Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

Get access Subject: Religious Studies
Editors: Erwin Fahlbusch, Jan Milič Lochman, John Mbiti, Jaroslav Pelikan and Lukas Vischer

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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(673 words)

Author(s): Schaller, Berndt
Pharisees were members of one of the group movements that characterized early Judaism (Essenes; Sadducees). The name, first found in Phil. 3:5 and based on Aram. pĕrîšayyâ (= Heb. pĕrûšîm, “separated ones”), might well have been first used by others to denote separatists, but the Pharisees themselves could also adopt it in the sense of holy or abstemious ones.…


(1,039 words)

Author(s): Vetter, Helmuth
1. Term The term “phenomenology” generally refers today to the philosophical trend or method that goes back to E. Husserl (1859–1938). In fact, however, the term was used in various connections long before Husserl. It was introduced by J. H. Lambert (1728–77), who in his New Organon raised the question whether the understanding has a capability for truth. In pt. 4 he dealt with the issue whether appearance can influence the accuracy of human knowledge and called the related science phenomenology (the doctrine of appearance). …

Phenomenology of Religion

(1,533 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Term and Beginnings 1.1. Between G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831; Hegelianism) and E. Husserl (1859–1938), “phenomenology” was a simple methodological term designed to indicate the fullest possible recording of facts and data. The phrase “phenomenology of religion” was used by P. D. Chantepie de la Saussaye (1848–1920) for the phenomenological part of his

Philadelphian Society

(649 words)

Author(s): Durnbaugh, Donald F.
1. History The Philadelphian Society was a dissenting movement in England in the late 17th and early 18th century, with adherents and patrons in the Netherlands and the Germanies. Its name derives from the Philadelphian church described in the Book of Revelation (3:7–13). In 1652 the Anglican clergyman John Pordage (1607–81) gathered a circle of seekers in Bradfield (Berks) to study the writings of Jakob Böhme (1575–1624; Mysticism 2.5.2); they did not separate from the church (Anglican Communion). By 1674 Jane Leade (…

Philemon, Epistle to

(491 words)

Author(s): Karrer, Martin
The letter to Philemon was one of Paul’s prison letters, possibly written from Ephesus in 53–55. Though sent to an individual, it is not strictly private, for the recipient is called a coworker with a church in his house (vv. 1–2), and Paul writes in association with other fellow workers (1, 23–24). The letter consists chiefly of thanksgiving (4–7) and a petition on behalf of Onesimus (8–21). Traditionally, expositors have found here a plea on behalf of a slave who had either misappropriated funds and run away or had not returned from a commission (an “example …

Philippians, Epistle to the

(1,252 words)

Author(s): Karrer, Martin
1. General Features In about a.d. 48/50, and hardly before 40, Paul founded the first Christian church in Europe in Philippi, which, since the decisive Roman battle of 42 b.c., bore the name “Colonia Julia Philippensis.” In the Epistle to the Philippians Paul writes to this church in Greek, although most of the inscriptions from the city are in Latin; he also ignores its military history. The names in the epistle include only one in Latin (“Clement,” 4:3). It seems, then, that most of the members did not belong to the city’s upper Latin stratum. The names give no evidenc…


(2,770 words)

Author(s): Sitoy Jr., T. Valentino
1. General Situation The Philippines are the northernmost island group of the Malaysian archipelago in Southeast Asia. They consist of over 7,000 islands, the two largest of which are Luzon in the north (with the capital, Manila) and Mindanao in the south. The 11 largest islands make up over 90 percent of the total land area. The original inhabitants, the Negritos and the older Malaysians (Igorots, including the Kalinga and Bontoc), along with later Malaysians, converted to Islam and are now cultural minorities. There are programs of development and …


(4 words)

See Crypto-Calvinism


(501 words)

Author(s): Noort, Edward
The term “Philistines,” which renders Heb. pĕlištîm, occurs 286 times in the OT, 152 of these in 1 Samuel. The LXX Hexateuch uses the corresponding words phylistiim (12 times) and allophylos (lit. “of another tribe,” 269 times). The Philistines were an important political and military force on the southern coastal plain of Palestine from the beginning of the Iron Age (1150 b.c.) to the eighth-century Assyrian campaigns. They are undoubtedly to be equated with the Plśt/Prśt of the Egyptian Medinet Habu texts. In the early days of the monarchy they were Israel’s m…


(614 words)

Author(s): Kallis, Anastasios
The word “Philocalia” (love [Gk. philia] of what is beautiful [ kalos]), along with kalokagathia (the beautiful and the good), expresses the Greek ideal of a combination of the aesthetic and the ethical (Aesthetics; Ethics). It denotes love of, or striving for, the beautiful, good, and noble. In the Orthodox Church we find that the term is used more specifically for anthologies that have influenced Orthodox theology and spirituality. 1. The oldest Philocalia goes back to Basil of Caesarea (ca. 330–79) and his friend Gregory of Nazianzus (329/30–389/90), who compiled the Ōrigenous p…


(8 words)

See History, Auxiliary Sciences to, 2


(1,532 words)

Author(s): Niewöhner, Friedrich
1. Term In Germany the term “Philosemitismus” was originally a political rather than a theological one. It was coined with an anti-Semitic thrust in Berlin during the anti-Semitism controversy of 1880. H. von Treitschke (1834–96) used it for the first time in December 1880 when, in a debate in the Chamber of Deputies, he spoke of the “blind philo-Semitic zeal of the party of progress.” T. Mommsen (1817–1903) had referred earlier to pro- and anti-Semitic attitudes and had spoken of “friends of the …

Philosophia perennis

(269 words)

Author(s): July, Frank Otfried
Philosophia perennis, or “perennial philosophy,” may be used in a very general, nonhistorical sense for philosophy as an ongoing conversation on the great themes that are dealt with by Western philosophy. In the history of philosophy, however, A. Steucho (1497–1548) introduced the term in an effort to equate one philosophy with revealed religion (Revelation). The term then took on special significance in G. W. Leibniz (1646–1716), who was aware that each philosophy is timebound and who thus wished to show what were the common philosophical lines across the centuries. The neoscholast…


(4,783 words)

Author(s): Brown, Robert F. | Nagl-Docekal, Herta
1. Introduction In the Republic of Plato (427–347 b.c.) the ideal ruler excels at philosophy, or love of wisdom (Gk. philosophia, from philein, “to love,” and sophia, “wisdom”). This love comprises knowledge of what is highest and best, as well as wisdom in living one’s life well. Its enduring symbol is the owl associated with the goddess Athena. In the popular mind authentic philosophy is wisdom in living, more so than a highest knowledge. Misconceptions and caricatures of philosophers and philosophy abound. Philosophers are held in awe yet said to be inept in every…

Philosophy and Theology

(3,462 words)

Author(s): Marshall, Bruce D.
1. NT Background In the NT one can discern at least two different attitudes toward philosophy, both of which have ample echoes in later Christian tradition. On the one hand, by the cross of Christ God has brought to nothing the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. 1:17–2:5) and liberated the followers of Christ from captivity to the power of worldly philosophy (Col. 2:8–20; Theologia crucis). On the other hand, creation inherently displays the power and divinity of its maker, and God has written the requirements of the law (§1) on every human heart, so that even th…

Philosophy of History

(1,134 words)

Author(s): Nagl-Docekal, Herta
1. Antiquity and Christianity The term “philosophy of history,” which goes back to Voltaire (1756), coincides with the development of the philosophy of history in the true sense. The question of the nature of history is much older, but the concept had not been fully developed earlier. In antiquity Plato regarded Athens as the copy of an original lost Athens, which represented the cyclic view of history, with history being incorporated into nature. In contrast, the Judeo-Christian view of history was linear. From the standpoint of God’s saving acts, human development …

Philosophy of Language

(12 words)

See Analytic Philosophy 23; Language 4–5; Linguistics 3

Philosophy of Nature

(3,093 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Enno | Brown, Robert F.
1. Term and Concept In a secular context “nature” refers to “all that there is,” all the matter and energy in the universe, all the objects and forces that can be studied by the physical sciences. A narrow and popular sense, as in “nature study,” concerns mainly the plant and animal species, as well as the geology and meteorology, of earth’s environments. Philosophy of nature in the broad sense involves theoretical consideration not only of the kinds of natural entities that exist but also their int…

Philosophy of Religion

(7,094 words)

Author(s): Gustavsson, Roger
1. The Field Philosophy of religion, a complex and broad field within philosophy, has to do with such topics as religious experience, religious language, the relations between religion and science, the relations between religion and history, and the bearing on one or another religious tradition of the aspects of philosophy that come under the headings of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethical theory (Ethics). In colleges and universities within the English-speaking world, the latter three direction…
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