Glossary of Christian & Religious Terms
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Hebrew gadh, "fortune," one of the twelve tribes of Israel descended from the seventh son of Jacob. Also, a euphamism for God, such as Gadzooks (God's hooks, or the nails of Christ); a mild oath or expression of surprise.


Hebrew gliha-hoyim, "district of the Gentiles" -- region of northern Israel where Jesus came from. Galilean was a term for a Christian. A galilee is a porch or chapel at the western entrance of certain medieval churches, so named because it's at the less sacred end of the church, compared with the Galilee of the Gentiles.


Principles enunciated by the French Roman Catholic Church in 1682, claiming limited autonomy (as opposed to ultramontanism). From the word Gaul, a part of the Roman Empire that is now mainly France.


A projecting ornament on a building carved in the likeness of an animal or creature with grotesque features, sometimes used as a waterspout.


Valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, where refuse was burned in biblical times; Douay Bible word for hell; any place of fiery torment. (See Hell)


Aramaic, "completion" -- the second and supplementary part of the Talmud, providing a commentary on the Mishna, or first part.


To bend the knee in reverence, worship, or submission.


Hebrew, "a bean" -- ancient Hebrew coin and weight equal to 1/20 of a shekel.

Gethsemane (Mount of Olives)

Aramaic gath shemani, "oil press" -- a garden or olive grove outside of Jerusalem where the agony, betrayal, and arrest of Jesus took place (Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-53, Luke 22:39-54, John 18:1-12).


Islamic hero who wars against infidels.


Persian gabr, "infidel" -- Islamic name for Zoroastrian.


Italian, "foundry" -- quarter in Venice, Italy, where a cannon foundry was located, which was occupied by Jews, later to be known in certain Eurpoean cities as a section of a city to which Jews were restricted, particularly during World War I. It is now a term for any section of a city in which many members of some minority group live, or to which they are restricted by economic pressure or social discrimination.


Old English gast, German geist, soul or spirit; supposedly the disembodied spirit of the deceased that appears to the living as a shadowy, haunting apparition.


Arabic ghul, demon of the mountains -- an evil spirit in Oriental folklore that robs graves and feeds on the flesh of the dead.


Arabic kafir, "infidel," variant of the Persian gabr, Islamic term for a non-Muslim, especially a Christian.

Gideons International

Protestant organization for dispensing Bibles, such as in hotel rooms or hospitals, founded in 1899 by a group of traveling salesmen.

Gloria In Excelsis Deo

"Glory to God on high," the first words of the greater doxology. Gloria Patri is "glory to the Father," the first words of the lesser doxology.


Latin gloria facere, to make glory -- to make glorious or give glory to; worship, exalt, honor, or praise extravagantly.




Greek, wise or intelligent; according to ancient folklore, any of a race of small misshapen dwarfs supposed to dwell in the earth and guard its treasures -- so called by Paracelsus from the belief that gnomes had occult knowledge of the earth.


From the Greek gnosis, knowledge, or gnostikos, having knowledge -- a belief system derived from a combination of Greek philosophy, Oriental mysticism, and Christianity, which stresses salvation through knowledge; positive, intuitive knowledge in spiritual matters.


Greek kobalos, "sprite" -- in ancient folklore, an evil or mischievous sprite, ugly or mishapen in form.



A person who sponsors a child, usually at birth or baptism, and assumes responsibility for its faith.

Golden Rule

Treat others as you'd heve them treat you (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:3).


Jewish legend of a man artificially created by cabalistic rites; a kind of robot.


Greek "skull" or "The Place of the Skull" (Aramaic gulgaltha)-- the place where Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem (Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33, John 19:17).

Golly (Gosh)

Euphemism for God; an exclamation of surprise.

Good Book

The Bible.

Good Friday

The Friday before Easter Sunday, observed in commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus.

Good Samaritan

Someone who helps another unselfishly, from Luke 10:30-37.

Good Shepherd

An epithet for Jesus, from John 10:11.


From the Old English godspell, meaning "good story" or "good news," which originated from the Greek euangelion (evangel). First used to describe the good news of Christ and his teachings of redemption and later ascribed to the New Testament letters of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the first three of which have become known as the Synoptic Gospels due to their harmonized view of the life and teachings of Jesus. A gospeller is either a person who reads the Gospel in church services, one who claims sole possession of gospel truth, or a Puritan.


Of the Goths or their language -- the Germanic peoples that conquered most of the Roman Empire from the 3rd to 5th century A.D.; a style of architecture developed in Western Europe between the 12th and 16th centuries, characterized by ribbed vaulting, flying buttresses, pointed arches, and steep roofs; medieval, barbarous, or uncivilized; style of literature with a medieval atmosphere, suggesting mystery or horror.


A Gentile or non-Jew.


Mercy or clemency; the unmerited love and favor of God toward man; divine influence acting in man to make him pure and morally strong; a short mealtime prayer of thanks and blessing; title of reverence used in addressing a church official.


A shelf behind an altar for articles such as candlesticks; one of a series of steps or seats arranged in tiers.


Book of hymns originally sung on the steps of a pulpit; a verse or chant, especially from the Psalms, presented after the Epistle at Mass in a Catholic church.

Gramarye (Gramary)

Magic or occult knowledge.

Graven Image

An idol engraved or carved out of wood, stone, precious metals, or constructed from other materials.

Great Week (Holy Week)

The week preceding Easter in the Eastern Orhtodox Church.

Greek Orthodox Church

The established church of Greece and an autonomous part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.


Something introduced either by Pope Gregory I from 590-604 A.D., or Pope Gregory III from 1572-85. Gregorian Chant is a ritual plainsong introduced under Pope Gregory I and used in the Roman Catholic Church: it is unharmonized, unaccompanied, and not divided into measures. The Gregorian Calendar is a corrected form of the Julian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 and now used in most countries of the world: it has a 365-day year and a leap year of 366 days every fourth even year.


Lap cloth placed across the knees of a bishop when attending Mass.


Amulet, charm, or spell associated with voodoo.


Hindu spiritual teacher.

Gutenberg Bible

Considered to be the first book printed from movable type, a Latin Bible produced at Mainz before 1456 and attributed in part to Guttenberg.


Member of an ancient Hindu sect of ascetics who wore little or no clothing.


Member of a wandering people originated from Egypt (possibly India), with dark skin and black hair, usually known for fortunetelling or as musicians.

        I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying tp pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Galations 1:6-9)

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  Reference Sources: Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, published by Prentice Hall Press, ©1986 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.; Collier's Encyclopedia, ©1968 Crowell-Collier Educational Corporation; Larson's New Book of Cults, ©1982 and 1989 by Bob Larson, printed by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Jewish Virtual Library (