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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Early Catholicism

(351 words)

Author(s): Alkier, Stefan
[German Version] The term “early Catholicism” is used when features of a hierarchical, official institutionalization of Christianity are discernible before the 3rd century (e.g. the binding of the Spirit to the office; the principle of tradition and succession; development of a monarchical episcopate; sacramentalism), ultimately leading to the firm establishment of Christianity i…

Early Church

(6,745 words)

Author(s): Markschies, Christoph
[German Version] I. The Term – II. Periods of the Early Church – III. The History of the Church and of Christianity in Antiquity – IV. Review I. The Term The term “early church” is one of the most common English expressions used to designate the church during the times of the emperors in Greco-Roman antiquity, i.e. the Christian church from its beginnings until the end of antiquity or Late Antiquity. The end of this …

Early Education (Religious)

(435 words)

Author(s): Harz, Frieder
[German Version] Early education, also called elementary education (or pre-school education), refers to the pedagogically thought-through instruction of children before they start school. The questions arising from early religious education provide exemplary insights into its fundamental importance, but also into its manifold problems. As long as religious education (VII) was primarily concerned with th…

Early Judaism

(234 words)

Author(s): Wandrey, Irina
[German Version] The term refers to the period roughly between (a) the end of the Babylonian Exile (539 bce), the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (520), and the completion of the Hebrew Bible, and (b) the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (70 ce) and the beginnings of rabbinic Judaism. The term “early Judaism” thus covers a period that historians, depending on where the focus of their interest lies, also refer to as the Hellenistic-Roman period (300 bce–200 ce), lately also as “Middle Judaism” (Boccaccini) or the Second Temple Period (520 bce–70 ce). It …


(892 words)

Author(s): Olson, Carl
[German Version] The earth represents a complex symbolic web of religious significance that includes its life-giving powers, ability to sustain life, and its tendency to accept the bodies of the dead. In some cultures, the earth is personified as a mother goddess, but this tendency is not universal despite the claim by Dieterich's Mutter Erde (Mother Earth, 1905), which constructs a theology of a single great goddess, associated with the earth. In fact, there are many goddesses and most of them are on…

East Asia Christian Conference (EACC)

(13 words)

[German Version] Christian Conference of Asia (CCA)

East Asian Dance and Theater

(521 words)

Author(s): Moser-Achuthath, Heike
[German Version] in all its forms shares the use of stylized (painted) mask s and costumes that ¶ define the role of the figure, partly in combination with dance, acrobatic elements, song, music, and the dramatization of a story (Indian dance, Kūṭiyāṭṭam). A connection between stage plays and the practice of the respective religion may also be observed (Animism, Buddhism, Confucianism, …


(5,925 words)

Author(s): Kraus, Georg | Kinzig, Wolfram | Schlemmer, Karl | Plank, Peter | Schwier, Helmut | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. Church History – III. Liturgy – IV. Customs and Traditions – V. Homiletics and Education – VI. Art History I. Terminology Easter (cf. Ger. Ostern) is the English word for the feast of Jesus Christ's resurrection (II). The name in other Germanic and Romance languages derives instead from Gk πάσχα/ páscha (Aram. פַּסְחָא/ pascha' or פִּסְחָא/ pischa' for Heb. פֶּסַח/ pesah. [from פסח/ psh., “limp/go past”, etymology not entirely clear]; Lat. as pascha or passa), for example, Påske (Danish and Norwegian), Pasen (Dutch), Påsk (Swedish), Pasqua (…

Easter, Date of

(11 words)

[German Version] Paschal / Easter Calendrical Controversies

Easter Epistles

(251 words)

Author(s): Külzer, Andreas
[German Version] Epistles of the bishop of Alexandria, originally composed in Greek, on fixing the date of Easter, often, but not exclusively, addressed to the bishops and congregations in Egypt subject to him. The first author for this circle of recipients was Dionysius of Alexandria (247/48), although Demetrius of Alexandria had already written Easter epistles to the bishop…

Eastern Churches, Catholic

(410 words)

Author(s): Hardt, Michael
[German Version] The term Catholic Eastern churches refers to those churches that originally belonged to the old Eastern or Orthodox churches. In the process of the Orthodox separation from the Roman Catholic Church, they either remained in communion with the pope or later entered into unions with Rome. They acknowledge the primacy and infallibility of the pope, but have their own church law and celebrate the ¶ liturgy according to the respective Eastern Church rite so that they hardly differ from their Orthodox mother churches. Accordin…

East Syrian Liturgy

(946 words)

Author(s): Brakmann, Heinzgerd
[German Version] is a collective term for the worship of the ancient church catholicosate at Seleucia-Ctesiphon and its successor churches, the Apostolic Church of the East (“Assyrians,” “Nestorians”), the patriarchate of Babylon (Catholic “Chaldeans”) and the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church (Catholic “Syro-Malabars”; Unions with …

East Syrian (Nestorian) Church

(12 words)

[German Version] Apostolic Church of the East

Eating and Drinking,

(553 words)

Author(s): Borgeaud, Philippe
[German Version] in the comparative study of religion. Nourishment is both a symbol-laden reality and a biological necessity. Every human society chooses from among the available foods by making a traditional distinction between those that are fit for consumption and those that are not. Culinary habits and table manners have cultural implications that go far beyond anything that a purely …

Ebal, Mount

(309 words)

Author(s): Dexinger, Ferdinand
[German Version] A mountain (940 m) situated northeast of Nablus/Shechem opposite Mt Gerizim. According to Deut 27:4 (where the Samaritan Pentateuch and Old Latin have Gerizim!), an altar was to have been erected ¶ on Mt Ebal (according to Deut 11:29 [MT], the mount of the curse), not on Gerizim (mount of the blessing), and according to Josh 8:30 (in the LXX 9:2) this was done. Ebal may have replaced Gerizim in the MT for cult-polemic, indeed anti-Samaritan, reasons. For 4QJoshuaa, Gilgal seems to have been the site for the altar. On the northern slo…

Ebed Jesus

(191 words)

Author(s): Kaufhold, Hubert
[German Version] of Nisibis (‘Abdīšō’ bar Brīkā; mid- 13th cent. – early Nov 1318), was the last significant Nestorian (Syria) author of the Middle Ages. He is attested as bishop of Sīgār and Bēt ‘Arbāyē in 1284/1285, and as metropolitan of Nisibis and Armenia before 1290/1291. In his catalogue of authors, written in Syriac, he lists…

Ebeling, Gerhard

(1,181 words)

Author(s): Köpf, Ulrich | Lange, Dietz
[German Version] I. Life – II. Church Historian – III. Systematic Theologian Jul 6, 1912, Berlin-Steglitz – Sep 30, 2001, Zollikerberg/Zürich), Protestant German theologian. I. Life

Eberhard the Bearded,

(213 words)

Author(s): Mertens, Dieter
[German Version] V/I, count, from 1495 duke of Württemberg (Dec …

Eberlin von Günzburg, Johann

(298 words)

Author(s): Peters, Christian
[German Version] (c. 1465, Kleinkötz near Günzburg – Oct 1533, Leutershausen [Ansbach]). He married Martha of Aurach in 1524. An adherent of Franciscan Observantism in Heilbronn, Tübingen (until 1519), Basel (contact with K. Pellikan, Beatus Rhenanus, Zwingli) and Ulm (1521), he was also a humanist and the author of the pamphlet cycle

Eber, Paul

(226 words)

Author(s): Scheible, Heinz
[German Version] (Nov 8, 1511, Kitzingen – Dec 10, 1569, Wittenberg) received his preliminary education in Ansbach and Nuremberg before moving to Wittenberg in 1532, where he received his M.A. in 1536, be…


(461 words)

Author(s): Jones, F. Stanley
[German Version] name for ancient Jewish Christians that is first found in Iren. Haer. I 26.2 (᾿Έβιωναῖοι, ebiōnaîoi, Aram. form of a Heb. word meaning “poor”; Ebionitae = ecclesiastical Lat.). The origin of the term cannot be determined with certainty. In view of the religious usage of the term in the ancient Near East, the HB (e.g. Jer 20:13; Ps 86:1), the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (e.g. Pss.Sol. 10:6; 18:2), and the writings from Qumran (e.g. 1QM XI 13, 1QpHab XII 3, 4Q171 II 9), however, the name was probably a religious …

Ebionites, Gospel of the

(314 words)

Author(s): Jones, F. Stanley
[German Version] Modern designation for a gospel used by the ancient Jewish Christians, from which Epiphanius cites seven excerpts in his presentation of the “Ebionites.” The implied authorship by Matthew ( Haer. XXX 13.3) often leads to the equation of Gos. Eb. with a Gospel of the Twelve Apostles, which is mentioned solely by name in Or.


(432 words)

Author(s): Archi, Alfonso
[German Version] (modern Tell Mardikh). A Bronze Age site of 56 ha located nearly 60 km south of Aleppo. The town's development peaked in the Early Bronze IV A (Mardikh IIB 1, c. 2400–2350 bce). Dating from this period is the Royal Palace G, excavated for nearly 2400 m2, which should have occupied a large part of the acropolis. The main archive, with originally some 2500 tablets, was p…

Ebner, Christina

(268 words)

Author(s): Ehrenschwendtner, Marie-Luise
[German Version] (Good Friday, 1277, Nuremberg – Dec 27, 1356, Engelthal Convent). The patrician's daughter entered the Engelthal Convent (Dominican) at the age of twelve. Her uncompromising conceptualization of the imitatio Christi and cloistered lifestyle led to corporal suffering and isolation within the community. Beginning in 1291, Ebner had extraordinary spiritual experiences that brought her fame in subsequent …

Ebner-Eschenbach, Marie

(297 words)

Author(s): Gabriel, Norbert
[German Version] (Baroness of; Sep 13, 1830, Zdislavic Castle, Moravia – Mar 12, 1916, Vienna) was an important narrator and aphorist of Austrian Late Realism. In 1848, she married her cousin Moriz, a professor at the engineers’ academy in Vienna and later lieutenant field marshal; the marriage was childless. Ebner-Eschenbach was distinguished in 1898 with Austria's highest civil order, the Cross of Honor for Arts and Literature; in 1900, she was the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Vienna. Following initi…

Ebner, Margareta

(165 words)

Author(s): Ehrenschwendtner, Marie-Luise
[German Version] (c. 1291, Donauwörth – Jun 20, 1351, Maria Medingen). This patrician's daughter entered the Convent of Maria Medingen at a very early age. Constantly ill and isolated within the convent from 1312 on, she understood her illness as her path to God. Prayer, contemplation, and asceticism under the banner of an intense devotion to Christ (reflection on the Passion, the childhood of Jesus, etc.) led her to mystical experiences (visions, auditions, glossolalia). ¶ Henry of Nördlingen was important for her spirituality beginning in 1332; he cared for her as her pastoral counselor (personally and through many letters), put her into contact with like-minded persons (J. Tauler), and inspired her to record her “revelations.” …

Ebo of Reims

(175 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Martina
[German Version] (c. 778–851), from a family of royal fiscalines, was archbishop of Reims (816/17–835 and 840/41) and, from 845, bishop of Hildesheim. Ebo devoted himself to the development of his archdiocese, church reform, and the mission in Denmark. Having been instrumental in the overthrow of Louis I, the ¶ Pious in 833, he was himself deposed in 835, only to be reinstated in 840 by Lothar I. Expelled once again in 841, Louis the German finally made him bishop of Hildesheim. The controversy su…

Ebrard, Johannes Heinrich August

(292 words)

Author(s): Bonkhoff, Bernhard H.
[German Version] (Jan 18, 1818, Erlangen – Jul 23, 1888, Erlangen). The son of the French-Reformed pastor of the Huguenot colony, Ebrard became a committed proponent of the Erlangen School in its reformed modification. After a brief period as lecturer in Erlangen, his book Wissenschaftliche Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte in response to D.F.Strauß's Life of Jesus brought him a call to Zürich as associate professor, whence he returned to Erlangen in 1847 as professor of Reformed theology. In 1853, h…

Ecclesiastes Rabbah

(7 words)

[German Version] Qohelet Rabbah

Ecclesiastical Language

(514 words)

Author(s): Grözinger, Albrecht
[German Version] can refer in a quite general sense to the language spoken in a particular ecclesiastical, theological, liturgical (Liturgical languages), or religious context. To that extent, a certain vagueness attaches to the term itself, whose semantic content can then only be determined more clearly through an analysis of its concrete use. Such analysis distinguishes strategically between descriptive, critical, and constructive levels, though in certain contexts all three levels may be interwoven. The expression is used descriptively when it describes …

Ecclesiastical Penalties

(480 words)

Author(s): Rees, Wilhelm
[German Version] are legal restrictions imposed by the Catholic Church on church members who culpably and accountably violate church law. In continuity with CIC/1917, CIC/1983 c.1312 §1 distinguishes censures ( CIC/1983 cc.1331–1335; cf. CCEO cc.1431f., 1434f.), namely, excommunication, interdict, and suspension (clerics), from expiatory penalties ( CIC/1983 cc.1336–1338; CCEO cc.1429f.; 1433). Such include residency stipulations and prohibitions, withdrawal of authorizations, offices, privilege…

Ecclesiastical Power

(498 words)

Author(s): de Wall, Heinrich
[German Version] The concept of “ecclesiastical power” is not very common in the newer doctrine of Protestant canon law; however, in Roman Catholicism, the authority of the Church and related concepts ( sacra potestas, potestas ecclesiastica, potestas ordinis, and potestas jurisdictionis) are the foundation of the Church's legal ¶ structure. Nevertheless, the justification for and the scope of the authority of the Church were among the most important controversial issues of the Reformation ( CA 28). In Protestantism, the concept of the power of …

Ecclesiastical Province/Region

(186 words)

Author(s): Rees, Wilhelm
[German Version] In contrast to the ecclesiastical region ( regio ecclesiastica; CD art. 39ff.), since the 4th century the ecclesiastical province ( provincia ecclesiastica) has belonged to the constitutional structure of the Catholic Church. It is the assembly of neighboring particular churches to promote pastoral work and relationships among the diocesan bishops in the union of particular churches so created ( CIC/1983 c. 431 §1). The provincial council and the metropolitan have leadership authority ( CIC/1983 c. 432 §1). Neighboring ecclesias…

Ecclesia supplet/Suppletion

(180 words)

Author(s): Potz, Richard
[German Version] (Lat. ecclesia supplet = “the church supplements”). In Catholic canon law, under ¶ certain circumstances absent jurisdiction is replaced according to CIC c.144 §1. This is not the sanctioning of invalid legal acts but the legal delegation of authority or jurisdiction in cases involving either an actual or legally assumed error on the part of the ecclesiastical community in question or a positive and demonst…

Ecclesiola in ecclesia

(7 words)

[German Version] Church


(408 words)

Author(s): Beintker, Michael
[German Version] or doctrine of the church (chapter “de ecclesia” in 16th and 17th-cent. dogmatics) refers to the subdivision of dogmatics which develops the concept of the church and clarifies the question of the nature, task, form, and structure of the church. A distinction can be made between a more implicit ecclesiology (pre-theoretical self-reflection of a church) and an exp…


(7 words)

[German Version] Amenophis IV (Echnaton)


(183 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Martina
[German Version] (Luxemburg). In 697/698, abbess Irmina of Oeren gifted her portion of the villa Epternacus to Willibrord (died 739), who obtained the other portion c. 700 from Plectrud and Pippin II in order to found his monastery. Willibrord's grave in Echternach attracted many pilgrims, and Alcuin wrote his Vita of the missionary there. The scriptorium produced the outstanding products of an insular scribal art and flourished again from the 11th century ( Codex Egberti; court studio of the Salians). From c. 848 on, it was a canonical institution; from 973, it came under the Rule of Ben…

Echter of Mespelbrunn, Julius

(212 words)

Author(s): Smolinsky, Heribert
[German Version] (Mar 18, 1545, Mespelbrunn – Sep 13, 1617, Würzburg), prince-bishop of Würzburg. After his studies and a church career, Echter became dean of the cathedral (1570) and bishop (1573) in Würzburg. At first, he devoted himself to the organization and centralization of the territory, founding the Julius Hospital (1576–79) and the University of Würzburg (1582), to beco…

Eckhart, Meister

(1,467 words)

Author(s): Langer, Otto
[German Version] I. Life – II. Work – III. Influence (Eckhart v. Hochheim; c. 1260, Tambach – probably early 1328, Avignon) I. Life Born around 1260 in or near Tambach, south of Gotha, Eckhart entered the Dominican order in Erfurt. He began general studies in Cologne in 1280, was lector sententiarum in Paris (1293–1294) prior in Erfurt and vicarius provincialis in Thuringia (1294–1298), magister regens in Paris (1302), provincial of the newly founded province of Saxony (1303), after 1307 additionally vicar general …

Eck, Johann

(555 words)

Author(s): Wicks, Jared
[German Version] (born J. Maier; Nov 13, 1486, Egg an der Günz – Feb 10, 1543, Ingolstadt) was a prolific opponent of the Reformation. After an initial education under his uncle in Rottenburg, he studied in Heidelberg, Tübingen (M.A. 1501), Cologne, and Freiburg im Breisgau (1502–1510). Then he held the chair of theology in Ingolstadt for the rest of his life. Eck's Chrysopassus (1514) taught that God predestines to salvation those whom he foresees will acquiesce to his prevenient grace. In 1518, after Eck cr…


(769 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Albrecht, Michael
[German Version] I. Comparative Religion – II. Philosophy I. Comparative Religion The term “eclecticism” denotes philosophical or religious systems in which elements of various provenance have been deliberately combined; it was already used in this sense by ancient writers (Diogenes Laertius; cf. II below). In modern usage, the term usually carries a negative connotation, based on the assumptio…

Ecological Movement

(2,070 words)

Author(s): Timpf, Siegfried
[German Version] I. History – II. Analysis – III. Organizations – IV. The Future I. History The ecological movement has a complex internal structure that is expressed in sharply divergent forms of organization and practice, goals, and understandings of nature and society. The theme common to all currents within the movement is that of man's relationship to nature. There are three streams within th…

Ecological Theology

(809 words)

Author(s): Primavesi, Anne
[German Version] The term “ecology” was coined in 1866 by E. Haeckel to denote a new branch of biological research. It now also includes the concept of an ¶ ecosystem in the sense of a concept of a co-evolutionary (Evolution) and ultimately cooperative dynamic. The older notion defined environmental relationships as an abstract system in which an exchange of matter and energy takes place and whose functioning …


(5 words)

[German Version] Environment/Ecology

Economic Cycle

(542 words)

Author(s): Cansier, Dieter
[German Version] refers to short-term variations in the capacity of the productive potential of the overall economy. Economic development proceeds in waves with upturns and downturns. In an upturn, demand increases rapidly. The capacity of the economy grows. At some point, normal production capacity is attained, but upward forces do not typically become static at this point. …

Economic Ethics

(1,931 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. History – II. Problems and Themes I. History As reflection on the lived ethos, ethics has since Antiquity also considered economic participation, as it touches on ethos, as an essential component of ethos. Aristotle restricted economy to securing household autarchy, from which commerce was distinct; and, insofar as it produced money from money in transactions involving interest, he rejected it ( Eth. Nic. 1256 b 1–8). The Bible, especially in the OT, gives numerous rules regarding the support …

Economic History

(2,672 words)

Author(s): Fischer, Wolfram | Ohst, Martin
[German Version] I. General – II. Church I. General Economic history, simply speaking, is concerned with how over the centuries people have earned their livelihood, have obtained for themselves food, clothing, and shelter, have communicated with each other sometimes across rivers, mountains, and oceans, have met, bartered (Exchange), traded (Trade), developed m…


(3,290 words)

Author(s): Sautter, Hermann | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Scope – II. History and Disciplines – III. Present Foci of Interest – IV. Significance for Theology I. Scope Traditionally economics has been defined primarily by its subject matter. It is the branch of inquiry that deals with economic phenomena (Economy: I). Methodologically, over a lengthy course of development (see II below) it has become increasingly autonomous, adopting the empirical and quantitative proce…


(6,870 words)

Author(s): Sautter, Hermann | Rüpke, Jörg | Schneider, Helmuth | Otto, Eckart | Penslar, Derek | Et al.
[German Version] I. The Concept – II. Economic Systems and their Theories – III. Economy and Religion I. The Concept The term economy encompasses the totality of all individual actions and social interactions that serve to produce goods (commodities or services [Service sector]) for the purpose of satisfying human needs (Consumption). As a rule, the “production” of commodities means that human labor and …
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