Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

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Subject: Religious Studies

Editors: Erwin Fahlbusch, Jan Milič Lochman, John Mbiti, Jaroslav Pelikan and Lukas Vischer

The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online describes modern-day Christian beliefs and communities in the context of 2000 years of apostolic tradition and Christian history. Based on the third, revised edition of the critically acclaimed German work Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon. The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online includes all 5 volumes of the print edition of 1999-2008 which has become a standard reference work for the study of Christianity past and present. Comprehensive, reflecting the highest standards in scholarship yet intended for a wide range of readers, the The Encyclopedia of Christianity Online also looks outward beyond Christianity, considering other world religions and philosophies as it paints the overall religious and socio-cultural picture in which the Christianity finds itself.

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Paradise

(823 words)

Author(s): Gerlitz, Peter
1. General Like heaven and the kingdom of God, paradise has a place among the great religious (and secular) utopias of human history (Secularization). In the Old Iranian language Avestan pairidaeza referred to a walled area, a garden (also a zoo). Believers linked it to an eschatological hope viewed as the inbreaking of the beyond into the here and now, of time into eternity, and hence as an alternative to suffering and death (or hell). It is a kind of counterworld, a cosmological prototype. 2. As Garden The symbol of the garden was an apt one for this hope. The prototype for the …

Paradox

(381 words)

Author(s): Stein, Jürgen
1. Logic A paradox in the broad sense is a startling statement that cannot be literally true. In the narrower logical sense it may be a formally correct statement but one that contradicts its premises (Antinomy). We find paradoxes in everyday speech (“Less is more”), as well as in academic disciplines like theology (M. Luther’s simul iustus et peccator, “at once righteous and a sinner”). Paradoxes may open up very profitable discussions or humorously serve the cause of logical or rhetorical propaedeutic (Language 1; Logic; Rhetoric 1). 2. Theology In the NT the word paradoxos expresses s…

Paraguay

(2,476 words)

Author(s): Estragó, Margarita Durán
1. General and Historical Account Paraguay lies at the heart of Latin America. The river that gives it its name divides its territory into two natural regions, east and west. Over 97 percent of the people live in the east. Here is the capital Asunción, the 16th-century center of the Spanish conquistadores for the conquest and colonizing of the La Plata area (Colonialism). The west, the Chaco, covers 61 percent of the territory. The ground here is so dry that only 2.2 percent of the people can live in the area. In all, there are over 6.3 million inhabitants (2005 est.), of which 2 percent are …

Parallels and Harmonies, Gospel

(2,064 words)

Author(s): Patterson, Stephen J.
A gospel harmony is a composite work that attempts to combine the various accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry found in the canonical Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—into one continuous narrative. The impulse to harmonize these texts derives, on the one hand, from the fact that they are not all the same and, on the other, from the conviction that the Gospels ought at least to be in substantive agreement (see Augustine’s De cons. evang.). Early gospel harmonies attempted to create a single story from the four. In the modern era this practice, and the assumptions …

Paraments

(751 words)

Author(s): Randall, Gerald D. W. | Groves, Nicholas W.
1. Definition 1. Paraments (from Lat. paro, “prepare, furnish”) are here defined as textile coverings and hangings for liturgical objects. 2. On Altars The square early Christian altars were covered with enveloping throwover cloths called palls. A linen cloth, the palla corporalis, was laid on top for the celebration of the liturgy, and the altar canopy was hung with veils on all four sides. Changes took place in the West from about 1200. Once the host was elevated, the veils were no longer used except during Lent (Fast), though the Fastenvelum (Lenten veil) survived in parts of sou…

Parapsychology

(604 words)

Author(s): Thiede, Werner
1. Concept The term “parapsychology,” which M. Dessoir (1867–1947) suggested in 1889, takes as the object of psychology or its related disciplines certain phenomena that deviate from the normal life of the soul. Alternative terms such as “scientific occultism” or “metapsychology” have been proposed, but “parapsychology” ultimately came into common use (supported by H. Driesch). The subjects of parapsychology include occult phenomena and other supersensory experiences. Comparative studies of tradit…

Parenesis

(503 words)

Author(s): Paulsen, Henning
In the primitive Christian community parenesis (from Gk. paraineō, “advise, urge”) had the aim of giving ethical instruction to the post-Easter churches (Ethics). Presupposing baptism, it linked basic theses to situational formulas. In its various forms parenesis was part of early Christian history and cannot be separated from it. We should also note the relation to the Jesus tradition and its basic ethical directions (Sermon on the Mount). Research based on the insights of M. Dibelius (1883–1947) traces primitive parenesis mainly to the Epistles (Literature, …

Pariahs

(1,109 words)

Author(s): Sigrist, Christian
1. Term Pariahs (a simplified form of Tamil paraiyar, sing. paraiyan, “drummer”) were originally the members of a caste in South India (in Tamil Nadu and Kerala) made up of lower workers who earned their living as (at one time slave) farm laborers, though some also as drummers or handlers of animal carcasses. Their work, and especially their cutting of flesh, made them ritually unclean (U. von Ehrenfels; Cultic Purity). Along the line of Sanskrit etymology the Abbé de Raynal (1713–96) at the end of the 1…

Parousia

(1,465 words)

Author(s): Karrer, Martin
1. Concept Up to the end of the 19th century and even beyond, the parousia was mainly treated dogmatically in terms of the coming again of Christ to judge and to reign. The “again,” however, cannot be traced back beyond the Constantinopolitan Creed (381); the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed (325; Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed) both simply have “come.” What we have, then, is a systematizing at a later stage of statements about the earthly life of Jesus and his expected coming as the exalted Son of Man (Mark 13:26; 14:62) and Lord (1 Thess. 2:19; 4:15). J. Weiss (1863–1914) rejected t…

Particularism

(6 words)

See Universalism and Particularism

Partnership

(1,558 words)

Author(s): Koschorke, Martin
1. Definition In a general sense partnership is a principle of communication and cooperation, or a structured relationship between individuals or organizations, that is based on a specific concept and that often unconsciously gives rise to a corresponding self-understanding, behavior, and experience. We find partnership in many areas of life, commonly speaking of partnership in treaties, contracts, trade, professions, tariff agreements, tennis, dancing, and conversation. Churches and cities are also spoken of as partners. 2. As a General Model of Relationship In the West the…

Pascal, Blaise

(899 words)

Author(s): Roggenkamp-Kaufmann, Antje
Blaise Pascal (1623–62), a French mathematician, physicist, and lay theologian, was from a well-to-do family in Auvergne and spent most of his life in Paris. At the age of 16 he completed a well-respected treatise on conic sections, and in 1642 he invented a digital calculator. His father introduced him to the so-called Académie Mersenne, the circle around the Cartesian abbot Martin Mersenne. Pascal first came into contact with Jansenists in Rouen between 1639 and 1647, and in 1647 he met René D…

Passion, Accounts of the

(8,346 words)

Author(s): Mattison, Robin Dale
1. “Passion” as a Term of the Church The term “passion” has no connection with the modern English usage of “passion” as a strong, focused sexual emotion. Rather, its source (Lat. passio, “suffering, being acted upon”) is connected with “passive” and “patient,” conditions where one person is acted upon by another, for good or ill. For worshipers during Holy Week, “passion” refers to the suffering caused to Jesus by others, from the time of his entry into Jerusalem for the Passover feast until his burial. It recalls Jesus’ thr…

Passion Music

(363 words)

Author(s): Hawkins, Robert D.
Musical settings of the gospel passion narratives fulfill the liturgical demands of Holy Week liturgies (Church Year; Liturgy). The earliest extant settings from the fifth century are not tour de force compositions but solo works consisting of “only a normal rendition of a special set of plain-song formulas” (E. Wienandt, 113). Such formulas assigned the lowest range to Christ’s words, the mid-range to the evangelist (narrator), and the upper range to all other individuals or groups ( turba, Lat. “crowd”). This convention has generally been observed ever since. The earliest polyph…

Passion Plays

(5 words)

See Oberammergau

Passover

(982 words)

Author(s): Lohse, Eduard
1. Name Exod. 12:13, 23, 27 relates the name of the Passover feast to the verb pāsaḥ, “pass over, spare.” When Yahweh saw the sign of blood on the houses of the Israelites, he would pass by and not cause the plague to strike them as it would the Egyptians. This comment seems to be a later explanation. Thus far, however, no clear etymological derivation has been found for the term. Originally, perhaps, the blood rite was significant from the standpoint of protection against the power of the judgment, which ran up against the countervailing power of the blood (E. Otto). In Greek, pascha was alway…

Pastor

(1,691 words)

Author(s): Hjelm, Norman A.
1. Term The term “pastor” is taken directly from Lat. pastor, “shepherd” (Gk. poimēn). In both the OT and NT, God is frequently described as a shepherd (“The Lord is my shepherd” [Ps. 23:1]; “For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls” [1 Pet. 2:25]). Similarly, the benediction in the Epistle to the Hebrews refers to “our Lord Jesus” as “the great shepherd of the sheep” (13:20). The Palestinian shepherd—and metaphorically, God and Christ—was responsible for his flock in the widest sense: he gathered the sh…

Pastoral Care

(3,869 words)

Author(s): Stone, Howard W.
1. Historical Perspective “Pastoral care” is a broad, umbrella term for those tasks of ministry that are part of Seelsorge, or care of the soul, the nurture and support of the people of God. It involves such activities as visitation of the sick, comfort of the dying and bereaved, guidance for spiritual struggles, counseling for depression or anxiety, moral guidance, couple and family counseling, care for the lonely, and the like. The biblical image of the shepherd is the most common guiding metaphor for pastoral c…

Pastoral Care of Children

(1,202 words)

Author(s): Dawson, Kathy L.
This term “pastoral care of children” varies in meaning from one part of the world to another. Citizens of Great Britain and related countries would think of a concern for the well-being of pupils in a school setting, a holistic education that includes an eye to the child’s whole life and affect, not just the skills learned in the classroom. Pastoral care of children in America shares some of the same goals as that of Great Britain, but the setting would be found mainly in churches, hospitals, o…

Pastoral Care of the Dying

(1,790 words)

Author(s): Karaban, Roslyn A.
Pastoral care of the dying involves the care that representatives of communities of faith provide to those who are dying, which usually means those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Certainly death occurs on many levels (psychological, sociological, physical, and spiritual), and pastoral care of the dying could, for example, encompass those experiencing the death of a relationship through divorce. Here, though, we focus on persons who have knowledge (awareness) of having a life-threatening illness. 1. Pastoral Care Redefined Pastoral care of the dying has chan…
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