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Corinthians, Epistles to the

(2,371 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
1. Significance The Corinthian epistles of the apostle Paul are a collection of letters from the middle of the first century a.d. This collection contains important documents that throw light on a decisive period of the history of the primitive Christian community. The letters show that different Christian groups stood in opposition to each other and that firm theological and ethical positions had not been defined regarding the social, cultural, and religious situation in the cosmopolitan city of Corinth. In additi…

Braun, Herbert

(194 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] (May 4, 1903, Warlubien, West Prussia – Aug 27, 1991, Mainz) studied from 1922 to 1926 in Königsberg, Tübingen, and Rostock. He received the Lic. Theol. from Halle in 1929. He was a pastor in the Confessing Church. He became Professor of NT in the Kirchliche Hochschule in Berlin. From 1952 to 1971 he was professor of NT in Mainz. He gave various guest lectures in the USA. The focal point of Braun's exegetical work lay in the interpretation of NT texts in the context of the Hellenistic and ¶ Jewish environment (esp. Qumran and …

Antiquity and Christianity

(2,243 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. New Testament – III. Early Church– IV. Byzantine Empire – V. Renaissance, Humanism, Reformation – VI. Enlightenment and Rationalism – VII. Neohumanism – VIII. 20th Century I. Terminology Since F.J. Dölger, “Antiquity and Christianity” (hereafter: A&C) has gained general acceptance in scholarly circles as a heuristic concept. It stands in close relation to the set of problems associated with Hellenism and …

Mithraic Religion

(1,241 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] I. Name and Locations – II. Myth and Cult – III. Mithraic Religion and Christianity I. Name and Locations The term Mithraic religion encompasses various form of worship of the god Mithra in antiquity. His name in Old Iranian and Vedic was Mitra (Gk and Lat. Mithras); its earliest appearance is in the text of a 14th- century bce treaty found at Boghazköy (Ḫattuša), where it means “contract, treaty.” The evidence of inscriptions and literary texts indicates that he was in the pantheon of Indo-Iranian polytheism; his function as a god of…

Expeditus, Saint

(475 words)

Author(s): Bischof, Franz Xaver | Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] I. General – II. Significance in the Voodoo Cult – III. Iconography I. General Saint Expeditus was a martyr whose existence and name are questionable. The Martyrologium Hieronymianum mentions him under the date Apr 19 as belonging to a group of Armenian martyrs about whom nothing further is known. His veneration can only be demonstrated from the 18th century on, in the 19th century primarily in Italy and France, sometimes in forms against which the Holy See intervened. According to Delehaye, Expeditus is probably a misspelling of Elpidius. Franz Xaver Bischof Bibliog…

Wendland, Paul

(244 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] (Aug 17, 1864, Hohenstein, East Prussia [Olsztynek, Poland] – Sep 10, 1915, Göttingen), classical philologist and patristics scholar. The son of a pastor, he began his studies in Berlin in 1882, then studied in Bonn from 1883 to 1885 (H. Usener, Franz Bücheler) and received his doctorate from Berlin in 1886 under Hermann Diels. He taught in a Gymnasium from 1886 to 1902 before being appointed professor of classical philology at Kiel in 1902, moving to Breslau (Wrocław) in 1906 and…


(9,806 words)

Author(s): Wiggermann, Franciscus A.M. | Wiggermann, F.A.M. | Betz, Hans Dieter | Baudy, Dorothea | Joosten, Jan | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Antiquity – III. Bible – IV. Church History – V. Practical Theology – VI. Philosophy of Religion – VII. Judaism – VIII. Islam I. Religious Studies No definition of magic has as yet found general acceptance. Approaches that go back to the late 19th century (E.B. Tylor, J.G. Frazer) view magic as a primitive cognitive system, the lowest rung on an evolutionary ladder (Evolution) that progresses with religion and science (cf. also Myth/Mythology: I). Magic in this view is charact…

History of Religions School

(2,568 words)

Author(s): Hartenstein, Friedhelm | Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] I. Concept and History – II. Results of Research – III. Present Perspectives I. Concept and History The concept and term History-of-Religions School (HRS), whether coined by outsiders or insiders is unclear, refers to a group of German Protestant theologians who at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century exerted a continuing influence on theological scholarship. The HRS was not a theological “school” in the strict sense, but an interest group of young scholars that gathered in Göt…

Magical Papyri

(467 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] is the prevalent name given to a collection of Greco-Egyptian magical texts ( PGrM; Magic: II, 2) edited by Karl Preisendanz at the suggestion of Albrecht Dieterich (vol. I, 1928; vol. II, 1931; vol. III, destroyed in 1943 as a result of the war). Steadily augmented by new finds, these inscriptions, symbols, and drawings on metal foil, ostraca, and intaglios as well as on papyrus, developed into a ramified specialist field of the history of ancient religion. Currently, the phenomena described as magic are undergoing a fundamentally new assessment. The PGrM represent a …

Lucian of Samosata

(372 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] (c. 120 ce, Samosata on the Euphrates – after 180, Egypt [?]) was a prominent author of the Second Sophistic School. Not a Greek by birth, he acquired an extensive knowledge of the Greek language and of Greek rhetoric, literature, and art through his studies and travels. Journeys as a rhetorician and longer sojourns in Ionia, Greece, Italy, Gaul, and Egypt allowed him to gather a wide variety of impressions relating to social life. He drew the topics and genres of his rich literary …

Inner Person

(1,567 words)

Author(s): Markschies, Christoph | Burkert, Walter | Betz, Hans Dieter | Heesch, Matthias
[German Version] I. Concept – II. Antiquity – III. New Testament – IV. Early Church – V. Systematic Theology I. Concept The notion of a “real person” residing within the outer human being is widely attested in ancient literature and became part of a comprehensive system of metaphors by the time of Hellenism at the latest. However, this notion is conveyed through very different terms, corresponding also to conceptions of rather differing nature. The single English concept “inner person,” which cannot adequately …


(196 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] (Gk ᾽Ασκληπιός/ Asklēpiós). The religio-philosophical text called Asclepius is ascribed to the Platonist Apuleius but displays affinities with Hermeticism. It is a Latin translation and revision of a Greek original from Egypt, first cited in the 4th century by Lactantius under the title λόγος τέλειος ( lógos téleios, sermo perfectus). The concluding prayer of the Greek original of Asclepius 41 is cited in Papyrus Mimaut (PGM III, 591–609); Coptic fragments are preserved among the Nag Hammadi (Asclepius 41 in Pr. Thanks., NHC VI,7; Asclepius 21–29 in Asclepius, NHC …

Rite and Ritual

(6,139 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Stausberg, Michael | Schwemer, Daniel | Gertz, Jan Christian | Hollender, Elisabeth | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. The terms The terms rite and ritual are often used synonymously, both in daily speech and in the specialized language of religious studies, leading to a lack of clarity. “Rite” is etymologically related to Sanskrit ṛta, “right, order, truth, custom,” and may thus be regarded as the “smallest” building block of a ritual, which can be defined as a complex series of actions in a (logical) functional relationship. Within a three-level sequence, cult (Cult/Worship : I, 2) must also be taken into cons…

Fuchs, Ernst

(220 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] (Jun 11, 1903, Heilbronn – Mar 15, 1983, Langenau near Ulm) studied Protestant theology in Tübingen, Marburg and Bonn, and was Privatdozent in Bonn from 1932. After the revocation of his venia legendi, he officiated as pastor of the Confessing Church in Württemberg from 1933 to 1949. He was again lecturer, then adjunct professor of the New Testament in Tübingen from 1949 to 1955. In 1955, he became professor at the Kirchliche Hochschule in Berlin, followed by an appointment in Marburg from 1961 to 1970. Involved…

Mystery Religions

(3,778 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Richard L. | Betz, Hans Dieter | Felmy, Karl Christian | Brüske, Gunda | Stolz, Michael | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. The Christian Cult and the Mysteries – III. Art History I. Religious Studies Modern discussion of the Greek mysteries goes back to the material collected by the Dutch scholar Jan de Meurs (1619), which served as the main source for I. Casaubon's argument that the Early Church borrowed but changed some terminology and institutions from the mysteries ( Exercitationes, 1655). The belief that there was a specific religious phenomenon, “the mystery cults of antiquity,” that could be compared directly with the practice…

Transmigration of Souls

(1,282 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter | Dehn, Ulrich | Dan, Joseph | Schmidtke, Sabine
[German Version] I. Religious Studies 1. Terminology. Theories of transmigration, which go back to the pre-Socratics of the 6th and 5th centuries bce (Empedocles, Pythagoras, Orphism), presuppose a dualism of body and soul. They hold that a human birth is not a totally new creation but the reincarnation of a pre-existent soul. Repeated incarnations extend not only to human beings of all classes and stations but also to flora and fauna; their purpose is the eschatological purification of the soul from ritual and ethic…

Goodspeed, Edgar Johnson

(230 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] (Oct 23, 18731, Quincy, IL – Jan 13, 1961, Los Angeles, CA). Goodspeed was professor of NT at the University of Chicago from 1898 to 1937. He studied Semitic and Greek philology, textual criticism, and paleography at Chicago with William Rainey Harper, E.D. Burton, and Caspar René Gregory. Before taking up his teaching duties, he spent two years (1898–1900) studying in Europe and the Middle East, attending the lectures of A. von Harnack, Fritz Krebs, and Wilhelm Schubart in Berlin…

Colwell, Ernest Cadman

(140 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] (Jan 19, 1901, Hallstead, PA – Sep 24, 1974, Deland, FL), New Testament scholar and university administrator; professor at the University of Chicago 1930–1951 (president 1945–1951), dean of faculties at Emory University, Atlanta, GA 1951–1957, president at the School of Theology at Claremont, CA, 1957–1968. Colwell collaborated with Harold R. Willoughby (1890–1962) on the critical edition of NT manuscripts ( The Four Gospels of Karahissar, 1936; The Elizabeth Day McCormick Apocalypse, 1940). Colwell became known for his contributions to textu…


(2,576 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter | Frey, Jörg | Marquardt, Manfred | Thiede, Werner | Pierard, Richard
[German Version] I. Religious History 1. Since the dawn of time, human birth has been associated with many religious ideas, rituals, and customs, including the idea of rebirth or regeneration. As a rite of passage (Rites of passage), birth is not merely a natural process; it can repeat a previous birth, view death as a passage to new life, or distinguish within a lifetime between a corporeal and a spiritual birth, separated by a ritual death. The Greek terminology is not uniform, using ἀναγεννᾶν/ anagennán, ἀναβιοῦν/ anabioún, μεταγεννᾶν/ metagennán, πάλιν γίνεσϑαι/ pálingínesthai, an…

Virtues and Vices, Catalogues of

(1,008 words)

Author(s): Betz, Hans Dieter
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The formation of catalogues of virtues and vices in the Hellenistic period (Hellenism) during the conceptualization of moral philosophy appears primarily in the sources of Peripatetic and Stoic theories of the good (for texts see SVF III, no. 377–490; Vögtle, Kamlah, Fitzgerald). The lists may be in loose, traditional order or arranged systematically. They contain basic knowledge intended for parenesis motivated by nature, society, and reason. Their widespread distribution attests to the cultural …
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