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

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.

For more information:

Dialectical Theology

(2,631 words)

Author(s): Henri Bouillard
Dialectical theology is the name given to a movement of thought which appeared within Protestant theology after the First World War and which at that time held the place in theologico-philosophical debates which the problems of demythologization and existential interpretation have occupied since the Second World War. Its chief protagonists were K. Barth, E. Thurneysen, E. Brunner, F. Gogarten and R. Bultmann. 1. The beginnings of dialectical theology. The common viewpoint of these theologians was presented to the public in the course of the same year. Between 1…


(1,863 words)

Author(s): Walter Kern
The origin of the term “dialectic” (διαλέγεσθαι, “to discuss”, i.e., the for and against, thoroughly, by means of dialogue) points to the sphere of reasoning (λόγος, Spirit), but can have many shades, of meaning. We here examine (1) the early history of the term, (2) its main usage, as seen in Hegel, (3) the correctives to be applied to Hegel, with the resulting perspective of (4) a dialectic of freedom and (5) its theological significance. 1. Early history of the term. The history of the philosophical concept begins with Heraclitus's question: “How is that which differs fr…


(6,345 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
A diocese is a territorial corporation established by the competent ecclesiastical authority. It is part of the people of God having at its head its own shepherd, and in its own district represents the Church. A. History of the Word Deriving from διοιϰεΐν, meaning “to keep house”, “to administer”, the word διοίϰησις signified an administrative district and in Roman law became a technical term for political organizational units of varying sizes: city districts, portions of a province, and after the division of the empire into 12 distri…

Discernment of Spirits

(1,390 words)

Author(s): Karl Vladimir Truhlar
1. Introduction. God’s self-communication which is the source of Christian life in the Church through Christ, is also a revelation of himself: a movement, a call, and speech perceptible to men. To the outward hearing of the gospel corresponds in the hearer an inner perception of the hidden word of God (Mt 11:25). The divine glory radiates in the hearts of those who hear the good news of Christ (2 Cor 4:4–6). They enter into an experiential fellowship with God (1 Jn 2:3ff.). He “draws” his own, an…


(921 words)

Author(s): Olis Robleda
1. “Dispensation” is derived from the Latin pendere, because the “dispensator”, in the days before coinage was introduced, had to weigh the bronze used for making payments, as we are told by Varro ( De lingua latina, V, 183): “ab eodem aere pendendo dispensator”, and Festus ( De verborum significatione, s.v. “dispensator”): “Dispensatores dicti qui aes pensantes expendebant, non adnumerabant.” Dispensatio then came to mean the administration of a patrimony or the public treasury, and also, like the Greek οỉϰονομία, the prudent distribution of goods, even…


(1,211 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. A being which is changing, which acquires new determinations, states and attributes, requires certain conditions either intrinsically in itself or in its external circumstances, if it is to be able to receive the new determinations, etc. These conditions are called a disposition for the new determination, to which the disposition stands in the relation of potency to act (in the widest sense of the term). This relation may be found in all orders of reality, so that there are physical, juridica…