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Mercy

(2,498 words)

Author(s): Scoralick, Ruth | Avemarie, Friedrich | Weder, Hans | Bayer, Oswald | Nagel, Tilman
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. Judaism – III. New Testament – IV. Dogmatic/Ethics – V. Islam I. Old Testament The direct statements of the Old Testament about mercy as a loving and helping approach to others who had fallen into need or guilt are crystallized in Hebrew around the root רחם ( rḥm). The situation is complicated by overlapping of content with the root חנן ( ḥnn, “to be gracious”; Grace: II). Moreover, the OT deals with mercy itself without using the roots חנן or רחר, for example, in the description of God in the primordial history (Gen 1–11). An etymologi…

Merit

(4,227 words)

Author(s): Bergunder, Michael | Avemarie, Friedrich | Heiligenthal, Roman | Huxel, Kirsten | Sattler, Dorothea
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Judaism – III. New Testament – IV. History of Dogma – V. Dogmatics – VI. Ethics – VII. Ecumenics I. Religious Studies In European Christian theology the doctrine of merit (Lat. meritum) became a controversial subject, by which (at least on the Protestant side) it was thought possible to demonstrate with particular clarity the basic difference between Catholicism and Lutheranism (see IV below). Discussion in religious studies has shown that the use of such a theologically loaded conc…

Kingdom of God

(8,569 words)

Author(s): Koch, Klaus | Avemarie, Friedrich | Schröter, Jens | Schwöbel, Christoph
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. Early Judaism – III. New Testament – IV. Historical Theology and Dogmatics – V. Social Ethics I. Old Testament Although English Bibles have generally used kingdom of God to render Heb. מַלְכּוּת/ malkût and Gk βασιλεία/ basileía with a divine subject (genitive), some modern translators prefer instead a purely functional term such as kingship, without spatial or geographical connotations. Such connotations were definitely implicit in the Hebrew expression, which furthermore is used only in the singular for king…

Love of One's Neighbor

(2,576 words)

Author(s): Mühling, Markus | Mathys, Hanspeter | Avemarie, Friedrich | Lindemann, Andreas | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Meaning – II. Old Testament – III. Early Judaism – IV. New Testament – V. Ethics I. Meaning Love of one's neighbor is the love of creaturely persons, for other concrete creaturely persons (“neighbors”) as being in the image of God; it includes love of enemies (Matt 5:44 = Luke 6:27; Enemy,). The Reformers believed that the twofold law of love (Mark 12:29–31 parr.), expressive of a well-ordered creation, embodies all the demands of the law (cf. Luther, BSLK 586). The love…

Vows

(2,357 words)

Author(s): Lorenz, Günther | Görg, Manfred | Avemarie, Friedrich | Riedel-Spangenberger, Ilona | Bader, Günter
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Voluntary promises to do something, either materially or ideally, in order to obtain the support of a divinity or ¶ some other metaphysical effects, are known as vows. Intended as an agreement in partnership with the gods ( do ut das, not always strictly), they are found worldwide as prominent forms of expressing partnership with the divine. They are to be distinguished from texts accompanying thankofferings for earlier gifts (notably in the Lat. ex voto or V[otum] S[olvit] L[ibens] M[erito]). They are made at times of personal or coll…

Righteousness/Justice of God

(5,846 words)

Author(s): Friedli, Richard | Spieckermann, Hermann | Klaiber, Walter | Holmes, Stephen R. | Avemarie, Friedrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. Human destiny. The human experience of existence holds both positive and negative events. Personal and structural processes involving violence and suffering are constants. The “horizon of justice and righteousness” allows us to surmise that the events that take place in the course of the world are not random but are turbulences on the surface of a fundamental order. Disorientation (anomie) does not destroy the need for security. These turbulences remain a question to which religious ¶ traditions and atheistic projections of Dasein offer ans…

Parable

(4,033 words)

Author(s): Wehrle, Josef | Kähler, Christoph | Pöttner, Martin | Sanders, Andy F. | Wegenast, Klaus | Et al.
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. New Testament – III. Fundamental Theology – IV. Philosophy of Religion – V. Religious Education and Preaching – VI. Judaism I. Old Testament A similitude (from Lat. similis, “like”; Ger. Gleichnis, “simile”) differs from a concise simile in its textological extent. A situation or event is visualized by comparison to an analogous situation or event in a different, more concrete area of everyday life. Unlike a fable, a similitude presents only one essential point ( tertium comparationis) common to the objects of comparison. The concrete an…

Love of/for God

(5,381 words)

Author(s): Schmitt, Hans-Christoph | Morgen, Michèle | Stock, Konrad | Avemarie, Friedrich | Necker, Gerold | Et al.
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. New Testament – III. Christianity – IV. Judaism – V. Islam I. Old Testament 1. God's love The notion of YHWH's love (in Heb. primarily derivatives of the root אהב/ ʾhb) for his people first appears in the book of the prophet Hosea, where God's love is cited as the “ground of divine election” (Jenni) in response to challenges to the election (I) of Israel by God (Hos 1:9). Hosea uses the image of a father's love (11:1; cf. also 11:4); despite his son's disobedience, he cannot give him up …

Providence

(4,529 words)

Author(s): Friedli, Richard | Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard | Bosman, Hendrik | Söding, Thomas | Plathow, Michael | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Certainty is a fundamental human need. The answers given by religions to unsettling experiences cover a broad cultural spectrum. The issue is (1) to foresee fate as much as possible, (2) to integrate it into a cosmology, and (3) thus to master it. In general terms, we can identify four ways of containing the unforeseeable. 1. Being at the mercy of natural events. When they are powerless, people feel at the mercy of a powerful, threatening fate. Archaic forms of religion and shamanistic experiences (Shamanism) document how t…

Theodicy

(8,171 words)

Author(s): Weßler, Heinz Werner | Barton, John | Klaiber, Walter | Sarot, Marcel | Sparn, Walter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies In archaic cultures, the wellbeing of the community is determined by a fatal power that can be influenced by religious rituals but is ultimately incalculable. In the context of advanced early urban cultures, however, there emerged religious worldviews in which universal concepts of order played a central role. In this historical context, a “functioning world order” (Klimkeit) became the structural principle for models explaining the world. The connection between …

Sacred and Profane

(5,561 words)

Author(s): Paden, William E. | Milgrom, Jacob | Taeger, Jens-Wilhelm | Vroom, Henk M. | Hunsinger, George | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies While the sacred/profane duality has a long history, going back to the Romans, it was the emergence of an intercultural, anthropological perspective in the late 19th century that made it a significant descriptive category in comparative religious studies. In that context, the sacred/profane concept served to describe certain types of experience and behavior common to all human cultures. The anthropological interest in the sacred focused initially on early notions like taboo and mana, Oceanian terms that mean “forbidden”…

Love

(8,725 words)

Author(s): Prohl, Inken | Morgen, Michèle | Stock, Konrad | Steinmann, Michael | Herms, Eilert | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Bible – III. Dogmatics – IV. Philosophy – V. Philosophy of Religion – VI. Ethics – VII. Practical Theology – VIII. Judaism I. History of Religion The concept of love describes a relationship of affection, tenderness, or devotion between human beings and between humans and God (Love of/for God) or the gods. The Old Testament speaks of the love of God for humanity; in Judaism, the commandment of obedience to God is followed by the commandment to love God (Deut 6:5) and one's fe…

Suffering

(8,720 words)

Author(s): Mohn, Jürgen | Mürmel, Heinz | Halm, Heinz | Fabry, Heinz-Josef | Avemarie, Friedrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. General Suffering is a concept that needs to be approached constructively in comparative religious study as it takes fundamental negative human experiences to a comparative level. On this interpretive level, suffering is understood as one of the fundamental experiences of human life. What people experience as suffering depends on their particular interpretation of the world and hence on their religious system for interpreting the world. The point at which religi…

Sin, Guilt, and Forgiveness

(17,599 words)

Author(s): Krötke, Wolf | Hock, Klaus | Grund, Alexandra | Metzner, Rainer | Holze, Heinrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology Sin is a human breach of relationship with God. The term is emptied of content if it is used only for moral lapses. Only if a moral transgression in the mundane world is understood as a dimension of human alienation from God can it properly be called sin. The fundamental act of sin is unfaith (Unbelief ). In unfaith we close our eyes to the fact that we owe our existence to God and that he turns to us in love. We resist the idea that he determines our lives totally. T…

Peace

(3,762 words)

Author(s): Schmidt-Leukel, Perry | Otto, Eckart | Wengst, Klaus | Strohm, Christoph | Link, Christian | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Peace (negatively: absence of fighting and war; positively: security, wellbeing, and harmony) is considered desirable in all traditional religions, although they also have their specific legitimations of war. In archaic religions, peace is primarily related to the community and understood as a present reality. However, from the beginning of the Christian era, religious developments produced stronger differentiations. Peace is no longer seen as a social phenomenon…

Baptism

(22,186 words)

Author(s): Alles, Gregory D. | Avemarie, Friedrich | Wallraff, Martin | Grethlein, Christian | Koch, Günter | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. New Testament – III. Church History – IV. Dogmatics – V. Practical Theology – VI. History of Liturgy – VII. Law – VIII. Missions – IX. Art I. History of Religion From the standpoint of the history of religion, baptism is not a general type of rite (Rite and ritual) but a lustration ritual that is carried out not only in Christianity but also in historically related religions such as …