Sacramentum Mundi Online

Get access Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Karl Rahner with Cornelius Ernst and Kevin Smyth.
Advisor for the online edition: Karen Kilby, Durham University

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Sacramentum Mundi Online is the online edition of the famous six volume English reference work in Catholic Theology, edited (in 1968-1970) by Karl Rahner, one of the main Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology was originally published by Herder Verlag, and is now available online at Brill.

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(1,743 words)

Author(s): Narciso Jubany
The diaconate is the lowest degree of the consecrated hierarchy in the Church’s visible structure; the term means doing a particular service. It is an office that figures in the earliest pages of Church history, and the fact that the NT uses the Greek word διάκονος in a strict sense to designate this ecclesiastical office shows us that service is its special characteristic. Everywhere in the NT the word διάκονος means a servant or an official minister. It is possible to discern the character of the diaconal office in the Acts of the Apostles, the letters of St. Paul, and…


(3,004 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. Introduction. It cannot be said that the theology of death usually receives in scholastic theology the attention which the theme deserves. People think they know from everyday experience what death is, and quickly turn to the question of what comes after death, as though the theology of death only began there. Yet death necessarily also contains within itself all the mysteries of man. As the Constitution Gaudium et Spes of Vatican II notes, it is the point where man in the most radical way becomes a question for himself, a question which God himself must answe…


(1,496 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Introduction. Freedom is the self-determination nation which stems from the transcendental openness of the spirit for the absolute and unconditional. Hence it appears essentially as freedom from outside coercion and thus as freedom or indifference with regard to possibilities that are open to it. It is liberum arbitrium, the power of choosing. This does not mean that the possibilities of choice are always of equal value. In the most important choice to be made by finite freedom, the choice between good and evil, one particular course is comman…


(653 words)

Author(s): Walter Kern
Deism designates a defective form of thought with regard to the relationship between God and the world. It reduces God’s function as ground of the world’s existence to his giving it its first impulse. According to the classical comparison of God with a clock-maker, which is found as early as Nicolaus of Oresmes (d. 1382), God wound up the clock of the world once and for all at the start, so that it can run on and produce world history without his creative conservation and his concurrent influenc…

Demythologization - Existential Interpretation

(1,372 words)

Author(s): René Marlé
Part of Demythologization: 1. General 2. Existential Interpretation 1. Nature. The idea of existential interpretation corresponds to the positive aspect of Bultmann’s hermeneutical project, just as demythologization expresses its negative side. “Myth”, he explains, “does not call for a cosmological interpretation, but an anthropological or rather an existential one . . . In the mythology of the New Testament, it is not the objective content of the representations in itself that must be studied, but the u…

Demythologization - General

(2,223 words)

Author(s): René Marlé
Part of Demythologization: 1. General 2. Existential Interpretation 1. The problem. Bultmann was not the first to affirm the existence of myths in the NT. It was he, however, who centred the theological and exegetical problem on the question of the necessity of a demythologization. And it is because of what he sought to do that the problem of demythologization occupies many theologians and exegetes at the present time. The idea of the necessity of demythologization is already found several times in Bultmann's early works. It was in 1941, however, that he gave it …


(808 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. Despair as a sin consists in the relinquishing of present or possible hope. It is, therefore, the voluntary rejection of a consciously recognized dependence of man upon his fellowmen and upon God, as well as of the corresponding duty of seeking perfection and salvation in harmony with them. The motives for despair can be various; it may be, for example, moral sloth (accidie, acedia) which shrinks from the effort of following Christ and which prefers earthly blessings to union with men or God; or …

Devil - Demons

(1,784 words)

Author(s): Adolf Darlap
Part of Devil: 1. Demons 2. The Devil 1. Hermeneutical problems. The particular way in which angels and demons figure in Old and New Testament revelation, and the indisputable use that is made there of modes of representation drawn from outside revelation, even though in Scripture these belong to the mode of expression, not to the content asserted, make it important to be cautious about the traditional method of harmonizing and systematizing the scattered indications of Scripture. This method worked indis…

Devil - The Devil

(1,901 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Devil: 1. Demons 2. The Devil 1. Methodological considerations. a) By “the devil” we are to understand, in a sense to be defined, the “highest” of the evil spirits. It is clear that the background for a theologically correct idea of the devil will have to presuppose and include all that has been said in the article on Angel. Explicit reference must be made to it. b) Firstly, the devil (leaving out of account for the moment the question of his exact relation to the other demons) is not to be regarded as a mere mythological personification of evil in the w…