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.

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Form Criticism - Form Criticism

(2,092 words)

Author(s): Rudolf Pesch
Part of Form Criticism: 1. Form Criticism 2. Genus Litterarium Contemporary scientific views on the literature of the Old and New Testaments are to a large extent based on the results of the form criticism of our own century. This state of affairs makes it incumbent upon all who intend to adopt a responsible attitude toward the Bible to acquire a basic knowledge of the “methods of form criticism”, as well as of the results achieved by means of them for the “history of forms” in biblical writings. The offi…

Form Criticism - Genus Litterarium

(3,420 words)

Author(s): Stanislas Lyonnet
Part of Form Criticism: 1. Form Criticism 2. Genus Litterarium 1. Definition. The problem of the genus litterarium of a writing is not confined to biblical exegesis. In French literature, for example, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the theory of the genres littéraires and of the distinctions between them occupied an important place. In this context lyrical, dramatic, epic, comic and tragic genres were spoken of. The “classicists” attempted to lay down exact rules, against which the “romanticists” protested. Today an attempt is being made to reach back beyo…


(1,945 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
The notion of a forum, as a special place, goes back to the early days of civilization. As a juridical term, it comes from the usage to which the place which it designated was put (e.g., the Forum Romanum), in an age when religion, political life, and law intermingled. Etymologically, the word implies a fencing which both protects and separates. So having first meant a place, the word became associated with a court of justice. It became a formal term in juridical language, meaning primarily the …

Franciscan Theology

(1,724 words)

Author(s): Friedrich Wetter
1. Historical outline. St. Francis of Assisi was against the life of study, seeing in it a threat to devotion. Learning, he said, leaves the heart arid and does not serve love. But his Testament shows that he thought highly of genuine theology: “We must esteem all who are learned in the things of God and honour them as men who dispense spirit and life.” Despite some initial resistance, Franciscan studies were flourishing remarkably early. By 1250 the Order already had some 30 schools. Franciscans …

Freedom - Biblical

(2,546 words)

Author(s): Klaus Berger
Part of Freedom: 1. Biblical 2. Philosophical 3. Theological It would be a mistake to take a philosophical notion of freedom as the starting-point for an investigation of the biblical texts, on the assumption that though there was no literal equivalent for it, the “thing itself” was there. For we find that a number of senses in which the word freedom is used are not to be found in Scripture. Thus LXX translates תפשה by έλευϑερία, while both תפש and חר (noble, freeborn) are rendered by ἐλεύϑερόω, there being no Hebrew equivalent for έλευϑερόω. The use of παρρησία is a…

Freedom - Philosophical

(6,934 words)

Author(s): Max Müller
Part of Freedom: 1. Biblical 2. Philosophical 3. Theological A. On the General and Philosophical Notion of Freedom 1. The concept of freedom is an analogous one, predicated in different ways of beings of very different types. The various forms of attribution all agree, however, to a certain extent, not by defining the same specific content, but by indicating a formal relation which remains the same. This relation can be put negatively or positively. Negatively, freedom means “being free from”, i.e., the relation …

Freedom - Theological

(1,280 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Freedom: 1. Biblical 2. Philosophical 3. Theological 1. The elaboration of the ecclesiastical and theological notion of freedom was carried on from the start in a dialogue with the philosophical notion of freedom throughout its history. To a great extent the two concepts were almost indistinguishable, and they always acted and reacted on one another. For the moment, however, the influence of modern thinking on freedom — in the debate between metaphysics and “after metaphysics” — has only been felt here and there. In the documents of the magisterium, freedom is usually un…


(2,180 words)

Author(s): Alec Mellor
1. History, a) Period of workers’ Masonry. Freemasonry has been credited with many fantastic origins (for example, Solomon’s Temple, the mystery religions of antiquity, the Knights Templar, Rosicrucianism, and others). In fact it derives from the medieval builders. The name comes from England, where “free mason” means one who works in freestone (sound stone), as opposed to a “rough mason”. Freemasons had certain secrets concerning their technique and their organization (words, signs, grips designed to…

French Revolution

(1,824 words)

Author(s): Heinrich Lutɀ
One of the most momentous events in European history, the French Revolution, ushers in the “modern world” of Europe and the particular problems that world raises for the State and society, Catholic life and cultural life, indeed the individual’s whole existence. 1. Causes and occasion. General trends in thought, society, and politics combined with special conditions within France paved the way for revolutionary change which would spread from France all over Europe. When the wars of religion came to an end, the philosophers of the Enlighte…

Fundamental Theology

(3,503 words)

Author(s): Heinrich Fries
Fundamental theology is the word now used for what used to be called apologetics. This does not mean that the subject-matter and goal of apologetics have been abandoned, but that they have been made part of a more comprehensive theological reflection, primarily a positive one, where apologetics plays a decisive role but is not the whole of fundamental theology. If we start from the words themselves, fundamental theology means the investigations of the foundations in the realm of theology. These foundations are not artificially constructed like an ideolo…