Glossary of Untranslated Terms and Phrases in English Translations of Moltmann’s Works

NOTE: I am no longer working on this page, which is why there are no longer any links to it on the main blog. I realised how sizeable a project this was, and that my time is probably better spent doing bibliographical work (and dissertation writing!). Nonetheless, I have left that which is here in case anyone has bookmarked it or they come across it on Google and find anything of use.

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Unfortunately, many English translations of Moltmann’s works include untranslated terms and phrases from other languages such as Latin, Koine Greek, or French. I have attempted here to list and translate them, or provide an already existing translation where relevant. The page is short at the moment but I expect to update it regularly.


bonjour tristesse!

Hello sadness! // The title of the 1954 novel by Françoise Sagan



maître de la nature

Master of nature (Descartes)


Sadness, dreariness



Literally, primeval mystery, the transcendent, the object of faith // Used by Van Harvey in the The Future of Hope

Ancient and Koine Greek





docta spes

Learned hope // translation provided by Meeks in EH, 33.


Appearance, belief, opinion // contrasted with *alethea or *logos // Barbara Cassin, “Doxa,” Dictionary of Untranslatables (2014). // Elsewhere, the glory or majesty of God, corresponding to *kabod in the HB.





Traditionally the end of the world associated with events such as the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the last judgment. Sometimes used more generally in the sense of the end of the world, whatever that might look like to the non-theologian.


A political condition of good law well-administered,” OED for eunomy. Literally, good order, originally the name of a Greek goddess.



“A Greek word, of great breadth of meaning, primarily signifying in the context of philosophical discussion the rational, intelligible principle, structure, or order which pervades something, or the source of that order, or giving an account of that order. The cognate verb legein means ‘say’, ‘tell’, ‘count’.” // Nicholas Dent, “logos,” The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich (Oxford, NY: OUP, 1995), 511-2. // Logos also features throughout the NT and early Jewish and Christian literature. It takes on an especially theological significance in the Fourth Gospel, for example. // In TH, logos has a pejorative sense, one which Moltmann sets up in distinction to Hebrew thought: “The Greek term logos refers to a reality which is there, now and always … for it is not in what is new and accidental, but only in things of an abiding and regularly recurring character that there can be log-ical truth.” (TH, 17).

μακροθυμία / makrothymia

E.g., Peace in Gal 5:22: By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness (NRSV).

παρρησία / parrēsia

E.g., Boldness in Eph 3:12: In whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him (NRSV).



στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου / stoicheia tou kosmou

Elemental spirits of the world, from Gal 4:3: While we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world (NRSV).





“Aggiornamento … ‘A bringing up to date‘, was one of the key words used during the Second Vatican Council both by bishops and the clergy attending the sessions, and by the media and Vaticanologists covering it.” // From Wikipedia article. This is the sense in which Moltmann employs the term too.






Coming // The word takes on especial significance for Moltmann as a contrast between *futurum, and sometimes *praesentia. “Futurum means what will be; adventus means what is coming. The two words go together with two different conceptions of time.” CoG, 25. That is, future as futurum is a future of what is currently possible whereas future as adventus is the arrival of something that is not possible according to the world as it currently is, i.e., the arrival of the reign of God.

Aliter Apostolus de rebus philosophatur et sapit quam philosophi et metaphysici. Quia philosophi oculum ita in presentiam rerum immergunt, ut solum quidditates et qualitates earum speculentur, Apostolus autem oculus nostros revocat ab intuitu rerum presentium, ab essentia et accidentibus earum et dirigit in eas secundum quod future sunt. Non enim dicit “essentia” vel “operatio” creaturae seu “actio” et “passio” et “motus”, sed novo et miro vocabulo et theologico dicit “expectatio creaturae”.

“The apostle philosophizes and thinks about things in a different way than the philosophers and metaphysicians do. For the philosophers do direct their gaze at the present state of things that they speculate only about what things are and what quality they have, but the apostle calls our attention away from a consideration of the present and from the essence and accidents of things and directs us to their future state. For he does not use the term ‘essence’ or ‘activity’ of the creature, or its ‘action,’ ‘inaction,’ and ‘motion,’ but in an entirely new and marvelous theological word he speaks of the ‘expectation of creation’.” // Luther’s Works, vol. 25, Lectures on Romans, 360. The Latin is cited in HP, 104. An alternative translation of the Latin can be found in TH, 35.

ave crux — unica spes!

Hail to the cross, our only hope // See Wikipedia article.

cor inquietum

Restless heart // From Augustine: “Our hearts our restless until they find rest in you.”

creatio ex nihilo

Creation out of nothing

creator ex nihilo

Literally Creator out of nothing, that is, The one who creates out of nothing

credo, ut intelligam

I believe, so that I may understand



deus absconditus

deus qui futurum est

God is future // I welcome any corrections on this as my Latin is very basic. I’m guessing this is a reference to Bloch’s comment that “God has future as his essential being.”

eductio formarum e materia

“The production of forms by virtue of matter itself.” // Aristotelian philosophy. Definition from Enrico Pasini, “The Organic versus the Living in Light of Leibniz’s Aristotelianisms,” in Justin E. H. Smith and Ohad Nachtomy, ed., Machines of Nature and Corporeal Substances in Leibniz (Dordrecht: Springer, 2011), 84. Cf. Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope, 3 vols., trans. by Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice, and Paul Knight (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1986), 205-8.

eritis sicut Deus, scientes bonum et malum

You will be like God, knowing good and evil // Genesis 3:5, Latin Vulgate

etsi deus non daretur

“As if there were no God.” // From Bonhoeffer. See Ralf Wüstenberg, “The Influence of William Dilthey on Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison,” in Peter Frick, ed., Bonhoeffer’s Intellectual Formation: Theology and Philosophy in His Thought, 167-174 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 170 n.24. Wüstenberg suggests the phrase originates in Bonhoeffer as a paraphrase of Hugo Grotius.

ex nihilo nihil fit

Out of nothing, nothing comes

exspectatio creaturae

Expectation of the creature // Translated by Leitch in TH, 35.

extensio animi ad magna

Magnanimity or living in such a way that “seeks the fullest possible anticipation of our [eschatological] end.” // A long tradition in classical and medieval authors, receiving particular attention from Thomas Aquinas. See John Webster, “Hope,” in The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics, ed. Gilbert Meilaender and William Werpehowski, 291-306 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 304.

extra nos

Beyond or outside of us

fides et promissio sunt correlativa

Faith and promise are correlative, i.e., they complement each other. Apparently from the Reformers. TH, 44.

fides quaerens intellectum

Faith seeking understanding


See *adventus

homo absconditus

homo homini Deus

“Man is God to man.” // Ernst Bloch. Translator’s translation in Moltmann, Religion, Revolution and the Future, 151.

in statu viatoris

Condition or state of being on the way,” in a state of pilgrimage and being oriented towards something that has not yet been fulfilled. // From Josef Pieper, On Hope, trans. by Sister Mary Frances McCarthy, S.N.D. (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986), ch. 1.

intellectus fidei et spei


Nothing, nothingness

non omnis confundar

“I shall not be wholly confounded.” // Translator’s translation in Moltmann, Religion, Revolution and the Future, 165.


New thing, the new // This usage in Moltmann probably taken from Bloch, who uses this term extenstively.

novum ultimum

numen prasentiae

Divine presence

nunc aeternum

Literally “eternal now.” // See *nunc stans. Taken from Bloch’s Philosophy of Hope.

nunc stans

“Eternity or eternal existence, especially as an attribute of God, conceived not as infinite temporal duration but as a form of existence not subject to the limitations of time, and hence involving neither change nor succession. Also occasionally in extended use, especially with reference to mystical experience.” // OED. Literally, “now standing.” Probably taken from Bloch’s Philosophy of Hope, though the usage is older.




Presence // Contrasted with *adventus, coming.




Promise // Literally, a before-sendingpro-missio, in which that which will be sent is given ahead of time, in the form of a declaration. See entry on etymonline.

promissio Dei

Promise of God

spero, ut intelligam

I hope, so that I may understand // Moltmann’s adaptation of Anselm’s *credo, ut intelligam

spes quarens intellectum

Hope seeking understanding // Moltmann’s adaptation of Anselm’s *fides quarens intellectum

sub Pontio Pilato

Under Pontius Pilate. // According to the Latin of the Nicene Creed, crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, [Christ was] crucified for us under Pontius Pilate.

taedium vitae

Weariness of life. // Moltmann himself glosses this as “a life that has little further interest in itself.” TH, 24.

tantum cognoscitur, quantum diligitur

tertium genus

Literally third category, a new category or concept that goes beyond a former impasse between two opposing viewpoints. Moltmann’s TH might be called a tertium genus between Bultmannian and Barthian positions.

Tertium Testamentum

Third Testament, beyond that of the Old and New Testaments

tota simul

Boethius defined eternity as “interminabilis vitae tota simul et perfecta possessio,” that is, “the all-at-once total and perfect possession of endless life” (The Consolation of Philosophy 5.6). // Peter Manchester, 1987, “Eternity,” Encyclopedia of World Religion (2005).


All, everything, the whole


quaestio mihi factus sum, terra difficultatis

“I am become a question to myself, a world of difficulty.” // Augustine. Translator’s translation in Moltmann, Religion, Revolution and the Future, 154.