Mystery religion

The word mystery (from the Greek μυστήριον Mysterion, originally for ritual celebrations with a secret lasting core, popularly also derived from myo, close the mouth) is usually translated as secret. This refers to a situation, where the unique Aussagbarkeit and explicability eludes principle - not simply a difficult indirect or accidental secretive information.

Ancient Greece

In the Greek culture medium, the stress of not yet known secrets tends to increase the prestige of a religion. Practice to distinguish between still hidden and already revealed religious matters and in respect of some well-known facts secrecy ( arcane discipline ) for certain esoteric teachings is not only used in Greek mystery cults, but also in some philosophers, most famously in Plato.


The ancient Egyptian religion looks through the mysteries " secured powerful sacred knowledge".


In Zoroastrianism apply eschatological events as well as the struggle between gods and demons and knowledge of the ways to overcome those as mysteries.


The Greek use of Mysterion for secret teachings found their way into texts of Hellenistic Judaism. That the ways of God exceed human understanding, frequently it is stated in the Old Testament texts. A specific idea of ​​secrets concerning the end of days and be revealed only in a dream, is found in the Book of Daniel. In the Book of Wisdom is spoken of God's secrets; pagan secret cults are also referred to in polemical intention Mysterion. Apocalyptic texts such as the Ethiopian Enoch speak of the mysteries of the end times, which are written and individuals will be opened. In Qumran texts there is a unspezifischerer word usage.


In the New Testament the word Mysterion is practically used consistently for otherwise inaccessible revelation, but which are not subject to arcane discipline, but should generally be notified. In this sense the term is used especially in the context of Christology in Paul and in Ephesians, especially in relation to its ordinances of salvation on the cross, besides also based on prophetic tradition, synoptic corpus only once. Referring to the kingdom of God, which remains non-Christians incomprehensible In the first letter to Timothy is already spoke of a " mystery of faith ".

Christian theologians of Alexandria are linked to the terminology of the mystery religions and also designate contents of Christian faith as a mystery; otherwise, especially the Christ event is called so.

In Latin equivalent to - - In the fourth century AD, then Christian rites as a mystery or are called sacramentum. The Latin term is increasingly more understood in the sense of characters.

Medieval theologians develop a sacramental theology, which systematized the various types of sacred acts such as baptism or the Eucharist. In liturgical parlance, the word meaning remains but broader.

Issues of recognition and naming process God will be discussed since the earliest system attempts Jewish ( Philo of Alexandria ) and Christian theology (including Clement of Alexandria, the Cappadocians, etc. ), parallel also in Mittelplatonismus, which the former are also allocated. The vast majority of individual takes on the truths of faith, especially the absolutely simple "essence" of God, an accessibility through clearly manageable terminology and common rational methodology. The rejection of positive terms we group together under the term Negative theology. The exact distinction between thinking and Sagbarem and closed but done differently. The problem context is complicated by the distinction of possibilities of reason from their own nature out or under consideration was revelation. Thomas Aquinas, for example, takes those beliefs which are accessible only by revelation from the subject matter of natural reason, calling them mysteria stricte dicta. (Trinity, Incarnation, deputy death of Jesus, see also the mystery of faith ).

While God, inaccessible remains in itself for many theologians the mind (ratio), at least the natural mind, a reason ( intellectus, intelligentia ) is the divine mystery, as some theologians teach, accessible, which the thinking in distinctions and other modalities exceeds use of the understanding, and the aspiration is not based on certain finite goods and not on yourself. Such a path can be more associated with the intellect or more of affectivity, which is the experience, and can be understood as feasible from our own nature possible or opened only by concrete divine grace or to end. Even intermediate positions are represented. The debate on these relationships is widely performed in texts which are attributable to the mystical theology, often in comments to the homonymous work of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite; - Since the early modern period is also spoken briefly of " mysticism ".

Modern Times

The theologian and scholar of religion Rudolf Otto resulted in his major work, published in 1917 The Holy complementary terms mystery and mystery fascinosum a tremendum to the - to characterize the basic forms of the experiences of people with the Holy - in his opinion.