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CATECHU—CATECHUMEN

an Evangelical Free Church Catechism, the work of a committee (convened by Rev. Hugh Price Hughes) comprising Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists (Wesleyan, Primitive and others), and Presbyterians, and thus representing directly or indirectly the beliefs of sixty or seventy millions of avowed Christians in all parts of the world, a striking example of inter-denominational unity. More remarkable still in some respects is The School Catechism, issued in 1907 by a conference of members of the Reformed churches in Scotland, which met on the invitation of the Church of Scotland. In its compilation representatives of the Episcopal Church in Scotland co-operated, and the book though “not designed to supersede the distinctive catechisms officially recognized by the several churches for the instruction of their own children,” certainly “commends itself as suitable for use in schools where children of various churches are taught together.”

Catechisms have a strong family likeness. In the main they are expositions of the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Decalogue, and thus follow a tradition that has come down from the days when Cyril of Jerusalem delivered his catechetical Lectures. Even when (as in the Shorter Westminster Catechism and the School Catechism) the Creed is simply printed as an appendix, or where (as in the Free Church Catechism) it is not mentioned at all, its substance is dealt with. The order in which these three main themes are treated is by no means constant. The Heidelberg and Westminster Catechisms are of a more logical and independent character. The former is based on the Epistle to the Romans, and deals with the religious life as (1) Repentance, (2) Faith, (3) Love. Under these heads it discusses respectively the sin and misery of men, the redemption wrought by Christ (here are included the Creed and the Sacraments), and the grateful service of the new life (the Decalogue).

It may be noted that Sir Oliver Lodge has adopted the catechetical form in his book, The Substance of Faith Allied with Science (1907), which is described as “a catechism for parents and teachers.”

See Ehrenfeuchter, Geschichte des Katechismus (1857); P. Schaff, History of the Creeds of Christendom (3 vols., 1876–1877); Mitchell, Catechisms of the Second Reformation (1887); C. Achelis, Lehrbuch der prakt. Theologie (2 vols., 1898); L. Pullan, History of the Book of Common Prayer, pp. 207-208; E. A. Knox, Pastors and Teachers (1902), chs. iii. and iv.; W. Beveridge, A Short History of the Westminster Assembly (1904), ch. x.  (A. J. G.) 


CATECHU, or Cutch (Malay, kachu), an extract obtained from several plants, its chief sources being the wood of two species of acacia (A. catechu and A. suma), both natives of India. This extract is known as black catechu. A similar extract, known in pharmacy as pale catechu (Catechu pallidum), and in general commerce as gambir, or terra japonica, is produced from the leaves of Uncaria gambir and U. acida, cinchonaceous plants growing in the East Indian Archipelago. A third product to which the name catechu is also applied, is obtained from the fruits of the areca or betel palm, Areca catechu.

Ordinary black catechu is usually imported in three different forms. The first and best quality, known as Pegu catechu, is obtained in blocks externally covered with large leaves; the second and less pure variety is in masses, which have been moulded in sand; and the third consists of large cubes packed in coarse bags. The wood of the two species of Acacia yielding catechu is taken for the manufacture when the trees have attained a diameter of about 1 ft. The bark is stripped off and used for tanning, and the trunk is split up into small fragments, which are covered with water and boiled. When the extract has become sufficiently thick it is cast into the forms in which the catechu is found in commerce. Catechu so prepared is a dark brown, or, in mass, almost black, substance, brittle, and having generally a shining lustre. It is astringent, with a sweetish taste. In cold water it disintegrates, and in boiling water, alcohol, acetic acid and strong caustic alkali it is completely dissolved. Chemically it consists of a mixture of a peculiar variety of tannin termed catechu-tannic acid with catechin or catechuic acid, and a brown substance due to the alteration of both these principles. Catechu-tannic acid is an amorphous body soluble in cold water, while catechin occurs in minute, white, silky, needle-shaped crystals, which do not dissolve in cold water. A very minute proportion of quercetin, a principle yielded by quercitron bark, has been obtained from catechu.

Gambir, which is similar in chemical composition to ordinary catechu, occurs in commerce in the form of cubes of about an inch in size, with a pale brown or yellow colour, and an even earthy fracture. For the preparation of this extract the plants above mentioned are stripped of their leaves and young twigs, and these are boiled down in shallow pans. The juice is strained off, evaporated, and when sufficiently concentrated is cast into shallow boxes, where, as it hardens and dries, it is cut into small cubes.

Gambir and catechu are extensively employed in dyeing and tanning. For dyeing they have been in use in India from the most remote period, but it was only during the 19th century that they were placed on the list of European dyeing substances. Catechu is fixed by oxidation of the colouring principle, catechin, on the cloth after dyeing or printing; and treated thus it yields a variety of durable tints of drabs, browns and olives with different mordants (see Dyeing). The principal consumption of catechu occurs in the preparation of fibrous substances exposed to water, such as fishing-lines and nets, and for colouring stout canvas used for covering boxes and portmanteaus under the name of tanned canvas. Black catechu is official in most pharmacopoeias except that of Great Britain, in which pale catechu is the official drug. The actions and uses of the two are similar, but black catechu is the more powerful. The dose is from five to twenty grains. The pulvis catechu compositus contains catechu and kino, and may be given in doses twice as large as those named. The drug has the actions and uses of tannic acid, but owing to the relative insolubility of catechu-tannic acid, it is more valuable than ordinary tannic acid in diarrhoea, dysentery and intestinal haemorrhage.


CATECHUMEN (Lat. catechumenus, Gr. κατηχούμενος, instructed, from κατηχεῖν, to teach orally), an ecclesiastical term applied to those receiving instruction in the principles of the Christian religion with a view to baptism. As soon as Christianity became a missionary religion, it was found necessary to make arrangements for giving instruction to new converts. At the beginning the Apostles themselves seem to have undertaken this duty, and the instruction was apparently given after baptism, for in Acts ii. 41, 42, we are told that “they that gladly received the word were baptized ... and they continued stedfastly in the Apostles’ teaching.” There are two instances in the New Testament where reference is made to individual instruction in this technical sense. Luke (i. 4) in dedicating the third Gospel to Theophilus tells him that his aim in writing the book was “that thou mightest have certainty in the things in which thou has been instructed” (κατηχήθης) and we are told that Apollos was instructed (κατηχημένος) “in the way of the Lord” (Acts xviii. 25).

With the development of Christianity the instruction became more definite and formal. It is probable that the duty of instructing converts was assigned to “the teachers,” who are ranked by Paul immediately after the Apostles and prophets (1 Cor. xii. 28), and occupied an important position in the Christian ministry. In the Didache, or Teaching of the Apostles, we have an excellent illustration of the teaching which was given to candidates for baptism in early times. There can be little doubt that the Didache was used as a manual for catechumens for several centuries. Athanasius (Festal Epistles, 39), for instance, says that “it was appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who are just recently coming to us, and wish to be instructed in the word of godliness” (κατηχεῖσθαι τὸν τῆς εὐσεβείας λόγον). The instruction prescribed by the Didache is very largely ethical, and stands in striking contrast to the more elaborate doctrinal teaching which came into vogue in later days. The Shepherd of Hermas too is another book which seems to have been used for the purpose of catechesis, for Eusebius says that it “was deemed most necessary for those who have need of elementary instruction” (Eccles. Hist. iii. 3-6).

With the rise of theological controversy and the growth of heresy catechetical instruction became of vital importance to the Church, and much greater importance was attached to it. After the middle of the 4th century it was regarded as essential that the candidate for baptism should not only be acquainted