Glossary of Religion: P

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Learn the definitions of religious terms and concepts with our extensive Glossary of Religion. Choose a letter above or explore the random terms below.

P'an-ku
Taoist creator of the world and also the first human. He emerged from the original chaos in the form of an egg, and at this death, his body was allocated to the creation of different parts of the world.
p'u
(Chinese, "uncarved block"). State of simplicity and true nature, as in infancy, before being shaped by knowledge, morality and other influences of society. For Lao-Tzu, this is the state of the ideal ruler.
Pa-hsien
(Chinese, "Eight Immortals"). Taoist figures associated with good fortune and the eight conditions of life that are frequently portrayed in Chinese art and literature. They are: Li T'ieh-juai; Chang Kuo-lao; Ts'ao Kuo-chiu; Han Hsiang-tzu; Lu Tung-pen; Ho Hsien-ku; Lan Ts'ai-ho; and Chung-li Ch'uan.
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.
Palm Sunday
The Sunday before Easter, commencing Holy Week and the sixth and last Sunday of Lent. Palms are blessed and carried in a procession that represents Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem during the last week of his life. The procession dates to the fourth century in Jerusalem. In the Middle Ages, the procession went from church to church.
Pan-African Colors
Red, black and green; one of the symbols of Rastafarianism
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.
pareve
(Yiddish, "neutral"). Kosher foods that contain no meat or dairy and therefore may be eaten with either.
Parsi
(adj., "from Persia"). Name for Zoroastrians in India.
Passover
A Jewish festival and holiday commemorating the first and most momentous event in Jewish history: the liberation of the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt and the "passing over" of God of the houses of the Isrealites during the tenth plague of Egypt (when the first-born children of the Egyptians were killed). Passover begins on the 15th and ends on the 21st or 22nd day of the month of Nisan (March or April).
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, especially concerning the rationality of religious beliefs, and the descriptive analysis and elucidation of religious language, belief, and practice.
Platonism
Philosophy of Plato or to any philosophy inspired by Plato, especially to Plato's idea that the phenomena perceived by the senses are an imperfect and transitory reflection of the ideal forms of an unchanging and eternal reality. This absolute reality (or realities) gives value and meaning to everything's existence, particularly to human life.
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).
po
In Taoism, the seven earthly human souls.
pope
People holding the rank of head of the Roman Catholic church and bishop of Rome. Also, the Orthodox patriarchs of Alexandria.
prayer
Reverent petition made to God or another deity.
predestination
The beliefs that all human events, especially those pertaining to salvation and the afterlife, have been determined by God.
Presbyterianism
One of the main Protestant groups that arose out of the 16th-century Reformation. Generally speaking, modern Presbyterian churches trace their origins to the Calvinist churches of the British Isles, the European counterparts of which came to be known by the more inclusive name of Reformed. The term presbyterian also denotes a collegiate type of church government led by pastors and lay leaders called elders or presbyters.
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
The general term for types of Christian faith originating from the Reformation. Although the early forms of Protestantism were those who followed Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, the term now includes most non-Roman Catholic or non-Orthodox denominations. Protestants want to be closer to the style of faith of the early Church which they feel has been obscured in Catholic practices. The term derives from the word 'protestari' which means not only to protest but to avow or confess.
Pure Land Buddhism
School of Buddhism supposedly founded by the Chinese monk Hui Yuan (334-417) which became one of the most popular forms of Mahayana. Pure Land Buddhism advocates devotion to the bodhisattva Amitabha, who rules over a 'pure land.' Devotion to Amitabha can ideally lead to rebirth and enlightenment in this pure land. Pure Land Buddhism spread to Japan where it broke away from the main school and goes by the name J?do.
Purgatory
A temporary state of suffering and purification for believers who die in a state of sin.
Purim
Joyous Jewish holiday commemorating the deliverance of the Jews in the 5th century BCE from a plot to have them massacred, celebrated with readings from the Book of Esther, feasting, drinking, and gift-giving.
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Article Info

Title Glossary of Religion: P
Published
Last UpdatedFebruary 13, 2021
URL religionfacts.com/glossary/p
Short URLrlft.co/3494
MLA Citation “Glossary of Religion: P.” ReligionFacts.com. 13 Feb. 2021. Web. Accessed 11 May. 2021. <religionfacts.com/glossary/p>