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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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 …
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