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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Common Good

(984 words)

Author(s): Anzenbacher, Arno
[German Version] expresses the purpose of social interaction, either in a general sense or in the specific sense given to it by politics and law. Precision in the use of the concept of common good is of fundamental importance for any type of social ethics (Protestant social ethics), as the normative definition of society and of its subsystems is dependent upon it. The often unnuanced invoking of the common good (“an empty phrase”) brings discredit to this major concern. “Common good” (Lat. bonum commune) is the translation of the Greek τὸ κοινῇ συμφέρον/ to koinḗ symphéron. Aristotle emp…

Common Law

(451 words)

Author(s): Landau, Peter
[German Version] The development of the concept of common law began in the legal doctrine of the High Middle Ages as a complementary notion to that of statutory law, whereby the medieval jurists could also draw on Roman legal texts. The most significant contributions to the definition of common law in the scholarly jurisprudence of the Middle Ages were made by the canonists. As early as the 12th century, the doctrine establishing the plenitudo potestatis of the pope had already led the formulation of the principle that the validity of common law rested on the t…

Common Sense Law

(9 words)

[German Version] Natural Law

Common Sense Realism

(764 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] has two histories. The first concerns the effort by Thomas Reid (1710–1796) to refute the skeptical conclusions that D. Hume had drawn from the sensationalist epistemology of J. Locke. Reid's main argument was that sense perceptions, operating under normal conditions disclose the material world as it is.They are not, as Locke had suggested, merely “ideas.” Reid suggested rather that the human mind is structured in such a way that it is impossible to act…

Commonwealth of Independent States

(147 words)

Author(s): Hübner, Michael
[German Version] (CIS), a union founded in 1991 of the successor states of the former USSR: Azerbaijan (not 1992–93), Armenia, Georgia (from 1993), Kazakhstan, Kirgistan, Moldavia (beginning 1994), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Belarus (White Russia). A 1995 human rights convention adopted by only some of the states formulated freedom of religion (art. 10) in line with the OSCE, though with a limitation wi…

Communauté Évangélique d'Action Apostolique

(144 words)

Author(s): Zorn, Jean-François
[German Version] (CEVAA; Evangelical Community for Apostolic Action) was founded in Paris on Oct 31, 1971 as the successor organization of the Société des Missions Évangeliques de Paris (Mission de Paris). Originally conceived as an association of 23 churches (the Protestant churches of France, Switzerland and Italy, as well as the churches that arose from their missionary activities in Africa and ¶ Oceania), the CEVAA currently numbers 47 member churches (now also including churches in Latin America). As a religious organization of the post-…

Communicatio idiomatum

(498 words)

Author(s): Slenczka, Notger
[German Version] denotes the “mutual interchange of attributes” of the second person of the Deity with the human person Jesus of Nazareth or attributes of humanity with the second person of the Deity in the person of Jesus Christ (Christology). It manifests first in the language of worship (prayer addressed to Jesus; predication of Mary as Theotokos) as well as in the biblical documents and ecclesiastical tradition (1 Cor 2:8b; Mark 2:10). The Chalcedonian Defin…

Communicatio in sacris

(592 words)

Author(s): Wagner, Harald
[German Version] In accordance with the Leuenberg Concord (1974), most Lutheran, Reformed, and Union churches in Europe (and beyond) practice ecclesial and liturgical fellowship ( communicatio in sacris), as realized in pulpit and eucharistic fellowship. This has been extended to include the Old Catholic Church (Old Catholics) and the Church of England. By way of “Eucharistic hospitality,” members of other churches are also allowed to partake of the Eucharist, while the members of the former churches …


(3,420 words)

Author(s): Brunkhorst, Hauke | Knoblauch, Hubert | Pöttner, Martin | Geissner, Hellmut K. | Engemann, Wilfried
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Religious Studies – III. Fundamental Theology – IV. Ethics – V. Practical Theology I. Philosophy In the 20th century, philosophical issues were primarily treated as issues of language and communication. While Rorty spoke of a “linguistic turn,” and thereby focused on methodological innovations in theoretical philosophy, Apel and Habermas postulated an objective shift of paradigm from consciousness to communication that is meant to have revolutioni…


(1,627 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk | Geissner, Hellmut K. | Fechtner, Kristian
[German Version] I. Theory – II. Ethics – III. Practical Theology I. Theory “Communications” in the broadest sense encompasses the interdisciplinary study of communication in biological, technological, and social systems, insofar as it manifests itself as a purposeful exchange of information through a system of signs. The subject of study is ultimately the communication process as a whole, including both its mutually interacting components (communicator, medium, recipient) and …

Communication Theory

(806 words)

Author(s): Krech, Volkhard
[German Version] I. General – II. Recent Theories – III. Religion as Communication I. General Communication theories are not only developed in the natural sciences (physical information theory, cybernetics, biology) but also in the humanities and social sciences (Philosophy; Psychology; Sociology; Anthropology; Philology and linguistics; Semiotics, etc.), and are accordingly of heterogeneous nature. Where an interdisciplinary exchange does take place in the process of …

Communicative Action

(322 words)

Author(s): Hauke, Brunkhors
[German Version] In its current usage, the concept of “communicative action” goes back to J. Habermas's critical theory (I). It had previously only been used occasionally in empiricist sociology and behavioristic communication research (behaviorism). Habermas, however, treats the subject from the perspective of G.H. Mead's pragmatic social behaviorism. He integrates Mead's notion of communicative personality development (socialization) with M. Weber's typo…


(2,855 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Rolf | Thompson, J. Michael | Aymans, Winfried
[German Version] I. Dogmatics – II. Liturgy – III. Music – IV. Canon Law I. Dogmatics In the Vulgate, the Latin term communio, along with the more frequent translations communicatio and societas, renders the New Testament word κοινωνία ( koinōnía). It gained ecclesiological content primarily through the Apostles' Creed, which adopted Augustine's description of the church as the communio sanctorum including not only the elect, but also the angels. The communio evidenced in the NT as participation in the benefits of salvation in worship became the startin…


(6 words)

[German Version] Eucharist/Communion


(333 words)

Author(s): Nikolasch, Franz
[German Version] The original meaning of “communion” (from Lat. communio) is “community, solidarity, togetherness.” In the Catholic understanding of 1 Cor 10:16ff, communion refers to the community of the Christians with Christ and with each other, as established by the reception of the Eucharist (II): the partaking of the one bread causes us to become members of the one body of Jesus Christ. Thus, communion constitutes and manifests ecclesial community. In antiquity, t…

Communion Fellowship

(7 words)

[German Version] Intercommunion

Communion for the Sick,

(455 words)

Author(s): Richter, Klemens
[German Version] like commendation of the dying, traces back to earliest Christianity. According to Just. 1 Apol. (65:5), deacons brought communion to the faithful who could not participate in the congregational celebration of the Eucharist (Communion: II) – probably primarily the elderly, sick, and dying. The Council of Nicea (canon 13) desired that no Christian should die without communion (cf. John 6:54). If possible, it was delivered in both elements (until the discontinuance of the communion cup in the 12th cent.) directly from the celebra¶ tion of the Eucharist, also by th…

Communion of Churches

(790 words)

Author(s): Lessing, Eckhard
[German Version] The term Kirchengemeinschaft (communion of churches = “full communion, ecclesial fellowship”) was introduced in the 19th century as a self-designation for the German United Churches (Unions, Church) and a term covering the organizational integration of Protestant regional churches in Germany, with frequent reference to CA 7. It did not acquire a precise terminological meaning, however, until the reorganization of the Old Prussian Union after World War II (Evangelische Kirche der Union ¶ [EKU]), as a consequence of theological understandings reached during the K…

Communion of Saints

(1,296 words)

Author(s): Müller, Gerhard Ludwig | Track, Joachim
[German Version] I. Catholic Understanding – II. Protestant Understanding I. Catholic Understanding The expression “communion of saints” ( Communio sanctorum ) is attested in the writings of Nicetas of Remesiana ( Explanatio symboli 10) as an addendum to the Apostles' Creed (DH 19) and signifies an interpretation of the concept of the church. In its very essence, the “Holy Catholic Church” is to be seen in three interwoven ¶ levels of meaning: the common participation of all the baptized in Christ's gifts of salvation; the personal unity of all in faith,…

Communion Preparation

(189 words)

Author(s): Felmy, Karl Christian
[German Version] (in the Orthodox Church). In reference to 1 Cor 11:27–29, the Orthodox Church only allows laypersons to receive communion (Eucharist/Communion) after they have been given express pemission to do so, the latter usually (but not necessarily always) being granted in confession. In some places, a week of fasting and frequent attendance at worship are required. The minimum requirement for priests and laypersons, which may only be departed from in situ…

Communio sanctorum

(195 words)

Author(s): Schäfer, Rolf
[German Version] The expression communio sanctorum, an explanatory addition to “the holy church” in the Apostles' Creed, first appears in the context of pre-baptismal instruction in the catechetical sermon De symbolo of Bishop Nicetas of Remesiana. It soon came into widespread use, especially in Gaul. It may be interpreted as a reference to the sanctorum omnium congregatio (Nicetas), to those who have achieved perfection (in the context of veneration of the saints), or to participation in the sacraments. Luther recognized communio sanctorum as a gloss clarifying the signific…


(3,984 words)

Author(s): Jähnichen, Traugott
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. History and Church History I. Philosophy 1. Terminology Communism (<Lat. communis, “common”) denotes (a) notions of a future social order in which private ownership is abolished and the means of production are owned collectively and administered by agencies of society. Consumption, i.e. the distribution of goods and services, is also regulated by collective distribution of the goods produced by society on the basis of its members' ma…


(1,435 words)

Author(s): Reese-Schäfer, Walter | Schoberth, Wolfgang
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Ethics – III. Philosophy of Religion, Fundamental Theology, and Practical Theology I. Philosophy The social philosophy of communitarianism originated in the USA in the 1980s. Its starting point was a fundamental philosophical critique of John Rawls's liberal contract theory of justice (Liberalism). According to the critique, this theory understands individuals totally apart from their social contexts and favors a republic where justice is only pro…


(355 words)

Author(s): Krug, Edith Therese
[German Version] History: religious associations known as “communities” invoke the communal structures that have existed throughout church history ever since the primitive church (Acts 2:42): the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Anchorites), cenobitic monasticism (Cenobites), medieval orders, semimonastic and fraternal impulses in Pietism (N. v. Zinzendorf, G. Tersteegen), mission homes, the liturgical movement at the beginning of the 20th century. The …

Communities, Missionary

(525 words)

Author(s): Werner, Dietrich
[German Version] The substantive presuppositions of the study Strukturen missionarischer Gemeinden (Stuctures of Missionary Communities = SMC) issued in 1961 at the commission of the World Council of Churches include the external integration of the WCC and the International Missionary Council (IMC) (1961), the efforts at a renewal of the theology of missionary proclamation begun already in the 1950's, the emphasis on the missionary responsibility of the laity, and the r…


(5,842 words)

Author(s): Kehrer, Günter | Rüterswörden, Udo | Banks, Robert J. | Hauschild, Wolf-Dieter | Marquardt, Manfred | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Church History – V. Dogmatics – VI. Ethics – VII. Practical Theology – VIII. Church Law – IX. Judaism – X. Islam I. History of Religion In the following comments the term community will refer exclusively to a religiously motivated association of people. From the standpoint of the history of religion, the formation of communities is more the exception than the rule. The fact that associations such as tribes, as well, howe…

Community and the Individual

(5,279 words)

Author(s): Williame, Jean-Paul | Görg, Manfred | Popkes, Wiard | Zenkert, Georg | Thomas, Günter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Philosophy – V. Dogmatics – VI. Sociology, Ethics – VII. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies In the context of their understanding of God and related obligations, human beings make connections of solidarity and feel, with more or less intensity, that they are members of the same community. Religion brings people closer together and creates social ties: the umma of the Muslims, Christian brotherhood and ecumeni…

Community Movement

(3,740 words)

Author(s): Geldbach, Erich | Lippy, Charles H.
[German Version] I. Europe – II. North America I. Europe There has been a community or “fellowship” movement (Ger. Gemeinschaftsbewegung), an organized form of pietism in practice, since the 19th century in various European countries, especially in Scandinavia, as well as in eastern and southeastern European countries, although it was or is not as important there as in the German-speaking countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Alsace, as well as Holland). Its impact (with regional variations), in terms of numbers too, has been greatest in Germany. The historical roots of t…

Community of Goods

(1,409 words)

Author(s): Marguerat, Daniel | Schöllgen, Georg | Honecker, Martin
[German Version] I. New Testament – II. History – III. Ethics I. New Testament The summary descriptions in Acts paint a picture of the first Christian community in Jerusalem in which the ¶ unanimity of the believers finds expression in the community of goods (2:44f.; 4:32–35). This community is depicted as free, not forced (5:4), and not egalitarian: The goods offered to the community were divided according to the needs of each individual (2:45; 4:35). The community of goods is only an element of the koinōnía of worship, prayer and Eucharist that charact…

Community Work

(611 words)

Author(s): Götzelmann, Arnd
[German Version] The designation community work is employed in widely divergent meanings. Generally speaking, community work (Ger. Gemeinwesenarbeit) is “a concept of action requiring closer definition, designed to counteract the dangers that appear in the individual systems of scientific/technological civilization” (Strohm 196). Community work (also called community action, community development etc.) refers to the “third method” of social work alongside social case work and s…


(201 words)

Author(s): Krahwinkler, Harald
[German Version] Diocese in northern Italy. St. Felix is attested as the first bishop of Como (ordained in 386 by Ambrose of Milan). The diocese of Como, originally subject to the metropolitan of Milan, became a suffragan of Aquileia under bishop Agrip(p)inus, probably in 607 and no later than 612. It remained so until 1751. After belonging to Görze, Como returned to Milan at the end of 1789. Abundius, the diocesan patron, was bishop of Como around the middle of …


(1,239 words)

Author(s): Deeg, Max | Huxel, Kirsten | Mürmel, Heinz
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Christianity – III. Buddhism I. Religious Studies The term compassion bears Christian connotations: compassion (cf. Lat. compassio; Gk συμπάϑεια/ sympátheia) refers to the capacity or ability to share concretely in the suffering of others, to sympathize and to draw consequences for one's own behavior. In this regard, the religions answer the question of the appropriate object for compassion – for example all people, only people of a certain group, …


(6 words)

[German Version] Restitution

Compensation Theory

(461 words)

Author(s): Figl, Johann
[German Version] Derived from the Latin compensatio (“balance/balancing”), the term “compensation” found its way into various historical areas of culture and religion as well as into a number of scholarly disciplines (theology, jurisprudence, education, [individual] psychology, ecology, economics, etc.). In the study of religions, “compensation theory” refers to a critical theory of religion according to which religion represents a form of compensation, and notions o…


(340 words)

Author(s): Stroh, Ralf
[German Version] In its broadest sense, the variously used notion of “competence” refers to the ability to lead a responsible and self-determined life in all practical aspects of one's conduct of life. Basic competence, however, manifests itself only belatedly and indirectly in outwardly discernible actions, so-called “performance” (Noam Chomsky). Its foundation consists more of an inner constellation which proves capable of handling all situations in an emotiona…

Competence (Authority)

(134 words)

Author(s): Stroh, Ralf
[German Version] For long periods of time, the word competence (or competency) denoted a person's means of subsistence. From the 17th century onward, it has been used systematically in its technical legal sense ¶ of responsibility or jurisdiction and has become a standard technical administrative term in the context of the modern state with its division of functions. Competence defines the responsibilities and mandates of organs of state, agencies, and other administrative bodies – including private entities…

Competency, Pastoral

(310 words)

Author(s): Schibilsky, Michael
[German Version] “Competency” refers to the skills and abilities associated with the pastoral office. It denotes the professional standards acquired during theological studies and in in-service training (Ordination and post-ordination education and training), as required in the day-to-day context of parochial or functional pastoring. While a theological education imparts hermeneutical, exegetical, historical, and theoretical skills, an application-centered…


(890 words)

Author(s): Sautter, Hermann | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Economics – II. Ethics I. Economics The term “competition” is linked with the idea of rivalry, but the Latin competere makes it clear that the notion ultimately has to do with several players seeking a prize together. As competitors they strive together in an activity that demands that they give their best. Everyone profits from their competition – in economics no less than in sports. Economic competition benefits society in general precisely when those involved do no…


(386 words)

Author(s): Russell, Robert John
[German Version] The principle of complementarity was first formulated in 1927 by Niels Bohr (1885–1962) in the context of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. According to Bohr, our knowledge ¶ of atomic and subatomic phenomena is subject to fundamental restrictions. In contrast to the epistemology of traditional physics, Bohr maintains that it is no longer possible to describe atomic processes in their spatial and temporal progression while simultaneously assigning them a causal expl…


(9 words)

[German Version] Liturgy of the Hours

Composite Beings

(862 words)

Author(s): Wiggermann, F.A.M. | Uehlinger, Christoph
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Archaeology I. Religious Studies Composite beings are imaginary zoomorphic beings that consist of a combination of animal and human body ¶ parts. In this respect, they are closely related to giants, dwarfs, shape-shifters and animals that behave like humans. Composite beings are products of the human imagination and remain ambiguous as long as they are only represented by imprecise linguistic descriptions. Only those composite beings that become public symb…

Comprehensive Approach

(361 words)

Author(s): Shenk, Wilbert R.
[German Version] The Conference Message of the International Missionary Council (IMC) in Jerusalem in 1928 said: “The one inclusive purpose of the missionary enterprise is to present Jesus Christ to ¶ men and women the world over as their Redeemer, and to win them for entrance into the joy of His discipleship. In this endeavor we realize that man is a unity, and that his spiritual life is indivisibly rooted in all his conditions – physical, mental, and social. We are therefore desirous that the program of…

Compulsory Schooling

(668 words)

Author(s): Meyer, Meinert A.
[German Version] I. Concept – II. Historical Development – III. Importance of Education – IV. International Developments – V. Prospects I. Concept Young people have the right and the duty to receive a school education. Whether they welcome a scholastic relationship of subordination expressed in such a way is another matter altogether. That is possibly why, in Germany, a child's very first day at school is traditionally sweetened with the gift of a cardboard cone filled with candy. That the a…


(406 words)

Author(s): Becker-Richards, Joicy
[German Version] In recent years the computer has dramatically impacted many facets of human life. While no one can predict how this technology will ultimately affect the practice of theology and the faith community, it is clear that as a tool, the computer presents both opportunities and challenges. In the academic setting, the computer is used for research and to facilitate learning. Connected to the Internet, computers provide a link to the worldwide community of researchers and academic institutes. Students from around the w…

Comte, Auguste

(434 words)

Author(s): Zenkert, Georg
[German Version] (Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier; Jan 19, 1798, Montpellier – Jul 5, 1857, Paris), French philosopher and sociologist who acted as secretary to C.H. de Saint-Simon and as an examination coach in Paris, and who became known primarily through his public lectures. Comte is the founder of modern sociology, which owes him both its name and its systematic definition, and is considered one of the leading representatives of positivism along …

Comunione e Liberazione

(124 words)

Author(s): Eder, Manfred
[German Version] (CL; “Community and Liberation”) is a church renewal movement founded in 1954 in Milan by the Catholic student minister Luigi Giussani (born 1922) and now spread to over 40 countries (primarily Italy and Switzerland). The fraternity of Community and Liberation and the “Memores Domini” community, which follow the counsels of perfection, are papally approved lay associations. Community and Liberation strives for the recognition of the presence of the Mysterium Christi among individuals, a presence that must become visible in the unity and solidarity of believers (c o…

Concentration Camps

(394 words)

Author(s): Benz, Wolfgang
[German Version] The Reichstag Fire Decree of Feb 28, 1933, suspended civil liberties and enabled the National Socialists (National Socialism) to arrest and imprison political opponents outside the judicial system. Throughout Germany some 80 detention centers were set up, which came to be called concentration camps; the term itself had been used for internment camps etc. before National Socialism. Except for Dachau, these “early concentration camps,” usually admi…


(128 words)

Author(s): Flynn, William
[German Version] (Lat.: “a singing together; concord, agreement”) was an equivalent term in classical Roman usage to the Greek loan words symphonía and harmonía, meaning sounding together, or being in (musical) agreement. In the 16th century the term acquired a technical meaning at least in the treatise Musice active micrologus by Andreas Ornithoparcus (Leipzig 1517). In this treatise concentus refers to chants with a pronounced melodic content, for example hymns, sequences, antiphons, responsories, introits, tropes etc. Ornithoparcus …


(186 words)

Author(s): Eder, Manfred
[German Version] (Nuns of the Immaculate Conception; see also Immaculate Conception, Order of the) was founded as a strictly contemplative order with the support of the Castilian court in 1484 in Galliana near Toledo by the Portuguese Beatriz de Silva y Meneses (Saint, c. 1426 – c. 1491), previously a lady at the court of Queen Isabella I of Castile, and confirmed by pope Innocent VIII in 1489. They originally lived by the rule and statutes of the Cisterc…

Concept of Our Great Power, The (NHC VI, 4)

(15 words)

[German Version] Nag Hammadi
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