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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See Hong Kong and Macao


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See Beatitudes


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See Hasmonaeans


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Author(s): Kuzmič, Peter
1. Geography and Independence Macedonia is a land-locked South Slavic country in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula, bordering on Kosovo and Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. In 1994 ethnic Macedonians accounted for 66.6 percent of the population, ethnic Albanians 22.7 percent, ethnic Turks 4.0 percent, Roma 2.2 percent, and Serbs 2.1 percent. More than a quarter of the population lives in the capital city of Skopje. The boundaries of the …


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Author(s): Southall, Aidan W.
1. General Situation The Republic of Madagascar, off the coast of southeast Africa, is the world’s fourth largest island. The Arabs knew it from the ninth century. In 1506 the Portuguese became the first Europeans to reach it; in 1896 it became a French colony (Colonialism), achieving independence in 1960. A military regime took over in 1972, soon thereafter imposing a ban on multiparty politics that lasted until the presidential and National Assembly elections of 1992–93. By the constitution of 19…


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Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G.
1. Term and Meanings The term “magic” derives by way of Lat. magia and Gk. mageia from OPer. magu-, a word of uncertain etymology denoting a priestly clan. In antiquity the term came to denote the more general practice of magic. Supernatural ability, rituals (Rite), automatic writing, and secret information were its stock-in-trade. Despite Christian opposition, it persisted in the Christian era. The study of comparative religion (Religious Studies) made the concept a basic category in the 19th century, treating magic as no less fundamental than religion. In 1931 B. Malinowski (…

Magic Square

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See Word Square


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See Teaching Office


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See Canticle


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Author(s): Söhnen-Thieme, Renate
The Mahabharata (Skt. Mahābhārata, “Great History of the Bharata Dynasty”) comprises, together with the Purana-like Harivamsa ( Harivaṁśa, or genealogy and life of Krishna), over 100,000 Sanskrit stanzas, composed presumably between the fourth century b.c. and the fourth century a.d. The core of the epic is the conflict between the Pāṇḍavas (Pāṇḍu’s sons, including the Dharma-king Yudhiṣṭhira and Krishna’s friend Arjuna) and their hostile cousins, the Kauravas (descendants of Kuru), with whom they were contesting the sovereignty of North India. Of the 18 books…

Malachi, Book of

(326 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
1. Name, Author, Form “Malachi” is not the name of a prophet but simply means “my messenger” (see 3:1). We do not know, then, the name of the author. The work consists of six discussions setting out a thesis, stating the arguments against it, then establishing it and drawing out the implications. This form influenced later scribal disputations (Scribes) in early Judaism. 2. Contents The book deals with the people’s offering of worthless sacrifices and reduced tithes, divorce and mixed marriages, and proclamation of the day of God’s judgment. Many scholars vi…

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

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See Syrian Orthodox Churches in India


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Author(s): Amanze, James N.
1. General Situation The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country of East Africa, bordered on the east, south, and southwest by Mozambique, by Zambia on the west, and by Tanzania on the north. It stretches 900 km. (560 mi.) along Lake Malawi (or Lake Nyasa), most of which is part of Malawi territory. Bantu tribes migrated into the area in the 16th century, with Arab slavers appearing in the 19th century ( Slavery). In 1891 the area became the British protectorate of Nyasaland (Colonialism), which achieved its independence in 1964. The country w…


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Author(s): Kasch, Volker
1. General Situation Malaysia lies in the tropics north of the Equator. It embraces two areas separated by approximately 600 km. (375 mi.) across the South China Sea: the Malay Peninsula and parts of the island of Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) to the north outside the sultanate of Brunei. The Malaysian peninsula is bordered on the north by Thailand and on the south by Singapore. The country’s capital is Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian peninsula has 43 percent of the total area but 83 percent of the total population of the country. At first Malaysia, which gained soverei…


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Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Republic of Maldives, comprising a pencil-shaped cluster of 26 atolls, lies in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of India. Only about 200 of its 1,190 islands are permanently inhabited. No island is over 13 sq. km. (5 sq. mi.) in area; the highest point in any of them is only 2.4 m. (8 ft.) above sea level. Maldives is important geopolitically because of its location astride or along major sea lanes in the Indian Ocean. Ethnically, Maldivians are a mixture of South Indians, Sinhalese, and Arabs; the official language is Dhivehi, of Sanskrit or…


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Author(s): Jenkins, Paul
1. General Situation The Republic of Mali, in the interior of western Africa, is one of the largest countries of Africa. It stretches 1,500 km. (930 mi.) from the central Sahara (the traditional salt mines of Taoudenni) to the Sahel area southwest of the Niger River. Between Tombouctou (traditionally spelled “Timbuktu”) and Ségou, in the Macina region, the river branches into a large inland delta, an area of lakes and swamps, once a single lake, that the ever-encroaching desert threatens. Astride important north-south trans-Saharan caravan routes and the west-east routes …


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Author(s): Grima, George
1. Christian Mission It is commonly agreed that the apostle Paul himself brought Christianity to Malta when he was shipwrecked on the island on his way to Rome (Acts 27–28). Ancient Christian remains, especially catacombs, bear witness to an established church there in the 3d century. Little is known about the history of Christianity in Malta in the next seven centuries, but we have evidence of a substantial Christian presence after the 11th century. Today most of the people of the Republic of Malta belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The constitution recognizes this…


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Author(s): Nagel, Peter
1. Term The term “Mandaean” is used for a Gnostic-type baptismal fellowship (Baptism) that existed on the eastern borders of Syria and Palestine in the first century a.d. and that is the only one of such representatives of the syncretism of antiquity to survive to this day. Modern Mandaeans, some 15,000 in number in the late 1970s, live in the marshy delta region of the Tigris and Euphrates, in the Iranian province of Khūzestān, and in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Basra. Since the Iran-Iraq War of 1980–88 we have not had reliable statistics about their numbers. Within East Aramaic the …


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Author(s): Nagel, Peter
1. Religious Type and Features Manichaeanism, named after its founder, the Persian Mani (a.d. 216–76/77), is a Gnostic-type dualistic religion of redemption, though by its origin and in its manifestations it differs in many respects from Syrian and Egyptian Gnosis. It is (1) a religion founded by a historical personage, (2) a universal religion with a world mission, and (3) a book religion with a canon of sacred writings. Structurally, it involves a hierarchically ordered church, which it views as a means o…


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Author(s): Valk, Jakob M. M. de
1. Term The word “manipulation” derives from Lat. manus (hand) and plero (fill). Semantically, it is akin to handling, but with the negative connotation of illegitimate or doubtful modes of handling. Though it may be used with reference to nature, it refers primarily to acts relating to people, whether physical, psychological, or social. One might define it as a deliberate influencing of individuals and groups that are not aware of being influenced or given any option in the matter. It thus differs from authority (consciously experienced and legally recognized influencing) and compul…

Manuscripts, Biblical

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See Bible Manuscripts and Editions


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Author(s): May, Gerhard
1. Marcion Marcion (d. ca. a.d. 160) was a shipowner from Pontus in Asia Minor (from ancient Sinope?). Under Emperor Antoninus Pius (138–61) he tried to win over the Roman church to his understanding of the Christian message. When he failed, he founded his own church (in 144?). His followers called themselves Marcionites. 2. Doctrines Marcion taught that there are two gods. The anthropomorphic god of the OT is the creator (demiurge) of the world and humanity, with all their faults (Creation). As the lawgiver, he is the Just One. The true and esse…

Marginalized Groups

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Author(s): Scott, Bob
1. Definitions Communities or groups are described as marginalized or marginal because of their distance from the centers of political or economic power or influence, or because of their limited access to the decision-making processes that affect their lives. Almost every modern-day document on justice refers to the “marginalized,” a term used by sociologists and politicians alike. Rapidly expanding international networks of financial power linked to political ¶ influence—dramatically demonstrated, for example, by the World Economic Forum, usually held annually …


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Author(s): Karski, Karol
The Mariavites (from Lat. qui Mariae vitam imitantur, “who imitate the life of Mary”) stress veneration of the Virgin. 1. Origin and History In Pøock in 1893 Felicia Kozlowska (1862–1921), of the order of the Poor Clares (Franciscans) and at the instigation of priest Jan Kowalski (1871–1942), founded an order of secular priests who did extensive social work ( Religious Life). Persecuted by the hierarchy and proscribed by Rome, the group, calling itself Mariavites, formed an independent church in 1906. In 1909 it join…


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Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Carter, David | Napiórkowski, Stanislaw Celestyn
1. Content and Problems 1.1. Devotion to Mary and Mariology The NT witness names Mary as the mother of Jesus of Nazareth (see Matt. 1:16, 18, 20; 2:11, 13; 12:46; 13:55; Mark 3:31; 6:3; Luke 1:26–56; 2:4–7, 16, 19, 34, 48, 51; 8:19; John 2:1, 3, 5, 12; 6:42; 19:25–26). In the Roman Catholic tradition, believers’ devotion to Mary finds expression in acts of trust, thanksgiving, praise, invocation, and intercession, as well as in liturgical actions and canticles, statues, other artistic and literary representations, feast days and shrines, and i…

Mark, Gospel of

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Author(s): Hultgren, Arland J.
1. Origins According to ancient writers, the Gospel of Mark was composed in Rome. These witnesses include Papias (ca. 60–130), whose otherwise lost text is quoted by the fourth-century historian Eusebius ( Hist. eccl.  3.39.14); Irenaeus, writing late in the second century ( Adv. haer.  3.1.1); and Clement of Alexandria, writing about the same time, as recorded by Eusebius ( Hist. eccl.  6.14.5–7). Moreover, these writers identify the writer as a person named Mark, who is called an “interpreter” of the apostle Peter. According to Clement, the gospel wa…


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See Uniate Churches


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Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
A Marrano is a Christianized Jew or Moor of medieval Spain, especially one who converted only to escape persecution (Conversion 1). From the 11th century Spanish Jews (Judaism), showing that they too had to avoid things, borrowed from the Arabs the term maḥram (something prohibited), which, in its Castillian form marrano, they used to refer to pigs. The reconquistadores then took over the word and applied it to the Jews themselves. When baptism was forced on the Jews, it became a common term of contempt for those thus baptized (they called themselves ʾănûsı̄m, “coerced ones”), who w…

Marriage and Divorce

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Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich | Burgsmüller, Alfred | Stevenson, Kenneth W. | Wall, John
1. Dogmatics and Ethics 1.1. Historical Data Historical research has never been able to establish the original form of marriage—monogamy or polygamy (polygyny or polyandry)—or whether one form developed into the other. Yet it is striking that in so-called primitive cultures, as well as more civilized ones, we always find a religious or cultural understanding of marriage and weddings. Behind or “above” the institutionally regulated and celebrated uniting (not merely monogamously) of a man and a woman, w…

Mar Thoma Church

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See India 3; Syrian Orthodox Churches in India


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Author(s): Albrecht, Ruth
The Christian church has always had its martyrs, but the model comes from the early church. In the middle of the second century the Martyrdom of Polycarp provided the first example and the terminology. ¶ The martyr is a disciple and imitator of Christ (Discipleship 2) who, in a situation of persecution, holds fast the confession of Christ and thus comes under sentence of death. Death seals faith in Christ as the witness (Gk. root martyr-) of blood, that is, martyrdom. Only those who give up their lives can be called martyrs. Those who survive persecution and torture w…

Martyrs, Acts of the

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Author(s): Albrecht, Ruth
Persecutions in the early church resulted in a specific literary genre, the acts of the martyrs. We find two types. The first consists of a record of the trials of martyrs, for example, that of Justin Martyr in Rome about 165 (Martyrium Sancti Iustini et Sociorum), or that of the 12 martyrs of Scillium (near Carthage?), North Africa, in 180 (H. Musurillo, 86–89), or that of Cyprian of Carthage in 258 ( Acta Proconsularia, Musurillo, 168–75). The second type consists of a report of events before and during the imprisonment and then of the execution of the death sentence. Examples are the Martyrdo…


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Author(s): Fleischer, Helmut | Starke, Ekkehard | Editors, The
1. Historical Development Marxism is the social doctrine that the disciples of Karl Marx (1818–83)—especially E. Bernstein, K. Kautsky, A. Bebel, F. Mehring, and G. V. Plekhanov, in partnership with F. Engels (1820–95)—developed in the 1880s and 1890s from various elements of thought that they regarded as the essence of Marx’s teaching. Marx himself disliked being called a Marxist, and we cannot really view him as the founder of Marxism. His revolutionary theories were not meant to be doctrines but, in the strict sense, merely an account of a real movement of history ( MECW  6.498). The …

Marxism and Christianity

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Author(s): Calvez, Jean-Ives | Starke, Ekkehard | Hjelm, Norman A.
1. Sources of Conflict 1.1. The Marxist Critique of Religion Karl Marx (1818–83), especially in his younger period, took the view that the task of criticizing religion had already been effectively concluded by German philosophers, especially Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–72), who had attempted to base religion and especially Christianity exclusively in anthropology (Criticism). Although Marx himself never used the expressions “historical materialism” or “dialectical materialism,” his approach to history was nevertheless materialist as he sought to equat…

Marx, Karl

(728 words)

Author(s): Löbl, Michael
Karl Heinrich Marx (1818–83), a German philosopher, sociologist, economist, and political theoretician, was the creator of historical materialism. “Marxism” was named after him. Marx was the son of a lawyer of Jewish lineage who converted to Protestantism. In 1835, after a carefree bourgeois youth, he passed the Abitur (secondary school examination) in his hometown of Trier. From 1836 he studied philosophy and history in Bonn and Berlin, where he was strongly influenced by Hegel’s philosophy (Hegelianism) and initially felt drawn to the left-…

Mary, Devotion to

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Author(s): Petri, Heinrich | Beattie, Tina | Kassel, Maria | Cano, Eduardo
1. General Devotion to Mary plays an important role in the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic ¶ Church. To be distinguished from praise of Mary is the appeal for her intercession before God in every need. Devotion to Mary originated in the spontaneous piety of believers (Popular Religion), although pagan influences (Syncretism) and psychological factors (Psychology of Religion) probably helped to generate and shape it. An important influence has been a changing perception of Mary’s role in obtaining divine blessings, including those of salvation. 1.1. History Elements of devot…

Mary in the New Testament

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Author(s): Green, Joel B.
Overview Of the seven Marys mentioned in the NT, this article considers only Mary the mother of Jesus, and only in light of the biblical record. (See the articles “Mariology” and “Mary, Devotion to” for further perspectives.) Mary is mentioned by name only in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in the Acts of the Apostles. Paul has indirect references to Mary (see 4). Her significance is further developed in early Christian writings outside of the NT and, especially, in subsequent theological reflection. Little can be said of the historical person. According to the Gospel…

Mary Magdalene

(1,489 words)

Author(s): Hinkle, Mary
1. NT The NT includes 12 references to Mary Magdalene, all of which occur in the Gospels. She is differentiated from other biblical Marys by reference to what was apparently her hometown, the city of Magdala on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. Luke 8:1–3 and Mark 15:40–41 both name Mary Magdalene among a group of women who followed Jesus throughout Galilee and provided for him out of their resources. Luke adds that Jesus had cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene, a detail included also in the longer ending of Mark. All remaining NT references to Mary Magdalene appear in the c…


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Author(s): Reinalter, Helmut
1. Values and Organization The Masons, or Freemasons, compose the world’s largest fraternal organization. Advocating human dignity, tolerance, free development of the personality, brotherhood, and universal love, they assume that human conflicts can be resolved without destructive consequences, which requires relationships of trust between those of different convictions. Freemasonry is strongly oriented to the individual and has a concern for moral perfection but otherwise has no ethical principles …

Masorah, Masoretes

(662 words)

Author(s): Hayes, John H.
1. In a broad sense the term “Masorah” refers to the notes and signs used by scribes in the transmission and preservation of the Hebrew text of the OT and its pronunciation, including the vowel signs and accent marks. In the narrower and more customary sense, the term refers to the informational and text-critical notes about the text written in the margins and at the end (and sometimes the beginning) of biblical books. The Masorah is an external accompaniment to the text. The exact meaning and origin of the term remain uncertain; it derives either from the verb msr, “hand down” or “count,” o…


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Author(s): Meyer, Hans Bernhard
1. Term The Christian term “mass” (Lat. missa) initially referred to the dismissing of a gathering, the sense being that the church was sent into the world at the conclusion of its gathering for worship (Blessing). From the fourth century the term came to be used for the whole service of worship, and from the fifth and sixth centuries exclusively for what is now called the Mass. The reason for the change in usage is that increasingly the whole of worship, especially the Eucharist, came to be seen as an action that dispenses God’s blessing. In content the term “mass” covers all the essen…

Masses, The

(913 words)

Author(s): Bertels, Kees
1. Term “The masses” is a term deriving from Lat. massa and Gk. maza, meaning a kneaded lump. It has the sense of a heap or aggregation or unorganized assembly. Used first for things, from the Middle Ages onward it came to be used also for people. In the modern period “the masses” tends to have a negative nuance, as in reference to plebeians, a crowd, or a mob. Between 1890 and World War II political sociology employed it for uncontrollable forces in society, not a class (Class and Social Stratum) or group, but a socially restless mob that…

Mass Media

(4,033 words)

Author(s): McQuail, Denis
1. General 1.1. The collective term “mass media” refers to the several different technologies that have been developed into institutional forms for the large-scale dissemination of information and culture. These technologies are better known by their familiar names as the press, radio, television, film, and so forth. The use of a single term, however, reflects the fact that all these means of mass communication share some basic features. Together they belong to what is now virtually a separate soc…

Mass, Music for the

(3,852 words)

Author(s): Westermeyer, Paul
1. Origins “Mass” is one of the Western names for the central worship service of the church. Rooted in the Latin words of dismissal— Ite, missa est (lit. “Go, it is the dismissal” or “Go, you are dismissed”)—the Mass highlights the sending of the people into the world to be the body and blood of Christ, whom they receive in Word and at table. Fragmentary sources before Hippolytus (ca. 170-ca. 236) indicate that Christian worship revolved around the Word and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist. A daily evening celebration of the supper…


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Author(s): Lütterfelds, Wilhelm
1. Term Materialism, which is one of the basic philosophical positions (Worldview), traces all reality to a single explanatory principle. In distinction from subjective and objective types of idealism, it monistically (Monism) finds the basis of all reality, including intellectual and moral, in physical matter, with its attributes, states, causal products, and functions. The concept of materialism is usually attributed to R. Boyle (1672–91). In the German sphere it was formulated in 1726 by J. G. Walch (1693–1775) and distinguished from mechanism,…

Matthew, Gospel of

(985 words)

Author(s): Kingsbury, Jack Dean
1. Origin The Gospel of Matthew was written about a.d. 90 for a community of Greek-speaking Christians of both Jewish and Gentile origin. On this view the Jewish War and the destruction of Jerusalem were events of the past (22:7). If the traditional ascription is discounted, the author was possibly a Jewish Christian of the second generation after Jesus. While it appears that he enjoyed rabbinic training (13:52), his language was Greek, and his theological outlook universal (4:19; 28:19). The place of writing was perhaps Antioch of Syria, for the social conditions reflec…


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Author(s): Wegemund, Regina
1. General Situation The Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a former French colony (Colonialism), is a desert state in West Africa. It opens onto the Atlantic on the west, with neighbors Senegal to the south, Mali to the south and east, Algeria to the northeast, and Western Sahara to the north and northwest. Ethnically, mixed Arab-Berber and Maur (Moor)/black constitutes ¶ 40 percent of the population, with the remainder divided equally between Maurs and blacks. Agriculture is possible only in the south, but during past decades droughts have restricted it s…


(642 words)

Author(s): Hsu, Victor W. C.
1. General Situation The Republic of Mauritius lies 800 km. (500 mi.) east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, with the island dependency of Rodrigues a further 800 km. to the east. The country’s capital is Port Louis. The Portuguese discovered Mauritius in 1505. The Dutch occupied it in 1598, followed by the French in 1721 and the British in 1810 (Colonialism). Since achieving independence in 1968, Mauritius has enjoyed a fairly stable democracy and has attracted considerable foreign investment. The main products for export are s…


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Author(s): Brown, Robert F. | Schwartz, Werner
Overview “Meaning” has diverse senses in everyday language and in various scientific and cultural disciplines. The context is crucial for clarification in each particular instance. In general, finding meaning concerns the ability to recognize salient features of the world and to employ that recognition as a framework of understanding or as information useful for accomplishing a specific purpose. Theories differ as to whether meaning resides primarily in thought, in a person’s linguistic expression or act, in some featur…

Means of Grace

(980 words)

Author(s): Maurer, Bernhard
The so-called means of grace ( media gratiae, or, sometimes among Lutherans, organa gratiae et salutis, “instruments of grace and salvation”) are the means by which, revealed in the power of the Holy Spirit, God offers grace in Jesus Christ and awakens and strengthens faith. When we refer to these means, we think especially of the symbolic and sensory manifestation of grace in the Word and in the reality of the world, the external Word (i.e., Holy Scripture) as the presupposition of the understanding of the internal Word (i.e., of the Holy Spirit). If, then, what is said about th…


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See Latin American Councils 24


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See Mass Media

Mediating Theology

(839 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
1. “Mediating theologians” are attested in the history of dogma of the early church (Christology 2.1–2.2; Trinity), during the Middle Ages (Sacrament 2.3; Scholasticism), as well as during the Reformation and in connection with more recent British and 19th-century North American theology (§§3–5). Not every such theologian, however, has sought a genuine mediation between opposing positions or intellectual currents. The ideals of unity and harmony (e.g., G. Calixtus [1586–1656]; later, e.g., S. T. Coleridge [1772–1834], the so-called early Oriel school, the libera…

Medical Ethics

(3,338 words)

Author(s): Ritschl, Dietrich
1. Problem Medical ethics (or ethics in medicine) is not a special ethics but the application of ethical theories, principles, and processes of decision (Ethics) to the themes and problems that in the broadest possible sense arise in relation to health and illness, health policy, suffering, healing, research, and the responsibility for the health of future generations. Hence it is not merely “doctors’ ethics,” as it was in ordinary parlance and literature up to a few decades ago. Distinct but over…

Medical Missions

(3,681 words)

Author(s): Thomas, Norman E.
Medical missions have been an ancillary service from the beginning of the missionary movement (Mission). Only in the 20th century did they come to be viewed as an independent task. This background is important as missionary societies relinquish medical missions in favor of the medical work of churches in the Third World. A new understanding of medical missions has become necessary. 1. Background In obedience to the command of Jesus to “cure the sick” (Matt. 10:8), early Christians cared for those who were ill. That ministry belonged in the first centuries (a.d. 100–400) to deacons an…


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Author(s): Saft, Walter
1. Meaning Meditation involves an inner perception that defies definition and can be understood only as it takes place. Nevertheless, abandoning the attempt to explain it conceptually does not mean that we can say nothing intelligible or helpful about it. According to O. Haendler (1890–1981), all healthy people meditate. When we know astonishment or wonder, when a word or event grips us, when we look at a picture or at something beautiful and it touches us (Aesthetics), we have an experience close to meditation. Haendler views meditation as “the living activity of ¶ our most inward ment…


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Author(s): Crenshaw, James L.
“Megilloth” (Heb. mĕgillôt, “rolls, scrolls”) is a technical term referring to the five scrolls that were brought together from the 6th century a.d., each being read in the synagogue during a festival (or fast). From the 12th century the sequence was Song of Songs, for Passover; Ruth, for the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost); Lamentations, for the fast on the ninth of Av, commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and later by the Romans; Ecclesiastes, for the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles); and Esther, for Purim (Jewish Practices 2). The unusual content of three scr…

Melanchthon, Philipp

(901 words)

Author(s): Kaufmann, Thomas
Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560) was the most significant German reformer after Martin Luther. Melanchthon was born in Bretten, Palatinate, as the son of the armorer George Schwarzerdt. After attending the distinguished Pforzheim Latin School, he matriculated in Heidelberg in 1509 at the early age of 12. (That year also his surname was changed from Schwarzerdt to the Greek equivalent, Melanchthon [black earth].) He received his bachelor of arts in 1511 and from 1512 studied in Tübingen, where he …


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Author(s): Khoury, Adel Theodor
The Orthodox in the Middle East who remained in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople following the Council of Chalcedon (451), who did not follow the Monophysites, were originally called Melchites (i.e., royalists, from Syr. melk, “king” [cf. Heb. melek, Arab. malik]). It was a term of defamation for their adherence to the Byzantine emperor of Byzantium. As a result of the Islamic conquest (Islam), the three Melchite patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem were often vacant. In 960–1085 restoration of Byzantine …


(5 words)

See Sexuality 5

Mendicant Friars

(6 words)

See Dominicans; Franciscans


(3,701 words)

Author(s): Rempel, John D.
1. History The Dutch and German term “Mennists,” used in derision to designate the followers of the Dutch Anabaptist leader Menno Simons (1496–1561), was translated into English as “Mennonites,” which is used in most countries today as their name. Similarly, the term “Anabaptist” was originally one of derision. In the 6th-century Justinian Code “Anabaptist” described dissident religious movements that “rebaptized” people who had received infant baptism. Justinian’s ancient laws against them were invoked against the new dissidents of the 16th century. 1.1. Genesis The origin of…

Menno Simons

(1,550 words)

Author(s): Koop, Karl
Menno Simons (1496–1561) was an Anabaptist reformer who gave leadership to the nonviolent wing of the Anabaptist movement in the Low Countries. Adherents of Mennonite bodies throughout the world recognize him as one of their primary founders. 1. From Priest to Anabaptist Leader Only a few details are known concerning Menno Simons’s background. He was born in the village of Witmarsum in the Dutch province of Friesland. His parents were farmers, his father, Simon, coming from the neighboring village of Pingjum. Menno may have received some…


(6 words)

See Christological Titles 31


(834 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G.
1. Religious Aspects The term “Messiah” derives from the biblical title māšı̂aḥ, “the anointed.” Anointing confers legitimacy upon a person as king or high priest. The Jewish view rested on the divine promise of an eternal kingship to the descendants of David (2 Sam. 7:12–16; monarchy in Israel). When Israel came under foreign rule in the sixth century b.c., this promise lay behind the hope that Zerubbabel of the house of David might be the king of the age of salvation (see Hag. 2:20–23; Zech. 3:8; 6:12–13). The promise was handed down up to the rise of Christianity (e.g., Pss. Sol.  17; Q…


(808 words)

Author(s): Brown, Robert F.
Moral philosophy comprises not only ethics as such—namely, systems of rules or beliefs that govern human conduct, or ought to—but also their underlying bases. The latter sphere, metaethics, concerns the philosophical status, internal logic, and ultimate justification of systems of ethical norms, beliefs, and discourse. It wrestles with such issues as whether ethical principles derive from empirical study of the natural world or from rational cognition of an autonomous domain of value. Put differ…


(1,156 words)

Author(s): Schwarz, Elisabeth
Since Aristotle (384–322 b.c.; Aristotelianism), the metaphor (Gk. metaphora, “transfer”) has been understood as a rhetorical stylistic device involving the replacement of one term or group of words by another that is more illustrative—for example, “evening of life” for “old age” (Rhetoric). The replacement is taken out of its normal semantic context and transferred into the place of the term with which it is comparable in some decisive sense, though without that comparison being articulated explicitly…


(3,216 words)

Author(s): Hofmeister, Heimo | Brown, Robert F.
1. Term and Concept The term “metaphysics” derives from the Gk. expression ta meta ta physika (lit. “the things that come after physics”), which stands as the title of a work by Aristotle (384–322 b.c.; Aristotelianism). The name was long attributed to a bibliographic accident, to placement of the book after the Physics in the Aristotelian canon. But the name in fact fits the sequence that knowledge takes according to Aristotle. In controversy with the earlier Ionian and Eleatic philosophies, Aristotle speaks of the archē, or ground of being, the first principles that in the…


(2,368 words)

Author(s): Wainwright, Geoffrey
1. Origins and Spread Having its origins in Anglicanism (Anglican Communion), Methodism ranks among the most recent of the larger ecclesial communities; in 2000 it numbered some 70 million members and adherents worldwide. Through its own pneumatological emphases it contributed—at least indirectly—to the rise of the even younger family of Pentecostal churches. The beginnings of Methodism lie in the movements for revival and renewal within the Church of England in the 18th century, especially in the evangelistic work of the Wesley brothers, John (1…

Methodist Churches

(3,190 words)

Author(s): Hale, Joe
1. Origins The beginnings of Methodism may be traced to the experience and work of John Wesley (1703–¶ 91) and his brother Charles (1707–88) in England. After studying at Oxford, the two brothers crossed the Atlantic in 1735 to serve as missionaries in the American colony of Georgia, but they returned feeling that their mission was a failure. Later back in London, both brothers in May 1738 made the discovery of God’s grace and received an assurance of faith that launched them on a revival that spread throughout E…


(2,504 words)

Author(s): Bastian, Jean-Pierre
1. General Situation The United Mexican States is the second largest and second most populated country in Latin America, behind Brazil. Mexicans are an ethnic mix (Sp. mestizaje) of whites, native Indians, and blacks. There is also a white minority, as well as indigenous minorities (e.g., Mayas, Otomís, Tojolobales, Chamulas, Lakandones, Tzotziles, Tzeltales, and Huicholes) who make up between 10 and 20 percent of the population. Politically, Mexico is a federal republic with 31 states and 1 federal district. It became a parliamentary de…
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