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Catholic Religious Vocabulary

Content created: 2007-02-28
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Christian Documents for Class Discussion

1. Narratives

Introduction. This section includes links to an abbreviated life of Jesus for those unacquainted with it, plus two medieval accounts of saints' lives, and one account of a miraculous appraition of the Virtin Mary, Jesus' mother.

1. Frequently Encountered Christian Texts

Introduction. I assembled this small archive in support of a graduate course on the ethnography of Christianity that I taught it in Hong Kong in 2007. The standard texts are usually given in Latin and in King James English (or comparable) versions likely to be encountered in literary sources or church anthems. At that time I also included a standard (but far less classic) Chinese translations. I have not removed the Chinese versions, but the page has evolved, and new additions do not include it.

2. Selected Christian Creeds

Introduction. Statements of belief (called creeds, confessions, covenants, or statements of faith) are a significant part of Christian life, figuring in the liturgy, as conditions for baptism, and as explanations to outsiders. Here are some background notes, mostly from the 1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, and the texts of some creeds (sometimes called credos, from Latin credo, “I believe”).

Augsburg Confession 1530

Heidelberg Catechism 1562

Westminster Confession 1643

Congregational Covenants
(Many newer denominations have evolved credal statements of various kinds, and the evolution of some of these is a fascinating study. I have included only one extended example here.)

3. Major Christian Heresies

Introduction. Arguably any creed constitutes an orthodoxy in contrast to which all deviation is heterodoxy. Orthodox reactions to deviation may vary considerably, ranging from amusement through boredom to frenzied warfare. Over the centuries certain interpretations of Christian teaching have been held by church councils to be dangerously heretical. The most important of them are summarized here as clearly and concisely as possible.

4. Other Interesting Texts

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