Religion Past and Present

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Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning†, Bernd Janowski and Eberhard Jüngel

Religion Past and Present (RPP) Online is the online version of the updated English translation of the 4th edition of the definitive encyclopedia of religion worldwide: the peerless Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (RGG). This great resource, now at last available in English and Online, Religion Past and Present Online continues the tradition of deep knowledge and authority relied upon by generations of scholars in religious, theological, and biblical studies. Including the latest developments in research, Religion Past and Present Online encompasses a vast range of subjects connected with religion.

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(290 words)

Author(s): Lorenz, Sönke
[German Version] since the 1st century ce a Roman settlement (Lat. Aquis, Aquisgrani) with thermal baths (hot springs). In the Frankish Period, the town became a royal possession. After King Pippin spent the winter of 765/766 there, it became a palatinate and was expanded by Charlemagne, who resided there more often and longer as he grew older. He also convoked imperial assemblies and church synods there next to the palace, …

Aalto, Alvar

(266 words)

Author(s): Kallmeyer, Lothar
[German Version] (Hugo Alvar Henrik; Feb 3, 1898, Kuortane, Finland - May 11, 1976, Helsinki), architect. After studying at the Helsinki University of Technology, from 1923 he practiced as a free-lance architect. From 1946 to 1948 he was a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and from 1963 to 1968 he served as president of …


(576 words)

Author(s): Schaper, Joachim | Jacobs, Martin
[German Version] I. Old Testament - II. Early Judaism I. Old Testament The origin of the name is uncertain. In the Old Testament Aaron is the brother of Mose and his spokesman (Exod 4:14f.). He was reputed to be a “Levite” (priest; Exod 4:14), and the traveling companion and deputy of Moses (Exod 7:1–7), a miracle-worker (Exod 8:1f.), a charismatic leader (Exod 17:10–12…

Aaronic Blessing

(431 words)

Author(s): Seybold, Klaus | Jacobs, Martin | Saliers, Don E.
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. Early Judaism – III. Liturgy I. Old Testament The priestly Blessing, transmitted within the framework of the so-called Priestly Source (Pentateuch) in Num 6:23-26, which is also attested in some inscriptions (e.g. in Ketef Hinnom near Jerusalem), consist of traditional blessing formulae, linked together in three stair-stepped lines. …


(290 words)

Author(s): Schelbert, Georg
[German Version] represents the Greek transliteration (ἀββά) of the Aramaic address to God as Father in three bilingual invocations, Mark 14:36, Gal 4:6, and Rom 8:15. Since J. Jeremias explained it in 1953 as a unique, diminutive address to God in the language of small children, it has been attributed particular theological and christological significance as an e…

Abbadie, Jacques

(128 words)

Author(s): Ohst, Martin
[German Version] (1656, Nay, Béarn – Nov 25, 1727, London). Educated in Huguenot academies (Huguenots), Abbadie was an important leader of the refugee community in Berlin from 1680 to 1689. As a field chaplain, he participated in the Ireland campaign of William III of England, and lived thereafter on benefices of the Anglican Church (beginning in 1699, he was …


(281 words)

Author(s): Meier, Dominicus
[German Version] From the 7th century, the word abbatia originally designated the office of the abbot/abbess of a cloister or a non-monastic basilica. From the 9th century onward, it often referred to the cloister's property as a benefice. Additionally, it acquired the connotations of monastery and coenobium as the designation for the buildings and the living space of a community. They ere usu…

Abbo of Fleury

(123 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Wilfried
[German Version] (940/945 - Nov 13, 1004) was from 965 on the head of the school and the abbot from 988 on of the monastery of Fleury (St.-Benoît-sur-Loire, east of Orléans). Abbo authored, inter alia, lives of saints and a collection of canons, as well as works of grammar and chronology whose major significance for the scholarship of his time only became evident through the recently published critical editions. In chu…


(431 words)

Author(s): Engelbert, Pius
[German Version] The head of an independent monastery or nunnery under Rule of St. Benedict, sometimes, also, of other communities, in the East of almost all monasteries. Abbás (Gk άββάς; Aram. abba, Copt. apa) originally designated the experienced monk as a spiritual father, although Pachomius was already also a superior. At first charismatic in character (still so in Basil the Great), the abbot concept …

Abbot, George

(121 words)

Author(s): Allison, Christopher Fitzsimons
[German Version] (Oct 10, 1562, Guildford - Aug 4, 1633, Croydon), from 1611 archbishop of Canterbury, Abbot played a leading role in the translation of the Authorized Version of the (King James) Bible, convinced the Scottish Church (Church of Scotland) to adopt the office of bishop and sent a delegation to the Synod of Dort (1618). His critical attitude toward the party of W. Laud, his refusal to yield to one of the king's favorites in the so-called Essex nullity suit (1616), and the accidental shooting of a warden during a hunt robbed him of his influence. Christopher FitzSimons Allison Bibl…

Abbott, Edwin

(127 words)

Author(s): Hinson, E. Glenn
[German Version] (Dec 20, 1838, London – Dec 10, 1926, Hampstead), teacher and scholar. He studied at St. John's College in Cambridge (1857–1861), became fellow in St. John's in 1862, resigning the office, however, when he married in 1863. Ordained a deacon in the Church of England in 1862 and a priest in 1863, he dedicated his life, however, primarily to educ…

Abbott, Lyman

(74 words)

Author(s): Szasz, Ferenc
[German Version] (Dec 18, 1825, Roxbury, MA – Oct 22, 1922, New York) was a Congregationalist pastor (Congregational Christian Churches) and perhaps America's most influential proponent of liberal Protestantism. The lawyer who had not studied theology at university continually downplayed religious and confessional differences in order to seek fellowship with all who were engaged for a better society. Ferenc Szasz Bibliography Works include: The Theology of an Evolutionist, 1897 Reminiscences, 1923.


(541 words)

Author(s): Schmid, Anne | Heim, Manfred
[German Version] I. Medieval Abbreviations – II. Catholic Orders I. Medieval Abbreviations Medieval abbreviations are based on the principles of suspension and contraction developed in antiquity (epigraphical, juridical-administrative abbreviations, sacred names). In the 6th–7th/9th centuries, the book scripts that developed variously by region (Printing and publishing) developed different traditi…


(8 words)

[German Version] Cain and Abel

Abelard, Peter

(922 words)

Author(s): Rieger, Reinhold
[German Version] (Abailardus, Baiolardus; “Peripateticus Palatinus”) was born in 1079 in Le Pallet near Nantes, and died on Apr 21, 1142 in St-Marcel near Chalon-sur-Saône. In order to devote himself to scholarship, he renounced his rights as firstborn in his equestrian family. From 1095 to 1102, he studied logic under Roscelin of Compiègne and under …

Abercius, Inscription of

(390 words)

Author(s): Koch, Guntram
[German Version] In 1883, two fragments of an altar slab with portions of a lengthy Greek epitaph of a certain Abercius were discovered at Hieropolis on the Glaucus, near Synnada in Phrygia (western Turkey). The fragments were given to Pope Leo X by Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1888 and are now in the Museo Pio Cristiano in the Vatican, with a reconstruction of the altar. The inscription comprises 18 incomplete lines, with nine verses (7–15). The entire inscription (a distich and 20 hexameters) is preserved in the legendary Life of a Bishop Abercius, which may go back to …

Aberhart, William

(96 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Dec 30, 1878, Kippen, Ontario – May 23, 1943, Vancouver), fundamentalist minister, radio preacher, and politician. Having established a reputation in Calgary, Alberta, as a representative of Darbyite evangelical theology (Plymouth Brethren), he shifted to politics during the depression of the 1930s. He supported the “social credit” program of Clifford Hugh Douglas (1879–1952) as a means of redistributing wealth. As leader of the Social Credit Party, Aberhart was twice elected (1935, 1940) prime minister of the province of Alberta. Mark A. Noll Bibliography D.R.…


(77 words)

Author(s): Rees, Wilhelm
[German Version] designates in canon law renunciation in cases of apostasy (Apostate), heresy and schism (c. 2314 CIC/1917), as well as the conversion of a non-Catholic Christian (Church membership). Today, reconciliation in offences of the faith, leaving the church, and conversion, as regulated by local church law (cc. 751 and 1364 CIC), requires the deposition of a confession of faith. Wilhelm Rees Bibliography W. Rees, “Die Strafgewalt der Kirche,” KStT 41, 1993, 88–96, 228f., 426–429.


(7 words)

[German Version] Purification

Ablutions, Ritual

(9 words)

[German Version] Clean and Unclean


(140 words)

Author(s): Arffman, Kaarlo
[German Version] (Finnish Turku). Åbo lies at the mouth of the Aura River, on the southwest coast of Finland. The ancient commercial center took on increased importance in the 13th century, when it became the religious and political center of Finland (Swedish Eastland). Until 1554, the diocese of Åbo encompassed all of Finland. The cathedral, the burial site o…


(311 words)

Author(s): Queen II, Edward L.
[German Version] the movement to abolish slavery in the USA, derived its power from its emphasis on the equality of all people before the law, which was a heritage of the Enlightenment, and the high regard for moral perfectibility typical of 19th-century evangelicalism. While some religious groups, primarily the Quakers and Methodists, had attacked slavery as early as the 18th century, the actual movement to abolish slavery began in 1831 with the appearance of W.L. Garrison's newspaper The Liberator. The movement to free the slaves, sparked by Garrison …


(866 words)

Author(s): Beckwith, Francis J.
[German Version] I. The Unborn and Personhood – II. Bodily Rights – III. Legal Arguments The procured or spontaneous premature termination of pregnancy Unlike spontaneous abortion (or miscarriage), procured abortion is intended to terminate a pregnancy. Its moral and legal permissibility depends on the nature of the unborn, the mother's bodily rights, and/or how the law ought to address controversial matters of life and death. I. The Unborn and Personhood The dominant view is that abortion's permissibility depends on the nature of the u…


(544 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] 1. Isaac ben Judah (1437, Lisbon – 1508, Venice) was an important Jewish leader, diplomat, exegete and philosopher in the period before and after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492). Abrabanel was from a prominent family who were reputed to stem from the house of David. He was a financial advisor to King Alfonso V of Portugal, although he was forced …


(3,604 words)

Author(s): Blum, Erhard | Attridge, Harold W. | Anderson, Gary A. | Dan, Joseph | Nagel, Tilman
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. New Testament – III. Judaism – IV. Qur’ān I. Old Testament 1. Name. The name אַבְרָהָם/ 'abrāhām is a by-form of אַבְרָם/ 'abrām or אֲבִירָם/ 'abîrām (Num 16:1, etc.). With the meaning "Father (= God) is exalted," it corresponds to a widely dispersed West-Semitic name pattern and, as a praise or confessional name, belongs in the realm of personal piety. The otherwise unattested extended form is interpreted in Gen 17:4f. in a popular etymology as "Father (אָב/ 'āb) of a multitude (הָמוֹן/ hāmôn) of nations" - in an entirely …

Abraham Abulafia

(9 words)

[German Version] Abulafia, Abraham

Abraham a Sancta Clara,

(258 words)

Author(s): Breuer, Dieter
[German Version] Catholic preacher and writer (Aug 2, 1644, Kreenheinstetten, Swabia – Dec 1, 1709, Vienna; secular name Johann Ulrich Megerle). The son of a tavern keeper, he received a thorough humanistic education in Ingolstadt and Salzburg. In 1662, at the monastery of Mariabrunn near Vienna, he joined the order of Augustinian Hermits and …

Abraham ben Azriel

(152 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] was one of the major authors belonging to the Kalonymus circle of 13th-century Rhineland esoterics and mystics; he was among the third generation of scholars produced by this school. He came to Speyer from Bohemia to study with Rabbi Judah the Pious (died 1217) and especially with Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms, whom he referred to as his immediate teacher. He is the author of Arugat ha-bosem (“Bed of Spices”: Song 5:13), completed in 1234, an exhaustive commentary on the piyuttim of the Jewish prayer book. Its encyclopedic compass makes Arugat ha-bosem unique …

Abraham Ecchellensis

(101 words)

Author(s): Kaufhold, Hubert
[German Version] (Feb 18, 1605, Ḥāqil – Jul 15, 1664, Rome). The name is Latinized from the Arabic (al-)Ḥāqilānī (“from Ḥāqil” in Lebanon). A Maronite, he studied in Rome, was deacon, teacher of Syriac and Arabic in Rome, Pisa, and Paris, a collaborator in the Parisian Polyglot Bible, and from 1660 scriptor in the Vatican Library. Through editions and translations, he acquainted Europe with many Arabic and Syriac works. Hubert Kaufhold Bibliography G. Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, vol. III, 1949, 354–359 N. Gemayel, Les échanges culturels entre les …

Abrahamic Religions

(90 words)

Author(s): Khoury, Adel-Theodor
[German Version] are not the Abrahamists (according to Sozomen [5th cent.], known at least in Gaza: cf. Crone), and not the Abrahamites of Bohemia (18th cent.). Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic religions that trace themselves to Abraham: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religions argued over him (cf. John 8:30–47; Gal 3:7–10; 4:22–31; Qur'ān 2:135–141; 3:67–68), but he could still form a bridge between them. Adel-Theodor Khoury Bibliography P. Crone, Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam, 1987, 190–191, n. 4 H.J. Kuschel, Streit um Abraham, 1994.

Abrahamic Writings

(539 words)

Author(s): Himmelfarb, Martha
[German Version] I. Apocalypse of Abraham – II. Testament of Abraham I. Apocalypse of Abraham The Apocalypse of Abraham is one of several Apocalypse written in reaction to the destruction of the second temple. The text begins with a description of Abraham's rejection of idol worship while assisting his father in the fabrication of idols. God then dispatches the angel Iaoel to fetch Abraham. With the…

Abraham I of Aghbatan

(84 words)

Author(s): Hannick, Christian
[German Version] was Armenian Catholicos from 607 to 610. His time saw the schism of the Georgian church from unity with the other Caucasian churches, the Armenian and the Albanian. While the Georgian Catholicos, Kyrion, joined with the Chalcedonians (Chalcedonian Definition), Abraham insisted on the positions of monophysitism. Christian Hannick Bibliography F. Tournebize, DHGE I, 1912, 163 E. Boshof, ed., Bischöfe, Mönche und Kaiser, vol. IV, 1994 R.W. Thomson, A Bibliography of Classical Armenian Literature to 1500 AD, 1995.

Abraham Maimuni

(209 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (Abraham ben Moses ben Maimon; 1186, Cairo – 1237, Cairo), son of M. Maimonides, inherited the position of his father as the leader of the Jewish community in Egypt; he extended the philosophical work of his father. When the great controversy over the rationalistic work of Maimonides arose in 1232–1235 in northern Spain and the provinces, Abraham responded with “The War of the Lord” ( Milchamot ha-Shem), an apology for the rationalistic style of writing of his father; he defended vigorously …

Absolute Necessity

(881 words)

Author(s): Danz, Christian | Sandkaulen, Birgit
[German Version] I. Philosophy of Religion – II. Philosophy I. Philosophy of Religion The German word das Unbedingte (lit. “the unconditional”) is first found in philosophical texts from the last third of the 18th century, as a translation of the Latin absolutum. It was I. Kant (see II below) who gave this concept its specific connotation, which had a long-lasting influence on subsequent theology and the philosophy of religion. The absolute necessity is the ultimate principle, which is not conditioned by any…

Absolute, The

(937 words)

Author(s): Stolzenberg, Jürgen | Rosenau, Hartmut
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Philosophy of Religion I. Philosophy Etymologically, the word “absolute” means something separate from and independent of everything that is only relative. In this sense, the absolute can be understood ontologically as substance, logically as principle. If the absolute is taken as a singulare tantum, then it refers to something apart from which there is nothing that exists independently. This raises the question of how to conceive the …


(712 words)

Author(s): Root, Michael | Müller, Hans-Martin
[German Version] I. Dogmatics – II. Practical Theology I. Dogmatics Absolution is the assurance, in the context of confession (II; III), that sins have been forgiven. The history of absolution traces back to Matt 16:19; 18:18; John 20:22f. Drawing on Thomas Aquinas ( Summa theologiae III, q. 84), the Councils of Florence ( DH, 1323) and Trent ( DH, 1673) defined absolution as the form of the sacrament of penance or repentance (IV), which has as its matter the actions of…


(646 words)

Author(s): Lehmann, Hartmut
[German Version] From the middle of the 16th century to the last third of the 18th, when absolutism was the dominant form of government in Europe, the term itself was not used. Not until the 1790s, when absolutism was fundamentally challenged by the outbreak of the French Revolution, did people in France begin to use the term “absolutisme” to describe the noti…


(6 words)

[German Version] Asceticism

Abstract Expressionism

(1,005 words)

Author(s): Vinzent, Jutta
[German Version] is the internationally acknowledged American art movement of the 1940s/1950s, which developed mainly independently of Europe and which is of singular importance since it signals the shift of the Western art center from Europe to the United States. Abstract expressionism is also known by the names “New York School,” stressing its geographical l…

Absurd, The

(312 words)

Author(s): Kodalle, Klaus-M.
[German Version] Absurd (Lat. “dull-sounding”) is widely understood as “ridiculous,” cf. “reductio ad absurdum”. In literary contexts the term Absurd has been in great demand since existentialism. 20th-century literature frequently testifies (often in a grotesque way) to the experience of the Absurd; cf. F. Kafka, Eugène Ionesco, S. Beckett, Harold Pinter, Luigi Pirandello, Thomas Bernhard, Elfriede Jelinek and others. In the 19th century, S. Kierkegaard is the respected thinker of the Absurd (partly synonymous with …

Abulafia, Abraham

(284 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (1240, Saragossa – 1291, Italy). Abulafia, one of the most important mystics among the medieval Kabbalists, created a highly individual form of mystic contemplation, based on a mystical interpretation of language. Leaving Spain, he journeyed through many lands until reaching Akko in 1260; he lived and taught in Sicily, Greece, and Italy. G. …


(83 words)

Author(s): Heyer, Friedrich
[German Version] The title “abuna” (“our father”), given to hierarchs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and also used as a form of address, expresses trust and confidence. Formerly it was associated particularly with the Coptic metropolitan for Ethiopa and after the granting of autocephaly with the five patriarchs Baselyos (1959–1970), Tewoflos (1971–1975; murdered in 1992), Täkla Haymanot (1976–1988), Marqorewos (1988–1992; deposed), and Paulos (1992–). Monastic saints are also given the title. Friedrich Heyer Bibliography F. Heyer, Die Kirche Äthiopiens, 1971, 2–15.

Abū Rāʾiṭa,

(165 words)

Author(s): Griffith, Sydney H.
[German Version] Ḥabīb ibn Ḫidma (died after 828), often called at-Takrītī on account of his association with the Mesopotamian city of Takrit. He was active in the first half of the 9th century as a scholar and teacher of the Syrian Orthodox Church (Jacobites, Syria). Many modern scholars believe he may even have been a bishop. Abū …

Abu Ṣāliḥ,

(86 words)

Author(s): Hannick, Christian
[German Version] historian. Armenian by birth, he wrote a description of the churches and monasteries of Egypt in Arabic around 1300. His ties with the Coptic Church explain his interest in this church and the language he used. His work is a rich source of information about the demography and economy of the Copts as well as ecclesiastical and monastic life in Christian Egypt. Christian Hannick Bibliography Works: The Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighbouring Countries, trans. B.T.A. Evetts, 1895

Acacius of Beroea

(160 words)

Author(s): Ritter, Adolf M.
[German Version] (c. 330 – c. 433), originally a monk, was consecrated bishop of Beroea (= Aleppo) in 378. He first came to prominence in church politics as an adherent of Meletius of Antioch (also as a participant in the Council of Constantinople in 381), he was to be found later among the opponents of John Chrysostom (probably because of his rigorism). He so…

Acacius of Caesarea

(220 words)

Author(s): Brennecke, Hanns C.
[German Version] (died c. 366) was a student and then, after c. 340, the successor of Eusebius of Caesarea as bishop; he was one of the outstanding theologians and church politicians leading the Eastern theologians under the reign of Emperor Constantius II who were critical of Nicea in the tradition of Origen. He was a participant in the Synod of Antioch (341); in Sardica (342, Arius/Ari…

Acacius of Constantinople/Acacian Schism

(229 words)

Author(s): Brennecke, Hanns C.
[German Version] Acacius of Constantinople (died 489) was patriarch of Constantinople (471–489); from 474, he guided the church policy of Emperor Zenon (471–91), and in 475/476 opposed the anti-Chalcedonian measures (Chalcedonian Definition) of the usurper Basiliscus. In 482, on Zenon's commission and in the context of the policy of compromise in relation …

Acacius of Melitene, Saint

(179 words)

Author(s): Hainthaler, Theresia
[German Version] (before 431 bishop of Melitene in lesser Armenia, died before 439) was lector in Melitene around 384 (educated Euthymius, who was later abbot), a dedicated follower of Cyril of Alexandria, and at the Council of Ephesus (431) a determined opponent of Nestorius (ACO I/2, 40, 44, 52f.; cf. his homily, also in the Ethiopic Qērellos). His struggle after 433, together with Rabbula of Edessa, against the distribution of the works of Theodore of Mopsuestia in…


(4,712 words)

Author(s): Leinkauf, Thomas | Wennemuth, Udo
[German Version] I. General – II. Academies of the Arts and Sciences I. General 1. Term, Platonic Academy. The word “academy,” employed in almost all European languages with only minor variants, derives from the Greek term ἀκαδήμεια, ἀκαδημία ( akadēmeia, akadēmia); it designates, first, a park-like, walled, sacred precinct probably primarily dedicated to Akademos, a local Athenian god and heros, then also to Athena. In this enclosed precin…

A cappella

(112 words)

Author(s): Flynn, W.T.
[German Version] (Ital.: in the manner of a chapel) historically refers to choral music accompanied by instruments colla parte; today to unaccompanied choral music of any genre (sacred or secular). The practice of unaccompanied singing stems from ancient prohibition of musical instruments in church. Via reforms of the Council of Trent (1545-1564). The choral singing in the Sistine Chapel became the mode…
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