Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

Chapter I

§ 1. Significance of the Name

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 fur das wissenschaftliche 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 'fyKvKxio<; traiBeia.

The sense of iraiBeia in this combination needs no further explanation. Haifkia means instruction, training, education; that by which a 7ra« becomes an avrjp. The difficulty lies in the definition which makes this iraiBeia, eyKvKXio<;. In its simplest sense, eyKvKXio< ; is all that which presents itself to you as being included in a Kvkxoi, i.e. a ring or circle.

i In his Ilfpl Jiairijt 6((tm, i.e. de victus ratione in morbis acutis, c. II. I have named Galen as the first Greek writer. It is also found already in Pliny, Natur. hist. § 14: iam omnia attingunt, quae Graeci ryjs tynvKkoTaiSclas vocant, et tamen ignota aut incerta ingeniis facta, alia vero ita multis prodita ut in fastidium sint adducta.

But this idea admits of all sorts of shades, according 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 eyKmXiov, because such a temple forms a circle. The BUaia, or common civil rights, were called iyKvKXia, because they reside in the circle of citizens, and confine themselves to its limits. In Athens, the Xeirovpyiai were called iyKvxXiai. and they spoke of eyKvuXia avaXcofiara, eyKvKXiai ia-dvai. iyKvKXia BiaKoi>rjp.ara, 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 ey/ewcXta. Thus unconsciously the idea of that which was of a daily occurrence, and in a certain sense ordinary and normal, was included under iyKvKXio<;;i and it was in this process of thought that ey/cweXto? was added to iraiBeia 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, iyKvKXia tUata (XXV. 74),2 or, in a better sense still, Aristotle wrote his eyKvKXia <f>iXoao<f>^fiara, i.e. popular philosophy. It is a mistake, therefore, to interpret iyKvKXio< ; iraiBeia 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.

i Isocrates describes it even as TA (card rijv iip.4pav iKivrrtv yiyvbp.tva (III. 22).

2 if ykp oi-o( Tljv lautv oitSi Twv iyKVtcMwv bixaiuv fierovalav diodajiv ol y<5/xot, ovroi rurv &yiiK^(Truv iripom afrtos ylyvcrai. Ovk opOus ir.r.X.

>The explanation of Quintilian (I. 10): orbis doctrinae quern Qraeci iyKvKXiov iraiBeiav vocant, is based on a misunderstanding, as is also that of Vitruvius I. 6, praef., and I. 2, encyclios discipline uti corpus unum ex his membris compositum est: in so far as both evidently argued from the general significance of the word iyKvKXio<;, instead of asking themselves the question how it was actually used by the Greeks in connection with iraiBeia. This use referred chiefly to what was normal, as Hesychius also interprets it by saying, ra iyKvKXovfieva r<p /Sta> Kal awrjdn; and Strabo, who writes that we should not call "him who is wholly uneducated a statesman, but him who partakes of the allround and customary training of freemen." We should say: the normal measure of knowledge which a civilized citizen has at command. But Quintilian and Vitruvius were correct in so far as they showed themselves impressed with the fact that there was a reason why the Athenians did not speak of awrfiv<; iraiBeia, but purposely spoke of efyewcXto? iraiBeia. The Greek language was not a crystallized one, like the Latin. A Greek understood and saw through the word £y/ewcXto?, and, when he used it in the sense of normal, he did not abandon the original significance of Kvacxo?. With reference to his conception of it, the use of this word in connection with iraiBeia plainly shows: (1) that from the knowledge of his times taken as a whole he separated certain parts; (2) that he did not choose these parts arbitrarily, but that he arranged them after a given standard; and (3) that he derived this standard from a circle of life, and that, in connection with this circle of life, he grouped his separated parts of human knowledge so as to form one whole. And this threefold action of his mind assumed, at the same time, that he had more or less objectified for himself the whole of human knowledge.

§ 3. Transition among the Fathers

In every distinction lurks an antithesis. The eyKvKXim iraiZeia, which was also called eyKvKKia fiaOrjfiara, trai&evfiara, or more simply still ra eyKvKXia, did not stand in antithesis to what was beneath it, — he who had no iyKvKKux: 7r at Seta was simply called airaiBcvro<;, — but to the higher development of the philosopher and the knowledge necessary for a given profession or calling. This excelled the common Kvkxos of the life of the citizen. Thus eyKvKXios iraiBeia was the lower and ordinary in antithesis to what was reached by higher knowledge.

When the higher knowledge of the Christian Religion came out of Israel into the Roman-Grecian world, it was but natural that Christian scholars should class the entire heathenclassical development with what was lower and common, in antithesis to the higher yv&ai<; of the Holy Scriptures. This readily explains the fact that, as we are told by Suicer (see his Thesaurus in voce), in the Greek of ecclesiastical literature iyKvKXios -iraiBeia gradually obtains a modified significance and comes to mean the knowledge or science which covered the entire circle of the heathen-classical life; over against which stood OeoXoyia, Oeoapia, or yv&aK as higher knowledge. Suicer infers this from what Eusebius writes in his Church History, VI. 18, concerning Origen; viz. that he trained the youth in rh rfj<; ej-a>Oev <f>iXoao<f>ia<; and instructed them in the eyKvKXia, showing them the subsequent benefit they should derive from this later on for sacred studies. In the same sense Hesychius would explain eyKvKXia as being ra e£a> ypdfifj.ara, which means that the eyxwcXto? -iraiBeia formed a circle to the heathen Greek, in which he himself was included and of which he formed the centre; while to the Christian Greek To. ea<o were the mysteries of the Christian religion, and the ey/cwcXto? iraiBeia came to him etja>Oev, i.e. from without his circle of life. Thus, if a closer investigation confirms us in this view, this transition was gradual and led to ey/eweXto? waiBeia, no longer signifying the common instruction given to the ordinary citizen, but the whole realm of worldly science in

distinction from Sancta Theologia. As Zonaras states it:

"Simply every art and science."

§ 4. Usage in the Period of the Reformation

With the decline of Greek culture the use of ey/ewcXto? iraiBeia in its pregnant sense fell away. In the scholastic and ecclesiastical use of the word, which formed itself under Western influence, the original conception of the iyKvKXios waiBeia was expressed by Trivium et Quadrivium; and the later conception of ra efa> ypdfifiara either by litterae profanae or artes liberales. We read nothing of Encyclopedia in the Middle Ages. In ordinary conversation, even in that of the "clergy," the word was lost, and only after the rise of Humanism in the sixteenth century does it appear again; and then according to the interpretation of Quintilian, as the circle of sciences. Thus Elyot writes, in 1536: "Whiche of some is called the worlde of science, of others the circle of doctrine, whiche is in one word of Greke: Encyclopaedia." {The Gouvemor, quoted in the Encyclopedia Britannica, under the word Encycl.~) Evidently the use of the word by the Greeks is here not inquired into; the sense of the word is indicated by the sound; and in the wake of Quintilian, Elyot also does not understand the /cwcXo? to be the circle of citizens, but the circle of sciences, — the orbis doctrinae.

This cleared the way for a new transition of meaning. In the latter part of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century the name Encyclopedia passed from the world of science to the book in which this "world of science" was contained. The naive assumption that the knowledge of the several sciences was already as good as complete easily accounts for the several efforts that were made during the Middle Ages to embody in one single volume the collective knowledge with which they were satisfied and for which they were grateful. This sort of book was given the name of Speculum, Compendium, Syntagma, or Systema; and the effort to give manuals of this sort a methodical arrangement met with increasing success. And when attention was again called to the word Encyclopedia, and this was taken as the Orbis doctrinae, it was but natural that Encyclopedia should be considered a very proper name for such a vade-mecum. Ringelberg seems to have been the first to choose it as such for the title of his Lucubrationes vel potius absolutissima KvKXo-iratBeia, published at Basle in 1541. After him the Hungarian, Paul Scalichius de Lika (Paulus de Scala), used it for the title of his work: Epistemon Encyclopediae s. orbis disciplinarum turn sacrarum turn profanarum Bas. 1559. And when it was once adopted, Encyclopedia seemed to meet with so much favor for manuals of this sort that when, in 1584, the Margarita philosophica by Reisch, which had been published in Freiburg in 1503, went through a second edition, the editor inserted also the name of Encyclopedia on the title-page of this work. Matthias Martinius, the well-known Reformed theologian of Bremen (f1630), imitated at once the example of the publishers of Basle in his Idea methodicae et brevis Encyclopediae give adumbratio universalis (1606). And when also the Reformed theologian, Ioannes Henricus Alstedt, chose the same name for his Cursus philosophicus, especially for his renowned quarto of over 2000 pages, the modified use of the word Encyclopedia became established. In a smaller form this work was published as early as 1608, but was republished on a much larger scale in 1620, at Herborn, and received the title, Cursus philosophical Encyclopediae; the third volume of which also appeared separately under the title, Septem artes liberales. This work of Alstedt was for many years the standard work for the study of general science, which is the more evident from the fact that in 1649 it was reprinted, at Leyden, in four octavo volumes. The edition of 1620 was dedicated to the States-General of the United Netherlands.

A short sketch of Alstedt's work is here given, so that it may be clearly seen what was understood by Encyclopedia in this third significance. First we have a Compendium Encyclopediae philosophicae, or a catechetical resume of the whole work. Then follows the first volume of the real work, which is a treatise on the four Praecognita philosophica, to wit: (1) Archeology, or the doctrine of principles; (2) Hexiology, or the doctrine of intellectual characteristics; (3) Technology, or the doctrine of the sciences; and (4) Didactics, or the doctrine of methods. These constitute the prolegomena, and then come in turn the sciences themselves, divided into theoretical, practical and poetical. The theoretical are twelve in number, to wit: Metaphysica, Pneumatica, Physica, Arithmetica, Cfeometria, Cosmographia, Uranoscopia, Creographia, Optica, Musica and Architectonica. The practical sciences are these five: Ethica, Oeconomica (the doctrine of the family), Politica, Scolastica (pedagogy) and Historica. And finally the disciplinae poeticae, or the Arts, are seven in number: (1) Lexica, (2) Grammatica, (3) Rhetorica, (4) Logica, (5) Oratorica, (6) Poetica, (7) Mnemonica.

From this sketch it is evident that under the name of Encyclopedia Alstedt virtually embraced all the sciences, and was bent on establishing them mutually in technical relations. What he offers is no medley or hodge-podge, but a well-ordered whole. And yet this systematizing of the several disciplinae is merely accidental with him. His real purpose is to collect the peculiar contents of these sciences in a short resume, and that to such an extent that in the division Lexica he places before you successively a Hebrew, Greek and Latin dictionary; that under the rubric Historica he furnishes a fairly extensive universal history; and that under the title of Mathematica, Musica, etc., he presents you on each occasion with a brief manual of these sciences. But being a man of systematic thought, he presents these collected contents not merely in a well-ordered succession, but even with an introduction that throws light upon the character of the department and upon its relation to the other departments. When, for instance, he passes on from Ethica to Oeconomica, Politica and Scolastica, he directs your attention to the fact that the three last named together form the Symbiotica, i.e. the disciplinae of social life, and how they flow from the principles of Ethica. And since from the comprehensiveness of the book the impression of the relation of the several parts is of necessity somewhat lost, he introduced the work itself with his Compendium Encyclopediae, in which he treats exclusively the mutual relations of the whole and the parts. For which reason Alstedt's Encyclopedia stands for his times really very high. It is evidently his purpose to exhibit before our eyes the body of the sciences (Corpus Scientiarum) as one whole; and he seeks to reach this end on the one hand by giving us a description of the members of the body, but also on the other hand by directing our attention to the skeleton and the network of nerves and veins that unite these parts.

But even with Alstedt the word Encyclopedia as such has not received a pregnant significance. In his introduction he himself tells us that his Encyclopedia has the same end in view as was held by Petrus Ramus in his Professio regia, by Gregorius Tholosanus in his Syntaxis artis mirabilis, and by Wower in his Polymathia. To him, therefore, Encyclopedia is but a convenient name for what had been furnished by others before him. With Alstedt Encyclopedia refers rather to the exhaustive scope than to the organic coherence of his work; what Martinius called adumbratio universitatis. This, however, did not prevent him from unconsciously attaching a double significance to the name: (1) that of a book which comprehended in brief the results of the most widely known sciences, and (2) that of a study of the mutual relations of the sciences. Alstedt had a systematic nature, and his organic interpretation of science is already evident from his announcement that it is his purpose to furnish a "description in one exhibit of the whole estate of the kingdom of philosophy." To work methodically was to him an outspoken necessity. Thus in his introduction he writes: "That the foundation of all philosophy may be presented in one view to systematic minds eager for learning.";

§ 5. Use of the Word after the Seventeenth Century

In the second half of the seventeenth and in the course of the eighteenth century, the systematic conception in the use of the word Encyclopedia retires still more into the background than with Alstedt. It is still used as the title for more or less systematic reviews of the contents of separate sciences, and medical and juridical compendiums are published under the name of Encyclopediae, but in general Encyclopedia acquires more and more the stamp of a Polyhistory. Finally the idea of a systematic collocation of the sciences is entirely abandoned, and, in order to condense the ever-increasing quantity of material in a convenient form, refuge is taken in the lexicographical form. Somewhat in the spirit of Suidas the alphabet takes the place of the organic system, and the so-called Alphabetical Real-Encyclopedia holds its triumphant entry.

First came Jablonski with his Allgemeines Lexicon der Kunste und Wissenchaften, Lpz. 1721, and Zedler with his Grosses vollstandiges Universallexicon aller Wissenchaften und Kunste, 1732—1750, in 68 volumes; followed by the Deutsche Encyclopaedic, oder allgemeines Wbrterbueh aller Kunste und Wissenschaften in 23 volumes; and, finally, the still unfinished work of Ersch and Griiier begun in 1818. The name of Encyclopedia came especially into use for this kind of Real-Lexicon through the EncyclopSdie of Diderot and d'Alembert and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, or a universal dictionary of arts and sciences. Till, finally, Pierer, Meyer, and Brockhaus undertook to let this Real-Lexicon run a continuous course, and for a small price to furnish a Oonversationslexicon or Real-Encyclopaedie, which keeps the people informed of the progress of scientific investigations. These general Real-Lexica have found favor also in the domain of the separate sciences, so that now there are such alphabetical Encyclopedias for almost all departments and sciences, partly for the learned and partly for the general public. And in this sense, the present meaning of the word Encyclopedia is: A work which embraces briefly, and in alphabetical order, the most important particulars thus far known of each of the subjects that belong either to a single department of science or to the domain of science at large. The distinction between the non-theological and theological sciences is here utterly lost from view. Already, in 1559, this antithesis had been abandoned by Paulus de Scala. Martinius and Alstedt had still respected it. But when the Polyhistory excluded all system from Encyclopedia, of itself this antithesis also fell away.

§ 6. Usage of the Word in our Century

The understanding of Encyclopedia, as a brief resume of the results of a science, was still held in our century in so radical a sense, that in the Introduction to his Encyclopaedic und Methodologie der PhUologischen Wissenschaft, Lpz. 1877, p. 36, Boeckh writes that the conception of Encyclopedia lies in its being "a general presentation," and then adds: "A logical scheme is not necessarily involved in it, seeing that it might be constructed simply as an Alphabetical Encyclopedia. I do not mean to say that an Encyclopedia should be devoid of all logical character, but only, as an Encyclopedia it is not necessary." All idea of system is thus excluded from the conception attached by him to the name. To him it is no orhis doctrinae, as it was to Elyot, nor a "description of the estate of the kingdom of sciences" (delineatio latifundii regni scientiarum) as it was to Alstedt. To him no system follows from the idea of Encyclopedia. From its very nature it needs but to be an agglomerate; and if it has any connection, that flows from its general character, and not from its nature as Encyclopedia.

The use of the word Encyclopedia came, however, to stand in direct opposition to this under the influence of modern philosophy, after Hegel chose the name of Encyclopedia as title for his systematic review of philosophy (Encyclopaedia der Phil. Wissenschaft, Heidelb. 1817, 1827, 1830, Berlin, 1840 and 1843. Stimmtl. Werke, Bd. 6, la and 76). Before Hegel, Klugel, G. F. Reuss, J. G. Buhle, K. Ruef, W. J. G. Krug, E. Schmid and others had used the name of Encyclopedia for their expositions of the relations of the sciences or of the departments of any one science. Mursinna and Clarisse did the same in theology, J. S. Putter in law and Boerhaave in medicine. But the idea of system in the conception of Encyclopedia came to the foreground with full consciousness only when Fichte took science itself to be an object of science, and when Hegel, in the same track, wedded the name of Encyclopedia to this idea. Science, as such, now became an object of scientific investigation; the idea of system became the chief aim in Encyclopedia; and from the material of each science so much only was taken as was necessary for the proper understanding of its organic life.

This idea, which answered so fully the need of our time, extended itself, though slowly, from science in general to the individual sciences. Special Encyclopedias also ceased to be compendia, and more and more took the form of scientific investigation into the nature of these special sciences. There were differences in the proportionate treatment of what was formal and material in a science. In several Encyclopedias the resume of the general data of a science was still very extensive, while from other Encyclopedias it almost entirely disappeared. But, even with this by no means insignificant difference, the idea of system came more and more to be viewed by almost every one as the distinguishing mark of the Encyclopedical treatment. Thus, while with Alstedt Encyclopedia is still the name of a book, it has come to be more and more the name of a separate science.

§ 7. Conclusion This brief review of the use of the word Encyclopedia leads to the following result. The use of this word has passed through five stages. (1) Originally the Greek attached the significance to it of a certain group of subjects of knowledge whose scope was determined by the circle of the life of the Athenian citizen. (2) The rise of Christian Theology extended this significance to the entire heathenclassical science in distinction from Theology. (3) Reviving Humanism used it in the sense of Compendium, and, with a weak effort to furnish a systematic exposition, it embraced under it the entire Humanistical knowledge. (4) During the most flourishing period of Polyhistory, Encyclopedia became the name for an alphabetical agglomerate of what was noteworthy in every subject in general, with the exclusion of almost all conception of system. And, finally (5), through the rise of the newer philosophy the word Encyclopedia became the name of an independent science, which has for its object of investigation all other science.

Thus the word Encyclopedia serves successively to indicate a part of human knowledge; then profane science; then, it is used as the name of a book, taken partly as compendium and partly as an alphabetical agglomerate; and, finally, as the name of an independent science.

But however different these five interpretations may seem, the fundamental significance, that led to the formation of the word Encyclopedia, is not lost. By his iyKvKXio<; .irai&eta the Greek divided the whole of human knowledge; i.e. he objectified it, analyzed it, and brought a certain order into it, while by his iyKv>cXio<; he bound the separated part to a given circle. The Christian writers did this same thing; only with this difference, that the part separated by them was larger, that it was bound to a more extended circle, and that this circle was determined by another principle as its centre. The Humanists put the content of this part of human knowledge in the place of the abstract conception of it, and tried to fix the boundary of the circle, in which this part of knowledge moved, not by the persons with whom it belonged, but by the organic coherence of this knowledge itself. Polyhistory and Real-Encyclopedia in the alphabetical form gave, like the Compendia of the Humanists, the content of the knowledge itself, but under the two restrictions, that that only would be taken up which was of importance either to the circle of the learned or of the public at large, and that the circle in which one moved was not bound to the science itself, but, as with the Greek, to the "learned" or educated public. And finally the latest interpretation, which gives the name of Encyclopedia to an individual science that takes all the other sciences for the object of its investigation, turns from the content of the Humanists and of Polyhistory to the well-ordered conception of the Greeks, i.e. to a norma for the grouping; only with this difference, that it interprets this ordering, formulating and grouping organically, and so on the one hand extends them to the whole realm of science, and on the other hand causes them to be governed by the principle of science itself.

The reason which has led to the repeated resumption of the word Encyclopedia, and which finally implanted this organic sense in it, lies in the conception of the Kvkxos. That the Greek took this word to define the traiBeia, shows that there was present in his mind the idea of what belonged together within the realm of human knowledge and grouped itself about one common centre. The Polyhistor and the alphabetical Real-Encyclopedist weakened this conception. The writers of the old Compendia, and they who at present seek in Encyclopedia chiefly the idea of organic relation, cause this original motive of the Greeks to assert itself again, and also enlarge upon it. Quintilian already conceived something of the rich development of which this motive of the Kvkxo<; was susceptible when he interpreted Encyclopedia by "orbis doctrinae."

This motive will ever maintain the supremacy in the meaning of the word, even though the sense has lost for us something of the riches attached to the Kvkxos by the Greek, especially in relation to the afyalpa (see Plato, de Legibus, X., p. 898 a). If it is not possible for science to be anything but a unit, if it has an inner impulse which determines its course, and if in this course it is fastened or bound to a fixed point, as a circle to its centre, there can be no reason to question the propriety of the development of the meaning of this word "Encyclopedia," by which it has come to mean the investigation of the organism of science. To avoid confusion of speech, therefore, it would be well, if from now on the alphabetical collection of separate articles would call itself nothing but Lexicon, — either Real-Lexicon in a general, or Lexicon for Arts and Sciences in a special, sense, — so that Encyclopedia might be exclusively used as the name of that science which has science itself as its object of investigation.