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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(151 words)

Author(s): Rospatt, Alexander v.
[German Version] The Śvetāmbara (lit. “white-clad”) are the largest and most influential group among the Jains (Jainism). They reject as unnecessary the complete ¶ nudity demanded as the monastic ideal in the strict asceticism followed by the Digambara and prescribe white robes instead. The Digambara settled in southern India, whereas the Śvetāmbara settled in the north and especially the west, where they are concentrated today. By the council of Valabhī in the mid-5th century at the latest, the difference that emerged…

Svetlov, Pavel Yakovlevich

(272 words)

Author(s): Felmy, Karl Christian
[German Version] (Dec 1, 1861, Svyatoe Ozero, Ryazan’ Oblast – Nov 26, 1941, Irpen’), archpriest, professor of apologetics at the University of Kiev (not at a seminary). As one of the most creative theologians of the period of awakening prior to 1917 and the first among strictly academic theologians to oppose the ideas of A. Ritschl, he argued for discarding a onesidedly juridical doctrine of redemption; in later years, he sought to protect the doctrine from the opposite extreme of a purely subjec…


(690 words)

Author(s): Zotz, Thomas
[German Version] Swabia (Ger. Schwaben, Lat. Suevia) developed from area settled by the Alemanni in the Merovingian period. From the Carolingian period, it was one of the political entities constituting the Regnum Francorum ¶ and later the East Frankish German Empire. To the west, Swabia bordered on the Rhine and Alsace, to the east the Lech and Bavaria; to the north, at the latitude of Stuttgart, it adjoined Franconia (Franks/Franconia), and at the elbow of the Rhine in the southwest it adjoined Burgundy. To the southeast, it b…


(7 words)

[German Version] Veneration of Images


(534 words)

Author(s): Hofmeyr, Johannes Wynand
[German Version] (Ngwane). Swaziland, one of the smallest countries in the southern hemisphere, is a landlocked kingdom, surrounded by South Africa on three sides and bordered by Mozambique on the fourth side. Although South Africa’s influence predominates in Swaziland, it was a British protectorate from 1906 until its independence in 1968. Western Swaziland is high veld, consisting mainly of short, but sharp mountains. These dwindle to plains in the center and east of the country, where plantatio…

Swearing-in, Church Law

(188 words)

Author(s): Thiele, Christoph
[German Version] The churches enjoy a right to be sworn by virtue of their right of self-determination defined in German Basic Law art. 140 in combination with art. 137 §3 of the Weimar Constitution. Church law accordingly provides for both a forensic oath of witnesses (an assertory oath [VII]) and a promissory oath of office. In Protestant law (Canon law), use is made of the right to be sworn in primarily in the context of disciplinary and administrative proceedings, in the context of a witness’s…


(163 words)

Author(s): Kraatz, Martin
[German Version] Like other excretions of the human body (Saliva), sweat externalizes an individual’s vital force, making it available for use. In ancient India, an archer’s sweat applied to an arrowhead had the power to destroy the enemy ( Kauśikasūtra 17.44). St. Paul’s face cloths or handkerchiefs were used to heal the sick and exorcise evil spirits (Acts 19:12). The sudarium of Veronica, purportedly bearing the image of Jesus’ face, is said to have healed Emperor Tiberius. In Egypt the salves and frankincense earmarked for the go…

Swedberg, Jesper

(163 words)

Author(s): Friedrich, Martin
[German Version] (Aug 28, 1653, Falun, Sweden – Jul 26, 1735, Skara), served as court chaplain to Charles XI, as professor of theology at Uppsala, and after 1702 as bishop of Skara. He is best known as the author of widely-read postils and an important exposition of the catechism (1709) and also as a hymnodist and editor of the 1694 hymnal, but also as a language reformer and organizer of the church’s care for Swedes in North America. As a royalist, he supported the dominance of Lutheran orthodoxy…


(2,740 words)

Author(s): Jarlert, Anders
[German Version] I. General Sweden is a constitutional monarchy in northern Europe, bordered on the west by Norway, the North Sea, and Denmark and on the south and east by the Baltic and Finland. It has an area of 449,964 km2, with a population of 8.94 million, including 1.05 million immigrants. Its population centers are in the southwest, south, and east. The capital is Stockholm. Its language is Swedish, but linguistic minorities include 100,000 Finnish speakers. There is a small Sami-speaking minority in Lapland. II. Non-Christian Religions The ancient Swedish religion was a Ge…

Swedenborg, Emanuel

(513 words)

Author(s): Lenhammar, Harry
[German Version] (Jan 29, 1688, Stockholm – Apr 8, 1772, London), versatile natural scientist, inventor, mining engineer, exegete, and theosophist. He was the son of J. Swedberg. Active in intellectual circles in Uppsala in the early 18th century, he had a hand in founding the first Swedish scientific society (Kungliga Vetenskapssocieteten, 1710). His travels – to England, the Netherlands, France, Italy, and Germany – alternated with stays in Stockholm, where he worked as an assessor for the Board…


(339 words)

Author(s): Lenhammar, Harry
[German Version] E. Swedenborg did not found a new church himself, but he quickly attracted a following in Sweden, although congregations of the Swedenborgian New Church did not appear there until 1866. The first congregation of Swedenborgians had already been formed in London in 1787. There the Swedenborg Society began translating and publishing Swedenborg’s works in 1810. An umbrella organization was formed in London in 1815, the General Conference of the New Church. The first Swedenborgian congregation in the United States was founded in Baltimore in 1793. The Gen…

Swedish Missions

(377 words)

Author(s): Sarja, Karin
[German Version] In the late 19th century the Church of Sweden and the revival movements were influenced by commitment to mission. Important protagonists were Peter Fjellstedt (1802–1881) and George Scott (1804–1874), whose efforts led in 1835 to the founding of the first missionary organization, Svenska Missionssällskapet. In 1845 the Lutheran Lunds Missionssällskap was founded. The new evangelical revival movement led to the establishment of the Evangeliska Fosterlands-Stiftelsen, which began mi…

Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon

(125 words)

Author(s): Luth, Jan R.
[German Version] (May, 1562, Deventer – Oct 16, 1621, Amsterdam), organist of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. Sweelinck was an employee of the city at a time when organ accompaniment of liturgical singing was not common. His activity therefore consisted primarily of performing (Church concert), other municipal functions like carillon-playing, and giving organ lessons. Through his students J. Praetorius and Heinrich Scheidemann, his influence extended far beyond the Netherlands. He composed vocal and i…

Swift, Jonathan

(134 words)

Author(s): Noll, Mark A.
[German Version] (Nov 30, 1667, Dublin – Oct 19, 1745, Dublin), Anglo-Irish satirist, poet, and patriot, studied at Trinity College (Dublin) before receiving his degree at Oxford (1692) and being ordained an Anglican clergyman (1695). From 1713 on, he served as dean of St. Patrick’s in Dublin. His graphic, forceful publications attacked Deism, dissenting Protestantism (Dissenters), scientific naturalism, and political corruption. His greatest satire, The Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver (2 vols., 1726), used fanciful descriptions of i…

Swiss Missions

(491 words)

Author(s): Jenkins, Paul
[German Version] Switzerland has a complex identity, with its trilingual population and its traditional separation into Protestant and Catholic cantons. All three language areas have tended to orientate themselves to the main metropolitan cultural centers: Germany, France, and Italy. Mission history is no exception. The Basel Mission (BM), largely though not exclusively Germanophone, was founded by the urban elite in Basel, who recruited young men from rural Pietist families, gave them special training and sent them abroad as missionaries. The Mission Suisse en Afrique du Sud (M…


(3,455 words)

Author(s): Dellsperger, Rudolf
[German Version] I. General Switzerland (Swiss Confederation, Confoederatio Helvetica) came into being in 1848 when a league of states joined together to form a federal state with a federalist constitution based on direct democracy. It has an area of 41,282 km2 and includes the central Jura Mountains, a midland between Lake Geneva and Lake Constance, and the Alps. Its four national languages – German, French, Italian, and Romanish – are spoken in four regions, each with its own cultural identity. II. Church History 1. Antiquity and Middle Ages The territory of Switzerland became pa…

Sydow Brotherhood

(309 words)

Author(s): Bloth, Peter C.
[German Version] The Sydow Brotherhood, the first union of Protestant pastors, was founded in the village of Sydow (Altmark) by the local pastor Georg Schulz (1889–1954), who later moved to Barmen-Unterbarmen. Until 1945 the brotherhood was open only to clergy, unlike the Berneuchen groups. Under a Council of Brethren, its mission was renewal of the clergy theologically, in service to the church and the world and amid the tensions arising from life and society. Rather than a fixed rule, the life o…

Sydow, Karl Leopold Adolf

(195 words)

Author(s): Schröder, Markus
[German Version] (Nov 23, 1800, Berlin – Oct 23, 1882, Berlin), a student of F.D.E. Schleiermacher. Appointed lecturer at the cadet school in Berlin in 1822, he became the school’s pastor in 1827; in 1836 he was appointed court and Guards Division chaplain in Potsdam. During a study trip to England from 1841 to 1844, he was converted to the “Free church” principle; at the general synod in 1846 he supported freedom of religion and was appointed pastor of the Neue Kirche in Berlin. As a preacher, he…


(936 words)

Author(s): Wolf, Hubert | Arnold, Claus
[German Version] I. Syllabus Errorum (1864) The Syllabus errorum is a list of modern errors, published on Dec 8, 1864, as an appendix to the encyclical Quanta cura of Pius IX. It consists of 80 statements taken from earlier addresses and writings of the pope. In general terms, the background of the condemnation was the Curia’s intensified campaign against liberalism since 1849, especially its struggle against the liberal Catholicism (III) of figures like C.F. de Montalembert (speech at the 1863 Catholic Congress in Mechel…

Sylten, Werner

(208 words)

Author(s): Ruddies, Hartmut
[German Version] (Aug 9, 1893, Hergiswyl, Switzerland – Aug 26, 1942, Schloß Hartheim concentration camp, Austria), Protestant clergyman. After studying in Marburg and Berlin (F. Siegmund-Schultze), he served his pastoral internship in Göttingen and Dannenberg. In 1922 he was appointed associate pastor at the women’s school in Himmelsthür outside Hildesheim. From 1925 to 1936 he served as pastor and director of the Thuringian home for girls in Bad Köstritz. In 1930 he joined the League of Religious Socialists in Thuringia (Emil Fuchs). From 1933 he served on the Thuringian ¶ Council …

Sylvan (Silvan), Johannes

(147 words)

Author(s): Decot, Rolf
[German Version] (born in South Tyrol – Dec 23, 1572, Heidelberg), theologian, preacher, convert to Protestantism. Around 1555 he was active in Würzburg as a preacher on current controversies for the bishop. His reading of the works of Melanchthon led him to Reformation theology. In 1560 he converted to Lutheranism in Tübingen and became a pastor in Calw. Frederick III of the Electoral Palatine appointed him to serve as a Reformed pastor and superintendent in Kaiserslauten and after 1567 in Ladenb…

Sylvester, János

(156 words)

Author(s): Blázy, Árpád
[German Version] (Hung. János Sylvester [or Erdös]; c. 1504 Seini – before May 6, 1552, Vienna), Humanist, writer, Bible translator, pioneer of scientific Hungarian linguistics. In Cracow (1526–1528), Sylvester studied with Leonard Cox and wrote the earliest printed Hungarian metrical poem ( Rosarium, 1527). He studied twice in Wittenberg (1529 and [?] 1534–1536). He made cultivation of Hungarian literature his life’s work. In 1534 (?) he was appointed rector of the school at the court of the later Hungarian palatine Tamás Nádasdy (1498…


(216 words)

Author(s): Eder, Manfred
[German Version] The Sylvestrine order ( Congregatio Silvestrina Ordinis Sancti Benedicti, CSilvOSB) was founded in Montefano (near Fabriano, in Italy) in 1231 by the hermit Silvestro Guzzolini (c. 1177–1267) as a reformed Benedictine congregation; it was recognized in 1247 by Innocent IV as Ordo S. Benedicti de Montefano. The Benedictine Rule (Benedict, Rule of Saint) was made more strict by eremitic and mendicant provisions (small houses, manual labor, and begging). The order, limited to central Italy, was reoriented by its fourth prior ge…


(1,087 words)

Author(s): Mädler, Inken | Auerochs, Bernd
[German Version] I. Art In 1886 the writer Jean Moréas published a Symbolist manifesto, the stated aim of which was not to express artistic ideas directly but to represent them by defamiliarization. This manifesto also profoundly influenced the visual arts at the turn of the 20th century, allowing painting and graphics to turn to the realm of dreams, the unconscious, and the imagination for significant content. Unlike naturalism (IV) and realism (IV), Symbolism sought to express the realm of the hum…

Symbols, Church

(8 words)

[German Version] Confession (of Faith)

Symbols/Symbol Theory

(9,049 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard | Recki, Birgit | Schlenke, Dorothee | Biehl, Peter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Use of the Greek word σύμβολον/ sýmbolon in a sense relevant to religious studies is attested quite early in the history of European religions; Dio of Prusa (1st/2nd cent. ce), for example, used it in his speech on Phidias’s statue of Zeus in Olympia ( Oratio 12.59). In this context, the Greek term reflects the problem posed by images of the gods: what is intrinsically inaccessible to human vision (Vision/Intuition) is somehow to be represented visually. In religious studies, especially in the phenomenology of religion, the concept of sy…

Symbolum Quicumque

(318 words)

Author(s): Drecoll, Volker Henning
[German Version] The Quicumque vult (from its opening words; often called the Athanasian Creed) is a Latin text probably written in the early 6th century (or before 500?), likely in Spain or southern Gaul. It was probably known by Caesarius of Arles (cf. CChr.SL 103, 20f.) and was in widespread use in the Western church from the 7th century on, as evidenced by manuscripts and its mention at the Synod of Autun (before 680). It may have been assumed at the Synod of Toledo in 633. It was used liturgically from the 8th century on. The creed defines the fides catholica, which is necessary for salva…

Symeon of Thessalonica

(162 words)

Author(s): Podskalsky, Gerhard
[German Version] (2nd half of the 14th cent., Constantinople – Sep, 1429, Thessalonica) was made archbishop of Thessalonica between June of 1416 and April of 1417; while there he had to endure the siege of the city by Sultan Murad II from 1422 until his death. His extensive writings include liturgical, dogmatic, and heresiological works. In the natural sciences, he recognized the superiority of the Latins; theologically, however, he was a convinced Palamite. His commentary on the Divine Liturgy and other services is still read. Gerhard Podskalsky Bibliography Works: PG 155 Συμεώv ἀρχι…

Symeon the New Theologian (Saint)

(309 words)

Author(s): Ohme, Heinz
[German Version] (late 949, Galatea in Paphlagonia – Mar 12, 1022, near Chrysopolis), eminent Byzantine mystic and poet, whose works contain his personal testimony to mystical experience. He was a spiritual student of the Studite (Studios Monastery) Symeon the Pious (917–986/987). At the age of 21, amid prayer and tears, Symeon experienced the first of 970 visions of the divine Logos in the form of immaterial light. In 976 he himself entered the Studios monastery but soon had to leave because he w…


(6 words)

[German Version] Bible Translations

Symmachus, Pope (Saint)

(319 words)

Author(s): Zimmermann, Harald
[German Version] (Nov 22, 498 – Jul 19, 514). On the day that Symmachus, a deacon from Sardinia, was pope, the Roman archpriest was also appointed and consecrated; the conflict was referred to King Theodoric (analogously to the schism between Boniface I and Eulalius). In 499 Theodoric decided in favor of Symmachus, and Laurentius had to withdraw to the bishopric of Nocera. After Roman senators lodged accusations against Symmachus and the administrator appointed by Theodoric proved unable to preven…

Symmachus, Quintus Aurelius Memmius Eusebius

(208 words)

Author(s): Klein, Richard
[German Version] (c. 335 – c. 402), influential senator and representative of the pagan party in Rome. In 384, as prefect of the city, he petitioned Emperor Valentinian II in Milan to have the altar of Victoria re-erected in the Roman curia and the financial privileges of the priests of the old cult renewed. Despite the great impression made by this third relatio (“submission”) through its magnificent style and moving content, Symmachus was unsuccessful, since Bishop Ambrose of Milan insisted forcefully that the relatio be rejected. Shortly before the death of Symmachus, Prude…


(529 words)

Author(s): Harbeck-Pingel, Bernd
[German Version] In one sense, sympathy has its roots in Greek philosophy (Natural philosophy, Hellenism, Neoplatonism), where it denotes harmony with nature, while 18th-century English moral philosophy ¶ used it primarily to describe intersubjective relations. On the one hand, the natural philosophy of the Classical era prepared the way logically for the ontological correlation of the interpretations of Poseidonius (Reinhardt, 183), who viewed sympathy as an emotional response that gives expression to a principle inherent…


(1,835 words)

Author(s): Reeg, Gottfried | Börner-Klein, Dagmar
[German Version] I. Antiquity 1. The Greek word συναγωγή/ synagōgḗ (cf. LXX), like כְּנֶסֶת/ kneset, orig. meant “assembly”; only later did it come to mean “place of assembly” (Heb. בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת/ bet ha-kneset). It is therefore uncertain, for example, whether Acts 6:9 refers to congregations of Hellenistic Jews or their synagogues. Other synonymous terms were also common: προσευχή/ proseuchḗ (“prayer/place of prayers”) – found almost exclusively in the Greek Diaspora – and (ἅγιος) τόπος/( hágios) tópos or Aramaic אַתרָא קְדִישָׁא/ʾ atra qedisha (“holy place”) – found pri…

Synagogue Architecture

(1,096 words)

Author(s): Sed-Rajna, Gabrielle
[German Version] The emergence of the synagogue as an institution and structure was the result of a long process of transformation within Judaism. After the destruction of the Jerusalem temple (II, 4) in 70 ce, temple sacrifice was replaced by a religious life grounded in prayer (XI, 1). This communal prayer required a suitable space where the community could assemble during worship (II, 3), which now centered on a reading from the Torah. This new understanding of worship represented a critical turning point for Judaism: the syn…


(171 words)

Author(s): Ohme, Heinz
[German Version] (from Gk σύναξις/ sýnaxis, assembly). In the Orthodox churches, the Synaxarion contains the information on the daily propers for the liturgical commemoration of the saints (Saints/Veneration of the saints: III, 2). This information usually includes the day of the month, an epigram concerning the saint, brief historical notes, information about the saint’s commemoration, place of burial, and any translations of his or her relics, and an abridged vita. This information for the liturgical year, summarized in a book for the church in Constantinople (…


(5,112 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Hutter, Manfred | Auffarth, Christoph | Leicht, Reimund | Roxborogh, John | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology The word syncretism in its broadest sense denotes any blend or combination of diverse cultural phenomena. This usage derives from an apparently reasonable but false etymology: syncretism is commonly derived from the Greek verb συνκεράννυμι/ synkeránnymi, “mix.” In fact, however, it is a neologism coined by Plutarch ( Mor. 490b), who called the way Cretans came together in the face of external enemies synkretismos. Erasmus of Rotterdam than borrowed the term and introduced it into the language of Christian theology. In theology th…

Syncretistic Controversy

(429 words)

Author(s): Wallmann, Johannes
[German Version] is the name given to the drawn-out controversies in the second half of the 17th century between high Lutheran orthodoxy (II, 2.a.β) and the union efforts of G. Calixtus and the University of Helmstedt, suspected of religious “syncretism.” Repelled by the horrors of the Thirty Years War, Calixtus shifted from polemics to irenics, calling for toleration and ecclesiastical peace between the confessions on the basis of a shared doctrinal foundation from the Early Church ( consensus antiquitatis). When the Jesuits rejected his plans for a reunion of the univer…


(6 words)

[German Version] Youth Movement


(266 words)

Author(s): Jähnichen, Traugott
[German Version] Derived from French syndicat (“trade union”), the term denotes an influential current in the labor movement (Trade unions) at the turn of the 20th century, especially in the Romance countries of Europe. Radically anti-statist, its goal was a federally structured society based on producers’ cooperatives, with extensive self-determination of workers in their workplaces. In the spirit of K. Marx, it viewed the social conflict between capital and labor as an antagonistic opposition that …


(1,077 words)

Author(s): Link, Christian | Felmy, Karl Christian
[German Version] I. Dogmatics In general, the term synergy denotes theological conceptions that consider spiritual or ethical cooperation of the human will with divine grace a causal factor in human salvation (Pelagius/Pelagians/Semi-Pelagians). The Reformers followed Augustine of Hippo in rejecting synergism, seeing justification based solely on God’s free grace ( sola gratia) as the only foundation of salvation. Despite the 1999 Joint Declarationon the Doctrine of Justification by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation, it remains debatable whether an…

Synesius of Cyrene

(294 words)

Author(s): Schmitt, Tassilo
[German Version] (c. 370–415), born to a senatorial Christian family, studied with Hypatia of Alexandria; from 397 to 400, as emissary from the Libyan Pentapolis to the court at Constaninople, he sought to obtain privileges and be accepted as an adviser. His De donoastrolabii (“On the gift of an astrolabe”), De regno (“On ruling”), and De providentia (“Egyptian tales”) along with his sixth hymn subserved this purpose. A reform of the military organization of the Pentapolis in 404 put an end to his career hopes: strengthening of the imperial administr…


(3,747 words)

Author(s): Hauschild, Wolf-Dieter | Brandt, Reinhard | Germann, Michael | Ohme, Heinz
[German Version] I. History As it developed in the Early Church and the Middle Ages, the term synod (from Gk σύνοδος/ sýnodos, “assembly, being together on the way”) cannot be separated from the term council. Only in 19th- and 20th-century Protestantism is a separate treatment warranted; in that context – with roots going back to the 16th century – the synod represents a new constitutional phenomenon (Church polity: IV, 2; V, 1.c). Its antecedents include medieval diocesan synods (as extensions of the provincial syn…

Synodal Court

(316 words)

Author(s): Ogris, Werner
[German Version] ( synodus). The synodal court was a special form of ecclesiastical tribunal (Jurisdiction, Ecclesiastical), a “morals court” presided over by the bishop as judge; it investigated and punished offenses of the laity against canons of the church. It emerged in the ¶ 9th century and was modeled on the Frankish reprimand court. Seven jurors were required to inform the court of offenses known to them. Inquiries – aided by an extensive catalogue of questions compiled in 908 by Regino of Prüm – concentrated primarily on offenses …

Synod, Head of

(147 words)

Author(s): Barth, Thomas
[German Version] Especially in churches in the Reformed tradition, the head of synod is the person who presides over the synod. He is fundamentally limited to this function where a leading clergyman of the regional church is also present, a bishop (III, 3) or regional superintendent. Where that is not the case, as in the Rhineland and Westphalia, the head of synod ¶ (Präses) also functions as “head of the territorial church”; this arrangement characterizes the synodal type of church governance (I). There the head of synod, in the tradition of the Reformed m…

Synod, Holy

(289 words)

Author(s): Simon, Gerhard
[German Version] In 1721 Peter the Great established the “Most Holy Governing Synod” to govern the Orthodox Church in the Russian Empire. This collegial body replaced the patriarch and the Russian councils. At the behest of the tsar, Archbishop F. Prokopovich composed the Spiritual Regulation of Peter the Great, the instruction implementing and justifying this integration and subordination of the church within the absolutist state. The Holy Synod had full authority over the theological and administrative governance of the church; it was the supreme religious …


(255 words)

Author(s): Plank, Peter
[German Version] On the first Sunday in Lent in 843, after years of struggle, the population of Constantinople were solemnly informed that the heresy of iconoclasm had finally been condemned and defeated. In the Orthodox Church, this proclamation became the occasion of a permanent annual festival: the first Sunday in Lent, formerly dedicated to Moses and all the prophets, has been observed as the “Sunday of Orthodoxy” ever since. In all episcopal cathedrals, the Synodicon is recited on this day in a special rite: a lengthy doxology is followed by a renunciation of all…

Synoptic Problem

(3,774 words)

Author(s): Schnelle, Udo
[German Version] I. Definition The Synoptic problem has to do with the literary relationship between the Synoptic Gospels, to clarify whether and how Matthew, Mark, and Luke are literarily dependent on each other. The starting point is the observation that the first three Gospels largely share the same language and sequence of episodes while also differing on many points. The Synoptic problem is thus one aspect of literary criticism and source criticism (Literary criticism and the Bible) and a pheno…


(345 words)

Author(s): Evers, Dirk
[German Version] (from Gk σύνταξις/ sýntaxis, “ordering together”) is a term used in linguistics for the system of rules of a natural language (I) governing the correct formation of clauses and sentences of that language from individual words. It is an aspect of grammar. Classical grammar already made a distinction between the collocation of concrete morphemes and the analysis of their abstract syntactical usage, as is found in L. Wittgenstein’s distinction between deep grammar and surface grammar (“…


(5 words)

[German Version] Analysis/Synthesis


(8,420 words)

Author(s): Schwemer, Daniel | Feldtkeller, Andreas | Fitschen, Klaus | Tamcke, Martin | Kaufhold, Hubert | Et al.
[German Version] I. Geography Greek Συρία/ Syría is an abbreviated form of ’Ασσυρία/ Assyría (“Assyria”); Greek and Latin manuscripts often use the two terms indiscriminately. Initially Syría, corresponding to the Persian satrapy of ʿEbar-naharā, denoted the region between Egypt and Asia Minor, including the area east of the Euphrates, which was called Mesopotamia after Alexander’s campaign. After the time of the Seleucids, Syria, with the Euphrates now marking its eastern border, was divided into northern Syria Coele and southern Syria Phoenice (Phoenicia), bordering on Pa…

Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch

(10 words)

[German Version] Baruch, Books of

Syrian Fathers

(168 words)

Author(s): Kaufhold, Hubert
[German Version] At the end of the 5th century and throughout the 6th century, monks from Syria organized monasticism in East Georgia and strengthened the faith of the Georgians, who had been converted only shortly before; the monks included John of Zedazeni, Shio of Mġvime, David of Gareja, and the martyr Abibos of Nekresi. Their Georgian vitae describe the lives of hermits and cenobites, recount their miracles, and also mention theological issues. In the absence of precise information, only limited historical placement is possible. The vitae were later edited to produce collec…

Syrian Monasteries

(584 words)

Author(s): Kaufhold, Hubert
[German Version] Syrian cenobites and their monasteries appeared in the 4th century, especially in north-¶ ern Syria and northern Iraq. Apart from the account of Theodoret of Cyrrhus, we know little about the early period. Monks living atop pillars (Stylite) were an important element. The monastery of Simeon Stylites the Elder (399–459) became a pilgrimage center. The monasteries experienced their golden age in the 5th and 6th centuries. They were situated in remote, mountainous areas but also near cities. Aft…

Syrian Orphanage

(285 words)

Author(s): Löffler, Roland
[German Version] was a Christian institution and vocational training center in Jerusalem founded by J.L. Schneller after the massacres of Christians in Syria and Lebanon in 1860. On the model of the schools for the poor established by the Basel Awakening (Revival/Revival movements), the educational objective was the training of Christian artisans, whose piety and work ethic was to Christianize Palestine, and of teachers and evangelists for Protestant Arab congregations. In the 20th century, increa…

Syrian Orthodox Church of India

(11 words)

[German Version] Malankara Church/Syro-Malankara Church

Syro-Malankara Church

(7 words)

[German Version] Malankara/Syro-Malankara Church


(1,872 words)

Author(s): Angehrn, Emil | Danz, Christian | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy A system (from Gk σύστημα/ sýstēma, “combination”) is a structured entity made up of parts; the term can refer to all reality as well as to science and philosophy themselves. In an objective sense, the idea of an ordered arrangement was used in various domains in antiquity – the cosmos (World: II), organisms, medicine, music,ethics, politics. In a methodological sense, the term is important in the history of modern philosophy, dominated in particular by two central themes: …

Systematic Theology

(3,850 words)

Author(s): Schwöbel, Christoph
[German Version] I. The Concept in Relation to Other Theological Disciplines The task of systematic theology is organized exposition of how the Christian faith interprets reality, with reference to its inherent certainty of its truth (Truth: V; Certainty: III), and the closely associated guidance for action. The word theology makes it clear that the Christian faith’s (IV) interpretation of reality can be expounded appropriately only on the basis of God’s relationship to the world and to human beings, as disclosed by God for the Christian faith; the addition of systematic makes it cl…

Systemic Therapy

(891 words)

Author(s): Morgenthaler, Christoph
[German Version] creates the premises “for the possibility of self-organized disorder to order transitions in complex biopsychosocial systems, under professional supervision” (Schiepek, 30). It builds on concepts of systems theory (cybernetics, synergetics, chaos and autopoiesis theory) and constructivism, draws on family sociology and psychology, and integrates the insights of other therapeutic schools. As a recognized psychotherapeutic design (Psychotherapy), it defines fundamental therapeutic a…

Systems Theory

(3,570 words)

Author(s): Pollack, Detlef | Hesse, Heidrun | Herms, Eilert | Dinkel, Christoph | Evers, Dirk
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Systems theory considers religion one social system alongside others, like the economy, law (Law and Jurisprudence), politics, and education and analyzes it in terms of the function it discharges. The evolutionary approach of systems theory assumes that in primordial local communities the function of religion was nonspecific and was fulfilled in combination with other functions – military, economic, and familial. The transition to modern societies witnessed a dif…

Szegedi (Stephan Kis)

(107 words)

Author(s): Hőrcsik, Richard
[German Version] (1505, Szeged – 1572, Ráckeve), Reformed bishop and Hungarian theologian of European renown. A student of Luther and Melanchthon, he received his doctorate from Wittenberg. After returning to Hungary, he served as rector and pastor in several churches; he spent three years in Turkish captivity. In 1554 he was elected bishop of the Baranya district. Theologically he was close to H. Bullinger, but his “liberal” attitude made it easy for him to harmonize the views of the European Reformers, as his famous dogmatic treatise Theologiae sincereae loci communes (1584) shows. R…

Szenczi Molnár, Albert

(308 words)

Author(s): Hőrcsik, Richard
[German Version] (Aug 30/Sep 1, 1574, Szenc – Jan 17, 1634, Kolozsvár), Hungarian Reformed pastor, philologist, and translator of the Psalms and the Bible. After studying in Hungary, in 1590 he embarked on a study tour that took him to Wittenberg, Heidelberg, and Straßburg (Strasbourg). In 1599 he began work as a proofreader in Frankfurt; then he moved to Altdorf, where he wrote his most important work, a Latin-Hungarian dictionary, which remained in use until the mid-19th century, and published h…

Szikszai, György

(103 words)

Author(s): Hőrcsik, Richard
[German Version] (Mar 21, 1738, Békés – Jun 30, 1803, Debrecen), Hungarian Reformed churchman, church publicist, and independent theologian. After studies in Hungary (Békés, Hódmezővársárhely, Debrecen), he studied at the universities of Basel and Utrecht beginning in 1763. After returning to Hungary, he served as a pastor in Békés, Makó, and after 1786 in Debrecen. He was an active participant in the Synod of Buda in 1791 (Hungary). His best-known work is Kresztyéni tanítások és imádságok (1786), a book of prayers and meditations still in use today after 90 printings. Richard Hőrcsi…

Sztárai, Mihály

(162 words)

Author(s): Hőrcsik, Richard
[German Version] (Michael; early 16th cent., Drávasztára – 1575, Pápa?), Hungarian Reformer. As a Franciscan friar, he earned an M.A. at Padua. After joining the Lutheran Reformation, in 1531 he was one of the founders of the Reformed College in Śarospatak. Later he returned to his home in southern Hungary, now occupied by the Turks. After 1544 he lived in Laskó; in 1554 he was elected bishop of the church district of Baranya, where he established 120 Protestant congregations. Later he moved to Gyula; in 1564 in he ¶ returned to Sárospatak as a pastor. In 1567 he moved to Pápa, wher…
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