Biblical Terms and Definitions
(And other theologically relevant terms)
Amyraldism : Amyraldianism is a theological system created by Moise Amyrald, which modified traditional Calvinism’s teachings on God’s Eternal Decrees–removing the decree of reprobation. Amyraldianism is also known as Four-Point Calvinism in that it denies Limited Atonement, the teaching that Jesus only bore the sin of the elect.
Aseity : the absolute self-sufficiency, independence, and autonomy of God.
Atonement : In Christian Theology, atonement denotes the doctrine of the reconciliation of God and man accomplished by the Crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ..
Autograph : An original writing of a Biblical document. The original manuscript written.
Calvinism : The theological system associated with the Reformer John Calvin that emphasizes the rule of God over all things as reflected in its understanding of Scripture, God, humanity, salvation, and the church. In popular vernacular, Calvinism often refers to the Five Points of Calvinistic doctrine regarding salvation, which make up the acrostic TULIP
Canon : The collection of books that are considered inspired from God and authoritative in all areas addressed.
Christus Victor : Old time liberal Protestant paradigm. Christ defeats the powers of death, not so much makes atonement relating to the wrath of God.
Codex : An early book form made from papyri leaves cut, folded, and sewn together in the middle to make a book. First used in the 2nd century.
Complementarianism : A theological view held by some in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere.
Coptic : The Afro-Asiatic language of the Copts, which survives only as a liturgical language of the Coptic Church.
Council : An ecclesiastical assembly for deciding matters of doctrine ordiscipline.
Covenantal : The framework for understanding and interpreting the bible is through the lens of God’s covenant making. This is accomplished primarily through three covenants. The covenant of redemption (made between the members of the trinity) The covenant of works, between God and Adam (and all of his offspring) and the covenant of Grace made with Christ and all of those in him.
Credobaptism : Believer’s baptism ( called credobaptism, from the Latin word credo) is the Christian practice of baptism as this is understood by many Protestant churches.
Dispensationalism : A religious futurist interpretive system for the Bible. It considers Biblical history as divided deliberately by God into defined periods or ages to each of which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles.
Doxology: “an expression of praise to God, especially a short hymn sung as part of a Christian worship service.” The word doxology comes from the Greek doxa, (“glory, splendor, grandeur”) and logos, (“word” or “speaking”). Most doxologies are short hymns of praise to God in various Christian worship services, often added to the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns.
Egalitarianism : Within Christianity, is a movement based on the theological view that not only are all people equal before God in their personhood, but there are no gender-based limitations of what functions or roles each can fulfill in the home, the church, and the society. It is sometimes referred to as biblical equality.
Epistemology : One’s theory of knowledge.
Eschatology : From the Greek “eschatos,” which means “last,” and “logos,” which means “word.” It is the study of last things: the tribulation, the rapture, the return of Jesus, the final judgment, etc.
Eschaton : The return of Jesus. From the Greek “eschatos,” which means “last.”
Eisegesis: the act imposing meaning onto a text and is often described in terms of reading “into” the text rather than “out of” it. Therefore it is the opposite of Exegesis
Equal Ultimacy : the idea that God predestines men to wrath in the same way that he predestines men to life.
Expiation : The cancellation of sin.
Extant : That which exists.
Exegesis : The exposition or explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis. The word exegesis literally means “to lead out of.”
Fideism : The doctrine that knowledge depends on faith or revelation.
Hamartiology : The study of sin.
Hermeneutics : The science of interpretation.
homoiousia – similarity but not identity in essence or substance:
homoiousian – n. one that accepts the homoiousian doctrine
homoiousian – adj. 1a: holding to the doctrine that the Son is
essentially like the Father but not of the same substance; b: of or
relating to the doctrine of homoiousia — distinguished from
homoiousianism – the doctrines and beliefs of the homoiousians
homoousia – identity in essene or substance
homoousian – n. one that accepts the homoousian doctrine of the Nicene
homoousian – adj. 1a: holding to the doctrine of the Nicene Creed that
the Son of God is of the same essence or substance with the Father; b:
of or relating to the doctrine of homoousia — distinguished from
homoousianism – the doctrines and beliefs of the homoousians
homoousion – a theological doctrine holding that Christ is of one
substance with God
Hypostatic Union : The Christian doctrine that in the one person of Jesus there are presently two distinct natures, the divine and human.
Inerrancy : Without error. The Bible is without error.
Inspiration : The teaching that the Bible is “God-breathed.” It is, therefore, accurate in all it addresses. The authors of the Bible were inspired of God, that is, they wrote under the divine guidance of God.
Justification : The action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.
Kenosis : the renunciation of the divine nature, at least in part, by Christ in the Incarnation.
LXX : The Roman numerals for 70. It is used to describe the Septuagint which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures done (traditionally) by 70 scholars around 250-150 B.C.
Manuscript : A document or a copy of an original writing.
Metaphysics : the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space.
Minuscule : The Greek characters of lower case: abgde, etc. Different copies of Greek manuscripts appear in minuscule form. See Uncial.
Molinism : Postulating a middle knowledge and placing it between God’s knowledge of necessary truths and God’s creative decree.
Montanism : The tenets of a heretical millenarian and ascetic Christian sect that set great store by prophecy, founded in Phrygia by the priest Montanus in the middle of the 2nd century.
Nestorianism : A Christological doctrine that emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus.
New Covenant Theology (NCT) : Proponents maintain that the primary thrust of New Covenant Theology is the recognition of a promise-fulfillment understanding of Scripture. They suggest that whereas “Dispensationalism cannot get Israel and the church together in any sense whatsoever, and Covenant Theology cannot get them apart” (Reisinger, 19), New Covenant Theology finds the realization of all that the Old Covenant typified in the New Testament church (Covenant Theology, in contrast, merely levels the playing field and identifies them for all intents and purposes). The Mosaic economy is viewed as a temporal, conditional covenant that has been forever replaced by the glory of the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3).
Nomina sacra : means “sacred names” in Latin and refers to the Christian scribal practice of abbreviating several frequently occurring divine names or titles, especially in Greek manuscripts of Holy Scripture. A nomen sacrum consists of two or more letters from the original word spanned by an overline.
Ontology : The philosophical study of the nature of being.
Opisthograph : a scroll with writings on both sides.
Paedobaptism : The practice of baptising infants or young children. Paedobaptism or pedobaptism from the Greek pais meaning “child”.
Palimpsest : Vellum that was previously used for a writing surface that has been scraped clean and dressed, and then another writing is made on the surface. Codex Ephraemi rescriptus is one of these. It is possible to use certain chemicals and ultraviolet light to uncover the writings underneath the second writing.
Papyrus : A plant growing along the Nile in Egypt during Biblical times. It was used as writing material. Papyrus scrolls were made by cutting and pressing sections of the papyri plant together at right angles. They typical maximum length of a scroll was about 35 feet. The scribe, when using papyrus, would often use the natural horizontal fibers of the papyrus plant as guidelines. He would take a blunt instrument and score horizontal lines and then score two or more vertical lines as margins for the edge of the sheet or to define columns on it. We get the word, “paper,” from this word. Many of the Biblical manuscripts were on papyrus.
Parable : A short fictional story told to illustrate one or more moral points.
Pelagianism : The belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid.
Pentateuch : The first five (penta) books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These are attributed to Mosaic authorship.
Pericope : (per-ik-o-pee) A selection from a book. A small set of Bible verses, read.
Pneumatology : The study of the Holy Spirit.
Prooftexting : (sometimes “proof-texting” or “proof texting”) is the practice of using isolated, out-of-context quotations from a document to establish a proposition in eisegesis.
Propitiation : The turning away of wrath by an offering. For the Christian, the propitiation was the shed blood of Jesus on the cross.
Quire : A collection of leaves of parchment or paper, folded one within the other, in a manuscript or book.
Rapture : The teaching that those Christians who are alive at the beginning, middle, or end of the tribulation period will be transformed (resurrected) and caught up to meet the Lord Jesus in the clouds. (1 Thess. 4:16-5:2, 2 Thess. 2)
Regeneration : Spiritual or physical change. Biblically, it is the saving of a person from his or her sins. It is being born again (John 3). It is a spiritual change in a person, whereby he becomes indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Sanctification : The act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.
Semi Pelagianism : A Christian theological and soteriological school of thought on salvation; that is, the means by which humanity and God are restored to a right relationship. It teaches that humanity is tainted by sin, but not to the extent that we cannot cooperate with God’s grace on our own.
Soteriology : The study of the doctrine of salvation.
Syllogism : Logic. an argument the conclusion of which is supported by two premises, of which one (major premise) contains the term (major term) that is the predicate of the conclusion, and the other (minor premise) contains the term (minor term) that is the subject of the conclusion; common to both premises is a term (middle term) that is excluded from the conclusion. A typical form is “All A is C; all B is A;therefore all B is C.”.
Synoptic Gospels : The first three gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They are referred to as the synoptics because of their great similarity.
Testament : Latin for Covenant. Old Testament and New Testament are Old and New Covenants.
Textual Criticism : The study of the Biblical documents, their copying, transmission, writing style, instruments, etc. It deals with the reconstruction of the original writings through these elements.
Theodicy: The study of the problem of evil in the world, in light of a sovereign and good God.
Theology : The study of the things of God.
Theosis : The understanding that human beings can have real union with God, and so become like God to such a degree that we participate in the divine nature.
Traducianism : One of two biblically plausible views on the origin of the human soul (immaterial nature, spirit) following God’s initial creation and mankind’s Fall. Traducianism is the theory that human beings are propagated as whole beings, both materially and immaterially (including both body and soul). Creationism, on the other hand, is the view that God specially creates a new soul ex nihilo when a human being is conceived. Both views have their strengths and weaknesses and both have been held by notable theologians of the past.
Trinity : The Doctrine that there is one God in three persons: not three gods, but one God.
T.U.L.I.P. : an acronym for the Doctrines of Grace
Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)
Two Kingdoms : The two kingdoms doctrine is a Protestant Christian doctrine that teaches that God is the ruler of the whole world, and that he rules in two ways. According to the doctrine, God rules the worldly or left-hand kingdom through secular government, by means of law [i.e., the sword or compulsion]) and in the heavenly or right-hand kingdom (his spiritual kingdom, that is, Christians insofar as they are a new creation who spontaneously and voluntarily obey) through the gospel or grace.
Uncial : The Greek characters of upper case: ABGDE, etc. Different copies of Greek manuscripts appear in Uncial form. See Minuscule.
Vellum : A material used for writing, like paper. It was made from animal skins, usually from cattle, sheep, goats, and antelope. The hair was scraped off of the skins, then they were washed, smoothed, and dressed with chalk. Vellum was used until the late Middle Ages until paper was introduced into Europe from China via Arab traders. Vellum lasted longer than papyrus and was tougher, but the edges sometimes became torn and tattered. The two oldest parchment manuscripts are the Codex Vaticanus (from Egypt) and the Codex Sinaiticus.
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Last Updated : 4/13/17