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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Society of Jesus

(7 words)

[German Version] Jesuits

Society of the Divine Word (Steyler Missionaries)

(242 words)

Author(s): Rivinius, Karl Josef
[German Version] The Society of the Divine Word (Societas Verbi Divini, ¶ SVD) was founded by A. Janssen, a secular priest, on Sep 8, 1875, in Steyl in the Netherlands. He intended the Mission House to be a missionary training center, but it soon developed into a religious congregation with simple public vows. Its statutes were confirmed by the local ordinary on Jan 23, 1889; papal approbation was granted on Jan 25, 1901, definitive approval of the constitution on Apr 5, 1910. The generalate was at the moth…


(955 words)

Author(s): Hauptmann, Peter
[German Version] This term, first used in the 17th century, denotes the main stream of the anti-Trinitarian movement (Antitrinitarians), moderated in many respects by F. Socinus after 1579. The Socinians explicitly kept the Trinitarian formula in the command to baptize (Matt 28:19). According to the Racovian Catechism, anyone who rejected it could not be a Christian. It was the Early Church’s doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son and the personhood of the Holy Spirit that the…

Socinus, Faustus

(162 words)

Author(s): Hauptmann, Peter
[German Version] (Dec 5, 1539, Siena – Mar 3, 1604, Lucławice, near Cracow), a leading thinker of the antitrinitarian movement (Antitrinitarians, Socinians) of his era, shaped its churches in Poland and to some extent in Transylvania. Born a patrician, he served from 1562 to 1574 as a jurist at the Medici court in Florence; inspired by his uncle Lelio Sozzini, who did not believe the doctrine of the Trinity, he devoted himself to theological study, primarily at Basel, from 1572 to 1578, attracting attention with his first writings (including De Jesu Christo servatore, printed in 1594).…


(579 words)

Author(s): Meisinger, Hubert
[German Version] Sociobiology has improved our understanding of the social life of human beings and animals on the basis of a neo-Darwinian theory of evolution (Neo-Darwinism; cf. Meisinger, 187ff., with bibl.). Grounded in ethology (Behavioral research) and building on population genetics and the theory of kin selection, sociobiology was popularized in the 1970s by Edward O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins, becoming a separate area within biology. It was intended to take its place as a fundamental dis…


(5,316 words)

Author(s): Schäfers, Bernhard | Leppin, Volker | Meyer-Blanck, Michael | de Boutemard, Bernhard Suin | Knoblauch, Hubert
[German Version] I. Definition Sociology is an empirical social science; its field of study encompasses the relatively enduring forms and structures of social action (Action, Science of ) and the resultant social units, from entities like the family and kinship group and social groups to large-scale organizations and states. The word itself is an artificial combination of Latin socius (“companion, fellow”) and Greek logos (“word, truth,” in an extended sense “knowledge”). It appears for the first time in vol. IV of the Cours de philosophie positive of A. Comte (1838). As a scie…

Sociology of Knowledge

(525 words)

Author(s): Kreinath, Jens
[German Version] The sociology of knowledge inquires into the social conditions under which knowledge is generated, acquired, and communicated. Its beginnings are closely interwoven with positivist criticism of religion and ideology (Religious criticism, Ideological criticism). K. Marx pioneered the sociology of knowledge with his recognition that the content of knowledge is conditioned by social and economic factors. E. Durkheim began instead with the forms of knowledge; starting with an analysis…

Sociology of Religion

(3,710 words)

Author(s): Knoblauch, Hubert | Mürmel, Heinz | Otto, Eckart | Ebertz, Michael N. | Stuckrad, Kocku v. | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology The sociology of religion studies religion’s social aspects and manifestations, clearly including religious institutions, organizations, and social groups. It also studies more situational forms, less clearly defined, such as gatherings, ceremonies, and collective rituals (e.g. processions [Rite and ritual]). In an extended sense, characteristic of the German-language tradition since M. Weber, religious sociology deals with all social or socialized behavior focused on…

Sociology of the Church

(1,158 words)

Author(s): Daiber, Karl-Fritz | Feige, Andreas
[German Version] I. Practical Theology The systematic study of the church as a social entity (Churched) began with A. v. Oettingen in the 19th century. In the context of practical theology, the church studies published by P. Drews beginning in 1902 produced accurate descriptions of the life of the church. These were joined in subsequent decades by smaller individual studies, especially of the religiosity of industrial workers. Pastoral sociology began to take shape in France and the Netherlands, buil…

Sociology of Youth

(849 words)

Author(s): Ferchhoff, Wilfried
[German Version] In the early 21st century, youth studies as an empirical discipline is increasingly becoming an interdisciplinary subject, to which scholars from various fields contribute, including social anthropology, philosophy, social history, biology, psychology, education, medicine, and sociology. It embraces sociologically based attempts that draw on both single and multiple disciplines to cast light on the circumstances and lifeworlds of young people in various historical, social, cultura…


(1,072 words)

Author(s): Figal, Günter
[German Version] (470 or 469, Athens – 399, Athens), is the prototypical philosopher. He embodies the dialogical character of thinking, the possibility of articulating thoughts in such a way that they are no longer simply stated, as in the case of the “pre-Socratic” thinkers Heraclitus and Parmenides, but can be repeatedly reformulated and tested to determine their coherence. Only in this process can the authority of ideas be proved – whatever is important enough for people to take the trouble to …

Socrates Scholasticus

(359 words)

Author(s): Hansen, Günther Christian
[German Version] (Socrates of Constantinople; the epithet Scholasticus is not found in any early tradition; after 380, Constantinople – before 443, Constantinople), author of a history of the church from the time of Constantine the Great (305) to his own day under Theodosius II (439). He probably belonged to the Novatianist church (Novatian), and may have been ordained. Initially basing his work on Eusebius of Caesarea (and Gelasius of Caesarea and Rufinus of Aquileia [Rufinus, Tyrannius] before him), …

Socratic Method

(490 words)

Author(s): Rupp, Horst F.
[German Version] The Socratic or erotematic method is a teaching method modeled on Socrates. It was used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries – i.e. the era of the Enlightenment and philanthropism – in all academic subjects, but particularly in religious education. M. Schian calls the Socratic method the “fashionable theory and practice of rationalism” and describes it as the “pedagogical and catechetical hobbyhorse of the Enlightenment” (Schian, 1). Alluding to his mother’s profession, Socra…


(737 words)

Author(s): Ott, Katrin
[German Version] 1. Hermann von (Aug 16, 1852, Cincinnati, OH – Jan 15, 1914, Berlin), pastor and New Testament scholar. After serving as a pastor from 1881 to 1889 (after 1887 in Berlin), he gained his habilitation in 1890 and began to teach as Privatdozent in NT; in 1893 he was appointed associate professor of NT in Berlin and honorary professor in 1913. His major achievement was the publication of a four-volume edition of the Greek NT with 40 colleagues collating the manuscripts. His goal was to analyze the entire manuscript corpus and…

Söderblom, Nathan

(464 words)

Author(s): Horyna, Břetislav
[German Version] (baptized Lars Olof Jonathan; Jan 15, 1866, Trönö – Jul 12, 1931, Uppsala), Swedish Protestant theologian, historian of religion specializing ¶ in ancient Iranian religions, and an advocate of comparative phenomenology in religious studies. He was appointed archbishop of Uppsala in 1914 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1930 for his lifetime achievement. Although he is associated with the phenomenology of religion (I) in religious studies, in all his works he remained faithful to a theological perspect…

Sodom and Gomorrah

(321 words)

Author(s): Loader, James Alfred
[German Version] unidentified cities, in the Old Testament tradition located south of the Dead ¶ Sea outside Canaan. They are often associated with Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar (Gen 10:19; 14:2, 8) as the “Pentapolis” (Wis 10:6). According to Gen 19, what had once been a fertile area (Gen 13:10) was destroyed by a rain of fire and brimstone, suggesting volcanic activity, for which there is evidence only prior to the 2nd millennium. The theory that the tradition preserves a memory of Early Bronze Age cities (south)…

Soetefleisch, Johann

(159 words)

Author(s): Hammann, Konrad
[German Version] (Oct 16, 1552, Seesen – May 19, 1620, Wunstorf ). After studying at the Pädagogium in Gandersheim (1571), he served as choirmaster in Halberstadt (1575); he received his M.A. and Dr.phil. from Helmstedt in 1578. In 1578 he was appointed rector in Burg, near Magdeburg. In 1581 he was appointed professor of dialectics and ethics at Helmstedt and professor theology there in 1587. In 1589 he was appointed general superintendent of Göttingen and in 1608 of Calenburg. As a member of the…


(5 words)

[German Version] Scribe

Soferim (Treatise)

(6 words)

[German Version] Talmud

Soga, Tiyo

(346 words)

Author(s): Williams, Donovan
[German Version] (1829, Mgwali River, Tyhume Valley, Nqgika [Xhosa] Territory – Aug 12, 1871, Tuturha [later Somerville], Gcaleka Territory, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa), the first Black minister in South Africa ordained abroad in an established church. He was missionary among the Xhosa on the eastern frontier of the Cape Colony, writer, hymnographer, and translator. Soga received his early education at the mission school run by the United Presbyterian Church in Tyhume. Between 1844 and 18…
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