Sacramentum Mundi Online

Purchase Access
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.

For more information:


(2,304 words)

Author(s): Karl Lehmann
1. History of the concept. The terms “phenomenon” and “appearance” containa remarkable duality: something makes its appearance. We distinguish between what something is in and for itself (and for others) and the manner in which it shows itself to us. The phenomenon points back to a being (“in itself’) which is different from the appearance, while the identity and difference which dominate this combination constitute the very nature and the problem of the phenomenon. Must we look to that which is, in and of itself, more than appears or is displayed to us — or is that which appears the bein…

Philosophy and Theology

(3,537 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
A. Introductory It is hard today to define philosophy. Any answer to what philosophy is proves to be Itself one of the many philosophies which now exist. Naturally — because philosophy differs from “regional” thinking by including its own nature in its thought and hence neither can nor will exclude anything from its questioning a priori. (Hence it can on principle take in a self-understanding of man based on revelation, since philosophy finds it at least a datum of history.) Then again, in spite of its claim to absolute “universality” in its object …

Philosophy - History of Philosophy

(3,742 words)

Author(s): Richard Schaeffler
Part of Philosophy: 1. The Basic Questions 2. History of Philosophy The history of philosophy and its meaning are themselves philosophical problems. In earlier times, it was mainly seen as the various solutions which could be given to the same problems. The registration of such opinions, “doxography”, is best known from the relatively late work of Diogenes Laertius ( Lives of the Philosophers, 3rd century A.D.; Theophrastus [4th century B.C.] had also collected the φυσιϰαί δόξαι, Doctrines of the Physicists, preserved in frg.). Doxography could be made to serve systematic …

Philosophy - The Basic Questions

(11,091 words)

Author(s): Richard Schaeffler
Part of Philosophy: 1. The Basic Questions 2. History of Philosophy A. Philosophy: The Word and Its Many Meanings According to the literal meaning of the word, philosophy is not a learned science, but an attitude to life: hence the call “to live philosophically" (φιλοσοφικώς ζῆν). It differs from other attitudes inasmuch as its goal and supreme value is “wisdom” (σοφία), while other attitudes see the highest values elsewhere (φιλαργυρία aims at riches, φιλοτιμία at honours, and so on). For the self-understanding o…


(1,054 words)

Author(s): Wenzel Lohff
Pietism is a comprehensive term for a widespread and manifold movement within Protestantism in the early 17th century. The first half of the 18th century was its heyday but it made itself felt in 19th-century revivalism and is still a force even today (e.g., among the Moravian Brethren and some types of Methodism). Pietism does not look on the Reformation as a mere occurrence in the past that is now embodied in an institution, but as an event that the Church must constantly actualize if Christ’s kingdom is to be a living reality. The substance of all pietism is a longing for praxis pietatis, the …


(2,068 words)

Author(s): Ekkart Sauser
1. Definition. The idea of pilgrimage has three aspects, a) Under certain circumstances God responds to prayer in a special way. b) This special activity of God or a divinity is particularly manifest in certain places which on that account become centres of pilgrimage c) In order to benefit by this special responsiveness of God, of the divinity or of certain heroes and holy persons, one must make a pilgrimage to this place of favour or deliverance, undertake a journey which forms a unity with the…


(2,144 words)

Author(s): Friedo Rieken
A. Meaning The. meaning of Platonism depends on how the work of Plato is assessed, and which elements are considered essential and characteristic acteristic. Till the beginning of the 19th century, Plato was considered above all for his contribution to ontology, natural theology and cosmology. This was the view transmitted through the interpretation and continuation of Plato’s philosophy by his pupils Aristotle, Speusippus and Xenocrates, by Middle Platonism (Plutarch, Albinus, Apuleius, etc.) and by neo-Platonism. The Timaeus, which deals with cosmology (Latin translat…


(1,474 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
1. Introduction: Homo ludens. In keeping with the usual contrast between the playful and the serious, play is primarily thought of in connection with childhood, of which it is thought to be the typical activity. Thus it is explained as excess of energy (H. Spencer), as rest after strain, or as practice and self- education for the serious matters of life (K. Groos), though subjectively stemming from the urge to activity and motivated by “delight in functioning”. E. Haigis, however sees it as an enco…


(1,158 words)

Author(s): Manfred Hättich
Pluralism is a term now used to characterize modern society in various ways. The pluralist society displays a high degree of heterogeneity in comparison with a society regarded as homogeneous. Sometimes the term is used unfavourably, to signify disintegration in comparison with a society regarded as integrated. It can also be used to contrast the immanent dynamism of modern society with more static societies. Instead of “pluralist”, it would be preferable to speak of the “plural” society when registering existing structures. Pluralism would then be a positiv…