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(449 words)

Author(s): Albrecht, Ruth
In the Orthodox Church, Hesychasm (from Gk. hēsychia, “quietness, stillness”) is the tradition of quiet, inner, prayerful contemplation of God. The early monks (Monasticism) of the 3d and 4th centuries sought this stillness in their ascetic program by outward flight from the world and the combating of inner unrest (Anchorites). Simeon the New Theologian (949–1022), who described his encounters with God as visions of light, must be regarded as the pioneer of Hesychasm. Tractates of the 12th to the 14th centuries (esp. by Nicephorus of Athos and Gregory of Sinai) show that …


(181 words)

Author(s): Albrecht, Ruth
Anchorites (from Gk. anachōreō, “separate oneself, withdraw”) form the basic impulse of monasticism. From the end of the third century, male and female anchorites left the civilized world both outwardly and inwardly to meet with God in the isolation of the desert. Athanasius (ca. 297–373) describes the life of an anchorite in his Vita Antonii, and the Vita of Syncletica tells us about a female anchorite. The Apophthegmata patrum gives us an insight into the world of the anchorites, who lived either alone or in small groups. Cenobitic monasticism ultimately be…

Basilian Monks

(180 words)

Author(s): Albrecht, Ruth
The rules of Basil the Great (ca. 330–79; Cappadocian Fathers) were meant as spiritual reading for individual monks, not as the rule of an order. Eastern monks live according to this tradition, but they properly should not be called Basilians, as is commonly done. Basilian monasteries and congregations arose only under Western influence in the Eastern churches in union with Rome. In Italy (even today in the abbey Grottaferrata) and Spain, Greek monks have been called Basilians from the 12th century. …


(575 words)

Author(s): Albrecht, Ruth
The Christian church has always had its martyrs, but the model comes from the early church. In the middle of the second century the Martyrdom of Polycarp provided the first example and the terminology. ¶ The martyr is a disciple and imitator of Christ (Discipleship 2) who, in a situation of persecution, holds fast the confession of Christ and thus comes under sentence of death. Death seals faith in Christ as the witness (Gk. root martyr-) of blood, that is, martyrdom. Only those who give up their lives can be called martyrs. Those who survive persecution and torture w…

Martyrs, Acts of the

(300 words)

Author(s): Albrecht, Ruth
Persecutions in the early church resulted in a specific literary genre, the acts of the martyrs. We find two types. The first consists of a record of the trials of martyrs, for example, that of Justin Martyr in Rome about 165 (Martyrium Sancti Iustini et Sociorum), or that of the 12 martyrs of Scillium (near Carthage?), North Africa, in 180 (H. Musurillo, 86–89), or that of Cyprian of Carthage in 258 ( Acta Proconsularia, Musurillo, 168–75). The second type consists of a report of events before and during the imprisonment and then of the execution of the death sentence. Examples are the Martyrdo…


(1,109 words)

Author(s): Albrecht, Ruth | Schwanda, Tom
1. Background Like the Waldenses, the Hussites were a medieval movement summoning the church back to its original Christian form. The condemnation and burning of Jan Hus (ca. 1372–1415) at the Council of Constance (Reform Councils) on July 6, 1415, provoked a national protest in Bohemia that led to the adoption of reforming ideas and the rise of the Hussites. In 1414 Jacob of Mies, with the approval of Hus, had given the cup to the laity in Prague (Eucharist), a departure from custom that became a symbol of the Hussites. The moderate Hussites of Prague thus came to be known as Utraquists (from La…