Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

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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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(248 words)

Author(s): Konstantinou, Evangelos
Alongside the Procheiros Nomos (i.e., accessible, or additional, statute book), the Epanagoge (Gk. epanagōgē, “return to the [starting] point; introduction”) is the second draft of what was meant to serve as an introduction to the publishing of a comprehensive legal collection planned by Emperor Basil I (867–86). The term has reference to the law books of Emperor Justinian (reigned 527–65). The Epanagoge was composed after 879, probably between 884 and 886. As compared with older collections, the Epanagoge contains new titles (e.g., two on the emperor and three on the p…

Ephesians, Epistle to the

(1,194 words)

Author(s): Lindemann, Andreas
1. Contents Ephesians is a theological treatise in epistolary form. Its main theme is the church. There are no references ¶ to the congregation addressed, nor are there any actual polemics. The first part (chaps. 1–3) develops the theology. The greeting in 1:1–2 is surprisingly similar to that in Colossians. Vv. 3–14 then praise God (cf. 2 Cor. 1:3–7) for his saving work for believers. Vv. 15–19 contain a thanksgiving to God (cf. 1 Cor. 1:4–9) that reaches a climax with a description of the saving event in vv. 20–23. The soteriological consequences are shown in 2:1–10, especially vv. 5–7, w…


(710 words)

Author(s): Wischmeyer, Wolfgang
1. History Originally located on the bay of Coressus at the mouth of the Caÿster (Turk. Küçük Menderes) River, the city of Ephesus was refounded by Lysimachus, king of Thrace and Macedonia (306–281 b.c.). When it came under Roman rule in 133 b.c., it was capital of the senatorial province of Asia (29 b.c.-a.d. 297) and, even with competition from Pergamum and Smyrna, the most important and wealthiest city of Asia Minor. The sebasteion, dedicated to Rome (Roman Religion) and Augustus, housed the provincial archives, courts, and treasury. The temple of Artemis, the Ar…

Ephesus, Council of

(352 words)

Author(s): Ritter, Adolf Martin
The Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus—the first of which we have records (published by the contending parties)—was called on Pentecost (June 7) 431 by Emperor Theodosius II (408–50), mainly to settle the doctrinal dispute between Nestorius (d. ca. 451) and Cyril of Alexandria (bishop 412–44; Christology 2). But it could not be opened either at the appointed time or even actually at all; there were simply separate sittings of the majority, which supported Cyril and which was later joined by the Roman delegates, and the minority,…


(90 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
The title “ephor” (Gk. ephoros, “overseer”) was used—and occasionally is still used today in Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican circles—for those who supervise church institutions and for officials charged with the training of pastors or the administration of funds. It was a title in ancient Sparta that J. Calvin recalled in Inst.  4.20.31 and that stresses a biblical aspect of church leadership (2 Cor. 8:21; Col. 4:17). The extra salary that, according to German Protestant church law, deans and others receive is sometimes called the ephor allowance. Albert Stein†


(5 words)

See Eucharistic Prayer


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See History, Auxiliary Sciences to, 4


(5 words)

See Church Year


(4,649 words)

Author(s): Wood, Susan K. | Campbell, Ted A.
1. NT and Patristic Periods The history of the origin of bishops is obscure. Recent scholarship has attempted to discover pre-Christian antecedents, both Jewish and Gentile, in such sources as the Septuagint and Philo. In the LXX version of the OT, the term episkopos (from which Eng. “bishop”) is used of God (Job 20:29; Wis. 1:6) as well as of ordinary “overseers,” but never of cultic persons. Philo uses the term once, of Moses. The Qumran MSS have also raised again the possible Jewish origins of a position that could be described as an overseer or inspector ( mĕbaqqēr, from bāqar, “look…


(1,972 words)

Author(s): Brown, Robert F. | Schwartz, Werner | Reichenbach, Bruce R.
1. Philosophical 1.1. Knowledge and Belief Epistemology (Gk. epistēmē, “knowledge”) concerns what counts as knowledge and how we acquire it. Formal systems (logic and mathematics) are known a priori, apart from experience. Philosophers disagree as to whether knowledge about the world is a posteriori (derived from experience) or is in some sense also a priori. Most discussion involves knowledge of propositions (expressed in language), although other kinds include tacit knowledge (without explicit awareness of it) and “knowing how,” or skill in doing something. Plato (427–347 b…


(2,792 words)

Author(s): Tödt, Heinz Eduard
1. Term The term “equality” implies that things or persons are alike in one or more respects. It carries with it the philosophical and biblical connotations of the Greek homoiotēs and isotēs. It has also taken on overtones from the égalité of the French Revolution (1789). Liberation theology has adopted some of the concepts inherent in the terms “equity” and “equality,” with their different nuances. 2. History 2.1. In the Athens of Pericles there was resistance to privileges and a demand for political, economic, and social equality. “Isonomy” (equality before…

Equatorial Guinea

(835 words)

Author(s): Hoffman S.J., Wolfgang | Pobee, John S.
The Republic of Equatorial Guinea was a Spanish colony until 1968, when it gained its independence. It consists of mainland Mbini (formerly Río Muni), between Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the south and east, the island Bioko (formerly Fernando Póo), and some smaller islands. Spanish is the national language. Petroleum, timber, and cocoa are the basic exports. In spite of good prospects at the time of independence, Equatorial Guinea has become economically depressed and is today one of the …


(869 words)

Author(s): Dorer-Gommermann, Silke
Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1469?-1536) was a leading humanist, theologian, and writer. He lived and conducted research in various European cities and was involved especially with publishing ancient and early Christian authors. Both his new edition of the Greek NT (Bible Manuscripts and Editions 3) and his advocacy of tolerance and peace are of theological significance. Erasmus was the illegitimate child of Roger Gerard, a priest, and Margaret, a physician’s daughter. He grew up in Gouda, Netherlands, became a choirboy at the cathedral school in…


(4 words)

See Anchorites


(973 words)

Author(s): Tesfay, Yakob
1. History Eritrea, located in the Horn of Africa, is bounded on the northeast by the Red Sea, on the west by Sudan, on the southeast by Djibouti, and on the south by Ethiopia. Only in 1993 did Eritrea become an independent state. Evidence of human history in Eritrea goes back to the eighth millennium b.c. During the 3rd and 4th centuries a.d., Eritrea was part of the Ethiopian kingdom of Axum. In the 6th century that kingdom declined; between 675 and 1490 it was a small Christian enclave in the midst of Islam, largely cut off from the rest of the Christi…


(8,330 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Preuss, Horst Dietrich | Karrer, Martin | Lochman, Jan Milič | Ciobotea, Dan-Ilie | Et al.
Overview Eschatology is traditionally the doctrine of the last things (from Gk. eschatos, denoting what is last in time). It is of particular interest in modern theology, which speaks of a new phase and of the “eschatologizing” of all theology. At the same time, the haziness of the term (it is also used outside theology) and its varied use seem to make it an example of linguistic confusion in theology. The word was used first by the strict Lutheran theologian Abraham Calovius (1612–86), who, at the end of his 12-volume dogmatics, dealt with death, resurrection, t…


(555 words)

Author(s): Hoheisel, Karl
In antiquity the word “esoteric” was used for knowledge that was imparted only to an inner circle of fully initiated students, while “exoteric” denoted that which in principle was accessible to everybody. In a broader sense the esoteric soon became anything that is entrusted only to a select group on the basis of certain qualities. In contrast to secret societies, whose very existence is meant to be secret, such a circle is a nonsecret order or group that guards a secret. We find such circles in all cultures in the cultic field, as well as philosophical and, increasingly, political fields. Whe…


(4 words)

See Qumran


(231 words)

Author(s): Gandow, Thomas
Widespread in the United States and the German-speaking world (where, since 1985, it has been known as the Forum or Center Leadership Program), EST, or Erhard Seminars Training, was founded in 1971 by Werner Hans Erhard (Jack Rosenberg). The program and its offshoots involve intensive courses partly based on Erhard’s experiences in Scientology (Church of Scientology) and an experience of illumination by means of two 34-hour workshops. The aim is to stop being a victim and to become one’s own bos…
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