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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Habakkuk, Book of

(364 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
The Book of Habakkuk has a liturgical form. A complaint by the prophet in 1:2–4 is followed by God’s reply (vv. 5–11), which announces the coming of the Chaldeans (v. 6). When the prophet objects (vv. 12–17), Yahweh gives a fresh answer (2:1–5), to which a series of woes is appended (6–20). Chap. 3 contains a prayer, the heart of which is the depiction of a theophany. This chapter is structured in such a way that it can be used in worship. The presence of social criticism, which in the present context is directed at international events and especially at the Babylonians, crea…


(4 words)

See Sunna


(303 words)

Author(s): Wewers, Gerd A.
Haggadah (Heb. for “story”) is the narrative form of Jewish rabbinic literature. It embraces all the forms ¶ and themes that do not count as Halakah, or legal texts. Small forms of Haggadah are the parable, the exemplary tale, the case, exegesis (insofar as it does not serve Halakic purposes), the legend, the sermon, and biographical, ethical, and historical notes. Larger forms are commentaries (Midrash) on the biblical books, which most clearly demonstrate the tendency of Haggadah to relate Israel’s salvation h…

Haggai, Book of

(367 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
The Book of Haggai contains sayings of the prophet woven into a narrative and set in a chronological framework. Haggai emerged in Jerusalem in 520 b.c., the second year of the Persian monarch Darius I, and served there for only four months. Economic difficulties stemming from poor harvests were troubling the community, and reconstruction of the temple had come to a halt. This setting provided the occasion of Haggai’s (and Zechariah’s) ministry. The temple stood at the heart of Haggai’s message. The distress of the day, he taught, was the result of breaking off the r…


(7 words)

See Lives of the Saints

Hail Mary

(6 words)

See Ave Maria


(2,106 words)

Author(s): Prien, Hans-Jürgen | Hurbon, Laënnec | Walker, Edwin S.
1. General Situation The Republic of Haiti is located in the western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The country is mostly mountainous; the population of almost 8 million has a black majority and a mulatto minority. The great majority of Haitians are descendants of African slaves who, brought as a labor force by the Spaniards or (from 1659) the French (Slavery), replaced the original indigenous Indian inhabitants, who had been largely exterminated by the 16th century because of the cruelty of slavery and epidemics of European diseases. Hispaniola was discovered by Colu…


(353 words)

Author(s): Wewers, Gerd A.
Halakah (Heb. for “going” or “way”) is a postbiblical norm or rule in rabbinic Judaism that applies the legal judgments of the Torah to existing situations. As far as rabbinic practice and the rabbinic understanding of tradition are concerned, Halakah effectively can count just as much as the Torah (i.e., as the revelation to Moses from Sinai). It is oral torah. It decides (often by specific cases) what is clean or unclean, innocent or guilty, permitted or forbidden. In an actual case the decision is binding, but later it forms a basis for d…

Hammurabi, Code of

(311 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann
The Code of Hammurabi is one of the oldest and best-known cuneiform law codes in Akkadian. It appears on a stele over 2 m. (6 ft.) high (now in the Louvre; there are many copies). It was promulgated by Hammurabi, king of the first dynasty of Babylon (1792–1750 b.c.), in an attempt at legal reform. In 282 casuistically formulated legal rulings, selected cases from various branches of law (trial, property, family, and inheritance) are dealt with, along with judgments concerning bodily injuries, various occupations, the hiring of cattle and servants, and the holding of slaves. Worth noting…


(1,454 words)

Author(s): Otte, Klaus
1. Definition Both linguistically and materially, it is hard to define “happiness” and related terms such as “(good) fortune,” as many interdisciplinary attempts show (e.g., Was ist Glück? Ein Symposion). Some have emphasized that, while happiness may fulfill desires and longings, it is not at the disposal of the will and cannot be attained by us (U. Hommes, in F. G. Jünger et al., 242). A. Gehlen finds happiness only in acquisition, not in possession (ibid., 29). We can grasp it plainly in terms neither of past nor of future. As M. Freund says, we are all the seman…

Hare Krishna

(9 words)

See Krishna Consciousness, International Society for

Harvest Festivals

(546 words)

Author(s): Schnitker, Thaddeus A.
The harvest festival is one of the oldest of religious feasts. Because of the different times of harvest we naturally find that there is no single date. In the OT there were two such feasts, Weeks and Tabernacles (Exod. 23:16). In the Roman sphere there were four feasts. The Middle Ages continued these in the context of the ember seasons (Church Year), but only the one in September bore reference to the harvest. Masses of thanksgiving, with blessing of the fruits, were also held, commonly on the last Sunday in September in central Europe. The church orders of the 16th century set aside d…


(528 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Peter
The term “Hasidism” (from Heb. ḥāsı̂d, “devout, pious”) is a general one for various popular movements in Judaism that historically bore no relation to one another. 1. There was first the “assembly of the devout” (synagogē asidaiōn), which came on the scene at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt (1 Macc. 2:42) and was distinguished for strict adherence to the Torah (vv. 29–38). It is conjectured that the Essenes (Qumran) and Pharisees had their roots here. 2. There was then Ashkenazic Hasidism, in Germany in the 12th and 13th centuries. Perhaps influenced by the …


(461 words)

Author(s): Schaller, Berndt
The Hasmonaeans (also sometimes called the Maccabees) were the last Jewish ruling family. Under the Hasmonaeans the Jews in Palestine enjoyed a period of political independence in the second and first centuries b.c. The Hasmonaean name occurs for the first time in Josephus (Asamonaioi), and later it is common in the rabbinic writings (beth/bĕnê ḥašmonai). The derivation is uncertain. Josephus ( Ant.  12.265; J.W.  1.36) refers to an ancestor of the same name, but more likely it arises from an association with the place Heshmon (Josh. 15:27) or Hashmonah (Num. 33:29–30). The fami…


(5 words)

See Household Rules


(1,081 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
Healing deals therapeutically with sicknesses or injuries, whether of body or soul, in a living organism (Health and Illness). It does so in at least four ways: (1) It may be self-healing. The organism reachieves stability, the balance of all bodily and psychological functions and cycles. The aggression of infection, injury, sickness, and so forth is warded off, resolved, set aside, or addressed. Self-healing is also an important aspect of psychotherapy, though percentages are hard to ascertain. “Time heals” many ills. (2) Healing takes the form of restoration. The ideal state prio…

Health and Illness

(1,582 words)

Author(s): Remus, Harold
The terms “health” and “illness” denote a variety of conditions—individual and institutional—that are variously perceived and understood from one culture to another, as well as within cultures. Common to all is a perception of health as a sense of well-being—physical, mental, social, and societal—and of illness as a lack thereof. Common to all is also the premium placed on health, however defined. In the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, where illness often led to poverty or an early death, health was a supreme good. In the Hippocratic oath, to w…


(1,149 words)

Author(s): Welker, Michael
1. Meaning From antiquity onward, across various cultures, the concept of heaven unites and distinguishes several notions and systems of reference. 1.1. Heaven is what people see above the earth, marking it off or securing it (i.e., the firmament). It is sometimes regarded as a material half-globe or a disk arching over the earth. 1.2. Heaven is also a syndrome of powers and uncontrollable forces. We cannot directly measure or manipulate it. It has a decisive impact on life on earth by granting or withholding life and water, also by sending storms, hail, and so forth. 1.3. Heaven is the pl…

Hebrew Language

(616 words)

Author(s): Stähli, Hans-Peter
1. Apart from some Aramaic sections, the OT is written in Hebrew. The word “Hebrew,” absent from the OT, occurs first in the prologue to Sirach, and then among the rabbis, who stressed the dignity of the language of the canonical Scriptures by calling it a holy language. 2. Hebrew represents a dialect group whose local idioms (see Judg. 12:6; 2 Kgs. 18:26) the Israelites adopted. Like the South Canaanite of the Amarna Letters, Phoenician Punic, Moabite, Ammonite, Ugaritic, and Amorite, Hebrew is a Canaanite language (see Isa. 19:18). Canaanite and Aramaic (Arameans) form the Northw…
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