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Concluding chapter 8. Churches and religious culture

(5,453 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter
1. “Christianity” and “churches”This subject area is not called simply “Christianity” but has the more complex title “Churches and Religious Culture.” Clearly it was intended to present the early modern history of Christianity, one of the great transformations of the early modern period. For centuries, Christianity affected all areas of life; it inspired soaring hopes and terrifying fears, and – with its changes and innovations – it contributed in a major way to the fact that Europe in 1850 seems like a different world from what it was in the period around 1450. The transformation was a process of institutional diversification, religious differentiation, and cultural reformulation of Christianity. But the religious history of the early modern period is far from being just the history of Christianity, and even that history is by no means a unitary quantity that might be described with reference to a common thread. Its multiple factors were rarely in linear correlation but stood instead in complex interdependencies – not only amongst themselves but also with reference to many other aspects of a society (Society [community]) that was undergoing radical changes in many areas, including politics, …
Date: 2023-11-14

Weltanschauung

(1,631 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter
1. TerminologyThe word   Weltanschauung was coined by Immanuel Kant in 1790; its use today is problematic and often unclear. It is a peculiarly German expression, used as a loan-word in several European languages [15]; it has also been translated (English  world viewworld vision; French vision  or  conception du monde), but then it no longer differs from  Weltbild (World view), and in fact the English expression is usually retranslated into German as  Weltbild. On the other hand, since the second half of the 19th century, the German word has become hugely pop…
Date: 2023-11-14

Progress

(2,200 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter | Walther, Gerrit
1. The termThe English noun  progress (in the sense of advancement or improvement; from Latin progressus via Old …
Date: 2021-03-15

Infinity

(3,304 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter | Scholz, Erhard
1. Metaphysics 1.1. Concept and prior historyThe term “infinity” (French infinité; German  Unendlichkeit) is often used figuratively (metaphorically) to denote very large or unknown values (“infinite depths of the ocean”), so that its literal use has faded into the background. “The infinite” (Latin  infinitum, Greek  ápeiron, “the boundless”, “the indeterminate”) in the strict sense…
Date: 2019-10-14

Church interior

(2,275 words)

Author(s): Strohmaier-Wiederanders, Gerlinde | Sparn, Walter
1. DefinitionLike the sacral building itself (Church architecture), the church interiors in early modern Europe were all clearly recognizable as Christian. The most important features were the altar (or a table replacing it; see Altar design), font, and pulpit or lectern; from the l…
Date: 2019-10-14

Sacrament

(6,920 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter | Walter, Peter | Nüssel, Friederike | Wasmuth, Jennifer
1. Introduction 1.1. General considerationsIn the early modern period, sacraments were part of the religious practice of all Christian churches, albeit with varying emphases and interpretations. Nevertheless, all believed that the celebration and administration of the sacraments, like the proclamation of the word of God, was central to the Christian church, and that sacraments, though performed by human beings, provided a place where the promise of Jesus Christ to be present with his fl…
Date: 2021-08-02

Church architecture

(5,877 words)

Author(s): Fürst, Ulrich | Strohmaier-Wiederanders, Gerlinde | Sparn, Walter | Faensen, Hubert
1. Introduction Theological and pastoral concepts continued to define early modern Church architecture that had shaped Christian sacral architecture since …
Date: 2019-10-14

Jesus Christ

(4,907 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter
1. General observations “Jesus Christ” is not originally a name but the declaration that Jesus of Nazareth is the  christós
Date: 2019-10-14

Palingenesis

(1,448 words)

Author(s): Thiede, Werner | Sparn, Walter
1. ConceptPalingenesis (Greek palingenesía, Latin  renascentia, German  Wiedergeburt, literally “rebirth”) in the early modern period was mostly the Christian metaphor for the (singular) process of a spiritual birth of a person comparable to their physical birth, that is, second birth, a prerequisite for eternal life. The origins of the concept in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus (Jo 3) were remembered, and like the Pauline formula of “new creation,” it was from the outset associated with the act of …
Date: 2020-10-06

Church year

(3,111 words)

Author(s): Grethlein, Christian | Sparn, Walter | Petzolt, Martin | Bärsch, Jürgen
1. Introduction The term “church year,” probably first attested (as German Kirchenjahr) in the postil of the Lutheran pastor Johannes Pomarius (Magdeburg 1585) (see below, 4.1.), denotes the annual cycle of Christian festival and holiday. In the rhythm of the week and year, the church cel…
Date: 2019-10-14

Predestination

(2,010 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter
1. Definition, motives, problemsPredestination, God’s “preordination” of individuals to eternal salvation, was a central concept for early modern theology but also for metaphysics, though it was subject to radical criticism with the coming of the Enlightenment. It was introduced by Augustine (
Date: 2021-03-15

Metaphysics

(3,425 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter | Schmidt-Biggemann, Wilhelm
1. DefinitionMetaphysics (Middle Latin  metaphysica, from Greek  ta metá physiká, “the [works traditionally arranged] after the Physics [in the Aristotelian canon]”) has since Greco-Roman antiquity been the traditional name for a theoretical discipline that deals not with individual objects as such, but with everything that is and can (therefore) be thought about: the
Date: 2019-10-14

Christology

(3,146 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter
1. SignificanceThe theological term  Christology, coined in the 17th century, denotes normative reflection (Dogma) on the person and work of Jesus Christ and his enduring religious significance. This intellectual image of Christ in Christology is one among many, for devotion to Christ always found expression in symbolic, literary, visual, musical, and theatrical forms as well. Despite reciprocal influences, however, these images of Christ (Jesus Christ; Iconography) by no means always conformed to the church’s Christology. Both in its intellectual and aesthetic forms, however, over the course of the early modern period the figure central to Christian praxis and cultural remembrance experienced fundamental changes and discontinuities. This is reflected particularly in the profound transformation of the relationship of the early modern period to its Christian roots. The Reformation especially but also the Counter-Reformation further deepened their religious focus on Jesus Christ, but the secularizing early modern period (Secularization) distanced itself further and further from the notion of Jesus Christ as a God-man and his exclusive sign…
Date: 2019-10-14

Mysticism

(3,883 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter | Leppin, Volker | Bryner, Erich | Grözinger, Karl Erich
1. IntroductionThe noun mysticism, a general term dating from the 17th century, eluded all attempts of students of religion and the psychology of religion to define it in the 19th and early 20th century [1]; [3]; [5]. More recent researchers therefore use it only as a heuristic term for highly diverse phenomena of an intense individual experience of bonding or union (Latin 
Date: 2020-04-06

Church and state

(4,982 words)

Author(s): Unterburger, Klaus | Sparn, Walter | Schneider, Bernd Christian | Synek, Eva
1. Introduction The reciprocal but never symmetrical relationship between Church andState in early modern Europe was the result of a historical development that in some respects remained indebted to the political ethics of the New Testament (Rom 13; Rv 13), while in other respects confronting profound changes in both ecclesiastical and secular political institutions, specifically the emergence of the early modern territorial and nation state. At first, the underlying assumption was that the Europe…
Date: 2019-10-14

Atheism

(2,127 words)

Author(s): Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm | Sparn, Walter
1. Terminology The word atheism (from Greek átheos, “without  God”, “godless”) denotes both a complex variety of interpretations of the world and life-designs shaped by conscious rejection of the existence of one or more gods, transcendent beings, or powers (positive atheism) and a conscious denial of the earthly influence of such gods or powers, while simultaneously recognizing the theoretical possibility of their existence (negative atheism). Terms such as “God,” “creator,” “absolute,” “supreme being…
Date: 2019-10-14

Two kingdoms doctrine

(2,564 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter
1. Definition The term Zwei-Regimente-Lehre (two governments doctrine), coined in the late 19th century, refers to the older belief, common to all Christian bodies, that God governs the world in two ways, partly with an eternal purpose, partly with a merely temporal purpose: the first by means of religion (the Christian church), the second by means of politics. It is easy to misunderstand the term, since what is involved is less a single theological “doctrine” than a larger complex in which theologi…
Date: 2022-11-07

Syncretism

(1,909 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter | Rüther, Kirsten
1. Historical surveyThe term syncretism (French  syncrétisme, German  Synkretismus) was first used in the early modern period by Erasmus of Rotterdam with reference to the classical Greek term  synkrētismós, which implied that the Cretans would bury their internal conflicts and unite in the face of external threats. Erasmus counseled syncretism in dealing with controversies, which he ascribed to un-Christian vindictiveness. He believed it was possible to join in a political alliance despite religious differences – as did …
Date: 2022-11-07

Sin

(4,833 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter
1. Terminology and contexts Since the early Midde Ages, sin (German Sünde, French  péché) has meant a culpable and punishable transgression of a divine commandment or an ecclesiastical law legitimated by a divine commandment by a responsible offender. Over and above the moral concept of “vice,” the religious or theological word  sin always denotes an injury to the human relationship with God. In this (narrower) sense, it translates such words a  hamartía in the Greek Bible and  peccatum in the Latin Bible. Related but not always clearly distinct is the term  evil (German Böses or …
Date: 2022-08-17

Truth

(4,345 words)

Author(s): Sparn, Walter | Mizrahi, Moti | Steinle, Friedrich | Großhans, Hans-Peter
1. BackgroundThe Indo-European word behind  Latin  veritas, French  vérité, German  Wahrheit (English “truth”) meant “respect,” “assent,” “fidelity”; Greek  alḗtheia (literally “unconcealment”) was also important for the history of the term. The pragmatic questions concerning whether an assertion or message is true and what criteria we should use to assess and recognize its truth have been answered implicitly or explicity in every culture. The question of what truth is arises whenever a culture reflects on its…
Date: 2022-11-07
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