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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Sabbatarians

(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 E…

Sabbath

(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 …

Sabellianism

(6 words)

See Christology 212; Trinity

Sacrament

(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…

Sacramentality

(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 num…

Sacramentals

(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…

Sacristy

(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…

Sadducees

(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 po…

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

Salvation

(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 eccles…

Samaritans

(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…

Sanctification

(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 Spac…

Sanctuary

(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, corner of a room, grave, or meeting place). It may symbolize the center of the world (Gk. omphalos, “navel,” was a name for the oracle at Delphi), but not universally so. Its origin is often obscure but may often be associated with the manifestation of a deity or a superhuman or sacral power. Such a revelation, not the place itself, is the basis of its sanctity. The religious fellowship upholds and protects the sanctity of the place by rules and codes of conduct (involving purity, inviolability, peace, the right of asylum). If it is important, it will have an altar (of stone or wood) and one or more representations (concrete or…

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

Sanctus

(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; …

Satan

(4 words)

See Devil

SATOR

(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…

Saul

(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; …

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, w…

Schisms

(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 signific…

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 vario…

Scholasticism

(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 produc…

Scholium

(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

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…

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 eschatolog…

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 have also spawned differing approaches to the history of science and Christianity. Of particular import, in terms of its influence upon recent thought, is the conflict model. The most famous and influential works from this perspective were written in the 19th century by John William Draper (1811…

Scientology

(6 words)

See Church of Scientology

Scotism

(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…

Scribes

(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 (…

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 …

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 needs…

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…

Sect

(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 “sect” for heterodox opinions and parties, just as Paul said the Jews used it to denote the followers of “the Way” (Acts 24:14). In classical Greek hairetikos could deno…

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…

Secularism

(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 goe…

Secularization

(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, “transfer of ecclesiastical persons and material goods, real estate, and rights of government to civil possession.”) In the Middle Ages and early modern times, sovereign rights were regarded as property. German historiography thus distinguishes between the secularization of sovereignty and that of material goods. A common view, found not merely in Christianity, is that material goods donated to spiritual institutions are dedicated irrevocably, since the …

Self

(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” implies a reference point that is the “I” and is not the “I,” subject and object, the one knowing and the one known. Key questions in theorizing the self include: Is the self substance or event, an unchanging given or a developing emergent? To what extent is “self” thought of and practiced in normative terms? How does the self relate to the body and other aspects of personhood? Is there a self in actuality, or is it simply a pragmatically useful hypothetical construct? Is there a self that can be postu…

Semi-Pelagianism

(5 words)

See Pelagianism 4

Semites

(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 …

Senegal

(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…

Separatism

(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,…
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