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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(533 words)

Author(s): Frost, Herbert
Elders, or presbyters (Gk. presbyteroi), are members of Christian congregations entrusted with special ministries in leadership, liturgy, church discipline, and diakonia. 1. The organization of the early church shows plainly the influence of the Jewish synagogue and the Greek laws pertaining to societies, though there is no direct continuity. In the NT we see various charismata, from which the offices of bishop, elder, and deacon soon arose. For the most part, the elders had collegial functions. Already in the Pasto…


(4 words)

See Predestination

Electronic Church

(630 words)

Author(s): Parker, G. Keith
“Electronic church” is a euphemism for radio and television religious programming (Mass Media) that applies modern high technology (in computers and marketing) to media use. With much diversity in ideology, the major electronic churches usually share common characteristics: (1) strong charismatic leaders with clear and simple answers; (2) a divine success story with a miraculous mythology around their beginnings; (3) a distinctive style that identifies a unique package for the gospel (e.g., Jerry Falwell’s “Old Time Gospel”); (4) a quest for an audience; (5) a ten…


(5 words)

See Eucharistic Spirituality


(617 words)

Author(s): Kiesow, Klaus
1. Elijah’s name (Heb. ʾēliyyāhû [less often ʾēliyyâ] = “my God is Yahweh”) intimates his program, and the story of his ministry goes hand in hand with his historical figure. He was a champion of exclusive Yahweh worship in the time of Ahab (871–852 b.c.) and Ahaziah (852–851) of Israel. According to 1 Kgs. 17:1 he was from Tishbe in Gilead (site uncertain). The secret of his person and the very threatening nature of his appearance made him the crystallization point for an increasingly legendary literary and theological tradition, whose devel…


(315 words)

Author(s): Kiesow, Klaus
Elisha (Heb. ʾĕlı̂šāʿ, i.e., ʾēlyāšāʿ = “God has helped”), who came from Abel-mehola (= Tell Abû Ṣûṣ, on the west bank of the middle Jordan?) and was at work in the second half of the ninth century b.c., was a leader of the community of prophets centered at Gilgal near Jericho. Some scholars view his link with Elijah as a later construction (1 Kgs. 19:19b–21; 2 Kgs. 2:1–18). He had dealings with kings of the dynasty of Jehu, whom he supported in wars against the Arameans and to whom he owed the title “the chariots of Israel and its horsemen” (2 Kgs. 13:14). His role as initiator of …

El Salvador

(1,734 words)

Author(s): Cardenal S.J., Rodolfo
1. General The Central American republic of El Salvador has by far the highest population density of any country in Central or South America. This factor, along with an inequitable distribution of resources, results in a grinding poverty for most of the people. After 1932 there was also an ongoing policy of government ¶ repression, so that the situation of the poor is clearly bleak. From 1980 to 1992 the country suffered a bloody and destructive civil war. Explosive outbreaks, reactions to extreme poverty, were initiated by paramilitary organizations, leading…


(389 words)

Author(s): Veldhuis, Ruurd
“Emanation,” from the Lat. emano (flow out), occurs in certain metaphysical conceptions of the structure and origin of the world. In these systems, reality consists of a hierarchy of being in which lower forms develop out of higher forms, and the multiplicity of the world ultimately derives from the unity of a first principle. The idea occurs only rarely in classical Greek philosophy ¶ (Gk. aporroia, “outflow, emanation”), and then mostly in an epistemological connection (e.g., in Empedocles). Only in Gnosticism does it become significant metaphysically. Here with t…


(1,084 words)

Author(s): Jasper, Gotthard
1. Meaning and History Originally in Roman law emancipation was a legal act by which a paterfamilias released a child from parental control ( emancipo = e manu capio, “let go of the hand,” “release,” “free”). This act had implications for civil law. Nonemancipated sons had political rights and could engage in trade or marry, but they had no property rights. In other languages the term has lost the idea of achieving adulthood, although in the Napoleonic Code it follows the Roman tradition and denotes the achieving of independence in civil law. The social and political expansion of usage…

Emergency Baptism

(491 words)

Author(s): Schmidt-Lauber, Hans-Christoph
Since the early church saw baptism not merely as a rite of initiation but as a means of conferring salvation, as early as the second century it could ¶ be administered by laymen as well as clergy when there was danger of death (so-called clinical baptism). Tertullian and the Fourth Council of Carthage, however, would not allow women to administer it. Because of the consecration of the water and the anointing, which were reserved for priests, the East hesitated to allow emergency baptism by laymen ( Apos. Const.  3.10.1–2). In the West the bishop would subsequently lay on hands (3d cent., Afr…


(4 words)

See Refugees


(395 words)

Author(s): Scharfenberg, Joachim
Although the Eng. term “empathy” was coined only in the early 20th century, the Ger. equivalent Einfühling was developed much earlier by J. G. Herder (1744–1803). It played a great role in the metaphysical-aesthetic speculations of Romanticism. In 1903 T. Lipps subjected it to an incisive description and analysis. In the United States it was taken up in a sociopsychological context as a method of sensitivity training. From S. Freud (1856–1939) by way of F. T. Vischer, it made its way into psychoanalysis. H. Ko…

Emperor Worship

(756 words)

Author(s): Karrer, Martin
1. In early antiquity an idea of charismatic kingship was widespread from Mesopotamia to Germany. This notion ascribed a divine origin to rulers in their responsibility for the cult, which was the basis of public well-being. In Egypt this impulse resulted in the divine monarchy of the pharaoh, who was regarded as the son of Amon-Re and who was venerated, usually after death, only on the basis of his beneficence. Under Ramses II, however, there is evidence for actual worship of a statue of the li…

Empire and Papacy

(2,432 words)

Author(s): Moeller, Bernd
1. Significance in the Middle Ages The relation between empire and papacy, their interplay and fundamental rivalry, was basic to both secular and ecclesiastical history in the Middle Ages (§2). The social thinking of Latin Christendom was characterized by the idea that the secular world is ruled by two heads. It differed essentially from that of the Christian East, with its tendencies toward caesaropapism (the emperor ruling the church). In historical reality the idea contributed to the closed nature of the medieval corpus Christianum, but it also resulted in a significant hist…


(1,096 words)

Author(s): Zimmerli, Walther C.
The term “empiricism” (from Gk. empeiria, “experience”) received its present meaning toward the end of the 18th century. Previously it was used to distinguish medicine based on practical experience (medicina empirica) from academic medicine (medicina rationalis). Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) used the term in 1781 to denote the philosophical trend that deduces even the knowledge of “pure reason” from experience. Since then the concept has made its way into philosophical lexica and histories of philosophy. We must distinguish between a use that serves philosophical classi…


(279 words)

Author(s): Grote, Heiner
Encyclicals are circular letters issued by the pope. As litterae encyclicae, they are sent to all bishops who live in peace and fellowship with the apostolic see, or to all Roman Catholics, or to all people of good will. As epistolae encyclicae, they are addressed only to bishops and believers in a particular area. Written in either Latin or the vernacular, they deal with a wide range of matters of doctrine and church order, faith, piety and life, social order (Social Encyclicals), mission, and ecumenism. They are mostly concrete and ti…


(619 words)

Author(s): Fischer, Hermann
1. General The term “encyclopedia” denotes the total body of knowledge either of science as a whole or of a particular science, and it proclaims the unity of a science in its various disciplines. 1.1. Term The original Greek term was enkyklios paideia (circular, or general, education). For the Greek Sophists (Greek Philosophy), this phrase denoted the compass and measure of knowledge that all free Greeks had to attain before receiving specialized training or entering into practical life. 1.2. History of the Term Out of the idea of a canon of knowledge there developed various s…

End Times

(5 words)

See Eschatology


(1,252 words)

Author(s): Huber, Wolfgang
Enmity is a basic experience of individual and collective life. Confronting this basic experience is the extreme form that Jesus gives to the command of love of neighbor when, in the Sermon on the Mount, he includes in it love of one’s enemies. Theology, however, has typically devoted very little discussion to the concept and problem of the enemy. 1. Concept An enemy is one who hates and pursues us. A sense of threat always goes hand in hand with the term. As seen most clearly in Greek tragedy, however, the experience of enmity is a necessary stage in hum…


(931 words)

Author(s): Ratsch, Ulrich
Energy (Gk. energeia, “efficacy, reality, activity”) is a measure of the capacity for work. All processes in nature, and thus also all human activities, involve the exchange, delivery, and transformation of energy. It comes in various forms (mechanical energy, heat, light, chemical changes, electrical energy, etc.), which to some extent may be transformed into one another. In all these processes the total energy remains constant (the law of conservation of energy); it is neither used up nor generated. The most important carriers or sourc…
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