Sacramentum Mundi Online

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Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Karl Rahner with Cornelius Ernst and Kevin Smyth.
Advisor for the online edition: Karen Kilby, Durham University

Sacramentum Mundi Online is the online edition of the famous six volume English reference work in Catholic Theology, edited (in 1968-1970) by Karl Rahner, one of the main Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology was originally published by Herder Verlag, and is now available online at Brill.

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(6,018 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
A. History of the Doctrine The history of the doctrine concerning the magisterium is in the concrete almost identical with the history of the self-understanding of the Church itself, which cannot but understand itself essentially except as the bearer of the gospel message. To ask about the bearers of the message in the Church and their right to demand faith is always a question about the essence of the Church, and vice …

Man (Anthropology) - Biblical

(3,602 words)

Author(s): Rudolf Pesch
Part of Man (Anthropology): 1. Philosophical 2. Biblical 3. Theological 1. Preliminary questions of hermeneutics. None of the writings of the Old or New Testament represents a conscious attempt to produce a systematic anthropology either from the scient…

Man (Anthropology) - Philosophical

(1,755 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
Part of Man (Anthropology): 1. Philosophical 2. Biblical 3. Theological Anthropology is man’s explanation of himself, the reflection of his own being, a being that is never simply at hand as a given datum, but has always presented itself as a question, and (whether this is explicitly realized or not) has always had its existence merely as its own answer at any given time to that question. Here is not a matter of the content of this answer, or of the “object” of question and answer; the point of concern is rather the theoretical, scientific reflection on the different ways in which th…

Man (Anthropology) - Theological

(4,140 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Man (Anthropology): 1. Philosophical 2. Biblical 3. Theological Among the things directly spoken of by the word of God is man’s knowledge (e.g., Rom 1:19ff.; D 1806); it follows that methodological reflection by theology on its own activity is itself theology. What is intended here is, therefore, a theological reflection on theological anthropology, not on the secular sciences which in their various ways deal with man a posteriori and not on the basis of the revealed word of God. How a theological anthropology is distinguished from an a priori, transcendental understanding of man by metaphysics, cannot be laid down beforehand by definit…


(1,418 words)

Author(s): Robert Haardt
1. Introduction. Mandaeism is the religion of the Mandaeans, a Gnostic baptist sect which still survives in Southern Iraq and South-western Iran (Chusistan) with perhaps 5000 members. The name which they use of themselves, mandāiā, from


(2,701 words)

Author(s): Robert Haardt
1. Introduction. Manichaeism is the religion founded by Mani (Manes, Manichaeus; Μάνης, Μανιχαῖος; Syriac, Persian and Arabic: Mani). Mani was of the higher Parthian nobility, born in A. D. 216 in Babylon, where his father, Patik, joined a baptist sect (called in Syriac the menaqqedē, in Arabic al muġtasilah, "the washer…

Mariology - Biblical

(5,904 words)

Author(s): Michael Schmaus
Part of Mariology: 1. Biblical 2. Theological 3. Marian Devotions Mary, the “mother of Jesus” (Mk 6:8; Mt 13:55; Acts 1 :4), does not figure largely in the NT writings. The testimonies of faith in her regard take on greater extent and depth with the growing interest in the life of Jesus, the death and resurrection of Jesus being the event first and primarily proclaimed in Scripture. In the letters of Paul, which are earlier than the gospels, Mary is mentioned only in Gal 4:4. But the important truth is already uttered here. Paul speaks of the Messiah by speaking of Mary, though without mentioning her name. “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” According to this text, Mary is the place in which the Son of God entered human history. The birth from a woman guarantees the true humanity and historicity of the crucified and risen Lord whom Paul preaches, and excludes all “spiritualizing” tendencies. When Christians began to have recourse to the life and actions of Jesus before his death and resurrection, the mother of Jesus who was part of his life began to play a greater role. This new interest was satisfied most fully in the gospels of Matthew and Luke (about A. D. 80), which narrate the conception and birth of Jesus and do not confine themselves like Mark to scenes from the public life of Jesus. According to the gospel of Mark (3:20 f.; 3:31–35), Jesus’ relatives, and also his mother — whose participation, however, was merely that of a silent bystander — sought to fetch Jesus back home, since his activity was arousing the crowds and drawing attention. Mt (12:46–50) and Lk(8:19f.) present this text in such a way as to lessen the awkwardness for Christian readers. Lk gives another scene from the public life of Jesus. He relates that when a woman praised his mother, he responded by saying, “Yes, blessed indeed are they who hear the word of God and follow it” (this translation is more correct than “No, blessed rather . . .”). Interest in the beginning of the life of the Messiah led to the composition of the infancy narratives in Mt 1 and 2 and Lk 1 and 2. They diverge from each other in many points, especially the genealogies, so that the stories cannot be fully harmonized. The two evangelists were obviously drawing on different streams of tradition. Further, each evangelist list had a theological purpose, which meant that the traditions were placed in a theological perspective. Both infancy narratives have ОТ and Jewish traits. The influence of the story of Moses is recognizable in Mt. His text is interwoven with ОТ quotations and composed as the fulfilment of ОТ promises. The Aramaic background is also perceptible in Lk. Both narratives are in the line of popular traditions, recounting, for instance, many apparitions of angels, in contrast to the other parts of the gospels. But the historical kernel remains. We learn that Mary came from Nazareth and that she was espoused to Joseph, of the house of David (Mt 1:18; Lk 1 :26f.). Whether Mary herself was of the house of David is not clear from the text. Joseph’s ancestry was enough to make Jesus legally son of David. Before Mary had been brought to Joseph’s house as his married wife, the angel Gabriel announced to her (Lk l : 26 ff.) that she was most highly favoured and that the Lord was with her. She was to conceive and bring forth a son whom she was to call Jesus. Her motherhood was not to come about through human intervention but through the action of the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:18; Lk 1:35). The heavenly message telling her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah prompted her to pay a visit to her cousin Elizabeth. The evangelist attributes to Elizabeth, to Mary herself and to Simeon, as he greets the Messiah in the temple, hymns of praise and thanks which are mosaics of ОТ elements. The birth takes place in Bethlehem (Mt 1:23; 2:1; Lk 1:27; 2:4). Shepherds come to pay homage to the child, and wise men from the East. Herod’s murderous intentions force Mary to take refuge in Egypt. When the family returns, Mary lives at Nazareth with Jesus and Joseph (Mt 2:23; Lk 2:39). Jesus was circumcised and presented in the temple according to the prescriptions of the law (Lk 2:21–40). Only one other scene from the childhood of Jesus is narrated, the visit to the temple in Jerusalem (Lk 2:41–52).…

Mariology - Marian Devotions

(3,017 words)

Author(s): Michael Schmaus
Part of Mariology: 1. Biblical 2. Theological 3. Marian Devotions 1. There are many reasons why the eyes of faith should be fixed with special attention on Mary and why special reverence is due to her: her relationship to Christ, her role in the history of salvation, her perfect mode of redemption and the special nature of her membership of the Church. But the reverence paid to her is always distinguished in the faith of the Church and in theological thought from the adoration …

Mariology - Theological

(2,539 words)

Author(s): Michael Schmaus
Part of Mariology: 1. Biblical 2. Theological 3. Marian Devotions A. The Problem Mariology concerns us here not in the sense of theological reflection on the person and character of Mary, her role in the history of salvation and the orderly presentation of the results, but as reflection on these primary theological truths. Hence our primary interest is not the content of Mariology, but the ranging o…

Marriage - Family

(3,982 words)

Author(s): Jakob David
Part of Marriage: 1. Institution and Sacrament 2. Parents 3. Family The Church’s teaching on the family, if it is to meet present-day needs, must present an up-to-date realistic approach together with a deeper theological outlook. Over-romantic, patriarchal or sentimental ideas of family life no longer carry conviction. Neither can the picture we give be an over-abstract one, divorced from the actual realities of modern families. It must rather take sympathetic account of the nature, difficulties and opportunities of the family as it is.…

Marriage - Institution and Sacrament

(12,905 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Marriage: 1. Institution and Sacrament 2. Parents 3. Family A. Sociology and History of Religion …

Marriage - Parents

(4,700 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
Part of Marriage: 1. Institution and Sacrament 2. Parents 3. Family A. Parenthood 1. When parents bring a child into the world, they make use of their ability to participate in God’s creative power, which they do in a human and therefore analogous, but nevertheless unique manner. In giving new life, they share the work of the ultimate giver of all life. They are made more perfect through parenthood, as the child that has been given life opens up the well-springs of maternal and paternal love. Like God, who in his wisdom created us out of pure love, they not only take upon the…


(1,612 words)

Author(s): Otto Semmelroth
Etymologically, “martyrdom” means much more than “suffering death for the faith”, a restricted sense which the word came to have very early, not indeed in the NT, but attested in the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, c. 150. In the NT it means giving testimony, but in words, by preaching, and not that of being killed in odium fidei. It is revealing for the nature of the Christian faith that a word which in general(though not exclusively) meant testimony came to be used in christianity for that given by suffering death for the Christian faith, while …

Marxism - Dialectical Materialism

(2,234 words)

Author(s): Gustav A. Wetter
Part of Marxism: 1. System and History 2. Dialectical Materialism 3. Historical Materialism 1. History. One of the specific aims of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is to train everybody in their territory in the spirit of the Marxist-Leninist ideology. Since the party has full control of all the organs of State, there exists in th…

Marxism - Historical Materialism

(2,415 words)

Author(s): Nicholas Lobkowicɀ
Part of Marxism: 1. System and History 2. Dialectical Materialism 3. Historical Materialism 1. Concept. While dialectical materialism deals with the ontology and epistemology of the Leninist version of Marxism, historical materialism comprises the philosophy of history and the sociology adopted in the Marxist view of the world. Since Stalin, historical materialism has often been put forward as an application of the basic principles of dialectical materialism to history and society. But in fact dialectical materialism is an extrapolation performed by Engels and can be replaced by other ontologies…

Marxism - System and History

(2,523 words)

Author(s): Werner Post
Part of Marxism: 1. System and History 2. Dialectical Materialism 3. Historical Materialism 1. Concept and general problem, a) Marxism is the philosophical term used to describe not only Marx’s teaching but also the numerous additions, developments, revisions and immanent criticisms of that teaching. Marxism is thus a collective concept under which many individual Marxisms may be subsumed, although they differ from one another, sometimes even considerably. Thus the name Marxism-Leninism is given to the modification and application of the Marxist teaching in the Russian Revolution; heretics are called revisionists; there are left and right-wing deviationists, and finally there are numerous national (e.g., Chinese, Yugoslav, etc.) versions of Marxism. Formally this multiple interpretation of Marxism raises a primary fundamental difficulty of Marxism: the problem of an authoritative exposition in practice for any particular historical or social situation. The root of this difficulty lies in the specific nature of Marx’s work itself. Theory and practice affect each other dialectically, philosophy does not rest content with the interpretation of historical phenomena, it must be implemented; and vice-versa, every theory must draw into its reflections the concrete social situation in which it is dialectically involved. Thus with a change of historical and material conditions, the theory itself changes. Marx never reflected systematically enough on this scientific method of his for a heuristic principle to be derived from it for the process of the internal revision of Marxism…

Mass Stipend

(1,104 words)

Author(s): Klaus Mörsdorf
A Mass stipend is an offering, normally consisting of money, which is entrusted to a priest as depository and which is to be ordained by him to an offering of holy Mass. 1. History. The Mass stipend was developed as a special use from the offertory of the eucharistic celebration. According to ancient Christian understanding, the eucharistic Communion at table was constitut…


(1,541 words)

Author(s): Marcel Reding
The term “materialist” first appears in Robert Boyle for the older “Epicurean”. While some historians of philosophy regard the existence of “materialism” as being as old as philosophy itself (so, for instance, the Marxists), and find it clearly propounded by the ancient Greek philosophies of nature, as in Democritus and Epicure, others date materialism, in the strict sense, only since the concept was “clearly demarcated by Decartes” (R. Eucken). The older philosophies of nature contained so much…


(1,834 words)

Author(s): Gernot Eder
1. Matter (from the Latin mater, materia) is primarily the “maternal element”, the raw material such as wood which can be worked upon and given shape. This technological and artistic notion of matter has two components. O…


(4,736 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
A. Introduction The discussion of “meaning” may well begin from one of its synonyms: “sense”, where the difference between the subjective (“feeling”, “opinion”, “discernment”) and the objective stands out at once — “that which is reasonable” — as in the common phrase: “that makes sense”. So too “meaning” can be either subjective — “that which is in the mind or thoughts” — or objective, “that which has significance” or purpose, as in the phrase once so common as the title of books — “the meaning of…
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