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Church Authority

(1,329 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
The sources pertaining to the early church concur that all church authority comes from God (Ring, 1975, 64). Jesus (Christ, Jesus, 01: Survey) himself already gave the church all essential rules of discipline during his lifetime. The authoritative mediators and interpreters of these rules are the twelve apostles (Apostle/Disciple), insofar as they genuinely witnessed the proclamation of Jesus with their own eyes and ears. God himself caused many of these rules to be written down in the Ne…
Date: 2024-01-19

Church Organization

(1,247 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
From the very beginning, the organization of the ancient church found itself in a process of increasing complexity that remains without parallel in the history of ancient religions.Development of the Local Congregation in the First Three Centuries CEThe process began with a variety of different congregational models. While the Corinthian congregation of Paul’s (Paul [Apostle])  lifetime only exhibited a low degree of organization and probably got by without a formal congregational leadership, officials vested with leadership f…
Date: 2024-01-19


(1,225 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
A precursor of the inner ecclesial court and thus also of the legal complaint that is brought forward at this court is found in 1 Cor 6:1–11. Paul states explicitly that Christians should under no circumstances bring their fellow Christians before secular courts. He criticizes that such legal disputes occur at all among Christians and advises the Corinthians to seek the arbitration of a wise man in order to settle these brotherly quarrels within the congregation. Such a ban on instituting legal proceedings before external judges is also attested in Jewish communities (Jos. Ant. 14.235; …
Date: 2024-01-19

Church Membership

(1,354 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
Soon after the Easter events, baptism became the act through which believers were incorporated into the church (Gaudemet, 1989, 55–69; Ferguson, 2009, 132–198), a relationship that was exclusive. According to early Christian understanding, it precludes all other paths to salvation in the sense of a religious pluralism. Accordingly, excommunication signifies the forsaking of salvation in this world and the next, at least as long as it is not rescinded. Membership in the church always has two dime…
Date: 2020-04-14

Canon Law/Church Law

(11,049 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg | Kalb, Herbert | Puza, Richard | Pirson, Dietrich | Engelhardt, Hanns | Et al.
[German Version] I. History – II. The Present – III. Orthodox Church – IV. The Study of Canon Law and Church Law – V. Practical Theology – VI. Oriental Orthodox Canon Law I. History 1. Early Church. The church has had laws ever since Christians recognized the need for a generally recognized authority to regulate the uncertainties, problems, and controversies involving church discipline brought about by the rapid expansion of Christianity. After the death of the initial authority figures (e.g. the fou…

Apollonius the Antimontanist,

(105 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
[German Version] an early Anti-montanist from Asia Minor, composed c. 200 (?) a lost polemic against Montanism. It is said to have refuted the prophecies of the Montanists (Eusebius Hist. eccl. V 18.1); ibid. 2–11 preserves 6 fragments criticizing the teaching of Montanus and the lifestyle of well-known Montanists, especially their greed, extravagance, and arrogance. According to Jerome Vir. ill. 40, Tertullian dedicated the 7th book of his lost De ecstasi to refuting Apollonius. Georg Schöllgen Bibliography CPG 1, 1328 A. v. Harnack, Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur I/1,…


(116 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
[German Version] “Alogi” is the name given by Epiphanius to certain heretics who rejected John and Revelation on the grounds that they were written by the Gnostic Cerinthus. The word is probably a collective term for groups from Asia Minor (origin?) and Rome (Gaius) – not necessarily considered heretical by their contemporaries (c. 200) – whose rejection of the Johannine literature was probably also motivated by anti-Montanist motives (against reliance on the promise of the Paraclete, John 14:16; Montanism). Georg Schöllgen Bibliography A. Bludau, Die ersten Gegner der …

Community of Goods

(1,409 words)

Author(s): Marguerat, Daniel | Schöllgen, Georg | Honecker, Martin
[German Version] I. New Testament – II. History – III. Ethics I. New Testament The summary descriptions in Acts paint a picture of the first Christian community in Jerusalem in which the ¶ unanimity of the believers finds expression in the community of goods (2:44f.; 4:32–35). This community is depicted as free, not forced (5:4), and not egalitarian: The goods offered to the community were divided according to the needs of each individual (2:45; 4:35). The community of goods is only an element of the koinōnía of worship, prayer and Eucharist that charact…


(5,831 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg | Hauschild, Wolf-Dieter | Rees, Wilhelm | Plank, Peter | de Wall, Heinrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. New Testament – II. Church History – III. Dogmatics and Canon Law – IV. Missiology I. New Testament The NT contains no evidence of the episcopate in the traditional Catholic sense (a single bishop at the apex of a hierarchical clerical ministry functioning as head of a Christian community), but it does use the word ἐπίσκοπος ( epískopos; the etymological source of bishop) for functionaries and officials exercising oversight in the community (Acts 20:28; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:1–7; Tit 1:7–9). For the primitive church, it is therefore better ¶ to speak of episkopoi rathe…

Virgins of Christ

(193 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
[German Version] By the early 2nd century at the latest, the church included women who chose to live as virgins; they enjoyed great respect. In the late 2nd century, there developed an order of virgins, which attracted many women. Originally they bound themselves by private pledges, later by public consecration and vows, the breaking of which incurred severe ecclesiastical and civil penalties. These virgins lived primarily with their families, but after the 4th century also in domestic communities…

Sprengel (Parish/Diocese)

(147 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
[German Version] The German Sprengel, originally an implement for sprinkling (holy) water, denotes the area of a priest’s responsibility (and in Austria, also a secular administrative area). Historically, it first denoted the area of a bishop’s responsibility (bishopric). As a synonym of parish, in pre-Carolingian times it could also already stand for the area of a priest’s responsibility. Beginning with the Reformation reor-¶ dering of church law structures (cf. the 1533 Wittenberg church order), Sprengel comes to refer generally to a specific area (under the persona…

Callistus I

(308 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
[German Version] (217–222), bishop of Rome. His life and teachings are known almost exclusively from the portrayal by his competitor and opponent Hippolytus ( Haer. 9.11f.; 10.27), who depicts him as a social climber and careerist. Born a slave, Callistus was entrusted with the banking affairs of his Christian master. A conflict with Roman Jews (debtors?) led to his condemnation as a Christian and to forced labor in the Sardinian mines. After a pardon, manumission, and a decade-long sojourn in …

Diognetus, Letter to

(325 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
[German Version] The Letter to Diognetus (titled simply “To Diognetus” in the authoritative manuscript) is not a letter at all but an anonymous apologetic and protreptic tract. After an introduction listing the topics of discussion (ch. 1), a refutation of the gods of the Greeks (ch. 2), and derision of the Jewish cult and ritual law (chs. 3f.), which follow the traditional schemes …


(919 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg | Schneider, Johann
[German Version] I. Early Church – II. Orthodox Canon Law I. Early Church The metropolitanate is an outgrowth of the emergence of synods, which in the late 2nd century slowly began to develop into the most important regional ecclesiastical authorities (see also Church polity: I, 3.a). As soon as synods began to assemble regularly on a provincial level (Ecclesiastical province), the bishop of the provincial capital acquired new authority, which increasingly became legally codified. At the beginning of the 4…


(4,255 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Quack, Joachim (Berlin) | Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin) | Gordon, Richard L. (Ilmmünster) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia From the 3rd millennium to the end of Mesopotamian civilization, the staff of Mesopotamian temples consisted of the cult personnel in the narrower sense - i.e. the priests and priestesses who looked after the official cult in the temples, the cult musicians and singers - and the service staff (male and female courtyard cleaners, cooks, etc.). In addition, there was the hierarchically structured administrative and financial staff of the temple households, which constit…


(3,742 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Quack, Joachim (Berlin) | Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin) | Gordon, Richard L. (Ilmmünster) | Et al.
[English version] I. Mesopotamien Das Personal mesopot. Tempel setzte sich seit dem 3. Jt. bis ans Ende der mesopot. Zivilisation aus dem Kultpersonal im engeren Sinn - d. h. den P. und P.innen, die den offiziellen Kult in den Tempeln besorgten, den Kultmusikanten und Sängern - sowie dem Dienstpersonal (Hofreinigern und Hofreinigerinnen, Köchen usw.) zusammen. Hinzu kam das hierarchisch gegliederte Verwaltungs- und Wirtschaftspersonal der Tempel-Haushalte, die in Babylonien große Wirtschaftseinheite…


(167 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
[English Version] . P. bzw. Pfarrei geht auf den griech. Terminus παροικι´α/paroiki´a (»Beisassenschaft«) zurück, der im Urchristentum die Fremdheit der Christen in der Gesellschaft bez. Ausgehend von diesem grundlegenden Lebensgefühl wurden die Einzelgemeinden seit dem 2.Jh. παροικι´αι/paroiki´ai genannt. Bis in die Spätantike bleibt paroiki´a terminus technicus für die Bischofsgemeinde. Erst nach der Entstehung seelsorgerischer Subzentren in den großen Städten und auf dem Lande, die zum Hauptbezugspunkt des rel. Lebens der Gläub…

Virgines sacratae

(186 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
[English Version] . Spätestens seit dem frühen 2.Jh. gab es in der Kirche bewußt jungfräulich lebende Frauen, die hohes Ansehen genossen. Seit dem Ende des 2.Jh. bildete sich daraus der Jungfrauenstand, der viele Frauen anzog, die sich urspr. durch private Versprechen, später durch öfftl. Weihe und Gelübde banden, deren Bruch harte kirchl. und staatl. Strafen nach sich zog. Diese V. lebten überwiegend in ihren Familien, seit dem 4.Jh. auch in Haus- bzw. Klostergemeinschaften. Grundlegend war die E…