Sacramentum Mundi Online

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Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Karl Rahner with Cornelius Ernst and Kevin Smyth.
Advisor for the online edition: Karen Kilby, Durham University

Sacramentum Mundi Online is the online edition of the famous six volume English reference work in Catholic Theology, edited (in 1968-1970) by Karl Rahner, one of the main Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology was originally published by Herder Verlag, and is now available online at Brill.

For more information: Brill.com

Natural Law - Laws of Nature

(1,576 words)

Author(s): Rupert Lay
Part of Natural Law: 1. Natural Law (Moral) 2. Laws of Nature The laws of nature are the experiential statements of the natural sciences and are taken to be universally valid. They are statements about “phenomena”, and in accordance with the type of knowledge aimed at in science do not deal with the “thing in itself”. 1. Formulation. Laws of nature are formulatedas universal propositions or as existence-propositions (cf. the existential or particular quantifiers in Logic). a) Universal propositions about the facts of nature are laws when they have a high degree of confi…

Natural Law - Natural Law (Moral)

(3,855 words)

Author(s): Johannes Gründel
Part of Natural Law: 1. Natural Law (Moral) 2. Laws of Nature 1. The notion. Natural law is here the natural moral law, using a broader sense of the word “law” than in the physical “laws of nature”, where it is natural necessity, the order of non-rational nature. There the natural laws of physics and biology are at work, which are studied by the natural sciences. Such law makes no claims on man’s freedom and hence has no moral character. But the natural moral law in a wide sense embraces the whole field of mo…

Natural Philosophy

(2,326 words)

Author(s): Vladimir Richter
1. Subject and method. The task of natural philosophy is to investigate the problem of natural movement or of φύσις. In the Christian realms of the West, the writings of Aristotle on the subject were fundamental, especially his Physics (φυσική άκρόασις, eight books) and his On the Heavens (περί ούρανοΰ, four books). In these regions, natural philosophy has remained essentially, down to the present day, the history of the interpretation of the most important themes of these works. And the problems posed by modern science are still generally e…

Natural Theology

(3,458 words)

Author(s): Klaus Riesenhuber
A. The Philosophical Problem 1. The history of natural theology. The extremely complex nature of the problems set by natural theology (or “philosophical theology") may be seen from a critical examination of some aspects of its history. The traditional philosophy in question was orientated apologetically in the Church, and its scholastic inheritance was elaborated into a special discipline of natural theology at the beginning of modern times. From the time of the early Christian apologists of the 2nd cent…

Nature - Naturalism

(1,122 words)

Author(s): Juan Alfaro
Part of Nature: 1. Philosophical and Theological 2. Naturalism 3. Nature and Grace 1. The term “naturalism” is employed in so many different senses, both in technical language (scientific, philosophical and theological) and in current usage, that it is impossible to reduce them to a common kernel. Perhaps its main characteristic may be described as a tendency to think of all reality exclusively or predominantly in terms of concepts and images derived from the world of things, while denying or ignoring the tr…

Nature - Nature and Grace

(3,619 words)

Author(s): Juan Alfaro
Part of Nature: 1. Philosophical and Theological 2. Naturalism 3. Nature and Grace 1. The problem of nature and grace is implicitly present in all theological reflection on the salvation of man, and is strictly related to a series of basic themes such as creation and covenant, creation and incarnation, natural knowledge of God and revelation, reason and faith, philosophy and theology, law and gospel, freedom of man and God’s gift of himself, history of the world and history of salvation, progress and the kin…

Nature - Philosophical and Theological

(2,939 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett | Juan Alfaro
Part of Nature: 1. Philosophical and Theological 2. Naturalism 3. Nature and Grace A. The Philosophical Concept The word “nature”, strictly speaking, means birth, going forth ( nasci, φύεσθαι). It is used to designate both the constant rise of the individual being in its reality (the essence as actively realized) or the totality of all beings in its constant course. This totality is understood either as self-explanatory (in the Greek notion of φύσις or in a pantheistic concept of natura naturans) or as creation. In the latter case, nature is understood as evolving in a proc…

Necessity - Moral Emergency

(1,065 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Necessity: 1. Philosophical 2. Moral Emergency Necessity may be pleaded when the appropriate direct methods are taken to ward off unlawful aggression. The notion of necessary self-defence always presupposes the absence of mens rea, and hence the conviction of the right to take direct measures. The concept is sometimes applied to the possible conflict between rights and duties. But such conflicts arise only in the sphere of the practical judgment. In theory, one’s rights embrace precisely what another may not contest, and …

Necessity - Philosophical

(679 words)

Author(s): Walter Kern
Part of Necessity: 1. Philosophical 2. Moral Emergency The concept of necessity — in the sense of the absolutely necessary — is to be compared with its opposite, that of contingence. For further discussion of the historical and present-day problem, the article on Absolute and Contingent should be consulted. In this sense, the necessary transcends the opposition between freedom of choice and the determinism of physical necessity (either from without or from internal instinctive compulsions). It represents the supreme degree of the essential nec…

Neo-Platonism

(2,067 words)

Author(s): Werner Beierwaltes
Neo-Platonism is not simply a revival of the original Platonic philosophy. It is a remoulding of a number of Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic and neo-Pythagorean propositions and themes. The process of assimilation was guided by a principle of its own which gave rise from the start to a clearly envisaged “system”. The following principles were taken over from Plato: the first three hypotheses of the Parmenides, which were expounded as the three hypostases on which all reality and degrees of reality were based: the One, the spirit (νοũς) and the soul; the One of the Parmenides could thus be …

Nestorianism

(1,025 words)

Author(s): Aloys Grillmeier
In the study and assessment of Nestorianism at the present day a distinction is drawn — as far as the sources allow — between the personal teaching of Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, 428-31, the actual doctrine of the Nestorians, and “Nestorianism” as an element envisaged in the history of dogma, a possible system not necessarily coinciding with either of the other two concrete facts. This approach is of importance both for the preaching of the faith and for the ecumenical movement. 1. The personal doctrine of Nestorius must first be examined as his response in pastoral…

New Testament Books - Revelation

(2,040 words)

Author(s): Engelbert Neuhäusler
Part of New Testament Books: 1. The Synoptic Gospels 2. The Gospel of John 3. The Acts of the Apostles 4. The Letters of Paul 5. The Letter of James 6. The Letters of Peter 7. The Letters of John 8. The Letter of Jude 9. Revelation The Apocalypse or Revelation of John, as described in the heading of the book itself, is the “revelation of Jesus Christ”, that is, Christ himself is really the author of the revelation. He is the apocalyptic witness. The words of the prophecy (1:3) of this book (22:7, 10, 18, 19) contain this testimony of Jesus. …

New Testament Books - The Acts of the Apostles

(1,435 words)

Author(s): Jacques Dupont
Part of New Testament Books: 1. The Synoptic Gospels 2. The Gospel of John 3. The Acts of the Apostles 4. The Letters of Paul 5. The Letter of James 6. The Letters of Peter 7. The Letters of John 8. The Letter of Jude 9. Revelation 1. Contents. The Acts is the second volume of a work Ad Theophilum of which the gospel according to Luke forms the first volume. Our present titles date no doubt from the 2nd century. The programme of the book is indicated in 1:8, which speaks of the testimony which the apostles, after receiving the Holy Spirit, are to render…

New Testament Books - The Gospel of John

(1,685 words)

Author(s): Franz Mussner
Part of New Testament Books: 1. The Synoptic Gospels 2. The Gospel of John 3. The Acts of the Apostles 4. The Letters of Paul 5. The Letter of James 6. The Letters of Peter 7. The Letters of John 8. The Letter of Jude 9. Revelation 1. The fourth gospel provides in 20:31 a statement on its purpose: “These (signs) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” The use of the title “the Christ” means that the great question which moves all men has been posed, as in t…

New Testament Books - The Letter of James

(1,488 words)

Author(s): Franz Mussner
Part of New Testament Books: 1. The Synoptic Gospels 2. The Gospel of John 3. The Acts of the Apostles 4. The Letters of Paul 5. The Letter of James 6. The Letters of Peter 7. The Letters of John 8. The Letter of Jude 9. Revelation The Letter of James was probably written by James of Jerusalem, “the brother of the Lord” (cf. Gal 1:19; Josephus Antiquities, XX, 200) in the early sixties A. D. It is among the most important documents of the early Church and of the NT canon. For it insists, perhaps more strongly than any other NT letter, on the necessity of puttin…

New Testament Books - The Letter of Jude

(955 words)

Author(s): Juan Prado
Part of New Testament Books: 1. The Synoptic Gospels 2. The Gospel of John 3. The Acts of the Apostles 4. The Letters of Paul 5. The Letter of James 6. The Letters of Peter 7. The Letters of John 8. The Letter of Jude 9. Revelation 1. The author. “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” These words were enough to commend the letter to its first readers. Modern scholars, however, still disagree about the person of the author and the literary character of the heading. The majority of independent critics and some Catholic commentat…

New Testament Books - The Letters of John

(1,495 words)

Author(s): Franz Mussner
Part of New Testament Books: 1. The Synoptic Gospels 2. The Gospel of John 3. The Acts of the Apostles 4. The Letters of Paul 5. The Letter of James 6. The Letters of Peter 7. The Letters of John 8. The Letter of Jude 9. Revelation While 2 Jn and 3 Jn are really “letters”, the first letter should rather be considered as a “manifesto” — “a tractate intended for all of Christendom, an encyclical directed to all fellow believers” (W. G. Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament [1966], p. 307). But from the point of view of the subject-matter, 1 and 2 Jn go together, while 3 Jn deals …

New Testament Books - The Letters of Paul

(4,213 words)

Author(s): Karl Hermann Schelkle
Part of New Testament Books: 1. The Synoptic Gospels 2. The Gospel of John 3. The Acts of the Apostles 4. The Letters of Paul 5. The Letter of James 6. The Letters of Peter 7. The Letters of John 8. The Letter of Jude 9. Revelation The twenty-seven “books” of the NT include twenty-one letters. This feature is to be explained by the literary customs of antiquity, especially in the environment of the NT, where letters and collections of letters were often used to propagate philosophical, ethical, political and artistic views. Thus we have coll…

New Testament Books - The Letters of Peter

(1,622 words)

Author(s): Karl Hermann Schelkle
Part of New Testament Books: 1. The Synoptic Gospels 2. The Gospel of John 3. The Acts of the Apostles 4. The Letters of Paul 5. The Letter of James 6. The Letters of Peter 7. The Letters of John 8. The Letter of Jude 9. Revelation A. 1 Peter 1. Literary history. The letter, according to its heading, is written by the Apostle Peter (1:1), from Babylon (5:13), i.e., Rome, to the Church of Asia Minor (1:1). Babylon, the worldly and ungodly city of the prophets (Is 13; 43:14; Jer 50 and 51) is certainly taken as standing for Rome (cf. Rev 14:8 – 18:2; Sibylline Oracles, 5, 134 and 158 f.; Apocalypse of Baruch…

New Testament Books - The Synoptic Gospels

(5,718 words)

Author(s): Xavier Léon-Dufour
Part of New Testament Books: 1. The Synoptic Gospels 2. The Gospel of John 3. The Acts of the Apostles 4. The Letters of Paul 5. The Letter of James 6. The Letters of Peter 7. The Letters of John 8. The Letter of Jude 9. Revelation The first three gospels are called the synoptic gospels because, in announcing the gospel of Jesus Christ, they follow a common pattern of exposition, as may be seen at once from a “comparative view” (Greek synopsis). To understand their individual theological viewpoints we must investigate each of these gospels in their relation to one another and…
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