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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(9 words)

[German Version] Church, Catholicity of the Church


(874 words)

Author(s): Oberdorfer, Bernd | Nicol, Martin
[German Version] I. Ethics 1. In a broad sense, sociability denotes the fundamental anthropological structure of human beings as social animals. But the Greek concept of the ζῷον πολιτικόν/ zṓon politikón already suggests a narrower understanding, since it addresses the specific way of life of free citizens, relieved of the burden of obtaining the necessities of life, in which the destiny of human beings is realized. Loosely based on this tradition, with special attention to Aristotle’s theory of friendship ( Eth. Nic. VIII and IX) and influenced by aspects of Pietism and th…

Social Change

(339 words)

Author(s): Schieder, Rolf
[German Version] This technical sociological term does not cover the multitude of change processes within a society but attempts to provide a theoretical framework for profound changes in the social structure itself. The first systematic presentation of the concept was published by William F. Ogburn (1886–1959), who deliberately isolated it from such concepts as evolution, development, and progress. He was unwilling to associate himself with any theory of development, optimistic or pessimistic, cy…

Social Classes

(8 words)

[German Version] Class Statistics/Social Classes

Social Contract

(776 words)

Author(s): Kersting, Wolfgang
[German Version] Social contract theories are socio- and politico-philosophical conceptions that consider the legitimation of political authority and social order to be grounded in a hypothetical contract entered into by free, rational, and equal individuals to improve their lot on a pre-social context under idea, non-compelling conditions. Such theories make universal capacity to consent their fundamental criterion of legitimacy. Restriction of freedom in any form, from the establishment of state…

Social Darwinism

(6 words)

[German Version] Darwinism

Social Democracy, German

(1,992 words)

Author(s): Däubler-Gmelin, Herta | Schmude, Jürgen
[German Version] I. History and Present Situation The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) was an outgrowth of the General German Workers’ Association, founded by F. Lassalle in 1863, and the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Germany, founded by A. Bebel in 1869; they merged in 1875 to form the Social Democratic Workers’ Party. The name was changed to the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1890. In the party’s Eisenach Program of 1869, Bebel said: “Today’s political and social conditions are unjust in the extreme. . . . The struggle to free the working…

Social Disciplining

(190 words)

Author(s): Schubert, Anselm
[German Version] is a term coined by the historian G. Oestreich for the military and bureaucratic control of people’s life and work in an absolutist territorial state. In a broader sense, it denotes the structural social homogenization of subjects in modern (and early modern) states by formal moral control and church discipline. The term was used heavily in the research paradigm ofconfessionalization (Schilling). The concept is related to the theory of N. Elias – recently challenged – that the structure of our complex modern society since the ¶ Middle Ages has meant increasing sel…

Social Education

(1,623 words)

Author(s): Thiersch, Hans
[German Version] In Germany the term social education ( Sozialpädagogik) is generally used alongside social work in the doublet social education/social work; alternatively it may be used only for one specific, fundamental aspect within the broader context of social work, although this latter use has not gone unchallenged. This situation is the result of developments in social work during the past half century. This article will briefly trace the tradition of social education and then describe the nature of social work today. I. The Term and its History Social education as assistanc…

Social Ethics

(124 words)

Author(s): Stroh, Ralf
[German Version] Social ethics deals with the proper ordering (Order) of human coexistence – as intended, because it respects the transcendental conditions of the conditio humana. It is the indispensable counterpart to individual ethics, which examines the intended form of an individual’s life praxis. Since both social and individual ethics seek to unravel the ethical implications of one and the same transcendental concept of the conditio humana, they cannot be at odds within a single fundamental anthropological conception. Conflict can arise only between diff…

Social Gospel

(984 words)

Author(s): Toulouse, Mark G.
[German Version] is a loosely organized movement that developed among Protestants in the United States in the late-19th century. Precise dates for the movement’s beginning and ending are not easily identified. The Social Gospel combined traditional evangelical piety with a new call for the redemption of the social order. Impulses that led to the movement are found in at least four distinct sources: 1. Social crises external to the church, rooted in the economic struggles of a modern industrial soc…

Social History

(4,845 words)

Author(s): Kaiser, Jochen-Christoph | Schaper, Joachim | Hezser, Catherine | Leutzsch, Martin | Herrmann, Ulrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology and Theory In its scientific exploration of the past, all historiography aims at a synthesis in the sense of a valid overview of what has gone before. At best, however, the quest can succeed only paradigmatically and typically, because any reconstruction of an histoire totale is doomed to failure. Nevertheless historiography cannot abandon the ven-¶ ture of viewing history (History/Concepts of history) as a whole, because otherwise the incalculable mass of detail would rule out any interpretation of historical processes. …


(3,591 words)

Author(s): Altvater, Elmar | Ruddies, Hartmut | Dorn, Jacob H.
[German Version] I. Terminology The word socialism can denote a theoretical school of thought, a political movement (Parties), and a way of organizing the state and society. As a theoretical school, modern (as distinct from premodern) socialism emerged in the 19th century as a response to the unreasonable demands of dynamically expanding capitalistic control of the means of production (Capitalism). All conceptions of socialism share rejection of the individualistic profit principle based on a private …

Socialism and Theology

(8 words)

[German Version] Religious Socialists

Socialist Parties

(1,318 words)

Author(s): Brakelmann, Günter
[German Version] Lorenz v. Stein’s Der Socialismus und Communismus des heutigen Frankreichs (1842) provided the first systematic survey of the group of socialist and communist theoreticians (Socialism, Communism) in France in the first half of the 19th century. Stein understood their various philosophical, sociocritical, and future-oriented blueprints as responses to the social and political situation of the emerging proletariat under the conditions of a capitalistic economy (Capitalism). The attempts of w…


(1,371 words)

Author(s): Bochinger, Christoph | Mette, Norbert | Schweitzer, Friedrich
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The term socialization is used in various academic fields, especially sociology, (social) psychology, and the educational disciplines (Education, Theory of ). Already used by É. Durkheim in 1907, it experienced a wave of popularity in the 1960s and again in the 1980s. Initially it emphasized the formation of individuals by society; recently it has focused more on the interaction between individuals’ own activity and outside influences and between individuation and …

Social Liberalism

(536 words)

Author(s): Schwarke, Christian
[German Version] The term social liberalism covers a variety of movements in various periods and places; all have combined the liberal tradition of the 18th century with the social challenges of modern industrial societies. ¶ There is no generally accepted definition, but the core of social liberalism has always been the same: the demand for moderate state intervention in the economy to mitigate the consequences of glaring social differences. In contrast to the ideas of socialism, the priority of the individual over society is emphasized. The ideas and programs of social liberal…

Social Movements

(884 words)

Author(s): Jähnichen, Traugott
[German Version] I. Definition Social movements are agents of social change that concentrate on revolutionary transformation of society (social-revolutionary movements), reform within an existing social system (reform movements), or defense or restoration of a status quo (resistance movements). They play a central role in understanding social conflicts and analyzing social change. II. History The expression social movement arose in Europe in the late 18th century, initially in Britain and France. Its earliest clear use in Germany is in the work of Lo…

Social Partners

(6 words)

[German Version] Partnership

Social Policy

(651 words)

Author(s): Cansier, Dieter
[German Version] A basic function of the liberal state is to enable people to enjoy maximum freedom for the best possible exercise of their opportunities to live self-determined lives. The requirement of free decision also implies freedom from constraints imposed by others in the economic sphere and leads to the system of a market economy. In this system, limits must be placed on the market that facilitate fair and socially just results. The freedom to enter into contracts must not be used as a we…
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