Religion Past and Present

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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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Leo III, Pope (Saint)

(362 words)

Author(s): E.v. Padberg, Lutz
[German Version] (pope Dec 26, 795 – Jun 12, 816). Born a Roman, Leo was a cleric of the basilica of St. John Lateran and cardinal priest of Sta. Susanna; on the same day Hadrian I was buried, he was “unanimously” elected pope. When he sent notice of his election to Charlemagne, he sent with it the keys to the tomb of Peter and the banner of Rome, strengthening ¶ Charlemagne's ties to the papacy by recognizing him as patricius of the Romans. Assaulted on Apr 25, 799, by assailants from the Roman opposition hoping to render him unfit for office, he fled to the kingdom of th…

Leo I, Pope (Saint)

(440 words)

Author(s): Wyrwa, Dietmar
[German Version] (pope Sep 29, 440 – Nov 10, 461). Born to a Tuscan family, Leo early on played an influential role among the clergy in Rome, where he came forward with important initiatives and measures ¶ to protect the purity of the faith. From his pontificate there survives a substantial literary corpus: 173 letters (30 addressed to him) and 97 sermons. In combination with some other material, this corpus documents his pontificate in considerable detail. The fact that he and Gregory the Great are the only popes honored with the epithet the Great reflects his towering historical impor…

Leo IV, Pope (Saint)

(319 words)

Author(s): Herbers, Klaus
[German Version] (pope Apr 10, 847 – Jul 17, 855). The son of the Roman Radoald, under Pope Gregory IV Leo was made subdeacon and under Pope Sergius II cardinal priest of Santi Quattro Coronati. Already elected in January of 847, he was consecrated by the Romans without imperial assent, supposedly because of the Saracen threat. In the light of earlier depredations, Leo's concern for the city of Rome and the Patrimonium Petri was especially intense (cf. the Civitas Leonina). With the support of southern Italy and Roman militias, Leo confronted the Saracens in 849 near Ostia…

Leo IX, Pope (Saint)

(296 words)

Author(s): Hartmann, Wilfried
[German Version] (Bruno von Egisheim, born 1002; pope Feb 12, 1049 – Apr 19, 1054). Court chaplain to Conrad II, then bishop of Toul (1026–1051), Leo was appointed pope in December of 1048 by Henry III. After election by the clergy and people of Rome, he was enthroned on Feb 12, 1049. In numerous synods, Leo urged the need for reforming the church (elimination of simony and concubinage). On his journeys in Italy, France, and Germany, he presided over many dedications of churches and translations o…

Leonardo da Vinci

(546 words)

Author(s): Warnke, Martin
[German Version] (Apr 15, 1452, near Vinci – May 2, 1519, Amboise), Florentine universal artist, scientist, engineer, and theoretician. Born the illegitimate son of a notary and a young peasant woman, he was apprenticed around 1469 to the painter and sculptor Verrocchio. His drawing of a valley dated Aug 5, 1473, is one of the very earliest landscape pictures. In 1481 Leonardo began an Adoration of the Magi (Florence, Uffizi). Although it remained unfinished, its pyramidal triangular composition coupled with the extremely varied movements and gestures of the fi…

Leonard, Saint

(195 words)

Author(s): Padberg, Lutz E.v.
[German Version] (feast day Nov 6). There is no historic documentation of his life, but his vita and legend, which appeared around 1030 with the aim of disseminating what has hitherto been only a local cult, place him in the 6th century. They identify him as a monk in Micy who became a solitary in Noblac, near Limoges ¶ (today Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat), where he founded a monastery. He is said to have been baptized and instructed by Bishop Remigius of Reims and to have been at the court of Clovis. His cult quickly expanded to France, England, Italy, and …

Léonin and Pérotin

(356 words)

Author(s): Körndle, Franz
[German Version] (also the school of Notre Dame). According to an English music student in Paris at the end of the 13th century (Anonymous 4), Léonin was the most significant composer of organa ( optimus organista; Organum) in Paris in the period before 1200 (?). If he was an actual historical person, he might be identified with Leonius, a poet born c. 1135. Leonius appears to have earned a master's degree prior to 1179; by 1192 at the latest, he was a priest and a canon of Notre Dame. Probably he did not occupy the position of cantor or succentor. His major work is the Hystorie sacre gestas ab ori…

Leon, Moses ben Shem Tov de

(156 words)

Author(s): Dan, Joseph
[German Version] (1240, Leon – 1305, Arevalo), the greatest Jewish mystic in the Middle Ages and the main author of the book Zohar, the central work of the Kabbalah. De Leon mainly studied Jewish philosophy and the writings of M. Maimonides, but later devoted himself to the teachings of the Gerona circle of kabbalists and the kabbalists of Castile. He wrote the Zohar pseudepigraphically, attributing it to ancient sages; it was composed mainly between 1280 and 1291 and most of it is in an artificial Aramaic which De Leon formulated, though sections were pro…

Leontius of Byzantium

(602 words)

Author(s): Uthemann, Karl-Heinz
[German Version] (c. 490 – shortly after 542) was one of the hermits of the new laura, mentioned in the Vita Sabae by Cyril of Scythopolis (CPG 7536), who accompanied Sabas to Constantinople in 531 and there defended the dogma of Chalcedon against Monophysites, although he is supposed to have been an Origenist. Since Marcel Richard's critique, anticipated by P. Junglas (1908), of F. Loofs's hypothesis (1887), only five christological treatises transmitted as a corpus are attributed to this Leontius. Since no hint of…

Leontius of Jerusalem

(358 words)

Author(s): Uthemann, Karl-Heinz
[German Version] Leontius of Jerusalem, author of two christological treatises (538–544 ce; Neo-Chalcedonism), for which there is as yet no critical edition. Both address the aporias of the author's opponents: Monophysites (CPG 6917) and Nestorians (CPG 6918; Nestorianism). F. Loofs (1887) considered both works nothing more than revised writings of Leontius of Byzantium, but since Marcel Richard's criticism of Loofs's position in 1944, they have been held in much higher esteem, even by scholars who disagre…


(210 words)

Author(s): Küchler, Max
[German Version] Leontopolis, (Arab. Tell el-Yahudiyeh), an Egyptian city situated approx. 20 km to the north of Heliopolis and attested since the Old Kingdom (Egypt). A fortress during the Middle Kingdom and the Second Intermediate Period, it was endowed with sanctuaries in the New Kingdom (A.-P. Zivie, VI, 1985f., 331–335). According to Strabo and Flavius Josephus (both: Ant. XII 387f.; XIII 62–73), Onias IV purified the ruined temple in Leontopolis around 160 bce and, in allusion to Isa 19:19 (“an altar in the midst of Egypt”), erected a Jewish temple and an al…

Leontyev, Konstantin Nikolaevič

(158 words)

Author(s): Hauptmann, Peter
[German Version] (Leont'ev; Jan 13, 1831, Kudinovo near Kaluga – Nov 12, 1891, Sergiev Posad), was initially a physician before entering the diplomatic service and finally becoming a censor. As a cultural philosopher, his worldview was shaped by aesthetic considerations. Beauty in the sense of diversity, power, and fullness was for him an objective fact. He thus became the advocate of Byzantine theocracy, ¶ aristocracy, and popular culture against democratic liberalism, petit-bourgeois attitudes, and egalitarianism. His return to the Orthodox faith following…

Leo of Ochrid

(199 words)

Author(s): Brennecke, Hanns Christof
[German Version] Leo of Ochrid, 11th-century Byzantine theologian, chartophylax of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, after 1025 in Achrida/Ochrid as autocephalous archbishop of Bulgaria under Byzantine rule. To support the anti-Western campaigns of the patriarch Michael Cerularius, in 1053 Leo composed an encyclical to “the Franks” ( RAPC 2, no. 862), addressed to the southern Italian bishop John of Trani, in which he attacked Western liturgical practices (Saturday fasting, unleavened bread in the Eucharist) as Judaizing heresy. Commissioned b…

Leo VI

(164 words)

Author(s): Tinnefeld, Franz
[German Version] (Sep 19, 866, Constantinople – May 11, 912, Constantinople), Byzantine co-emperor from Jun 1, 870, and emperor from Aug 29, 886; a major lawgiver and man of letters, student of Patriarch Photius of Constantinople, propagandistically called “the Wise” after the analogy of King Solomon in the Old Testament (cf. ByZ 88, 1995, 531, no. 2459). Leo's works include sermons, liturgical hymns, and a work on monastic asceticism. After his first three spouses died, in 906 he entered into a fourth marriage, prohibited by Byzantine (but not …

Leo XIII, Pope

(485 words)

Author(s): Wassilowsky, Günther
[German Version] (Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci, born Aug 2, 1810, Carpineto; pope Feb 20, 1878 – Jul 20, 1903). In the history of the papacy, Leo will be remembered above all as a political realist and the author of the first official Catholic social ethics (Catholic social teaching); his international diplomacy earned him his reputation as “the most significant pope of the 19th century” (Schwaiger). In the wake of the intransigent opposition of his predecessor Pius IX to the states that had emerged …

Leo XII, Pope

(410 words)

Author(s): Burkard, Dominik
[German Version] (Annibale Della Genga, born Aug 22, 1760, Spoleto; pope Sep 28, 1823 – Feb 10, 1829). Educated at the Accademia pontificia de'nobili ecclesiastici, he was ordained priest in 1783 and appointed private secretary to Pius VI in 1792; in 1793 he was made titular bishop of Tyre. In 1794 he was appointed nuncio to Cologne, but wartime confusion made it generally necessary for him to reside in Augsburg. There (with the aid of the uditore P. Dumont) he developed a network of informants that exerted great influence on Rome's German policy well into the 1820s. Re…

Leo X, Pope

(289 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Bernd Christian
[German Version] (Giovanni de' Medici, born Dec 11, 1475, Florence; pope Mar 11, 1513 [election] – Dec 11, 1521). The second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, he was made cardinal in 1489, but he had to leave Florence after the fall of the Medici in 1494 (G. Savonarola); in the north (Bologna, Germany, Flanders, France), he ¶ developed his interests in art, wealth, and power. Coming to Rome in 1500, he was able to use his wide-ranging relationships to restore his political influence and return to Florence in 1512. After election as pope on Mar 11, 1513,…


(7 words)

[German Version] Clean and Unclean

Leprosy Mission

(97 words)

Author(s): Grundmann, Christoffer H.
[German Version] is (a) a blanket term for Christian efforts to care for the human beings suffering from leprosy in overseas countries, especially from the 19th century onward, and (b) a designation used of the Mission to Lepers (today: Leprosy Mission International, London), a relief organization founded by the Irish Protestant W.C. Bailey in 1874/1878. Christoffer H. Grundmann Bibliography A.D. Miller, An Inn Called Wellcome, 1965 R. Brown, “Leprosy and the Church,” NCE VIII, 1967, 670 – 672 S.G. Browne, “The Christian Contribution to Leprosy and Tuberculosis,” in: idem, ed., Heral…

Lepsius, Johannes

(715 words)

Author(s): Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm
[German Version] (Dec 15, 1858, Berlin – Feb 3, 1926, Merano), Protestant clergyman, after 1896 head of the humanitarian Armenian relief organization. Lepsius was the son of the famous Egyptologist Carl Richard Lepsius. His mother Elisabeth, a neo-Pietist supporter of J.H. Wichern's Inland Mission, played a decisive role in his religious development. He studied philosophy (doctorate in 1880) and theology with A. Cremer, as advised by F. Fabri. He served as curate and teacher with the German Protes…
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