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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Encyclopedia of sacred theology

by Abraham Kuyper


Since the encyclopedic, scientific and theological viewpoint of this Theological Encyclopedia differs in more than one respect from the ideas that are most widely accepted in our times, even among "believing" theologians, clearness demands that we indicate this difference and give an account of it. The conception of "Theological Encyclopedia'" itself should therefore be investigated first, and this investigation should be preceded by the definition of the general conception of Encyclopedia.

This definition starts out with the etymological explanation of the word which is used as the name of this department of science. Not as evidence from etymology; this is excluded by our plan: but because the indication of the first activity in the human mind which has given rise to the origin of any department is frequently found in the historical choice of the name. This is not always so. To our Western consciousness Algebra is a meaningless term, however capable it may be of an etymological explanation in its original. Metaphysics originated by mere accident. Anemology is an artificially fabricated term. But as a rule there is a history in a name, which it will not do to pass by. And this is the case in a special sense with the name


Encyclopedia. To exclude arbitrariness, and to keep ourselves from ideal subjectivity, the conservative path must again be discovered, at least to this extent — that no definition of any conception should be admitted, which does not take account of what went on in the human spirit (even though with no very clear consciousness) when the germ of this conception first originated. (See Dr. Georg Runze, Die Bedeutung der Sprache fiir das wissenschqftliche Erkennen, Halle, 1886.)

§ 2. Use in the Greek Classics

As for most scientific conceptions, the germ of the conception of "Encyclopedia" also is found among the Greeks. They were the people who, in contrast with the intuitive powers of the Eastern nations on the one hand, and in distinction from the limited form of the life of the spirit in Rome on the other hand, were divinely endowed with the disposition, tendency and talent of extricating its thinking consciousness from the world of phenomena and of soaring above it on free wings. And yet, as far as we know, the word Encyclopedia in its combination was unknown to them. The first trace of this combination is discovered in Galen, the physician and philosopher, who died about two hundred years after the birth of Christ.1 The Greeks left the two parts of the word standing side by side, and spoke of 'Ey/evKxio<; ira&ela.

The sense of iraiSela in this combination needs no further explanation. UaiSela means instruction, training, education; that by which a 7rat? becomes an avrjp. The difficulty lies in the definition which makes this iratSela, eyicwcXw. In its simplest sense, e'y/cwcXto? is all that which presents itself to you as being included in a Kvkxo?, i.e. a ring or circle. But this idea admits of all sorts of shades, accord

1 In his Ilepi iiairrjs 6(ian, i.e. de victns ratione in morbis acutis, c. II. I have named Galen as the first Greek writer. It is also found already in Pliny, Xatur. hist. § 14 : iam omnia attingunt, quae Graeci rijt fyicvKXoraiSelat vocant, et tamen ignota aut incerta ingeniis facta, alia vero ita multis prodita ut in fastidium sint adducta.

ing as it indicates something that forms a circle by itself; something that lies in a sphere or circle, or within a certain circumference, and is thus included in it; or something that moves within such a circle. A round temple was called iepbv eyicvicXiov, because such a temple forms a circle. The SUaia, or common civil rights, were called iyicvicXia, because they reside in the circle of citizens, and confine themselves to its limits. In Athens, the Xeirovpylai were called eyicvfcXiai, and they spoke of eyicvieXia avaXtofiara, eyicvicXiai Sairdvai, iyicvicXia SiaicoPrjfiara, etc., to indicate services in the interest of the state which are rendered in turn, expenses that returned periodically, or activities that constantly changed after a fixed programme of rotation. Aristotle (Polit. II., p. 1269b, 35) calls even the daily, and therefore periodically, returning task, ra iyicvicXia. Thus unconsciously the idea of that which was of a daily occurrence, and in a certain sense ordinary and normal, was included under eyicvieXio<;;1 and it was in this process of thought that eyicvicXio< ; was added to iraiSeia by which to indicate that kind and that measure of instruction or knowledge which was deemed indispensable for a normally developed Athenian citizen; in part, therefore, in the same sense in which Demosthenes calls the legal rights that are common to all citizens, eyicvicXia SUaia (XXV. 74) ,2 or, in a better sense still, Aristotle wrote his iyicvicXia <piXoaofyrmara, i.e. popular philosophy. It is a mistake, therefore, to interpret iyicvicXios iraiSeia as a group of sciences which in the abstract formed a circle or a whole, and it is equally ill-advised to understand by it nothing more than "everyday matters of knowledge." The idea of a circle or rotation must certainly be maintained; only the definition of what falls within this circle must not be derived from the mutual connection of these departments of knowledge as such, but from their connection in relation to the forming of the young Greek.

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