Goal of the CDC: Making understandable the complexity of present-day Christianity by clarifying the contextual character of C

Goal of the CDC:  Making understandable the complexity of present-day Christianity by clarifying the contextual character of Christian theological views, practices and movements through history and cultures.






Topic:   A cluster-entry (a set of “clustered subentries”) is a multi-authored presentation of a Theological Concept or of a Christian Practice, or of a Movement, or of the interaction of Christianity with another religious tradition, because this particular aspect of Christianity (e.g., family, view of God, see the list below) takes different forms in different contexts through history and through cultures today.   Each of its segments – whether they are subdivided temporally, geographically, or on the basis of the different kinds of construct that one finds of this aspect of Christianity --  is a signed subentry focused upon a specific understanding of this aspect and emphasizes that the given understanding results from an implicit or explicit 1) interpretation of a tradition (from Scripture or later),  2) in terms of certain religious, theological or ethical concerns, 3) in and for the believers’ needs in a given kind of context (defined temporally, geographically, and/or culturally).  


New clusters will be developed during the process of writing the “national” and “regional” entries (# 1)  and of identifying their  subentries.  At present we envision the following list of clustered entries.  Included here are clusters on the major religions and Christianity, which could be mini- clusters that may only include two sub-entries (one from the perspective of the other religion, one form the perspective of Christianity).  


The titles of these clusters are abbreviated titles; each time it refers to “(this topic) IN DIFFERENT NATIONAL CULTURAL CONTEXTS OR GROUPS;  and *Xty* refers to Christianity.



African Traditional Religions and Xty

   Ancestors Veneration and Xty; 

   Anglicanism  in (contexts)

   Anthropology,  theological in Xty

   Bahaí and Xty

   Bible Interpretation; 

   Buddhism and Xty

   Charismatic & Pentecostal Movement;


   Church, Concepts Of;  

 Church and State 

 Confucianism and Xty

   Death; in Xty

   Democracy  and Xty (see Church and state)

   Educational Practices;  in Xty

   Enlightenment, and Xty

   Eschatology;  in Xty

   Evangelicals/ Evangelicalism;  in Xty

   Family;  in Xty

   Feminist Theologies and Movements; 

   Folk Christian Practices  

   God;  in Xty

   Gospel, Concepts Of; 

   Health and Healing;  in Xty

   Hinduism and Xty

   Holy Spirit;  in Xty

   Human Rights and Xty

   Incarnation;  in Xty


   Independent Churches; 

   Islam and Christianity; 

   Jesus , Depictions Of;

   Judaism and Christianity;  

   Justice; Justification;  in Xty

   Laity and their ministries

   Land;  in Xty

   Liberation, Theologies;  

   Lutheranism in (contexts)

   Marriage, Theology Of  

   Millennialism/Millenarianism;  in Xty     

   Mission  in Context; 

   Narrative Theologies;  

   Native Religious Traditions and Xty;  

   Orthodox Churches

   Persecutions;  of Xians


   Poverty and Xty


   Racism and Xty

   Religious orders and communities

    Roman Catholicism

   Shintoism and Xty

   Sikhism and Xty

   Slavery  and Xty

   Spirituality;  in Xty

   Taoism and Xty

   Theological Education; 


   Women, Ordination of

   Women, their theologies and roles in  the Churches


Audienc e:  Each cluster is to be written for “curious and bright undergraduate students” (a beginning university students whom we nicknamed “curious Georgia”) and yet must be informative enough to be a solid quick reference set of articles for Christian clergy, professors and students in Christian seminaries and religious studies departments throughout the world.   These readers might not know anything about Christianity– your self-contained entry should give them sufficient information to give them the assurance they know the essential about your topic – yet; will have access to the rest of the dictionary for explanations of many issues concerning the interactions of Christianity with other religious traditions and cultures, as well as for explanations of concepts, Christian practices, events, history of Christian movements and denominations, and entries on women and men who are representatives of all of these.  


Type of Entry and its Goal:   Each of the clusters of entries must be designed by keeping in mind the above mentioned audience; a good starting point is to imagine the questions that “curious undergraduates” (and also religious studies majors and seminarians) might have about this topic, and thus the most significant features of this topic – that is, those features that need to be the focus of each of the cluster subentries. 

For example  “Marriage” (Christian views of =):  the most significant feature of marriage might be that it is a social structure; thus, Christian views of marriage are positively ore negatively related to social structures found in different social and cultural contexts; -- thus, marriage needs to be defined in terms of its social purposes; its legislative form; and, as any social structure, the ways in which it is abused, and also the ways in which it legitimizes oppressive and abusive relations; and Christian view of marriage as the affirmation or rejection of certain forms of this social structure.   The introductory clustered subentry should point out these issues and the questions they raise from diverse Christian perspectives – as a way of introducing the series of clustered subentries dealing with these different issues or questions.

The goal of each clustered subentry is to show how these most significant features of the Christian view or practice of this  are the 1) interpretation of a tradition (from Scripture or later),  2) in terms of certain religious, theological or ethical concerns, 3) in and for the believers’ needs in one (or several) particular context(s)—either contemporary or historical contexts.

For example:  each of the clustered subentries on “Marriage, Christian views of” would present one or several theological constructions of marriage; how it interacts with (affirms; adopts, rejects) the views and practices of “marriage as social structures” in specific historical and contemporary cultural contexts.  These might be organized according to issues and questions, taking examples from different contexts through history and contemporary cultures; or be temporally then geographically organized (in order to insure a polycentric perspective).


 Each clustered subentry must be and can be a very concise and quite informative self-contained entity, because it has a specific focus that distinguishes it from the other subentries in the cluster:  though this focus might be a specific issue, in order to promote a polycentric perspective in most instances the focus will be contextual (emphasizing a geographical and temporal context).   A given clustered subentry is designed to promote a) the recognition that any given understanding of a Christian theological concept or practice is an interpretation of a tradition or of a religious experience that reflects a choice among several alternatives, and b) the recognition of the extent to which the chosen understanding is related to a particular cultural, social, and/or religious context. 




The organization of each cluster of entries will vary from topic to topic.  No real template can be provided.  The best is to consider actual examples (see “http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/religious_studies/CDC/    “ Dictionary in Construction” –password available from the General Editor)


It is nevertheless expected that there will be an


INTRODUCTORY SUBENTRY  that will provide and explain the table of contents of the cluster


Then a succession of subentries, in the order explained in the  introductory subentry.




An [[Introduction]] (in one or two sentences)  specifying the particular focus of the subentry (usually a contextual focus, be it geographical , temporal, or both geographical and temporal).and the issues that this context raise for the understanding or practice of the given aspect of Christianity as the interpretation of a tradition for certain Christians and their lives. :


 [[Traditions that are interpreted]]

[[Religious, theological, or ethical concerns that are reflected in this understanding of this particular concepts or practice]]

May include references to religious experience,  locus of the sacred; sacred time(s); rituals

[[Life-context]]   What does it affirm in this life-context? What does it challenge or oppose in this life context?  What are the human predicaments it denounces?



The benefits and/or limitations of adopting this understanding rather than another one in this context. 


[[Related Entries]] presupposed:  These should be signaled in the body of the subentry with an *  after the word designating the entry.  A few essential cross references may be listed at the end of the subentry between parentheses:   “(see also xxxxx).” 


Short Bibliography (not included in the word-count):  List the main resources for further study of this topic to be included in the Bibliography of the Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity on a web-site that will be regularly up-dated.  Usually not more than 5 to 10 titles with full biographical data (see style sheet  at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/religious_studies/CDC/  ).