Encyclopedia of Christianity Online

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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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Macao

(7 words)

See Hong Kong and Macao

Macarisms

(4 words)

See Beatitudes

Maccabees

(4 words)

See Hasmonaeans

Macedonia

(2,057 words)

Author(s): Kuzmič, Peter
1. Geography and Independence Macedonia is a land-locked South Slavic country in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula, bordering on Kosovo and Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. In 1994 ethnic Macedonians accounted for 66.6 percent of the population, ethnic Albanians 22.7 percent, ethnic Turks 4.0 percent, Roma 2.2 percent, and Serbs 2.1 percent. More than a quarter of the population lives in the capital city of Skopje. The boundaries of the …

Madagascar

(1,312 words)

Author(s): Southall, Aidan W.
1. General Situation The Republic of Madagascar, off the coast of southeast Africa, is the world’s fourth largest island. The Arabs knew it from the ninth century. In 1506 the Portuguese became the first Europeans to reach it; in 1896 it became a French colony (Colonialism), achieving independence in 1960. A military regime took over in 1972, soon thereafter imposing a ban on multiparty politics that lasted until the presidential and National Assembly elections of 1992–93. By the constitution of 19…

Magic

(1,039 words)

Author(s): Kippenberg, Hans G.
1. Term and Meanings The term “magic” derives by way of Lat. magia and Gk. mageia from OPer. magu-, a word of uncertain etymology denoting a priestly clan. In antiquity the term came to denote the more general practice of magic. Supernatural ability, rituals (Rite), automatic writing, and secret information were its stock-in-trade. Despite Christian opposition, it persisted in the Christian era. The study of comparative religion (Religious Studies) made the concept a basic category in the 19th century, treating magic as no less fundamental than religion. In 1931 B. Malinowski (…

Magic Square

(6 words)

See Word Square

Magisterium

(5 words)

See Teaching Office

Magnificat

(4 words)

See Canticle

Mahabharata

(408 words)

Author(s): Söhnen-Thieme, Renate
The Mahabharata (Skt. Mahābhārata, “Great History of the Bharata Dynasty”) comprises, together with the Purana-like Harivamsa ( Harivaṁśa, or genealogy and life of Krishna), over 100,000 Sanskrit stanzas, composed presumably between the fourth century b.c. and the fourth century a.d. The core of the epic is the conflict between the Pāṇḍavas (Pāṇḍu’s sons, including the Dharma-king Yudhiṣṭhira and Krishna’s friend Arjuna) and their hostile cousins, the Kauravas (descendants of Kuru), with whom they were contesting the sovereignty of North India. Of the 18 books…

Malachi, Book of

(326 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Winfried
1. Name, Author, Form “Malachi” is not the name of a prophet but simply means “my messenger” (see 3:1). We do not know, then, the name of the author. The work consists of six discussions setting out a thesis, stating the arguments against it, then establishing it and drawing out the implications. This form influenced later scribal disputations (Scribes) in early Judaism. 2. Contents The book deals with the people’s offering of worthless sacrifices and reduced tithes, divorce and mixed marriages, and proclamation of the day of God’s judgment. Many scholars vi…

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

(11 words)

See Syrian Orthodox Churches in India

Malawi

(844 words)

Author(s): Amanze, James N.
1. General Situation The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country of East Africa, bordered on the east, south, and southwest by Mozambique, by Zambia on the west, and by Tanzania on the north. It stretches 900 km. (560 mi.) along Lake Malawi (or Lake Nyasa), most of which is part of Malawi territory. Bantu tribes migrated into the area in the 16th century, with Arab slavers appearing in the 19th century ( Slavery). In 1891 the area became the British protectorate of Nyasaland (Colonialism), which achieved its independence in 1964. The country w…

Malaysia

(1,408 words)

Author(s): Kasch, Volker
1. General Situation Malaysia lies in the tropics north of the Equator. It embraces two areas separated by approximately 600 km. (375 mi.) across the South China Sea: the Malay Peninsula and parts of the island of Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) to the north outside the sultanate of Brunei. The Malaysian peninsula is bordered on the north by Thailand and on the south by Singapore. The country’s capital is Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian peninsula has 43 perce…

Maldives

(441 words)

Author(s): Editors, The
1. General Situation The Republic of Maldives, comprising a pencil-shaped cluster of 26 atolls, lies in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of India. Only about 200 of its 1,190 islands are permanently inhabited. No island is over 13 sq. km. (5 sq. mi.) in area; the highest point in any of them is only 2.4 m. (8 ft.) above sea level. Maldives is important geopolitically because of its location astride or along major sea lanes in the Indian Ocean. Ethnically, Maldivians are a mixture of South Indians, Sinhalese, and Arabs; the official language is Dhivehi, of Sanskrit or…

Mali

(805 words)

Author(s): Jenkins, Paul
1. General Situation The Republic of Mali, in the interior of western Africa, is one of the largest countries of Africa. It stretches 1,500 km. (930 mi.) from the central Sahara (the traditional salt mines of Taoudenni) to the Sahel area southwest of the Niger River. Between Tombouctou (traditionally spelled “Timbuktu”) and Ségou, in the Macina region, the river branches into a large inland delta, an area of lakes and swamps, once a single lake, that the ever-encroaching desert threatens. Astride important north-south trans-Saharan caravan routes and the west-east routes …

Malta

(495 words)

Author(s): Grima, George
1. Christian Mission It is commonly agreed that the apostle Paul himself brought Christianity to Malta when he was shipwrecked on the island on his way to Rome (Acts 27–28). Ancient Christian remains, especially catacombs, bear witness to an established church there in the 3d century. Little is known about the history of Christianity in Malta in the next seven centuries, but we have evidence of a substantial Christian presence after the 11th century. Today most of the people of the Republic of Malta belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The constitution recognizes this…

Mandaeans

(925 words)

Author(s): Nagel, Peter
1. Term The term “Mandaean” is used for a Gnostic-type baptismal fellowship (Baptism) that existed on the eastern borders of Syria and Palestine in the first century a.d. and that is the only one of such representatives of the syncretism of antiquity to survive to this day. Modern Mandaeans, some 15,000 in number in the late 1970s, live in the marshy delta region of the Tigris and Euphrates, in the Iranian province of Khūzestān, and in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Basra. Since the Iran-Iraq War of 1980–88 we have not had reliable statistics about their numbers. Within East Aramaic the …

Manichaeanism

(1,239 words)

Author(s): Nagel, Peter
1. Religious Type and Features Manichaeanism, named after its founder, the Persian Mani (a.d. 216–76/77), is a Gnostic-type dualistic religion of redemption, though by its origin and in its manifestations it differs in many respects from Syrian and Egyptian Gnosis. It is (1) a religion founded by a historical personage, (2) a universal religion with a world mission, and (3) a book religion with a canon of sacred writings. Structurally, it involves a hierarchically ordered church, which it views as a means o…

Manipulation

(1,030 words)

Author(s): Valk, Jakob M. M. de
1. Term The word “manipulation” derives from Lat. manus (hand) and plero (fill). Semantically, it is akin to handling, but with the negative connotation of illegitimate or doubtful modes of handling. Though it may be used with reference to nature, it refers primarily to acts relating to people, whether physical, psychological, or social. One might define it as a deliberate influencing of individuals and groups that are not aware of…
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