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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(3,999 words)

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…


(1,140 words)

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…


(641 words)

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…


(2,351 words)

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…


(7 words)

See Latin American Councils 24


(5 words)

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…


(1,067 words)

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…


(208 words)

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 …


(455 words)

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
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