ENCYCLICAL LETTERS: Circular letters, which in the ancient Church were often sent by a church or council to the churches of a certain district. The name is now applied to letters of the pope, relating to the entire Church, sent to all his subordinate bishops.
Theological Encyclopedia is the branch of learning which sets forth the order and contents of theological science. The word encyclopedia, in its technical sense, is derived from the philosophic realm of Alexandrine study, and back of that from Greek antiquity. Since the time of Aristotle enkyklios paideza meant the circle of education which, according to Quintilian (Institutiones, L, x. 101), included grammar, rhetoric, music, geometry, and astronomy. The idea which philosophy took up was appropriated by theology. The compounded expression as a single word occurs first in a discourse by the Jesuit Tarquin Gallucci (b. 1574) entitled De encyclopędia comparanda, (J. Lami, De eruditione apostotorum, Florence, 1738, p. 215) and next in J. H. Alstedt's Curses philosophici encyclopędia (Herborn, 1820), in which Aletedt refers to the Encyclopędia of Matthias Martin (1649) as his source. The meaning of "Encyclopedia" in these cases is an orderly exposition of knowledge. The works just named were the forerunners of the great encyclopedic collections which have set forth either the material of science as a whole or that of individual sciences. So that the word encyclopedia has become fully naturalized. It was first applied to theology by S. Mursinna in Prim line encyclopędi theologic (Halle, 1784-94). The idea of a formal encyclopedia of sciences was first put forward by Hegel (Encyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften, Heidelberg, 1827, § 16), who limited it to the setting forth of the beginnings and the fundamental conceptions of special sciences. So theological encyclopedia sets forth the fundamental conceptioue and methods of theological science. In doing this it takes cognizance of the genius of the Christian religion, of the causes which have built up a theology, of the historical and systematic relationship of the parts to the whole, and, above all, of the relationship of the science to life and of theology as the science of religion to the Church which is held together by this religion. Inasmuch as this science is always in a state of flux-new materials always being added, new questions arising-the best that can be done is to describe it historically and in relation to the present.
The history of theological encyclopedia is not
to be separated from the history of teaching and
of the science. Christian theology grew out of the
proclamation of the Gospel according to the command
During the Byzantine period and the Middle Ages the pedagogic methods of patristic times passed over into the Western Church where the influx of new peoples made necessary the use of these means of instruction. In Byzantine literature heathenism and Christianity remained in a relation of easy sociability of which the Myrobiblion of Photius (d. 891) is an example. Philosophical activity was concerned with Catenae
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