Encyclopedia History

I. History

Theologica Latinoamericana Digital Encyclopedia ® is an initiative of the professors from the Department of Theology at FAJE, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. It originates from a significant concern: the role of digital media in today’s knowledge society and the absence of a consistent theological production, faithful to the theological tradition initiated in Latin America in the post-conciliar period, which responds to the desire of those who wish to deepen their Christian faith or seek information about it online.

This concern was at the root of the initial discussions held by the theology faculty at FAJE, which in 2013 drafted a preliminary project, discussed with theologians from UNICAP, PUC-Rio, and the Humanitas Institute at Unisinos, and later submitted to the rectors of their respective institutions. By agreeing to partner in the conceptual and theological construction of Theologica Latinoamericana Digital Encyclopedia ®, these institutions, in agreement with the Editorial Policy Committee, designated faculty members to serve as editors for thematic axes. FAJE, in turn, made available some professors from the Department of Theology as associate editors and axis editors. Together, they comprise the Scientific Editorial Board, which, in early 2014, defined the overall concept of the Encyclopedia and requested, especially from theologians in Latin America, the texts published here.

II. Justification

The proliferation of new electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, notebooks/desktops) and various forms of access to the virtual world (social networks, blogs, websites, etc.) has been rapid in contemporary Latin American society. However, this new digital culture had not yet led theology to produce and provide more consistent information to an average audience (theology students, pastoral agents, individuals interested in Christianity) seeking an understanding of the Christian faith.

The virtual world offers two types of information about religion and the Christian faith: 1) academic, proposed by scientific journals from research institutions in theology and religious sciences, often not accessible to an average audience; 2) promotional, preaching, and catechesis, linked to various religious groups claiming to be Christian, often lacking in foundation and aligned with ideological perspectives contrary to the values of the kingdom embodied and announced by Jesus of Nazareth. How to discern, among the myriad pieces of information available, those that truly contribute to a deeper understanding of the main contents of Christianity, both for the faithful and for those seeking quick and easy access to information online?

Knowing themselves to be heirs to a rich spiritual and theological tradition, which from the beginning of Christianity sought to articulate faith and reason, and, in Latin America, from Medellín, has offered an original reading of the Christian faith, FAJE and partner institutions of Theologica Latinoamericana Digital Encyclopedia ® believe that Catholic theology, in its primary sense of openness to totality (κατά + ὅλος), has much to offer those who turn to new media to deepen what they believe, or to learn, with more consistent foundations, the main contents of Christianity.

III. Objective

To make accessible online a qualified reflection on the main themes of Catholic theology, with an ecumenical openness, thought in the context and tradition of Latin America, in the light of the evangelical option for the poor and from the new social and cultural challenges of the Latin American context. Moreover, it is expected that the encyclopedia will progressively become a space for healthy exchange of ideas and experiences, generating and promoting a fruitful theological debate.

IV. Concept of the encyclopedia

Theologica Latinoamericana Digital Encyclopedia ® will initially feature:

a) a “main trunk”, comprising a restricted number of basic entries, of an introductory and synthetic nature, thought systematically and grouped into eight thematic axes. This “trunk” will cover the entire field of theology, offering a basic bibliography, mainly in Spanish and Portuguese.

b) a visual presentation that symbolically indicates the work of articulation typical of theology, in general, and of Latin American sensibility, in particular. For this purpose, the encyclopedia will not be organized in lists of entries, but as a “network”, containing matrix entries that will