Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

Get access 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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(913 words)

Author(s): Land, Gary
1. “Sabbatarian” is a term used for Christians who insist that the Sabbath commandment, like the other nine (Decalogue), is still in force, with reference to either the seventh or the first day of the week. Normally agreeing with others that the day should be one of joy, worship, and rest, Sabbatarians also stress the prohibition of work. Sabbatarian trends, often linked to eschatological expectation, existed in many circles in pre-Reformation Europe (e.g., Finland, Hungary, Transylvania, and En…


(2,572 words)

Author(s): Schaller, Berndt
The seventh day of the week as a day of rest is one of the basic religious and social institutions of Judaism and, along with circumcision, a chief mark of Jewish identity. 1. Term In both biblical and postbiblical texts the usual term is šabbāt. We also find šabbātôn (also meaning “seventh year”) and the combination šabbat šabbātôn, “Sabbath of complete rest,” which can refer to the Sabbath year or to the Day of Atonement. 2. Origin We have no clear knowledge of the origin of the term, which is etymologically obscure. Some derive it from the Heb. verb šbt (cease, celebrate), other…


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See Christology 212; Trinity


(6,793 words)

Author(s): Sattler, Dorothea
1. Problem of Definition When we try to define the term “sacrament” generally, that is, to grasp conceptually what theological presuppositions are accepted in calling certain things sacraments, whether baptism and the Eucharist in the Reformation tradition, or also confirmation (or chrismation), penance (Penitence), matrimony (Marriage and Divorce), holy orders, and anointing of the sick (Laying on of Hands) in that of Roman Catholics and the Orthodox, we run up against many obstacles. The challengi…


(1,630 words)

Author(s): Slenczka, Notger
1. Term The term “sacramentality” and the related adjective “sacramental” have no single meaning but are used in different ways in different connections. Formally, “sacramentality” is an abstract term based on “sacrament” and denoting what is essential to a sacrament as such. It serves, then, to show with what right the church describes various actions as sacraments. In this sense M. J. Scheeben (1835–88) raised the question of the sacramentality of marriage (pp. 593–610). By its very nature the term “sacramentality” looks beyond the question of the number of sacramen…


(419 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin
Sacramentals are rites in the Roman Catholic Church (Rite 2) that are meant to denote God’s presence in the world by declaring his sovereignty over persons or things and by seeking his aid. They are “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments” but are of less importance than sacraments; they are instituted by the church, not by Christ ( Sacrosanctum concilium [ SC] 60; 1983 CIC  1166–72). They display and promote the church’s pastoral task of sanctifying the world for God and permeating all spheres of life ( consecratio mundi; Roman Catholic Church 5). They prepare belie…

Sacred and Profane

(2,506 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G. | Otte, Klaus
1. Religious and Biblical Aspects 1.1. Religious, Psychological, and Sociological The terms “sacred” and “profane” are significant in the vocabulary of comparative religion (Religious Studies). When the 19th century found that we do not encounter ideas of God always and everywhere, but that God “is a late comer in the history of religion” (G. van der Leeuw, Religion, 104), a new and universally applicable term for religion was needed. In 1871 E. B. Tylor (1832–1917) thought that a belief in spiritual beings might be a suitable minimal definition (chap…

Sacred Heart of Jesus

(614 words)

Author(s): Fischer, Balthasar
1. Development Beginning with the work of the Innsbruck patrologist Hugo Rahner (1900–1968), 20th-century research has shown that in the High Middle Ages expressed devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began on the broad basis of Johannine-inspired patristic meditation on the pierced side of the crucified Jesus as the source of sacramental life (John 19:34). The initiators of express devotion to the Sacred Heart belonged to the early Middle Ages (Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux), and it was further developed in the 13th century by the German Benedictin…


(4,171 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Janowski, Bernd | Hahn, Ferdinand
1. General 1.1. Words and Concept The English words “sacrifice” and “offering” come from Lat. sacrificium and offero. Ger. Opfer goes back to Lat. operari, “be active.” The terms suggest an active relation to the reality concerned in the different religions. The various ways in which the relation is described may thus affect the concept. Even though a distinction might arise between real and symbolic sacrifice, sacrifice is always at the heart of religion and widely influences human conduct in other spheres as well. In religious history we may un…


(416 words)

Author(s): Strohmaier-Wiederanders, Gerlinde
The sacristy, a term derived from Lat. sacer (sacred, holy), is a room in a church in which liturgical vessels, vestments, and books are kept and in which the clergy make preparations for leading worship, including robing. In Roman basilicas the sacristy is generally near the entrance, where the clergy procession starts. It is often handed over to the pastor in a liturgical ceremony. As a part of the house of God ( secretarium aedis sacrae, “sacristy of the sacred building”), it belongs to the total structure of the basilica. In the East it has liturgical significance…


(360 words)

Author(s): Schaller, Berndt
The term “Sadducees” (Gk. saddoukaioi, Heb. ṣaddûqîm, Aram. ṣadduqayya, thought to derive from David’s high priest, Zadok [ ṣādôq], see 2 Sam. 15:24–29) is used for members of a party of priests and nobles in Jerusalem. We have references to them, at times under the name “Boethusians,” only occasionally in Josephus and early Christian and rabbinic writings, mostly hostile. Only within limits, then, can we reconstruct their history and character. Historically important is the question of power in the political and religious life of Palestinian Judaism fro…

Saints, Veneration of

(3,845 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
1. Religious Roots A basic human experience is that of viewing certain persons as holy, as manifestations of the divine. This factor has played a determinative role in the development of religion (Sacred and Profane). The transcendent (Immanence and Transcendence) is experienced as the wholly other, that which comes to us directly, awakening a feeling of fear and dread (mysterium tremendum), the sacred being something apart (tabu), but also of something miraculous and attractive (mysterium fascinosum) that kindles awe (mana). The basis of such experience is the deity, whic…


(10,026 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Roloff, Jürgen | Stöhr, Martin | Ciobotea, Dan-Ilie | Wagner, Harald | Et al.
Overview What Christianity has to say about salvation (Soteriology) is essentially bound up with the name and history of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else …”). This verse expresses a universal claim and distinguishes it from, or even contradicts, what other religions and worldviews have to say about salvation. Christianity speaks of salvation as a gift of God’s love (Grace) for us and our world that transcends death, ¶ bestows life, and promises eschatological fulfillment (Eschatology; Hope). This understanding presupposes that human beings (…

Salvation Army

(1,244 words)

Author(s): Gassner, Karl Heinz
1. Founding and Development The Salvation Army began in July 1865 in England with the preaching of William Booth (1829–1912, ordained in 1858 in the Methodist New Connexion) at a tent mission arranged by the East London Special Services Committee. Booth had previously done revivalist work in many different places (Revivals). In 1865 he organized the East London Christian Mission, a ministry to the working class, with a tent mission at the Quaker cemetery in Whitechapel (London). In 1870 he founded t…

Salvation History

(2,748 words)

Author(s): Reumann, John
1. Terms and Concept A technical term in biblical theology (§1.2.5), “salvation history” (Ger. Heilsgeschichte) arose at a time when, as J. C. Beck put it, history was god (Historiography 3.6), not reason (Enlightenment) or feeling (Experience; Schleiermacher’s Theology). Under influences from covenant theology (§3.1; J. Cocceius [1603–69]) and Pietism (J. A. Bengel [1687–1752]), the concept developed in the Erlangen school, with its emphases on biblical hermeneutics, confessional ecclesiology, our communion…


(833 words)

Author(s): Dexinger, Ferdinand
Like Jews and Christians, the Samaritans worship the biblical God (Judaism). But their Holy Scripture consists only of the Pentateuch, whose religious laws they observe as the Jews do. Christian interest in them rests not merely in the fact that there is reference to them in the NT (Luke 10:30–37; 17:16–18; John 4:4–42; Acts 8:4–25). Knowledge of their origin and religion helps us also to understand the development of Jewish religion. On the assumption that at central points (esp. law, priesthood, and eschatology) their religion preserves the state…

Samuel, Books of

(1,243 words)

Author(s): Veijola, Timo
1. Name, Contents, Text The two books of Samuel belong to what are known as the Hebrew canon’s “earlier prophets” (Joshua to 2 Kings). They derive their name from Samuel, who in these books variously appears in the role of prophet, priest, and judge, and whom, together with Nathan and Gad, rabbinic tradition held to be the author of these books (cf. 1 Chr. 29:29). The Septuagint calls the Books of Samuel and Kings together the Four Books of Kingdoms (Basileiōn); the Vg, the Four Books of Kings (Regum). The division of Samuel into two books is attested only after 1448 and actually…


(2,262 words)

Author(s): Stolz, Fritz | Strecker, Georg | Peters, Albrecht
1. OT 1.1. Term “Sanctification” denotes the transition from the ordinary secular sphere to the sphere of the holy (Sacred and Profane), but then also the analogous transition from the sphere of impurity (on the margin) to the normal sphere of purity (e.g., Lev. 11:44). On the OT view God himself is the quintessence of the holy (he is the Holy One, or the Holy One of Israel, and the beings around him are holy ones; see Isa. 6:3; Ps. 89:7; 99:5, 9). Primarily, then, sanctification is movement into proximity to God, though this movement can be understood in different ways. 1.2. In Space and Time First…


(2,328 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Stolz, Fritz | Fife, John
1. In Religion The sanctuary (Lat. sanctus, “sacred, holy”), or holy place, is a central element in religion and its visible form of expression. Even today one can easily identify a geographic region by its sanctuaries (churches in Christian areas, mosques in Muslim, stupas in Buddhist, and temples in Hindu). In this way religion has had an impact on landscape. The sanctuary may be situated on, in, or by a particular place in nature (a hill, river, fountain, lake, grove, cave, or rock), or it may involve something made by humans (a house, altar, hearth,…

Sanctuary Lamp

(90 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
In Roman Catholic churches the sanctuary light is the hanging light that shines constantly before the altar, where the reserved sacrament is kept in the tabernacle (§2). The purpose of the lamp is “to indicate and honor the presence of Christ” (1983 CIC  940). Evidence exists of the use of this light in the West from the 11th and 12th centuries. The Rituale Romanum (1614) made it obligatory. Oil or wax is usually burned, but electric light is permitted. See Eucharist; Eucharistic Spirituality; Liturgical Books The Editors


(4 words)

See Mass

Santiago Cult

(1,279 words)

Author(s): Herbers, Klaus
1. James’s Life and Burial According to the NT, James the Elder, son of Zebedee, was a member of the intimate circle of apostles (see Matt. 10:1–4; 17:1–8; 26:36–37; Mark 5:35–42; 13:3). In about the year 44 he was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I (41–44; Acts 12:2). Although early witnesses allude to James’s mission activity, especially in Palestine, they provide no concrete information about where he was buried. Only in the seventh century, through the Breviarum apostolorum, a Latin version of the Greco-Byzantine apocryphal work Acts of the Apostles, was James associated with missiona…


(4 words)

See Devil


(5 words)

See Word Square

Saudi Arabia

(979 words)

Author(s): Osswald, Rainer
1. History and Features From 1745 to 1818, and then from 1824 to 1891, the Saʿūd family controlled two Wahhabi states on the Arabian Peninsula. Then from 1902 onward, with the capture of Riyadh, ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Ibn Saʿūd (1880–1953) set up what became the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. The state took on its present-day size with further conquests up to 1934. Three special features mark Saudi Arabia. First, by means of the conquest of Hejaz in 1924/25, it came to include Mecca and Medina, the two most important sanctuaries of Islam, so that the king…


(361 words)

Author(s): Veijola, Timo
The primary traditions concerning Saul, the first king of Israel (Monarchy in Israel), consist of stories concerning his call (1 Sam. 9:1–10:16), his victory over the Ammonites and elevation to the throne (chap. 11), and his battles against the Philistines (13:2–14:46). The Deuteronomists later reworked and considerably expanded these traditions (1 Samuel 8; 10:17–27; 12; 15; Deuteronomistic History). The kingship of Saul, who came from the tribe of Benjamin (9:1–2), represented only a brief episode toward the end of the 11th century (the exact chronology is uncertain). The introd…

Scandinavian Missions

(1,592 words)

Author(s): Bloch-Hoell, Nils E. | Ryman, Björn
1. History “Scandinavian” (or “Nordic”) is the term for the historically and culturally related northern European countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. In each of these countries, approximately 80 to 90 percent of the people belong, nominally at least, to the Lutheran churches, which since the Reformation have had close relations with the state (Lutheran Churches 2; Church and State). 1.1. Early Missions In the Middle Ages missions were occasionally attempted to the Sami (or Lapps), a people with a different language and culture who live…


(6 words)

See Heresies and Schisms

Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst

(917 words)

Author(s): Oberdorfer, Bernd
Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), the “church father of the 19th century,” was a Protestant theologian, pastor, and philosopher. Born in Breslau (modern Wrocław) as the eldest son of a Prussian military chaplain, Schleiermacher—who was gifted even as a child—was significantly influenced by the Moravian Brethren. He attended their school in Niesky beginning in 1783, then their theological seminary in Barby beginning in 1785. Doubts about traditional dogma, however, aggravated an early alienat…

Schleiermacher’s Theology

(8,164 words)

Author(s): Wyman Jr., Walter E.
1. Schleiermacher and the Birth of Modern Protestant Theology Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768–1834) was a thinker of seminal importance in the history of modern Protestant theology. Although many 18th-century figures addressed the implications of the Enlightenment for Christian thought, Schleiermacher was the first major post-Enlightenment theologian. He set about rethinking and reconstructing both the method and the content of Christian theology in response to the various challenges posed by…


(5,425 words)

Author(s): Marshall, Bruce D.
1. Basic Features 1.1. Term The term “Scholasticism” designates a distinctive approach to the whole intellectual endeavor of human beings, an approach that took shape in the urban schools and (later) universities of the West beginning in the 11th century. Scholasticism is thus an original and characteristic product of medieval Western culture. By the time the major universities of the West (esp. Paris, Oxford, and Bologna) were well established in the 13th century, all of university education was und…


(103 words)

Author(s): Drössler, Bernd T.
A scholium (Gk. scholion, “comment”) is a brief explanatory comment on an individual text. With glosses and interpretation scholia early came into use as a hermeneutical tool in literary history (Hermeneutics). In the Christian field we find them in exegesis of the Bible and the Fathers (Patristics; Catena), for example, in the Hypotyposes of Clement of Alexandria (d. ca. 215) up until the biblical expositions of Martin Luther (1483–1546; Luther’s Theology). Bernd T. DrösslerBibliography H. Erbse and D. Fehling, “Scholien,” LAW  2723–26 A. Gudemann, “Scholien,” PW  (2d ser.)…

School and Church

(1,223 words)

Author(s): Becker, Ulrich
The relationship between school and church varies a great deal, depending on history, national settings, and religious traditions. 1. History In the past in Europe, church and school were traditionally closely related. For a long time the church had charge of the school, particularly monastic, cathedral, and parish schools (Monastery 4.1; Religious Orders and Congregations 2.3). City and private schools that arose in the later Middle Ages, however, were also still under church control. M. Luther (1483–1546; Luther’…

Schweitzer, Albert

(855 words)

Author(s): Gensichen, Hans-Werner
Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) was a Protestant theologian, a physician, and an organist. After studying theology and philosophy in Strasbourg, Berlin, and Paris, Schweitzer became an assistant pastor in Strasbourg in 1899, a private lecturer in NT in 1902, and also director of the theological seminary in 1903. Theology, philosophy, and music were equally influential in shaping his life and thought. Schweitzer’s revolutionary contribution to theology was his continuation of J. Weiss’s understanding of “consistent eschatology,” combined with a comprehensiv…

Science and Theology

(5,257 words)

Author(s): Padgett, Alan G.
This article covers the historical and conceptual relationships between Western science and Christian thought, especially theology. As we shall see, these relationships have moved in both directions, with theology providing foundational assumptions for certain key scientists, and scientific discoveries challenging theology to revisit and revise its conclusions on several matters relating to a Christian understanding of the world, especially the doctrine of creation. 1. Historical Approaches Differing theories of the relationship between theology and science ha…


(6 words)

See Church of Scientology


(5,216 words)

Author(s): Cross, Richard
1. Duns Scotus It is generally thought that the Franciscan John Duns Scotus (ca. 1265–1308) was born either in December 1265 or sometime before March 1266 in the small Scottish village of Duns, just north of the border from England. Scotus was ordained in Northampton in 1291, indicating that he was probably studying in Oxford at this time. He remained in Oxford until perhaps 1301, during which time he began the composition of his questions on various logical and metaphysical works of Aristotle (Aristotelian…


(397 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen
The principle that Judaism demanded a life of studying the Torah and that the Torah must be applied to community life (J. Neusner) found concrete expression among professional scribes. Their prototype was Ezra (ca. 450 b.c.), who was “a scribe skilled in the law of Moses that the Lord the God of Israel had given” (Ezra 7:6). The scribes were expositors who made the directions of the Torah binding in various situations in daily life, teachers who passed on the contents and methods of their exposition to their students, and jurists who played a practical part in administering the law (Sir. 38:2…

Scriptural Proof

(1,932 words)

Author(s): Barr, James
“Scriptural proof” means a theological procedure by which scriptural passages are adduced or used in order to substantiate, verify, defend, or give authority to dogmatic or ethical assertions. 1. Judaism The basis for scriptural proof lies within Judaism: neither Greek culture nor the ancient Near East offers parallels. The dominant position of Scripture can be seen in a variety of Jewish traditions. Entire books could be rewritten in a way that brought them ¶ “up to date” (so Genesis and Exodus in Jubilees, Chronicles within the OT itself), and biblical genres were imitated …

Seafarers’ Mission

(4,944 words)

Author(s): Mattison, Robin Dale
1. Settings Seafarers’ mission is a workplace ministry with people of the sea and their families, including commercial fishers, seafarers, port and oil-rig workers, harbor officials, dock workers, truckers, and shipboard vendors, including prostitutes. The 1,900 seafarers’ missions throughout the world, both professional and voluntary, occur in three kinds of locales: on shore, with chapel, social center, and transportation services to local parishes to aid spiritual development, as well as resources for meeting physical fitness and cultural need…

Seal of the Confessional

(634 words)

Author(s): Stein, Albert
The “seal of the confessional” is the guarantee that whatever a penitent shares in the rite of penance (Penitence) will not be disclosed by any who hear it. The duty of silence that members of the clergy accept at ordination corresponds to the right of silence that the state extends to the clergy in court. The church’s basis for it is the Christian love that does not expose a neighbor except in emergency (Matt. 18:15) and that accepts responsibility for penitents, and also the confidence it has in its own pastoral care. Roman Catholic canon law (1983 CIC  983–84, 1917 CIC 889–90) strictly fo…


(1,377 words)

Author(s): Brockwell Jr., Charles W.
1. Term The term “sect” is a loanword from Lat. secta, sequor, and in the first instance it has the neutral sense of a school, following, party, or teaching, like the Lat. haeresis, a cognate of Gk. hairesis. Derivation from seco (cut, separate, break away) is etymologically incorrect but has led to popular disparagement. In the NT hairesis is used negatively (1 Cor. 11:18–19; Gal. 5:20; 2 Pet. 2:1) to speak of factions that produce schismata (divisions, schisms) in the church (Heresies and Schisms). As a result, the church throughout its history has used the term “…

Secular Institutes

(686 words)

Author(s): Grote, Heiner
In Christian history two motives have led to the founding of religious societies. The first has been a resolve to shun and flee the world (fuga mundi), the second a resolve to work in the world as it is by word and action (professio in hoc mundo). Many orders in Latin Christianity and congregations in the Roman Catholic Church resembled at first the modern secular institutes. We might think of the original efforts made by Angela Merici (1474–1540), Mary Ward (1585–1645), Vincent de Paul (1581–1660), and Pierre-Joseph Picot de Clorivière (17…


(1,545 words)

Author(s): Jaeschke, Walter
1. Definition “Secularism” denotes the many-faceted process of the disintegrating of the medieval European world, which stood under Christian influence, by the modern world (Modern Period; Modernity 4.3). In a transferred sense it denotes analogous processes in other cultures. As a category in the history of culture, it differs from secularization. It indicates a turning against God and the Christian faith that some evaluate positively, others negatively. In the history of Western culture secularism goes back fundamentally to the Middle Ages. It assumed a new q…


(3,072 words)

Author(s): von Oer, Rudolfine Freiin | Laeyendecker, Leo
1. Church History 1.1. Background According to Roman Catholic canon law, “secularization” means the transfer of persons and things from the sacral sphere to the temporal. While the secularization of individuals (e.g., from those in monastic orders to the status of secular clergy or laymen; Church Law) is known only where Catholic canon law is accepted, “secularization” in the sense of the desacralizing of material goods is widely used for the change from church to lay property. (German distinguishes Säkularisierung, “mental detachment with regard to religion,” from Säkularisation,…


(3,091 words)

Author(s): Hoeft, Jeanne
1. Term The term “self” commonly refers to the aspect of a person that is considered “inner”; it is often used interchangeably with “subject,” “person,” “identity,” “soul,” and “mind.” As a term of identification, self is opposed to that which is nonself. It is usually used in specific reference to the individual or item as bounded and distinct from others or from external entities and events. For persons, it is that which can be identified as one’s experience of continuity over time and place. The self is the subject and object of human consciousness. To say “I am ( or I am not) myself” impl…


(5 words)

See Pelagianism 4


(515 words)

Author(s): Spieckermann, Hermann
In 1781 A. L. Schlözer (1735–1809) used the term “Semitic” for the first time for the supposed original language of the Syrians, Babylonians, Hebrews, and Arabs, and J. G. Eichhorn (1752–1827) then popularized it for languages related to Hebrew (Hebrew Language). The term “Semites” goes back to Shem, the son of Noah. According to the table in Genesis 10, Shem and his brothers, Ham and Japheth, were the ancestors of all nations after the flood (v. 32). Though interpretation of the table is complex, ethnic considerations obviously played no great part in it. The dominant …


(1,227 words)

Author(s): Jenkins, Paul | Haenger, Peter
1. General Situation The Republic of Senegal is the westernmost country on the African continent. It is home to over 50 ethnic groups in three main linguistic families. Two-thirds of the population live in coastal areas, with more than one-quarter of the population in the capital, Dakar. The major ethnic groups are the Wolof (43 percent of the total population), Pular (24 percent), Serer (15 percent), and Jola (4 percent). The seminomadic Soninke and the Tukulor live in the Senegal valley. The Fulb…


(1,154 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Hans
1. Political Separatism is a breakaway movement either politically or ecclesiastically. In French séparatisme also denotes the separation of church and state. Politically, separatism involves the efforts to detach a state or a federation of states and either to make them independent or to incorporate them into a neighboring state. Germany after World War I saw a movement between 1919 and 1924 for a free Rhenish state. The term “separatism” replaced older ones such as Sonderbündelei (“special clustering,” after Sonderbund, “special federation,” used in the 19th century by R…


(2,829 words)

Author(s): Greenspoon, Leonard J.
Overview As the first written biblical translation, as a document of Hellenistic Judaism, and as an important source and resource for the authors of the NT and other early Christians, the Septuagint was enormously influential in antiquity and is eminently worthy of continued research today. Its full integration into biblical scholarship will enrich our understanding of and appreciation for those responsible for this remarkable document (or series of documents; Bible Versions 2.1). When the writers of the NT wished to cite what was for them and their audience authori…

Sermon on the Mount

(2,209 words)

Author(s): Burchard, Christoph
1. Title The title “Sermon on the Mount,” which goes back to Augustine (354–430), became established by the 16th century. It is used for the long address by Jesus at the beginning of Matthew (chaps. 5–7) and hence at the beginning of the NT. It has often been regarded as a summary of the preaching or ethics of Jesus. Sometimes the term is used, then, for all that Jesus proclaimed and not just for these three chapters. In the modern period, in which the sermon is valued as a secularized legacy of the church, the reference to Jesus and the Bible is often slight. 2. Contents In Matthew Jesus is speakin…


(328 words)

Author(s): Schnitker, Thaddeus A.
In both space and time the serpent has been a widely distributed symbol and even today figures as such in dreams and movies. The serpent is both sinister and dangerous yet also beautiful and mysterious. We find this ambivalence in all religions. The serpent is a symbol (§1) of the world of the dead, the underworld, and chaos, yet on account of its regular marking it also represents new life and immortality. It is also a phallic symbol. It often lives in water. Related to it is the dragon that lives in water or that breathes out fire. It gives wisdom and power but also is cunning and malicious. Especial…

Servant of the Lord

(834 words)

Author(s): Ruprecht, Eberhard
1. OT Usage The Hebrew word ʿebed means one who stands in service, whether as slave or royal minister. The ʿebed enjoys his master’s protection. Thus the author of a psalm of complaint can appeal to God as “your servant” (Ps. 86:2, and many other references). The phrase “Servant of the Lord” almost always has in view the special relation of an individual to God. From the time of the exile it became an honorary title for such model figures as Moses, David, and the prophets. 2. Deutero-Isaiah In Deutero-Isaiah four texts that have been traditionally understood Christologically (42:1–4 [5–7]; 49:…

Service Society

(1,692 words)

Author(s): Engfer, Uwe
1. Term Descriptively, the term “service society” refers to a national economy in which a majority of workers are engaged in the vocations and various branches of the service sector (i.e., the sector producing services, not goods). According to this criterion, the United States, Canada, the wealthier European countries, and Australia passed the threshold from an industrial society to a service society as early as the 1960s and 1970s. In the meantime, the predominant vocational activity in many other ¶ countries, especially in Europe and Asia, has shifted in the same direction. A more t…

Sex Education

(2,683 words)

Author(s): Jones, Stanton L. | Gorham, Jennifer N.
1. Basic Issues Sex education is an intensely debated issue in contemporary Western society. Sex education takes a variety of forms based on (1) the background cultural metanarrative framing the understood meaning of sexuality; (2) the ethical framework for the valuation of sexual action embedded in or shaping the educational approach; (3) the understanding of “audience” characteristics, including age and developmental readiness for different types of information and intervention; (4) the goals of …


(2,290 words)

Author(s): May, Melanie A.
1. Sexism and Gender Stereotyping Sexism is the ideology of male superiority and the practice, sometimes conscious and sometimes unconscious, of male supremacy over women. Sexism is integrally related to patriarchy, referring to structures and systems in which male heads of households hold sovereignty over all others—women, children, slaves of both sexes, and other property. Within this hierarchical order of things, women are seen to be weaker than men, in need of male protection and guidance. Even w…

Sexual Ethics

(1,997 words)

Author(s): Keil, Siegfried | Childs Jr., James M.
1. Concept and Concerns Sexual ethics involves the search not only for ethical orientation for personal behavior in the intimate sphere of auto-, homo-, and heterosexuality (Sexuality) but also for the social structuring of the political, economic, legal, and individual conditions affecting the emergence and development both of communities in the private sphere and of relationships between the sexes in both the private and the public spheres. It has, then, a key role as regards the understanding and…


(5,331 words)

Author(s): Looy, Heather
1. Definitions Sexuality refers to a dimension of human nature and experience that is intimately related to, but not identical with, sex and gender. Sex refers to a distinction based on reproductive function: individuals in a species who produce large, nutrient-rich gametes (eggs) are called female, while those who produce small, mobile gametes (sperm) are called male. Gender refers to psychological and behavioral differences associated with females and males. Gender identity reflects one’s internal sense of being male or female, while gender role refers to cultural expectati…
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