Glossary of Christian & Religious Terms
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A righteous and just man (Judaism); spiritual leader of a Hasidic community.


One who is extremely or excessively devoted to a cause and vehemently active in supporting it; religious fanatic; member of a radically political and religious Jewish sect who openly resisted Roman rule in Palestine.


Tenth tribe of Israel descended from the tenth son of Jacob.


Anti-rational Buddhist sect which seeks enlightenment through introspection and intuition, developed in India and now widespread in Japan; to see a sign as a result of meditation.


Sacred text of the Zoroastrians.


Greek Eleatic philosopher, 5th century B.C., founder of Stoicism


A temple tower of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians in the form of a terraced pyramid.


Hebrew tsiyon, "hill" -- originally the City of David, a Canaanite fortress in Jerusalem captured by David; the hill in Jerusalem where the Temple was built; Jerusalem; Israel; a symbol of the center of Jewish national life. The heavenly city. The theocracy of God. Zionism was formerly a movement for reestablishing the Jewish national state of Israel, now in support of it.

Zizit (Zizith)

Fringes or tassels worn by orthodox Jewish men, formerly on the corners of the outer garment, now on the four corners of the tallit, intended to remind them of God's commandments (Numbers 15:37-41, Deuteronomy 22:12, Matthew 23:5).


Greek zodiakos, "of living things," derived from ancient Babylonian astrology. Zodiac means "circle of animals" and its current design was arranged by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus cerca 150 B.C. It is an imaginary, circular belt in the heavens extending for about eight degrees on either side of the apparent path of the sun, including the paths of the moon and principal planets (except Pluto), divided into twelve equal zones of 30 degrees, or "houses," each represented symbolically by the different constellations that reside in them -- most of which are in the shape of animals -- and assigned to certain parts of the year when the sun appears in each house. The signs of the zodiac include: Aquarius (Water Bearer, January 20 - February 18); Pisces (Fishes, February 19 -March 20); Aries (Ram, March 21 - April 19); Taurus (Bull, April 20 - May 20); Gemini (Twins, May 21 - June 21); Cancer (Crab, June 22 - July 22); Leo (Lion, July 23 - August 22); Virgo (Virgin, August 23 - September 22); Libra (Balance, September 23 - October 23); Scorpio (Scorpion, October 24 - November 21); Sagittarius (Archer, November 22 - December 21); Capricorn (Goat, December 22 - January 19). (See Astrology)


Hebrew, "brightness," a mystical commentary on the Pentateuch written from the second to the thirteenth century and a principal source of the cabala.

Zoroaster (Zarathustra)

Founder of Zorastrianism (cerca 590 B.C., although some scholars believe as early as 750 B.C.), also known as Mazdaism, the religious system of the Iranians before their conversion to Islam, which includes belief in an afterlife and in the continuous struggle of the universal spirit of good (Ormazd) with the spirit of evil (Ahriman), with good ultimately to prevail. Zoroaster reformed the polytheistic cults of the Iranians into a religious system that worshiped one Wise Lord (Ahura Mazda) and introduced concepts of heaven and hell, along with an ultimate savior and final judgment of mankind. Zoroastrianism later became the primary religion of the Medes and the Persians (the Persian name for Zoroaster is Zarathustra), the official religion of the Sassanians (who compiled the Zend-Avesta, the sacred writings of the Zoroastrians), and had profound effects on the Babylonians and the Greeks, all of which altered its doctrines somewhat. Many scholars believe that it also had direct effects on Judaism from the time of the Exodus and indirect effects on Christianity. Zoroastrianism survived the spread of Islam for several centuries before finally being suppressed.


Skullcap worn by Roman Catholic ecclesiastics -- a priest's is black, a bishop's purple, a cardinal's red, and the Pope's white.

Zwingli, Huldreich

Swiss Protestant reformer (1484-1531), formerly a Catholic priest, who advocated the doctrine that the body of Christ is not actually present in the Eucharist but that the ceremony is merely a commemorative one. He also translated the Bible into Swiss German, wrote a book entitled On the True and False Religion, and died a martyr as a chaplain in the army of Zürich in the second war of Kappel. His last words were, "What does it matter? They can kill the body, but not the soul."

        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 (