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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(1,271 words)

Author(s): Gern, Wolfgang
1. General Situation The Union of Myanmar (known up till 1989 as Burma) is an Asian country between South and Southeast Asia on the Bay of Bengal. Britain subdued the country between 1824 and 1885 through three Anglo-Burmese wars (Colonialism). British rule was followed by Japanese control during World War II, and then independence in 1948. Free elections took place in 1960, and then not again until 1990, when the main opposition party won decisively. As of 2001, however, the ruling military junta has refused to hand over power. A key opposition lead…

Mystery Religions

(2,001 words)

Author(s): Elsas, Christoph
1. Term Mystery religions are secret cults of the ancient Greco-Roman world that offered initiates an experience other than that of the official religions. The mysteries center on a time of sacred events, a festival related to fertility in the yearly cycle and involving rites aimed at the common welfare. Cultic formulas are used, and the eyes are closed (Gk. myō) with a view to experiencing what takes place in the dark. The participants enter into direct bodily and spiritual relations of sympathy with certain suffering deities whose divine fate is the …

Mystical Union

(1,208 words)

Author(s): Dinzelbacher, Peter
1. Experience In religion mystical union (unio mystica) is an ecstatic experience (Ecstasy) of perfect union with God. We meet it in various religions, including Hinduism and Islam. In Christianity it has the form of ontological union, bridal mysticism, and passion mysticism. The biblical root lies in the metaphor of union with Christ in both Paul (e.g., Gal. 2:20; 3:27) and John (e.g., John 15:4, 7; 17:22). We may also refer to the divine indwelling of the Spirit (Rom. 8:8–11). The East pointed the way to a union in love, especially Origen (ca. 185-ca. 254; Origenism), Gregory of…


(7,149 words)

Author(s): Elsas, Christoph | zur Mühlen, Karl-Heinz
1. History of Religion 1.1. Definition in Religion 1.1.1. General Definition The word “mysticism” has an etymological link to Gk. myō, myeō, mystērion (shut [eyes, mouth], initiate [into the mysteries], mystery), words connoting absorption, esotericism, faith, and relation to the hidden ground of being. A general definition of the term might be “an individual, emotional sense of identification with no specific expressible content in which language points beyond itself to an experience of something that can be …

Myth, Mythology

(2,517 words)

Author(s): Elsas, Christoph
1. Forms 1.1. Term Various definitions of myth are offered, depending on whether myth is viewed as a lack of truth from the standpoint of rationality (Enlightenment) or whether it is regarded as a lost center over against an unredeemable claim of reason and scholarship. Romanticism resulted in research into mythology. Myth was first explained in terms of experienced forces of nature and misuse of language. Examination of complexes of myth made possible a reconstruction of the history of individual m…