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Incarnation

(4,457 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Williams, Rowan D. | Fahlbusch, Erwin
1. Religious Aspect 1.1. Term The term “incarnation,” which is now used in religious discussion as well as Christian theology, is not always plainly distinct from related terms like “manifestation” or “epiphany.” There is thus no uniform usage, and the employment of the word is much debated. It seems best to limit its use to the idea that a ¶ divine being has embodied itself in human form and in this form lived on earth. A distinction might be made between continuous incarnation in an institutions or dynasty and a discontinuous incarnation in single individuals. 1.2. Non-Christian Examples I…

Virgin Birth

(1,437 words)

Author(s): Williams, Rowan D.
1. Bible Virgin birth is the usual way of referring to what is more accurately called the virginal conception of Jesus. According to the accounts by Matthew (1:18–25) and Luke (1:26–38), the conception of Jesus was the direct creative act of the Holy Spirit without the cooperation of a male partner. The use of Isa. 7:14 LXX by Matthew brought an apologetic feature into the discussion. Only in the 19th century was it realized how ambivalent the Hebrew is. Whether the tradition was familiar to other NT writers is open to question. Rom. 1:3 insists on the descent of Jesus from David “accor…

Soteriology

(2,203 words)

Author(s): Williams, Rowan D.
1. Biblical Aspects 1.1. Place within Theology Soteriology is the systematic consideration of the Christian doctrine of salvation. It deals with the difference that Christ makes to human subjectivity and human history and, above all, to the relationship between human beings and God. In this connection, it raises fundamental questions about Christian anthropology, the person of Christ (Christology), and the nature and will of God. The working out of a soteriology also involves issues of ethics, politics, and spirituality. Sometimes in the history of Christian theology a con…

Inspiration

(1,994 words)

Author(s): Williams, Rowan D.
1. Jewish and Early Christian Understanding The belief that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures are “inspired” by God—that is, that their language and imagery are directly willed by God and committed to writing under his direction—is ancient and influential. Yet the notion of a text whose production is directed by God belongs more to the world of Hellenistic/Jewish culture than to the earlier strata of Israel’s traditions, in which Torah and prophecy are indeed the direct speech of God to his people, but are so primarily in the context of the Israelite community’s liturg…