Otto, Rudolf’ in Encyclopedia of Religion, vol 11 (1987), pp139–141
  • Melissa, Raphael, Rudolf Otto and the concept of holiness, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997)
  • Mok, Daniël (2012). Rudolf Otto: Een kleine biografie. Preface by Gerardus van der Leeuw. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Abraxas. ISBN 978-90-79133-08-6.
  • Mok, Daniël et al. (2002). Een wijze uit het westen: Beschouwingen over Rudolf Otto. Preface by Rudolph Boeke. Amsterdam: De Appelbloesem Pers (i.e. Uitgeverij Abraxas). ISBN 90-70459-36-1 (print), 978-90-79133-00-0 (e-Book).
  • Moore, John Morrison, Theories of Religious Experience, with special reference to James, Otto and Bergson, (New York, 1938)

External links

Agnostic existentialism

Agnostic existentialism is a type of existentialism which makes no claim to know whether there is a "greater picture"; rather, it simply asserts that the greatest truth is that which the individual chooses to act upon. It feels that to know the greater picture, whether there is one or not, is impossible, or impossible so far, or of little value. Like the Christian existentialist, the agnostic existentialist believes existence is subjective.

C. H. Dodd

Charles Harold Dodd (7 April 1884 – 21 September 1973) was a Welsh New Testament scholar and influential Protestant theologian.

He is known for promoting "realized eschatology", the belief that Jesus' references to the kingdom of God meant a present reality rather than a future apocalypse. He was influenced by Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Otto.

Ehrenberg (surname)

Ehrenberg is a German surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Andrew S. C. Ehrenberg (1926–2010), an English statistician and marketing scientist

Carl Ehrenberg (1878–1962), German composer

Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (1795–1876), German naturalist, zoologist, comparative anatomist, geologist, and microscopist

Eleanora Ehrenbergů (sometimes spelled Ehrenbergová or Ehrenberg; 1832–1912), Czech operatic soprano

Felipe Ehrenberg (1943–2017), Mexican artist

Geoffrey Elton, born: Gottfried Rudolf Otto Ehrenberg (1921–1994), German-born British political and constitutional historian

Hans Ehrenberg (1883–1958), German Jewish Christian theologian, brother of historian Victor Ehrenberg

Herman Ehrenberg (1816–1866), the namesake of Ehrenberg, Arizona, military volunteer fought against Mexico in the Texas Revolution, survivor of the Goliad massacre, who published his memoirs of the Revolution in Germany in the 1840s (translated into English in the 20th century)

Ilya Ehrenberg (1891–1967), Soviet writer

Ashley Montagu (born Israel Ehrenberg) (1905–1999), English anthropologist and humanist

Lewis Elton (born 1923), born Ludwig Ehrenberg, German-born British physicist and specialist in higher education

Paul Ehrenberg (1876–1949), German violinist and painter

Richard Ehrenberg (1857–1921), German economist

Ronald G. Ehrenberg (born 1946), American professor of labor economics, Cornell University

Ralph Warren Victor Elliott (1921–2012), born Rudolf Ehrenberg, professor of English

Victor Ehrenberg (historian) (1891, Altona–1976), German historian, the father of Geoffrey and Lewis Elton

Victor Ehrenberg (jurist) (1851–1929), German jurist

Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg (1637–1676), artist

Ernesto de Martino

Ernesto de Martino (1 December 1908 – 9 May 1965) was an Italian anthropologist, philosopher and historian of religions. He studied with Benedetto Croce and Adolfo Omodeo, and did field research with Diego Carpitella into the funeral rituals of Lucania and the tarantism.

Ernesto de Martino was born in Naples, Italy, where he studied under Adolfo Omodeo, graduating with a degree in philosophy in 1932. His degree thesis, subsequently published, dealt with the historical and philological problem of the Eleusinian Gephyrismi (ritual injuries addressed to the goddess) and provides an important methodological introduction to the concept of religion. Clearly influenced by reading Das Heilige by Rudolf Otto, de Martino preferred to emphasize the choleric nature of the believer, overturning the German scholar's thesis and making it capable of being applied to relations with gods in polytheistic religions and spirits in animist religions.

Attracted by the ideological stance of the regime, for several years de Martino worked on an essay interpreting Fascism as a historically convenient form of civil religion. However, the attempt was insubstantial and the work, still unpublished, was gradually rejected by the author, who subsequently approached left-wing ideas and after the war became a supporter of the Italian Communist Party. At this time, which we now call the "Neapolitan" period, lasting until 1935, de Martino fell under the spell of the personality and work of an archaeologist who was particularly open-minded concerning the ancient history of religions and who was disliked by both the regime and its intellectual opponents: Vittorio Macchioro, known for his Orphic interpretation of the frescoes in the Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii and advocate of a theory of religion understood essentially as experience.From 1957 to his death he taught ethnology and history of religions at Cagliari's University: here, with Alberto Mario Cirese, Clara Gallini, Giulio Angioni and other scholars he founded the Anthropological School of Cagliari.

De Martino has also been a very charismatic mentor and teacher. One of his students, the writer Muzi Epifani, dedicated to him the comedy The Escape. In this work, the protagonist Ernesto discusses the changing role of women in post-industrial society.

Geoffrey Elton

Sir Geoffrey Rudolph Elton (born Gottfried Rudolf Otto Ehrenberg; 17 August 1921 – 4 December 1994) was a German-born British political and constitutional historian, specialising in the Tudor period. He taught at Clare College, Cambridge and was the Regius Professor of Modern History there from 1983 to 1988.

Karl Bernhard Lehmann

Karl Bernhard Lehmann (27 September 1858 – 30 January 1940) was a German hygienist and bacteriologist born in Zurich. He was a brother to publisher Julius Friedrich Lehmann (1864–1935).

Lehmann studied medicine at the University of Munich, where one of his instructors was Max von Pettenkofer (1818–1901). In 1886, he received his habilitation, and from 1894 to 1932 was a full professor of hygiene at the University of Würzburg (emeritus 1932).He is remembered for pioneer toxicological research he performed with Ferdinand Flury (1877–1947), of which the exposure limits of various substances encountered in the workplace were tested and defined. Their research formed a basis of what would later be known as MAK values (Maximale Arbeitsplatz-Konzentration) in Germany.In the field of microbiology he was co-author with Rudolf Otto Neumann (1868–1952) of Atlas und Grundriss der Bakteriologie und Lehrbuch der speziellen bakteriologischen Diagnostik, a manual/textbook which over several editions described a number of new bacterial species.

Klaus Heinrich

Klaus Heinrich (born September 23, 1927) is a German philosopher of religion. In 2002, he was awarded the Sigmund Freud Prize by the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung.

At the Freie Universität in Berlin, founded in 1948, a chair in "the study of religion on the basis of the philosophy of religion" was created for Heinrich. Michael Stausberg, historian of the study of religion, says this of him:

“Heinrich became famous in Berlin and beyond for his skills as an orator—being a speaker rather than a writer, many of his publications are reconstructed on the basis of recordings and notes of his students—, his teaching style, his immense learning and his political commitment to the ideals of a ‘free’ university. His work, which adopts key-elements from Tillich (‘origins’) and Freud (‘repression’), moves in the borderland between Greek mythology (Oedipus!) and philosophy. Many of his texts provide a philosophical-psychoanalytical exegesis of myths that takes visual culture (modern arts, the Renaissance) as its point of departure. Heinrich’s dense style, often difficult to follow for the non-initiates, won him the prestigious Sigmund Freud-Award for Scientific Prose in 2002. Heinrich’s approach to the study of religion is too unique and personal to be copied by others, but he had many students who were fascinated by his charisma.”See also Irion, U. “Religiosität ohne Religion. Rudolf Otto, Rudolf Bultmann, Klaus Heinrich, Mircea Eliade.” In Kemper, P., ed. Macht des Mythos—Ohnmacht der Vernunft? Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 1989. 289-309. (Heinrich is discussed on 298-302.)

List of Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross recipients (O)

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) and its variants were the highest awards in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded for a wide range of reasons and across all ranks, from a senior commander for skilled leadership of his troops in battle to a low-ranking soldier for a single act of extreme gallantry. A total of 7,321 awards were made between its first presentation on 30 September 1939 and its last bestowal on 17 June 1945. This number is based on the analysis and acceptance of the order commission of the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR). Presentations were made to members of the three military branches of the Wehrmacht—the Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Luftwaffe (Air Force)—as well as the Waffen-SS, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD—Reich Labour Service) and the Volkssturm (German national militia). There were also 43 recipients in the military forces of allies of the Third Reich.These recipients are listed in the 1986 edition of Walther-Peer Fellgiebel's book, Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945. Fellgiebel was the former chairman and head of the order commission of the AKCR. In 1996 a second edition of this book was published with an addendum delisting 11 of these original recipients. Author Veit Scherzer has cast doubt on a further 193 of these listings. The majority of the disputed recipients had received the award in 1945, when the deteriorating situation of Germany during the final days of World War II left a number of nominations incomplete and pending in various stages of the approval process.Listed here are the 82 Knight's Cross recipients whose last name starts with "O". Scherzer has challenged the validity of two of these listings. The recipients are ordered alphabetically by last name. The rank listed is the recipient's rank at the time the Knight's Cross was awarded.

List of religious studies scholars

Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions.

Edwin David Aponte

Raymond Apple, Australian Rabbi, writer on Jewish, interfaith and freemasonic issues

Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God

Miguel Asín Palacios, Spanish Arabist, work on the mutual influence between Christianity and Islam

Robert Baker Aitken, author of numerous academic books on Zen Buddhism

Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside

Edmond La Beaume Cherbonnier, professor and scholar, author of Hardness of Heart (1955)

Catherine Bell, ritual studies scholar

Herbert Berg, scholar of Islamic origins

Peter Berger, author of The Sacred Canopy

Pascal Boyer, author of Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought

Joseph Epes Brown, author of The Sacred Pipe and Teaching Spirits: Understanding Native American Religious Traditions

Rudolf Bultmann

Frank G. Carver

John Corrigan, co-author of Religion in America, editor of the "Chicago History of American Religion" book series (University of Chicago Press)

Frank M. Cross, emeritus professor Harvard Divinity School, interpreter of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Ioan P. Culianu, author of The HarperCollins Concise Guide to World Religions and Out of This World

Miguel A. De La Torre

Arti Dhand, associate professor at the University of Toronto, Department for the Study of Religion

Wendy Doniger, (formerly published as Wendy O'Flaherty) is a leading researcher in Hinduism among other topics on religion.

Hafiz Muhammad Shariq, is a young leading researcher in Indian religions and Spirituality from Pakistan. Authored more than 18 books on Religion.

Émile Durkheim, author of The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, a seminal work on sociology of religion

Diana L. Eck

Bart Ehrman, author, and James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mircea Eliade, author of The Sacred and the Profane and History of Religious Ideas, vol.I-III

Steven Engler, Canadian scholar of religion

Desiderius Erasmus

Carl W. Ernst, specialist in Islamic studies, author of Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam

Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard

James George Frazer, author of The Golden Bough

Sigmund Freud, author of Totem and Taboo, The Future of an Illusion, and Moses and Monotheism

Rajmohan Gandhi, author of Revenge and Reconciliation

Arnold van Gennep

Anthony Giddens

René Girard, whose theological works include Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World

Stephen D. Glazier, editor of The Encyclopedia of African and African American Religions

Richard Gombrich

Justo Gonzalez, author of The Story of Christianity and a leading figure in Hispanic theology

Wouter Hanegraaff, author of New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought

Ishwar C. Harris

Nathan O. Hatch, author of "The Democratization of American Christianity"

Friedrich Heiler

Steven Heine, scholar of East Asian Buddhism, especially Zen and Dogen

Susan Henking, scholar of religion, gender and sexuality, and president of Shimer College

Peter L Hobson, author of The Hermeneutics of Followship: Relocating Narratives of Discipleship

Zora Neale Hurston, author of Mules and Men and Hoodoo in America

Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz

William James, author of The Varieties of Religious Experience

Grace Jantzen

Carl G. Jung

Klaus Klostermaier

Adam Kotsko, author of Zizek and Theology and The Politics of Redemption, and translator of Agamben

Hans Küng, Catholic theologian, author of Tracing the Way. Spiritual Dimensions of the World Religions

Gerardus van der Leeuw

Peggy Levitt

Bruce Lincoln (University of Chicago), author of Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11, Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship and Discourse and the Construction in Society

Philip Lindholm

Bronislaw Kaspar Malinowski

Martin E. Marty (University of Chicago), author of the series Modern American Religion, editor of The Fundamentalism Project

John Macquarrie, Christian Existentialist and Systematic Theologian

Russell T. McCutcheon

Josef W. Meri

George Foot Moore, scholar and theologian, author of History of Religions (two wolumes – 1914, 1919) and Judaism (two volumes, 1927)

Friedrich Max Müller, editor of Sacred Books of the East

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, author of Islam: Religion, History, and Civilization

Rudolf Otto, author of The Idea of the Holy

Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels

Christopher Partridge, author of The Re-enchantment of the West

Geoffrey Parrinder, former professor at King's College London and author of What World Religions Teach Us (1968)

F. E. Peters, Professor at New York University and author of numerous books on Christianity, Judaism and Islam

Stephen Prothero, Professor at Boston University and author of "American Jesus"; "Religious Literacy"; and "God Is Not One."

Roy Rappaport

Olivier Roy

Arne Runeberg (1912–1979), Finnish sociologist, anthropologist and linguist

Annemarie Schimmel, author of Mystical Dimensions of Islam

Wilhelm Schmidt

Arvind Sharma, author of Women in World Religions

Christian Smith, author of Soul Searching: the Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions

Jonathan Z. Smith (University of Chicago), author of Map is Not Territory; Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown and To Take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual

Wilfred Cantwell Smith

William Robertson Smith, Scottish theologian, early work in the "higher criticism" of the Bible

Ninian Smart, author of Dimensions of the Sacred

Nathan Söderblom

Rodney Stark

Michael Stausberg

John Shelby Spong, author The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love and other works

Einar Thomassen

Toulmin, Joshua (1740–1815), English radical Dissenting minister

Edward Burnett Tylor

Joachim Wach

James Webb, author of The Occult Underground and The Harmonious Circle

Max Weber

Christian K. Wedemeyer

Wesley Wildman

Linda Woodhead, MBE. Director of The Religion and Society Programme

Zakir Naik

Heinrich Robert Zimmer, Indologist, author of Philosophies of India and Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization

Volker Zotz

Ghil'ad Zuckermann, linguist, revivalist, scholar of language, religion and nationhood


Numinous () is a concept derived from the Latin numen meaning "arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring". The term was popularized by the German theologian Rudolf Otto in his influential 1917 German book Das Heilige, which appeared in English as The Idea of the Holy in 1923.

Otto (surname)

Otto is a German, Dutch, Hungarian, Danish, and Swedish surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Catherine Otto, author of echocardiography textbooks

Christoph Friedrich Otto (1783-1856), German botanist

Felix Otto (mathematician) (born 1966), German mathematician

Frei Otto (1925-2015), German architect

Frank Otto (academic) (born 1936), American educator and entrepreneur

Gustav Otto (1883–1926), German aircraft and aircraft-engine designer and manufacturer

Jan Otto (1841–1916), publisher of Otto's encyclopedia

John Otto (FBI acting director) (born 1938), American FBI acting director

John Otto (park ranger) (1870-1952), American environmental advocate

Lisa Otto (1919-2013), German opera singer

Michael Otto (businessman) (born 1943), German businessman

Nikolaus Otto (1832–1891), coinventor of the Otto cycle

Rudolf Otto (1869–1937), German theologian

Shawn Lawrence Otto, American author, filmmaker, political strategist

Venantia Otto (born 1987), Namibian fashion model

William Tod Otto (1816–1905), American judge

Walter Friedrich Otto (1874-1958), German philologist

Otto von Büren

Rudolf Otto von Büren (born 19 September 1822 in Bern - died 25 December 1888 in Bern) was a Swiss politician who served as the fourth mayor of Bern.

Religious experience

A religious experience (sometimes known as a spiritual experience, sacred experience, or mystical experience) is a subjective experience which is interpreted within a religious framework. The concept originated in the 19th century, as a defense against the growing rationalism of Western society. William James popularised the concept.Many religious and mystical traditions see religious experiences (particularly that knowledge which comes with them) as revelations caused by divine agency rather than ordinary natural processes. They are considered real encounters with God or gods, or real contact with higher-order realities of which humans are not ordinarily aware.Skeptics may hold that religious experience is an evolved feature of the human brain amenable to normal scientific study. The commonalities and differences between religious experiences across different cultures have enabled scholars to categorize them for academic study.

Rudolf Lipschitz

Rudolf Otto Sigismund Lipschitz (14 May 1832 – 7 October 1903) was a German mathematician who made contributions to mathematical analysis (where he gave his name to the Lipschitz continuity condition) and differential geometry, as well as number theory, algebras with involution and classical mechanics.

Rudolf Otto Neumann

Rudolf Otto Neumann (29 June 1868, Seifhennersdorf - April 5, 1952, Hamburg) was a German hygienist.

He studied pharmacy and medicine at the Universities of Greifswald, Leipzig, Erlangen and Würzburg, receiving his habilitation in 1902 at the University of Kiel. In 1904 he relocated to Hamburg, where he was appointed departmental head of the state hygienic institute. During the same year he was part of an expedition to Brazil in order to research yellow fever.

From 1906 to 1910 he worked at the institute of hygiene at the University of Heidelberg, followed by a professorship in hygiene and bacteriology at the University of Giessen. In 1914 he was appointed director of the hygiene institute at the University of Bonn, and in 1922 succeeded William Philipps Dunbar (1853–1922) as director of the hygiene institute at the University of Hamburg. Neumann participated in many scientific trips during his career, including extended journeys to the Far East, the United States and Central America in 1928–1931.

As a scientist his work embraced bacteriology, tropical pathology, parasitology, food hygiene and nutrition. In the field of nutrition physiology he is renowned for his experiments involving metabolism. In his studies of nutrition, he was particularly interested in the protein quantity intake requirements for humans.He was the author of over 125 scientific works, including books on bacteriology that he co-authored with Karl Bernhard Lehmann (1858–1940) that were later translated into English:

"Atlas and principles of bacteriology" (1897)

"Atlas and principles of bacteriology and text-book of special bacteriologic diagnosis" (1901)

"Bacteriology; especially determinative bacteriology" (1930–31).

Rudolf Otto von Ottenfeld

Rudolf Otto von Ottenfeld (21 July 1856, Verona – 26 July 1913, Prague) was an Austrian military painter, a founding member of the Vienna Secession and a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague.

Sublime (philosophy)

In aesthetics, the sublime (from the Latin sublīmis) is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual, or artistic. The term especially refers to a greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement, or imitation.

Theories about religions

Sociological and anthropological theories about religion (or theories of religion) generally attempt to explain the origin and function of religion. These theories define what they present as universal characteristics of religious belief and practice.


Zwei-Osterei is the second full-length album by German experimental music trio Kluster. The album title translates to English as "Two - Easter egg".

Zwei-Osterei was recorded on February 23, 1970 at Rhenus-Studio, Gordorf, Germany. Zwei-Osterei was released in 1971 on the Schwann label, with a plastic embossed cover, including two multi fold-out inserts. Only 300 copies of the original LP were pressed and sold.

The trio played piano, guitar, cello, flute, percussion, and organ, all of which were electronically treated by engineer Konrad (Conny) Plank. According to Conrad Schnitzler in a 1980 interview he gave to David Elliott an advertisement by an organist interested in new music led to the recording session being sponsored by a church. Kluster was required to add religious text to the first side of the album to obtain this sponsorship. The text was read by Manfred Paethe. The text was written by Rudolf Bohren, Kurt Marti, Dorothee Solle, Rudolf Otto Weimer, Lisolette Rauner and Hilde Domin. Schnitzler describes the text: "If you don't understand the German words, it sounds better. [...] If you know what it means, you'll find it terrible."

CD copies of Zwei-Osterei first appeared in record stores in 1994. These early copies were issued by the dubious reportedly Luxembourg-based Germanofon label, who produced numerous unauthorized and illegal (bootleg) Krautrock reissues and managed to get them into mainstream distribution. The Germanofon CDs were transcribed from well worn vinyl and have inferior sound quality. These bootlegs also incorrectly named the band Cluster.

The album was first legally reissued on the U.S. based Hypnotic label in 1996 with new cover art and a sticker touting Cluster and Conrad Schnitzler's previous membership in Tangerine Dream. This CD reissue also contains a 15-minute-long bonus track from the 1980 Cluster & Farnbauer release Live In Vienna. The album was also reissued on the Japanese Captain Trip label on April 20, 2007 as a 450 copy limited CD edition with an adaption of the original cover art and a bonus track by Schnitzler's later band Eruption, Cold Winter, from their 1971 sessions.

In 2012 Bureau-B released another reissue on CD as well as on 180gr vinyl. The original cover art-work was adapted, new liner-notes provided by Asmus Tietchens.

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