Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

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Editors: Erwin Fahlbusch, Jan Milič Lochman, John Mbiti, Jaroslav Pelikan and Lukas Vischer

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The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online describes modern-day Christian beliefs and communities in the context of 2000 years of apostolic tradition and Christian history. Based on the third, revised edition of the critically acclaimed German work Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon. The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online includes all 5 volumes of the print edition of 1999-2008 which has become a standard reference work for the study of Christianity past and present. Comprehensive, reflecting the highest standards in scholarship yet intended for a wide range of readers, the The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online also looks outward beyond Christianity, considering other world religions and philosophies as it paints the overall religious and socio-cultural picture in which the Christianity finds itself.

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Early Catholicism

(1,085 words)

Author(s): Bartsch, Christian
1. Modern studies in church history and especially NT studies use the term “early Catholicism” to refer to the attempt on the part of the Reformation and Protestantism to understand and explicate their own manifest divergence from Catholicism also as a difference in history, that is, as a difference manifesting itself already during the first centuries of Christianity. Because Reformational Christianity had broken loose from what had hitherto been its own history, it had to answer for itself the question of its material and historical continuity as a church. (See S. Franck, Chronica [15…

Early Church

(2,556 words)

Author(s): Mühlenberg, Ekkehard
1. Term In church history the idea of the early church has theological as well as historical significance. A theological evaluation sees in it the true church, whose teaching and forms have an authoritative ¶ character. Agreement with it guaranteed not only one’s own orthodoxy but also the catholicity of one’s church. Since the church did not remain unchanged through the centuries, the question of the limits of the early church as the true church unavoidably arises. The Roman Catholic Church is least disturbed by such questions, …

Early Jerusalem Church

(8 words)

See Primitive Christian Community


(1,688 words)

Author(s): Holtz, Traugott | Senn, Frank C. | Schnitker, Thaddeus A.
1. Term The origin of the English word “Easter” is uncertain. In the eighth century the Venerable Bede (ca. 673–735) proposed that it derived from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Modern English-language dictionaries suggest that it comes ultimately from a Germanic stem meaning “east.” In Romance and other languages, the word for Easter (e.g., Fr. Pâques; Sp. Pascua; Russ. Paskhar) comes from the Heb. pesaḥ through the Gk. pascha. Recent liturgical usage has employed the noun “Pasch” and the adjective “paschal” in speaking of this Christian celebration. 2. Relatio…

Eastern Orthodox Churches, Eastern Orthodoxy

(11 words)

See Orthodox Church; Orthodoxy 3


(9 words)

See Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians


(477 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut
From the time of Irenaeus (d. ca. 200), “Ebionites” was the term used for Jewish Christians in the lists of heretics drawn up by the church fathers. Originally it was the self-designation of a specific group that, adopting OT and postbiblical ideas, gave itself the title “the poor” (Heb. ʾebyônı̂m). From the time of Hippolytus (d. ca. 236) the Hebrew word was taken to refer to a supposed founder of the sect called Ebion. Besides the judgments of the Fathers, seven fragments of an Ebionite gospel have been preserved, which show similarity to the…

Ecclesiastes, Book of

(904 words)

Author(s): Crenshaw, James L.
1. Name The Hebrew name of the Book of Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth, derives from qhl (call, assemble). The feminine ending suggests an office, according to which the author would have been responsible for an assembly of persons or a collection of sayings. The Greek form Ekklēsiastēs (assembly leader) led to “the preacher.” The name “Qoheleth” was influenced by the Solomonic legend, according to which the king assembled the people for the dedication of the temple. The author adopted the literary fiction of Solomonic authorship, albeit only fo…

Eckhart, Meister

(790 words)

Author(s): Dörfler-Dierken, Angelika
Meister Eckhart (ca. 1260-ca. 1328), a Dominican mystic, was born in Hochheim (near Gotha or Erfurt) in Thuringia. Eckhart entered the Erfurt Dominican monastery around 1275. After completing the usual training, he studied theology at the Dominican Studium Generale at Cologne, probably under Albertus Magnus (d. 1280), and from 1293 at Paris. In 1294 he became the prior of Erfurt and representative of the provincial Dietrich von Freiberg. In 1302 Eckhart was promoted to master in Paris. From 1303 to 1311 he was active as the first provin…


(1,011 words)

Author(s): Bouma-Prediger, Steven
1. Term The term “ecology” refers to the earth and its communities of life, particularly as they interact in complex and dynamic ways. The science of ecology studies the interrelationships of organisms and their environments. Derived from the Greek terms oikos and logos, ecology is the study of the (worldwide) household; as such, it is related etymologically to economics (the law of the household). 2. Modern Issues The zoologist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) introduced the term “ecology” in 1866. He used it to describe what then was called the economy of nature. In…

Economic Ethics

(8,633 words)

Author(s): Stackhouse, Max L. | Miller, David W.
1. Ethics, the Economy, and the Corporation The question of how to organize the economic life of society has occupied the world’s leaders and thinkers since at least the time of the patriarch Joseph in Egypt. It appears as a primary concern of Moses, Solomon, and Socrates, much as it was of the sages of other traditions elsewhere. After all, the production, distribution, exchange, ownership, and ¶ use of goods and services have been a part of society for as long as recorded history. A central dimension of biblical teaching has been the question of how faith should inform the or…


(3,500 words)

Author(s): Nutzinger, Hans G.
1. Definition “Economy” may be defined in two different—even opposite—ways. A phenomenological and historical view understands it as a branch of human and social life, as a specific human means of satisfying basic needs, namely, of providing for a life and increasing security, of individual enrichment, of development for both individuals and society as a whole (A. Rich, 22). Historically, especially in the 19th century, different economic stages were perceived that, from the standpoint of Marxism, were linked …

Economy (Orthodox Theology)

(534 words)

Author(s): Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch
1. As a term of theology, “economy” denotes the nonapplication of a generally valid law in a specific case when the suspension of the law results in greater spiritual good than could be expected from applying it. Although economy in this sense has existed from the founding of the church, it is hard to define exactly, since it is not a legal concept but an expression of love, and therefore a reality that we can experience but not describe. Economy, at least as applied in the Orthodox Church, is n…


(940 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Scope of the Term The broadest usage of “ecstasy” encompasses several semantic domains. Ethologically, the moment when the earliest hunter and his prey first met was probably one of united concentration on the encounter, of holding of breath and silence, of tense quiet along with the ability to spring very quickly into action. 1.1. On the human side the continuation and development of this basic attitude is a history of self-interpretation, with new social contexts and anthropologies as inalterable presuppositions. This was first the case probabl…


(1,821 words)

Author(s): Rodríguez, Carlos Granja
1. General The population of the Republic of Ecuador is divided between the coastal plains (40 percent), the sierra, or Andes, region (58 percent), and the eastern lowlands, the primeval Amazon forest, which is increasingly being opened up (2 percent). The ethnic makeup of society reflects the postcolonial situation, with approximately 55 percent mestizo (mixed Amerindian and Spanish), 25 percent Amerindian (mostly Quechua), 10 percent Spanish, and 10 percent black. The Indians of Ecuador are mostly illiterate and are socially, politically, and economically marginalized. The ov…


(4 words)

See Oikoumene

Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians

(1,503 words)

Author(s): Abraham, K. C.
The Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT) is a network of theologians from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as some from North American minority groups. They have made a commitment to pursue their vocation as theologians from the perspective of the poor and marginalized sectors of their societies. The origin of this network is often traced to the conversations of some African students in Louvain, Belgium, in the 1970s. Together they determined to hold a colloquium of Asian, African, and Latin American theologians in …

Ecumenical Dialogue

(1,847 words)

Author(s): Meyer, Harding
1. Term In a broad sense “ecumenical dialogue” may denote any conversation between different churches and Christians that promotes fellowship with each other or common understanding of Christian responsibility to the world. In the customary narrower sense the phrase refers to discussions held primarily by official representatives of two or more churches on controversial theological issues with the goal of stating and clarifying these issues so as to eliminate their divisive character. The adjectiv…

Ecumenical Learning

(1,172 words)

Author(s): Swan, Darlis J.
Learning has always been important for the ecumenical movement, for in a world rampant with secularization and globalization, where Christianity appears to be no more than one option among many religious pluralities, learning is essential for survival. Ecumenical learning had its beginnings as early as 1910, when the ecumenical movement was born. At the World Missionary Conference that year in Edinburgh, one of the topics discussed was “Education in Relation to the Christianization of National Life.” More recently the concept has been housed within the World Council of Churches (WCC…

Ecumenical Mission

(1,115 words)

Author(s): Raiser, Konrad
1. The term “ecumenical mission” denotes an understanding of Christian mission according to which witness to the one gospel is the comprehensive task of the worldwide church. Ecumenical mission views itself against the background of the divine sending to the whole world ( missio Dei; Missiology) and is oriented to the ultimate unifying of all things under the rule of God (Eschatology). 2. This understanding brings together insights from almost a century of ecumenical missionary discussion. Between the Edinburgh Missionary Conference (1910) and the end of Wo…

Ecumenical Patriarchate

(1,516 words)

Author(s): FitzGerald, Thomas
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the ranking church within the communion of the 14 autocephalous and 2 autonomous churches that presently compose Orthodox Christianity (Orthodox Church). The patriarch of Constantinople, present-day Istanbul, is regarded as the “first among equals” within the hierarchy of Orthodox bishops. His full title is “Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch.” The patriarchate includes episcopal sees—metropolitanates, archdioceses, and…

Ecumenical Symbols

(407 words)

Author(s): Schnitker, Thaddeus A. | Campbell, Ted A.
The term “ecumenical symbols” is sometimes used to describe Christian confessions of faith that have been affirmed across the boundaries of confessional traditions. Most specifically, the term refers to the use of the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene (or Niceno-Constantinopolitan) Creed, and less commonly to the Athanasian Creed (or, from its opening words, the Quicunque Vult), the three creeds affirmed in the Lutheran Book of Concord and the Anglican Articles of Religion. Although these creeds were affirmed in both Roman Catholic and Protestant bodie…

Ecumenical Theology

(2,270 words)

Author(s): Geense, Adriaan | Campbell, Ted A.
1. Term and Agencies 1.1. The practice of ecumenical theology is much older than the term itself. It began with Paul’s arguments concerning the unity of churches of Jews and Gentiles (Jewish Christians; Judaism) and their many groups and charismata and continued as theology developed with a common concern for truth. It prepared the way for the decisions of the ecumenical councils and accompanied ¶ the reception of these rulings. In a paradoxical way it was also the driving force behind the polemical writings of the Reformers, whose aim was to reform the one church, not to split it. 1.2. As an …


(5 words)

See Local Ecumenism

Ecumenism, Ecumenical Movement

(10,929 words)

Author(s): Rusch, William G.
The concept “ecumenism” has had different meanings over the history of the church. It has become firmly attached now to the modern movement, begun in 1910 in Edinburgh, concerned with the unity of Christians for the sake of the mission of the church to the world. At the turn of the 21st century, both “ecumenism” and “ecumenical movement” refer primarily to the multidimensional movement of churches and Christians whose goal is both the visible unity of the churches and an integration of mission, service, and renewal. 1. Concept 1.1. Early and Biblical Usage The root of “ecumenism” derive…


(607 words)

Author(s): Hafner, Hermann
1. Biblical In the OT we find God’s promised work of salvation, and the prophetic proclamation that addresses it, described metaphorically as a “building” of the “house of Israel” (Jer. 1:10; 18:9; 24:6; 31:28; 42:10; 45:4; Ezek. 36:36; Ps. 28:5). This is the root of the NT use of the concept, which is developed especially in Paul and his circle. We find five essential variations or components. 1.1. Edification is the apostolic work (Apostle, Apostolate) of founding and directing the congregation (1 Cor. 3:10–15; 2 Cor. 12:19; Eph. 2:20–22). As in the OT, its opposite is “tearing down” (2 …


(5,155 words)

Author(s): Groothoff, Hans-Hermann | Krenzer, Richard P. | Radtke, Muriel M. | Zeil-Fahlbusch, Elisabeth
1. Europe 1.1. Definition The popular term “education”—as also, from the 18th century, “culture”—defies comprehensive definition. It receives its concrete sense from the context in which it is used. Historically it derives from educatio, and there is a relation also to eruditio. It thus has an underlying sense that becomes clear when we relate it to other cultures. As a “function of society” (W. Dilthey), education cannot be abstracted from social development and treated in isolation. Thus in libera…

Edwards, Jonathan

(2,168 words)

Author(s): Guelzo, Allen C.
Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) was the most influential American-born theologian of the 18th century, and his writings continued to exert significant influence in English-speaking evangelical Protestant circles through much of the 19th century. Edwards’s popularity waned in the early part of the 20th century, as his theology was condemned by Progressive intellectuals and historians as antimodern and redolent of the fundamentalism they bitterly criticized as repressive and irrational. However, Edward…

Ego Psychology

(783 words)

Author(s): Browning, Don S.
Ego psychology is a movement within psychoanalytic psychology. It is associated with the names of Anna Freud (1895–1982), Heinz Hartmann, David Rapaport, Robert White, and Erik Erikson. The common feature of this school is its increased emphasis, in contrast to Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), upon the ego as the central organizing agency of the personality. This school saw the ego as somewhat more independent of the id than did Freud. In addition, it saw the ego as crucial for mental health, treating…


(2,787 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Swanson, Mark N.
1. Data Egypt is the most populous Arab country, even though the Nile makes only 4 percent of its land mass suitable for habitation and cultivation. The foundation of the modern Arab Republic of Egypt (Jumhūrīyat Miṣr al-ʿArabīyah), as it has been called since 1971, was laid in July 1952, when the reforming Free Officers under Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918–70) seized power. Egypt had previously been a constitutional monarchy, set up in 1923 after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World Wa…

Egyptian Religion

(2,052 words)

Author(s): Assmann, Jan
1. The Gods and Mythology 1.1. Names and Forms In Egyptian religion the combination of a theistic idea of God with a theriomorphic form (also with mixed forms) is typical. In the construction of the divine identity, there is thus a multiplicity that comes to expression in many names and forms. Splitting the major gods into local forms and fusing the gods together (Syncretism) are contradictory tendencies. Alongside 25–30 major deities, among whom the sun god and the equally ranked state god Amon-Re are always chief, there are a large but indefinite number of le…
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