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 versa. Hence as regards the history of dogma and of theology in this connection, it will suffice to a great extent to refer to the articles Church II, III, Word of God, Bible I, Tradi…

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 scientific, the philosophical or the theological points of view. In view of the complexity of the material covered by anthropology, which embraces the most disparate periods and branches of tradition, it is especially important to determine the line of approach of th…

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…

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…


(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 mandā, “knowledge”, means “Gnostics”, while the older term by which they described themselves, nasorāiā (Nasoraeans) means “Observants”. The ambiguous term Sabeans (baptists) which is found in Moslem literature from the Koran on ( Sura, 2, 59; 5, 73; 22, 17) may possibly refer to the Mandaeans (among others), who are known at the present day as subba (b…


(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 washers", possibly akin to the Mandaeans). Mani also adhered to the sect in his early youth. Inspired by divine revelation, which he received according to the legend at the ages of twelve and twenty-four, he began to preach in 240 a…

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 al…

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 due to God alone. Mary is ne…

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 of this content in its place in theology as a whole. But the two elements cannot be kept totally separate, since…

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. A. The Family in the Order of Creation We lay pa…

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 1. Sociologically speaking, marriage is a sexual fellowship, the structure of which varies considerably according to general social conditions. Modern fieldwork in anthropology rebuts 19th-century evolutionary theories (especially that of Morgan) to the effect that marriage gradually developed from primitive promiscuity through various stages of group marriage (sexual relations of all the men with all the wom…

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 i…


(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 the Soviet Union — and the same holds for the other States where Communists hold power — a State-supported ideology. It is made not only the basis of the entire economic, socia…

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 mat…

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 modificat…

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 constituted by an offering of gifts. This was a right and honour which belonged only to full members of the Church, and which was at the same time a duty for all who t…


(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. One is its property of being open to methods of working upon it and to being moulded to a certain end (the property which led to its being considered potentia). The other is the comparative solidity and durability of the material and the product into which it is worked. The durability does not change by reason of the work done upon it, which l…


(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…


(1,072 words)

Author(s): Otto Semmelroth
1. The reality denoted by the term mediator is of central importance for the Christian faith. The ОТ people of God was aware that its relation to God passed through intermediaries. The form of mediation changed in the course of history, assuming different forms in the patriarchs, national leaders such as Moses, Joshua, judges and kings, prophets and levitical priesthood. Religious mediatorship received its, fullest expression in the incarnate Son of God; the faith of the NT people of God is therefore essentially a religion of the mediator. Mediatorship denotes a position and the fu…


(664 words)

Author(s): Adolf Darlap
God’s mercy is described as the readiness of God to come to the aid of his distressed creature out of free grace. Man’s primal experience of God as the God of mercies, compassion, and forgiveness is recorded in many ways in the books of the Old and New Testaments (on the biblical doctrine see Charity I, Grace and Salvation). In theology mercy is axiomatically predicated of God as one of his essential attributes, because being infinite in every perfection ( D 1782) his just and holy nature precludes all cruelty and unfair severity. Moreover, mercy is an actual attitude of Go…


(2,589 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
The theological question of merit is concerned with the question of whether man can gain merit before God by his moral acts, especially when these acts are inspired by grace. One of the aspects of the problem is how far such a notion, which stems from human relationships, can be applied to the relationship of man to God. To avoid misunderstandings about the theological applicability of the concept, some remarks on how merit works between men may be desirable. 1. In human relationships, merit is understood as the claim for recompense which arises from actions performed on b…


(1,578 words)

Author(s): Pierre Grelot
In theology and apologetics, Messianism is often made to include all that concerns the promise and expectation of salvation, since it all prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. This is all the more understandable because the title of Christ (the Greek equivalent of Messiah, Jn 1:41), that is, the Anointed, has practically absorbed all other titles in Christian usage. Strictly speaking, however, the name of Messiah should be reserved for one who is consecrated by an anointing for a particular f…


(5,294 words)

Author(s): André Feuillet
The noun metanoia and the corresponding verb metanoein are only rarely used in the LXX: 27 times in all, the verb occurring 22 times, the noun only 5 times. The NT uses them more frequently, and they are found 24 times in the Synoptic Gospels, 7 times in the Pauline writings, once in 2 Pet and 12 times in Apoc. In common Greek usage, the words indicate a change of mind, which is the predominant sense in the classical period, or regret for past conduct, which is predominant among the Stoic writers of th…


(2,665 words)

Author(s): Alois Halder
1. The ancient origins. “After physics”, τά μετά τά φυσικά was originally a heading in a catalogue of a library. When editing the Corpus Aristotelicum, Andronicus of Rhodes used this heading to range “after the writings on physics” the fourteen books in which Aristotle developed a “first science” (πρώτη φιλοσοφία) distinct from all other sciences. This placing of the subject was possibly inspired by pedagogical motives, to suggest that this supreme science could only be properly dealt with and assessed after the treatm…

Methodist Churches

(1,834 words)

Author(s): John Charles Maraldo
Methodism, born of the revivalist movement in England in the early 18th century, today claims more than 14 million members who basically share their founder’s belief in God’s saving grace and justification for all. 1. Origins and history. The religious quarrels of the 17th century, as well as the after-math of rationalism and the writings of English deists, brought about the doctrinal indifference, sober piety and the general loss of fervour which characterized the Anglican Church at the beginning of the next century. In November 1…
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