views updated Jun 08 2018


The vatican council ii documents make frequent reference to the kind of life and activity that should characterize those who bear the name "Christian" or "faithful of Christ" (cf. Apostolicam actuositatem 31; Lumen gentium 15, 42; Gaudium et spes 1, 22; Sacrosanctum Concilium 9; Pertfectae caritatis 5). But the Council's expression of the dogmatic and ecclesiological force of the term is particularly noteworthy. That expression is guided by the basic statement: "The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian" (Lumen gentium 15). Several elaborations appear in the Council documents:

God has gathered together as one all those who in faith look upon Jesus as the author of salvation and the sources of unity and peace, and has established them as the Church, that for each and all she may be the visible sacrament of this saving unity (ibid. 9).

All men are culled to be part of his catholic unity of the People of God, a unity which is harbinger of the universal peace it promotes. And there belong to it or are related to it in various ways, the Catholic faithful as well as all who believe in Christ, and indeed the whole of mankind. For all men are called to salvation by the grace of God (ibid. 13).

Men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are brought into a certain, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church (Unitatis redintegratio 3).

All those justified by faith through baptism are incorporated into Christ. They therefore have a right to be honored by the title of Christian, and are properly regarded as brothers in the Lord by the sons of the Catholic Church (ibid. ).

These statements make the original New Testament use of the term "Christian" important to ecumenism.

The term appears three times, in Acts 11.26, which notes, "it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called 'Christians"'; in Acts 26.8, which quotes King Agrippa's sarcastic reply to Paul, "A little more and your arguments would make a Christian of me"; and in 1 Pt 4.16, where believers are exhorted, "if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it." Xριστιανοί is a rare and later synonym for "brothers," "disciples," and "saints," and is derived from χριστός, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Māšîa (anointed). The Hellenized Latin -ίανος was suffixed to indicate that those assuming the title thus formed were of the household named, the partisans, clients, or slaves of the master or κυριός thus designated. The term Christian (χριστιανός) was formed on an analogy with Hρωδιανός (Herodian), καισαριανός (partisan of Caesar), and the family of titles bestowed by Christians themselves on heretics, such as Bασιλεδιανοί (followers of Basilides) and Nεστοριανός (Nestorian). The name was formed from the title Christ because confession that Jesus was χριστός (cf. Peter's confession, Mt 16.17) or Lord (the common Pauline formula) epitomized the believer's faith.

The only scriptural evidence regarding the origin of the name is the notice of Acts that it was first used in Antioch, and the text can be taken to mean either that the disciples invented the term or that they accepted a name already current among their pagan neighbors. Though 1

Pt 4.16 may suggest that opprobrium attached to the name Christian, the context is the writer's advice to those convicted or liable to be convicted before a Roman magistrate, and the shame which the reader is urged to bear gladly is probably that evoked by legal condemnation, especially when such condemnation implied guilt of crimes (atheism, anthropophagy) usually associated with profession of the name by opponents of the Church. There is no clear evidence that the name Christian was bestowed by antagonists of the Church, though by the end of the century it was a title of honor among Christians, a term of opprobrium among pagans.

The meaning of the name, established in part by its derivation, is clarified by consideration of the significance of the title Messiah in Jewish tradition, according to which χριστιανοί are members of the royal household of Gods anointed; and by the Jewish doctrine of names, according to which names effectively represent persons and those taking the name become members of the household. Such meanings were deepened by the theology and practice of the Church, life in Christ being inaugurated by Baptism and perfected by participation in Christ's Body and Blood. That the title Christian effectively expressed the relation between Christ and his disciples is indicated by its occurrence in Pliny's account of the trial of Christians (Ep. 96), and in the Annals of Tacitus (15.44).

See Also: incorporation into the church.

Bibliography: f. j. bickerman, "The Name of Christians." Harvard Theological Review 42 (1949) 109124. r. a. lipius, Über den Ursprung und den altesten Gebrauch des Christennamens (Jena 1873). h. b. mattlingly, "The Origin of the Name Christiani," Journal of Theological Studies n.s. 9 (1958) 2637. f. peterson, "Chrisianus," in Miscellanea Giovanni Mercati 1, Studi e Testi 121 (1946) 356372. c. spico, "Ce que signife le titre de chrétien." Studia theologica 15 (1961) 6878.

[j. patrick]

Christians and Jews: A Psychoanalytical study

views updated May 14 2018


Rudolf M. Loewenstein began this work in France during "the wretched year of 1941"; he finished it ten years later in the United States and dedicated it to "the Christians who sacrificed themselves to defend the persecuted Jews" (1952). Loewenstein, who would become one of the founders of ego psychology in the United States, was then director of a psychoanalytic journal financed by Marie Bonaparte, with whom he began to discuss aspects of the anti-Semitic environment in France. "We are in a revolutionary period ...," he wrote. "Blood has not yet been spilled. . . . But the people need to grapple with someone, they need victims. . . . Hence, the Jews."

More personal motives also compelled Loewenstein to write Christians and Jews. Born in Russia, he was a citizen of several nations before, having settled in France and identified himself entirely with the French, he suddenly found himself scorned and rejected by his adopted country because he was Jewish. He believed that psychoanalysis could contribute to some better understanding of anti-Semitic attitudes and might even offer a solution.

Loewenstein began by reviewing the known causes of anti-Semitism, citing various works and historical documentation. He then offered examples from his experience as an analyst; he believed that therapy represented "a good opportunity for a kind of experimental study in the incipient and developmental stages of anti-Semitism" (p. 30). Citing Leon Pinsker, the Russian physician and author of Auto-Emancipation (1882 [1916]), Loewenstein discussed "judeophobia" as a type of demonophobia, a near-psychosis that incorporates feelings of fear, hatred, and disgust. Certain forms of anti-Semitism represent aspects of paranoia, such as xenophobia, revulsion over circumcision, and projection of self-hatred, while other characteristics, such as religious intolerance and economic rivalry, have an opportunistic appeal.

Loewenstein's hypothesis, based on Gustave Le Bon's theory of collective psychology, is that anti-Semitic tendencies, latent in individuals, suddenly metamorphose in groups into violent attitudes that spread like an epidemic. Hitler's anti-Semitic laws and his persecution of Jews, for example, enabled latent anti-Semitism in individual Germans to manifest itself. The underlying mechanisms rely on irrational and absurd medieval beliefs, such as the putatively peculiar anatomy of the Jew (a hidden tail, menstrual periods in males) and his supposedly demonic character (engagement in ritual murder, sexual perversions), as well as modern beliefs (Jewish culpability in starting wars, international financial cabals, Jewish-Masonic conspiracies). Loewenstein also suggested another, more oedipal level to anti-Semitism, as reflected in Freud's Moses and Monotheism, viewing the struggle of the early Christians, with their hatred of the old religion, as a means of avoiding the "return of the repressed"the recollection of their own revolt against imposed religion. Finally, Loewenstein questions whether the Jews do not themselves aid in perpetuating anti-Semitic reactions, in a chapter titled "On 'Jewish' Character Traits and Social Structure."

Skeptical of Zionism as a political solution because it might provoke anti-Semitism, Loewenstein called for a pedagogical solution. He proposed teaching sacred history in a less anti-Semitic spirit and, always philosophical, he suggested a mutual search for understanding between Christians and Jews for the good of mankind.

A courageous book, Christians and Jews, together with works by Imre Hermann (1945) and Ernst Simmel (1946), was among the earliest psychoanalytically-informed works on the subject. It is not a landmark work, however. Loewenstein's use of a medical model, with its description of symptoms, etiology, and finally treatment, is inadequate to understand the modern antipathy and negative attitudes toward Jews known as anti-Semitism.

Michelle Moreau Ricaud

See also: Loewenstein, Rudolf M.; Racism, anti-Semitism and psychoanalysis.

Source Citation

Loewenstein, Rudolf M. (1952). Christians and Jews; A psychoanalytical study. New York: International Universities Press.


Hermann, Imre. (1945). Az antiszemitizmus lélektana. (The psychosis of anti-Semitism), Budapest: Bibliotheca.

Pinsker, Leon. (1916). Auto-emancipation. New York, Federation of American Zionists. (Original work published 1882)

Simmel, Ernst. (1946). Anti-Semitism. A social disease. New York: International Universities Press.


views updated May 14 2018

Chris·tian • adj. of, relating to, or professing Christianity or its teachings: the Christian Church. ∎ inf. having or showing qualities associated with Christians, esp. those of decency, kindness, and fairness.• n. a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.DERIVATIVES: Chris·tian·i·za·tion / ˌkrischənəˈzāshən/ n.Chris·tian·ize / -ˌnīz/ v.Chris·tian·ly adv.


views updated Jun 11 2018

Christian relating to or professing Christianity; a believer in Christianity. Christian is the name of the central character of the first part of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678–84), which recounts the story of his journey to the Celestial City.
Christian Brothers a Roman Catholic lay teaching order, originally founded in France in 1684.
Christian science the beliefs and practices of the Church of Christ Scientist, a Christian sect founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. Members hold that only God and the mind have ultimate reality, and that sin and illness are illusions which can be overcome by prayer and faith.


views updated May 14 2018

Christian Follower of Jesus Christ. The major Christian Churches regard belief in the divinity of Christ and the Holy Trinity as the minimum requirement for a Christian. This definition excludes religious bodies such as Unitarianism.

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