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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Upanishads

(912 words)

Author(s): Brück, Michael von
1. The Upanishads (Skt. upa-ni-ṣad, “set down close by,” in which students sit at the feet of their teachers, who by mystagogic instruction [rahasya] lead them to personal experience) are the heterogenous Sanskrit literature of Hinduisim, which, as the Vedanta (lit. “end of the Veda”), contain the Samhitas (the four great collections of Vedic writings: Rig-veda, Sama-veda, Yajur-veda, and Atharva-veda) and the Aranyakas (lit. “forest treatises”: spiritual commentaries on the Vedas deriving from the vānaprasthas, or forest-dwelling hermits). Some of the teachers (guru) are kn…

Upper Volta

(6 words)

See Burkina Faso

Urban Rural Mission

(606 words)

Author(s): Springe, Christa
1. Since 1978 the Urban Rural Mission has been a working group of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) of the World Council of Churches (WCC; Ecumenism, Ecumenical Movement 4.1); it arose out of the Urban Industrial Mission (UIM) and the Rural Agricultural Mission (RAM). A literal translation of the name can lead to misunderstanding, because goals, target groups, and work methods clearly differ from traditional “city mission” and “village mission” (Evangelism 1.3). URM belongs t…

Uruguay

(2,678 words)

Author(s): Prien, Hans-Jürgen | Zubillaga, Carlos | Costa, Néstor Da
Uruguay is a relatively small country situated in the southeast section of South America. It is bordered by Brazil (east and north) and Argentina (west) and has a large coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and the Río de la Plata (or River Plate, south and west). Its capital city, Montevideo, founded in 1724, has 47 percent of the total population. Overall, there is a high rate of urbanization (93 percent in 2003). 1. General Situation 1.1. Before European colonization, tribes of hunter-gatherers belonging to different native cultures lived in the southern region of the con…

USSR

(9 words)

Commonwealth of Independent States; Russia; Soviet Union

Usury

(376 words)

Author(s): Frost, Herbert
Adopting ancient cultural traditions (Babylon, Egypt, Rome) and Jewish rulings (e.g., Exod. 22:25; Deut. 23:19–20), the early church took up the question of usury. On the basis of Luke 6:35 (“lend, expecting nothing in return”), John Chrysostom (ca. 347–407) and Augustine (354–430) demanded full prohibition. The Council of Nicaea (325) forbade it absolutely for clergy. In the Carolingian capitularies we also find an absolute prohibition at the Synod of Paris in 829. Contemporary theology followed suit, and Lateran II (1139) confirm…

Utilitarianism

(1,422 words)

Author(s): Brown, Robert F.
1. Term Utilitarian philosophy is primarily an ethical system of principles for determining what is morally right. Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746) is one of its precursors. The principal founders of utilitarianism were the British philosophers Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806–73). Hutcheson was perhaps the first to state a version of the principle of utility, according to which the morally right alternative is the one that results in the greatest overall happiness. Bentham may have used the term “utilitarianism” infor…

Utopia

(1,809 words)

Author(s): Bender-Junker, Birgit
1. Term “Utopia,” a word that has found much use in political and social discussion, was originally a geographic metaphor. Then in France it denoted fictional reforms that were not practicable. T. More (1478–1535) combined the two uses in his Utopia (1516; see 2.1). His ideal state was located on a newly discovered island named Utopia (made up of Gk. ou and topos, meaning “nowhere”). The term achieved common usage in works describing ideal constitutions (novels about the state, as R. von Mohl called them in 1845). Independent of its literary model, the wor…