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(1,363 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
1. The term “Benedictine” applies in a general sense to all monks who live communally according to the rule of Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480-ca. 547). More narrowly Benedictines are members of a Benedictine confederation set up in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII (1878–1903). To this group belong 21 autonomous congregations with some 9,000 male members and 18,500 female members under an abbot primate in Rome ( Catalogus monasteriorum OSB 17 [1990]). 2. Benedict composed the rule that would decisively shape Western monasticism originally for ¶ his own monastery at Monte Cassino (after 529). …

Cluny, Order of

(807 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
1. The Benedictine monastery of Cluny, northwest of Mâcon in Burgundy, was founded in 910 by Duke William III of Aquitaine. In the 10th and 11th centuries it became the center of a reforming movement that began as a return to the original goals of monasticism (i.e., renunciation of the world in anticipation of the life of paradise in adoration and praise). In the course of time, it radically changed the Christian world in the West. 2. The basis of the reform was the demand for a stricter following of the Benedictine Rule in the tradition of Benedict of Aniane (d. 821). This demand was made i…

Patristics, Patrology

(1,257 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A. | Wilken, Robert
1. Term Patristic theology came into use among Lutherans in the later 17th century (Orthodoxy 1) in an effort to provide evidence from early Christian tradition that the teaching of the Reformers was in agreement with that of the church fathers. Patristics, which was distinguished from both biblical theology and systematic theology, served to stress continuity between the Reformation and the early church. The term “patrology” occurs for the first time in the title of a work by the Lutheran theologian Johann Gerhard (1582–1637): Patrologia, sive de primitivae ecclesiae Christian…

Catechesis and Catechetics

(3,702 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A. | Fraas, Hans-Jürgen | Schoberth, Ingrid | Schweitzer, Friedrich | Phan, Peter
[German Version] I. History – II. Practical Theology – III. Latin America, Asia, Africa I. History 1. Early Church. The verb κατήχειν/ katḗchein originally denoted the oral transmission of a message in the sense of “tell, inform.” In Paul and early Christian literature it usually means “teach, instruct” (Gal 6:6; Lat. catechizare); in contrast to glossolalia, it refers to intelligible speech (1 Cor 14:19; Luke 1:4) such as instruction in the law (Rom 2:18) or in the teaching (“the way”) of the Lord (Acts 18:25). In t…

Liberius, Pope

(214 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (episcopate May 17, 352 – Sep 24, 366). Liberius, the successor to Julius I as bishop of Rome, refused to sign the condemnation of Athanasius, because the proceedings against him had not followed ecclesiastical norms. He was therefore exiled to Beroea in Thrace (356–358) by Emperor Constantius II. His experience in exile soon caused him to change his mind. Although he was fundamentally an adherent of the Nicene Creed, he signed the theological formula of the Homoeans in 357 (Sirmi…

Peter of Alexandria

(238 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (died 311, Alexandria), head of the “Catechetical School” of Alexandria (III), possibly together with Pierius and Achillas in the time of Bishop Theonas and his successor in the episcopate (300–311). During the Diocletianic persecution (Persecutions of Christians: I), which began soon afterward, there was a conflict with Bishop Melitius of Lycopolis in Upper Egypt over the question whether the “lapsed” could repent (Repentance) and be received back into the church; Peter advocated…

Schneemelcher, Wilhelm

(296 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (Aug 21, 1914, Berlin – Aug 6, 2003, Königswinter), Protestant theologian (church historian, with a focus on patristics; student of H. Lietzmann), scholarly organizer, and ecumenist. He earned his Lic.theol. in 1940 in Berlin and received his habilitation in 1949 in Göttingen (documents on the history of the Arian conflict, Athanasian studies). In 1953 he was appointed professor of New Testament and church history (1954) at Bonn, a position he held until his retirement in 1979. Schneemelcher was known internationally for his two-volume Neutestamentliche Apokryph…


(244 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (of Alexandria; died c. 312), presbyter and leader of the Alexandrian Didaskaleion from the time of Bishop Theonas (281/282–300), perhaps in conjunction with Theonas’s successor Peter of Alexandria (300–311) and the later bishop Achillas (c. 311–312). Eusebius of Caesarea, a contemporary, describes Pierius ( Hist. eccl. VII 32. 26f.) as an excellent preacher, and a scholarly and well-informed biblical exegete, who led the life of an ascetic. Jerome mentions that he was called “the younger Origen” ( Origenes iunior); he was also theologically close to Origen…

Junilius (Junillus) Africanus

(192 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (born in North Africa), high official ( Quaestor sacri palatii) at the court of Justinian I (527–565). Around 542, he translated an exegetical handbook by the Nestorian (Nestorianism) Paul of Nisibis from the Greek into Latin and edited it as a textbook. The book especially emphasized the literal meaning of the Bible in the tradition of Theodore of Mopsuestia. Under the title Instituta regularia divini legis, this brief introduction to the study of the Bible, rather widely distributed in the Middle Ages, was often considered the work of an othe…

Beryllus of Bostra,

(127 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] bishop of Bostra in Arabia (Jordan), was one of the “learned churchmen” (Eusebius Hist. eccl. VI, 20) of the 3rd century. His writings and letters were kept in the library established by Alexander of Jerusalem, but none have been preserved. Historical theology knows Beryllus for denying the pre-existence and Christ's independent divinity (so-called dyn…

Alexander of Jerusalem

(160 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (Aelia Capitolina). Alexander, who came from Asia Minor, studied in Alexandria with Pantaenus and Clement of Alexandria (who dedicated one of his works to Alexander); initially he was a bishop in Cappadocia (later sources say bishop of Flavias in Cilicia). While in Jerusalem during a pilgrimage c. 212, he was elected coadjutor to assist the aged Narcissus, whom he succeeded c. 222. He suffered martyrdom in 250 during the Decian persecution (Persecutions of Christians). He was a particular admirer of Origen (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. VI, 14, 8f.). He was among the …


(304 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] In the theological conflicts of the 4th century, the Modalistic Monarchianism that was condemned as a heresy was often called Sabellianism. Marcellus of Ancyra and his followers in particular were considered “Sabellians,” because they rejected the doctrine of three divine hypostases (Hypostasis; cf. Origen) as tritheism, emphasizing God’s unity as μονάς/ monás instead, citing John 10:30. Eusebius of Caesarea considered Marcellus a “new Sabellius” but had nothing more to say about the author of this heresy, so that later the teachi…


(204 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (died c. 200), a Stoic from Sicily (perhaps), who converted to Christianity. He is said to have carried the gospel to the peoples of the East, traveling as far as India. From about 180, he was a member of the Alexandria presbytery and led there, as one famous for his learning, “the school of the faithful” (Eus. Hist. eccl., V 10.1). Eusebius of Caesarea describes him as the leader of the Alexandrian Catechetical School (VI 6; Alexandrian theology), and names as his student and successor Clement of Alexandria, who was later followed by Origen. Clement speaks with great resp…

Nepos of Arsinoe

(193 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] Nepos of Arsinoe, Egyptian bishop (early 3rd cent.). He defended the millenarianism of the book of Revelation in a literal, physical sense in his writing Refutation of the Allegorists. A schismatic movement arising from this was led, after Nepos’s death, by a certain Korakion. Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria opposed the movement in discussions and in two books On the Promises. He distinguished between the writings of John the Apostle and the book of Revelation, on philological and historical grounds; accordingly, they were written by diffe…


(6,787 words)

Author(s): Bischofberger, Otto | Cancik, Hubert | Waschke, Ernst-Joachim | Zumstein, Jean | Bienert, Wolfgang A. | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Greco-Roman Antiquity – III. Bible – IV. Church History – V. Systematic Theology – VI. Practical Theology – VII. Missiology – VIII. Judaism – IX. Islam I. History of Religions “Conversion” denotes the religiously interpreted process of total reorientation in which individuals or groups reinterpret their past lives, turn their backs on them, and reestablish and reshape their future lives in a new network of social relationships. The phenomenon was initially …


(13,995 words)

Author(s): Pezzoli-Olgiati, Daria | Cancik, Hubert | Seidl, Theodor | Schnelle, Udo | Bienert, Wolfgang A. | Et al.
[German Version] (Biblical Scholarship, Hermeneutics, Interpretation) I. Religious Studies – II. History of Religions – III. Greco Roman Antiquity – IV. Bible – V. Church History – VI. Practical Theology – VII. Biblical Scenes in Art – VIII. Judaism – IX. Islam I. Religious Studies Exegesis (for etymology see III below) is the explanation, interpretation, or analysis of sacred or otherwise religiously central documents by experts; it enables and encourages the access of a …

Eusebius of Emesa

(259 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (born c. 300 in Edessa, died shortly before 359) was a student of Polychronius of Skythopolis and Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine; he also studied in Antioch and Alexandria; he was one of the founders of Antiochene biblical exegesis (interpretations of the Pentateuch, of the books of Kings, and of individual letters of Paul – probably in continuation of the exe…


(609 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] Modalism, the opposite of tritheism, is a collective term for a heterodox interpretation of the Trinity; in order to maintain the unity of God, it understands the divine triad – Father, Son, and Spirit – not as truly distinct persons but merely as aspects or manifestations ( modi) of the one divine being. The term was already in common use in the 18th century (e.g. J.F. Buddeus, 1723). Since the 19th century, it has been used primarily in the history of dogma (Dogma, History of) to categorize certain early Christian heresies, …


(3,568 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz | Most, Glenn W. | Klauck, Hans-Josef | Bienert, Wolfgang A. | Rieger, Reinhold | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Classical Antiquity – III. Bible– IV. Church History – V. Systematics – VI. Practical Exegesis– VII. Religious Art I. History of Religions Allegory (from Gk ἀλληγορέω/ allēgoreō, “say something other [than the literal meaning]”), is a hermeneutical technique (Hermeneutics). The moment a religious message becomes fixed (esp. in writing), a need for interpretation arises. One way to meet this need is t…

Didymus the Blind

(403 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (c. 313–398) was a distinguished and influential teacher of theology in the tradition of Origen in Alexandria (III; Exegesis: V, 1) who wrote commentaries on almost all the books of the Bible. His students included Jerome, Palladius, and Rufinus. Didymus probably died before the disputes over the legacy of Origen broke out at the end o…

John of Jerusalem

(252 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[German Version] (c. 356 – Jan 10, 417). As a young monk, John succeeded Cyril of Jerusalem as bishop of this city in 387. In the Origenist controversies, he defended the position of Origen against Epiphanius of Salamis, Jerome and Theophilus of Alexandria. Rufinus, whom he had ordained to the priesthood in 390, supported him. When the British ascetic Pelagius, fleeing Rome, sought refuge in the East, John received him and upheld his orthodoxy at a Synod in Lydda (Diospolis) in 415. This led to a …


(292 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[English Version] . In den theol. Streitigkeiten des 4.Jh. war »Sabellianismus« häufig Bez. für den als Häresie verurteilten modalistischen Monarchianismus. V.a. Markell von Ancyra und seine Anhänger galten als »Sabellianer«, weil sie die Lehre von den drei göttlichen Hypostasen (vgl. Origenes) als Tritheismus verwarfen und statt dessen die Einheit Gottes unter Berufung auf Joh 10,30 als μοn̆α´ς/monás betonten. Eusebius von Caesarea sah in Markell einen »neuen S.«, teilte jedoch nichts näheres über den Urheber dieser Häresie mit, so daß in späterer …


(186 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[English Version] von Arsinoe¨, äg. Bischof (Anfang 3.Jh.), verteidigte mit seiner Schrift »Widerlegung der Allegoristen« den Chiliasmus der Apk im wörtl., leiblichen Sinne. Der daraus entstandenen schismatischen Bewegung, die nach seinem Tode von einem gewissen Korakion geleitet wurde, trat Bf. Dionysius von Alexandrien in Gesprächen und mit zwei Büchern »Über die Verheißungen« entgegen – u.a. mit einer philol. und hist. begründeten Unterscheidung zw. den Schriften des Apostels Johannes und der Ap…


(232 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[English Version] von Alexandrien (gest. ca.312), Presbyter und Leiter des alexandrinischen »Didaskaleions« seit der Zeit des Bf. Theonas (281/82–300), möglicherweise zusammen mit dessen Nachfolger Petrus (I.) von Alexandrien (300–311) und dem späteren Bf. Achillas (ca.311–312). Eusebius von Caesarea, ein Zeitgenosse, beschreibt P. (h.e. VII 32, 26f.) als hervorragenden Prediger, gelehrten und philos. gebildeten Bibelexegeten, der das Leben eines Asketen geführt habe. Hieronymus erwähnt, man habe i…


(239 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[English Version] (I.) von Alexandrien (gest.311 Alexandrien), Leiter der alexandrinischen »Katechetenschule« (Alexandrien: III.), möglicherweise zusammen mit Pierius und Achillas z.Z. des Bf. Theonas und dessen Nachfolger im Bischofsamt (300–311). Während der bald darauf einsetzenden Diokletianischen Verfolgung (Christenverfolgungen: I.) kam es zum Konflikt mit Bf. Melitius von Lykopolis in Oberägypten über die Frage der Buße und der Wiederaufnahme der »Abgefallenen« (lapsi), in dem P. für eine mil…


(228 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[English Version] Schneemelcher, Wilhelm (21.8.1914 Berlin – 6.8.2003 Königswinter), ev. Theologe (Kirchenhistoriker, Schwerpunkt: Patristik; Schüler H. Lietzmanns), Wissenschaftsorganisator und Ökumeniker. Lic. theol. 1940 Berlin, Habil. 1949 Göttingen (Urkunden zur Gesch. des arianischen Streites; Athanasius-Forschung); 1953 Prof. für NT und Kirchengesch. (1954) in Bonn (bis zu seiner Emeritierung 1979). – International wurde Sch. bekannt durch die Herausgabe des zweibändigen Werkes »Ntl. Apokryphen in dt. Übers.« (begr. durch E. Hennecke, 1865–1951, 31959). …


(201 words)

Author(s): Bienert, Wolfgang A.
[English Version] (Pantainos; gest. um 200), vielleicht aus Sizilien stammender Stoiker (Stoa), der zum Christentum übertrat. Es heißt, er sei als Verkündiger des Evangeliums zu den Völkern des Orients bis nach Indien gereist. Seit der Zeit um 180 war er Mitglied des Presbyteriums in Alexandrien und leitete dort, berühmt wegen seiner Gelehrsamkeit, »die Schule der Gläubigen« (Eus.h.e. V 10,1). Eusebius von Caesarea bez. ihn als Leiter der alexandrinischen »Katechetenschule« (VI 6; alexandrinische …
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