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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Nicaea, Councils of

(1,136 words)

Author(s): Ullmann, Wolfgang
1. Geography and History As early as a.d. 112 the Province of Bithynia in northwest Asia Minor, on the east coast of the Bosporus, contained many Christians, both urban and rural, as we learn from the salutation of 1 Peter and a famous letter of Governor Pliny (ca. 61–113) to Emperor Trajan (98–117). In this province, some 50 km. (30 mi.) southwest of the imperial seat of Nicomedia (modern Turk. İzmit), lay Nicaea (modern İznik), which, as we know from the council in 325, had its own bishop. The nearness to Nicomedia and the large number of Christians expl…


(2,560 words)

Author(s): Prien, Hans-Jürgen
¶ Nicaragua is the second largest of the eight countries considered by the United Nations to be part of “Central America” (after Mexico). Its population, however, is relatively small, giving it the second lowest population density (after Belize). 1. Colonial Age After the Spanish conquest (1523) the original inhabitants of Nicaragua suffered under the tyranny of various governors, including Pedrarías Dávila and Rodrigo de Contreras. By forced labor in the encomienda system (e.g., in agriculture and in gold mines; Latin America and the Caribbean 1.3), illegal enslav…

Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed

(586 words)

Author(s): Ullmann, Wolfgang
The term “Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed” was first used in the 17th century (by J. B. Carpzov I) with a view to fixing the key dates in the development of what is commonly called the Nicene Creed (Confessions and Creeds). Early church tradition found in this creed a confirmation and expansion of the dogmatic decision made at the Council of Nicaea (325) and linked it to what took place when the “Synod of 150 Fathers” met at Constantinople in 381. Neo-Protestantism (e.g., A. von Harnack [1851–1930]; Protestantism), following the research of F. J. A. Hort (1828–92), questi…

Niebuhr, Reinhold

(775 words)

Author(s): Schröder, Caroline
Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971), a North American social ethicist, was born in Wright City, Missouri, the third child of German immigrants Gustav Niebuhr, a pastor, and his wife, Lydia (née Hosto). He studied theology at Elmhurst College near Chicago (1907–10), at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis (1910–13)—both of which were institutions of his denomination (which became part of the United Church of Christ)—and finally at the Divinity School of Yale University (1913–15). After his father died in April 1913, Niebuhr spent five …

Niemöller, Martin

(827 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas Martin
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, and ecumenist, grew up in Lippstadt and Elberfeld as the son of a pastor influenced by nationalistic Protestant ideas. After completing his secondary school education, he became an officer in the navy. During World War I he saw action in various capacities and at the end of the war was a submarine commander. After the war he began an agricultural apprenticeship but then in 1919 began studying theology in Münster. In 1920 Niemöll…

Nietzsche, Friedrich

(810 words)

Author(s): Löbl, Michael
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), a German philosopher and classical philologist, profoundly influenced generations of theologians, philosophers, psychologists, and writers through his attempt to expose the roots and motives of traditional Western religion, moral thinking, and philosophy. After the death of his father, who was a pastor, Nietzsche grew up surrounded by women and by the spirit of Protestant piety. While studying classical philology in Bonn and Leipzig from 1864 to 1868, he became f…


(624 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Republic of Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa, borders on Algeria and Libya to the north, Chad to the east, Nigeria and Benin to the south, and Burkina Faso and Mali to the west. Europeans first entered Niger in the late 18th century, with the French making Niger part of French West Africa in 1904 (Colonialism). It became a colony within French West Africa (1922), an overseas territory of France (1946), an autonomous republic within the French community (1958), and…


(2,364 words)

Author(s): Enang, Kenneth
1. General Situation The Federal Republic of Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Situated on the west coast of Africa, Nigeria is bounded on the north by Niger, on the east by Chad and Cameroon, and on the west by Benin; in the south it opens onto the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The original capital was Lagos, on the southwest coast, but in December 1991 the capital was officially moved to Abuja, in the center of the country. English is the official language of administration. Nigerian languages number 520, corresponding to the 520 ethnicities. The main l…


(934 words)

Author(s): Kohlenberger, Helmut
The background of “European nihilism” (F. Nietzsche) is first the biblical doctrine of creation ex nihilo by the God who remains faithful to his word, and then the nihil privativum of mysticism. Medieval metaphyics understood the annihilatio of all things as a purely conceptual notion in the sense of God’s absolute power. With the recasting of knowledge in mathematics (e.g., see R. Descartes), the scientific reconstruction of the world from numbers, figures, and movement became a political project (T. Hobbes). It is worth noting that this recasting of …

Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Theology

(13 words)

See Theology in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries