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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(1,957 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Term and concept. Etymologically, the word “symbol” comes from certain usages in ancient law. Two parts of a ring, staff or tablet served, when they were brought together συμ-βάλλειν, to identify legitimate guests ( tessera hospitalitatis), messengers and partners. Thus the word came to have the meaning of “treaty”, and in ecclesiastical language could designate the common profession of faith, the fixed and obligatory formulas or creeds (the “symbols”) and then the instruments, images and acts in which the faith was expressed. …


(1,742 words)

Author(s): John Charles Maraldo
1. The term. The word “syncretism” was first used by Plutarch ( De Fraterno Amore, 19) to describe a combination of Cretan communities against a common enemy, a rare and in fact historically uncertain event, as the Cretans were usually fighting among themselves. The term began therefore by signifying a political alliance in which mutual differences were overlooked in the face of a threat to all. The term then occurs again in the 16th century in Erasmus ( Opus Epistolaram), who derived it from a verb συν-ϰίφάννυμι (which does not occur in classical Greek) and transposed it …