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Annex 3: Glossary

Bernard de Clairvaux
Ecumenical Movement
Godfrey de Bouillon
Holy Spirit
Josephus, Flavius
Knights of Jerusalem
Knights Templars
Lateran Council
Magic (Sorcery)
Mendicant Friars
Nag Hamadi
Nicaea, Council of
Teutonic Knights
Transmigration (Reincarnation)
Trent (Councils of)
Trinity (Holy)


Albigenses, followers of the single most important heresy within the Christian church during the Middle Ages. They were named after the town of Albi, in southern France, a major centre of the movement.
The Albigenses were believers in the Manichaean dualistic system that flourished in the Mediterranean area for centuries. The dualists believed in the separate and independent existence of a god of good and a god of evil. Within western Europe, the adherents of dualism, called Cathari (from the Greek katharos, meaning “purified”), first appeared in northern France and the Low Countries toward the late 11th or early 12th century. Persecuted and expelled from the North, the Catharist preachers travelled south and found far greater success in the semi-independent province of Languedoc and the surrounding areas. There they became known as Albigenses.
The Albigenses believed that the whole of existence was a struggle between two gods: the god of light, goodness, and spirit, usually associated with Jesus ; and the god of evil, darkness, and matter, identified with Satan. Whether the two deities wielded equal power or whether the forces of evil were subordinate to the forces of good was a question subject to considerable debate; but, by definition, anything material, including wealth, food, and the human body itself, was evil and abhorrent. The soul had been imprisoned by Satan in the human body, and the only hope of human salvation was to live a good and spiritual life. By living a good life, a person could win freedom after death from material existence. Failure to achieve righteousness during one’s lifetime would result in the soul’s being born again as another human being or even as an animal. The Albigenses believed that Christ was God, but that during his time on earth he was a kind of angel with a phantom body taking the appearance of a man. They held that the traditional Christian church, with its corrupt clergy and its immense material wealth, was the agent of Satan and was to be avoided.
Adherents of the Albigensian doctrine were divided into the simple believers and the “perfects.” The perfects vowed themselves to lives of extreme asceticism. Renouncing all possessions, they survived entirely from donations given by the other members as well as their work. They were forbidden to take oaths, to have sexual relations, or to eat meat, eggs, or cheese. Only the perfects could communicate with God through prayer. The simple believers might hope to become perfects through a long initiation period followed by the rite called consolamentum, or baptism of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. Some would receive this rite only when they were near death.
The Christian church initially attempted to reconvert the Albigenses through peaceful means. When every attempt failed, Pope Innocent III launched the armed Albigensian Crusade (circa 1209-29) that brutally repressed the Albigenses and desolated much of southern France. Small groups of Albigenses survived in isolated areas and were pursued by the Inquisition as late as the 14th century.


Boniface VIII (circa 1235-1303), pope (1294-1303), upheld the absolute power of the papacy. He was born Benedetto Gaetani (Caetani) in Anagni, Italy. He was appointed (1281) a cardinal. He succeeded in persuading the incompetent pope Celestine V to resign his office and succeeded him as Boniface VIII.
A major part of Boniface’s pontificate was carried on in confrontation with Philip IV of France. It began when Philip and Edward I of England imposed illegal levies on the church to finance their armies. Boniface replied with the bull Clericis Laicos (1296), in which he forbade the collection of taxes from the clergy without express papal consent. He wrote the bull Unam Sanctam (1302), in which he asserted the supremacy of the pope over all rulers in temporal as well as in spiritual affairs. Declaring Boniface guilty of heresy, Philip ignored the bulls and soon declared his intention of deposing Boniface. In 1303 Boniface was about to excommunicate Philip for his disobedience when supporters of the king, together with Italian enemies of Boniface, made the pope prisoner at Anagni. Although liberated shortly thereafter, Boniface, probably mistreated, died three weeks later on October 11, 1303.


Apocrypha (Greek apokryphos, “hidden”), word coined by the 5th-century biblical scholar Saint Jerome for the biblical books received by the church of his time as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament, but that were not included in the Hebrew Bible. In the Authorized, or King James, Version, the books are either printed as an appendix or are omitted altogether; they are not considered canonical by Protestants.


Apostasy, the total abandonment of Christianity by a baptized person. In the early church it was considered one of the unpardonable sins, the other two being murder and fornication. Apostasy is to be distinguished from laxity in the practice of religion and from heresy, the formal denial of one or more doctrines of the Christian faith. In Roman Catholic canon law, the term also refers to the abandonment of the religious state by a monk or nun who has taken perpetual vows and leaves the religious life without the appropriate dispensation.


Arianism, a Christian heresy of the 4th century that denied the full divinity of Jesus Christ. It was named for its author, Arius. A native of Libya, Arius studied at the theological school of Lucian of Antioch, where other supporters of the Arian heresy were also trained. After he was ordained a priest in Alexandria, Arius became involved (319) in a controversy with his bishop concerning the divinity of Christ. Arius was finally exiled (325) to Illyria because of his beliefs, but debate over his doctrine soon engulfed the whole church and agitated it for more than half a century. Although his doctrine was eventually outlawed (379) throughout the Roman Empire by Emperor Theodosius I, it survived for two centuries longer among the barbarian tribes that had been converted to Christianity by Arian bishops.

The teaching of Arius was condemned in 325 at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea. The 318 bishops assembled there drafted a creed that stated that the Son of God was “begotten not made,” and consubstantial with the Father; that is, the Son was part of the Trinity, not of creation. Previously, no creed had been universally accepted by all churches. The status of the new creed as dogma was confirmed by bans against the teaching of Arius.
Despite its condemnation, the teaching of Arius did not die. Under the influence of the Greek church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, whose orthodoxy had also been questioned, Emperor Constantine I recalled Arius from exile about 334. Soon after, two influential people came to the support of Arianism: The next emperor, Constantius II, was attracted to the Arian doctrine; the bishop and theologian Eusebius of Nicomedia, later patriarch of Constantinople, become an Arian leader.
By 359 Arianism had prevailed and was the official faith of the empire. Quarreling among themselves, however, the Arians divided into two parties. The semi-Arians consisted mostly of conservative eastern bishops, who basically agreed with the Nicene Creed. The neo-Arians said that the Son was of a different essence from, or unlike, the Father. With the death of Constantius II in 361, and the reign of Valens, who persecuted the semi-Arians, the way was opened for the final victory of Nicene orthodoxy, recognised by Emperor Theodosius in 379 and reaffirmed at the second ecumenical council (Constantinople I) held in 381.


Asceticism (Greek askesis, “exercise”), practice of self-denial and renunciation of worldly pleasure in order to attain a higher degree of spirituality, intellectuality, or self-awareness. Among the ancient Greeks, the term originally denoted the training practiced by athletes and soldiers. In Greek philosophy, the adherents of Cynicism and Stoicism adopted the practice of mastering desire and passion. Asceticism is practiced to some extent by the adherents of every religion. It often requires abstinence from food, drink, or sexual activity, as in fasting or celibacy. It may also require physical pain or discomfort, such as endurance of extreme heat or cold or self-punishment (FLAGELLANTS) SUFISM. It may require withdrawal from the material world to a life of meditation, as in the practice of Yoga.

Bernard de Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint (1090-1153), French ecclesiastic, born near Dijon. In 1113 he became a monk in the Cistercian monastery of Cîteaux, a small village south of Dijon, and in 1115 he became abbot of a monastery at Clairvaux, north of Dijon. Under his rule the monastery at Clairvaux became the most prominent of the Cistercian order. Reputed miracles and the eloquent preaching of Bernard attracted numerous pilgrims. Between 1130 and 1145, more than 90 monasteries were founded under the auspices of the one at Clairvaux, and Bernard’s influence in the Roman Catholic church spread throughout the world. He is reputed to have established the rule of the Order of Knights Templars, and in 1128 he obtained recognition of the order from the church. In the contest between Pope Innocent II and Antipope Anacletus II for the papacy, Bernard was instrumental in the victory of Innocent. In 1146, at the command of the pope, Bernard began his preaching of the Second Crusade. His sermon, delivered at Vézelay, aroused enthusiasm throughout France; Louis VII, king of France, was persuaded to join the Crusade, and subsequently Bernard gained recruits from northern France, Flanders, and Germany. The failure of the Crusade was a great blow to him. He was canonised in 1174 and named Doctor of the Church in 1830. His feast day is August 20.
Bernard was an uncompromising opponent of heresies.


Bogomils, members of a religious sect that arose in the 10th century in the Balkans. The chief centre was in Bulgaria, and the cult spread among other Slavic peoples. The movement resulted from a blending of Eastern dualism and an evangelical attempt to reform the Bulgarian Orthodox church. The Bogomils, whose fundamental doctrines are attributed to a Bulgarian priest called Bogomil, held that the first-born son of God was Satanael. Satanael rebelled and created, in opposition to the original spiritual universe, a world of matter and human beings. The Supreme Father gave these human beings a life spirit. This life spirit, however, was kept in slavery by Satanael until a second son of God, the Logos, or Christ, came down from heaven and, assuming a phantom body, broke the power of the evil spirit, who was henceforth called only Satan, the divine name, El, being dropped. The Bogomils practised a severe asceticism, despised images, and rejected the sacraments. They accepted the whole of the New Testament, but of the Old Testament only the Psalms and Prophets, which they interpreted allegorically. The morals and ideals of the Bogomils seem to have been much above the average of their time.
In 1118 the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus executed the leader of the sect for heresy. At the time of the Muslim conquest of Bosnia in the 15th century, the majority of the Christians who embraced Islam, the religion of the conquerors, were Bogomils. Before the Bogomils were suppressed, they influenced the development of the Albigensian and Cathari groups of France and Italy in the 12th and 13th centuries.


Buddha (563?-483? BC), Indian philosopher and the founder of Buddhism, born in Kapilavastu, India, just inside present-day Nepal. He was the son of the head of the Sakya warrior caste, with the private name of Siddhartha; in later life he was known also as Sakyamuni (Sage of the Sakyas). The name Gautama Buddha is a combination of the family name Gautama and the appellation Buddha, meaning “Enlightened One.”
All the surviving accounts of Buddha’s life were written many years after his death by idealizing followers rather than by objective historians. Consequently, it is difficult to separate facts from the great mass of myth and legend in which they are embedded. From the available evidence, Buddha apparently showed an early inclination to meditation and reflection, displeasing his father, who wanted him to be a warrior and ruler rather than a religious philosopher. Yielding to his father’s wishes, he married at an early age and participated in the worldly life of the court. Buddha found his carefree, self-indulgent existence dull, and after a while he left home and began wandering in search of enlightenment. One day in 533, according to tradition, he encountered an aged man, a sick man, and a corpse, and he suddenly and deeply realized that suffering is the common lot of humankind. He then came upon a mendicant monk, calm and serene, whereupon he determined to adopt his way of life and forsake family, wealth, and power in the quest for truth. This decision, known in Buddhism as the Great Renunciation, is celebrated by Buddhists as a turning point in history. Gautama was then 29 years old, according to tradition.
Wandering as a mendicant over northern India, Buddha first investigated Hinduism. He took instruction from some famous Brahman teachers, but he found the Hindu caste system repellent and Hindu asceticism futile. He continued his search, attracting but later losing five followers. About 528, while sitting under a bo tree in Buddh Gaya, in what is now the state of Bihar, he experienced the Great Enlightenment, which revealed the way of salvation from suffering. Shortly afterward he preached his first sermon in the Deer Park near Benares (Varanasi). This sermon, the text of which is preserved, contains the gist of Buddhism. Many scholars regard it as comparable, in its tone of moral elevation and historical importance, to Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
The five disciples rejoined Buddha at Benares. Accompanied by them, he traveled through the valley of the Ganges River, teaching his doctrines, gathering followers, and establishing monastic communities that admitted anyone regardless of caste. He returned briefly to his native town and converted his father, his wife, and other members of his family to his beliefs. After 45 years of missionary activity Buddha died in Kusinagara, Nepal, as a result of eating contaminated pork. He was about 80 years old.
Buddha was one of the greatest human beings, a man of noble character, penetrating vision, warm compassion, and profound thought. Not only did he establish a great new religion, but his revolt against Hindu hedonism, asceticism, extreme spiritualism, and the caste system deeply influenced Hinduism itself. His rejection of metaphysical speculation and his logical thinking introduced an important scientific strain heretofore lacking in Oriental thought. Buddha’s teachings have influenced the lives of millions of people for nearly 2500 years.


Carolingian, sometimes called Carlovingian, second dynasty of Frankish kings who ruled parts of Western Europe from the 7th to the 10th centuries. The family was descended from Pepin the Elder of Landen, a powerful landowner who served Clotaire II, the Merovingian king of the Franks, as mayor of the palace of Austrasia from around 584 to 629. Pepin’s grandson, Pepin of Herstal, eventually succeeded to the mayor’s position, and by AD 687 he had become the effective ruler of the entire Frankish kingdom, although the Merovingians nominally wielded the royal power. Pepin of Herstal was in turn succeeded by his illegitimate son, Charles Martel, and by two grandsons, Carloman and Pepin the Short. Carloman later abdicated, and in 751 Pepin the Short was crowned as the first Carolingian king of the Franks. This date is generally regarded as the beginning of the Carolingian dynasty. It is historically significant that Pepin was the first Frankish king whose coronation was sanctified by the Roman Catholic church.
Pepin the Short was succeeded by his two sons, Carloman and Charlemagne, who at first ruled the kingdom jointly. After 771 Charlemagne was sole ruler and vastly increased the kingdom. At its greatest extent, it included what is now France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Low Countries, and northern Italy. On December 25, 800, Charlemagne was crowned the first emperor of the revived Western Roman Empire. As emperor, Charlemagne established his court as a center of learning, thus beginning the Carolingian Renaissance. Charlemagne achieved fame in many parts of the world for his promotion of education and the arts. When he died, his son Louis I inherited the kingdom. Upon his death, the kingdom was divided among his three surviving sons, who fought each other for the title of emperor. In 843 the kingdom was formally divided by the Treaty of Verdun. Thereafter the power of the dynasty further declined. The German line, which also ruled the Holy Roman Empire, became extinct in 911 and was replaced by the Saxons; the French line held power until 987, when it was succeeded by the Capetians.


Cathari (Greek katharos, “pure”), name assumed by many widely diffused heretical Christian sects of the Middle Ages. The Cathari were characterised by a rigid asceticism and by a dualistic theology based on the belief that the universe comprised two conflicting worlds, the spiritual world created by God and the material world created by Satan. Their views were based on the religious doctrine of Manichaeism.
Included under the general name of Cathari were the Novatians, a sect originating in the 3rd century that advocated the denial of church membership to “fallen” Christians. The Paulicians were a kindred sect; they had been transported to the region of Thrace in south-eastern Europe in the 9th century and united with the Bogomils. In the second half of the 12th century the Cathari were in great strength in Bulgaria, Albania, and Slavonia. They divided into two branches, distinguished as the Albanenses (absolute dualists) and the Garatenses (moderate dualists). In Italy the heresy appeared in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Milanese adherents of the heresy were known as Patarini (or Patarines), from Pataria, a street in Milan frequented by rag gatherers. The Patarine movement assumed some importance in the 11th century as a reform movement, emphasising action by lay people against a corrupt clergy.
The Cathari reached their greatest numbers in southern France; here they were called Albigenses or Poblicants, the latter term being a corruption of Paulicians, with whom they were confused. By the late 14th century, however, the Cathari had all but disappeared. Their decline was caused, for the most part, by a rise in the popularity of mendicant orders. The only extant Catharist writing is a short ritual in the Romance language of the 13th-century troubadours.

( French Cathars, see Albigenses)


Church (movement), the historical movement that arose from the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Christians believe that God founded the church through the work of Jesus and that it is sustained by the continual presence of the Holy Spirit.
In New Testament Greek, the word for church is ekklesia, meaning “those called out,” those called by God away from their natural communities to form a new and deeper one. The word church itself is a corruption of the Greek adjective kyriakon, meaning “the Lord’s.” Invading barbarian tribes in the 4th and 5th centuries understood the word to refer to the church building-the “Lord’s house”-in the towns they occupied. They later applied it to the Christian people.

Descriptions of the Church
The New Testament offers many metaphors for the church, four of which follow. One, it is the body of Christ. Christ is the head, Christians the many members. Two, the church is related to Christ as branches to a vine. A more intricate and pervasive relationship is implied by this image than by the image of the body. Three, the church is the bride of Christ, an image that stresses the personal, intimate quality of the relationship and the depth of mutual commitment. Four, the church is the people of God, a description that stresses, on one hand, the continuity of the church with Israel and, on the other, its potential universality.
Marks of the Church
Traditionally, the church is said to have four marks, or notes: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The church is affirmed as one because it confesses one Lord and is animated by one Spirit; as holy because God claims it, not because of its moral perfection; as catholic because it transcends all the divisions of humanity; and as apostolic because it maintains continuity with the apostolic teaching and mission. These marks are attributed to the church in faith and hope, and in the recognition that the visible condition of the church often does not correspond to them.

Theories of Organization
Three theories of church structure may be identified. In the first, organic structure, authority is understood to reside in the whole body of Christians, clergy and laity together, whose leaders are empowered by the Spirit acting through the whole body (sobornost). In the second, hierarchical structure, authority originates in the clerical hierarchy, whose ministry to the laity makes laypeople members and so forms the church. In the third, sectarian structure, authority resides in individual Christians, who band together as a congregation. No actual church perfectly embodies any of these structures, but, theoretically, Orthodox churches best typify the first, Roman Catholic churches the second, and Protestant churches the third.


Cynics, members of a school of Greek philosophers founded during the second half of the 4th century BC. Diogenes of Sinope is generally regarded as the founder, but Antisthenes, a pupil of Socrates, has also been proposed. According to Aristotle, Diogenes was a well-known figure, nicknamed Kyon, the Greek word for “dog.” The word Cynic may have been derived from Kyon and applied to the members of this school because of their unconventional mode of life, or from Cynosarges, a gymnasium where Antisthenes taught.
The Cynics contended that civilization, with its attendant ills, was an artificial, unnatural condition and that it should be held in contempt. Hence, they advocated returning to a natural life, which they equated with a simple life, maintaining that complete happiness can be attained only through self-sufficiency. Independence is the true good, not riches or luxuries. It follows that the Cynics were exceedingly ascetic, regarding abstemiousness as the means to human liberation. They did not propose the gratification of natural appetites so much as the nongratification of artificial ones.


Docetism, an early Christian heresy affirming that Jesus Christ had only an apparent body. The doctrine took various forms: Some proponents flatly denied any true humanity in Christ; some admitted his incarnation but not his sufferings, suggesting that he persuaded one of his followers-possibly Judas Iscariot or Simon of Cyrene-to take his place on the cross; others ascribed to him a celestial body that was incapable of experiencing human miseries.
This denial of the human reality of Christ stemmed from dualism, a philosophical doctrine that viewed matter as evil. The docetists, acknowledging that doctrine, concluded that God could not be associated with matter. They could not accept a literal interpretation of John 1:14 that the “Word became flesh.”
Although docetism is alluded to in the New Testament, it was not fully developed until the 2nd and 3rd centuries, when it found an ally in Gnosticism. It occasioned vigorous opposition by early Christian writers, beginning with Ignatius of Antioch and Irenaeus early in the 2nd century. Docetism was officially condemned at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.


Dominicans or Friars Preachers, members of the Order of Preachers, a Roman Catholic religious order founded in 1214 by Saint Dominic. With 16 disciples he founded the order at Toulouse, France, for the purpose of counteracting, by means of preaching, teaching, and the example of austerity, the heresies prevalent at the time. The order was formally recognised in 1216, when Pope Honorius III granted the Dominicans the necessary papal confirmation. He also granted them a number of special privileges, including the right to preach and hear confessions anywhere without obtaining local authorisation. The necessity for such an order had become apparent to Dominic during his early attempts, about 1205, to convert the Albigenses; it was at that time that he resolved to devote his life to the evangelization of the heretical and the uneducated.

Preachers and Upholders of Orthodoxy
The Dominicans insisted on absolute poverty, rejecting the possession of community property and becoming, like the Franciscans, a mendicant order. It was not until 1425 that permission to hold property was granted to certain houses by Pope Martin V; it was extended to the entire order by Pope Sixtus IV in 1477. The first Dominican house was founded at the Church of Saint Romain in Toulouse, from which, in 1217, Dominic sent some of his disciples to spread the movement elsewhere in France as well as to Spain. Within six years the order was also introduced into England, with the founding of a house in Oxford. In England the Dominicans acquired the name of Black Friars from the habit they wore outside the friary when preaching and hearing confessions, a black coat and hood over a white woollen tunic. By the end of the century 50 friaries were functioning in England, and the order had houses in Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Bohemia, Russia, Greece, and Greenland.
In accordance with the declared purpose of their foundation, the Dominicans have always been known as dedicated preachers and as combatants against any departure from the teaching of the Roman Catholic church. In the latter capacity they were entrusted with the supervision of the Inquisition as an ecclesiastical enterprise, and even in Spain, after the Inquisition became virtually a department of civil government, a Dominican was usually at its head. The office of master of the sacred palace, the pope’s personal theologian, created for St. Dominic in 1218 and subsequently endowed with great privileges by Pope Leo X, has always been held by a member of the order. After 1620, one of the duties of the position was to allow or forbid the printing of all religious books.
Auxiliary Orders
An order of Dominican nuns was founded by Dominic in 1205, before the male branch of the order was established. They nevertheless called themselves the Second Order of St. Dominic. In 1220, to provide a constant supply of lay defenders of the church against the assaults of the Albigenses and other militant innovators, Dominic established the Militia of Jesus Christ and pledged its members to defend the church with arms and their possessions. In the late 13th century it joined with the Brothers and Sisters of the Penance of St. Dominic, another lay group vowed to piety, which was under the direction of the First Order. The new body was called the Third Order of St. Dominic.
Today the head of the entire order is the master general, whose term of office is 12 years; his residence is at Santa Sabina, in Rome. The order is organised into geographic provinces, each with a provincial at its head. The chief apostolate of the order is educational. The Dominicans therefore retain their original characteristics as teachers and upholders of orthodoxy.


Dualism also has an ethical aspect, namely, in the recognition of the independent and opposing principles of good and evil. This dualism is exemplified in Zoroastrianism and in the Manichaean religion (see MANICHAEISM).

Ecumenical Movement

Ecumenical Movement, movement for worldwide cooperation and unity among Christian churches. The term ecumenical is derived from the Greek oikoumene (“inhabited”); thus, ecumenical councils of the church, the first of which was held at Nicaea in 325, were so designated because representatives attended from churches throughout the known world. In the 19th century, the term ecumenical came to denote to the Roman Catholic church a concern for Christian unity and for a renewal of the church. To Protestants who have pioneered in and advanced the modern ecumenical movement since the early 20th century, the term has applied not only to Christian unity but, more broadly, to the worldwide mission of Christianity.
Until the 20th century, only sporadic efforts were made to reunite a Christendom shattered through the centuries by schisms, the Reformation, and other disputes. Pressure toward unity was aided in the 19th century by the development of such organizations as the missionary and Bible societies and the Young Men’s Christian Association and Young Women’s Christian Association, in all of which Protestants of varying denominations joined in support of common causes. In the early 20th century, the unity movement was almost exclusively Protestant.

Purposes of Ecumenism
The World Missionary Conference of 1910, held in Edinburgh, marked the beginning of modern ecumenism. From it flowed three streams of ecumenical endeavor: evangelistic, service, and doctrinal. Today, these three aspects are furthered through the World Council of Churches, constituted in 1948; in the early 1980s it included more than 295 churches in more than 90 countries.

The Second Vatican Council
Change came in 1959, when Pope John XXIII proposed the calling of a second Vatican Council to complete the work of the first Vatican Council of 1870. The pontiff created a Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. Breaking precedent, in 1961 he permitted Roman Catholic observers officially to attend the third assembly of the World Council of Churches.
Also through his influence, when Vatican II opened in Saint Peter’s Basilica in 1962, Protestant and Orthodox observers were accorded places of honor and included in all working sessions. The 2500 Roman Catholic bishops who attended the four council sessions (1962-65) dealt with Christian unity. Their decree on ecumenism, promulgated in 1964, spoke not of “schismatics” but of “separated brethren,” and it deplored sins against unity committed over the years by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike.
On the death of Pope John, in 1963, his successor, Pope Paul VI, made known his intention to continue ecumenical advances, describing unity as “the object of permanent interest, systematic study, and constant charity.” At the close of Vatican II, a Joint Working Group was established between the Vatican and the World Council of Churches. Numerous official dialogues were started in many countries between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

An Era of Change
Ecumenism is changing. Consolidation of Protestant churches has progressed rapidly. During the 1980s, the ecumenical movement was characterized by increasing consensus on doctrinal questions that had once been highly disputed, and by growing cooperation at all levels. This was due largely to the bilateral dialogues that took place between the various Christian churches-Anglican, Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic-during the 1970s.


Epistle (Greek epistellein, “to send to”), formal and instructive letter, often intended for publication. The epistolary form was familiar among the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The Greek philosophers Aristotle and Epicurus made notable use of it. Twenty-one books of the New Testament are epistles written by the apostles to members of the early church. Since the Renaissance the epistle, in verse and prose, has held a prominent place in literature. Examples of the literary epistle are Lettres provinciales (1656-57), by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal; the Drapier’s Letters (1724-25), by the English satirist Jonathan Swift; and An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (1735), in verse, by the English poet Alexander Pope.


Eschatology, literally “discourse about the last things,” doctrine concerning life after death and the final stage of the world. The origin of this doctrine is almost as old as humanity; archaeological evidence of customs in the Old Stone Age indicates a rudimentary concept of immortality. Even in early stages of religious development, speculation about things to come is not wholly limited to the fate of the individual. Such devastating natural phenomena as floods, conflagrations, cyclones, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions have always suggested the possibility of the end of the world. Higher forms of eschatological thought are the product of a complex social organism and an increased knowledge of natural science. Often myths of astrological origin, the concept of retribution, or the hope of deliverance from present oppressions provided the material or motive for highly developed eschatologies. Prolonged observation of planetary and solar movement made possible the conception of a recurrence, at the end of the present cycle, of the events connected with the origin of the world and a renovation of the world after its destruction.
The development of eschatological speculation, therefore, generally reflects the growth of human intellectual and moral perceptions, the larger social experience of men and women, and their expanding knowledge of nature. The outward forms of the doctrine of eschatology vary, however, according to the characteristics of the environment and of the peoples.


Essenes, members of a Jewish religious brotherhood, organised on a communal basis and practising strict asceticism. The order, with about 4000 members, existed in Palestine and Syria from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD. Its chief settlements were on the shores of the Dead Sea. The Essenes are not mentioned in the Bible or in rabbinical literature, and information regarding them is largely confined to the writings of Philo Judaeus, a Hellenistic Jewish scholar and philosopher of Alexandria; the Roman historian Pliny the Elder; and the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.
Important features of the organisation were community of property, distributed according to need; strict observance of the Sabbath; and scrupulous cleanliness, which involved washing in cold water and wearing white garments. Prohibited were swearing, taking oaths (other than oaths of membership in the Essenian order), animal sacrifice, the making of weapons, and participation in trade or commerce. The order drew its recruits either from children it had adopted or from the ranks of those who had renounced material things. A probation of three years was required before the novice could take the oath of full membership, which demanded complete obedience and secrecy. Breaking the oath was punishable by expulsion. Because of the continuance of the binding requirement that no food should be eaten that was ceremonially unclean, this penalty was often equivalent to death by starvation. As a society, the Essenes were the first to condemn slavery as a violation of human fellowship. It is reported that they bought and freed slaves owned by others. The Essenes lived in small communities of their own. Their industries were farming and handicrafts.
After 1947 new light was thrown on the Essenes by certain ancient Hebrew scrolls discovered near the Dead Sea at Khirbet Qumran, which may have been the site of an Essene community of the 1st century AD. Among the scrolls is a Manual of Discipline, which can be associated with the Essene pattern of life as known from Greek and Latin sources.


Eucharist or Lord’s Supper central rite of the Christian religion, in which bread and wine are consecrated by an ordained minister and consumed by the minister and members of the congregation in obedience to Jesus’ command at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, and in the Anglican, Lutheran, and many other Protestant churches, it is regarded as a sacrament, which both symbolizes and effects the union of Christ with the faithful. Baptists and others refer to Holy Communion as an “institution,” rather than a sacrament, emphasizing obedience to a commandment.

The Institution of the Eucharist
Traditionally, Jesus’ command to his disciples at the Last Supper to eat the bread and drink the wine “in remembrance of me” constitutes the institution of the Eucharist. This specific command occurs in two New Testament accounts of the Last Supper, Luke 22:17-20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.


Franciscans or Order of Friars Minor, religious order founded, probably in 1208, by Saint Francis of Assisi and approved by Pope Innocent III in 1209. After devoting himself to a life of preaching, service, and poverty, Francis gathered around him a band of 12 disciples. He led them from Assisi to Rome to ask for the blessing of the pope, who expressed doubt about the practicability of the way of life that the group proposed to adopt. Pope Innocent gave them his blessing, however, on condition that they become clerics and elect a superior. Francis was elected superior and the group returned to Assisi, where they obtained from the Benedictine abbey on Mount Subasio the use of the little chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli, around which they constructed huts of branches. Then, in imitation of Christ, they began a life of itinerant preaching and voluntary poverty.
At this time the brotherhood lacked formal organisation and a noviciate, but as the disciples increased and their teaching spread, it became obvious that the example of Francis would not suffice to enforce discipline among the friars. In 1223 Pope Honorius III issued a bull that constituted the Friars Minor a formal order and instituted a one-year noviciate.
Following the death of Francis in 1226, the convent and basilica at Assisi were built. Their magnificence disturbed some, who believed it inconsistent with Francis’s ideals of poverty. After much dissension, Pope Gregory IX decreed that moneys could be held by elected trustees of the order and that the building of convents was not contrary to the intentions of the founder.
As time passed, the order grew, the only body of equal power being the Dominicans. The Franciscans, however, became fractionalized, and in 1517 Pope Leo X divided the order into two bodies, the Conventuals, who were allowed corporate property, as were other monastic orders, and the Observants, who sought to follow the precepts of Francis as closely as possible. The Observants have ever since been the larger branch, and early in the 16th century a third body, the Capuchins, was organised out of it and made independent. At the end of the 19th century Leo XIII grouped these three bodies together as the First Order of Friars Minor, designating the nuns known as Poor Clares as the Second Order, and the tertiaries, men and women living in secular society without celibacy, as the Third Order.
In addition to their preaching and charitable work, the Franciscans have been noted for their devotion to learning. Before the Reformation in England they held many positions in the universities.
On his first voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus was accompanied by a group of Franciscans. The first convents in America were established by Franciscans, at Santo Domingo and La Vega in what is now the Dominican Republic.


Franconia (German Franken), duchy of medieval Germany, extending along both sides of the Main River, from the Rhine River on the west to the Fichtelgebirge range on the east. It also included the territory containing the cities of Mainz, Speyer, and Worms, on the western bank of the Rhine. Franconia was conquered by the Franks for whom the region was named in the late 5th century and soon afterward became part of the kingdom of Austrasia. The Treaty of Verdun (843) made Franconia the center of the newly formed East Frankish, later German, kingdom consisting of the duchies of Saxony, Swabia, Bavaria, Lorraine, and Franconia. Lacking political unity, however, the duchy declined in importance, and it was soon divided into Rhenish Franconia and Eastern Franconia. In the 10th century Conrad the Red, duke of Lorraine, the son-in-law of Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, established the Salian family as dominant in the area. The political power of this family was first felt in 1024, when Conrad, duke of Franconia, was elected Emperor Conrad II, thus founding an imperial house, which by its direct and collateral branches gave rulers to the Holy Roman Empire for more than two centuries. During this period, Eastern Franconia increased in political influence. Rhenish Franconia, however, lost its identity, and a large portion was divided among the count palatine of the Rhine, the archbishop of Mainz, and the bishops of Speyer and Worms. The remainder gradually became a land of lesser nobles and free towns. By the 13th century the name Franconia fell into disuse. It was revived in 1512, however, when Emperor Maximilian I established the province of Franconia. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the name Franconia disappeared from the political divisions of Germany. In 1837 King Louis I of Bavaria revived the name of the old duchy, naming the three northern portions of his kingdom Upper Franconia, Middle Franconia, and Lower Franconia. The territory comprising the old duchy of Franconia is now included in the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, and Bavaria.


Franks, group of Germanic tribes that, about the middle of the 3rd century AD, dwelt along the middle and lower Rhine River. The Franks appeared in the Roman provinces around 253 and soon thereafter established themselves in two principal groups, the Salian and the Ripuarian. The Salian Franks inhabited the territory along the lower stretches of the Rhine, and the Ripuarian Franks lived along the middle course of the river. The Salians were conquered by the Roman emperor Julian in 358 and became allies of Rome. During the early 5th century, when the Romans retired from the Rhine, the Salians established themselves in most of the territory north of the Loire River.
Under the Salian king Clovis I, founder of the Merovingian dynasty, the power and extent of the Frankish kingdom grew considerably. In 486 Clovis overthrew Syagrius, the last Roman governor in Gaul, and then successively subjugated the Alamanni, the Burgundians, the Visigoths of Aquitania, and the Ripuarian Franks. Ultimately, the borders of his kingdom extended from the Pyrenees Mountains to Friesland and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Main River. Clovis was converted to Christianity in 496, and thus began the close connection between the Frankish monarchy and the papacy.
After the death of Clovis, the kingdom was divided among his four sons, and for the following century it went through several divisions and reunifications until finally consolidated by Clotaire II in 613. Shortly after his death, however, the kings ceased to exercise any influence, and authority passed into the hands of the great officers of state, most notably, the major of the palace (major domus). The office of major domus existed in all of the Frankish kingdoms. In the eastern part, Austrasia, however, arose a powerful family, the Carolingian, which retained exclusive possession of the palace mayoralty for more than 100 years, ruling as monarchs in fact if not in name. In 687 Pepin of Herstal, the Austrasian mayor of the palace, overthrew the forces of Neustria (the western part) and Burgundy, setting himself up as major domus of a united Frankish kingdom. His son, Charles Martel, extended the frontiers of the kingdom in the east and in 732 repelled the Moors in a decisive battle fought at a site between Tours and Poitiers. Frankish power attained its greatest development under Charles Martel’s grandson, Charlemagne, who in his time was the most powerful monarch in Europe. On December 25, 800, he was crowned Carolus Augustus, emperor of the Romans, by Pope Leo III. Charlemagne’s imperial title was later borne by the Holy Roman emperors until the early 19th century. His Frankish lands, more specifically, developed into the kingdom of France, which is named for the Franks.


Gnosticism, esoteric religious movement that flourished during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD and presented a major challenge to orthodox Christianity. Most Gnostic sects professed Christianity, but their beliefs sharply diverged from those of the majority of Christians in the early church. The term Gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis (“revealed knowledge”). To its adherents, Gnosticism promised a secret knowledge of the divine realm.

To explain the origin of the material universe, the Gnostics developed a complicated mythology. From the original unknowable God, a series of lesser divinities was generated by emanation. The last of these, Sophia (“wisdom”), conceived a desire to know the unknowable Supreme Being. Out of this illegitimate desire was produced a deformed, evil god, or demiurge, who created the universe. The Gnostics identified the evil god with the God of the Old Testament, which they interpreted as an account of this god’s efforts to keep humanity immersed in ignorance and the material world and to punish their attempts to acquire knowledge. It was in this light that they understood the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, the flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Gnosticism and Christianity
Although most Gnostics considered themselves Christians, some sects assimilated only minor Christian elements into a body of non-Christian Gnostic texts. The Christian Gnostics refused to identify the God of the New Testament, the father of Jesus, with the God of the Old Testament, and they developed an unorthodox interpretation of Jesus’ ministry. The Gnostics wrote apocryphal Gospels (such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary) to substantiate their claim that the risen Jesus told his disciples the true, Gnostic interpretation of his teachings: Christ, the divine spirit, inhabited the body of the man Jesus and did not die on the cross but ascended to the divine realm from which he had come. The Gnostics thus rejected the atoning suffering and death of Christ and the resurrection of the body.

Some Gnostic sects rejected all sacraments; others observed baptism and the Eucharist, interpreting them as signs of the awakening of gnosis. Other Gnostic rites were intended to facilitate the ascent of the divine element of the human soul to the spiritual realm. Hymns and magic formulas were recited to help achieve a vision of God; other formulas were recited at death to ward off the demons who might capture the ascending spirit and imprison it again in a body.

The ethical teachings of the Gnostics ranged from asceticism to libertinism. The doctrine that the body and the material world are evil led some sects to renounce even marriage and procreation. Other Gnostics held that because their souls were completely alien to this world, it did not matter what they did in it. Gnostics generally rejected the moral commandments of the Old Testament, regarding them as part of the evil god’s effort to entrap humanity.

Much scholarly knowledge of Gnosticism comes from anti-Gnostic Christian texts of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, which provide the only extensive quotations in the Greek of the original Gnostic texts. Most surviving Gnostic texts are in Coptic, into which they had been translated when Gnosticism spread to Egypt in the late 2nd and the 3rd centuries. In 1945 an Egyptian peasant found 12 codices containing more than 50 Coptic Gnostic writings near Naj Hammadi. It has been determined that these codices were copied in the 4th century in the monasteries of the region. It is not known whether the monks were Gnostics, or were attracted by the ascetic nature of the writings, or had assembled the writings as a study in heresy.

Gnostic texts reveal nothing about the history of the various sects or about the lives of their most prominent teachers. Consequently, the history of the movement must be inferred from the traditions reflected in the texts and from anti-Gnostic writings. The question of whether Gnosticism first developed as a distinct non-Christian doctrine has not been resolved, but pagan Gnostic sects did exist. Gnostic mythology may have been derived from Jewish sectarian speculation centred in Syria and Palestine during the late 1st century AD, which in turn was probably influenced by Persian dualistic religions. By the 2nd century, Christian Gnostic teachers had synthesised this mythology with Platonic metaphysical speculation and with certain heretical Christian traditions. The most prominent Christian Gnostics were Valentinus and his disciple Ptolemaeus, who during the 2nd century were influential in the Roman church. Christian Gnostics, while continuing to participate in the larger Christian community, apparently also gathered in small groups to follow their secret teachings and rituals.

By the 3rd century Gnosticism began to succumb to orthodox Christian opposition and persecution. Partly in reaction to the Gnostic heresy, the church strengthened its organisation by centralising authority in the office of bishop, which made its effort to suppress the poorly organised Gnostics more effective. Christian theologians attacked the Gnostic view that the material world is essentially evil. Christians defended their identification of the God of the New Testament with the God of Judaism and their belief that the New Testament is the only true revealed knowledge. By the end of the 3rd century Gnosticism as a distinct movement seems to have largely disappeared.

One small non-Christian Gnostic sect, the Mandaeans, still exists in Iraq and Iran, although it is not certain that it began as part of the original Gnostic movement. Although the ancient sects did not survive, aspects of the Gnostic world view have periodically reappeared in many forms: the ancient dualistic religion called Manichaeism and the related medieval heresies of the Albigenses, Bogomils, and Paulicians; the medieval Jewish mystical philosophy known as Cabala; the metaphysical speculation surrounding the alchemy of the Renaissance; 19th-century theosophy; 20th-century existentialism and nihilism; and the writings of the 20th-century Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. The essence of Gnosticism has proved very durable: the view that the inner spirit of humanity must be liberated from a world that is basically deceptive, oppressive, and evil.

Godfrey de Bouillon

Godfrey of Bouillon (1061-1100), French nobleman, soldier, and leader of the First Crusade. In 1082 Godfrey was created duke of Lower Lorraine by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and had his capital at Bouillon in the Ardennes region of France. Godfrey and his brother Baldwin I, later king of Jerusalem, led an army from the Low Countries in the First Crusade. Arriving in Constantinople in December 1096, he succeeded in establishing relations with the Eastern Roman Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. In 1099 Godfrey participated in the siege and capture of Jerusalem. He was offered the title of king of Jerusalem, but refused it for religious reasons and was instead named Defender of the Holy Sepulchre. In August 1099, when Egyptian forces moved to attack Jerusalem, Godfrey defeated them at Ascalon (now Ashquelon, Israel).


Goths, ancient Teutonic people, who in the 3rd to the 6th century AD were an important power in the Roman world. The Goths were the first Germanic peoples to become Christians. According to the 6th-century Gothic historian Jordanes, the Goths came from Sweden across the Baltic Sea to the basin of the Vistula River. By the 3rd century AD they had migrated as far south as the lower Danube, around the Black Sea. During that century Gothic armies and fleets ravaged Thrace, Dacia, and cities in Asia Minor and along the Aegean coast. They captured and plundered Athens in 267 to 268, and threatened Italy. For about a century, wars between the Roman emperors and Gothic rulers devastated the Balkan territory and the northeastern Mediterranean region. Other tribes joined the Goths, and under the great king Ermanaric in the 4th century, a kingdom was established that extended from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
About 370 the Goths divided into two separate groups. The Ostrogoths (Low Latin Ostrogothae, “the eastern Goths”) inhabited a large kingdom east of the Dnestr River on the shores of the Black Sea (part of modern Ukraine and Belarus). The Visigoths (Low Latin Visigothi, “the good Goths” or “the noble Goths”) were the western Goths, with a domain extending from the Dnestr to the Danube rivers.

In 376 the Visigoths, threatened by the Huns, sought the protection of the Roman emperor Valens, and they were given permission to settle into the empire’s province of Moesia, which was south of the Danube. When Gothic soldiers were maltreated by Roman officers, the Goths revolted, and the resulting war climaxed in a decisive battle in 378 near Adrianople (now Edirne, Turkey), in which Valens was killed. The victorious Goths then threatened Constantinople. Theodosius I, who succeeded Valens as emperor in the East, made peace with the Goths and incorporated their army into the Roman forces. From that time on, the Visigoths were an important influence in the Roman Empire. Many who had settled in Moesia became farmers and were known as Moeso-Goths. Ulfilas, bishop of the Goths, translated the Bible into Gothic and was largely responsible for the conversion of the Goths to a form of Christianity called Arianism.
On the death of Theodosius in 395, the Visigoths renounced their allegiance to Rome and chose Alaric I as their ruler. Alaric invaded Greece and then Italy, and in 410 he captured and pillaged the city of Rome. In that same year he was succeeded by Ataulf, who led the Visigoths across the Pyrenees mountain range into Spain.
>From 415 to 418, under the next ruler, Wallia, the Visigoths extended their realm over a great part of Spain and southern Gaul, with Toulouse as their capital. Wallia was succeeded by the reputed son of Alaric, Theodoric I, who died fighting as an ally of Rome against the Huns at the Battle of Châlons. The most notable of the Spanish Visigothic kings was Euric, who reigned from about 420 to 484. He was a son of Theodoric I. Under Euric, who declared his rule to be independent of any federation with Rome, the kingdom of Toulouse included almost all of Spain and most of Gaul west of the Rhone River and south of the Loire River. Euric introduced many aspects of Roman civilization and drew up a code of law combining Roman and German elements. The kingdom was, however, continually beset by both internal and external difficulties. The kingship was nominally elective, and the powerful Visigothic nobles stood against attempts to found a hereditary royal house. Externally, the Byzantine Empire and the Franks menaced the Visigothic lands. In order to instill greater loyalty in his rebellious Roman and Christian subjects, Alaric II in 506 introduced the collection of laws known as the Breviary of Alaric. A year later, Clovis I, king of the Franks, defeated the Visigoths at the Battle of Vouillé, in which Alaric II was killed. Most of Provence was separated from the Gothic lands, and the Visigothic kingdom was confined almost entirely to Spain. Despite the attempts of a long line of Gothic kings to hold the kingdom together, the power of the Visigoths steadily declined. The last king, Roderick, was defeated and probably killed by the Muslims in the Battle of Río Barbate in 711. By 713 Spain was partially conquered by the Moors, and the Visigothic power survived in the independent Christian kingdom of Asturias.

When the Huns swept into Europe about 370, many of the Ostrogoths were conquered and compelled to aid their conquerors. They joined the king of the Huns, Attila, in his expedition against Gaul in 451 and many Ostrogoths were killed by the Visigoths at the Battle of Châlons. When the Huns were finally forced back, the Ostrogoths again became independent. With the permission of Rome, they settled in Pannonia, an area now including western Hungary, northern Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia, and eastern Austria. They were joined by other Ostrogoths who had taken refuge within the Roman Empire at the coming of the Asians. In 474 Theodoric, the greatest of the Ostrogothic kings, was elected to the throne. After various periods of warfare and alliance with Zeno, the Byzantine emperor, Theodoric invaded Italy in 488 (with the consent and advice of the emperor), slew Odoacer, the first barbarian ruler of Italy, and became ruler himself. He held the power although not the title of the Western Roman emperors. A Roman consul was given nominal authority, and the two peoples lived together amicably, with Roman culture greatly influencing the Teutons.
The unity of Romans and Goths could be preserved only by a ruler of the stature of Theodoric. After his death in 526, disruption in Italy became so violent that in 535 the Byzantine emperor Justinian I sent his general Belisarius to conquer the peninsula. The Byzantines broke the Gothic power in 555, and the throne of Italy was filled by the exarchs (Byzantine governors) of Ravenna.
The Ostrogoths themselves gradually became absorbed into other tribes, such as the Alani, Vandals, Franks, and Burgundians, who had established themselves in the dominions of the old Roman Empire.


Heresy, any religious doctrine opposed to the dogma of a particular church, especially a doctrine held by a person professing faith in the teachings of that church. The term originally meant a belief that one arrived at by oneself (Greek hairesis, “choosing for oneself”) and is used to denote sectarianism in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles of St. Paul. In later Christian writings, the term is used in the opprobrious sense of a belief held in opposition to the teaching of the church.
With the establishment of Christianity in the Roman Empire, heresy came to be considered a crime against the state, punishable by civil law. Heresy was also generally outlawed in countries with an established or state-supported church. After the Reformation, however, the principles of private interpretation of the Scriptures and denial of ecclesiastical authority in all matters of belief were eventually adopted in Protestant countries, and during the 19th and 20th centuries Roman Catholic countries have also adopted the principle of religious toleration.

Holy spirit

Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, in Christian belief, the third person of the Trinity, the other persons being God the Father and God the Son. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Counselor . . . whom the Father will send in my name” (John 14:26).
A theology of the Holy Spirit developed slowly, largely in response to controversies over the relation of Jesus Christ to God the Father. In 325, the Council of Nicaea condemned as heresy the Arian teaching that the Son was a creature, neither equal to, nor coeternal with, the Father. In 381, the Council of Constantinople condemned the logical extension of that view, that the Holy Spirit was created by the Son. The council stated: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father. Together with the Father and the Son he is adored and glorified.” Later pronouncements brought only one important doctrinal change, the 9th-century addition of filioque to the creed of Constantinople. That addition, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the son, has been a source of discord between Eastern and Western Christianity ever since.
The Holy Spirit is frequently presented in Scripture through symbols: the dove (see Mark 1:10), symbolizing peace and reconciliation; a whirlwind (see Acts 2), symbolizing strength; and as tongues of fire (see Acts 2), symbolizing the ecstasy of believers. The Holy Spirit is considered the sanctifier, who leads and guides the church and its members.

Idolatry, worship of a material image that is held to be the abode of a superhuman personality. The practice is common among primitive peoples and was also a characteristic of such great ancient civilizations as the Chaldean (Babylonian), Egyptian, Greek, Indian, and Roman. Worship of idols appears to be one phase or aspect of religious evolution, akin to nature worship; the adoration of personified objects; and animism, or belief in spirits embodied in material things. Associated with idols, which are the object of public worship, are personal or domestic fetishes for private veneration. Worship of the dead is also related to idolatry, and the idea that after death the spirit continues in the body or in some relic gave rise to the practice of placing a statue of the dead person in or beside his or her grave.


Inquisition, judicial institution, established by the papacy in the Middle Ages, charged with seeking out, trying, and sentencing persons guilty of heresy. In the early church the usual penalty for heresy was excommunication. With the establishment of Christianity as the state religion by the Roman emperors in the 4th century, heretics came to be considered enemies of the state, especially when violence and the disturbance of public order were involved. St. Augustine gave a somewhat reluctant approval to action by the state against heretics, but the church generally disapproved of coercion and physical penalties.

During the 12th century opinion began to change, in reaction to a resurgence of heresy in an organised form, especially the Albigensianism of southern France. Albigensian doctrine and practice seemed destructive of matrimony and other institutions of society, and after less vigorous efforts by his predecessors, Pope Innocent III organised a Crusade against the group. He issued punitive legislation against them and sent preachers to the area. The various efforts to control heresy were, however, still uncoordinated and relatively ineffective.
The Inquisition properly so called did not come into existence until 1231, with the constitution Excommunicamus of Pope Gregory IX. By his action the pope lessened the bishops’ responsibility for orthodoxy, placed inquisitors under the special jurisdiction of the papacy, and established severe penalties. The office of inquisitor was entrusted almost exclusively to the Franciscans and, especially, the Dominicans, because of their superior training in theology and their supposed freedom from worldly ambition. Two inquisitors with equal authority-bestowed directly by the pope-were in charge of each tribunal, aided by assistants, notaries, police, and counsellors. Because they could excommunicate even princes, the inquisitors were formidable figures. Under these circumstances it is surprising that among their contemporaries the inquisitors generally had a reputation for justice and mercy. Some, nevertheless, were accused of excessive cruelty and other abuses.

The inquisitors established themselves for a definite period of weeks or months at some central place, from which they issued orders demanding that all guilty of heresy present themselves. The inquisitors could themselves bring suit against any suspect person. Lesser penalties were imposed on those who came forward and confessed their heresy than on those who had to be tried and convicted. A period of grace of about a month was allowed for this spontaneous confession; after that, the actual trials began.
If the inquisitors decided to try a person suspected of heresy, the suspect’s pastor delivered the summons. Inquisitorial police sought out those persons who refused to obey a summons, and the right of asylum did not apply to heretics. The accused were given a statement of charges against them. For some years the names of accusers were withheld from suspects, but Pope Boniface VIII abrogated that practice. The accused were compelled under oath, however, to answer all charges against them, thus becoming their own accusers. The testimony of two witnesses was generally considered proof of guilt.
The inquisitors usually had a kind of jury, composed of both clergy and laity, to assist them in arriving at a verdict. They were permitted to imprison suspects who were thought to be lying. In 1252 Pope Innocent IV, under the influence of the revival of Roman law, officially sanctioned the use of torture to extract the truth from suspects.
The penances and sentences for those who confessed or were found guilty were pronounced together in a public ceremony at the end of all the processes. This was the sermo generalis or auto-da-fe. Penances might consist of a pilgrimage, a public scourging, a fine, or the wearing of a cross. The wearing of two tongues of red cloth, sewn onto an outer garment, marked those who had made false accusations. The penalties in serious cases were confiscation of property or imprisonment. The most severe penalty the inquisitors could themselves impose was life imprisonment. Thus, when the inquisitors handed a guilty person over to civil authorities, it was tantamount to a demand for that person’s execution.
Although the Inquisition in the beginning directed most attention to the Albigensians and, to a lesser degree, the Waldensians , it later extended its activities to other heterodox groups, such as the Fraticelli, and then to witches and diviners. Once the Albigensians were under control, however, the pace of the Inquisition decidedly slackened, and in the late 14th and 15th centuries relatively little was heard of it.

The Holy Office
Alarmed by the spread of Protestantism and especially by its penetration into Italy, Pope Paul III in 1542 heeded reformers such as Cardinal Gian Pietro Carafa and established in Rome the Congregation of the Inquisition, also known as the Roman Inquisition and the Holy Office. Six cardinals, including Carafa, constituted the original commission, whose powers extended to the whole church. The Holy Office was really a new institution. Whereas the medieval Inquisition focused on popular misbeliefs the Holy Office was generally concerned with orthodoxy of a more academic nature, especially as it appeared in the writings of theologians and high churchmen.
In the first dozen years or so, the activities of the Roman Inquisition were relatively modest, restricted almost exclusively to Italy. When Carafa became Pope Paul IV in 1555, he urged a vigorous pursuit of suspects, not sparing bishops or even cardinals. He meanwhile charged the Congregation to draw up a list of books that offended faith or morals, and as a result he approved and published the first Index of Forbidden Books in 1559. Although later popes tempered the zeal of the Roman Inquisition, they began to see it as the customary instrument of papal government for regulating church order and doctrinal orthodoxy. In 1965 Pope Paul VI, responding to many complaints, reorganised the Holy Office and renamed it the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Ismailis, sect of Shiite Muslims , most important from the 10th to the 12th century. The Ismailis emerged from a dispute in 765 over the succession of Jafar al-Sadiq, whom Shiites acknowledged as the sixth imam, or spiritual successor to Muhammad. The Ismailis recognized Ismail, the eldest son of Jafar, as his legitimate successor. On Ismail’s death they acknowledged his son Muhammad as the seventh and last imam, whose return on Judgment Day they await. The Ismailis are also known as Seveners, because they accept only 7 imams, rather than the 12 who are recognized by other Shiites.
Although Ismailis subscribe to basic orthodox Islamic doctrines, they also maintain esoteric teachings and corresponding interpretations of the Koran. Developed in the 9th and 10th centuries under the influence of Gnosticism and Neoplatonism, these posit the creation of the universe by a process of emanation from God.
In the late 9th century an Ismaili state was organized on communistic principles in Iraq by Hamdan Qarmat; his followers became known as Qarmatians. His state soon disintegrated, but some of his followers combined with other Ismaili groups to form the Fatimid dynasty of North Africa in the 10th century. The Fatimids conquered Egypt in 969 and developed a strong and culturally brilliant state that flourished until the 12th century. During the reign of the Fatimid dynasty the Ismailis gradually lost their original revolutionary fervor. A splinter group of Ismailis, known to Westerners as Assassins, established a stronghold in the mountains of northern Iran in the 12th century and carried out terrorist acts of assassination against important religious and political leaders of Sunni Islam.
The two main branches of Ismailis today are the Bohras, with headquarters in Bombay, India, and the Khojas, concentrated in Gujarat State, India. Another subsect, headed by the Aga Khan, has followers in Pakistan, India, Iran, Yemen, and East Africa.


Jesuits or Society of Jesus (Jesuits), religious order of men in the Roman Catholic church, founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in 1534 and confirmed by Pope Paul III in 1540. The motto of the order is Ad majorem Dei gloriam (Latin, “to the greater glory of God”), and its object is the spread of the church by preaching and teaching or the fulfilment of whatever else is judged the most urgent need of the church at the time. Education has been its chief activity almost from the outset, and it has made notable contributions to scholarship in both theology and the secular disciplines.

Preparation for Membership
The preparation required of a candidate, especially for membership as a priest rather than as a brother (temporal coadjutor), is considerably longer than that required for the secular priesthood or for membership in other religious orders. After two years in seclusion and prayer as a novice, the candidate takes simple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and becomes a scholastic. He then typically spends two years of study in review of classical subjects and three years studying philosophy, mathematics, and the physical sciences. Several years of teaching follow, succeeded by three years’ study of theology, after which ordination to the priesthood takes place. Following a fourth year of theological study and a year of retirement and prayer, the candidate is awarded his final grade, becoming either a coadjutor or a professed. The coadjutors take final simple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but the professed take these vows as solemn vows and add an additional solemn vow to go wherever the pope may send them; furthermore, the professed take five simple vows, among them the renunciation of ecclesiastical office beyond their order unless by directive of the order. The order is governed by a superior general, residing in Rome, who is elected for life by the general congregation of the order, consisting of representatives of the various provinces; there are now some 65 regional provinces in the world, each under its own father provincial.

The aim of Ignatius of Loyola in forming his band was to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to convert the Muslims; all access to the Holy Land was barred, however, by the outbreak of war with the Ottoman Turks, and the members of the order submitted to the pope a constitution that bound them to go as missionaries to any place the pope might direct. After the constitution was approved, Loyola was elected the first superior general of the order.
The development of the order was rapid. Its members took leading parts in the Counter Reformation, establishing schools and colleges throughout Europe. For 150 years they were the leaders in European education; by 1640 they had more than 500 colleges throughout Europe; by about a century later the number of colleges had increased to more than 650 and, in addition, the order had total or partial charge of two dozen universities. More than 200 seminaries and houses of study for Jesuits had also been established. The education of Jesuits in the period of the Counter Reformation was designed to strengthen Roman Catholicism against Protestant expansion. Among the laity the Jesuits were concerned chiefly with the education of the nobility and those of wealth, although they did conduct trade schools and, in mission countries, schools for the poor.
In the mission field the expansion of the order was equally great. Missions were established by St. Francis Xavier in India and Japan, and the order spread to the interior of China and the coast of Africa. Letters from the Jesuit missionaries in Canada, containing ethnological, historical, and scientific information, were published as the Jesuit Relations and form a unique and valuable source of information about the native tribes of that country. The most famous work of the Jesuit missionaries in the New World, however, was the establishment in the order’s South American provinces of reductions, or village communities of native peoples under the spiritual and temporal direction of the priests. The most successful were the reductions of Paraguay. In that country for almost 200 years the Jesuits governed a communal nation of Native Americans, founding 32 villages with a total population of about 160,000; they taught the Native Americans agriculture, mechanical arts, and commerce and trained a small army for defence of the settlements.
The history of the Jesuit order has been marked by a steadily increasing prejudice against it, especially in Roman Catholic countries. Their devotion to the papacy called forth opposition from nationalistic rulers and leaders, and their zeal for ecclesiastical reform antagonised the clergy. At one time or another the order has been expelled from every country in Europe, and in 1773 a coalition of powers under Bourbon influence induced Pope Clement XIV to issue a brief suppressing the order. Frederick II, king of Prussia, and Catherine II, empress of Russia, both admirers of Jesuit education and scholarship, refused, however, to give the brief the publication necessary to make it effective, and in those countries the order survived in local organisations until 1814, when Pope Pius VII re-established the Jesuits on a world-wide basis. Political and religious opposition also revived; since the re-establishment of the order, it has been free from attack only in Denmark, Sweden, Great Britain, and the United States.

Josephus, Flavius

Josephus, Flavius (AD 37 or 38-circa 101), Jewish historian, born in Jerusalem of both royal and priestly lineage. His original name was Joseph Ben Matthias. A man both learned and worldly, he was a member of the Pharisees, and also a public figure who, before the Jewish revolt against Rome (66), had made friends at the court of Emperor Nero.
The parts played in the revolt by the Zealots, and their opponents the Pharisees, who considered it futile, led to ambiguity in the historical record of the role of Josephus, a Pharisee, in the conflict. His own writings present two conflicting accounts of his mission in the province of Galilee (in what is now Israel). According to one account, he took command of the Jewish forces there to lead the Galilean phase of the revolt, but the other, later, account contends that he sought to subdue the revolt rather than lead it. Whichever story may be true, apparently he prepared Galilee for the coming onslaught and in 67 valorously repulsed the advance of Vespasian, the Roman general who was soon to become emperor, defending the fortress of Jotapata for 47 days before surrendering. Josephus would have been sent as a prisoner to Nero had he not had the wit to prophesy that his captor, Vespasian, would himself one day be emperor. This prophecy accorded with Vespasian’s ambitions, and the general kept Josephus with him, thus probably saving his life. While Vespasian’s prisoner, Josephus saw the subjugation of Galilee and Judea. Subsequently freed, he adopted Vespasian’s family name, Flavius. Accompanying another future emperor, Vespasian’s son Titus, he witnessed Titus’s siege of Jerusalem in 70. Thereafter, enjoying imperial patronage under Titus and his brother’s successor, Domitian, Josephus lived until his death in Rome and devoted himself to his writing.
His works include The Jewish War (in 7 books), which he wrote to dissuade his people and other nations from courting annihilation by further revolt against an all-powerful Rome; Jewish Antiquities (in 20 books), a history of the Jews from the creation to AD 66 that eloquently demonstrates how his people had flourished under the law of God; an autobiography, Life; and Against Apion, a refutation of charges against the Jews made by the anti-Semitic Greek grammarian Apion (flourished 1st century) and other likeminded writers. The last named is invaluable, because Josephus recapitulates writings on Jewish history that are no longer extant.


Judaism, religious culture of the Jews (also known as the people Israel); one of the world’s oldest continuing religious traditions.
The terms Judaism and religion do not exist in premodern Hebrew. The Jews Spoke of Torah, God’s revealed instruction to Israel, which mandated both a world view and a way of life (Halakah); the “way” by which to walk-Jewish law, custom, and practice. Premodern Judaism, in all its historical forms, thus constituted (and traditional Judaism today constitutes) an integrated cultural system encompassing the totality of individual and communal existence. It is a system of sanctification in which all is to be subsumed under God’s rule, that is, under divinely revealed models of cosmic order and lawfulness. Christianity originated as one among several competing Jewish ideologies in 1st-century Palestine, and Islam drew in part on Jewish sources at the outset. Because most Jews, from the 7th century on, have lived in the cultural ambit of either Christianity or Islam, these religions have had an impact on the subsequent history of Judaism.
Judaism originated in the land of Israel (also known as Palestine) in the Middle East. Subsequently, Jewish communities have existed at one time or another in almost all parts of the world, a result of both voluntary migrations of Jews and forced exile or expulsions. In the late 1980s the total world Jewish population was some 13 million, of whom about 5.7 million lived in the U.S., more than 3.6 million in Israel, and more than 1.4 million in the Soviet Union, the three largest centers of Jewish settlement. About 1.2 million Jews lived in the rest of Europe, most of them in France and Great Britain. About 310,000 lived in the rest of North America, and 33,000 in the rest of Asia. Nearly 440,000 Jews lived in Central and South America, and about 142,000 in Africa.

Knights of Jerusalem

Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem (in full The Sovereign Military Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta), historically, the protectors of a hospital built in Jerusalem before the first Crusade by Gerard. Known in short as Hospitalers or Knights Hospitalers, the order was founded after the formation of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem approved by Pope Paschal II in 1113 and again by Pope Eugene III in 1153. The brothers were sworn to poverty, obedience, and chastity and to assistance in the defence of Jerusalem. Gerard, their first leader, was called rector; later heads of the order were called grand masters. Of necessity, the order became a military one, and the armed knights were of noble birth. They formed a community under the Rule of St. Augustine. At first devoted to the care of pilgrims and Crusaders, the order left the Holy Land with the failure of the Crusades.

Knights of Rhodes
After 1309 the order had its headquarters on the island of Rhodes. It formed a territorial state, and its navy kept the eastern Mediterranean Sea free of Muslims. The properties of the Knights Templars were given to the order in 1312. The Knights of Rhodes, as they came to be called, formed national units of the order elsewhere; they were called Tongues (French Langues). Forced to leave Rhodes when it was seized by Suleiman I, ruler of the Ottoman Turks, in 1522, they had no home until 1530, when they were ceded the island of Malta.

Knights of Malta
The order figured in European history until well into the 19th century. As the Knights of Malta, it lost its English and German properties during the Reformation and its French holdings during the French Revolution. The Russians granted the order protection, but the French under Napoleon seized Malta. The convent was moved to Trieste in 1798 and to Rome in 1834. By this time the Russians had confiscated all properties held by them in Russian territories.
The Knights of Malta, as recognised by Pope John XXIII in 1961, form a religious community and an order of chivalry. Organised in five grand priories and a number of national associations, they carry on diplomatic relations with the Vatican and with individual countries. As a religious community, they maintain hospitals, first-aid centres, and facilities to care for war casualties and refugees. They wear a black cloak on which an eight-pointed Maltese cross is applied. The grand master is titled prince and holds a church rank equal to that of a cardinal.

Knights Templars

Knights Templars, members of a medieval religious and military order officially named the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ. They were popularly known as the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, or Knights Templars, because their first quarters in Jerusalem adjoined a building known at the time as Solomon’s Temple. The order developed from a small military band formed in Jerusalem in 1119 by two French knights, Hugh des Payns and Godfrey of St. Omer; its aim was to protect pilgrims visiting Palestine after the First Crusade. Military in purpose from its beginning, the order thus differed from the other two great 12th-century religious societies, the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem and the Teutonic Knights, which began as charitable institutions.
The Knights Templars obtained papal sanction for their order, and in 1128 at the ecclesiastical Council of Troyes they were given an austere rule closely patterned on that of the monastic order of Cistercians. The Knights Templars were headed by a grand master, under who were three ranks: knights, chaplains, and sergeants. The knights were the dominant members, and they alone were allowed to wear the distinctive dress of the order, a white mantle with a large red Latin cross on the back. The headquarters of the Knights Templars remained at Jerusalem until the fall of the city to the Muslims in 1187; it was later located successively at Antioch, at Acre, at Caesarea, and in Cyprus.
Because the Knights Templars regularly transmitted money and supplies from Europe to Palestine, they developed an efficient banking system, on which the rulers and nobility of Europe came to rely. The knights gradually became bankers for a large part of Europe and amassed great wealth. After the last Crusades had failed and interest had waned in an aggressive policy against the Muslims, the Knights Templars were no longer needed to police Palestine. Their immense riches and power had aroused the envy of secular as well as ecclesiastical powers, and in 1307 the impoverished Philip IV, king of France, with the aid of Pope Clement V, arranged for the arrest of the French grand master Jacques de Molay on charges of sacrilege and Satanism. Molay and the leading officers of the order confessed under torture, and all of them were eventually burned at the stake. The order was suppressed in 1312 by Clement V and its property assigned to the rival Knights Hospitalers, although most of it was in fact seized by Philip and by King Edward II, who disbanded the order in England.
Knights Templars now are members of the York Rite of the Masonic system.

Lateran Councils

Lateran Councils, five ecumenical councils of the Roman Catholic church, held in the Lateran Palace, Rome.

First Lateran Council
The first of these councils was held in 1123 during the pontificate of Callistus II; it was the first general council held in the West. Its most important decision was the confirmation of the Concordat of Worms (1122), which ended the controversy between ecclesiastical and secular authorities over investiture. The council also adopted canons forbidding simony and the marriage of clergymen, and it annulled the ordinances of the antipope Gregory VIII (reigned 1118-21).

Second Lateran Council
The second council was held in 1139 under Pope Innocent II (r. 1130-43). It was called to heal the schism caused by the antipope Anacletus II (r. 1130-38) and decreed excommunication for his followers. The council renewed the canons against clerical marriage and forbade dangerous tournaments.

Third Lateran Council
The third council was held in 1179 under Pope Alexander III. It established the procedure for the election of a new pope by a conclave of cardinals, decreeing that a two-thirds vote of the conclave was necessary for election.

Fourth Lateran Council
The fourth council was held in 1215 under Pope Innocent III. The most important of the Lateran councils, it was attended by two Eastern patriarchs, representatives of many secular princes, and more than 1200 bishops and abbots. Among its 70 decrees were a condemnation of two religious sects, the Cathari and the Waldenses; a confession of faith containing, for the first time, a definition of transubstantiation; an order forbidding the foundation of new monastic orders; a requirement that all members of the Western church confess and communicate at least once a year; and arrangements for the calling of a new Crusade.

Fifth Lateran Council
The fifth council was called by Pope Julius II in 1512 and continued by Pope Leo X, terminating in 1517. It forbade the printing of books without ecclesiastical authority and approved the concordat between Leo X and Francis I, king of France, which abrogated the liberties of the French church.


Manichaeism, ancient religion named for its founder, the Persian sage Mani (circa 216-76?); for a period of several centuries, it presented a major challenge to Christianity.

Life of Mani
Mani was born into an aristocratic Persian family in southern Babylonia (now in Iraq). His father, a pious man, brought him up in an austere baptist sect, possibly the Mandaeans. At the ages of 12 and 24, Mani experienced visions in which an angel designated him the prophet of a new and ultimate revelation. On his first missionary journey, Mani reached India, where he was influenced by Buddhism. With the protection of the new Persian emperor, Shapur I (reigned 241-72), Mani preached throughout the empire and sent missionaries to the Roman Empire. The rapid expansion of Manichaeism provoked the hostility of the leaders of orthodox Zoroastrianism, and when Bahram I (reigned 274-77) succeeded to the throne, they persuaded him to have Mani arrested as a heretic, after which he either died in confinement or was executed.

Mani proclaimed himself the last prophet in a succession that included Zoroaster, Buddha, and Jesus, whose partial revelations were, he taught, contained and consummated in his own doctrines. Besides Zoroastrianism and Christianity, Manichaeism reflects the strong influence of Gnosticism.
The fundamental doctrine of Manichaeism is its dualistic division of the universe into contending realms of good and evil: the realm of Light (spirit), ruled by God, and the realm of Darkness (matter), ruled by Satan. Originally, the two realms were entirely separate, but in a primal catastrophe the realm of Darkness invaded the realm of Light, and the two became mixed and engaged in a perpetual struggle. The human race is a result and a microcosm of this struggle. The human body is material, therefore evil; the human soul is spiritual, a fragment of the divine Light, and must be redeemed from its imprisonment in the body and the world. The path of redemption is through knowledge of the realm of Light imparted by the succession of divine messengers that includes Buddha and Jesus and ends in Mani. With this knowledge the human soul can conquer the carnal desires that perpetuate its imprisonment and so ascend to the divine realm.
The Manichaeans divided themselves into two classes according to their degree of spiritual perfection. Those who were called the elect practised strict celibacy and vegetarianism, abstained from wine, did no labour, and preached. They were assured of ascent to the realm of Light after death. The auditors, much more numerous, were those of lower spiritual attainment. They were permitted marriage (although procreation was discouraged), observed weekly fasts, and served the elect. They hoped to be reborn as the elect. Eventually all fragments of divine Light would be redeemed, the world would be destroyed, and Light and Darkness would be eternally separated.

Extent and Influence
During the century after Mani’s death, Manichaeism spread as far as China in the East and gained followers throughout the Roman Empire, especially in North Africa. The 4th-century theologian St. Augustine was a Manichaean for nine years before his conversion to Christianity. He subsequently wrote polemics against the movement, which was also condemned by several popes and Roman emperors. Although Manichaeism as a distinct religion had disappeared in the West by the early Middle Ages, its continuing influence can be traced in the medieval dualistic heresies of the Albigenses, Bogomils, and Paulicians, and much of the Gnostic-Manichaean world view survives in many modern religious movements and sects, including theosophy and the anthroposophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

Mani, believing that the failure of previous prophets to record their teachings led to their dilution and distortion by disciples, wrote several books to serve as the scripture of his religion. Fragments of these, along with hymns, catechisms, and other texts, were found in Chinese Turkestan and Egypt during the early 20th century. Other sources for Manichaean doctrines include the writings of St. Augustine and other opponents.

Magic (Sorcery)

Magic (Sorcery), art of performing works of wonder or gaining knowledge through supernatural means. Magic is allied with alchemy, occultism, spiritualism, superstition, and witchcraft. The term is derived from the ancient Persian magi, whose priestly occupations included dealing with the occult. The ancient Greeks and Romans also practiced magic. According to anthropologists, magical beliefs and practices exist in most less-sophisticated cultures. Moreover, magical beliefs and practices, such as fortune-telling, communication with the dead, astrology, and belief in lucky numbers and charms, survive even in the most advanced cultures.
Magic in simple societies utilizes nearly all knowledge, including scientific and medical knowledge and practices. The modern sciences trace their origins from practices and beliefs that were originally magical. Thus, medieval alchemy led to the development of modern chemistry and physics, and astrology led to modern astronomy.
Magic is divided into two main categories: white (or good) magic and black (or evil) magic. White magic is used to heal and to counteract the effects of black magic; the latter is invoked to kill or to injure. During the Middle Ages black magic consisted of witchcraft, sorcery, and the invocation of demons; white magic consisted of the tolerated forms, such as astrology, jugglery, and sleight of hand.
Magical practices may be grouped under four heads. The first, called sympathetic magic, is based on symbolism and wish fulfillment. Desired effects are accomplished by imitation or by making use of associated objects. Thus, it is thought, one may injure enemies by sticking pins into images of them, by mentioning their names in a spell, or by burning hair or nail parings from their bodies. Similarly, the strength, fleetness, or craft of an animal may be acquired by eating its flesh or by using tools made from its skin, horns, or bones. The practice of cannibalism is based on the belief that by eating the flesh of an enemy one will acquire the admired qualities of that person. A second major magical practice is divination, the acquisition of secret knowledge by sortilege (casting lots), augury (interpreting omens or portents), astrology (interpreting the positions and conjunctions of the stars and planets), and tongues (inspired utterances by persons in a state of trance, by oracular priests, or by mediums). The third form of magic is thaumaturgy, or wonder-working, which includes alchemy, witchcraft, and sorcery. The fourth form of magic is incantation, or the chanting of spells, verses, or formulas that contain the names of supernatural beings or of persons who are to be helped or injured. Rites of magic are generally mixtures of these forms.

Mendicant Friars

Mendicant Friars (Latin mendicare, “to beg”), members of religious orders in the Roman Catholic church, who take a vow of poverty by which they renounce all personal and communal property. They live chiefly by charity. After overcoming the initial opposition of the established clergy, the chief societies were authorised in the 13th century. They include Friars Minor, or Franciscans (received papal approval in 1209); Friars Preachers, or Dominicans (1216); Carmelites (1245); and Augustinians (1256). A fifth order, the Servites, founded in 1233, was acknowledged as a mendicant order in 1424.


Merovingian, dynasty of kings that ruled the Franks, a Germanic tribe, from AD 481 to 751. The kings were descendants of the chief of the Salian Franks, Merovech or Merowig, who ruled from 448 to 458 and from whom the dynasty’s name was derived. The first Merovingian ruler was Clovis I, grandson of Merovech. Clovis became king of both the Salian and Ripuarian Franks. In addition, through an aggressive policy of conquest supported by the church, Clovis enlarged his kingdom until it included most of present-day France and part of Germany. After his death in 511 the kingdom was divided among his four sons into Austrasia, Neustria, Burgundy, and Aquitaine. The divisions were reunited by Clotaire I, divided after his death, and then reunited under Clotaire II.
The last strong Merovingian monarch was the son of Clotaire II, Dagobert I, who ruled from 629 to 639. Under his numerous successors the Frankish kingdom became decentralized. Royal power gradually gave way to the noble families who exercised feudal control over most of the land. The most important of these families was the Carolingian. The Carolingians held the office of mayor of the palace and after 639 were kings in all but name. In 751 the Carolingian mayor of the palace deposed the reigning king, Childeric III (reigned about 743-52), and assumed royal power himself as Pepin the Short, putting an end to the Merovingian dynasty.


Metaphysics, branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of ultimate reality. Metaphysics is customarily divided into ontology, which deals with the question of how many fundamentally distinct sorts of entities compose the universe, and metaphysics proper, which is concerned with describing the most general traits of reality. These general traits together define reality and would presumably characterize any universe whatever. Because these traits are not peculiar to this universe, but are common to all possible universes, metaphysics may be conducted at the highest level of abstraction. Ontology, by contrast, because it investigates the ultimate divisions within this universe, is more closely related to the physical world of human experience.
The term metaphysics is believed to have originated in Rome about 70 BC, with the Greek Peripatetic philosopher Andronicus of Rhodes (flourished 1st century BC) in his edition of the works of Aristotle. In the arrangement of Aristotle’s works by Andronicus, the treatise originally called First Philosophy, or Theology, followed the treatise Physics. Hence, the First Philosophy came to be known as meta (ta) physica, or “following (the) Physics,” later shortened to Metaphysics. The word took on the connotation, in popular usage, of matters transcending material reality. In the philosophic sense, however, particularly as opposed to the use of the word by occultists, metaphysics applies to all reality and is distinguished from other forms of inquiry by its generality.
The subjects treated in Aristotle’s Metaphysics (substance, causality, the nature of being, and the existence of God) fixed the content of metaphysical speculation for centuries. Among the medieval Scholastic philosophers, metaphysics was known as the “transphysical science” on the assumption that, by means of it, the scholar philosophically could make the transition from the physical world to a world beyond sense perception. The 13th-century Scholastic philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas declared that the cognition of God, through a causal study of finite sensible beings, was the aim of metaphysics. With the rise of scientific study in the 16th century the reconciliation of science and faith in God became an increasingly important problem.


Mithraism, one of the major religions of the Roman Empire, the cult of Mithra, the ancient Persian god of light and wisdom. In the Avesta, the sacred Zoroastrian writings of the ancient Persians, Mithra appears as the chief yazata (Avestan, “beneficent one”), or good spirit, and ruler of the world. He was supposed to have slain the divine bull, from whose dying body sprang all plants and animals beneficial to humanity. After the conquest of Assyria in the 7th century BC and of Babylonia in the 6th century BC, Mithra became the god of the sun, which was worshipped in his name. The Greeks of Asia Minor, by identifying Mithra with Helios, the Greek god of the sun, helped to spread the cult. It was brought to Rome about 68 BC by Cilician pirates whom the Roman general Pompey the Great had captured, and during the early empire it spread rapidly throughout Italy and the Roman provinces. It was a rival to Christianity in the Roman world.
Mithraism was similar to Christianity in many respects, for example, in the ideals of humility and brotherly love, baptism, the rite of communion, the use of holy water, the adoration of the shepherds at Mithra’s birth, the adoption of Sundays and of December 25 (Mithra’s birthday) as holy days, and the belief in the immortality of the soul, the last judgment, and the resurrection. Mithraism differed from Christianity in the exclusion of women from its ceremonies and in its willingness to compromise with polytheism. The similarities, however, made possible the easy conversion of its followers to Christian doctrine.


Monarchianism, Christian heretical doctrine of the 2nd and 3rd centuries opposed to the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity; it strongly maintained the essential unity of the Deity and was intended to reinforce monotheism in Christianity. Monarchians were divided into two groups, the Adoptionists, or Dynamic Monarchians, and the Patripassians, or Modalistic Monarchians. The Adoptionists taught that Christ, although of miraculous birth, was a mere man until his baptism when the Holy Spirit made him the Son of God by adoption. They did not recognise any divine relationship between the Father and Son other than by adoption. This doctrine was taught by Paul of Samosata (flourished 3rd century), at one time bishop of Antioch. The Patripassians believed in the divinity of Christ, but regarded the Trinity as three manifestations, or modes, of a single divine being. They taught that the Father had come to earth and suffered and died under the appearance of the Son; hence their name (Latin pater; patris, “father”; passus, “to suffer”). This doctrine was taught by the Roman Christian prelate Sabellius (flourished 3rd century) and is thus sometimes referred to as Sabellianism.


Mysticism, an immediate, direct, intuitive knowledge of God or of ultimate reality attained through personal religious experience. Wide variations are found in both the form and the intensity of mystical experience. The authenticity of any such experience, however, is not dependent on the form, but solely on the quality of life that follows the experience. The mystical life is characterized by enhanced vitality, productivity, serenity, and joy as the inner and outward aspects harmonize in union with God.

Christian Mysticism
St. Paul was the first great Christian mystic. The New Testament writings best known for their deeply mystical emphasis are Paul’s letters and the Gospel of John. Christian mysticism as a system, however, is derived from Neoplatonism through the writings of Dionysius the Areopagite, or Pseudo-Dionysius. The 9th-century Scholastic philosopher John Scotus Erigena translated the works of Pseudo-Dionysius from Greek into Latin and thus introduced the mystical theology of Eastern Christianity into Western Europe, where it was combined with the mysticism of the early Christian prelate and theologian St. Augustine.
In the Middle Ages mysticism was often associated with monasticism. Some of the most celebrated mystics are found among the monks of both the Eastern church and the Western church, particularly the 14th-century Hesychasts of Mount Athos in the former, and Saints Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, and John of the Cross in the latter. The French monastery of Saint Victor, near Paris, was an important center of mystical thought in the 12th century. A number of the most distinguished Christian mystics have been women, notably St. Hildegard, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Teresa of Ávila. The 17th-century French mystic Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon introduced into France the mystical doctrine of quietism.
By its pursuit of spiritual freedom, sometimes at the expense of theological formulas and ecclesiastical discipline, mysticism may have contributed to the origin of the Reformation, although it inevitably came into conflict with Protestant, as it had with Roman Catholic, religious authorities.

Contemporary Mysticism
The 20th century has experienced a revival of interest in both Christian and non-Christian mysticism.


Mythology, the study and interpretation of myth and the body of myths of a particular culture. Myth is a complex cultural phenomenon that can be approached from a number of viewpoints. In general, myth is a narrative that describes and portrays in symbolic language the origin of the basic elements and assumptions of a culture. Mythic narrative relates, for example, how the world began, how humans and animals were created, and how certain customs, gestures, or forms of human activities originated. Almost all cultures possess or at one time possessed and lived in terms of myths.
Myths differ from fairy tales in that they refer to a time that is different from ordinary time. The time sequence of myth is extraordinary-an “other” time-the time before the conventional world came into being. Because myths refer to an extraordinary time and place and to gods and other supernatural beings and processes, they have usually been seen as aspects of religion. Because of the all-encompassing nature of myth, however, it can illuminate many aspects of individual and cultural life.

Nag Hamadi

Nag Hammadi, town, east central Egypt, about 48 km (about 30 mi) south of Qina, where a collection of early Christian manuscripts was found in 1945. The 52 manuscripts are in Coptic. Copied in the 4th century AD (as inscribed on some of them), the original Greek texts were written perhaps in the 2nd century AD. They are an important source of information about the beliefs of the members of a sect regarded as heretical by the main body of the early church. The collection includes writings attributed to several of Jesus’ apostles. Among these is the Gospel of Thomas, which consists of sayings of Jesus, many of them similar to those found in the New Testament.


Nazarenes (religion), in the New Testament, followers of Jesus Christ (see Acts 24:5). The earliest Christians were sometimes referred to as Nazarenes, particularly by their Jewish contemporaries. In later church history, the term was applied to a sect of Jewish Christians of the 4th century who observed Jewish ritual, including circumcision, the Sabbath, and the dietary laws. They also believed in the divinity of Christ and the apostleship of St. Paul. The Nazarenes differed from another group of Jewish Christians, the Ebionites, in both their beliefs and in their refusal to require that Gentile Christians observe the Jewish ritual.

Nicea, Council of

Nicaea, Councils of, two ecumenical councils of the Christian church, held at Nicaea (now Iznik, Turkey), a city of ancient Bithynia, in Asia Minor.

First Council of Nicaea
Held in 325, this first ecumenical council was convened by Constantine I, emperor of Rome, to settle the Arian dispute concerning the nature of Jesus Christ. Of the 1800 bishops in the Roman Empire, 318 attended the council. The Nicene Creed, which defined the Son as consubstantial with the Father, was adopted as the official position of the church regarding the divinity of Christ. The council also fixed the celebration of Easter on the Sunday after the Jewish Pesach, or Passover, and granted to the bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, authority in the East in the fashion of Rome’s quasi-patriarchal authority, which was not, as sometimes erroneously stated, the same as that of the pope. In this granting of authority lay the origin of the patriarchates throughout the church.

Second Council of Nicaea
Held in 787, the second of the councils at Nicaea was the seventh ecumenical council. It was convened by Irene, empress of the East, and attended by 350 bishops, most of whom were Byzantine. In spite of strong objections by the iconoclasts, the council validated the veneration of images and ordered their restoration in churches throughout the Roman Empire.


Novatian (circa 200-c. 258), Roman theologian, who became the second antipope (from 251). A leader among the Roman clergy, Novatian espoused the doctrine of Montanism. His acceptance of that belief developed into the Novatian Schism. Saint Cornelius, who favored a lenient attitude toward those Christians who lapsed into idolatry, was elected pope in 251, and Novatian established himself as antipope. The Novatianists became heretical when they sought to deny penance to all persons who had sinned, and in 251 they were excommunicated by Cornelius. The Novatianists established their own church, which endured until they were formally reunited with the Catholic church by the Council of Nicaea in 325. Novatian himself is thought to have been martyred during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Valerian.
Novatian was the first Roman theologian to write in Latin. Two of his nine known treatises have survived: On the Trinity and On Jewish Foods.


Occultism (Latin occulere, “to hide”), belief in hidden or mysterious powers not explained by known scientific principles of nature, and the attempt to bring these powers within human control by scientific methods. The medieval concept of occult properties included only those properties that may be revealed by experimentation. The alchemists, astrologers, seers, and others who practised this “science” of experimentation were a small group, usually in conflict with orthodox theology. Consequently, their work was considered mysterious, and the term occultism gradually came to denote the study of supernatural forces. Nevertheless, all the so-called natural sciences stemmed from occultism, and early scientists were frequently called magicians and sorcerers because of the mystery attributed to their investigations by most of their contemporaries.
Modern occultism is generally considered to have begun with the concept of animal magnetism, first developed by the Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer in the late 18th century. Mesmer believed that certain individuals possess occult powers, comparable to the powers of the magnet, that can be used to invoke the supernatural. In the mid-19th century occultism took the form of spiritualism, a belief that the spirits of the dead may manifest themselves through the agency of living persons called mediums. After the turn of the century occultism included serious investigations of forms of extrasensory perception (ESP) such as mental telepathy. Although still not within the usual area of scientific research, these are considered by some valid natural phenomena explicable by accepted scientific methods.


Papacy, office of the pope, the supreme head of the Roman Catholic church. The word is derived from the medieval Latin papa (“pope,” or “father”), a term originally applied to bishops in general. Roman Catholics believe that the pope is the successor of St. Peter, to whom Christ entrusted the leadership of the church as recorded in Matthew 16:18-19: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”.
The pope has many official titles: bishop of Rome, vicar of Christ, successor to the prince of the apostles, supreme pontiff of the universal church, patriarch of the West, primate of Italy, archbishop and metropolitan of the Roman province, sovereign of the state of Vatican City, servant of the servants of God. The title bishop of Rome is the basis for the others: an individual is pope because he is bishop of Rome (and thus the successor of Peter), not vice versa.

Powers and Structure
As wielders of the highest power in the church, popes issue authoritative doctrinal statements, convoke councils, adjudicate legal questions, establish dioceses, appoint bishops, and perform a host of other functions. Never in history have these powers been exercised more fully or broadly than at present.

The Curia
The pope is assisted by an elaborate bureaucracy known as the Curia. After many reorganizations, the Curia still retains the same tripartite structure it was given in the 16th century: (e) congregations (administrative committees), each charged with a specific area of government; (k) tribunals, to handle legal matters; (l) offices, councils, and secretariats, of which the most important now is the secretariat of state, which functions as the chief organ of government to which the others generally report.

The pope is elected by the College of Cardinals within several weeks after his predecessor’s death. The cardinals are sequestered into a conclave under an oath to keep the voting a secret. This system, many times modified, has been in use since the 11th century, when it definitively replaced the rather haphazard systems that preceded it. Although in theory any baptized male can be elected pope, the cardinals have not gone outside their own number since the 16th century. Until then it was not uncommon to elect as pope individuals who had not yet received priestly ordination.

Archaeological and literary evidence supports the belief that St. Peter was martyred in Rome and even that he was buried in the traditional site under the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, but the precise role he played in the Christian community in Rome before his death is not known.

Emergence of Papal Primacy
The First Letter of Clement (Prima Clementis, c. 100), from the Christians of Rome to those of Corinth, can be interpreted as an early Roman awareness of responsibility for other churches. By the end of the 2nd century, with Pope St. Victor I (reigned 189-99), and especially by the middle of the next century, with Pope St. Stephen I (reigned 254-57), the bishops of Rome assumed that the tradition of their church was somehow normative for other, quite distant churches.
During the 4th and early 5th centuries, the popes made various claims to special authority and rarely had them challenged, perhaps as much because of poor communications and indifference as acquiescence. With Pope St. Leo I, the Great (reigned 440-61), the prerogatives of the papacy were articulated in word and deed with a new forcefulness. By this time the canon of apostolic succession, clearly proposed as a norm for orthodoxy and legitimacy at the end of the 2nd century, was fully developed, and Leo was able to exploit it as successor of Peter-indeed, as “vicar of Peter.” Backed by the civil authority of the Western Roman Empire, Leo successfully intervened in the affairs of other Western sees such as Vienne, in France, where he reversed the decision of the local bishop. Leo insisted in peremptory fashion that the Council of Chalcedon (451; accept his teaching on the christological debates then raging, and the council in effect did so. To Leo’s dismay and disapproval, however, the council also decreed that the New Rome (Constantinople) was to have in the East the same primacy as the Old Rome in the West.

The Early Medieval Papacy
Italy’s turbulent political history during the next century and a half submerged the popes from view. Pope Saint Gelasius I (reigned 492-96) was an exception, especially noteworthy for his collection of Christian legal and disciplinary texts, which, with their decided tendency to emphasize papal authority, would influence the way canon law developed in the Middle Ages. Like Leo, other popes during these centuries considered themselves endowed with powers over the whole church, even over the East, where this viewpoint was sometimes accepted, but more generally was only tolerated, ignored, or rejected.
Pope St. Gregory I, the Great (reigned 590-604), administered so well the vast territories that had accrued through legacies to the papacy and dealt so successfully with his bellicose neighbors in Italy, the Lombards, that he made the papacy a major political force, thereby decreasing papal dependence on the East. When Gregory dispatched the monk Augustine as a missionary to England in 596, he injected into the Christianity of northern Europe a sense of gratitude and loyalty to the papacy that would stand his successors in good stead for centuries. In the late 8th and early 9th centuries, the Frankish house of Charlemagne offered protection to the popes and bestowed upon them immense territories in central Italy, the basis for the future Papal States. Pope Saint Leo III (reigned 795-816), in turn, laid the foundation for the medieval German empire (Holy Roman Empire) when he crowned Charlemagne in St. Peter’s Basilica on December 25, 800.

Decline and Gregorian Reform
As political conditions in Italy disintegrated in the 10th century, the papacy fell into the hands of the local nobility. The popes were now, at best, mere liturgical figures in an almost abandoned city; at worst they were moral degenerates manipulated by their own passions and by unscrupulous barons, often their kinsmen. The pontificate of Pope St. Leo IX (reigned 1049-54), a reformer from Alsace, put the papacy squarely on the road to recovery and committed it to a reform of the church. Especially characteristic of this reform, as promoted by the popes of the late 11th and early 12th centuries, was its practical emphasis on papal authority as the key to restoring proper church order. Pope St. Gregory VII (reigned 1073-85) emerged-both before and after his election to the papacy-as the strongest advocate of this movement, known as both the Investiture Controversy and the Gregorian Reform.
The papacy that resulted from this reform, more insistent than ever on its prerogatives, had managed to convince most bishops and many princes that these prerogatives were just, had enshrined them in the new canon law then being formulated, and had translated them into the institutional form of a centralizing bureaucracy. Gregory VII and his successors were thus the founders of the modern papacy.
The legacy of the Gregorians reached its zenith in Pope Innocent III (r. 1198-1216), whose energy and ability made him the most important person, secular or religious, in contemporary European society. He was the first pope to make consistent use of the title vicar of Christ.

Avignon and the Great Schism
Less than a century after the triumph of medieval papal authority under Innocent III, King Philip IV of France humiliated Pope Boniface VIII (r. 1294-1303), and the psychological warfare he waged against Pope Clement V (r. 1305-14) resulted in the long residence (1309-77) of the popes at Avignon, France, where they were under strong French influence. At the end of this period the Great Schism developed, during which each of two or three popes simultaneously contended, to the great scandal of Christendom, that he was the only legitimate pontiff. Although the Great Schism was finally ended by the Council of Constance (1414-18), the papacy had lost prestige, and for the next hundred years it lived in apprehension of attacks on its authority from radical conciliar theory, such as that which erupted at the Council of Basel (1431-49).

The Counter Reformation and After
In the early 16th century the popes were finally able to consolidate their political authority in the Papal States and became for the first time effective territorial princes. At about the same time, however, Martin Luther made a rejection of the papacy an integral part of the Reformation. With ever-increasing vehemence, he denounced the pope as the Antichrist, not so much for the supposed worldliness and corruption of the papacy as for its failure to proclaim the doctrine of justification by faith. In 1534 King Henry VIII of England had Parliament declare him head of the Church of England, thus dislodging the pope from that office. Although the various Protestant reformers differed among themselves on many issues, all agreed that the papacy was a pernicious, or at least an inessential, institution.
The Roman Catholic response to the Reformation began with Pope Paul III (r. 1534-49). By taking care to appoint worthy men to the College of Cardinals, he tried to guarantee a morally upright papacy in the future. The Council of Trent (1545-63) did not deal with the role of the papacy in the church, although it formulated most of the doctrines and practices of the modern Roman Catholic church.
When at its close the council handed over to the papacy its unfinished business and the implementation of its decrees, it did, however, strengthen the popes’ leadership in the church. The exchange of polemics with the Protestants, moreover, moved the papacy to a more central role in Roman Catholic theology than it had had before, and made it the mark that distinguished the Roman Catholic from all Protestant churches. This development also further aggravated the schism with the Eastern church that had occurred in 1054. Still without a clear formulation of the relationship of the papacy to the episcopacy and national rulers, however, the Roman Catholic church was susceptible to divisive controversies on these issues, such as Gallicanism, Febronianism, and Josephism in the 17th and 18th centuries. Each of these movements, which stressed some degree of episcopal or royal independence of the papacy, was condemned by papal decree. Finally, under Pope Pius IX (r. 1846-78) the First Vatican Council (1870) defined papal primacy of jurisdiction and papal infallibility in doctrine.
The French Revolution and its long aftermath throughout Europe brought new problems to the papacy, especially the drive in Italy toward national unity that led in 1860-70 to the incorporation of the Papal States and the city of Rome into the Italian state. In protest particularly against the loss of Rome, Pius IX withdrew from the city to become a voluntary “prisoner of the Vatican,” a tiny area of about 40 hectares (about 100 acres) around St. Peter’s Basilica. This “Roman Question” was settled in 1929 by an agreement with the Italian government of Benito Mussolini whereby Vatican City became a sovereign state with the pope as its ruler .

The 20th Century
During the last 100 years the papacy has grown in prestige and importance even outside Roman Catholic circles. Beginning with the encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) written by Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903), it has taken some far-sighted stands concerning the moral implications of social and economic questions. The papacy held steadfast in opposition to Marxism, but after World War II it tried to arrive at some accommodation with the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. It was most successful in Poland and Yugoslavia, where the church operated with some freedom even before the Marxist governments were turned out of office.
The attractive personality of Pope John XXIII (reigned 1958-63) won for the papacy an immense, worldwide respect. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) that Pope John convoked reemphasized the functions of the episcopacy in the government of the church, without denying the decrees of Vatican I, and at the same time adopted a more conciliatory attitude toward the Protestant and Orthodox churches. The council also tended to favor a more participatory, less authoritarian style of church government. Partly in response to such initiatives, the Protestant and Orthodox churches began to reexamine the role of the papacy in the church and to show more sympathy toward that amazingly resilient institution. Pope John Paul II (r. 1978- ), the first non-Italian pope to be chosen in more than 400 years, emphasized the worldwide nature of the church by traveling extensively, visiting all continents except Antarctica.


Paulicians, in Christian church history, heretical sect in the East, with a basis in ethical dualism and growing probably out of opposition to the hierarchical structure of the church. Their founder was Constantine of Mananali (flourished 7th century), who established his first congregation in Armenia about 660. He was put to death by order of the Byzantine emperor Constantine IV, but the sect survived. In the 9th century the Paulicians allied themselves with the Saracens against the Byzantine Empire and reached their greatest strength. Although defeated decisively by the Byzantine emperor Basil I in 872, they remained a military power, notably in Thrace (now in Bulgaria), during the next century. The sect fused there with the Bogomils, who survived into the 15th century, and some present-day Armenian sects may be derived from the Paulicians. The sect rejected, in addition to church hierarchy, the Old Testament and parts of the New Testament, as well as the sacraments of baptism, the Eucharist, and marriage. Paulicians were also iconoclasts.


Pharisees, so-called Jewish sect, more correctly a Jewish school, probably dating as a distinct body, or party, from the 2nd century BC. Their chief tendency was to resist all Greek or other foreign influences that threatened to undermine the sacred religion of their fathers, and they took their stand most emphatically upon Divine Law. They originated as the Hasidim, becoming known as Pharisees when John Hyrcanus was high priest of Judea. The Sadducees, or Zadokites, differed from them in political and to some extent religious matters. The Pharisees wished the state and all public and political affairs to be directed and measured by the standard of Divine Law, without regard for the priestly and aristocratic Sadducees or the heroes and statesmen who had brought the Syrian wars to a successful issue.
Their doctrine was of an ethical, spiritual, and sometimes mystical Judaism, which enabled the religion to survive the destruction (AD 70) of the Temple, and which later became the dominant form of Judaism.
Jesus, in his condemnation of the Pharisees recorded in the New Testament (see Matthew 23), is in fact referring to the hypocritical Pharisees, also condemned in the Talmud. Among the five classes is the “shoulder Pharisee,” with his good deeds on his shoulder; but it also mentions the “God-fearing Pharisee,” like the Hebrew patriarch Job, and the “God-loving Pharisee.” These last appear even in the Gospels as sympathetic to Jesus (see Luke 7:37, 13:31), if not to his ideas.


Protestantism, one of the three major divisions of Christianity, the others being Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Protestantism began as a movement to reform the Western Christian church in the 16th century, resulting in the Protestant Reformation, which severed the reformed churches from the Roman Catholic church. The declared aim of the original reformers was to restore the Christian faith as it had been at its beginning, while keeping what they thought valuable from the Roman Catholic tradition that had developed during the intervening centuries.
The four main Protestant traditions that emerged from the Reformation were the Lutheran (known in continental Europe as Evangelical), the Calvinist (Reformed), the Anabaptist, and the Anglican. Despite the considerable differences among them in doctrine and practice, they agreed in rejecting the authority of the pope and in emphasizing instead the authority of the Bible and the importance of individual faith.
The term Protestantism was given to the movement after the second Diet of Speyer (1529), an imperial assembly at which the Roman Catholic majority withdrew the tolerance granted to Lutherans at the first diet three years earlier. A protest was signed by six Lutheran princes and the leaders of 14 free cities of Germany, and Lutherans in general became known as Protestants. The term Protestant has gradually been attached to all Christian churches that are not Roman Catholic or part of the Orthodox or other Eastern Christian traditions. As the 1990s began, the world had about 436 million Protestants, (including some 73 million Anglicans), constituting at least one-fourth of all Christians.

The Protestant movement actually preceded the 16th-century Reformation. Several dissident movements in the late medieval church anticipated the Reformation by protesting the pervasive corruption in the church and by criticizing fundamental Catholic teachings.

Beginning in the 12th century, the Waldensians, followers of the merchant Peter Waldo of Lyons, France, practiced what they believed to be the simple, uncorrupted Christianity of the primitive church. The movement, concentrated in France and Italy, survived violent official persecution, and during the Reformation many Waldensians adopted Calvinism.
In the 1380s the Lollards arose in England, inspired by the teachings of the theologian John Wycliffe. Wycliffe denied the authority of morally corrupted church prelates, rejected transubstantiation and other traditional teachings, and advocated biblical faith. The Lollards suffered persecution but survived to play a role in the English Reformation.
Wycliffe’s teachings strongly influenced the Bohemian reformer John Huss (Jan Hus), whose followers, called Hussites, reformed the Bohemian church and achieved virtual independence after Huss’s martyrdom in 1415. Many converted to Lutheranism in the 16th century.

The Reformation
A number of conditions in 16th-century Europe account for the success of Martin Luther and the other reformers as compared to their predecessors. Both the Holy Roman emperor and the pope were declining in power and were preoccupied with the threat posed by the Turks. The invention of printing in the 15th century made possible the rapid among both rulers and ordinary citizens made people, especially in northern Europe, more receptive to Protestant teachings.

The event usually considered the beginning of the Reformation is Martin Luther’s publication, in 1517, of his Ninety-Five Theses attacking the indiscriminate sale of indulgences to finance the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Luther, an Augustinian monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg, had been unable to find assurance of salvation in traditional Catholic teachings. He came to believe that such assurance was to be found in the doctrine of justification by divine grace through faith, which he thought Catholic theology had obscured by giving equal weight to the efficacy of good works. The sale of indulgences, he believed, was an abuse that originated in the mistaken emphasis on works.
Luther at first intended only to bring about reform within the church, but he met with firm opposition. In refusing to recant his views and demanding to be proven wrong by Scripture, he denied the authority of the church, and he was excommunicated. Protected by Frederick the Wise of Saxony, he wrote a series of books and pamphlets, and his ideas spread rapidly throughout the states of Germany and elsewhere in Europe. In Scandinavia, national Lutheran churches were quickly established.

Within a few years of Luther’s rebellion an independent and more radical reform movement emerged in Zürich, Switzerland, under the leadership of the Swiss pastor Huldreich Zwingli. Zwingli’s biblical studies led him to the conclusion that only what was specifically authorized by the Scriptures should be retained in church practice and doctrine. Lutheranism had kept many elements of the medieval liturgy, but Zwingli devised a very simple service, and, in opposition to both Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism, he interpreted the Eucharist as a purely symbolic ceremony. Zwingli’s reforms, adopted peacefully through votes of the Zürich town council, soon spread to other Swiss cities.

The dominant reformer in the generation after Luther and Zwingli was John Calvin, a French theologian who settled in Geneva in 1536. Calvin’s reforms were not as radical as those of Zwingli, but they were accompanied by a severe regime that in effect combined church and state in order to enforce moral and doctrinal conformity. Calvin wrote the first systematic exposition of Protestant theology, set up a democratic presbyterian church government, and founded influential educational institutions that trained men such as John Knox, who introduced Calvinism into Scotland, where it became the established Presbyterian church. Calvinism also spread to France, where its adherents were known as Huguenots, and to Holland, where it reinforced the Dutch determination to achieve independence from Catholic Spain.

The Anglican church became the established church in England when Henry VIII assumed (1534) the ecclesiastical authority over the English church that had previously been exercised by the pope. Henry’s motive was to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragón rather than to reform church doctrine, and he imposed severe laws upholding the major tenets of medieval Catholicism. Under King Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth, however, the Anglican church developed a distinctly Protestant creed that was set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles. Anglican ritual and church organization nevertheless retained many of the forms of Roman Catholicism, which were protested by Calvinist-influenced dissenters known as Puritans.

Radical Sects
As the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans formed established churches, a number of more radical Protestant groups emerged. All of them maintained that the established Protestants had not gone far enough in the direction of a simplified, biblical Christianity. They therefore attacked the established Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic church with equal vehemence and in turn were violently persecuted by both.

The American Colonies
Many of these smaller, more radical sects fled persecution by immigrating to America, beginning with the Puritans.

Wars and Orthodoxy
The early history of Protestantism was marked by warfare in which political motives were entwined with religious ones. In Germany, the religious wars of the 16th century and the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century were bitter and devastating. In France the Calvinist Huguenots fought a bloody civil war with the Roman Catholics, culminating in the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day in 1572, in which many Huguenot leaders were killed. The Huguenots were granted toleration by the Edict of Nantes (1598), but most of them were forced to emigrate when it was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. In England, the civil war between Parliament and monarchy largely corresponded to the division between the Puritans and the Anglicans. After the Peace of Westphalia (1648), Protestantism entered into a period of consolidation.

The influence of scientific thought and the Enlightenment on Protestant theology was reflected in rationalism, a tendency that appeared in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Rationalism introduced a critical spirit into theology by insisting that traditional beliefs be examined in the light of reason and science. By stressing broad agreement on the major tenets of religion rather than the fine points of theology, it tended to undermine the rigid orthodoxies that had developed earlier in the 17th century.

Methodism and Revivalism
The reaction against intellectual and formalistic tendencies in Protestantism continued in the 18th century, with the emergence of several popular movements that made a direct appeal to emotional religious experience. In England, the reaction took the form of Methodism, founded by John and Charles Wesley. Stressing conversion and a concern for the poor, they preached to large outdoor meetings throughout Britain and brought about a revival of religious fervor among the British working classes, who had been alienated by the prevailing formalism and rationalism of the Church of England.

The 19th Century
During the 19th century Protestantism became a worldwide movement as a result of intensive missionary activity. It also became increasingly varied, as new sects and theological tendencies appeared.

The Oxford Movement
Conservative trends were also present, notably the Oxford movement in the Church of England, which strongly affirmed the catholic and apostolic traditions of the church.

Social Concerns
Protestants played important roles in many humanitarian and reform movements during the century. In England evangelical Protestants were leaders of the agitation that led to the abolition by Parliament of slavery in British dominions. In the U.S. evangelical Protestants also actively campaigned against slavery (leading to schisms in some churches) and against intemperance, prostitution, and other social disorders.

The 20th Century
The 20th century produced two reactions against theological liberalism. One was Fundamentalism, an American movement that was rooted in revivalism and insisted on the inerrancy of the Bible. The other was crisis theology, or neoorthodoxy, which developed in response to the suffering caused by World War I and which is particularly associated with the Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Another important development was the ecumenical movement, which brought about the mergers of many Protestant denominations throughout the world and led to the formation (1948) of the World Council of Churches. Protestants entered into dialogues with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as with non-Christian faiths.

Beliefs and Practices
Most Protestant churches retained the central doctrines of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, such as the Trinity, the atonement and resurrection of Christ, the authority of the Bible, and the sacramental character of baptism and the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper. Certain doctrines and practices, however, distinguish the Protestant tradition from the two older Christian traditions.

Justification by Grace Through Faith
Luther believed that salvation depends not on human effort or merit but only on the freely given grace of God, which is accepted in faith. Good works are not disdained but are regarded as the result of God’s grace working in the life of the believer. This doctrine of justification by grace through faith became a fundamental tenet of Protestant churches. Luther and other reformers believed that Catholicism had put too much emphasis on the need for believers to gain merits, to work their way into God’s favor by performing good deeds, by fasting, by making pilgrimages, and, in the popular view of Luther’s time, by buying indulgences. To Protestants this seemed to make the redemptive sacrifice of Christ unnecessary and to leave human beings, all of whom are necessarily sinners, in doubt as to their salvation. The reformers intended to stress the mercy of God, who bestows grace on undeserving sinners through the saving activity of Jesus Christ.

Authority of the Bible
Protestants affirm the authority of the Bible, which is considered the sole source and standard for their teachings; they reject the Roman Catholic position giving ultimate authority to the pope in matters of faith and morals. Luther and other reformers therefore made translations of the Bible to enable the laity to study it and use their own judgment in matters of doctrine. Despite this general agreement on the primacy of the Bible, however, Protestants disagree on questions of biblical interpretation and scholarship.

Priesthood of All Believers
The leaders of the Reformation reacted against the Catholic institution of the priesthood by affirming the “priesthood of all believers.” Furthermore, as Luther argued, the vocation of any Christian, by contributing to society and thus serving one’s neighbor, is as fulfilling before God as any specifically religious vocation. Nevertheless, most Protestant denominations have an ordained ministry. Whereas the Roman Catholic priest is seen as a mediator of God’s grace through his administration of the sacraments, the Protestant minister is regarded as one of the laity who has been trained to perform certain church functions (such as preaching and administering the sacraments). As a result of this belief in the essential equality of all church members, Protestant church government has been democratic in tendency, although there are wide variations. The major forms of church government are episcopal polity (in which bishops exercise authority), which is found in the Anglican, Episcopal, and Methodist churches; presbyterianism (in which presbyters, or elders, are elected to governing bodies as representatives of congregations), found in the Presbyterian and Reformed churches; and congregationalism (in which the congregation itself is the highest authority), found in Congregational, Baptist, and many other churches.

In comparison with the Roman Catholic mass and the Orthodox liturgy, Protestant liturgies are simpler and place greater emphasis on preaching. The reformers established services in the vernacular languages and introduced the singing of hymns by the congregation. Some Protestant services (for instance, the Pentecostal) are almost completely unstructured and spontaneous, are centered on congregational participation, and emphasize spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues. All the Protestant traditions reduced the number of sacraments from the seven in Roman Catholicism to two, baptism and the Eucharist.

Recent Tendencies
Protestantism has continued to be dynamic in character, and change has accelerated since the 1960s. Some denominations have adopted very informal varieties of worship services in an effort to attract young members. Some congregations and denominations have divided over such questions as the ordination of women as ministers, the modernization of liturgical language, and mergers with other churches, as well as the perennial question of biblical interpretation and its relation to scientific truth. Protestants as individuals and as churches continue to be conspicuously involved in controversial political and social issues, some on the conservative side, some on liberal or radical sides. The characteristic that distinguished the first Protestants-a willingness to question received opinions, to protest abuses, and to defy established authorities-has been retained by 20th-century Protestantism, which continues to expand and to exercise a profound influence on contemporary culture and society.


Rosicrucians, international fraternal order devoted to the pursuit of esoteric wisdom. Two such orders in the United States are the Rosicrucian Fraternity and the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, usually abbreviated AMORC. The former group has a headquarters in Quakertown, Pennsylvania; the latter group has an international headquarters in San Jose, California. Both groups hold that the order began in remote antiquity in Egypt and continued in existence through periods of deliberate secrecy. Rosicrucian teachings combine elements of Egyptian Hermetism, Gnosticism, Jewish Cabalism, and other occult beliefs and practices. Many scholars believe that the order actually developed in Germany after the publication of the Fama Fraternitatis and the Confessio Rosae Crucis (1614, 1615; The Fame and Confession of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross; trans. 1652). These pamphlets record a journey to the Orient made by a pseudonymous Christian Rosenkreuz, who was said to have lived at least a century earlier; they claim that the movement was founded by Rosenkreuz in order to impart the secret wisdom he had gained. The symbol of Rosicrucianism is a combination of the rose and the cross, from which the order takes its name.


Semites, term first used toward the end of the 18th century for peoples listed in the Bible (see Genesis 10:21-32) as descended from Shem, the eldest son of the biblical patriarch Noah. Today, however, the term Semite is a linguistic, not a racial, classification; it refers to peoples who spoke or speak any of the Semitic languages. Ancient peoples grouped under this term include those who inhabited Aram, Assyria, Babylonia, Canaan (including the Hebrews), and Phoenicia. Among modern peoples speaking Semitic languages are the Arabs and Jews, particularly in Israel.
The original homeland of the Semites is not definitely known. Scholars think it probably was in southwestern Asia, and some even locate it specifically in Arabia. Evidence uncovered by archaeologists indicates that Semitic-speaking peoples were scattered over Mesopotamia before the establishment of urban culture there; and it is thought that waves of Semitic nomads, beginning presumably in prehistoric times, successively swept over the deserts westward into the Fertile Crescent. Today, the Semitic-speaking peoples (chiefly Arabs) are concentrated in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Their influence has been extended in recent historic times, however-by the Jews as far as Europe and America, and by the Arabs into Africa south of the Sahara and eastward to the subcontinent of India.
Semitic peoples have been credited with inventing the alphabet. The three major monotheistic religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, were born in their midst.


Septuagint, name given the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The term is derived from the Latin word septuaginta (“seventy”; hence, the customary abbreviation LXX), which refers to the 70 (or 72) translators who were once believed to have been appointed by the Jewish high priest of the time to render the Hebrew Bible into Greek at the behest of the Hellenistic emperor Ptolemy II.
The legend of the 70 translators contains an element of truth, for the Torah (the five books of Moses-Genesis to Deuteronomy) probably had been translated into Greek by the 3rd century BC to serve the needs of Greek-speaking Jews outside Palestine who were no longer able to read their Scriptures in the original Hebrew. The translation of the remaining books of the Hebrew Old Testament, the addition to it of books and parts of books (the Apocrypha), and the final production of the Greek Old Testament as the Bible of the early Christian church form a very complicated history. Because the Septuagint, rather than the Hebrew text, became the Bible of the early church, other Jewish translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek were made by the 3rd century; these are extant only in fragments, and their history is even more obscure than that of the Septuagint.

Teutonic Knights

Teutonic Knights, full name TEUTONIC KNIGHTS OF SAINT MARY’S HOSPITAL AT JERUSALEM, religious military order formed by German Crusaders in 1190-91 in Acre, Palestine (now Israel), and recognised by the pope in 1199. The order was restricted to German nobles but otherwise patterned after the Knights Templars and the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem. Between 1229 and 1279 the order conquered the heathen Slavs of Prussia, where the knights then built many towns and fortresses. By 1329 the Teutonic Knights held, as a papal fief, the entire Baltic region from the Gulf of Finland through Pomerania (Pomorze) in Poland. In the southern part of this fief the order was abolished and its lands secularised as the duchy of Prussia in 1525. The northern part (Estonia and Latvia) was divided among Poland, Russia, and Sweden after 1558.
The order continued to exist in southern Germany until dissolved by Napoleon in 1809. Revived in Austria in 1834, the Teutonic order maintained its identity throughout the 19th century but was restricted to charitable undertakings. It was first headed by a priest in 1918, and in 1929 religious discipline was completely restored. With the exception of the period of World War II, the Teutonic order has existed as a charitable and nursing order since 1929. Its headquarters is in Vienna, and it maintains houses in various parts of Austria, Italy, and Germany.


Theism, religious belief in one Supreme Being who is the source and sustainer of the universe and at the same time is distinguished from it. As such, this belief is opposed to atheism. Theism is now usually understood to mean the doctrine of the one, supreme, personal God, in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Theism is distinguished from polytheism, which recognizes more than one god; from pantheism, which denies the divine personality and identifies God with the universe; from agnosticism, which denies the possibility of knowledge of God and suspends judgment on his existence; and from Deism, which, although etymologically equivalent to theism, is generally defined as acknowledging the existence of God but denying his providence and active presence in the life of the world.

Transmigration (Reincarnation)

Transmigration, passing of the soul at death into a new body or new form of being. Transmigration and reincarnation, or the rebirth of a soul in a new body (especially in a new human body), are roughly synonymous. Metamorphosis and resurrection are not synonymous with transmigration. Metamorphosis is the transformation of a living being into another form or substance of life (as a person into a tree); resurrection, especially the Christian doctrine of resurrection, is the rising again to life of the body after death.
The ancient Egyptians believed in the transmigration of souls; their dead were embalmed in order to preserve the body so that it might accompany the ka, an animating force that was the counterpart of the body, into the next world. Among the ancient Greeks, transmigration was a doctrine closely associated with the followers of the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras. According to Pythagorean teaching, the soul survives bodily death, being immortal and merely confined to the body. After a series of rebirths in other bodies, each rebirth following a period of purification in the underworld, the soul becomes free eternally from the cycle of reincarnations.
Plato maintained that the soul is eternal, pre-existent, and wholly spiritual. After entering the body, it tends to become impure through association with bodily passions; it retains, nevertheless, a minimal knowledge of former existences. Delivery from the body occurs only after the soul passes through a series of transmigrations. If the soul has had a good character in its several existences, it is allowed to return to a state of pure being. If, however, its character has continually deteriorated in its transmigrations, it ends in Tartarus, the place of eternal damnation.
The idea of transmigration was never adopted into orthodox Judaism or Christianity. Among Jews, only the mystical Cabalists adopted it as part of their system of philosophy. The Gnostics and the Manichaeans also believed in transmigration, but early Christians who adopted Gnostic and Manichaean doctrines were declared heretics by the church.

Since ancient times, less structured societies than those embracing major Eastern or Western religions have also believed in various forms of transmigration. They have supposed the body to be inhabited by a single soul, or vital essence, which is believed to separate from the body at death (and also during sleep), passing out and in through the mouth or nostrils. Separated from the body after the body’s death, the soul seeks to inhabit a new body, and if need be will enter the body of an animal or some other lower form of life. Among these cultures, it is believed that reincarnation is accomplished by transmigration of the soul of a dead person to the body of an infant of the same family, with the subsequent animation of the child. Family resemblances are traced to this process.

Trent (Councils of)

Trent, Council of (1545-63), 19th ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic church, which, in response to the Protestant Reformation, initiated a general reform of the church and precisely defined its essential dogmas. The decrees of the council were confirmed by Pope Pius IV on January 26, 1564, and they set the standard of faith and practice for the church until the mid-20th century.
The need for a council to reform the church was widely recognized during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The Fifth Lateran Council (1512-17) failed in this regard and concluded its deliberations before the new issues raised by Martin Luther had been articulated. As early as 1520, Luther called for a council to reform the church and to settle the controversies that he had provoked. Although many leaders on both sides echoed this appeal, Pope Clement VII feared that such a gathering might encourage the view that councils, rather than the pope, have supreme authority in the church. Moreover, the political difficulties that Lutheranism created for Emperor Charles V made other rulers, especially King Francis I of France, reluctant to support any action that might strengthen the emperor’s hand by relieving him of these difficulties.
Pope Paul III was elected pope in 1534 partly on the strength of his promise to convoke a council. After aborted attempts to meet at Mantua in 1537 and at Vicenza in 1538, the council finally opened at Trent, in northern Italy, on December 13, 1545. Sparsely attended at first and never free from political obstacles, the council grew in numbers and prestige over the course of the three periods during which it met.

First Period
(1545-47). In many ways the first period of the council was the most successful. Once the many procedural questions were settled, the council addressed the central doctrinal issues posed by the Protestants. One of the first decrees affirmed that Scripture had to be understood within the tradition of the church-an implicit rejection of the Protestant principle of “Scripture alone.” The long and sophisticated decree on justification condemned the Pelagianism that Luther detested but at the same time tried to define a role for human freedom in the process of salvation. This session also addressed, less successfully, certain disciplinary questions, such as the obligation of bishops to reside in their dioceses.

Second Period
(1551-52). After an interruption caused by a deep political misunderstanding between Paul III and Charles V, the council, in its second period, turned its attention particularly to the sacraments. This session was boycotted by the French but attended by a few Lutheran representatives.

Third Period
(1561-63). Forced to adjourn because of the outbreak of war, the council eventually reassembled for its final period. Disciplinary questions dominated the deliberations, especially the unresolved problem of episcopal residency, seen by many as the key to implementing reform. The skillful papal legate, Giovanni Morone, reconciled opposing views and brought the council to conclusion. In 1564, Pius IV published the Profession of the Tridentine Faith (from Tridentum, the ancient Roman name for Trent), summarizing the doctrinal decrees of the council. Despite its length, however, the council never dealt directly with the role of the papacy in the church, an issue raised repeatedly by the Protestants. Among the many theologians participating in the council, the most noteworthy were Girolamo Seripando, Reginald Pole, Diego Lainez, Melchior Cano, and Domingo de Soto.

Besides resolving for Roman Catholics some crucial doctrinal and disciplinary questions, the council also imparted to their leaders a sense of cohesion and direction that became an essential element of the revitalization of the church during the Counter Reformation. Today historians judge that the council was interpreted and implemented in a narrower sense than the participants intended, and some think that it was of lesser importance in the Roman Catholic revival than other factors of a more spontaneous nature. Nevertheless, the designation Tridentine Era for the centuries in Roman Catholicism between Trent and the Second Vatican Council reflects the decisive influence that the council had on the modern Catholic church.

Trinity (Holy)

Trinity (theology), in Christian theology, doctrine that God exists as three persons-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-who are united in one substance or being. The doctrine is not taught explicitly in the New Testament, where the word God almost invariably refers to the Father; but already Jesus Christ, the Son, is seen as standing in a unique relation to the Father, while the Holy Spirit is also emerging as a distinct divine person.
The term trinitas was first used in the 2nd century, by the Latin theologian Tertullian, but the concept was developed in the course of the debates on the nature of Christ. In the 4th century, the doctrine was finally formulated; using terminology still employed by Christian theologians, the doctrine taught the coequality of the persons of the Godhead.


Waldenses, members of a Christian sect that grew out of a movement that opposed the ecclesiastical establishment. The sect was originated by a wealthy French merchant, Peter Waldo, of Lyon, in the second half of the 12th century. Waldo’s followers were known as the “poor men of Lyon.” Itinerant preachers under a vow of poverty, they taught a type of religion that has been erroneously associated with the teachings of the Cathari. Their simple, Bible-based preaching proved more popular, however, than the more complex teachings of the Cathari. The archbishop of Lyon vainly forbade them to preach. They were later excommunicated and persecuted along with the Albigenses in southern France. The Waldenses spread through Europe, but a conspicuous group settled in secluded areas in the Cottian Alps, a range that now marks the border between France and Italy. The areas are still known today as the Waldensian Valleys.
After the Albigenses were crushed, the Waldenses became the victims of the Inquisition in France. In 1487 Pope Innocent VIII organised a crusade against them in Dauphiné and Savoy (both now part of France). Many Waldenses took refuge in Switzerland and Germany, merging gradually with the Bohemian Brethren. The group became openly Calvinistic during the Reformation. In 1535 they paid for the publication in Switzerland of the first French Protestant version of the Bible, prepared by a French Calvinist scholar, Pierre Robert Olivétan. Persecution was renewed in Piedmont in the middle of the 17th century, and the Waldenses did not achieve full civil and religious liberty in Italy until 1848, under the Sardinian king Charles Albert. In 1855 they founded a school of theology in Torre Pellice, in the province of Turin, their headquarters in modern times. The school was moved to Florence in 1860 and to Rome in 1922.


Zealots, Jewish religious-political faction, known for its fanatical resistance to Roman rule in Judea during the 1st century AD. The Zealots emerged as a distinct political group during the reign (37-4 BC) of Herod the Great. In AD 6, when Judea was put under direct Roman rule and the authorities ordered a census for purposes of taxation, the Zealots, led by Judas of Galilee, called for rebellion. Acknowledging the authority of the pagan Roman emperor, they argued, would mean repudiating the authority of God and submitting to slavery. An extremist group of Zealots, called Sicarii (“dagger men”), adopted terrorist tactics, assassinating Romans and also some prominent Jews who favoured co-operation with the Roman authority. The rebellion led by the Zealots in AD 6 was quickly put down, and many of them, probably including Judas, were killed, but others continued to advocate uncompromising resistance to the Romans. One of Jesus’ disciples, Simon, was a Zealot (see Luke 6:15). According to Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, the Zealots played a major role in inciting and sustaining the general Jewish uprising against the Romans that began in 66. Although they continued to attack other Jewish groups, they fought bravely in defence of Jerusalem until its fall in 70. Another group of Zealots held the fortress of Masada against besieging Roman troops until 73, when they committed suicide rather than surrender.


Zoroastrianism, religion founded in ancient Persia by the prophet Zoroaster. The doctrines preached by Zoroaster are preserved in his metrical Gathas (psalms), which form part of the sacred scripture known as the Avesta.

The basic tenets of the Gathas consist of a monotheistic worship of Ahura Mazda (the “Lord Wisdom”) and an ethical dualism opposing Truth (Asha) and Lie, which permeate the entire universe. All that is good derives from, and is supported by, Ahura Mazda’s emanations: Spenta Mainyu (the “Holy Spirit” or “Incremental Spirit,” a creative force) and his six assisting entities, Good Mind, Truth, Power, Devotion, Health, and Life. All evil is caused by the “twin” of Spenta Mainyu, who is Angra Mainyu (the “Fiendish Spirit”; Persian. Ahriman), and by his assistants. Angra Mainyu is evil by choice, having allied himself with Lie, whereas Spenta Mainyu has chosen Truth. So too, human beings must choose. Upon death each person’s soul will be judged at the Bridge of Discrimination; the follower of Truth will cross and be led to paradise, and the adherents of Lie will fall into hell. All evil will eventually be eliminated on earth in an ordeal of fire and molten metal.