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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(6,018 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
A. History of the Doctrine The history of the doctrine concerning the magisterium is in the concrete almost identical with the history of the self-understanding of the Church itself, which cannot but understand itself essentially except as the bearer of the gospel message. To ask about the bearers of the message in the Church and their right to demand faith is always a question about the essence of the Church, and vice versa. Hence as regards the history of dogma and of theology in this connection, it will suffice to a great extent to refer to the articles Church II, III, Word of God, Bible I, Tradi…

Man (Anthropology) - Biblical

(3,602 words)

Author(s): Rudolf Pesch
Part of Man (Anthropology): 1. Philosophical 2. Biblical 3. Theological 1. Preliminary questions of hermeneutics. None of the writings of the Old or New Testament represents a conscious attempt to produce a systematic anthropology either from the scientific, the philosophical or the theological points of view. In view of the complexity of the material covered by anthropology, which embraces the most disparate periods and branches of tradition, it is especially important to determine the line of approach of th…

Man (Anthropology) - Philosophical

(1,755 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
Part of Man (Anthropology): 1. Philosophical 2. Biblical 3. Theological Anthropology is man’s explanation of himself, the reflection of his own being, a being that is never simply at hand as a given datum, but has always presented itself as a question, and (whether this is explicitly realized or not) has always had its existence merely as its own answer at any given time to that question. Here is not a matter of the content of this answer, or of the “object” of question and answer; the point of concern is…

Man (Anthropology) - Theological

(4,140 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Man (Anthropology): 1. Philosophical 2. Biblical 3. Theological Among the things directly spoken of by the word of God is man’s knowledge (e.g., Rom 1:19ff.; D 1806); it follows that methodological reflection by theology on its own activity is itself theology. What is intended here is, therefore, a theological reflection on theological anthropology, not on the secular sciences which in their various ways deal with man a posteriori and not on the basis of the revealed word of God. How a theological anthropology is distinguished from an a priori, transcendental understanding of…


(1,418 words)

Author(s): Robert Haardt
1. Introduction. Mandaeism is the religion of the Mandaeans, a Gnostic baptist sect which still survives in Southern Iraq and South-western Iran (Chusistan) with perhaps 5000 members. The name which they use of themselves, mandāiā, from mandā, “knowledge”, means “Gnostics”, while the older term by which they described themselves, nasorāiā (Nasoraeans) means “Observants”. The ambiguous term Sabeans (baptists) which is found in Moslem literature from the Koran on ( Sura, 2, 59; 5, 73; 22, 17) may possibly refer to the Mandaeans (among others), who are known at the present day as subba (b…


(2,701 words)

Author(s): Robert Haardt
1. Introduction. Manichaeism is the religion founded by Mani (Manes, Manichaeus; Μάνης, Μανιχαῖος; Syriac, Persian and Arabic: Mani). Mani was of the higher Parthian nobility, born in A. D. 216 in Babylon, where his father, Patik, joined a baptist sect (called in Syriac the menaqqedē, in Arabic al muġtasilah, "the washers", possibly akin to the Mandaeans). Mani also adhered to the sect in his early youth. Inspired by divine revelation, which he received according to the legend at the ages of twelve and twenty-four, he began to preach in 240 a…

Mariology - Biblical

(5,904 words)

Author(s): Michael Schmaus
Part of Mariology: 1. Biblical 2. Theological 3. Marian Devotions Mary, the “mother of Jesus” (Mk 6:8; Mt 13:55; Acts 1 :4), does not figure largely in the NT writings. The testimonies of faith in her regard take on greater extent and depth with the growing interest in the life of Jesus, the death and resurrection of Jesus being the event first and primarily proclaimed in Scripture. In the letters of Paul, which are earlier than the gospels, Mary is mentioned only in Gal 4:4. But the important truth is al…

Mariology - Marian Devotions

(3,017 words)

Author(s): Michael Schmaus
Part of Mariology: 1. Biblical 2. Theological 3. Marian Devotions 1. There are many reasons why the eyes of faith should be fixed with special attention on Mary and why special reverence is due to her: her relationship to Christ, her role in the history of salvation, her perfect mode of redemption and the special nature of her membership of the Church. But the reverence paid to her is always distinguished in the faith of the Church and in theological thought from the adoration due to God alone. Mary is ne…

Mariology - Theological

(2,539 words)

Author(s): Michael Schmaus
Part of Mariology: 1. Biblical 2. Theological 3. Marian Devotions A. The Problem Mariology concerns us here not in the sense of theological reflection on the person and character of Mary, her role in the history of salvation and the orderly presentation of the results, but as reflection on these primary theological truths. Hence our primary interest is not the content of Mariology, but the ranging of this content in its place in theology as a whole. But the two elements cannot be kept totally separate, since…

Marriage - Family

(3,982 words)

Author(s): Jakob David
Part of Marriage: 1. Institution and Sacrament 2. Parents 3. Family The Church’s teaching on the family, if it is to meet present-day needs, must present an up-to-date realistic approach together with a deeper theological outlook. Over-romantic, patriarchal or sentimental ideas of family life no longer carry conviction. Neither can the picture we give be an over-abstract one, divorced from the actual realities of modern families. It must rather take sympathetic account of the nature, difficulties and opportunities of the family as it is. A. The Family in the Order of Creation We lay pa…

Marriage - Institution and Sacrament

(12,905 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Marriage: 1. Institution and Sacrament 2. Parents 3. Family A. Sociology and History of Religion 1. Sociologically speaking, marriage is a sexual fellowship, the structure of which varies considerably according to general social conditions. Modern fieldwork in anthropology rebuts 19th-century evolutionary theories (especially that of Morgan) to the effect that marriage gradually developed from primitive promiscuity through various stages of group marriage (sexual relations of all the men with all the wom…

Marriage - Parents

(4,700 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Marriage: 1. Institution and Sacrament 2. Parents 3. Family A. Parenthood 1. When parents bring a child into the world, they make use of their ability to participate in God’s creative power, which they do in a human and therefore analogous, but nevertheless unique manner. In giving new life, they share the work of the ultimate giver of all life. They are made more perfect through parenthood, as the child that has been given life opens up the well-springs of maternal and paternal love. Like God, who i…


(1,612 words)

Author(s): Otto Semmelroth
Etymologically, “martyrdom” means much more than “suffering death for the faith”, a restricted sense which the word came to have very early, not indeed in the NT, but attested in the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, c. 150. In the NT it means giving testimony, but in words, by preaching, and not that of being killed in odium fidei. It is revealing for the nature of the Christian faith that a word which in general(though not exclusively) meant testimony came to be used in christianity for that given by suffering death for the Christian faith, while …

Marxism - Dialectical Materialism

(2,234 words)

Author(s): Gustav A. Wetter
Part of Marxism: 1. System and History 2. Dialectical Materialism 3. Historical Materialism 1. History. One of the specific aims of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is to train everybody in their territory in the spirit of the Marxist-Leninist ideology. Since the party has full control of all the organs of State, there exists in the Soviet Union — and the same holds for the other States where Communists hold power — a State-supported ideology. It is made not only the basis of the entire economic, socia…

Marxism - Historical Materialism

(2,415 words)

Author(s): Nicholas Lobkowicɀ
Part of Marxism: 1. System and History 2. Dialectical Materialism 3. Historical Materialism 1. Concept. While dialectical materialism deals with the ontology and epistemology of the Leninist version of Marxism, historical materialism comprises the philosophy of history and the sociology adopted in the Marxist view of the world. Since Stalin, historical materialism has often been put forward as an application of the basic principles of dialectical materialism to history and society. But in fact dialectical mat…

Marxism - System and History

(2,523 words)

Author(s): Werner Post
Part of Marxism: 1. System and History 2. Dialectical Materialism 3. Historical Materialism 1. Concept and general problem, a) Marxism is the philosophical term used to describe not only Marx’s teaching but also the numerous additions, developments, revisions and immanent criticisms of that teaching. Marxism is thus a collective concept under which many individual Marxisms may be subsumed, although they differ from one another, sometimes even considerably. Thus the name Marxism-Leninism is given to the modificat…

Mass Stipend

(1,104 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
A Mass stipend is an offering, normally consisting of money, which is entrusted to a priest as depository and which is to be ordained by him to an offering of holy Mass. 1. History. The Mass stipend was developed as a special use from the offertory of the eucharistic celebration. According to ancient Christian understanding, the eucharistic Communion at table was constituted by an offering of gifts. This was a right and honour which belonged only to full members of the Church, and which was at the same time a duty for all who t…


(1,541 words)

Author(s): Marcel Reding
The term “materialist” first appears in Robert Boyle for the older “Epicurean”. While some historians of philosophy regard the existence of “materialism” as being as old as philosophy itself (so, for instance, the Marxists), and find it clearly propounded by the ancient Greek philosophies of nature, as in Democritus and Epicure, others date materialism, in the strict sense, only since the concept was “clearly demarcated by Decartes” (R. Eucken). The older philosophies of nature contained so much…


(1,834 words)

Author(s): Gernot Eder
1. Matter (from the Latin mater, materia) is primarily the “maternal element”, the raw material such as wood which can be worked upon and given shape. This technological and artistic notion of matter has two components. One is its property of being open to methods of working upon it and to being moulded to a certain end (the property which led to its being considered potentia). The other is the comparative solidity and durability of the material and the product into which it is worked. The durability does not change by reason of the work done upon it, which l…


(4,736 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
A. Introduction The discussion of “meaning” may well begin from one of its synonyms: “sense”, where the difference between the subjective (“feeling”, “opinion”, “discernment”) and the objective stands out at once — “that which is reasonable” — as in the common phrase: “that makes sense”. So too “meaning” can be either subjective — “that which is in the mind or thoughts” — or objective, “that which has significance” or purpose, as in the phrase once so common as the title of books — “the meaning of…
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