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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Law and Gospel

(2,755 words)

Author(s): Schwöbel, Christoph
[German Version] The distinction between law and gospel has its theological setting in Luther's discovery at the dawn of the Reformation; from that beginning, it informed the debates within Lutheranism during the Reformation, the attempt to resolve them in the Lutheran articles of faith (I), and the deliberations of Reformed theology. Only in the context of the theological confessionalization in the 19th century and even more in the theological, ecclesiastical, and political debates of the 20th ce…

Law and Jurisprudence

(7,535 words)

Author(s): Loos, Fritz | Antes, Peter | Otto, Eckart | Schiemann, Gottfried | Lindemann, Andreas | Et al.
[German Version] I. Concept and Legal Definition – II. History of Religion – III. Ancient Near East and Old Testament – IV. Greco-Roman Antiquity – V. New Testament – VI. Dogmatics – VII. Ethics of Law – VIII. Sociology of Law I. Concept and Legal Definition There is no generally accepted definition of law. At most, there is a consensus that law is basically to be understood as the politically institutionalized order of human relations. The observance of the (general) rules (i.e. compliance or sanctioning of transgressions) emanatin…

Law and Legislation

(7,555 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel | Otto, Eckart | Räisänen, Heikki | Sparn, Walter | Starck, Christian
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Dogmatics and Ethics – V. Politics and Jurisprudence I. History of Religion Laws are generally regarded as formulated, i.e. sentential and often codified rules of life and coexistence; this ¶ refers especially to principles of nature (Law/Natural law) and norms of action (Commandment, Ethics). For the modern age, the validity of natural laws arises from hypothetical laws that have been verified through observation and experiments, and have thereby been proven or j…

Lawes, William George

(273 words)

Author(s): Ahrens, Theodor
[German Version] (Jul 1, 1839, Aldermaston, England – Aug 6, 1907, Waverly, Australia). Lawes was sent to Niue (Savage Island, dependent on New Zealand) by the London Missionary Society (LMS). During his time there (1861–1872), he taught, translated biblical texts, and developed a local craft organization. He took his experience on Niue with him to Papua (Papua New Guinea) in 1874, where he strengthened the newly begun work of the LMS. In cooperation with Polynesian missionaries, especially Ruatok…

Law, Islamic

(6 words)

[German Version] Islam

Law, Liturgical

(7 words)

[German Version] Liturgical Law

Law/Natural Law

(1,619 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk
[German Version] I. Natural Science – II. Dogmatics – III. Ethics I. Natural Science The term “natural law” refers to a general norm of the order of nature that reveals regularities or causal relationships between the phenomena of a specific process area. A natural law has an explanatory and prognostic function, and thus constitutes the basis of calculated intervention in the processes it describes. In the natural sciences, a natural law is understood as the norm of a constant relationship between different classes of natural phenomena that can be depicte…

Lawrence, David Herbert

(151 words)

Author(s): Rylance, Rick
[German Version] (Sep 11, 1885, Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England – Mar 2, 1930, Vence, France) was a controversial writer and the son of free-thinking Congregationalists (Congregationalism). An enquiring spirit led Lawrence quickly to dissent. He explored evolutionary thinkers like C. Darwin and W. James, but eventually himself rebelled against materialism. Thereafter, he formulated no settled opinions but remained passionately committed to the spiritual significance of sexuality, articulated wi…

Lawrence of Brindisi (Saint)

(264 words)

Author(s): Pfnür, Vinzenz
[German Version] (Giulio Cesare Rossi; Jul 22, 1559, Brindisi – Jul 22, 1619, Lisbon) was proclaimed Doctor apostolicus of the Church on Mar 19, 1959, having been canonized on Dec 8, 1881 (commemoration day: July 21). A Capuchin friar (from 1575), he officiated as provincial superior (Tuscany: 1590–1592; Venice: 1594–1596; Genoa: 1613–1616), commissary general of the Austrian-Bohemian province (founding monasteries in Innsbruck, Salzburg, Prague, Vienna, and Graz), as well as definitor general and…

Lawrence of Novara

(189 words)

Author(s): Bracht, Katharina
[German Version] was probably, in the second quarter of the 5th century, bishop of Novara (northern Italy). Three homilies are preserved: De duobus temporibus (also: De paenitentia), De eleemosyna, and De muliere chananaea, the latter probably being the free translation of a sermon of J. Chrysostom (PG 52, 449–460). In De duobus temporibus, Lawrence of Novara developed a theology of penance according to which two different modes of the remission of sins correspond to two different periods of time: in the first instance, remission is ¶ granted as a gift by God in baptism through t…

Lawrence of Rome (Saint)

(222 words)

Author(s): Bracht, Katharina
[German Version] (died 258 ce). Lawrence, a deacon under the Roman bishop Sixtus II, died as a martyr in the Valerian persecution (Persecutions of Christians: I) and was buried in a crypt on the Via Tiburtina. As early as the reign of Constantine the Great, a chapel had already been erected on the saint's tomb – later San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura, today one of the seven principal churches of Rome. Very early on, Lawrence was revered as a saint in both East and West (feast day Aug 10) and included in th…

Law, William

(253 words)

Author(s): Carter, Grayson
[German Version] (1686, King's Cliffe, Northamptonshire – Apr 9, 1761, King's Cliffe), Nonjuror and English theologian. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1711. In 1714, upon the accession of George I, Law refused the Oath of Allegiance, was deprived of his fellowship, and joined the Jacobites (Jacobitism). He later served as private tutor to the Gibbons family in Putney. In 1740, he retired to his birthplace, where he became domestic chaplain to a small ho…

Lay Abbot

(106 words)

Author(s): Köpf, Ulrich
[German Version] A lay abbot in the narrow sense, is a layman who is entrusted with the conduct and use of a monastery without being a member of its convent or even a monk. In the Frankish Empire of the 9th and 10th centuries and its successor states, members of the nobility were particularly frequently vested with this function. In a secondary meaning, lay abbot also designates the clerical holder of a commendam, who does not have the status of a monk (frequent from the High Middle Ages to the early modern period). Ulrich Köpf Bibliography F.J. Felten, Äbte und Laienäbte im Frankenreich, 1980.

Lay Apostolate

(1,005 words)

Author(s): Eisenkopf, Paul
[German Version] The term “lay apostolate” became common at the turn of the 19th to the 20th centuries in the Catholic Church for the manifold activities that Catholics had developed in the first half of the 19th century. The Enlightenment and secularization had ¶ brought significant restrictions on the church and the clergy. On the other hand, they opened possibilities for the Catholic laity to avail themselves of the new rights of freedom that were gradually being offered to the benefit of the life of the church. A number of association…

Lay Brothers

(426 words)

Author(s): Köpf, Ulrich
[German Version] ( conversi) are, in the narrower sense, members of a religious community who are not ordained. In the course of history, however, the name fratres laici or conversi has designated various groups of persons. In the early medieval period, conversi were monks who, in contrast to ( pueri) oblati (Oblates: I) who were consigned to a monastery already as children, entered the monastery only as adults. In addition to this so-called “older institution of conversi,” a “younger institution of conversi” arose in the 11th century. It included members of the monastic familia who wer…

Lay Church Drama

(412 words)

Author(s): Klie, Thomas
[German Version] Religious amateur theater as a way of dramatizing biblical motifs of the Christian faith has its roots in the liturgy. There is evidence of Easter plays as early as the 9th century; their nucleus was the so-called Easter trope ( Quem queritis: Luke 24:5b). Later passion plays and Christmas plays were presented, as well as eschatological plays (portraying the Antichrist and the Last Judgment) and saints' plays. In the Middle Ages, liturgical and didactic interests rendered obsolete the earlier Christian polemic against the ludi theatrales; as a rule, clergy provid…

Lay Communities/Lay Orders

(273 words)

Author(s): Haering, Stephan
[German Version] Lay associations within the Catholic Church trace their traditions far back in the church's system of orders, confraternities, and communities. Vatican II emphasized the importance of lay communities for implementation of a Christian vocation and participation in the apostolate (PC 10, AA 18–21). The faithful are urged quite generally to hold such associations in high esteem ( CIC/1983 cc. 327, 574 §1; CCEO c. 411). Canon law distinguishes lay communities recognized as religious orders (lay religious and secular institutes, societies of the …

Lay Confession

(400 words)

Author(s): Sattler, Dorothea
[German Version] Since biblical times, the community of believers has considered the experience that sins hidden within the heart burden sinners, robbing them of vital energy and nurturing fears of divine judgment (Ps 32:3–6). Candid confession of guilt restores confidence and assurance. Talking about sins brings insight into implications that would otherwise remain hidden, opens paths to reconciliation, and gives comfort in situations of hopeless despair. Mutual confession of sins has therapeutic power (Jas 5:16). In the history of theology, lay confession has gone th…

Laye, Camara

(240 words)

Author(s): Spindler, Marc R.
[German Version] (Jan 1, 1928, Kouroussa, Guinea – Feb 4, 1980, Dakar, Senegal) was one of the first African novelists of international repute. A member of one of the most influential casts, Laye was educated in Guinea and France. His award-winning first novel L'enfant noir (1953; ET: The Dark Child, 1954) is a romanced autobiography staged in an idyllic African village. Le regard du Roi (1954; ET: The Radiance of the King, 1956) is a phantasmagoric story of Clarence, a white man without qualities, going a long way toward initiation into the mystery of grace. Clare…

Laying-On of Hands

(1,802 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Janowski, Bernd | Lips, Hermann v. | Biehl, Peter
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies The laying-on or imposition of hands is a physical gesture usually performed in the context of a ritualized series of actions or as a symbol by itself. It can be ascribed to a divine being conceived anthropomorphically. The ritual gesture is attested in many cultures, especially in the ancient Near East, but it is not universal – it is unknown, for example, in Buddhism and Islam. Its mean…
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