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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Iona Community

(394 words)

Author(s): Brown, Graeme
1. Origin The Iona Community, an ecumenical Christian community, was founded in 1938 when George F. MacLeod (later MacLeod of Fuinary) gathered a group of Church of Scotland ministers in training and unemployed craftsmen to rebuild the monastic quarters of an ancient Benedictine monastery on the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. Iona had been the base for the Celtic mission from the sixth century a.d. 2. Aims The aims of the Iona Community have been to engage in mission, particularly in relation to industry (Industrial Society), to the great new housin…


(2,328 words)

Author(s): Anschütz, Helga
1. Geography and Recent History Iran, lying between the 25th and 40th northern latitudes, borders on Turkey and Iraq to the west; Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east; Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and the Caspian Sea to the north; and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. It includes a number of Persian Gulf islands in its territory. Iran is a land bridge between Asia Minor and central Asia. Its high country consists of mountains, steppes, and deserts. Iran’s main economic activit…

Iranian Religions

(2,807 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten
1. Definitions Iranian religions are the authentic religions of peoples and tribes that spoke or speak Iranian languages. One may also refer to other religions whose features appear in Iranian religions and are material variants of them. We do not include religions in non-Iranian languages that are native to territories that came under the rule of Iran (e.g., the Elamites) or that came to Iran later and in so doing underwent changes (e.g., the many Turkic tribes) or that are regarded as their own only by a few Iranian speakers (e.g., the Buddhism of the Sakas and Sogdians). The Iranian la…


(974 words)

Author(s): Koszinowski, Thomas
1. Geography and Economy Iraq’s population is mostly Arabs, with about 23 percent Kurds. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers create favorable conditions for agriculture, which is but poorly developed. Oil is the most important economic factor. It brought in 26 billion dollars in 1980 and is the basis of a large-scale development program. As a result of the Gulf Wars and the economic boycott imposed by the United Nations since 1990, however, this program largely came to a standstill. 2. Political Development With the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, Iraq came …


(1,579 words)

Author(s): Falconer, Alan D.
Although Ireland became two states in 1922—with the establishment of the Irish Free State, which became the Republic of Ireland in 1949, and Northern Ireland, which remained part of the United Kingdom—the churches remained organized on an all-island basis. The pattern of membership distribution of the various churches on the island, however, is not uniform in the two states. 1. Churches 1.1. Roman Catholic Church The Irish Catholic Church, which traces its roots in Ireland to at least the beginning of the fifth century, is the largest church on the island. Th…

Irenaeus of Lyons

(1,336 words)

Author(s): Donovan S.C., Mary Ann
Irenaeus of Lyons (fl. 180) was a second-century bishop whose work shaped the Scriptures, exegesis, institutions, theology, and spirituality of early Christianity so profoundly that his imprint remains discernible almost two millennia later. Through his teacher, Polycarp, Irenaeus retained a link to the first Christian generation, since Polycarp had talked “with John and with others who had seen the Lord” (Eusebius Hist. eccl.  5.20.6). Eusebius preserved part of the letter in which Irenaeus described his early years with Polycarp in Smyrna (modern-day Tu…


(952 words)

Author(s): Gloy, Karen
1. The term “irrationalism” comes from the Lat. irrationalis, which ranges in meaning from the opposite of rationalis (i.e., “incomprehensible” or “illogical”) to the opposite of “reasonable” (i.e., an attitude that is not subject to the universal and subjectively communicable laws and structures of thought but determined by illogical forces). According to the position vis-à-vis the rational and the related evaluation, there are two forms of irrationality: that which is above the rational (i.e., the suprarational or transintelligible) and that which is below it (i.e., the …


(345 words)

Author(s): McKane, William
1. Biblical Tradition Stories about Isaac appear in Genesis 17–28. Although they are largely to be ascribed to J, P is represented at the beginning (17:15–27) and end (27:46–28:9), and E in 21:1–7 and 22:1–19 (Pentateuch). Chap. 26 elaborates most fully on Isaac’s life, including his adventures and quarrels in Gerar, God’s theophany in Beer-sheba with the promise to bless Isaac, and his covenant with Abimelech. 2. History of Scholarship Isaac has been described as a legendary figure (H. Gunkel; Abraham), as a figure representing tribal history (O. Eißfeldt), th…

Isaiah, Book of

(2,801 words)

Author(s): Dietrich, Walter
1. Overall Structure Ever since B. Duhm’s epochal commentary (1892), scholars have generally divided the Book of Isaiah into three parts: • ¶ Isaiah I, chaps. 1–39, according to the dating in 1:1; 6:1; 36:1, the testament of the prophet Isaiah from the eighth century b.c.; • Isaiah II (Deutero-Isaiah), chaps. 40–55, which the reference to Babylon (43:14; 47) and the election of the Persian king Cyrus (558–29; Isa. 44:28; 45:1) identify as an exilic prophecy; and • Isaiah III (Trito-Isaiah), chaps. 56–66, which the mention of the second temple (§1) and of the rebuilding of Jerusalem (60:7, 10…


(7,074 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz | Smith, Jane I.
Islam is the monotheistic, revealed religion founded by the prophet Muḥammad. From its original home in the Arabian Peninsula, Islam spread over the Near East, North Africa, central Asia, India, and Indonesia, and it is still winning new adherents in Africa and around the world. In a.d. 2000 approximately 1.2 billion people are Muslims, some 20 percent of the world population. The countries that are home to the largest numbers of Muslims are Pakistan (150 million), India and Indonesia (120 million each), Bangladesh (110 million), Iran (75…

Islam and Christianity

(3,804 words)

Author(s): Löffler, Paul | Swanson, Mark N.
1. Context and Historical Sketch 1.1. As the 20th century drew to its close, many Christians sensed both the urgency and the promise of new developments in the 1,400-year-old history of Christian-Muslim relations. Dramatic gestures such as the visits of Pope John Paul II to Muslim leaders throughout the world communicated the widely felt sense that new Christian attitudes toward Islam were developing and that new conversation and cooperation between Christian and Muslim theologians and institutions w…

Islamic Philosophy

(3,284 words)

Author(s): Vouwzee, Samir | Kropp, Manfred
1. Basis and the Various Approaches to Theology and Law The Koran is the basis for the development of Islam, providing obligatory guidelines for its expression. In contrast, the tradition of the Prophet Muḥammad (ca. 570–632), with his sayings and deeds, gives Islam its practical side. The relation between the Koran and the tradition (sunnah) is like that between an architect’s master plan and the detailed instructions of the builder. When Islam spread outside Arabia, social and political issues arose that were not covered by the religious statute…


(11,300 words)

Author(s): Gunneweg, Antonius H. J. | Awerbuch, Marianne | Kimball, Charles A.
1. Historical Israel 1.1. Name “Israel” is a theophorous name in which the proper name “El” (God) is combined with the verb śrh as its subject. The OT gives this verb the sense of striving. The patriarch Jacob is called Israel because he had “striven with God” (Gen. 32:28, see also Hos. 12:3–4). This popular etymology, however, is not a reliable witness for the original meaning of the verb, and it also misunderstands the theophoric element “El” as an object. In the OT, the name “Israel” refers to different, albeit related, entities: the early tribes, the united kingdom of …


(3,255 words)

Author(s): Milaneschi, Cesare | Cunsolo, Ronald S.
1. Roman Catholic Church As Raffaele Pettazzoni has stated, the history of Italian religion may be seen in terms of the creative tension between the institutionalized, dogmatic religion of the state (religione dello stato) and the personalized, voluntaristic religion of the individual (religione dell’uomo). 1.1. Roman Empire The Roman Empire, in which the Christian message first spread, had a religion that sought the perpetuity and “salvation” of social and political institutions (Hellenistic-Roman Religion). The Edict of Milan (313) ended t…