From ‚abba’ to ‚almsgiving’. A dictionary of theological terms.


Aramaic term for “father,” used by Jesus in addressing God and connoting intimacy (Mark 14:36; cf. Rom. 8:15–16; Gal. 4:6). 


(Lat. abbatissa, feminine form of abbas, “abbot”) Female superior who oversees a nunnery.


(Lat. abbatia, from abbas, “abbot”) A monastery or nunnery that houses a society of persons who are separated from the secular world or who work in the world. Also a church connected with a monastery. 


(Gr. and Lat. abbas, from Aram. ’abba, “father”) Superior in charge of a monastic community in certain religious orders.


(Lat. absolvere, “to set free”) The formal act of pronouncing forgiveness of sins. In Roman Catholic theology, the formula the priest uses in the sacrament of reconciliation (formerly penance), usually “I absolve you.” In Eastern churches it is: “May God forgive you.”


 (Heb. ha’adam, “the man,” “humanity”) The biblical accounts consider the first human to be a male, made from the earth (Gen. 1:26–27; 2:7), who received the “breath of life” from God and was created in God’s image.


 (Ital. “renewal, bringing up to date”) A term used to describe the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) in the Roman Catholic Church. They called, among other things, for a new openness in the church to the world, toward other Christian churches, and to non-Christian religions.


 (Gr. agnōstos, “unknown”) The view that it is not possible to have any certain knowledge beyond ordinary experience, so that one cannot know whether God exists.


(Gr. eleēmosynē, “charity,” “mercy”) The act of giving to those in need as an expression of Christian love. It was commanded by Jesus (Luke 18:22) and practiced by the early church (Acts 9:36; 24:17).


(Gr. thysiastērion; Lat. altare, “high place”) The raised place on which sacrifices were offered in the Old Testament period. In many churches, a raised table as the place where the bread and wine of the Eucharist are consecrated.

Fragments from McKim, Donald K.. The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition (p. 1). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. 

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