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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(446 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann
Noah is a widely attested legendary figure from primeval history (Genesis 1–11) of unknown, pre-Israelite origin. The Priestly Adamite genealogy in Genesis 5 introduces him in tenth position as the son of Lamech (Pentateuch). A non- or pre-Priestly redactor in Gen. 5:29 interprets his name as meaning “one who brings relief” (from nḥm Pi., “comfort”), though a connection with the verb nwḥ, “rest,” seems more likely. The original etymology is probably irretrievable. Noah’s most important role is found in the flood narrative (Genesis 6–8). There he is the “righteous ¶ man” (6:9, also 7:…


(1,423 words)

Author(s): Boraas, Roger S.
1. Definition The word “nomad” is derived from Latin through Gk. nemō, meaning either “pasture” or “distribute.” The simplest definition of a nomad is a person who must keep moving to gain basic life sustenance. Nomadism is usually the product of a sparse environment, weather patterns (sometimes seasonal), or economic or political shifts making mobility essential for survival. It does not properly apply to immigrants, those who move from one dwelling place to another for convenience, promotion, or escapi…


(1,423 words)

Author(s): Knuuttila, Simo | Brown, Robert F.
1. Origin and Nature of Nominalism The original use of the term “nominalism” was in the context of disputes in medieval Scholasticism about the metaphysical status of universals and about the epistemological status of universal terms and their correlative concepts. Issues raised there are perennial ones that also played a part in philosophical debates both before and after the scholastic era, though they are not always defined exactly as they were by the nominalists and their opponents. Aristotle (384–322 b.c.) in his Categories discussed how we use names or terms to speak of …


(6 words)

See Force, Violence, Nonviolence


(1,181 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. Definitions A norm (from Lat. norma, “carpenter’s square,” later “rule, measure, regulation”) may be theoretical (in descriptive natural and social sciences) or practical (in normative sciences, such as logic, aesthetics, ethics, and theology). In common speech norms denote (1) average values by which to measure what is normal or abnormal, and in technical or pragmatic usage, (2) conventional units of measurement or rules by which to classify things or behavior (e.g., traffic laws). Norms in the various descriptive and theoretical sciences describe a variety of r…

North American Missions

(3,208 words)

Author(s): Forman, Charles W. | Scherer, James A.
1. Background North American missions originated in work among American Indians. In the colonial period some colonists, especially New England Puritans and Moravians in the Middle States, engaged in missionary outreach to their Native American neighbors. John Eliot (1604–90) of Massachusetts was probably the first North American to engage in missions when ¶ he began preaching to Indians near Boston in 1641. David Zeisberger (1721–1808), working in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, was known as the Moravian “apostle to the Indians.” After American …

North American Theology

(5,983 words)

Author(s): Holifield, E. Brooks
For three centuries, theologians in North America maintained a deep interest in the reasonableness of Christianity, a conception of theology as a practical enterprise, and a close linkage to the denominations. They divided as well into alignments that reflected not only traditional disputes over doctrine but also social location and cultural identity. The 20th century brought transformations in all of these tendencies (Modern Church History 2). 1. Theology as a Practical Discipline The accent on the practical found initial expression among the Reformed theologians o…

Northern America

(6,395 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[ Note: In current U.N. usage “Northern America” comprises the United States and Canada, plus the island dependencies of Bermuda (U.K.), Greenland (Den.), and St. Pierre and Miquelon (Fr.). The U.N.’s “Latin America and the Caribbean,” then, includes Mexico and all of Central America, the West Indies, and South America. In its discussion here of the United States and Canada, with brief reference also to Mexico, this article uses throughout the more common phrase “North America.”] 1. United States-Canada-Mexico Spiritual as well as geographic orientation for the histo…

Northern Ireland

(6 words)

See United Kingdom

North Korea

(2,186 words)

Author(s): Epps, Dwain C.
1. General Situation The Korean Peninsula was provisionally divided along the 38th parallel in 1945 by mutual agreement between the United States and the USSR, whose combined forces had defeated the Japanese army, bringing an end to Japan’s 35-year imperial rule. In 1948 the government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) was formed in the South under the leadership of Syngman Rhee (1875–1965), followed shortly thereafter by the proclamation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the North under Kim Il Sung …


(2,960 words)

Author(s): Aarflot, Andreas
1. Evangelical Lutheran Church (Den norske Kirke) The overwhelming majority (86 percent) of the total population of Norway belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is officially named the Church of Norway (Den norske Kirke; Lutheran Churches), though earlier it tended to be called the state religion or the state church. 1.1. Reformation to 1814 The church province of Norway was largely independent in the Middle Ages under the archbishopric of Nidaros (modern Trondheim). As a result of the 1536/37 Reformation, however, it came under the terr…

Nouvelle théologie

(1,073 words)

Author(s): Geffré, Claude
The phrase nouvelle théologie refers primarily to a theological controversy in France beginning in the mid-1940s involving the Jesuit theologians of the Fourvière school on the one side and the Dominicans of the St. Maximin school on the other. The former, founders of two series published in Paris—Sources Chrétiennes (Éditions du Cerf) and Théologie (Aubier)—favored a return to biblical and patristic sources as opposed to an anachronistic neoscholasticism. The latter, guardians of a strict Thomism, stressed the dangers of deve…


(949 words)

Author(s): Schimmel, Annemarie
1. A sense of number seems to be an inherent part of human life and property. All cults and religions have understood number in much the same way. The Babylonians (Babylonian and Assyrian Religion), using 60 as the basis, oriented their numerical system to the heavenly bodies. The Pythagoreans (Greek Philosophy 2.2) equated the cosmos with pure mathematics. For them the odd numbers were masculine and positive. Their views influenced Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The strictly arithmetic theories (esp. of Euclid [4th cent. b.c.]), which were not under Pythagorean influenc…

Numbers, Book of

(897 words)

Author(s): Soggin, J. Alberto
1. Title The title “Numbers” derives from the Latin name of the fourth book of the Pentateuch, which is from the Greek title Arithmoi (Numbers). The lists contained in the book account for this designation. The Hebrew name derives from one of the first words in the book, bĕmidbar, “in the wilderness [of Sinai].” 2. Contents The Book of Numbers can be divided into three sections. 2.1. The first part (1:1–10:10) is generally ascribed to the Priestly source (P). Chap. 1 describes the census (cf. chap. 26), chap. 2 the marching orders for the various tribes, followed by an enumerati…


(8 words)

See History, Auxiliary Sciences to, 5

Nunc Dimittis

(5 words)

See Canticle


(458 words)

Author(s): Böckenförde, Werner
Nuncios, also apostolic nuncios, are permanent papal legates, that is, plenipotentiary envoys of the pope with a twofold function: ecclesiastical and governmental. With respect to the church, their task is one of oversight over the parts of the church (Diocese) to which they have been sent. They inform the papacy about the situation and events in these areas, assist the bishops with advice and action (though without any direct intervention in their diocesan jurisdiction), foster close relations …