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Joseph

(550 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen
Joseph is a common name in the Bible. It means “may he [God] add [more sons]” (Gen. 30:23). 1. The patriarch Joseph was the son of Jacob and Rachel. Tradition locates his grave at Shechem (Josh. 24:32; Gen. 50:25). He was the tribal head of the central Palestinian tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, generally referred to as the house of Joseph (Deut. 33:13–17; ¶ Judg. 1:22–23). He was also the hero of the Joseph story in Genesis 37 and 39–47, 50, which differs considerably, both materially and formally, from the other patriarchal narratives (Patriarchal History), and in which s…

Scribes

(397 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen
The principle that Judaism demanded a life of studying the Torah and that the Torah must be applied to community life (J. Neusner) found concrete expression among professional scribes. Their prototype was Ezra (ca. 450 b.c.), who was “a scribe skilled in the law of Moses that the Lord the God of Israel had given” (Ezra 7:6). The scribes were expositors who made the directions of the Torah binding in various situations in daily life, teachers who passed on the contents and methods of their exposition to their students, and jurists who played a practical part in administering the law (Sir. 38:2…

Paul

(4,084 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen
1. Sources Paul is one of the best-known figures from the early days of Christianity and perhaps from all later antiquity. This knowledge derives from the nature of the sources. The NT canon contains seven letters of Paul that are undoubtedly authentic. In the probable order of their composition, these are 1 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Philemon, and Philippians. The letters were public or official rather than private, for as we see from the greetings, Paul wrote them in …

Wine

(793 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen
1. OT Viniculture finds early attestation in Israel. Along with grain and oil, wine symbolized agrarian prosperity (Hos. 2:8; Gen. 27:28; Deut. 7:13, etc.). The spies who investigated the promised land brought back giant grapes (Num. 13:21–27) to show what wealth God had promised his people. The autumn harvest was a time of rejoicing (Isa. 16:9). Wine was an everyday drink and was generally judged positively (Judg. 9:13; Ps. 104:15; Deut. 8:7–10). It was a gift of God that brought joy (Judg. 9:13; Eccl. 9:7). But warnings against intoxication had to be given (Amos 6:6; Isa. 5:11–12, 22; 28:1…

Pentecost

(807 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen
Along with Easter (deriving from Passover), Pentecost is the only Jewish feast to have found a place in the Christian calendar. The term comes from Gk. pentēkostē, “50th [day],” which was used in Hellenistic Judaism (Tob. 2:1; 2 Macc. 12:32). The reference is to the festival on the 50th day after Passover. 1. OT In the OT Pentecost is a harvest festival at the end of the wheat harvest. The usual term for it is the Festival of Weeks ( ḥag [ haš] šābuʿôt, Exod. 34:22; Deut. 16:16, etc.), with reference to the seven weeks from the beginning of the harvest (Deut. 16:9–10). Already in Lev. 23:15…

Catholic Epistles

(190 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen
Since the third century the term “Catholic Epistles” has been used for the seven NT letters other than Hebrews that are not part of the Pauline collection (Eusebius Hist. eccl.  2.23.24–25). Originally the term seems to have been coined for 1 John (Dionysius of Alexandria; Eusebius 7.25.7), which, because it was not addressed to any church in particular, was thought to be directed to the whole church and thus universally binding (i.e., “Catholic”; Catholic, Catholicity). The description was then transferred to the whole seven, although in some cases (e.g., 2–3 John), the basic c…

Andreas roman:(Zwölferkreis)

(187 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen
[German Version] and his brother Simon Peter (I) were the first two disciples called by Jesus (Mark 1:16–18 parr.). While Peter with the two sons of Zebedee (John, son of Zebedee; James, Son of Zebedee) was among Jesus' three closest friends, the Synoptic Gospels do not present Andrew as a distinct individual. Apart from the…

Sociohistorical Exegesis

(2,072 words)

Author(s): Schulz, Hermann | Roloff, Jürgen
1. General 1.1. Term The term “sociohistorical exegesis” covers various sociologically oriented analyses of the literary sources of the OT and NT. Biblical categories of sources and text types can usually be put in different religious-social, sociopolitical, and cultural groups and movements that may differ locally, regionally, and also in time. 1.2. History This type of exegesis involves several types of research. Social history plays a large part in recent international study. Economic history is a central ¶ theme in the study of the ancient Near East, of classical anti…

Exegesis, Biblical

(4,587 words)

Author(s): Smend, Rudolf | Roloff, Jürgen
1. OT 1.1. Jewish Exegesis in Antiquity and the Middle Ages Jewish exegesis of the OT precedes Christian exegesis. It had models in the OT itself, where many of the later texts refer to earlier ones, applying, varying, and extending them in a variety of ways. More or less regular exegesis arose once the texts had taken a fixed form and become canonical (Canon). Although true commentaries with linguistic and factual elucidations came only in the Middle Ages (such as those by Rashi, Abraham Ibn Ezra, David K…

Redeemer

(4,527 words)

Author(s): Rudolph, Kurt | Roloff, Jürgen
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Religious studies has adopted the term redeemer from the biblical language of Christianity to represent Latin redemptor (Vulgate) and Greek ῥυόμενος/ rhyómenos or λυτρωτής/ lytrōtḗs (Job 19:25; Isa 63:16; Acts 7:35; Rom 11:26). Luther used Erlöser (“redeemer”) in these cases, but Heiland (“savior”) to represent Latin salvator and Greek σωτήρ/ sōtḗr. The terms are synonymous in both German and English. The worldwide use of the term in non-Christian contexts has increasingly made it part of the metalinguistic te…

Church Government

(5,330 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen | Frost, Herbert | Thon, Nikolaus | Link, Christoph
1. Early Church Tendencies 1.1. Two Fundamental Convictions Two fundamental convictions concerning the nature of the church, which are of great significance for the later development of church government, become evident in the NT writings. 1.1.1. The church has its origin in God’s actions in Jesus Christ. It is ekklēsia, or the people of the end time chosen and sanctified by God, to whom belongs the sphere of the sacred. Because he alone exercises his dominion over the church through the Holy Spirit, the church does not stand at the disposal of any human control or power (1 Cor. 3:16–17). Th…

Eucharist

(12,466 words)

Author(s): Bieritz, Karl-Heinrich | Roloff, Jürgen | Schnurr, Günther | Wainwright, Geoffrey
Overview The Eucharist (or Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper) has had from the very beginning a place of special importance in the life of Christianity. The eating and drinking of bread and wine in obedience to the command of Jesus at his Last Supper with his disciples is a sensory representation of the spiritual reality of the Christ whom Christians believe in and confess. The celebration of the Eucharist shows clearly, and makes known, that which Christian life in praise and thanksgiving atte…

Congregation

(6,436 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen | Grünberg, Wolfgang | Albrecht, Horst | Rouleau, Jean-Paul | Ritschl, Dietrich
1. NT 1.1. Term The word “congregation” has become established alongside “church” as English translations of the central NT word “ecclesia” (Gk. ekklēsia, originally meaning “assembly, gathering”). In modern theology a distinction is seen that is materially, though not semantically, based on the NT but that raises ecumenical problems. The congregation is the specific local assembly, whereas the church is the people of God as a universal entity and in its extralocal forms of organization. 1.2. Beginnings In its beginnings, emerging Christianity was mostly organized loca…

Grace

(7,671 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Roloff, Jürgen | Mehedintu, Viorel | Wagner, Harald | Heron, Alasdair I. C.
Overview In common parlance the words “grace” and “gracious” denote a human attitude. A gracious person is kind, well-disposed, considerate, gentle, and ready to show favor, to pardon, or to show clemency. The terms also occur in courtly formulas. In a legal setting grace is shown by the authorities when a reprieve or amnesty is granted. The language of religion (cf. ideas of redemption in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Jainism) understands grace as divine assistance, the unmerited mercy of God, though also the mercy that may be expected on the basis of sacrifices or works. Grace is a ce…

Salvation

(10,026 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Roloff, Jürgen | Stöhr, Martin | Ciobotea, Dan-Ilie | Wagner, Harald | Et al.
Overview What Christianity has to say about salvation (Soteriology) is essentially bound up with the name and history of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else …”). This verse expresses a universal claim and distinguishes it from, or even contradicts, what other religions and worldviews have to say about salvation. Christianity speaks of salvation as a gift of God’s love (Grace) for us and our world that transcends death, ¶ bestows life, and promises eschatological fulfillment (Eschatology; Hope). This understanding presupposes that human beings (…

God

(13,726 words)

Author(s): Colpe, Carsten | Heintel, Erich | Reichenbach, Bruce R. | Preuss, Horst Dietrich | Roloff, Jürgen | Et al.
1. Ideas of God in the Religions Ideas are phenomena. We may interpret them in broader social and intellectual contexts, but they also speak for themselves in images, words, names, and texts. Even when deity is their content, they can display only themselves, not show whether revelation or merely human imagination underlies them, though this observation does not mean that we can rule out divine revelation. To speak of an idea of God tacitly presupposes horizontal comparison between societies and cultures. We set different ideas of God on different levels, thou…

Church

(19,949 words)

Author(s): Fahlbusch, Erwin | Roloff, Jürgen | Ritter, Adolf Martin | Papandreou, Damaskinos | Döring, Heinrich | Et al.
1. Subject, Tasks, and Problems of Ecclesiology 1.1. The Church of Faith The early confessions, following the NT, relate the church to the Holy Spirit as an object of the faith that is the Spirit’s work (“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy church …”). The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed characterizes the church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, while the Apostles’ Creed ¶ speaks of “the holy catholic church, the communion of saints.” Theological reflection in dogmatics develops these statements of faith into the doctrine of the church (ecclesiology…

Jesus Christ

(19,624 words)

Author(s): Roloff, Jürgen | Pokorný, Petr | Köpf, Ulrich | Lathrop, Gordon W. | Krötke, Wolf | Et al.
[German Version] I. Name and Titles – II. Jesus Christ in the History of Christianity – III. Jesus Christ in Other Religions – IV. Jesus Christ in Jewish Perspective – V. Jesus Christ in Islamic Perspective – VI. Jesus Christ in Art I. Name and Titles 1. Jesus of Nazareth a. Terminology The appellation Jesus Christ signals a significant tension regarding the figure in question. Although generally understood as a double name, it originated as a fusion of two heterogeneous elements: the theophoric personal name Joshua/Jeshua (Heb. “the Lord help…