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Noah

(446 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann
Noah is a widely attested legendary figure from primeval history (Genesis 1–11) of unknown, pre-Israelite origin. The Priestly Adamite genealogy in Genesis 5 introduces him in tenth position as the son of Lamech (Pentateuch). A non- or pre-Priestly redactor in Gen. 5:29 interprets his name as meaning “one who brings relief” (from nḥm Pi., “comfort”), though a connection with the verb nwḥ, “rest,” seems more likely. The original etymology is probably irretrievable. Noah’s most important role is found in the flood narrative (Genesis 6–8). There he is the “righteous ¶ man” (6:9, also 7:…

Josiah

(401 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann
Josiah, king of Judah (639/638–609 b.c.), was the last significant ruler on the throne of David. The sources tell us more about what he stood for than about himself. During his reign a book of the law (probably identical with the core of Deuteronomy) was found in the temple at Jerusalem, which Josiah pledged himself and his people to keep. Cultic reform meant exclusive worship of Yahweh (Deut. 6:4–25; Monolatry) and centralization of worship (chap. 12) in Jerusalem. (Authentic material strongly shaped by Deuteronomistic redaction appears in 2 Kings 22–23; a wholly tendentious parall…

Semites

(515 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann
In 1781 A. L. Schlözer (1735–1809) used the term “Semitic” for the first time for the supposed original language of the Syrians, Babylonians, Hebrews, and Arabs, and J. G. Eichhorn (1752–1827) then popularized it for languages related to Hebrew (Hebrew Language). The term “Semites” goes back to Shem, the son of Noah. According to the table in Genesis 10, Shem and his brothers, Ham and Japheth, were the ancestors of all nations after the flood (v. 32). Though interpretation of the table is complex, ethnic considerations obviously played no great part in it. The dominant …

Arameans

(742 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann
The Arameans (Heb. and Aram. ’ ărām, ’ ărammî, ’ rm; Akkad. aramu, arimu, etc.) left an important legacy in the Near East until well into the Christian era, namely, the Aramaic language, which belongs to the West Semitic group and is closely related to Hebrew. The OT contains several passages in Aramaic (Gen. 31:47; Ezra 4:8–6:18; 7:12–26; Jer. 10:11; Dan. 2:4b–7:28); the Hebrew text itself also contains various Aramaisms. Widespread from around the eighth century b.c., Aramaic became an official language in the Persian Empire and, with its many d…

Hammurabi, Code of

(311 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann
The Code of Hammurabi is one of the oldest and best-known cuneiform law codes in Akkadian. It appears on a stele over 2 m. (6 ft.) high (now in the Louvre; there are many copies). It was promulgated by Hammurabi, king of the first dynasty of Babylon (1792–1750 b.c.), in an attempt at legal reform. In 282 casuistically formulated legal rulings, selected cases from various branches of law (trial, property, family, and inheritance) are dealt with, along with judgments concerning bodily injuries, various occupations, the hiring of cattle and servants, and the holding of slaves. Worth noting…

Hebrews

(492 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann
The term “Hebrews”—in Hebrew ʿibrı̂ (pl. ʿibrı̂m), in Ugaritic ʿpr (pl. ʿprm), in Egyptian ʿpr (pl. ʿpr.w), in Akkadian ḫab/piru (pl. ḫab/pirū, ideogram lúSA.GAZ, with the broader reading ḫabbātu = robbers), in Greek Hebraios—common in the ancient Near East from the late third millennium b.c., designated people who had lost their position in society through war, debt, criminal acts, and so forth, who were organized in loose bands, and who offered their labor to foreign masters in return for recompense. Not by accident …

Anointing

(1,001 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann | Karrer, Martin
1. OT In the Near East, anointing is almost as essential as eating and drinking, with the three often occurring together in cuneiform texts. We also find anointing in many cultic and legal records. In the OT the main Hebrew word for “anointing” is māšaḥ, with šemen used most often for “oil.” Although anointing appears in OT texts of various provenance (e.g., Gen. 28:18; Exodus 40), its primary emphasis is in connection with the appointing of the king (e.g., 2 Sam. 2:4; 5:3). In David’s dynasty anointing quickly established itself as a separate action (1 Kgs. 1:39; 2 Kgs. 11:12; 23:30), a…

Kingdom of God

(5,852 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann | Pratscher, Wilhelm | Steinacker, Peter
1. OT The OT contains only a few late references to the kingdom of God. The terms used—Heb. mĕlûkâ, malkût, mamlākâ; Aram. malkû, šolṭān, all meaning “kingdom,” “kingly rule,” or “empire”—show that what is meant is God’s royal rule or dominion. None of these well-attested terms, however, is primarily theological. For the most part, they refer to earthly kingdoms and empires, whether Israelite, Babylonian, or Persian. There is certainly unanimity that ¶ God gives and takes away earthly dominion (see 2 Sam. 16:8; 1 Chr. 10:14, etc.), but this conviction did not at firs…

Word of God

(5,104 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann | Wolter, Michael | Malcolm, Lois
1. OT 1.1. As Israel began to develop a Word-of-God theology, it had at its disposal important predecessors, especially in Mesopotamia rather than Egypt. Praising the word of the gods was common in Mesopotamia, and it was thought that the divine will was communicated by prophets (§1.2). Yet Egypt proved to be a fruitful starting point for reflections on creation by the Word, which occurred in various cosmogonic systems. The divine Word found personification ¶ in various deities. In literature dealing with death we find divine words, magical words, and oracular words, w…

Redemption/Soteriology

(10,262 words)

Author(s): Gunton, Colin | Filoramo, Giovanni | Spieckermann, Hermann | Popkes, Wiard | Hübner, Michael | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology All the major concepts in soteriology have biblical roots. Of central importance today is the notion of reconciliation (II), which bridges the theological and secular realms. The original Greek word καταλλαγή/ katallagḗ involves the notion of exchange, which was early taken to imply that Christ takes the place of the sinner before God, so realizing atonement (at-one-ment) and making expiation. Associated ideas include substitution and representation, which conceive Christ as standing in for the sinner before God. Particular theolo…

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…