Glossary of religious and spiritual terms

Words and phrases
starting with the letters "Ta"
to "Th"

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See following lists for words beginning with Ti to Tre and Tri to Tz

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bullet Tabernacle: From the Latin word "tabernaculum" which means a tent.
bullet A tent in which the Jews carried the Ark of the Covenant during the Exodus.

bullet A Mormon temple.

bullet An early Methodist chapel.

bullet A locked box on a Roman Catholic altar where the Host is stored.
bullet Talit, tallit: A Jewish blue-and-white-striped prayer shawl worn by married Jewish men in Orthodox synagogues and any adult Jew in Conservative synagogues.
bullet Talmud: From the Hebrew word for "teaching." A body of Jewish oral law and tradition assembled in written form. It is composed of two parts: The Mishna, which is a rabbinic commentary on the Torah, and the Gemara, a commentary on the Mishna. It exists in two versions: The more important is the Babylonian Talmud, completed about 500 CE. The Palestinian Talmud was completed circa 400 CE.
bullet Tanakh (a.k.a. TaNaK, Tenakh, Tenak, Tanach, & Mikra): The Jewish Bible, a.k.a. the Jewish Scriptures. The word Tanakh is derived from the letters of the Hebrew names of its three components: Torah (a.k.a. Pentateuch), the Books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; the Nevi'im (a.k.a. Prophets); and the Ketuvim (Writings). "Mikra" is a Hebrew word meaning "that which is read."
bullet Taoism: This religion of about 20 million followers was founded by Lao-Tse (604-531 BCE), a contemporary of Confucius, and author of  Tao-te-Ching. Taoism started as a combination of psychology and philosophy but evolved into a state religion in 440 CE  At that time Lao-Tse became popularly venerated as a deity. Taoism, along with Buddhism and Confucianism, became the three great religions of China. Much of Taoism has been destroyed since the Communist victory in 1949; it survives mainly in Taiwan.
bullet Tawheed: An Muslim word derived from the Arabic word "Wahhada" which means to join, unite, or combine. In Islam the word refers to Allah (God) and has many shades of meaning, including that God is without partner, a unity, the sole creator and sustainer of the universe, without rival, and to whom all worship must be directed.
bullet Tefillin (a.k.a. phylacteries): Small black leather boxes worn by Orthodox Jewish males on their forehead and non-dominant arm at weekday morning prayer. They contain passages from the Torah.
bullet Teleological: A system of morality in which the proper choice among two or more options is based on their practical consequences. Whichever choice has the best (or least worse) outcome is the moral decision. Antonym is deontological.
bullet Temple: The term used by Buddhists, Hindus and others to refer to their house of worship. The center for Jewish worship prior to 70 CE was the Temple in Jerusalem. Recently, many Jews use "temple" to refer to the synagogue.
bullet Ten Commandments: A set of about 19 different commands and prohibitions which are intended to govern basic human behavior. Three versions appear in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) at: Exodus 20:2-17, Exodus 34:12-26, and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. 
bullet Tenet: an opinion, principle, dogma, belief, or doctrine that is accepted as true, generally by a faith group.
bullet Territorial Spirits: Many aboriginal religions, and some Evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian groups, teach that supernatural forces are associated with a town, city, state, country or other geographic region. Christian groups who believe in these spirits often teach that believers have to aggressively engage in spiritual warfare to defeat these spirits before Christian evangelism can proceed in the area ruled by the spirit.
bullet Terrorism: The use of extreme violence or the threat of violence by states, groups or individuals to generate fear in individuals and thus manipulate their behavior. Currently, most terrorism is either drug or religion based. Some define the term widely to include topics like spanking of children or the teaching of an eternity of torture in Hell as forms of physical or spiritual terrorism.
bullet Teshuvot: A Jewish legal opinion.
bullet Tetragram, Tetragrammaton: (From the Greek "tetra" (four) and "gramma" (letter). It consists of four Hebrew letters: Yod, He, Waw and He, transliterated as YHWH, JHVH or JHWH -- the name of God in the Hebrew language. Often translated as "Lord" or mistranslated as "Jehovah" in English versions of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). It could never have pronounced as "Jehovah." "Yahweh" is probably a more accurate vocalization. Historically, within Judaism, the name of God was neither spoken nor written. 1
bullet Textual criticism: A study of biblical text, attempting to identify the words of the original autograph copy and eliminate later forgeries, spelling errors, etc.
bullet Textualism: the belief that a biblical passage's ordinary meaning should govern its interpretation, rather than study of the intent of the author, the culture at the time the passage was written, etc. The term is often used in the courts as a synonym for originalism.

Theist: A person who believes in the existence of a personal God who is active in the universe. Sometimes used to include persons who believe in the existence of multiple deities, but who worship only one. Sometimes, a prefix is used to restrict the meaning to one specific belief system. Examples are:

  • Agnostic theist: a person who believes in the existence of one or more deities, but regards her, him, it, or them to be inherently unknowable.

  • Atheist: a person who lacks belief in or awareness of one or more deities.

  • Bitheist or Duotheist: a person who believes in the existence of two deities. Wiccans and most other Neopagans believe in a Goddess and a God; Zoroastrians believe in one all-good and one all-evil deity.

  • Deist: a person who believes in a deity who created the universe, set up the physical laws controlling it, left, and has not interacted with humans since. This was a common belief system accepted by many of the U.S. founding fathers.

  • Henotheist: a person who worships one deity, but who recognizes the possible existence of other deities.

  • Monotheist: a person who believes that a only a single deity exists. Judism and Islam are monotheistic religions.

  • Polytheist: a person who believes in multiple deities.

  • Strong atheist: a person who asserts that no deity exists.

  • Tritheist: a person who believes in three separate deities. Tritheists are often confused with believers in the Christian Trinity.

  • Believer in the Trinity: a person, typically a Christian, who believes in a single deity who is composed of three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
bullet Theistic Evolution: The belief that new species of animals develop from existing species over a very long interval of time, in response to the guidance, supervision, control, and intervention of a deity.
bullet Theocracy:  From the Greek words: "Theos" (God) and "cratein" (to rule). A government in which the church and state are unified. Such a union is generally has disastrous effects on human rights, particularly for women, persons with a minority sexual orientation, persons with a minority gender identity, and various other minorities. This form of government is common among Muslim countries. 

Theodicy: From the Greek words "Theos" (God) and "dike" (justice). It refers to the attempts to harmonize the goodness of God with the existence of evil in the world. Bart D. Ehrman, in the introducion to his book: " God's Problem" defines the term as:

"... the problem of how God can be 'just' or 'righteous' given the fact there is so much suffering in the world that he allegedly created and is sovereign over.  

bullet Theological anthropology: The study of humanity from the standpoint of people's relationships with God.
bullet Theology: From the Greek words meaning "study of deity." The study of religion.
bullet Theology of displacement: A synonym for "supercessionism:" the concept that Christianity replaced Judaism because God unilaterally abrogated his Old Testament covenant with the Jewish people.
bullet Theophagy: The practice of eating the body of a god. This procedure has ancient roots. It is performed symbolically in most Protestant communion services. However, Roman Catholics believe that both the wine and wafer consumed during Mass are the "real presence" of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.
bullet Theophany: "Theophany" means "to make known" or "to reveal." It is usually used to refer to a direct communication from God to one or more humans. Eastern Orthodox Christians observe a holy day by this name; it recalls the baptism of Yeshua of Nazareth, allegedly on JAN-06 according to the Julian Calendar.  Eastern Christians believe that Jesus' divinity was reveled at his baptism. The Western church celebrates the Epiphany on JAN-06.
bullet Theosis: (a.k.a. deification, divinization, participation in God) The concept that Christians can become participants in the life of God, while not sharing in God's essence. The precise definition varies among Christian denominations and theologians. This is based, in part, on 2 Peter 1:4: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature..." 2
bullet Therapeutic Touch: A holistic health practice in which the practitioner moves their hands above the patients body, and balances or release the natural energy of the latter's body. This is said to facilitating healing. A high school student once conducted a series of experiments for a science project, that proved that therapists cannot measure body energy fields. This appears to destroy the credibility of this therapeutic technique.
bullet Therevada: A Buddhist term in Sanskrit that means the school or way of the elders. It recognizes the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Because it emphasizes personal liberation over collective liberation, it is sometimes referred to as the Hinayana or "Lesser Vehicle" school of Buddhism -- a derogatory term. It is found in Sri Lanka and throughout Southern Asia.

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See the following lists for words beginning with Ti to Tra and Tri to Tz

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References used: 

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "The Meaning of the Tetragrammaton," at:
  2. R.V. Rakestraw, "Becoming like God: An Evangelical Doctrine of Theosis," at:

Copyright 1996 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally placed online on: 1996-MAR-11
Latest update: 2018-MAY-03
Author: B.A. Robinson
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