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Syncretism describes the synthesis of ideas or philosophies into a new system or worldview . The term is particularly used in religious studies , but also in linguistics and literary studies .

In ethnological contexts with cultural change , the term syncretism is sometimes used for the amalgamation of other cultural elements into new forms.

Syncretism must not be confused with the form of rule or state constitution of syncracy .

Religious studies

In religious studies, syncretism describes a mixture of religions and religious customs. The prerequisite is that the ideas or philosophies concerned were previously delimited from one another in terms of content and that they, as religious-philosophical aspects , dispense with an absolute claim . Rather, syncretism takes on the aspects of different religions more or less consciously and shapes them into something new. In addition to the resulting syncretistic religions, there are forms of syncretism in popular religious cults.


In linguistics , syncretism describes the coincidence of diffraction forms.

See also


  • Wolfgang Greive, Raul Niemann: Believe again. Religious diversity and new religious currents as a challenge to Christianity. Gütersloher Verlagshaus Mohn, Gütersloh 1990, ISBN 3-579-02168-0 .
  • Anselm Günthör : Are all religions the same? The answer of Pope Benedict XVI. Fe-Medienverlag, Kißlegg 2007, ISBN 978-3-939684-12-1 .
  • Volker Drehsen , Walter Sparn (ed.): In the melting pot of religions. Contours of modern syncretism. Kaiser, Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 1996, ISBN 3-579-00247-3 .
  • Ulrich Berner: Syncretism - Meeting of Religions. In: Joachim G. Piepke (Ed.): Culture and religion in the encounter with the foreign. Steyler Verlag, Nettetal 2007, ISBN 978-3-8050-0544-9 , pp. 47-74.
  • Ulf Hannerz: The World in Creolization. In: Africa. 57: 546-559 (1987).
  • Berner Ulrich: Investigations into the use of the syncretism term. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1982.

Web links

Commons : Syncretism  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Syncretism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations