Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Editors: Erwin Fahlbusch, Jan Milič Lochman, John Mbiti, Jaroslav Pelikan and Lukas Vischer

Help us improve our service

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.

Subscriptions: see brill.com

Nag Hammadi

(825 words)

Author(s): Nagel, Peter
1. Discovery and General Features Nag Hammadi (Arab. Najʿ Ḥammādı̄, near the site of the ancient town of Chenoboskion) is a town in Upper Egypt about 80 km. (50 mi.) northwest of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. In 1945 some Coptic MSS were discovered nearby, at the base of a boulder near the foot of a mountain called the Jabal al-Tarif. The corpus contains 12 codices, plus leaves from a 13th, with 52 tractates in all (including six doublets). The collection dates anywhere from early to late fourth century a.d. All the works were translated from earlier Greek versions. The Cop…

Nahum, Book of

(261 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
The prophet Nahum came from Elkosh (site unknown). He was active between the capture of Thebes (or No-Amon, see 3:8) by the Assyrians in 664/663 b.c. and the fall of Nineveh in 612. The essential content of his book is intimation of the collapse of Assyria and of future salvation for Israel (§1). These themes and the liturgical forms used are generally taken to suggest that Nahum was a Jerusalem cult prophet. The work begins with a fragmentary acrostic psalm (1:2–8) that Nahum himself, it is widely thought, did not perhaps formulate. After a word of comfort for Juda…


(1,321 words)

Author(s): !Nôabeb, Engelhard
1. General Situation The Republic of Namibia, in Southwest Africa on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, has been independent only since 1990. In 1968 the United Nations gave the area its present name, from the Namib Desert, which extends about 1,300 km. (800 mi.) along the coast. Namibia is the fourth largest African exporter of nonfuel minerals. It is a major source of the world’s uranium and of gem-quality diamonds. Germany annexed the Namibian area in 1885, naming it German Southwest Africa (Colonialism). South Africa seized the territory during World War I, ren…


(542 words)

Author(s): Scharfenberg, Joachim
H. Ellis (1859–1939) first coined the term “narcissism” in psychiatry to denote homosexuality, then regarded only as sexual perversion (Sexuality). The idea was that of people loving their own reflection, like Narcissus in the Greek myth (Love). S. Freud (1856–1939) distinguished between primary narcissism as a general stage in psychological ¶ development (§2), in which subject and object are symbolically united, and secondary narcissism, by which psychological energies (Libido) are deflected from the object and possess the self, as is often observed in psychosis (e.g., in Fre…

Narrative Theology

(2,873 words)

Author(s): Robinson, Robert B.
1. The Nature of Narrative Narratives are stories. Stories become theological when they involve God, that is, when one of the characters active in them, implicated in their plots, whose character and nature are revealed by the actions recounted in the story, is God. Stories involving God are of different orders. The first instance is the stories of the Bible in which God is depicted directly as a character in the persons of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Other stories recount individual lives in their fullness, including the interaction betwee…

National Association of Evangelicals

(1,752 words)

Author(s): Eskridge, Larry
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is a voluntary association founded in 1942 that represents U.S. evangelical denominations, organizations, institutions, congregations, and individuals. In 2001 it represented an estimated 43,000 congregations from 51 member denominations (totaling nearly 5 million members), individual congregations from 27 additional denominations, and hundreds of independent churches. Including over ¶ 250 schools and parachurch organizations in its membership, the NAE calculates that its core constituency numbers abo…

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

(807 words)

Author(s): Kinnamon, Michael
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCCC) is the largest ecumenical organization in the United States. In 2002 its 36 member churches—Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican—had a combined membership of more than 50 million Christians. 1. Origins The most obvious predecessor to the current NCCC was the Federal Council of Churches, formed in 1908 as a forum for consultation among its 33 member denominations and as an instrument for cooperative social service. The Federal Council also assisted, over the next four dec…

National Councils of Churches

(1,973 words)

Author(s): Kinnamon, Michael
1. Definition A council of churches is a voluntary association of separated Christian churches through which its members seek to manifest their fellowship with one another (Koinonia), to engage in common activities of witness and service, and to advance toward the ecumenical goal of greater visible unity. A council of churches can be distinguished from a temporary church coalition in that its members make a long-term commitment to one another. It can be distinguished from a clergy association or C…

Nation, Nationalism

(2,738 words)

Author(s): Turcotte, Paul-André
1. Concept and Development 1.1. Concept Underlying the concept of the nation is the idea of differences. Various notions are presupposed that confirm the existence and solidarity of a given human group in distinction from all that is alien to it (Foreigners, Aliens). Consent thus arises as to what a nation is. It carries with it the thought of a future, the guarantee for which seems to be power. In other words, it is a component of social reproduction as a continuation of the past, as well as a form o…

Natural Law

(4,631 words)

Author(s): Weiler, Rudolf | Porter, Jean
1. Term The term “natural law” is used for the ethical theory of what is truly right (Ethics). The discipline differs from that of positive (i.e., prescribed) law by positing an order of what is right that is inherent in our human nature and that is known to us intrinsically. Natural law is thus the epitome of that order. It denotes that which is right by nature (Gk. physei dikaion, Lat. ius/lex naturae) rather than by statute (Gk. nomikon diakaion). In consequence of the modern empirical restriction in the use of the term “nature,” however, “natural law” and “law of n…

Natural Theology

(1,602 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian
1. Term What is called natural theology is not an independent theme but an ongoing, urgent problem in Christian theology relating to the question of truth. Natural theology wants to show that God is self-evident and that he does not serve merely as a deus ex machina in the world. It thus claims the adjective “natural” in two ways. The first reference is to the natural sphere in the concrete world order (Nature) as the natural horizon against which God appears. It is as natural beings that humans are under God’s impact and summoned to know him. The world itself has a…


(1,705 words)

Author(s): Schoberth, Wolfgang
1. History of the Term The term “nature” clearly is used in many different ways, in both everyday speech and technical language. This imprecision makes its meaning versatile but problematic in relation to such concepts as life, experience, and reality. The flexibility and imprecision mark its whole history (Philosophy of Nature), in which we find all the meanings that it has in common parlance. Common to them all is the idea that “nature” stands for the sphere of the given. 1.1. Greek Philosophy Physis in Greek philosophy is more a forerunner than an equivalent of “nature.” In…

Nature, Philosophy of

(8 words)

See Philosophy of Nature

Nature Religion

(661 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
The term “nature religion” has been used in a great variety of senses, of which seven are distinguished here. Philosophical. In the second and first centuries b.c. (later, the Stoics), and also in the 18th century (D. Hume), early doctrines of human nature came to completion with the observation or postulation of a disposition that in the modern period would be called religious. Theological. In the light of the revelation of the true knowledge of God, such a religious disposition became a problem for the second-century Christian apologists. Various terms wer…


(581 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut
1. The term ho Nazarēnos occurs in the NT in apposition to the name “Jesus” to show that the Jesus meant is the man of Nazareth (Mark 1:24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6). Matthew does not have the term but replaces it by ho Nazōraios in 26:71, also using that term in 2:23. We find both terms in Luke (the former in 4:34; 24:19; the latter in 18:37), but only the latter in Acts (6 times). John uses the latter term, but only in the passion story (18:5, 7; 19:19). The idea that this form of the name derived from a supposedly pre-Christian sect (the Nazaraioi) is mistaken, as is the idea that …


(7 words)

See Church of the Nazarene


(271 words)

Author(s): Hultgren, Arland J.
The term “Nazirite” is from Heb. nāzı̂r, “one who is consecrated, devoted [to the Lord].” The laws regarding Nazirites (Num. 6:1–21) include abstinence from wine (or any other product of the grapevine) and other strong drinks (Dietary Laws; Asceticism), from cutting one’s hair or beard, and from touching a corpse. Both men and women could become Nazirites. One could be a Nazirite for a specified period of time, during which, if the vow was broken, there was a means for purification and restoration (vv. 9–12). There was also a ritual for leaving at the end of the time of conse…


(67 words)

Author(s): Mauder, Albert
A necrology is a list of people’s names arranged according to date of death for the use of members of parishes, religious orders, and spiritual communities in intercession or remembrance. We also find necrologies in secular societies. In monasteries the names may often be read out on the appropriate day. Older necrologies are often primary historical sources. Albert Mauder†Bibliography M. M. Sheehan, “Necrology,” NCE  10.296–97.
▲   Back to top   ▲