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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(913 words)

Author(s): Land, Gary
1. “Sabbatarian” is a term used for Christians who insist that the Sabbath commandment, like the other nine (Decalogue), is still in force, with reference to either the seventh or the first day of the week. Normally agreeing with others that the day should be one of joy, worship, and rest, Sabbatarians also stress the prohibition of work. Sabbatarian trends, often linked to eschatological expectation, existed in many circles in pre-Reformation Europe (e.g., Finland, Hungary, Transylvania, and En…


(2,572 words)

Author(s): Schaller, Berndt
The seventh day of the week as a day of rest is one of the basic religious and social institutions of Judaism and, along with circumcision, a chief mark of Jewish identity. 1. Term In both biblical and postbiblical texts the usual term is šabbāt. We also find šabbātôn (also meaning “seventh year”) and the combination šabbat šabbātôn, “Sabbath of complete rest,” which can refer to the Sabbath year or to the Day of Atonement. 2. Origin We have no clear knowledge of the origin of the term, which is etymologically obscure. Some derive it from the Heb. verb šbt (cease, celebrate), other…


(6 words)

See Christology 212; Trinity


(6,793 words)

Author(s): Sattler, Dorothea
1. Problem of Definition When we try to define the term “sacrament” generally, that is, to grasp conceptually what theological presuppositions are accepted in calling certain things sacraments, whether baptism and the Eucharist in the Reformation tradition, or also confirmation (or chrismation), penance (Penitence), matrimony (Marriage and Divorce), holy orders, and anointing of the sick (Laying on of Hands) in that of Roman Catholics and the Orthodox, we run up against many obstacles. The challengi…


(1,630 words)

Author(s): Slenczka, Notger
1. Term The term “sacramentality” and the related adjective “sacramental” have no single meaning but are used in different ways in different connections. Formally, “sacramentality” is an abstract term based on “sacrament” and denoting what is essential to a sacrament as such. It serves, then, to show with what right the church describes various actions as sacraments. In this sense M. J. Scheeben (1835–88) raised the question of the sacramentality of marriage (pp. 593–610). By its very nature the term “sacramentality” looks beyond the question of the number of sacramen…


(419 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
Sacramentals are rites in the Roman Catholic Church (Rite 2) that are meant to denote God’s presence in the world by declaring his sovereignty over persons or things and by seeking his aid. They are “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments” but are of less importance than sacraments; they are instituted by the church, not by Christ ( Sacrosanctum concilium [ SC] 60; 1983 CIC  1166–72). They display and promote the church’s pastoral task of sanctifying the world for God and permeating all spheres of life ( consecratio mundi; Roman Catholic Church 5). They prepare belie…

Sacred and Profane

(2,506 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G. | Otte, Klaus
1. Religious and Biblical Aspects 1.1. Religious, Psychological, and Sociological The terms “sacred” and “profane” are significant in the vocabulary of comparative religion (Religious Studies). When the 19th century found that we do not encounter ideas of God always and everywhere, but that God “is a late comer in the history of religion” (G. van der Leeuw, Religion, 104), a new and universally applicable term for religion was needed. In 1871 E. B. Tylor (1832–1917) thought that a belief in spiritual beings might be a suitable minimal definition (chap…

Sacred Heart of Jesus

(614 words)

Author(s): Fischer, Balthasar
1. Development Beginning with the work of the Innsbruck patrologist Hugo Rahner (1900–1968), 20th-century research has shown that in the High Middle Ages expressed devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began on the broad basis of Johannine-inspired patristic meditation on the pierced side of the crucified Jesus as the source of sacramental life (John 19:34). The initiators of express devotion to the Sacred Heart belonged to the early Middle Ages (Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux), and it was further developed in the 13th century by the German Benedictin…


(4,171 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Janowski, Bernd | Hahn, Ferdinand
1. General 1.1. Words and Concept The English words “sacrifice” and “offering” come from Lat. sacrificium and offero. Ger. Opfer goes back to Lat. operari, “be active.” The terms suggest an active relation to the reality concerned in the different religions. The various ways in which the relation is described may thus affect the concept. Even though a distinction might arise between real and symbolic sacrifice, sacrifice is always at the heart of religion and widely influences human conduct in other spheres as well. In religious history we may un…


(416 words)

Author(s): Strohmaier-Wiederanders, Gerlinde
The sacristy, a term derived from Lat. sacer (sacred, holy), is a room in a church in which liturgical vessels, vestments, and books are kept and in which the clergy make preparations for leading worship, including robing. In Roman basilicas the sacristy is generally near the entrance, where the clergy procession starts. It is often handed over to the pastor in a liturgical ceremony. As a part of the house of God ( secretarium aedis sacrae, “sacristy of the sacred building”), it belongs to the total structure of the basilica. In the East it has liturgical significance…


(360 words)

Author(s): Schaller, Berndt
The term “Sadducees” (Gk. saddoukaioi, Heb. ṣaddûqîm, Aram. ṣadduqayya, thought to derive from David’s high priest, Zadok [ ṣādôq], see 2 Sam. 15:24–29) is used for members of a party of priests and nobles in Jerusalem. We have references to them, at times under the name “Boethusians,” only occasionally in Josephus and early Christian and rabbinic writings, mostly hostile. Only within limits, then, can we reconstruct their history and character. Historically important is the question of power in the political and religious life of Palestinian Judaism fro…

Saints, Veneration of

(3,845 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
1. Religious Roots A basic human experience is that of viewing certain persons as holy, as manifestations of the divine. This factor has played a determinative role in the development of religion (Sacred and Profane). The transcendent (Immanence and Transcendence) is experienced as the wholly other, that which comes to us directly, awakening a feeling of fear and dread (mysterium tremendum), the sacred being something apart (tabu), but also of something miraculous and attractive (mysterium fascinosum) that kindles awe (mana). The basis of such experience is the deity, whic…


(10,026 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Roloff, Jürgen | Stöhr, Martin | Ciobotea, Dan-Ilie | Wagner, Harald | Et al.
Overview What Christianity has to say about salvation (Soteriology) is essentially bound up with the name and history of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else …”). This verse expresses a universal claim and distinguishes it from, or even contradicts, what other religions and worldviews have to say about salvation. Christianity speaks of salvation as a gift of God’s love (Grace) for us and our world that transcends death, ¶ bestows life, and promises eschatological fulfillment (Eschatology; Hope). This understanding presupposes that human beings (…

Salvation Army

(1,244 words)

Author(s): Gassner, Karl Heinz
1. Founding and Development The Salvation Army began in July 1865 in England with the preaching of William Booth (1829–1912, ordained in 1858 in the Methodist New Connexion) at a tent mission arranged by the East London Special Services Committee. Booth had previously done revivalist work in many different places (Revivals). In 1865 he organized the East London Christian Mission, a ministry to the working class, with a tent mission at the Quaker cemetery in Whitechapel (London). In 1870 he founded t…

Salvation History

(2,748 words)

Author(s): Reumann, John
1. Terms and Concept A technical term in biblical theology (§1.2.5), “salvation history” (Ger. Heilsgeschichte) arose at a time when, as J. C. Beck put it, history was god (Historiography 3.6), not reason (Enlightenment) or feeling (Experience; Schleiermacher’s Theology). Under influences from covenant theology (§3.1; J. Cocceius [1603–69]) and Pietism (J. A. Bengel [1687–1752]), the concept developed in the Erlangen school, with its emphases on biblical hermeneutics, confessional ecclesiology, our communion…


(833 words)

Author(s): Dexinger, Ferdinand
Like Jews and Christians, the Samaritans worship the biblical God (Judaism). But their Holy Scripture consists only of the Pentateuch, whose religious laws they observe as the Jews do. Christian interest in them rests not merely in the fact that there is reference to them in the NT (Luke 10:30–37; 17:16–18; John 4:4–42; Acts 8:4–25). Knowledge of their origin and religion helps us also to understand the development of Jewish religion. On the assumption that at central points (esp. law, priesthood, and eschatology) their religion preserves the state…

Samuel, Books of

(1,243 words)

Author(s): Veijola, Timo
1. Name, Contents, Text The two books of Samuel belong to what are known as the Hebrew canon’s “earlier prophets” (Joshua to 2 Kings). They derive their name from Samuel, who in these books variously appears in the role of prophet, priest, and judge, and whom, together with Nathan and Gad, rabbinic tradition held to be the author of these books (cf. 1 Chr. 29:29). The Septuagint calls the Books of Samuel and Kings together the Four Books of Kingdoms (Basileiōn); the Vg, the Four Books of Kings (Regum). The division of Samuel into two books is attested only after 1448 and actually…


(2,262 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz | Strecker, Georg | Peters, Albrecht
1. OT 1.1. Term “Sanctification” denotes the transition from the ordinary secular sphere to the sphere of the holy (Sacred and Profane), but then also the analogous transition from the sphere of impurity (on the margin) to the normal sphere of purity (e.g., Lev. 11:44). On the OT view God himself is the quintessence of the holy (he is the Holy One, or the Holy One of Israel, and the beings around him are holy ones; see Isa. 6:3; Ps. 89:7; 99:5, 9). Primarily, then, sanctification is movement into proximity to God, though this movement can be understood in different ways. 1.2. In Space and Time First…


(2,328 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Stolz, Fritz | Fife, John
1. In Religion The sanctuary (Lat. sanctus, “sacred, holy”), or holy place, is a central element in religion and its visible form of expression. Even today one can easily identify a geographic region by its sanctuaries (churches in Christian areas, mosques in Muslim, stupas in Buddhist, and temples in Hindu). In this way religion has had an impact on landscape. The sanctuary may be situated on, in, or by a particular place in nature (a hill, river, fountain, lake, grove, cave, or rock), or it may involve something made by humans (a house, altar, hearth,…

Sanctuary Lamp

(90 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
In Roman Catholic churches the sanctuary light is the hanging light that shines constantly before the altar, where the reserved sacrament is kept in the tabernacle (§2). The purpose of the lamp is “to indicate and honor the presence of Christ” (1983 CIC  940). Evidence exists of the use of this light in the West from the 11th and 12th centuries. The Rituale Romanum (1614) made it obligatory. Oil or wax is usually burned, but electric light is permitted. See Eucharist; Eucharistic Spirituality; Liturgical Books The Editors
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