Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo


  • Catharina StenqvistEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_737

Related Terms


The term “mysticism” comes from the Greek “myo,” meaning “to conceal.” In the Hellenistic world, “mystical” referred to secret religious rituals. In early Christianity, the term came to refer to allegorical interpretations of Scriptures and to hidden presences, such as that of Jesus at the Eucharist. Only later did the term begin to denote mystical theology, which included direct experience of the divine. Mysticism usually centers around a practice or practices intended to nurture that experience or awareness. Mysticism is a phenomenon within religion and religious traditions, but it also occurs independently to defined religion. Mysticism as an element in religion some argues is an essential part of religion. The point debated is whether mysticism is reducible to religion or not.

The term “mysticism” is used to refer to beliefs and practices which go beyond the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund UniversityLundSweden