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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(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…
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