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.

Subscriptions: see


(723 words)

Author(s): Steck, Wolfgang
[German Version] I. General Until the first half of the 12th century, sacramentum could denote any liturgical action of the church; since early Scholasticism, however, Western theology (in the Roman Catholic Church) has made a distinction between the seven sacraments and all other liturgical ¶ actions and signs, which are categorized as sacramentals. Although the sacramentals, like the sacraments, are visible signs of invisible grace, there is a qualitative difference: the sacraments, which go back in substance to Jesus Christ, are effective ex opere operato Christi, independent…


(585 words)

Author(s): Metzger, Marcel
[German Version] instructions for the bishop or priest presiding at liturgical celebrations. The reduction of the euchological formularies to writing came about as the formularies in use were written down, collected, and eventually supplemented by various local churches. This process extended from the initial production of disorganized collections to the arrangement of the formularies according to the liturgical year. Three original books have been identified as sources, much of whose content orig…


(10,176 words)

Author(s): Köpf, Ulrich | Nocke, Franz-Josef | Felmy, Karl Christian | Kandler, Karl-Hermann | Busch, Eberhard | Et al.
[German Version] I. Church History In Christian usage, the term sacrament has two meanings: a broad meaning corresponding to the New Testament term μυστήριον/ mystḗrion (“mystery”), used as a term for mysteries of the faith in general, and a narrower meaning in the sense of certain liturgical actions that enable believers to share in the salvific grace effected by Christ. While medieval Scholastic theology in the West developed the narrower understanding of sacraments with increasingly precise and subtle definitions, …

Sacraments, Administration of the

(453 words)

Author(s): Kandler, Karl-Hermann
[German Version] Except for a few Free churches, all churches emphasize ordination as a prerequisite for administering the sacraments. Clearly special ministers were already administering the sacraments in the New Testament period (1 Cor 1:11ff.); it the post-NT period this was a matter of course (Ign. Smyrn. 8.1). In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, apostolic succession guarantees the sacramental mediation of salvation through the priest: “The validity of the Eucharist depends on the validity of the office and its representative” ( Eucharistie und Priesteramt, 62). Th…

Sacred and Profane

(5,561 words)

Author(s): Paden, William E. | Milgrom, Jacob | Taeger, Jens-Wilhelm | Vroom, Henk M. | Hunsinger, George | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies While the sacred/profane duality has a long history, going back to the Romans, it was the emergence of an intercultural, anthropological perspective in the late 19th century that made it a significant descriptive category in comparative religious studies. In that context, the sacred/profane concept served to describe certain types of experience and behavior common to all human cultures. The anthropological interest in the sacred focused initially on early notions like taboo and mana, Oceanian terms that mean “forbidden”…

Sacred Heart of Jesus

(400 words)

Author(s): Lies, Lothar
[German Version] (wounded) symbolizes for Catholics the person of Jesus the theanthropic redeemer. The cult developed in the 11th century out of the medieval devotion to the Five Wounds, with motifs drawn from the Bible (Song of Songs, John), the fathers (Origen), and courtly literature (Minnesong), becoming a kind of courtly love of Christ, popular in monastic and mystic circles. In the effort to popularize this form of devotion (Claude de la Colombière SJ, 1641–1682), the visions of M.M. Alacoqu…

Sacred Heart of Mary

(163 words)

Author(s): Petri, Heinrich
[German Version] The “heart” is the innermost core of a person; the Sacred Heart of Mary symbolizes the holiness of the Mother of God (Mary, mother of Jesus), her love of God and her Son, and her maternal solicitude for us. Devotion to the Heart of Mary goes back to the Middle Ages (Mysticism: III, 3.b). Since the 17th century (Jean Eude, 1601–1680), there were efforts to justify liturgical devotion to the Heart of Mary theologically and gain official recognition for it. It has been permitted by R…

Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Societies, Orders, and Congregations of

(943 words)

Author(s): Eder, Manfred
[German Version] The rise of Catholic orders whose apostolate is connected to the veneration of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and is borne by the associated spirituality, is directly related to the spread of the public and liturgical cults of the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary as they prevailed from the 18th century, especially in France. With reference to the Heart of Mary societies, the dedication of the world to the Heart of Mary – a goal envisaged since the 19th century and attained in 1…

Sacredness and Sinfulness of the Church

(386 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Rolf
[German Version] The sacredness (or holiness) of the church is stated in principle in Eph 5:27: Christ sanctifies the church by cleansing it with the washing of water; it is then “holy” ( hágia, sancta) and without blemish, i.e. sinless. The creeds adopted the predicate of holiness as one of the essential marks of the church (BSLK 24). In the course of time, the sense of the church’s holiness was extended from moral spotlessness to include purity from heretical doctrine (sixth Synod of Toledo, 638; DH 493). For the faithful, mem…

Sacred Objects

(447 words)

Author(s): Kraatz, Martin
[German Version] Any object, natural or made by human hands, can be used by a religion and thus become a religious object. Sacredness is ascribed only to those religious objects that, to believers, effectively represent an agency of their religion or their personal religiosity – an agency that is outside their control but which has power over them –, that convey this effectiveness, or that have been touched and non-materially changed by it. From the perspective of religious studies, the quality of…

Sacred Sites

(2,374 words)

Author(s): Baudy, Dorothea | Reichert, Andreas | Dan, Joseph | Koch, Guntram
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Characterization of a place as “sacred” or “holy” lends it a special status vis-à-vis its environment. Usually specific regulations govern how it is entered and used. Traditionally this status has been grounded in the belief that the site is proper to a deity or another spiritual being, or that a special power emanates from it. Sacred sites are particularly common at the center and on the fringes of group territories: the “men’s house” or festival ground defines the center of a village, just as the temple complex on …

Sacred Times

(1,513 words)

Author(s): Baudy, Dorothea | Metzger, Marcel | Bieritz, Karl-Heinrich
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Sacred times are ritually observed periods of time of varying duration that serve to modulate life within a community through reference to an exceptional shared experience. Someone who prays at an appointed hour knows that he or she is united with like-minded others even when alone. When people live close to nature, the necessary cooperation requires adaptation to the environment’s seasonal changes. There the ritual organization of temporal caesuras addresses bot…


(13,083 words)

Author(s): Borgeaud, Philippe | Marx, Alfred | Chaniotis, Angelos | Bremmer, Jan N. | Moscovitz, Leib | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The word sacrifice denotes both the living creature or offering sacrificed and the ritual action (e.g. destruction) through which that creature or object is dedicated to a supernatural being. If a distinction needs to be made, English and the Romance languages can use sacrifice (Eng. and Fr.; sacrificio Ital. and Span.) for the ritual action while using victim (Fr. victime, Span. víctima, Ital. vittima) for the creature sacrificed. Etymologically sacrifice suggests an action in which the sacrificed object is “made holy/sacred” (Lat. sacrum fac…


(97 words)

Author(s): Pree, Helmuth
[German Version] is the violation of persons, places, or things that have been dedicated to God or are associated with God. In canon law, physical attacks on the pope, bishops,or clergy and religious are penal offences, as are desecration, retention, or discarding the eucharistic species, profaning a holy object, and consecration of only one eucharistic species or of both outside a eucharistic celebration. Helmuth Pree Bibliography W. Rees, Die Strafgewalt der Kirche, 1993 B. Maier, D. Piattelli & M.J. Suda, “Religionsvergehen,” TRE XXIX, 1998, 49–61 B.F. Pighin, Diritto penale ca…


(495 words)

Author(s): Jordahn, Ottfried | Freigang, Christian
[German Version] I. Liturgy The sacristy ( sacristia; historically also secretarium,sacrarium, or vestiarium) is a separate room in a church building, usually near the altar, that communicates with the body of the church. It serves various purposes meant to be kept from public view. The word’s ultimate derivation from Latin sacer, “holy, sacred,” suggests its use as a place to store the sacred liturgical implements, paraments, and vestments (Vestments/Paraments, Vestments, Liturgical), as well as the liturgical books. The consecrated elements of the Eucharist ( reliqua sacramen…

Saddle Period

(388 words)

Author(s): Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm
[German Version] (Ger. Sattelzeit) has become a central concept in the exploration of conceptual history by German historians. It was coined spontaneously by Reinhard Koselleck in the planning stage of a lexicon sponsored by the Arbeitskreis für moderne Sozialgeschichte, Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland(8 vols. in 9, 1972–1997). It is possible that echoes of the concept of so-called axial or pivotal ages, developed by H. Freyer and C. Schmitt (among others), played a role. Kosel…


(573 words)

Author(s): Schröder, Bernd
[German Version] After the Essenes and the Pharisees, the Sadducees were the most important Jewish party in Palestine in the period before 70 ce. They comprised the descendants and supporters of the (high-)priestly dynasty that traced its lineage to the eponymous priest Zadok of the Davidic and Solomonic period (2 Sam 8:17, etc.). The Greek word Σαδδουκαῖοι/ Saddukaíoi, always plural, first appears in Mark 12:28 and the works of Flavius Josephus ( Bell. II 119.164–166) – after the presumed dispersal of the party bearing that name. The Sadducees were already a recognizab…

Sadoleto, Jacopo

(280 words)

Author(s): Zschoch, Hellmut
[German Version] (Jul 12, 1477, Modena – Oct 18, 1547, Rome). In 1513 Leo X appointed Sadoleto, a Humanist famed for his linguistic skill, to the Curia for its diplomatic service; in 1517 he made him bishop of Carpentras. Sadoleto took the Reformation in Germany as a challenge to engage in his own theological work. He interpreted Pss 50 and 93 (1525/1530) with a clear interest in the moral renewal of the clergy. His commentary on Romans (1535) emphasized human free will vis-à-vis God so strongly that even Catholic theologians condemned it as semi-Pelagian. In 1536 he was appo…


(268 words)

Author(s): Vollmer, Ulrich
[German Version] The word saeculum derives from the same root as the Latin verb serere, “sow”; it suggests the notion of a group of human beings sown as seed: when the last seedling of a sowing has vanished, a saeculum has reached its end and a new saeculum begins. This background helps explain the rather vague definition of saeculum by Censorinus as “the longest possible human lifetime” (XVII 2), while Varro limits it concretely to 100 years ( De lingua latina VI 11). Following the Etruscans, who divided their history into ten saecula of varying length, Rome observed periodic interval…

Sagittarius, Johann Christfried

(187 words)

Author(s): Koch, Ernst
[German Version] (Sep 28, 1617, Bres­lau [now Wrocław] – Feb 19, 1689, Altenburg, Thuringia). After the death of his parents in 1623, Saggitarius was brought up in Jena. After attending school in Brunswick (to 1628) and university in Jena (to 1641), in 1641 he was appointed deputy school director in Hof. In 1643 he received his M.A. and became school director in Jena. In 1646 he was appointed professor of history and literature at Jena and in 1650 dean of the philosophical faculty. In 1651 he bega…
▲   Back to top   ▲