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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Manuscripts, Biblical

(8 words)

See Bible Manuscripts and Editions


(596 words)

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

(3,038 words)

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 …


(361 words)

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…


(5,716 words)

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

(1,751 words)

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


(373 words)

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

(7,760 words)

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


(575 words)

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

(300 words)

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…


(6,678 words)

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

(3,676 words)

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

(3,991 words)

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

(2,163 words)

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…


(1,330 words)

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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