Religion Past and Present

Get access 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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(3,725 words)

Author(s): Tebartz-van Elst, Franz-Peter | Schulz, Ehrenfried | Hauptmann, Peter | Fraas, Hans-Jürgen
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. Catholic Catechisms – III. Orthodox Catechisms – IV. Protestant Catechisms – V. Catechetical Instruction I. Terminology Linguistically and semantically, the word catechism is derived from the Greek verb κατήχειν/ katḗchein, “to echo.” This etymology suggests a semantic connotation, according to which the transmission of the faith is fundamentally seen as a mediation of the content of the faith through personal testimony (cf. the Lat. personare, “to sound through”). Only when used in a transitive sense does κατήχειν acquire the meaning “to instruct,” ¶ as evidenced by the late Lat. catechizare. In this semantic context, catechesis is understood as instruction in the fait…


(366 words)

Author(s): Doyé, Götz
[German Version] A vocational designation (derived from the NT verb κατήχειν/ katḗchein, “give information, instruct”; Catechesis: I) for theologically and pedagogically trained coworkers in the service of the church, especially in instructing and attending children, youth, and families. In Switzerland, Poland, and some German states, for example, catechists also work as church- or state-trained schoolteachers of religious education. The function and scope of catechists differs …


(2,429 words)

Author(s): Grethlein, Christian | Streck, Danilo | Koschorke, Klaus | Connell, Martin
[German Version] I. General – II. Latin America, Asia and Africa I. General Catechumenate is a term, derived from Gk κατήχειν/ katḗchein as used by Paul (e.g. Gal 6:6), for the institution through which the church, with reference to baptism, forges the necessary link between Christian faith and learning. It is found, after precursors in the scholarly Latin of the 16th and 17th centuries…

Categorical Imperative

(704 words)

Author(s): Recki, Birgit
[German Version] According to I. Kant, the categorical imperative stands for the unconditionally valid moral commandment to heed the general appropriateness of one's actions: “Act only according to that maxim that you could also want to become a universal law” ( Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten [1785], Akademie-Ausgabe [AA] IV, 421; ET: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, 1997). As early as the 1760s, Kant had already put forward the idea (crucial for his ethics of autonomy) that the free will of a rational being is subject only to the law that it imposes upon itself as a result of its own insights. It was not until after he had completed the Kritik der reinen Vernunft (1781; ET: Critique of Pure Reason, 1998) that Kant endeavored to develop this idea in his Groundwork (AA IV, 385–463*). He did so by identifying…


(1,001 words)

Author(s): Enskat, Rainer
[German Version] I. is a technical term introduced by Aristotle from the border area between grammar, semantics and ontology; it refers to a key aspect under which something that exists can be meaningfully discussed by means of a predicative statement. In textbook form, Aristotle distinguished the category of substance from, at most, nine other categories, linked with explanatory exemplifications: the what, the how large, the kind of nature, the relation to so…


(324 words)

Author(s): Hagedorn, Dieter
[German Version] From the 6th century onward, in the areas dominated by the Greek Church (and later also in some of the Eastern Churches), selected excerpts from existing Bible commentaries and other works of distinguished authors were joined together to form new commentaries on the books of the NT and OT; since the Middle Ages, it has become customary to refer to these compilations as catenae. Procopius of …


(582 words)

Author(s): Müller, Daniela
[German Version] The term Cathari (from Gk καϑαροί/ katharoí, “pure ones,” hence Ital. Gazari, Ger. Ketzer), first attested in 1163, was hardly used in the Middle Ages; only in the 19th century did it become the usual name for the largest group deviating from the Roman Church. The Cathari of southern France are also called Albigenses. Known to their enemies simply as haeretici, they called themselves “good Christians.” They are to be viewed against the background of the lay movements concerned primarily with poverty, preaching, and c…


(288 words)

Author(s): Heesch, Matthias
[German Version] the Greek term for “purification,” was employed systematically in Aristotle's poetics ( Poet. 6): by producing pity ( éleos) and fear (   phóbos) in the observer, the action portrayed leads to purification ( kátharsis) from these affects. This assertion reflects the notion that the objectification of besetting emotions makes them manageable, as it were. Similar ideas lie behind the theology and practice of confession, although in the Middle Ages (and in Catholicism still today) they have been…


(185 words)

Author(s): Nicolai, Bernd
[German Version] A cathedral is the main church of a bishop or archbishop ( ecclesia cathedralis); the term is derived from the bishop's seat (cathedra). In the German-speaking area, cathedrals are also called Dom or Münster (minster), although they are not necessarily linked to an episcopal see. Originally, the bishop and canons lived at the cathedral; later, they usually lived in separate buildings on either side (Paris, Reims, Naumburg). The architectural prototype since 312/31…

Cathedral Chapter

(293 words)

Author(s): Schmitz, Heribert
[German Version] A cathedral chapter is a college of priests (known as capitulars) which is attached to a cathedral or collegiate church and assumes the responsibility for the celebration of the solemn liturgies; it is also expected to carry out the tasks assigned to it by canon law or the diocesan bishop ( CIC/1983, c. 503). The cathedral chapters constituted from the clergy (Clergy and laity) of the bishops' churches (Canons) evolved into collegiate bodies with their own legal competence and statutory autonomy, as well as into major insti…

Cathedral Schools

(471 words)

Author(s): Köpf, Ulrich
[German Version] were educational originally institutions for training clergy, administered by the episcopal curia. In the Early Church, learned bishops (preeminently Augustine) already gave instruction to their clergy. From the second Council of Toledo (527/531) onward, the Church repeatedly urged the establishment of episcopal schools; in 789, they were ¶ enjoined by Charlemagne, and in 1076 by Gregory VII. Nevertheless, down to the Reformation numerous councils deplored the educational level of the clergy – a sign of the great dispari…

Catherine II,

(143 words)

Author(s): Oswalt, Julia
[German Version] “the Great,” tsarina of Russia (1762–1796; born princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, Apr 21, 1729, ¶ Stettin, died Nov 6, 1796, Carskoe Selo); on her marriage to Peter III (1761–1762), she converted to the Orthodox Church. As a representative of an enlightened absolutism, she practiced religious tolerance so long as state interests were not affected. In the acquired territories of Poland, Courland, the Crimea, and the Black Sea region, both Christian and non-Christian faith co…

Catherine of Alexandria (Saint)

(362 words)

Author(s): Brackmann, Heinzgerd
[German Version] (actually, Αἰκατερίνα/Aikaterína, not Αεικαθαρίνα/Aeikatherína, “forever pure,” a popular etymology) is venerated in the East and West as an early Christian virgin martyr; her historicity is uncertain. Identification of Catherine with an anonymous woman described by Eusebius ( Hist. eccl. VIII 14; par. Rufinus, Hist. VIII 17: Dorothea) or Hypatia of Alexandria remains hypothetical. There is evidence of a regional veneration of Catherine beginning in the first half of the 8th century. The most famous center o…

Catherine of Genoa (Saint)

(205 words)

Author(s): Barone, Giulia
[German Version] (C. Fieschi; 1447, Genoa – Sep 15, 1519, Genoa), a member of the Genoese higher nobility. At the age of 16, she was married to Giuliano Adorno. After living a worldly life for five years, she experienced a spiritual crisis. During the following years, she lived so ascetically that for a long time she did not eat; the Eucharist was sufficient for her survival. She devoted herself to the care of the sick and of abandoned children. Her husband was c…

Catherine of Siena (Saint)

(219 words)

Author(s): Barone, Giulia
[German Version] (c. 1347, Siena – Apr 29, 13…

Catholic Action

(1,062 words)

Author(s): Neuner, Peter | Rambo, Arthur B.
[German Version] I. General – II. Latin America I. General Catholic Action is a general term denoting the corporate involvement of Catholic laity in the church and the world. In the context of 19th-century liberation movements, there emerged various Catholic associations, largely independent of the hierarchical structure of the church, that made …

Catholic Action (Canada)

(325 words)

Author(s): Perin, Roberto
[German Version] A disparate phenomenon with different regional, cultural, and linguistic expressions, Catholic Action encompasses both traditional devotional societies and newly formed social action ones. In English Canada, the journalist Henry Somerville expounded a social philosophy expounding anti-Communism, labor organization, welfare statism, and religious pluralism. Catholic Action also inspired a regional movement of producers, consumers, and credit coope…

Catholic Apostolic Church

(196 words)

Author(s): Binfield, Clyde
[German Version] The Catholic Apostolic Church was a British denomination, founded in London in 1832, combining Adventism (Adventists), charismatic expression, hierarchical structure, and Catholic liturgy. Although the movement's supporters were nicknamed “Irvingites,” derived from Edward Irving (1792–1834), minister of London's Regent Square Scotch Church, the movement owed most to Henry Drummond (1786–1860), who initiat…

Catholic Emancipation Act

(791 words)

Author(s): Machin, Ian
[German Version] The Catholic Emancipation Act, which became law within the United Kingdom …

Catholic Epistles

(652 words)

Author(s): Lührmann, Dicter
[German Version] I. The term “Catholic Epistles” has been in use at least since the time of Eusebius of Caesarea ( Hist. eccl. II 23, 25) as a designation for the second collection of epistles in the NT canon alongside the Pauline Epistles. According to a 5th-century definition (Leontius of Byzantium, De sectis II, 4), the attribute “Catholic” is meant to indicate that these epistles, unlike those of Paul, are addressed to the whole church rather than to individual congregations. Their compilation into a corpus only began after the preliminary conclusion of the canon in the time of Ir…
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