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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Holiness Code

(409 words)

Author(s): Boecker, Hans Jochen
The Holiness Code, which is found in Leviticus 17–26, is the earliest book of law that forms part of the Pentateuch. A. Klostermann coined the name with an eye to the significance of the concept of holiness in this section (see 19:2; 20:26; 21:8). God’s holiness is here the basis of the demand for holiness that is addressed to Israel (§1). The Holiness Code opens in chap. 17 with rules of sacrifice, which particularly regulate the contact with blood, and closes in chap. 26 with statements about blessing and cursing. In between are various legal regulations, for example, about sex (18), rules f…

Holiness Movement

(8,015 words)

Author(s): Bassett, Paul
1. General Description The Holiness movement is a worldwide aggregation of evangelical Protestant individuals, congregations, and denominations whose distinguishing mark is adherence to John Wesley’s teaching concerning Christian perfection. Somewhat fewer than half of the 9 million who would identify with the Holiness movement belong to the various mainline Methodist denominations; most of the rest belong to denominations, associations, and congregations that identify themselves primarily as Holin…


(4 words)

See Netherlands


(868 words)

Author(s): Scheffler, Wolfgang
During the second half of the 20th century, “Holocaust” became the usual term for the mass extermination of Jews during World War II. Seldom used at first, the word gained ground in the 1960s, especially in the United States, and finally found universal acceptance, though it is often misused analogically for any forms of mass murder and not merely for the National Socialist genocide. The Vg uses holocaustum for Gk. holokautōma and holokautōsis, which in the LXX, and later in Philo and Josephus, are mostly translations of Heb. ʿōlâ (burnt offering), less commonly kālı̂l (whole b…

Holy Communion

(5 words)

See Eucharist

Holy Kiss

(7 words)

See Kiss of Peace

Holy Spirit

(4,686 words)

Author(s): Pratscher, Wilhelm | Ritschl, Dietrich
1. Biblical Data 1.1. OT and Early Judaism Statements about the rûaḥ (spirit) of Yahweh are of direct pneumatological interest. The working of the rûaḥ is at first ecstatic, equipping charismatic leaders (Judg. 3:10; 6:34; 1 Sam. 10:6; Charisma) and prophets (1 Sam. 10:6; 19:20–24) for their tasks. Time and again those concerned are gripped by the Spirit. More permanent endowment first appears in the case of David (1 Sam. 16:13). The great preexilic prophets appeal to the Word of Yahweh rather than to his Spirit (though see Hos. 9:7 and Mic. 3:8; Word of God). Perhaps they wished t…

Holy War

(483 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz
War as the resistance of one’s orderly world to an alien and dangerous nonworld has always been integrated into religion. It is only recently that there have been real “secular” wars, and the term “holy war” raises problems not merely in relation to Israel (§1). Warlike acts are often accompanied by ritual acts, and in many religions (e.g., Islam) war is also the theme of theoretical religious reflection. In fact, wars are seldom exclusively or even predominantly religiously motivated. In Israel, where war could be differentiated from ordinary marauding (see 1 Sam. 21:5), it was self-…

Holy Water

(6 words)

See Water, Consecrated

Holy Week

(2,028 words)

Author(s): Senn, Frank C.
1. Origins of Holy Week Did.  7.4 calls for a fast of one or two days before baptism (§2.2). When baptism came to be celebrated at the paschal (Easter) celebration, this tradition applied to the two days before the Pasch (Friday and Saturday). Third-century sources from Alexandria and Syria (the festival letters of Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria and the Syrian Did. apos.  21) indicate that this fast was extended to six days before Easter. References to the commemorations of the events of the last week of Jesus’ life in the third century were greatly expa…

Holy Year

(283 words)

Author(s): Fischer, Balthasar
The holy year is a year in which Roman Catholics are invited to make a special pilgrimage to Rome, for which the pope grants a special jubilee indulgence. The practice began in 1300, and since 1400 a holy year has been proclaimed every 25 years, with special proclamations in 1933 and 1983 commemorating the 1,900th and 1,950th anniversaries of Christ’s act of redemption. The special indulgence is hardly the attraction for pilgrims when so many others are available; rather, it is the chance of gai…

Home Mission

(6 words)

See Inner Mission


(4 words)

See Preaching


(1,844 words)

Author(s): May, Melanie A.
In the years leading up to the 21st century, one of the topics most heatedly debated by the churches was homosexuality. Some are convinced that homosexuality is forbidden by Scripture. Some see homosexuality as a sign of Western moral decadence. Some focus on it as a threat to marriage and the family. Others, however, believe that the dignity and worth of each person created in the image of God is at stake. Informing these divergent views are varied interpretations of Scripture and diverse under…


(1,707 words)

Author(s): Prien, Hans-Jürgen | Aguiluz, Edwin | Mulholland, Kenneth
1. History, Society, Economy, State Honduras, a Central American republic, was first sighted by Columbus in 1502. It shares borders with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Its coasts touch both the Caribbean Sea, often referred to as its Atlantic coast, and the Pacific Ocean. From the first millennium a.d. the western part of Honduras was inhabited by the Maya, who built Copán as one of their most impressive cult cities. The site of that city, however, had already decayed by the time the territory of the modern republic of Honduras becam…

Hong Kong and Macao

(905 words)

Author(s): Glüer, Winfried | Schaeffer, Thomas F.
1. Hong Kong Hong Kong, an enclave of southeastern China now comprising over 200 islands plus part of the Chinese mainland, was occupied by the British in 1839 and ceded to them in 1842 by the Treaty of Nanking. Boasting one of the world’s busiest ports, Hong Kong became an important commercial and financial center. By terms of a joint declaration between China and Great Britain in 1984, Hong Kong reverted to the People’s Republic of China on July 1, 1997, when it became a special administrative region of China. It occupies an area of 1,075 sq. km. (415 sq. mi.). In 1999 its estimated popu…


(3,497 words)

Author(s): Bietenhard, Hans | Stock, Konrad | Lochman, Jan Milič
1. The Bible 1.1. Usage The biblical vocabulary of hope includes also important terms that are rendered “expect,” “wait,” “trust,” and “rely.” 1.2. OT Eccl. 9:4 states a general truth in saying that “whoever is joined with all the living has hope.” What is hoped for is something positive (e.g., marriage and children, Ruth 1:9, 12). Hope can be disappointed, such as that of the owner of the vineyard in Isa. 5:2, 4, 7. Those who suffer can be without hope or have only a distant object of hope (Job 6:19–20); they can complain to God, who has “uprooted” their hope (Job 19:10). Hope reaches only up …

Hosea, Book of

(633 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
1. Hosea was the only native writing prophet of the northern kingdom. He was active between 755/50 and 725 b.c., a period that saw the last years of peace for Israel (§1) under Jeroboam II, the so-called Syro-Ephraimite war of 733, and the successive dismantling of the northern kingdom by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V. The defeat of Samaria and deportation of Israel by the Assyrians are not yet reflected in the book. Hosea worked in Samaria but probably also in Bethel and Gilgal. He differs from Amos in that his message contains less social complaint and more criticism of the cult. 2. The book …

Hours, Canonical

(972 words)

Author(s): Schnitker, Thaddeus A.
1. Term The canonical hours are the regular worship service of the church based on the change of hours, especially in the morning and evening, through which the church in the Holy Spirit hears the Word of God and responds in praise and petition. The congregation celebrating the canonical hours picks up the daily rhythm, especially the sunrise and the commencement of night, understands it as symbolizing God’s central salvific deed in the death and resurrection of Christ. As the voice of all creation, the church offers to God expressis verbis the veneration and worship due him (Prayer).…

House Church

(736 words)

Author(s): Parker, G. Keith
The term “house church” refers to a group of Christians meeting in a private house for mutual pastoral support, for celebration and fellowship, and for common ministry to others. Such groups traditionally engage in Bible study, prayer, and meditation (Devotion, Devotions). They may be linked to traditional churches, although many function as small independent churches, especially in cases of persecution or isolation (Diaspora). Especially in China since 1949, when the government ended foreign mi…
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