Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
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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(466 words)

Author(s): McKane, William
1. Biblical Evidence Apart from the mention of Jacob in the Joseph stories, the Jacob traditions are found in Genesis 25–35. Although these stories can be attributed largely to J, some material from P (esp. in chaps. 25 and 35) and E (esp. in chaps. 28; 30–33; 35) is also present. Genesis 35 can be ascribed almost entirely to E and P (Pentateuch). Jacob deceives his older twin, Esau, and must flee. He acquires wives in Paddan-aram and attains considerable prosperity. After fleeing Laban, his father-in-law, he is reconciled with Esau, encounters God i…


(6 words)

See Syrian Orthodox Church


(916 words)

Author(s): Bruhn, Klaus
Jainism, like Buddhism, is an anti-Brahmanic Indian religion that stresses salvation but is without an ultimate personal God and without an impersonal universal soul (Hinduism; Mysticism). Its founder, Vardhamāna, known as Mahāvı̄ra (i.e., Great Hero), was an itinerant teacher in Bihar (northern India) contemporaneous with the Buddha (d. ca. 400 b.c.). Vardhamāna is presumed to have been the successor of Pārśvanātha, or Pārśva, although nothing is known about the latter’s life; he allegedly died 250 years before Mahāvı̄ra. Jainism is a monastic religion with s…


(1,849 words)

Author(s): Russell, Horace O.
1. General Situation The island of Jamaica is the third largest island of the Caribbean archipelago. A parliamentary democracy, Jamaica was given autonomy by the United Kingdom in 1959 and won its full independence in 1962. The great majority of its inhabitants are of African descent. The nation’s economy, dependent mainly on tourism and also on bauxite mining, has stagnated since 1995. Between 1996 and 2000 employment fell by roughly a sixth (Unemployment). Before Europeans arrived, Jamaica was inhabited by Amerindians. The Tainos occupied the island from the middle…


(501 words)

Author(s): Holtz, Traugott
The NT mentions several men called James. James the son of Zebedee and brother of John. He seems to have been an early disciple of Jesus (Mark 1:19 and par., cf. Luke 5:10) and was one of the Twelve (Mark 3:17 and par.; Acts 1:13). With his brother and Peter (and sometimes Andrew), he was one of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples (Mark 1:29; 5:37 and par.; 9:2 and par.; 10:35–41; cf. Matt. 20:20–24; also John 21:2). According to Mark 3:17, Jesus gave him and his brother the nickname “Boanerges” (meaning “Sons of Thunder”), thus indicating their calling as preachers. …

James, Epistle of

(653 words)

Author(s): Strecker, Georg
The Epistle of James is one of the Catholic Epistles. Apart from its simple introductory greeting, it lacks the basic characteristics of letters and does not seem to be written with a specific situation in view; even the admonitions regarding wealth and poverty (1:9–11; 2:1–7; 5:1–6) relate to no particular circumstances in the church. The work is more in the nature of a tractate with exhortation as its goal (Parenesis). It strings together admonitory proverbs and didactic passages (2:1–13, 14–26; 3:1–12) in no special order. The recipients are “the 12 tribes in the Dispersion” (1:1)—tha…


(1,589 words)

Author(s): Biersack, Manfred
1. Doctrine of Grace Jansenism takes its name from Cornelius Jansen the Younger (1585–1638), who gave the movement its theological basis with his Augustinus (published posthumously in Lyons in 1640). As a student and professor at the University of Lyons, and later as bishop of Ypres, Jansen was in continual conflict with the Jesuit-scholastic doctrine of grace (Scholasticism). In the Lyons tradition he focused on the anti-Pelagian writings of Augustine (354–430; Augustine’s Theology) and methodologically, with an antis…


(2,665 words)

Author(s): Miyata, Mitsuo
Overview Overview In what has been a generally vigorous globalization of world economy, Japan has stood out as a giant in the Pacific Asian theater, and indeed the world. After the United States, it has the most technologically powerful economy in the world. Economic decline threatened in the late 1990s, but Japan maintains an enormous trade surplus with the world. According to U.N. figures for 1996, Japan’s infant mortality rate (4 per 1,000 live births) was lower than that of any other country, and its average life expectancy (80.3 years) was higher tha…

Jehovah’s Witnesses

(1,040 words)

Author(s): Reimer, Hans-Diether
1. Background Jehovah’s Witnesses were organized as a missionary “service corporation.” The parent organization is the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (1881, WTS) in Brooklyn, New York, with branch offices around the world. Leadership is vested in the lifelong president and (as of the year 2000) a corporation of 13 members, through which “God himself” rules (Theocracy). The worldwide field in which preachers are gathered and commissioned is divided into branches, districts, circuits, and congr…

Jeremiah, Book of

(1,591 words)

Author(s): McKane, William
1. Content Chaps. 1–25 of the Book of Jeremiah consist largely of poetic oracles of doom directed against Judah, interspersed with longer and shorter prose sections (e.g., chaps. 7 and 11). The prose has Deuteronomistic characteristics and has commonly been distinguished from the prose in which the so-called Baruch biography of Jeremiah is written. According to W. Rudolph, the latter is represented in 1–25 by 19:1–10, 14–15 and 20:1–6, although it is principally located in the second half of the book (26; 28; 29; 34:1–7; 36; 37–45; 51:59–64). A particular category of poetic mater…


(956 words)

Author(s): Markschies, Christoph
Jerome (ca. 345–420), born Eusebius Hieronymus (perhaps as early as 333), was an outstanding translator, exegete, and theologian of the early church. He was the son of a well-to-do Christian family that owned property in Strido (near Emona, or modern Ljubljana, Slovenia). He was educated in Rome, and his teachers included, until 363, the famous grammarian Aelius Donatus (though not Marius Victorinus, neither does Jerome seem to have been closely acquainted with Ambrose in Rome; he did, however, …


(2,008 words)

Author(s): Otto, Eckart
1. Topography Jerusalem is situated immediately west of the Mount of Olives (790–820 m. / 2,600–2,700 ft. above sea level), at the junction of northern and southern Palestine, on the Cisjordan highlands. Up to the last century it was bordered on the east by the Kidron Valley (2 Sam. 15:23; John 18:1) and on the west and south by the Hinnom Valley (Josh. 15:8; 18:16). It is divided by the Cross Valley, a central valley that runs from north to south (Josephus J.W.  5.140), separating a western hill from one on the east. Settlement began on the south side of the southeast hill…


(3,134 words)

Author(s): Padberg S.J., John W.
1. Establishment and Purpose The Society of Jesus ( Societas Jesu, S.J.), officially established in 1540, traces its origin to the coming together of Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) and six of his companions who had been influenced by his Spiritual Exercises: Nicolás Bobadilla (1507–90), Pierre Favre (1506–46), Diego Laínez (1512–65), Simão Rodrigues (d. 1579), Alfonso Salmerón (1515–85), and Francis Xavier (1506–52). At Montmartre in Paris on August 15, 1534, these men took a vow of poverty and chastity and also vowed that, if possible, they wou…


(3,356 words)

Author(s): Holtz, Traugott
1. Sources The sources for an account of Jesus, both secular and Christian, are complex. 1.1. Ancient histories contain no direct references. The so-called testimonium Flavianum (Josephus Ant.  18.63–64) refers to Jesus as “a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.… He was the Messiah.” This passage, however, seems at least to have undergone Christian revision. In his account of the execution of James, Josephus ( Ant.  20.200) identifies James as the brother of Jesus, “the so-called Christ.” Suetonius (ca. 69-after 122) takes us back furthest. Then comes Tacitus (ca. 55-ca.…

Jesus People

(1,928 words)

Author(s): Eskridge, Larry
1. Origins The Jesus People were theologically conservative youth in the United States who emerged as a group distinct from the hippie counterculture during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Initially the product of attempts by a few evangelical pastors and youth workers to evangelize hippies, the movement spread and began to attract a following among church youth. After a period of intense media publicity, the movement’s style and jargon were widely adopted by evangelical young people across the na…

Jesus Seminar

(2,090 words)

Author(s): Powell, Mark Allan
The Jesus Seminar is a consultation of historical scholars that meets regularly in America. They are best known for a project undertaken from 1985 to 1996, when they considered the historical authenticity of sayings and deeds attributed to Jesus in all documents before a.d. 300. They published their findings in two major works, The Five Gospels (1993) and The Acts of Jesus (1998). The work was controversial in that it challenged or denied the historicity of many biblical traditions, and the ensuing scandal was heightened by the group’s facility at attract…

Jewish-Christian Dialogue

(7,763 words)

Author(s): Leighton, Christopher M. | Arian, Charles
Overview Overview For almost 2,000 years Christians and Jews have assigned one another inconsequential roles in the master narratives that they each have handed on from one generation to another. From a traditional Jewish perspective the covenantal relationship between God and Israel (§1) determines the ultimate welfare of the world. The destiny of the nations depends upon Israel’s realization of its sacred obligations. Although non-Jews may serve as God’s instruments to remind Israel of its dutie…

Jewish Christians

(1,552 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut | Baumann, Arnulf
1. Biblical and Patristic Period 1.1. Term The loose term “Jewish Christians” takes on sharp contours only when it is used in agreement with patristic sources. It is used for Christians who link ¶ their confession of Christ to a theology and lifestyle of Jewish structure (M. Simon, G. Strecker). 1.2. Sources and Spread The early Christian fathers from the time of Irenaeus (d. ca. 200) describe Jewish Christians. There are quotations from perhaps three Jewish-Christian gospels (Apocrypha 2.1.2), and there is a reference to Jewish Christians in the Pseudo-Cl…

Jewish Mission

(1,283 words)

Author(s): Baumann, Arnulf | Boraas, Roger S.
1. Biblical Foundations Jewish mission does not have merely an abstract basis (e.g., Christianity’s claim to absoluteness or the universal nature of salvation) but rests partly on the concrete experiences of earliest Christianity. Jesus was aware of being sent to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24), and it was to them that he symbolically sent out the Twelve (Mark 6:7–13). Furthermore, the message of Jesus as Messiah spread first “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria” (Acts 1:8), and then in other places to Jews and various God-fearers. In the initial st…

Jewish Philosophy

(6,255 words)

Author(s): Mayer, Günter | Dorff, Elliot N.
1. Definition Jewish philosophy is the development by Jewish thinkers, in general conceptual terms, of what it means to be a Jew. One commonly used medieval triad defines the main subjects of Jewish thought as God, Torah (including revelation, the process by which it came to be), and the people of Israel (§1). Topics like creation, redemption, life after death, the land of Israel, and prayer are often also part of comprehensive Jewish philosophies. Each philosophy of Judaism is written by a particular person in a specific time and place, and thus it is not surprising …
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