|Liturgy and Worship|
Hesychasm - Icon Apophaticism - Filioque clause Miaphysitism - Monophysitism Nestorianism - Theosis - Theoria Phronema - Philokalia Praxis - Theotokos Hypostasis - Ousia Essence - Energies distinction Metousiosis
The Eastern Orthodox Churches trace their roots back to the Apostles and Jesus Christ. Apostolic succession established by the seats of Patriarchy (for example see the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem). Eastern Orthodoxy reached its golden age during the high point of the Byzantine Empire, taken over by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church before it continued to flourish in Russia after the Fall of Constantinople. Numerous autocephalous churches have been established in Eastern Europe and Slavic areas.
Four stages of development can be distinguished in the history of the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The first three centuries, through the age of Constantine the Great constitute the apostolic and ancient period. The medieval period comprises almost ten centuries from the death of Constantine to the Fall of Constantinople. The age of captivity (under Islam) starts, roughly, for the Greek and Balkan communities in the fifteenth century with the Fall of Constantinople, and ends about the year 1830, which marks Greek and Serbian independence from the Ottoman Empire. The last stage is the modern period.
The Eastern Orthodox Churches with the largest number of adherents in modern times are the Russian and the Romanian Orthodox churches. The most ancient of the Orthodox churches of today are the Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria (which includes all of Africa), Georgia, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
- 1 Apostolic era
- 2 Medieval period
- 3 The Pentarchy
- 4 The Eastern Monastic or Ascetic tradition
- 5 Ecumenical councils
- 6 Tensions between the East and the West
- 7 The Crusades against the Eastern Orthodox
- 8 Byzantine Empire
- 9 Establishment of the Roman Catholic Eastern Empire
- 10 Ottoman Empire
- 11 Republic of Turkey
- 12 Orthodoxy in other Muslim-majority states of the Middle East and Central Asia
- 13 Russia under Muslim Mongol rule
- 14 Orthodox Church in China
- 15 The Eastern Catholic Churches or Byzantine Rite Churches
- 16 Russian Orthodox Church in the Russian Empire
- 17 Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union
- 18 World War II
- 19 Diaspora emigration to the West
- 20 National churches
- 20.1 Church of Jerusalem
- 20.2 Church of Antioch
- 20.3 Church of Greece
- 20.4 Church of Cyprus
- 20.5 Church of Egypt in Alexandria
- 20.6 Georgian Orthodox Church
- 20.7 Eastern Bloc Churches
- 20.8 Balkan churches
- 20.9 Russian Orthodox Church
- 20.10 American Orthodox Church
- 20.11 Celtic Orthodox Church
- 20.12 Ukrainian Orthodox Church
- 20.13 Asian Churches
- 21 Timeline
- 22 Church today
- 23 References
- 24 Sources
- 25 See also
- 26 External links
Christianity first spread in the predominantly Greek-speaking eastern half of the Roman Empire. Paul and the Apostles traveled extensively throughout the Empire, establishing communities in major cities and regions, with the first communities appearing in Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and then the two political centers of Rome and Greece and Byzantium which became Constantinople. Orthodoxy believes in the Apostolic Succession that was established by the Apostles in the New Testament; this played a key role in the communities' view of itself as the preserver of the original Christian tradition. Historically the word church did not mean building or housing structure (which would actually be the word Basilica) but meant community or gathering of like peoples (see Ecclesia).
The original church or community of the East before the schisms, is the Greek communities founded by Saint Paul and later Asia Minor (Byzantine) churches or communities, the Coptic (or Egyptian) churches founded by Saint Mark (including the Ethiopian of Africa or Abyssinia), the Syrian (or Assyrian) and Antiochian, Asia Minor (Byzantine) churches founded by Saint Peter, along with the Georgian and Russian churches founded by Saint Andrew. By tradition, the Armenian church, as well as the churches of Samaria and Judea were founded by Saint Jude and Saint Bartholomew, while the church of Israel was founded by Saint James. The church of Rome by tradition was founded by both Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
Systematic persecution of the early Christian church caused it to be an underground movement. The first above-ground legal churches were built in Armenia (see Echmiadzin). Armenia was the first country to legalize Christianity around 301 AD under King Tiridates III and also embrace it as the state religion in 310 AD. However, illegal churches before "Christian legalization" are mentioned throughout church history; such an example would be in the persecutions of Diocletian like in the City of Nisibis. Of the underground churches that existed before legalization, some are recorded to have existed as the catacombs in Europe, Catacombs of Rome, Greece (see Cave of the Apocalypse, The Church of St George and the church at Pergamon) and also in the underground cities of Anatolia such as Derinkuyu Underground City (also see Cave monastery and Bab Kisan).
The Patristic Age and Biblical Canon
The Biblical canon began with the officially accepted books of the Koine Greek Old Testament (which predates Christianity). The Septuagint or seventy is accepted as the foundation of the Christian faith along with the Good news (gospels), Revelations and Letters of the Apostles (including Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Hebrews). The earliest text of the New Testament was written in common or Koine Greek. The many texts in the many tribal dialects of the Old Testament were all translated into a single language, Koine Greek, in the time of Ptolemy II Philadelphus in 200 BC.
The earliest forms of Christianity were Greek as contemporary ecclesiastical historian Henry Hart Milman writes: "For some considerable (it cannot but be an undefinable) part of three first centuries, the Church of Rome, and most, if not all the Churches of the West, were, if we may so speak, Greek religious colonies. Their language was Greek, their organization Greek, their writers Greek, their scriptures Greek; and many vestiges and traditions show that their ritual, their Liturgy, was Greek."
The early Christians had no way to have a copy of the works that later became the canon and other church works accepted but not canonized (see Church Fathers and Patristics). Much of the original church liturgical services functioned as a means of learning these works. Orthodox Church services today continue to serve this educational function. The issue of collecting the various works of the eastern churches and compiling them into a canon, each being confirmed as authentic text was a long protracted process. Much of this process was motivated by a need to address various heresies. In many instances, heretical groups had themselves begun compiling and disseminating text that they used to validate their positions, positions that were not consistent with the text, history and traditions of the Orthodox faith.
Much of the official organizing of the ecclesiastical structure, clarifying true from false teachings was done by the bishops of the church. Their works are referred to as Patristics. This tradition of clarification can be seen as established in the saints of the Orthodox church referred to as the Apostolic Fathers, bishops themselves established by Apostolic succession. This also continued into the age when the practice of the religion of Christianity became legal (see the Ecumenical Councils).
Liturgical services and in specific the Eucharist service, are based on repeating the actions of Jesus ("do this in remembrance of me"), using the bread and wine, and saying his words (known as the words of the institution). The church has the rest of the liturgical ritual being rooted in the Jewish Passover, Siddur, Seder, and synagogue services, including the singing of hymns (especially the Psalms) and reading from the Scriptures (Old and New Testament). The final uniformity of liturgical services became solidified after the church established a Biblical canon, being based on the Apostolic Constitutions and Clementine literature.
Many modern Christians approach the Bible and its interpretation as the sole authority to the establishment of their beliefs concerning the world and their salvation. From the Orthodox point of view, the Bible represents those texts approved by the church for the purpose of conveying the most important parts of what it already believed. The oldest list of books for the canon is the Muratorian fragment dating to ca. 170 (see also Chester Beatty Papyri). The oldest complete canon of the Christian Bible was found at St Catherine's Orthodox Monastery (see Codex Sinaiticus) and later sold to the British by the Soviets in 1933. Parts of the codex are still considered stolen by the Monastery even today. These texts (as a whole) were not universally considered canonical until the church reviewed, edited, accepted and ratified them in 368 AD (also see the Council of Laodicea). Salvation or Soteriology from the Orthodox perspective is achieved not by knowledge of scripture but by being a member of the church or community and cultivating phronema and theosis through participation in the church or community.
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Systematic Roman persecution of Christians stopped for a time in 313 when Emperor Constantine the Great proclaimed the Edict of Milan. Systematic persecutions under Roman Paganism did however resurface later, though temporarily, under Emperor Julian the Apostate. Legalization included the calling of the Ecumenical Councils to resolve disputes and establish church dogma on which the entire church would agree. Thus defining what it means to be a Christian in a universal or broad sense of the word the Greek word for universal being katholikós or catholic. These councils being also the continuation of the church council tradition that predated legalization (see Synod). According to Joseph Raya, "Byzantine culture and Orthodoxy are one and the same.".
In the 530s the second Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) was built in Constantinople under emperor Justinian I. The first church was destroyed during the Nika riots. The second Hagia Sophia would become the center of the ecclesiastical community for the rulers of the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium.
By the fifth century, the ecclesiastical had evolved a hierarchical "pentarchy" or system of five sees (patriarchates), with a settled order of precedence. Rome, as the ancient center and largest city of the empire, was understandably given the presidency or primacy of honor within the pentarchy into which Christendom was now divided. Plainly, this system of patriarchs and metropolitans was exclusively the result of ecclesiastical legislation; there was nothing inherently divine in its origin. None of the five sees, in short, possessed its authority by divine right. Though it was and still held that the patriarch of Rome was the first among equals. The original Pentarchy of the ancient Roman Empire: East and West.
- Rome (Sts. Peter and Paul), i.e. the Pope, the only Pentarch in the Western Roman Empire.
- Constantinople (St. Andrew), currently in Turkey
- Alexandria (St. Mark), currently in Egypt
- Antioch (St. Peter), currently in Turkey
- Jerusalem (St. James), currently in Israel
It is important to note that two Patriarchs are noted to have been founded by St Peter, the Patriarch of Rome and the Patriarch of Antioch. The Eastern Churches accept Antioch as the church founded by St Peter (see the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, Syriac Orthodox Church).
The Eastern Monastic or Ascetic tradition
With the elevation of Christianity to the status of a legal religion within the Roman Empire by Constantine the Great, with the edict of Milan (313), many Orthodox felt a new decline in the ethical life of Christians. In reaction to this decline, many refused to accept any compromises and fled the world or societies of mankind, to become monastics. Monasticism thrived, especially in Egypt, with two important monastic centers, one in the desert of Wadi Natroun, by the Western Bank of the Nile, with Abba Ammoun (d. 356) as its founder, and one in the desert of Skete, south of Nitria, with Saint Makarios of Egypt (d. ca. Egypt 330) as its founder. These monks were anchorites, following the monastic ideal of St. Anthony the Great, Paul of Thebes and Saint Pachomius. They lived by themselves, gathering together for common worship on Saturdays and Sundays only. This is not to say that Monasticism or Orthodox Asceticism was created whole cloth at the time of legalization but rather at the time it blossomed into a mass movement. Charismatics as the ascetic movement was considered had no clerical status as such. Later history developed around the Greek (Mount Athos) and Syrian (Cappadocia) forms of monastic life, along with the formation of Monastic Orders or monastic organization. The three main forms of Ascetics' traditions being Skete, Cenobite and Hermit respectively.
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Several doctrinal disputes from the 4th century onwards led to the calling of ecumenical councils which from a traditional perspective, are the culmination and also a continuation of previous church synods. These Pre Ecumenical councils include the Council of Rome 155 AD, Second Council of Rome 193 AD, Council of Ephesus 193 AD, Council of Carthage 251 AD, Council of Iconium 258 AD, Council of Antioch, 264 AD, Councils of Arabia- 246-247 AD, Council of Elvira 306 AD, Council of Carthage 311 AD, Synod of Neo-Caesarea c.314 AD Council of Ancyra 314 AD, Council of Arles 314 AD. The first ecumenical council in part was a continuation of Trinitarian doctrinal issues addressed in pre-legalization of Christianity councils or synods (for examples see Synods of Antioch between 264-269AD and Synod of Elvira). These ecumenical councils with their doctrinal formulations are pivotal in the history of Christianity in general and to the history of the Eastern Orthodox Church in particular. Specifically, these assemblies were responsible for the formulation of Christian doctrine. As such, they constitute a permanent standard for an Orthodox understanding of the Trinity, the person or hypostasis of Christ, the incarnation. The tradition of councils within the church started with the council of Jerusalem but this council was not an ecumenical council by tradition possibly because it was not convened in order to arrive at a catholic or universal understanding of what Christianity is (see also sobornost). Instead it was convened to address the Abrahamic tradition of circumcision and its relation to converted Gentiles (Acts 15). Although its decisions are accepted by all Christians and later definitions of an ecumenical council appear to conform to this sole biblical Council, no Christian church includes it in their number.
The First seven Ecumenical Councils were held between 325 (the First Council of Nicaea) and 787 (the Second Council of Nicaea), which the Orthodox recognize as the definitive interpretation of Christian dogma.
- The first of the Seven Ecumenical Councils was that convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine at Nicaea in 325, condemning the view of Arius that the Son is a created being inferior to the Father.
- The Second Ecumenical Council was held at Constantinople in 381, defining the nature of the Holy Spirit against those asserting His inequality with the other persons of the Trinity. Under Theodosius I this council marks the end of the Arian conflict in the Eastern Roman Empire..
- The Third Ecumenical Council is that of Ephesus in 431, which affirmed that Mary is truly "Birth giver" or "Mother" of God (Theotokos), contrary to the teachings of Nestorius.
- The Fourth Ecumenical Council is that of Chalcedon in 451, which affirmed that Jesus is truly God and truly man, without mixture of the two natures, contrary to Monophysite teaching.
- The Fifth Ecumenical Council is the second of Constantinople in 553, interpreting the decrees of Chalcedon and further explaining the relationship of the two natures of Jesus; it also condemned the teachings of Origen on the pre-existence of the soul, and Apocatastasis, etc.
- The Sixth Ecumenical Council is the third of Constantinople in 681; it declared that Christ has two wills of his two natures, human and divine, contrary to the teachings of the Monothelites.
- The Seventh Ecumenical Council was called under the Empress Regnant Irene in 787, known as the second of Nicea. It affirmed the making and veneration of icons, while also forbidding the worship of icons and the making of three-dimensional statuary. It reversed the declaration of an earlier council that had called itself the Seventh Ecumenical Council and also nullified its status (see separate article on Iconoclasm). That earlier council had been held under the iconoclast Emperor Constantine V. It met with more than 340 bishops at Constantinople and Hieria in 754, declaring the making of icons of Jesus or the saints an error, mainly for Christological reasons.
The Eastern Orthodox Church does not recognize as dogma any ecumenical councils other than these seven. Orthodox thinking differs on whether the Fourth and Fifth Councils of Constantinople were properly Ecumenical Councils, but the majority view is that they were merely influential rather than dogmatic and therefore not binding.
The first ecumenical council was convened to address again the divinity of Christ (see Paul of Samosata and the Synods of Antioch) through the teachings of Arius, an Egyptian presbyter from Alexandra. Arius taught that Jesus Christ was divine and was sent to earth for the salvation of mankind but that Jesus Christ was not equal to the Father (infinite, primordial origin) and to the Holy Spirit (giver of life). Under Arianism, Christ was instead not consubstantial with God the Father. Since both the Father and the Son under Arius where made of "like" essence or being (see homoiousia) but not of the same essence or being (see homoousia). Much of the distinction between the differing factions was over the phrasing that Christ expressed in the New Testament to express submission to God the Father. This Ecumenical council declared that Jesus Christ was a distinct being of God in existence or reality (hypostasis), which the Latin fathers translated as persona. Jesus was God in essence, being and or nature (ousia), the Latin fathers translated as substantia.
When Emperor Constantine I was baptized, the baptism was performed by an Arian bishop and relative, Eusebius of Nicomedia. Also the charges of Christian corruption by Constantine (see the Constantinian shift) ignore the fact that Constantine deposed Athanasius of Alexandria and later restored Arius, who had been branded a heresiarch by the Nicene Council.
Constantine I was succeeded by two Arian Emperors Constantius II and Valens and a Pagan Emperor in Julian the Apostate. Even after Constantine I, Orthodox Christians remained persecuted but to a much lesser degree than when Christianity was an illegal community (see Persecution of early Christians by the Romans, Shapur II and Basil of Ancyra). It was not until Emperor Gratian that an Orthodox Emperor was again put on the throne in the East and West seats of Emperor (Jovian was only Emperor for 6 months). Emperor Gratian established the Spaniard Theodosius I as his co-emperor in Byzantium. It was not until the co-reigns of Gratian and Theodosius that Arianism was effectively wiped out among the ruling class and elite of the Eastern Empire. Theodosius' wife St Flacilla was instrumental in his campaign to end Arianism. This later culminated into the killing of some 300,000 Orthodox Christians at the hands of Arians in Milan in 538AD.
Nestorian churches are Eastern Christian churches that keep the faith of only the first two ecumenical councils, i.e., the First Council of Nicaea and the First Council of Constantinople. "Nestorian" is an outsider's term for a tradition that predated the influence of Nestorius. Thus, "Assyrian Church of the East" is a more neutral term.
The Nestorian Schism was the first major schism of the Eastern Churches and was addressed with the Third Ecumenical Council held in Ephesus in 431. This council established the tradition of Mary the mother of Jesus being referred to as Theotokos. Nestorianism taught that it was proper to call Mary the Christotokos because as Nestorian had taught Mary only gave birth to Jesus Christ the person not Jesus Christ as God. Cyril of Alexandria charged that this teaching of Nestorius implied that there had been in fact two Jesus Christs; one Christ was a man born of the virgin Mary and the other was divine and not born but also Jesus Christ.
Cyril of Alexandria regarded the embodiment of God in the person of Jesus Christ to be so mystically powerful that it spread out from the body of the God-man into the rest of the race, to reconstitute human nature into a graced and deified condition of the saints (Jesus Christ as the new Adam), one that promised immortality and transfiguration to believers (see theosis). Nestorius, on the other hand, saw the incarnation as primarily a moral and ethical example to the faithful, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Cyril repeatedly stressed the simple idea that it was God who walked the streets of Nazareth (hence Mary was Theotokos or Mother of God), and God who had appeared in a transfigured humanity (see the theophany). Nestorius spoke of the distinct 'Jesus the Man' and 'the divine Logos' in ways that Cyril thought were too dichotomous, widening the ontological gap between man and God in a way that would annihilate the person (hypostasis) of Christ a position termed dyophysite.
Ecumenism between the Assyrian church and the Roman Catholic Church is an ongoing process. On 11 November 1994, an historic meeting of Mar Dinkha IV and Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II took place in the Vatican and a Common Christological Declaration was signed. One side effect of this meeting was that the Assyrian Church's relationship to the Chaldean Catholic Church was improved.
In September 2006, Mar Dinkha IV paid a historic visit to Northern Iraq to give oversight to the churches there and to encourage the governor of the Kurdish region to open a Christian school as well as a library in Arbil.
Eastern Orthodoxy strives to keep the faith of the seven Ecumenical Councils. In contrast, the term "Oriental Orthodoxy" refers to the churches of Eastern Christian traditions that keep the faith of only the first three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the Council of Ephesus — and rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon. Those who disagreed with the Council of Chalcedon are sometimes called "Oriental Orthodox" to distinguish them from the Eastern Orthodox, who accepted the Council of Chalcedon. Oriental Orthodox are also sometimes referred to as "monophysites", "non-Chalcedonians", or "anti-Chalcedonians", although today the Oriental Orthodox Church denies that it is monophysite and prefers the term "miaphysite", to denote the "joined" nature of Jesus. The council of Chalcedonia was held to clarify that the opposite of Nestorian's heresy was not established. Nestorianism did not necessarily oppose the divinity of Christ, but it did assert that the divinity of Christ was separate from the person born of Mary. In the case of the council of Chalcedon, Jesus Christ's existence (one hypostasis) was established to have both a human and a divine will. The difference was that the Eastern Orthodox insisted that Christ be expressed as having both human and divine natures (physis) that are separate from one another and did not mix, yet are in one existence or reality (hypostasis) called the hypostatic union. The dogma chosen by the Oriental Orthodox was interpreted to express that Jesus Christ had two natures (both human and divine) that were mixed into a one single nature (physis). This was interpreted from the Byzantine position to be an argument that greatly diminished the human reality of Christ, by also making the human will of Christ one not of freewill.
The Church in Egypt or the Coptic church and the (Patriarchate of Alexandria) split into two groups following the Council of Chalcedon (451). Eventually this led to each group (Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox) having its own Patriarch (Pope) established in Alexandria. Those that remained in communion with the other patriarchs (those who accepted the Council of Chalcedon) were called "Melkites" (the king's men, because Constantinople was the city of the emperors) [not to be confused with the Melkite Catholics of Antioch], and are today known as the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, currently led by Patriarch Theodore II. Those who disagreed with the findings of the Council of Chalcedon are today known as the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. This included the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Armenian Orthodox church. There was a similar split in Syria (Patriarchate of Antioch) into the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Syriac Orthodox Church.
Both the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches formally believe themselves to be the continuation of the true church and the other to have fallen into schism, although in the past 20 years much work had been done toward ecumenism or reconciliation between the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches. There has been an attempt to achieve ecumenism (Russian: sobornost) between the Antiochian and Oriental Orthodox churches. At Chambesy in Switzerland, plenary talks were held resulting in agreements in 1989, 1990 and 1993. All official representatives of the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox reached agreement in these dialogues that the Christological differences between the two communions are more a matter of emphasis than of substance. Although elements in a number of the Eastern Orthodox Churches have criticized the apparent consensus reached by the representatives at Chambesy, the patriarch and holy synod of the Antiochian Orthodox Church welcomed the agreements as positive moves towards a sharing in the Love of God, and a rejection of the hatred of insubstantial division. As recommended in the Second Chambesy Agreement of 1990, the Antiochian (Eastern) Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV formally met with the Syriac (Oriental) Orthodox Patriarch, Ignatius Zakka I, on 22 July 1991. At that meeting, the two patriarchs signed a pastoral agreement which called for "complete and mutual respect between the two churches. ""Antiochian Orthodox Archidioces of Australia & New Zealand". http://www.antiochian.org.au/content/view/143/21. It also prohibited the passing of faithful from one church to the other, envisaged joint meetings of the two holy synods when appropriate, and provided for future guidelines for inter-communion of the faithful and Eucharistic concelebration by the clergy of the two churches. The Church of Antioch expects these guidelines to be issued when the faithful of both churches are ready, but not before. Patriarch Ignatius has also overseen participation in a bilateral commission with the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which is exploring ways of healing the 18th century schism between the Melkite Catholics and the Antiochian Orthodox. In an unprecedented event, Melkite Patriarch Maximos V addressed a meeting of the Orthodox holy synod in October 1996. The members of the holy synod of Antioch continue to explore greater communication and more friendly meetings with their Syriac, Melkite, and Maronite brothers and sisters, who all share a common heritage.
Resolved under the Seventh Ecumenical Council, Iconoclasm was a movement within the Eastern Christian Byzantine church to establish that the Christian culture of portraits (see icon) of the family of Christ and subsequent Christians and biblical scenes were not of a Christian origin and therefore heretical. There were two periods of Iconoclasm 730-787 and 813-843. This movement itself was later defined as heretical under the Seventh Ecumenical council. The group destroyed much of the Christian churches' art history, which is needed in addressing the traditional interruptions of the Christian faith and the artistic works that in the early church were devoted to Jesus Christ or God. Many Glorious works were destroyed during this period. Two prototypes of icons would be the Christ Pantocrator and the Icon of the Hodegetria. In the West the tradition of icons have been seen as the veneration of "graven images" or against "no graven images" as noted in Exodus 20:4. From the Orthodox point of view graven then would be engraved or carved. Thus this restriction would include many of the ornaments that Moses was commanded to create in the passages right after the commandment was given i.e. the carving of cherubim Exodus 26:1. The commandment as understood by such out of context interpretation would mean "no carved images". This would include the cross and other holy artifacts. The commandment in the East is understand that the people of God are not to create idols and then worship them. It is "right worship" to worship which is of God, which is Holy and that alone.
Under church tradition the practice of Hesychasm has it beginnings in the bible, Matthew 6:6 and the Philokalia. The tradition of contemplation with inner silence or tranquility is shared by all Eastern ascenticism having its roots in the Egyptian traditions of monasticism exemplified by such Orthodox monastics as St Anthony of Egypt. About the year 1337 Hesychasm attracted the attention of a learned member of the Orthodox Church, Barlaam, a Calabrian monk who at that time held the office of abbot in the Monastery of St Saviour's in Constantinople and who visited Mount Athos. There, Barlaam encountered Hesychasts and heard descriptions of their practices, also reading the writings of the teacher in Hesychasm of St Gregory Palamas, himself an Athonite monk. Hesychasm is a form of constant purposeful prayer or experiential prayer, explicitly referred to as contemplation. It is to focus ones mind on God and pray to God unceasingly. The hesychasts stated that at higher stages of their prayer practice they reached the actual contemplation-union with the Tabor Light, i.e. Uncreated Divine Light or photomos seen by the apostles in the event of the Transfiguration of Christ and Saint Paul while on the road to Damascus. It is depicted in icons and theological discourse also as tongues of fire.
Trained in Western Scholastic theology, Barlaam was scandalized by Hesychasm and began to campaign against it. As a teacher of theology in the Western Scholastic mode, Barlaam propounded a more intellectual and propositional approach to the knowledge of God than the Hesychasts taught. In particular, Barlaam took exception to, as heretical and blasphemous, the doctrine entertained by the Hesychasts as to the nature of the uncreated light, the experience of which was said to be the goal of Hesychast practice. It was maintained by the Hesychasts to be of divine origin and to be identical to that light which had been manifested to Jesus' disciples on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration. Barlaam held this concept to be polytheistic, inasmuch as it postulated two eternal substances, a visible (immanent) and an invisible God (transcendent).
On the Hesychast side, the controversy was taken up by Antonite St Gregory Palamas, afterwards Archbishop of Thessalonica, who was asked by his fellow monks on Mt Athos to defend Hesychasm from the Barlaam's attacks. St Gregory was well-educated in Greek philosophy (dialectical method) and thus able to defend Hesychasm using Western precepts. In the 1340s, he defended Hesychasm at three different synods in Constantinople, and also wrote a number of works in its defense.
In 1341 the dispute came before a synod held at Constantinople and was presided over by the Emperor Andronicus; the synod, taking into account the regard in which the writings of the pseudo-Dionysius were held, condemned Barlaam, who recanted and returned to Calabria, afterwards becoming a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. Three other synods on the subject were held, at the second of which the followers of Barlaam gained a brief victory. But in 1351 at a synod under the presidency of the Emperor John VI Cantacuzenus, Hesychast doctrine and Palamas' Essence-Energies distinction was established as the doctrine of the Orthodox Church.
One of Barlaam's friends, Gregory Akindynos, who originally was also a friend of Gregory's, later took up the controversy. Another opponent of Palamism was Manuel Kalekas who sought to reconcile the Eastern and Western Churches. Following the decision of 1351, there was strong repression against anti-Palamist thinkers. Kalekas reports on this repression as late as 1397, and for theologians in disagreement with Palamas, there was ultimately no choice but to emigrate and convert to Catholicism, a path taken by Kalekas as well as Demetrios Kydones and Ioannes Kypariossiotes. This exodus of highly educated Greek scholars, later reinforced by refugees following the Fall of Constantinople of 1453, had a significant influence on the first generation (that of Petrarca and Boccaccio) of the incipient Italian Renaissance.
Up to this day, the Roman Catholic Church has never fully accepted Hesychasm, especially the distinction between the energies or operations of God and the essence of God, and the notion that those energies or operations of God are uncreated. In Roman Catholic theology as it has developed since the Scholastic period, the essence of God can be known, but only in the next life; the grace of God is always created; and the essence of God is pure act, so that there can be no distinction between the energies or operations and the essence of God (see, e.g., the Summa Theologiae of St Thomas Aquinas).
Contemporary historians Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos and Nicephorus Gregoras deal very copiously with this subject, taking the Hesychast and Barlaamite sides respectively. The Orthodox perspective is one that states that there is scientific knowledge based on demonstration and spiritual knowledge based on demonstration. That the two understandings must remain separate in order to have a proper understanding of both in order to reject dualism. The Eastern approach to understanding God and spiritual matters as one that should not be approached with a Scholastic and or dialectical method (philosophy).
Modern Ecumenism between different Orthodox groups of the Mideast is a long and evolving process, as referenced by mention in this article of the very active Ecumenist movement between the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox, as well as the recent reconciliation between the Patriarch of Moscow and ROCOR (see Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate), and the very active communication between Rome and Roman Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox communities.
Tensions between the East and the West
The cracks and fissures in Christian unity which led to the East-West Schism started to become evident as early as the fourth century. Although 1054 is the date usually given for the beginning of the Great Schism, there is, in fact, no specific date on which the schism occurred. What really happened was a complex chain of events whose climax culminated with the sacking of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 .
The events leading to schism were not exclusively theological in nature. Cultural, political, and linguistic differences were often mixed with the theological. Any narrative of the schism which emphasizes one at the expense of the other will be fragmentary. Unlike the Coptics or Armenians who broke from the Church in the fifth century and established ethnic churches at the cost of their universality and catholicity, the eastern and western parts of the Church remained loyal to the faith and authority of the seven ecumenical councils. They were united, by virtue of their common faith and tradition, in one Church.
Nonetheless, the transfer of the Roman capital to Constantinople inevitably brought mistrust, rivalry, and even jealousy to the relations of the two great sees, Rome and Constantinople. It was easy for Rome to be jealous of Constantinople at a time when it was rapidly losing its political prominence. In fact, Rome refused to recognize the conciliar legislation which promoted Constantinople to second rank. But the estrangement was also helped along by the German invasions in the West, which effectively weakened contacts. The rise of Islam with its conquest of most of the Mediterranean coastline (not to mention the arrival of the pagan Slavs in the Balkans at the same time) further intensified this separation by driving a physical wedge between the two worlds. The once homogeneous unified world of the Mediterranean was fast vanishing. Communication between the Greek East and the Latin West by the 600s had become dangerous and practically ceased.
Two basic problems -- the primacy of the bishop of Rome and the procession of the Holy Spirit -- were involved. These doctrinal novelties were first openly discussed during the patriarchate of Photius I.
By the fifth century, Christendom was divided into a pentarchy of five sees with Rome holding the primacy. This was determined by canonical decision and did not entail hegemony of any one local church or patriarchate over the others. However, Rome began to interpret her primacy in terms of sovereignty, as a God-given right involving universal jurisdiction in the Church. The collegial and conciliar nature of the Church, in effect, was gradually abandoned in favor of a supremacy of unlimited papal power over the entire Church. These ideas were finally given systematic expression in the West during the Gregorian Reform movement of the eleventh century. The Eastern churches viewed Rome's understanding of the nature of episcopal power as being in direct opposition to the Church's essentially conciliar structure and thus saw the two ecclesiologies as mutually antithetical.
This fundamental difference in ecclesiology would cause all attempts to heal the schism and bridge the divisions to fail. Rome bases her claims to "true and proper jurisdiction" (as the Vatican Council of 1870 put it) on St. Peter. This "Roman" exegesis of Mathew 16:18, however, has been unacceptable to the patriarchs of Eastern Orthodoxy. For them, specifically, St. Peter's primacy could never be the exclusive prerogative of any one bishop. All bishops must, like St. Peter, confess Jesus as the Christ and, as such, all are St. Peter's successors. The churches of the East gave the Roman See, primacy but not supremacy. The Pope being the first among equals, but not infallible and not with absolute authority.
The other major irritant to Eastern Orthodoxy was the Western interpretation of the procession of the Holy Spirit. Like the primacy, this too developed gradually and entered the Creed in the West almost unnoticed. This theologically complex issue involved the addition by the West of the Latin phrase filioque ("and from the Son") to the Creed. The original Creed sanctioned by the councils and still used today by the Orthodox Church did not contain this phrase; the text simply states "the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father." Theologically, the Latin interpolation was unacceptable to Eastern Orthodoxy since it implied that the Spirit now had two sources of origin and procession, the Father and the Son, rather than the Father alone. In short, the balance between the three persons of the Trinity was altered and the understanding of the Trinity and God confused. The result, the Orthodox Church believed, then and now, was theologically indefensible. But in addition to the dogmatic issue raised by the filioque, the Byzantines argued that the phrase had been added unilaterally and, therefore, illegitimately, since the East had never been consulted. 
In the final analysis, only another ecumenical council could introduce such an alteration. Indeed, the councils, which drew up the original Creed, had expressly forbidden any subtraction or addition to the text.
In the 9th-century-AD, a controversy arose between Eastern (Byzantine, later Orthodox) and Western (Latin, Roman Catholic) Christianity that was precipitated by the opposition of the Roman Pope John VII to the appointment by the Byzantine emperor Michael III of Photius I to the position of patriarch of Constantinople. Photios was refused an apology by the pope for previous points of dispute between the East and West. Photius refused to accept the supremacy of the pope in Eastern matters or accept the filioque clause, which the Latin delegation at his council of his consecration pressed him to accept in order to secure their support.
The controversy also involved Eastern and Western ecclesiastical jurisdictional rights in the Bulgarian church, as well as a doctrinal dispute over the Filioque (“and from the Son”) clause. That had been added to the Nicene Creed by the Latin church, which was later the theological breaking point in the ultimate Great East-West Schism in the eleventh century.
Photius did provide concession on the issue of jurisdictional rights concerning Bulgaria and the papal legates made do with his return of Bulgaria to Rome. This concession, however, was purely nominal, as Bulgaria's return to the Byzantine rite in 870 had already secured for it an autocephalous church. Without the consent of Boris I of Bulgaria, the papacy was unable to enforce any its claims.
Conversion of Eastern and Southern Slavs
The Slavs were among the last of the European peoples to become Christianized. Adoption of Christianity was a long and complex process, but, at the same time, an unavoidable one. The neighboring lands had become Christian centuries before and the paganism of the Slav nations stood out in sharp contrast against this Christianized milieu. It was only a matter of time and circumstance before the Slavs would also become Christian. Part of the question revolved around language. The Roman churches held their liturgy in Latin whereas the Greek churches held their liturgy in Greek. The Slavs resisted adopting Christianity in a language foreign to them.
In the ninth and tenth centuries, Christianity made great inroads into Eastern Europe first in Bulgaria and Serbia, then followed by Kievan Rus'. The evangelization, or Christianization, of the Slavs was initiated during the administration of Byzantium's most learned churchmen - the Patriarch Photius. Photius has been called the "Godfather of all Slavs". For a period of time, there was a real possibility that all of the newly baptized South Slav nations: Bulgarians, Serbs, and Croats would join the Western church. In the end, only the Croats joined the Roman Catholic Church. In Bulgaria, King Boris I wavered between the Eastern and Western churches but in 870 the Eastern church gained his allegiance by sanctioning the establishment of an autonomous Bulgarian church.
Mission to Great Moravia
When Rastislav, the King of Great Moravia, asked Byzantine church for teachers who could minister to the Moravians in their own language, Byzantine emperor Michael III chose two brothers, Constantine and Methodius for the task. As their mother was a Slav from the hinterlands of Thessaloniki, the two brothers had been raised speaking the local Slavonic vernacular. Once commissioned, they set about creating an alphabet for the Slavic language, the Glagolitic alphabet. They then translated the Scripture and the liturgy into Slavonic. This Slavic dialect became the basis of Old Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) which later evolved into Church Slavonic which is the common liturgical language still used by most Slavic Orthodox Churches. The missionaries met with some success in Moravia in part because they used the people's native language rather than Latin or Greek.
In Great Moravia, Constantine and Methodius encountered Frankish missionaries from Germany, representing the western or Latin branch of the Church, and more particularly representing the Holy Roman Empire as founded by Charlemagne, and committed to linguistic, and cultural uniformity. They insisted on the use of the Latin liturgy, and they regarded Moravia and the resident Slavic peoples as part of their rightful mission field.
When friction developed, the brothers, unwilling to be a cause of dissension among Christians, traveled to Rome to see the Pope, seeking his approval of their missionary work and the use of Slavonic liturgy which would allow them to continue their work. Constantine entered a monastery in Rome, taking the name Cyril, by which he is now remembered. However, he died only a few weeks thereafter.
Pope Adrian II gave Methodius the title of Archbishop of Sirmium (now Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia) and sent him back in 869, with jurisdiction over all of Moravia and Pannonia, and the authorization to use the Slavonic Liturgy. Soon, however, Prince Ratislav, who had originally invited the brothers to Moravia, died, and his successor did not support Methodius. In 870 the Frankish king Louis and his bishops deposed Methodius at a synod at Ratisbon, and imprisoned him for a little over two years. Pope John VIII secured his release, but instructed him to stop using the Slavonic Liturgy.
In 878, Methodius was summoned to Rome on charges of heresy and of using Slavonic liturgy. Pope John was convinced by the arguments Methodius made in his defense and sent him back cleared of all charges, and with permission to use Slavonic. The Carolingian bishop who succeeded him, Wiching, suppressed the Slavonic Liturgy and forced the followers of Methodius into exile. Many found refuge with King Boris of Bulgaria (852-889), who commissioned them to establish schools where Bulgarian clergymen received theological education in the Slavic language, with the goal of replacing the mainly Greek clergy present in Bulgaria at the time. Meanwhile, Pope John's successors adopted a Latin-only policy for the Western Church which lasted for centuries.
Conversion of the Serbs
Methodius' next project was to convert the Serbs. Building on the legacy of Constantine I being of Serbian descent. The Byzantine Empire achieved a great success in 870 when it managed to baptize the Serbian rulers, thus opening the way to the mass conversion of the Serbs to Christianity, accompanied by strong political and cultural influences from the Empire. The Serbian principalities were subordinated to the ecclesiastical metropolises in Split and Syrmium. With Christianization, some of the differences among the tribes were pushed into the background, especially those which were rooted in pagan beliefs, and the path to unification was opened up on the basis of a common Christian culture.
Conversion of the Bulgarians
In 863, a mission from the Patriarch of Constantinople converted King Boris I of Bulgaria to Christianity. Boris realized that the Christianization of his subjects by the Byzantine mission would facilitate the undesired spread of Byzantine influence in Bulgaria, as the liturgy was carried out in the Greek language, and the newly established Bulgarian Church was subordinate to the Church of Constantinople. A popular revolt against the new religion prompted the King to request that the Bulgarian Church be granted independence by Constantinople.
After Constantinople refused to grant the Bulgarian Church independence, Boris turned to the Pope. In August of 866, a Bulgarian mission arrived in Rome, carrying a list of 115 questions to the Pope by Boris, regarding the Christian way of life and a future Bulgarian Church under Rome's jurisdiction. On 13 November 866, the Bulgarian King was presented with the Pope's 106 answers by Bishops Formosa from Portua and Paul of Populon, who led the Pope's mission to Bulgaria. The arrival of the Roman clerical mission concluded the activity of the Byzantine mission, which was ordered by the King to leave Bulgaria.
In Constantinople, people nervously watched the events taking place in their northern neighbour, because a pro-Rome Bulgaria threatened Constantinople's immediate interests. A religious council was held in the summer of 867 in the Byzantine capital, during which the Roman Church's behaviour was harshly condemned. As a personal culprit, Pope Nicholas I was anathematized. In a letter to Boris, the Byzantine emperor Michael III expressed his disapproval of Bulgaria's religious reorientation and used offensive language against the Roman Church. The old rivalry between the two Churches burned with new power.
The Roman mission's efforts were met with success and King Boris asked the Pope to appoint Formosa of Portua as Bulgarian Archbishop. Unfortunately for the Roman Church, the Pope refused. Pope Nicolas I died soon after. His successor Pope Adrian II (867-872) turned out to be even more disinclined to comply with Boris' demand that a Bulgarian archbishop be appointed by him.
Consequently, Boris again began negotiations with Constantinople, where he now expected more cooperation than he had been shown in the past. These negotiations resulted in the creation of an autonomous national (Bulgarian) Archbishopric, which was unprecedented in the practice of the Churches. Usually, independent were those churches that were founded by apostles or apostles' students. For a very long period, Rome had been challenging Constantinople's equality to Rome, on the grounds that the Church of Constantinople had not been founded by a student of Christ. Nevertheless, Boris had been granted very quickly (just six years after converting to Christianity) a national independent church and a high-ranking supreme representative (the Archbishop). In the next 10 years, Pope Adrian II and his successors made desperate attempts to reclaim their influence in Bulgaria and to persuade Boris to leave Constantinople's sphere of influence, but their efforts ultimately failed.
The foundations of the Bulgarian national Church had been set. The next stage was the implementation of the Glagolitic alphabet and the Slavonic language as official language of the Bulgarian Church and State in 893 AD — something considered unthinkable by most European Christians. In 886, Cyril and Methodius' disciples were expelled from Moravia and the use of Slavic liturgy was banned by the Pope in favour of Latin. St. Kliment and St. Naum who were of noble Macedonian descent and St. Angelaruis, returned to Bulgaria, where they were welcomed by Boris, who viewed the Slavonic liturgy as a means of counteracting Byzantine influence in the country. In a short time, they managed to instruct several thousand future Slavonic clergymen in the rites using the Slavic language and the Glagolitic alphabet. In 893 AD, Bulgaria expelled its Byzantine clergy and proclaimed the Slavonic language as the official language of the Bulgarian Church and State. In this way it become one of the first European countries with an own official language.
Conversion of the Rus'
The success of the conversion of the Bulgarians facilitated the conversion of other East Slavic peoples, most notably the Rus', predecessors of Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians. By the beginning of the eleventh century most of the Slavic world, including, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Russia had converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
Bulgaria's Church was officially recognized as a Patriarchate by Constantinople in 927, Serbia's in 1346, and Russia's in 1589. All these nations, however, had been converted long before these dates.
The traditional event associated with the conversion of Russia is the baptism of Vladimir of Kiev in 989, on which occasion he was also married to the Byzantine princess Anna, the sister of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. However, the presence of Christianity in these areas is documented to have predated this event.
The East-West Schism
In the 11th century the East-West Schism took place between Rome and Constantinople, which led to separation of the Church of the West, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. There were doctrinal issues like the filioque clause and the authority of the Pope involved in the split, but these were exacerbated by cultural and linguistic differences between Latins and Greeks. Prior to that, the Eastern and Western halves of the Church had frequently been in conflict, particularly during the periods of iconoclasm and the Photian schism. The Orthodox East perceived the Papacy as taking on monarch type characteristics that were not inline with the church's historical tradition.
The Crusades against the Eastern Orthodox
The final breach between East and West is often considered to have arisen after the capture and sacking of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Crusades against Christians in the East by Roman Catholic crusaders were not exclusive to this crusade nor the Mediterranean. The sacking of Constantinople and the Church of Holy Wisdom, the destruction of the Monastery of Stoudios, Library of Constantinople and the establishment of the Latin Empire in Constantinople and also throughout West Asia Minor and Greece (see the Kingdom of Thessalonica, Kingdom of Cyprus) are considered definitive though. This is in light of perceived Roman Catholic atrocities not exclusive to the capital city of Constantinople in 1204 starting the period in the East referred to as Frangokratia. The establishment of the Latin Empire in 1204 was intended to supplant the Orthodox Byzantine Empire. This is symbolized by many Orthodox churches being converted into Roman Catholic properties and churches like Hagia Sophia and Church of the Pantokrator, and it is viewed with some rancor to the present day. Some of the European Christian community actively endorsed the attacking of Eastern Christians.
The Teutonic Order's attempts to conquer Orthodox Russia (particularly the Republics of Pskov and Novgorod), an enterprise endorsed by Pope Gregory IX, can also be considered as a part of the Northern Crusades. One of the major blows for the idea of the conquest of Russia was the Battle of the Ice in 1242. With or without the Pope's blessing, Sweden also undertook several crusades against Orthodox Novgorod. Many in the East saw the actions of the West in the Mediterranean as a prime determining factor in the weakening of Byzantium which led to the Empire's eventual conquest and fall to Islam. Some Eastern Orthodox see a continuation of Roman Catholic hostility in the establishment of the Uniate or Eastern Catholic Churches (see the sainting of Bissarion in 1950).
In 2004, Pope John Paul II extended a formal apology for the sacking of Constantinople in 1204; the apology was formally accepted by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Many things that were stolen during this time: holy relics, riches, and many other items, are still held in various Western European cities, particularly Venice.
The establishment of the Eastern Roman Empire
It was in the establishment of the Eastern Roman Empire by Constantine I that Christianity was legalized. Christianity as Orthodox was not established as the State Religion in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire until Theodosius I convened The First Council of Constantinople or the (second ecumenical council) in 381. This council putting an end to the Arian controversy by establishing the Trinitarian doctrine.
The Roman-Persian Wars
Lasting from 92BC to 627AD the conflict between the Persian and Roman Empires was a protracted struggle which was arguably a continuation of the Greco-Persian Wars. The Roman-Persian Wars led to weakening of the neighboring Arab states to the South and East of the Eastern Roman Empire. The conflict so drained both the Persian and Byzantine empires that once the conquests of Muhammad started, neither could mount an effective defense against the onslaught. Persia fell to the Muslims (see conquests).
Following the death of Muhammad in 632, there was a vigorous push by the Arab Muslims to conquer Arab tribes of the East such as the mostly Christian Ghassanids. The Byzantine-Muslim Wars were a series of wars between the Arab Muslims Caliphates and the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire. These started during the initial Muslim conquests under the Rashidun and Umayyad caliphs and continued in the form of an enduring border tussle until the beginning of the Crusades. As a result, the Byzantines saw an extensive loss of territory.
The initial conflict lasted from 629-717, ending with the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople that halted the rapid expansion of the Arab Muslim Empire or Umayyad dynasty into Asia Minor. Conflicts with the Caliphate however continued between the 800s and 1169. The Muslim victories resulted in the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus request for military aid from Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza in 1095; one of the events often attributed as a precursor to the First Crusade.
Establishment of the Roman Catholic Eastern Empire
After the Sack of Constantinople in 1204 AD by Roman Catholic Crusaders as part of the fourth crusade, much of Asia Minor was brought under Roman Catholic rule and the Latin Empire of the East was established. As the conquest by the European crusaders was not exclusive to the fourth crusade many various kingdoms of European rule where established. After the fall of Constantinople to the Latin West the Empire of Nicaea was established which was later to be origin of the Greek monarchy that defeated the Latin forces of Europe and re-established Orthodox Monarchy in Constantiople and Asia Minor.
In 1453AD, the city of Constantinople the last stronghold of the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Empire.
By this time Egypt had been under Muslim control for some seven centuries. Jerusalem had been conquered by the Umayyad Muslims in 638, won back by Rome in 1099 under the First Crusade and then finally reconquered by the Ottoman Muslims in 1517.
Under Ottoman rule, the Greek Orthodox Church acquired power as an autonomous millet. The ecumenical patriarch was the religious and administrative ruler of the entire "Greek Orthodox nation" (Ottoman administrative unit), which encompassed all the Eastern Orthodox subjects of the Empire.
The Ottoman Empire was marked by periods of limited tolerance and periods of often bloody repression of non-Muslims. One of the worst such episodes occurred under Yavuz Sultan Selim I. These event include the atrocities against the Serbs in AD 1804-1878 the Greeks in AD 1814-1832 . and the Bulgarian AD 1876-1877 to selectively name but a few instances (also see Phanariote). As well as many individual Christians being made martyrs for stating their faith or speaking negatively against Islam. The Janissary army corps consisted of young men who were brought to Istanbul as child-slaves (and were often from Christian households) who were converted, trained and later employed by the Sultan (the devshirme system).
Isolation from the West
As a result of the Ottoman conquest of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, and the Fall of Constantinople, the entire Orthodox communion of the Balkans and the Near East became suddenly isolated from the West. For the next four hundred years, it would be confined within a hostile Islamic world, with which it had little in common religiously or culturally. The Russian Orthodox Church was the only part of the Orthodox communion which remained outside the control of the Ottoman Empire. It is, in part, due to this geographical and intellectual confinement that the voice of Eastern Orthodoxy was not heard during the Reformation in sixteenth century Europe. As a result, this important theological debate often seems strange and distorted to the Orthodox; after all, they never took part in it and thus neither Reformation nor Counter-Reformation is part of their theological framework.
Religious rights under the Ottoman Empire
The new Ottoman government that arose from the ashes of Byzantine civilization was neither primitive nor barbaric. Islam not only recognized Jesus as a great prophet, but tolerated Christians as another People of the Book. As such, the Church was not extinguished nor was its canonical and hierarchical organization completely destroyed. Its administration continued to function though in lesser degree, no longer being the state religion. One of the first things that Mehmet the Conqueror did was to allow the Church to elect a new patriarch, Gennadius Scholarius. The Hagia Sophia and the Parthenon, which had been Christian churches for nearly a millennium were converted into mosques, yet most other churches, both in Constantinople and elsewhere, remained in Christian hands. They were endowed with civil as well as ecclesiastical power over all Christians in Ottoman territories. Because Islamic law makes no distinction between nationality and religion, all Christians, regardless of their language or nationality, were considered a single millet, or nation. The patriarch, as the highest ranking hierarch, was thus invested with civil and religious authority and made ethnarch, head of the entire Christian Orthodox population. Practically, this meant that all Orthodox Churches within Ottoman territory were under the control of Constantinople. Thus, the authority and jurisdictional frontiers of the patriarch were enormously enlarged.
However, these rights and privileges under Dhimmitude, including freedom of worship and religious organization, were often established in principle but seldom corresponded to reality. The legal privileges of the patriarch and the Church depended, in fact, on the whim and mercy of the Sultan and the Sublime Porte, while all Christians were viewed as little more than second-class citizens. Moreover, Turkish corruption and brutality were not a myth. That it was the "infidel" Christian who experienced this more than anyone else is not in doubt. Nor were pogroms of Christians in these centuries unknown (see Greco-Turkish relations and Massacres during the Greek Revolution). Devastating, too, for the Church was the fact that it could not bear witness to Christ. Missionary work among Muslims was dangerous and indeed impossible, whereas conversion to Islam was entirely legal and permissible. Converts to Islam who returned to Orthodoxy were put to death as apostates. No new churches could be built and even the ringing of church bells was prohibited. Education of the clergy and the Christian population either ceased altogether or was reduced to the most rudimentary elements.
The Orthodox Church found itself subject to the Turkish system of corruption. The patriarchal throne was frequently sold to the highest bidder, while new patriarchal investiture was accompanied by heavy payment to the government. In order to recoup their losses, patriarchs and bishops taxed the local parishes and their clergy. Nor was the patriarchal throne ever secure. Few patriarchs between the fifteenth and the nineteenth centuries died a natural death while in office. The forced abdications, exiles, hangings, drownings, and poisonings of patriarchs are well documented.
Fall of the Ottoman Empire in the East
The fall of the Ottoman was precipitated by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox disputed possession of the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. During the early 1850s, the two sides made demands which the Sultan could not possibly satisfy simultaneously. In 1853, the Sultan adjudicated in favour of the French, despite the vehement protestations of the local Orthodox monks.
The ruling Ottoman siding with Rome over the Orthodox provoked outright war (see the Eastern Question). As the Ottoman Empire had been for sometime falling into political, social and economic decay (see the Sick Man of Europe) this conflict ignited the Crimean War in 1850 between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.
Persecution by the "Young Turks"
During 1894-1923 the Ottoman Empire conducted a policy of genocide against the Christian population living within its extensive territory. The Sultan, Abdul Hamid, issued an official governmental policy of genocide against the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in 1894. Systematic massacres took place in 1894-1896 when Abdul savagely killed 300,000 Armenians throughout the provinces. In 1909 government troops killed, in the towns of Adana alone, over 20,000 Christian Armenians.
In 20th century, the number of Orthodox Christians, and of Christians in general, in the Anatolian peninsula has sharply declined amidst complaints of Turkish governmental repression of various Eastern and Oriental Orthodox groups.
In the first two decades of the 20th century, there were massacres of Orthodox Greeks, Slavs, and Armenians in the Ottoman empire, culminating in the Armenian Genocide, the exodus of Pontian Greeks resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands Pontic Greeks, and the near destruction of the ancient Assyrian community in Anatolia or Asia Minor.
Republic of Turkey
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During the Lausanne Conference in 1923, the Turkish and Greek sides after some discussions accepted the proposal of a population exchange. Muslims in Greece (save the ones in Eastern Thrace) were expelled to Turkey, and Greek Orthodox people in Turkey (save the ones in Istanbul) were expelled to Greece.
In September 1955, a pogrom was directed primarily at Istanbul's 100,000-strong Greek minority. In 1971, the Halki seminary in Istanbul was closed along with other private higher education institutions in Turkey.
Orthodoxy in other Muslim-majority states of the Middle East and Central Asia
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Orthodoxy under the Palestinian National Authority (including Gaza). Orthodoxy in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan (see Melkite and Kurdish Christians).
Russia under Muslim Mongol rule
Russia lay under Mongol rule from the 13th through the 15th century. The Mongol invasion of Rus of 1237–1242AD lead to what is called the Tatar period in Russian History. This period lead to great calamity for the internal structure of Russia. Much of Russia was ruled by Mongols and Russian Princes (of whom had limited power). The eventual end of the reign of the Golden Horde is said to have begun with the Battle of Kulikovo 8 September 1380. Which involves the famous Eastern Orthodox legend of Monk and Russian champion Alexander Peresvet and his death that mark the battle's beginning. The final pseudo-battle or face off that ended Mongol rule in Russia was the Great stand on the Ugra river in 1480AD. The death toll (by battle, massacre, flooding, and famine) of the Mongol wars of conquest is placed at about 40 million according to some sources.
Orthodox Church in China
The Chinese Orthodox Church was an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church in China, which, prior to the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1966, was estimated to have as many as twenty thousand members. Nowadays, Orthodox Christianity is practiced primarily by the ethnic Russian minority in China.
An early medieval mission of the Assyrian Church of the East brought Christianity to China but it was suppressed in the 9th century. The Christianity of that period is commemorated by the Nestorian Stele and Daqin Pagoda of Xi'an,
Eastern Orthodoxy arrived in China via Siberia in 1685. In that year, the Kangxi Emperor resettled 31 inhabitants from the captured fort of Albazin on the Amur River. Maxim Leontiev, the priest who led the 30 others, dedicated the first Eastern Orthodox church in Beijing. Their descendants, or Albazinians, though thoroughly Sinicized in other respects, still adhere to Eastern Orthodoxy.
The first mission establishment was begun in 1715 at Beijing by an Orthodox Archimandrite, Hilarion. Under Sava Vladislavich's pressure, the Chinese conceded to the Russians the right to build an Orthodox chapel at the ambassadorial quarters of Beijing. The intention of the mission was not to evangelize among the Chinese but merely to serve as chaplains to the original mission and, later, to the Russian diplomatic mission staff as well.
In the first 150 years of its presence in China, the church did not attract a large following. In 1860 it was estimated that there were no more than 200 Orthodox Christians in Beijing, including the descendants of naturalized Russians. There was, however, a resurgence in membership after 1860.
The Boxer Rebellion and the Cultural Revolution
The Boxer Rebellion of 1898–1900 saw violent attacks on Chinese converts to Christianity. Some Orthodox Chinese were among those killed, and in June every year the 222 Chinese Orthodox, including Father Mitrophan, who died in 1900 are commemorated as remembered on the icon of the Holy Martyrs of China. The mission's library at Beijing was also burned down. In spite of the uprising, by 1902 there were 32 Orthodox churches in China, with close to 6,000 adherents. The church also ran schools and orphanages.
106 Orthodox churches were opened in China by 1949. In general the parishioners of these churches were Russian refugees, and the Chinese part was composed of about 10,000 people. The Cultural Revolution obliterated or nearly obliterated the Chinese Orthodox Church. Many churches were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
Although the People's Republic of China extends official recognition to some religious communities (Protestantism, Islam, Taoism, and Buddhism), Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are not among them (though with the latter, the Chinese government had formed a "Patriotic Catholic Church" or "Patriotic Catholic Association" that is not in communion with Rome). The officially declared reason for the government's non-recognition of the Orthodox Church is the government's fear that external political forces from outside nations—in this case, primarily Russia—could achieve influence within China. This places the Church in the legal status of religia-illicitata.
Several Orthodox congregations continue to meet in Beijing and northeast China (in Heilongjiang and elsewhere), with, apparently, the tacit consent of the government. There are also Orthodox parishes in Shanghai, Province of Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, as of the early 21st century, The Church operates relatively freely in Hong Kong (where the Ecumenical Patriarch has sent a metropolitan, Bishop Nikitas and the Russian Orthodox parish of St Peter and St Paul resumed its operation) and Taiwan (where archimandrite Jonah George Mourtos leads a mission church).
Although many of them have adopted Lamaism — which is the mainstream form of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism — the Evenks of both the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China are a nominally Orthodox Christian people. Along with their Evenks cousins and a few other tribes in Siberia or in China, they are some of the only Asiatic peoples who nominally practice Orthodox Christianity, which they had voluntarily (as opposed to being coerced to do so) adopted during contacts from Russian expansion into Siberia.
The Eastern Catholic Churches or Byzantine Rite Churches
Eastern Catholic Churches make up 2% of the membership of the Catholic Church, and less than 10% of all Eastern Christians. Most Eastern Catholic Churches have counterparts in other Eastern Churches, whether Assyrian or Oriental Orthodox, from whom they are separated by a number of theological differences, or the Eastern Orthodox Churches, from whom they are separated primarily by differences in understanding of the role of the Bishop of Rome within the College of Bishops.
The Eastern Catholic Churches were located historically in Eastern Europe, the Asian Middle East, Northern Africa and India, but are now, because of migration, found also in Western Europe, the Americas and Oceania.
The Maronite Church and the Syro-Malabar Church are Eastern Catholic Churches that never broke communion with the Church of Rome. Within the Antiochian church the Eastern Catholic movement started after the Ottoman Turks' conquest of Antioch in the early 15th century, under whose control it remained until the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. During this period, in 1724, the Church of Antioch was again weakened by schism, as a major portion of its faithful came into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The resultant Uniate body is known as the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which in the current day maintains close ties with the Orthodox and is currently holding ongoing talks about healing the schism and returning the Melkites to Orthodoxy.
The Uniate movement within East-Central Europe was started with the 1598-1599 Union of Brest, by which the "Metropolia of Kiev-Halych and all Rus'" entered into relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.
Conflict between Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox
Since the beginnings of the Uniate movement, there have been periodic conflicts between the Orthodox and Uniate in Poland and Western Russia. During the Time of Troubles there was a plan (by the conquering Polish monarchy) to convert all of Russia to Roman Catholicism. Patriarch Hermogenes was martyred by the Roman Catholics during this period (see also Polish-Lithuanian-Muscovite Commonwealth).
The Eastern Catholic churches consider themselves to have reconciled the East and West Schism by keeping their prayers and rituals similar to those of Eastern Orthodoxy, while also accepting the primacy of the Bishop of Rome.
Some Eastern Orthodox charge that joining in this unity comes at the expense of ignoring critical doctrinal differences and past atrocities. From the perspective of many Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholicism is a ploy by Roman Catholicism to undermine and ultimately destroy their church by undermining its legitimacy and absorbing it into the Roman Catholic Church. It is feared that this ploy would diminish the power to the original eastern Patriarchs of the church and would require the acceptance of rejected doctrines and Scholasticism over faith. 
In the 20th century, there have been conflicts which involved forced conversions both by the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox. In Croatia, the Ustaše forced the conversion of Eastern Orthodox to Roman Catholicism. Other forced conversions included the Roman Catholics inside the USSR and Eastern Bloc after the October Revolution.
Rejection of Uniatism
At a meeting in Balamand, Lebanon in June 1993, the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church declared that these initiatives that "led to the union of certain communities with the See of Rome and brought with them, as a consequence, the breaking of communion with their Mother Churches of the East ... took place not without the interference of extra-ecclesial interests" (section 8 of the document); and that what has been called "uniatism" "can no longer be accepted either as a method to be followed nor as a model of the unity our Churches are seeking" (section 12).
At the same time, the Commission stated:
- 3) Concerning the Eastern Catholic Churches, it is clear that they, as part of the Catholic Communion, have the right to exist and to act in response to the spiritual needs of their faithful.
- 16) The Oriental Catholic Churches who have desired to re-establish full communion with the See of Rome and have remained faithful to it, have the rights and obligations which are connected with this communion.
Russian Orthodox Church in the Russian Empire
The Russian Orthodox Church held a privileged position in the Russian Empire, expressed in the motto, Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and National Character, of the late Russian Empire. At the same time, it was placed under the control of the Tsar by the Church reform of Peter I in the 18th century. Its governing body was the Most Holy Synod, which was run by an official, titled Ober-Procurator, appointed by the Tsar himself.
The church was involved in various campaigns of russification, and, as a consequence, it was accused of participating in anti-Jewish pogroms. In the case of anti-semitism and the anti-Jewish pogroms, no evidence is given of the direct participation of the church; it is important to remember that many Russian Orthodox clerics, including senior hierarchs, openly defended persecuted Jews, at least starting with the second half of the nineteenth century. Also, the Church has no official position on Judaism as such. In modern times, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has been accused of antisemitism for his book Two Hundred Years Together, where he alleges Jewish participation in the political repression of the Soviet regime (see also Hebrew and Byzantine relations). Solzhenitsyn's book Two Hundred Years Together is an historical study of the relationship between Russian Orthodox Christians and Jews in Russia from 1772 to modern times.
Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union
The Russian Orthodox Church collaborated with the White Army in the Russian Civil War (see White movement) after the October Revolution. This may have further strengthened the Bolshevik animus against the church. According to Lenin, a communist regime cannot remain neutral on the question of religion but must show itself to be merciless towards it. There was no place for the church in Lenin's classless society.
Before and after the October Revolution of 7 November 1917 (October 25 Old Calendar) there was a movement within the Soviet Union to unite all of the people of the world under Communist rule (see Communist International). This included the Eastern European bloc countries as well as the Balkan States. Since some of these Slavic states tied their ethnic heritage to their ethnic churches, both the peoples and their church were targeted by the Soviet and its form of State atheism. The Soviets' official religious stance was one of "religious freedom or tolerance", though the state established atheism as the only scientific truth. Criticism of atheism was strictly forbidden and sometimes resulted in imprisonment.
The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed. It is estimated that some 20 million Christians (17 million Orthodox and 3 million Roman Catholic) died or where interned in gulags. Some actions against Orthodox priests and believers along with execution included torture being sent to prison camps, labour camps or mental hospitals. The result of this militant atheism was to transform the Church into a persecuted and martyred Church. In the first five years after the Bolshevik revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were executed.
The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. In the period between 1927 and 1940, the number of Orthodox Churches in the Russian Republic fell from 29,584 to less than 500. Between 1917 and 1940, 130,000 Orthodox priests were arrested. The widespread persecution and internecine disputes within the church hierarchy lead to the seat of Patriarch of Moscow being vacant from 1925-1943. Some 20,000 people executed just outside Butovo a good percentage of which were Orthodox clergy, ascetics and laymen.
After Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, Joseph Stalin revived the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify patriotic support for the war effort. By 1957 about 22,000 Russian Orthodox churches had become active. But in 1959 Nikita Khrushchev initiated his own campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church and forced the closure of about 12,000 churches. By 1985 fewer than 7,000 churches remained active.
In the Soviet Union, in addition to the methodical closing and destruction of churches, the charitable and social work formerly done by ecclesiastical authorities was taken over by the state. As with all private property, Church owned property was confiscated into public use. The few places of worship left to the Church were legally viewed as state property which the government permitted the church to use. Outside of sermons during the celebration of the divine liturgy it could not instruct or evangelise to the faithful or its youth. Catechism classes, religious schools, study groups, Sunday schools and religious publications were all illegal and or banned. This persecution continued, even after the death of Stalin until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church has recognized a number of New Martyrs as saints.
Other Orthodox Churches under communist rule
Albania was the first state to have declared itself officially fully atheist. In some other communist states such as Romania, the Orthodox Church as an organisation enjoyed relative freedom and even prospered, albeit under strict secret police control. That, however, did not rule out demolishing churches and monasteries as part of broader systematization (urban planning), state persecution of individual believers, and Romania stands out as a country which ran a specialised institution where many Orthodox (along with peoples of other faiths) were subjected to psychological punishment or torture and mind control experimentation in order to force them give up their religious convictions (see Piteşti prison).
World War II
During the Second World War, two groups of Orthodox Christians were especially targeted for genocide by the Nazis and their allies - the Gypsies and the Orthodox Serbs of Bosnia and Croatia, while the population of Greece, Serbia, European Russia, and Ukraine were designated by the Nazis to serve as slave labor for the Third Reich. By special order of Heinrich Himmler (21 April 1942), clergyman from the East (as opposed to their counterparts from Western Europe) were to be used for hard labor (also see Alfred Rosenberg).
Diaspora emigration to the West
One of the most striking developments in modern historical Orthodoxy is the dispersion of Orthodox Christians to the West. Emigration from Greece and the Near East in the last hundred years has created a sizable Orthodox diaspora in Western Europe, North and South America, and Australia. In addition, the Bolshevik Revolution forced thousands of Russian exiles westward. As a result, Orthodoxy's traditional frontiers have been profoundly modified. Millions of Orthodox are no longer geographically "eastern" since they live permanently in their newly adopted countries in the West. Nonetheless, they remain Eastern Orthodox in their faith and practice. Virtually all the Orthodox nationalities - Greek, Arab, Russian, Serbian, Albanian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Bulgarian - are represented in the United States.
Church of Jerusalem
Church of Antioch
The community and seat of the patriarchate according to Orthodox tradition was founded by St Peter and the given to St Ignatius, in what is now Turkey. However, in the 15th century, it was moved to Damascus in response to the Ottoman invasion of Antioch. Its traditional territory includes Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and parts of Turkey.
Its North American branch is autonomous, although the Holy Synod of Antioch still appoints its head bishop, chosen from a list of three candidates nominated in the North American archdiocese. Its Australasia and Oceania branch is the largest in terms of area.
The remainder of the Church of Antioch, primarily local Greeks or Hellenized sections of the indigenous population, remained in communion with Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. This is the current Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East which is considered by the other bishops of the Orthodox Church to be the sole legitimate heir to the See of Antioch.
Church of Greece
Influenced by the French Revolution's explosive ideas, Greece was the first to break the Turkish yoke, winning its independence early in the 19th century in the Greek War of Independence. Before long, a synod of bishops declared the Church of the new Kingdom of Greece autocephalous. The new Greek nation, in short, could not be headed by the patriarch. Indeed, Greece's autocephalous status, recognized by Constantinople in 1850, meant that it could elect its own head or kephale. The Church of Greece is today governed by a Holy Synod presided over by the Archbishop of Athens.
Church of Cyprus
Church of Egypt in Alexandria
The Greek Church of Alexandria claims succession from the Apostle Mark the Evangelist who founded the Church in the 1st century, and therefore the beginning of Christianity in Africa. It is one of the five ancient patriarchates of the early Church, called the Pentarchy.
Sometimes called the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria to distinguish it from the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. In Egypt, members of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate were also called Melkite, because they remained in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Since the schism occurring as a result of the political and Christological controversies at the Council of Chalcedon (451), the Greek Orthodox have liturgically been Greek-speaking. After the Arab conquest of North Africa in the 7th century the Eastern Orthodox were a minority even among Christians, and remained small for centuries.
Today, the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt comprises some 300,000 Orthodox Christians, the highest number since the Roman Empire.
Georgian Orthodox Church
The first Eparchy was founded in Georgia, traditionally by the Apostle Andrew. In 327, Christianity was adopted as the state religion by the rulers of Iberia (Eastern Georgia). From the 320s, the Georgian Orthodox Church was under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic See of Antioch. The Georgian Orthodox Church become autocephalous (independent) in 466 when the Patriarchate of Antioch elevated the Bishop of Mtskheta to the rank of "Catholicos of Kartli". On March 3, 1990, the Patriarch of Constantinople re-approved the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church (which had in practice been exercised or at least claimed since the 5th century) as well as the Patriarchal honour of the Catholicos. Today the Georgian Orthodox Church has around 5 million members around the world (of whom about 3,670,000 live within Georgia) and administers, as of 2007, 35 eparchies (dioceses).
Eastern Bloc Churches
The Eastern Bloc churches include the Bulgarian and Romanian Orthodox Churches. The Orthodox Church of Romania, today the largest self-governing Church after Russia, was declared autocephalous in 1885 and became a patriarchate in 1925. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church lost its autocephalous status after the fall of Bulgaria to the Ottoman Empire. Bulgarian autocephaly was restored in 1953. The Orthodox Church of Albania was the only Orthodox church to exist under a government that legally established atheism as the state religion. The Orthodox Churches in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, and Poland have seen drastic changes since the fall of Communism. The Czech Church has recognized contemporary New Martyrs, such as Gorazd (Pavlik) of Prague.
After the tragic defeat of Prince Lazar by Muslim forces at the Battle in the Field of Black Birds. The ethnarchic system introduced by the Ottomans brought most of the autocephalous and patriarchal Slavic Churches under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. This subjection, with its loss of patriarchal status, was never popular. As a result, several independent national Churches came into being once political freedom was achieved. The Orthodox Church of Serbia, lost their respective patriarchates in the Turkish period. Serbia became autocephalous again in 1879, and its primate was recognized as patriarch by Constantinople in 1922. Serbia also has the largest Orthodox church currently in use (see Temple of Saint Sava). The Balkan churches are one of the few Orthodox communities to have lived under both Ottoman rule and communist rule. Serbia is famed for its monasteries and churches most of which are located in Kosovo. The Orthodox churches of ex-Yugoslavian providences in the Balkans of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro as well as Slovenia, Croatia and Republic of Macedonia were all deeply effected during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.
Russian Orthodox Church
Russia's patriarchate, which was never part of the Ottoman Empire, was recognized by Constantinople in 1589. Though Russia was under conquest by the Mongols. Mongol rule lasted from the 13th (Genghis Khan's army entered Russia in 1220s) through the 15th century, the Russian church enjoyed a favored position, obtaining immunity from taxation in 1270. Through a series of Wars with the World of Islam the church did indeed establish itself as the protector of Orthodoxy (see the Eastern Question and the Russo-Turkish wars). Peter the Great replaced the Russian patriarchate by a governing Synod (a government office that got its power from the Tsar) in 1721. The Synodal Period that followed lasted until the Bolshevik Revolution, when the patriarchate was once again restored (1917). Today, Russia ranks fifth after the four ancient patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
American Orthodox Church
Founded in Alaska by the early Alaskan Russian missionaries, the American Orthodox church has seen itself caught between the role of evangelizing the New World and maintaining their ethnic heritage. This heritage was threatened by the Russian Revolution and other persecutions that caused the diaspora of various Orthodox groups to migrate to the West from their homelands, usually in the Mediterranean or Middle East. Many of the Orthodox church movements in the West are fragmented under what is called jurisdictionalism. This is where the groups are divided up by ethnicity as the unifying character to each movement. As the older ethnic laity become aged and die off more and more of the churches are opening to new converts. Ten years or so ago, these converts would have faced a daunting task in having to learn the language and culture of the respective Orthodox group in order to properly convert to Orthodoxy. In recent times many of the churches now perform their services in modern English or Spanish or Portuguese (depending on the Metropolitian or district). Currently both the OCA and ROCOR are now in communion with the Patriarch of Moscow.
Celtic Orthodox Church
Ukrainian Orthodox Church
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church or UOC, sometimes abbreviated as UOC(MP), operates as an autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate and is also the only Orthodox denomination canonically recognised within the Eastern Orthodox Communion. The head of the church is Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) who was enthroned in spring 1992 as the "Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine". The UOC(MP) is currently the largest religious body in Ukraine with the greatest number of parishes churches and communities counting up to half of the total in Ukraine and totaling over 10 thousand. The church also claims to have up to 75% of the Ukrainian population although independent survey results vary widely both from this figure.
The UOC's main rival is the Greek Catholic Church in the capital of Kiev is where their biggest Orthodox rivalry takes place. There the UOC(MP) has only half of the Orthodox communities. The UOC(MP) does not have any parishes abroad, as its followers identify themselves under the same umbrella as those of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Judging from the New Testament account of the rise and expansion of the early church, during the first few centuries of Christianity, the most extensive dissemination of the gospel was not in the West but in the East. In fact, conditions in the Parthian empire (250 BC - A.D. 226), which stretched from the Euphrates to the Indus rivers and the Caspian to the Arabian seas, were in some ways more favourable for the growth of the church than in the Roman world. And though opposition to Christianity increasingly mounted under successive Persian and Islamic rulers, Christian communities were eventually established in the vast territory which stretches from the Near to the Far East possibly as early as the first century of the church.
Orthodox Church historical timeline .
The various autocephalous and autonomous churches of the Orthodox Church are distinct in terms of administration and local culture, but for the most part exist in full communion with one another, with exceptions such as lack of relations between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Moscow Patriarchate (the Orthodox Church of Russia) dating from the 1920s and due to the subjection of the latter to the hostile Soviet regime. However, attempts at reconciliation were made between the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate with the ultimate purpose of reunification being reached on 17 May 2007. Further tensions exist between the New Calendarists and the Old Calendarists.
- Tomas Spidlik, The Spirituality of the Christian East: A systematic handbook, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1986. ISBN 0-87907-879-0
- Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, London, 1995. ISBN 978-0913836583
- Robert Payne, The Holy Fire: The Story of the Fathers of the Eastern Church, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0913836613
- "The Letter Of Aristeas", R.H. Charles-Editor, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1913
- Greek Orthodox Christianity 
- BBC NEWS Technology |Oldest known Bible to go online
- Saint Cyprian wrote, 'A man cannot have God as his Father if he does not have the Church as his Mother'. God is salvation, and God's saving power is mediated to man in His Body, the Church. This stated the other way around by Georges Florovsky: 'Outside the Church there is no salvation, because salvation is the Church'.
- NPNF2-01. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine Christian Classics Ethereal Library
- Raya, The Byzantine Church and Culture
- Papadakis, Aristeides. History of the Orthodox Church
- Karl Josef von Hefele's commentary on canon II of Gangra notes: "We further see that, at the time of the Synod of Gangra, the rule of the Apostolic Synod with regard to blood and things strangled was still in force. With the Greeks, indeed, it continued always in force as their Euchologies still show. Balsamon also, the well-known commentator on the canons of the Middle Ages, in his commentary on the sixty-third Apostolic Canon, expressly blames the Latins because they had ceased to observe this command. What the Latin Church, however, thought on this subject about the year 400, is shown by St. Augustine in his work Contra Faustum, where he states that the Apostles had given this command in order to unite the heathens and Jews in the one ark of Noah; but that then, when the barrier between Jewish and heathen converts had fallen, this command concerning things strangled and blood had lost its meaning, and was only observed by few. But still, as late as the eighth century, Pope Gregory the Third 731 forbade the eating of blood or things strangled under threat of a penance of forty days. No one will pretend that the disciplinary enactments of any council, even though it be one of the undisputed Ecumenical Synods, can be of greater and more unchanging force than the decree of that first council, held by the Holy Apostles at Jerusalem, and the fact that its decree has been obsolete for centuries in the West is proof that even ecumenical canons may be of only temporary utility and may be repealed by disuser, like other laws."
- The Price of Ecumenism
- "The oneness of Essence, the Equality of Divinity, and the Equality of Honor of God the Son with the God the Father." Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky pages 92-95
- Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky pages 92-95: "This heretical teaching of Arius disrupted the whole Christian World, since it drew after it very many people. In 325 the First Ecumenical Council was called against this teaching, and at this council 318 of the chief hierarchs of the church unanimously expressed the ancient teaching of Orthodoxy and condemned the false teaching of Arius. The Council triumphantly pronounced anathema against those who say that there was a time the Son of God did not exist, against those who affirm that he was created, or that he is of a different essence from God the Father. The Council composed of a Symbol of Faith, which was confirmed and completed later at the Second Ecumenical Council. The unity and equality of honor of the Son of God with God the Father was expressed by this Council in the Symbol of Faith by there words: 'of One Essence with the Father.'" 
- Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky pages 92-95: "After the council, the Arian heresy was divided into three branches and continued to exist from some decades. It was subject to further refutation in its details at several local councils and in the works of the great Fathers of the Church of the 4th century and part of the 5th century (Sts.Athanasius the Great, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, Epiphanius, Ambrose of Milan, Cyril of Alexandria, and others). 
- Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary: The Ecumenical Councils
- CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Alexander (of Alexandria)
- A General History of the Catholic Church: From the Commencement of the Christian Era to the ... by Joseph Epiphane Darras, Charles Ignatius White, Martin John Spalding pg 500 
- Atrocity statistics from the Roman Era
- CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Nestorius and Nestorianism
- Lossky, Vladimir. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. pp. p. 10.
- Vladimir Lossky theology is the most widely accepted and or followed of all modern Orthodox theologians 
- Vladimir Lossky theology is the most widely accepted and or followed of all modern Orthodox theologians Being With God: Trinity, Apophaticism, and Divine-Human Communion by Aristotle Papanikolaou -Introduction- 978-0268038311
- "Orthodox Church Relations". http://www.antiochian.org.au/content/category/7/30/21/.
- "Second Chambesy Agreement of 1990". http://orthodoxwiki.org/Agreed_Official_Statements_on_Christology_with_the_Catholic_and_Eastern_Orthodox_Churches.
- Agreed Official Statements on Christology with the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches - OrthodoxWiki
- Epitome, Iconoclast Council at Hieria, 754
- Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann: Byzantium, Iconoclasm and the Monks
- No Graven Image
- Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes by John Meyendorff pg 172 
- Catholic Culture: Library: Eastern Theology Has Enriched the Whole Church
- University of Athens - Department of Theology
- The Great Schism: The Estrangement of Eastern and Western Christendom Orthodox Information Center
- The Orthodox Church London by Ware, Kallistos St. Vladimir's Seminary Press 1995 ISBN 978-0913836583
- The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Vladimir Lossky, SVS Press, 1997. (ISBN 0-913836-31-1) James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1991. (ISBN 0-227-67919-9)
- History of Russian Philosophy by Nikolai Lossky ISBN 978-0823680740
- Quoting Aleksey Khomyakov pg 87 The legal formalism and logical rationalism of the Roman Catholic Church have their roots in the Roman State. These features developed in it more strongly than ever when the Western Church without consent of the Eastern introduced into the Nicean Creed the filioque clause. Such arbitrary change of the creed is an expression of pride and lack of love for one's brethren in the faith. "In order not to be regarded as a schism by the Church, Romanism was forced to ascribe to the bishop of Rome absolute infallibility." In this way Catholicism broke away from the Church as a whole and became an organization based upon external authority. Its unity is similar to the unity of the state: it is not super-rational but rationalistic and legally formal. Rationalism has led to the doctrine of the works of superarogation, established a balance of duties and merits between God and man, weighing in the scales sins and prayers, trespasses and deeds of expiation; it adopted the idea of transferring one person's debts or credits to another and legalized the exchange of assumed merits; in short, it introduced into the sanctuary of faith the mechanism of a banking house. History of Russian Philosophy by Nikolai Lossky ISBN 978-0823680740 p. 87
- as can be seen in the words of Archbishop Nicetas of Nicomedia of the Twelfth Century: “My dearest brother, we do not deny to the Roman Church the primacy among the five sister patriachates and we recognize her right to the most honorable seat at the Ecumenical Council. But she has separated herself from us by her own deeds when through pride she assumed a monarchy which does not belong to her office... How shall we accept decrees from her that have been issued without consulting us and even without our knowledge? If the Roman pontiff seated on the lofty throne of his glory wished to thunder at us and, so to speak, hurl his mandates at us from on high and if he wishes to judge us and even to rule us and our churches, not by taking counsel with us but at his own arbitrary pleasure what kind of brotherhood, or even what kind of parenthood can this be? We should be the slaves not the sons, of such a church and the Roman see would not be the pious mother of sons but a hard and imperious mistress of slaves.”The Orthodox Church London by Ware, Kallistos St. Vladimir's Seminary Press 1995 ISBN 978-0913836583
- "The Sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders"
- Christiansen, Erik (1997). The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books, 287. ISBN 0-14-026653-4.
- "Fourth Crusade, 1202-1204" Even after Greek control of Byzantium was re-established, the empire never recovered the strength it had had even in 1200, and the sole effect of the fourth crusade was to weaken Europe's chief protection against the Turks.
- In Memory Of The 50 Million Victims Of The Orthodox Christian Holocaust
- History of the Copts of Egypt
- History of THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
- History of BULGARIA
- Paroulakis, Peter H. The Greek War of Independence Hellenic International Press 1984
- Altruistic Suicide or Altruistic Martyrdom? Christian Greek orthodox Neomartyrs: A Case Study http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/constantelos_altrouistic_4.html
- The Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies The New York Times.
- Massacres, Resistance, Protectors: Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I, by David Gaunt, 2006
- The Forgotten Genocide: Eastern Christians, the Last Arameans, p.195, by Sébastien de Courtois
- "Q&A Armenian 'genocide'". British Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-10-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6045182.stm. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
- Mango, Andrew (June 1988). "The Ottoman Armenians: Victims of Great Power Diplomacy (Book Review)". Asian Affairs Vol. 19 (Issue 2).
- United Nations document acknowledging receipt of a letter by the "International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples" titled "A people in continued exodus" (i.e. Pontian Greeks) and putting the letter into internal circulation (Dated 1998-02-24) (PDF file)
- Merrill D. Peterson, Starving Armenians: America and the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1930 and After Merrill D. Peterson cites the death toll of 360,000 for the Greeks of Pontus
- G.K. Valavanis (1925). Contemporary General History of Pontos (1st ed.). "The loss of human life among the Pontian Greeks, since the Great War (World War I) until March 1924, can be estimated at 353,238, as a result of murders, hangings, and from hunger, disease, and other hardships.""
- The New York Times` editor V. Rockwell published an article in 1916, with the title of "The Number of Armenian and Assyrian Victims". In the article, he stated:
- Not only the Armenians are unfortunate: the Assyrians were also wiped out and each tenth was murdered. [...] A lot of Assyrians perished but no one knows how many exactly....within six months the Young Turks managed to do what the "Old Turks" were not able to do during six centuries. [...] Thousands of Assyrians vanished from the face of the earth.
- Travis, Hannibal (2006). ""Native Christians Massacred": The Ottoman Genocide of the Assyrians During World War I". Genocide Studies and Prevention: an International Journal vol. 1.3: pp. 334, 337–38. doi:10.3138/YV54-4142-P5RN-X055. http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/yv544142p5rnx055/.
- Speros Vryonis, The Mechanism of Catastrophe: The Turkish Pogrom of September 6–7, 1955, and the Destruction of the Greek Community of Istanbul, New York: Greekworks.com 2005, ISBN 0-9747660-3-8
- The pogrom greatly accelerated emigration of ethnic Greeks from the Istanbul region (the former Constantinople), reducing the 200,000-strong Greek minority in 1924 to just over 5,000 in 2005. According to figures presented by Prof. Vyron Kotzamanis to a conference of unions and federations representing the ethnic Greeks of Istanbul."Ethnic Greeks of Istanbul convene", Athens News Agency, 2 July 2006.
- Turkish parliament tries to avoid reopening Orthodox seminary|author=Associated Press|work=International Herald Tribune|date=20 September 2006 
- Twentieth Century Atlas - Historical Body Count
- Dumitrica, Delia Despina. "Uniate vs. Orthodox: What Lays behind the Conflict?". http://www.jsri.ro/old/html%20version/index/no_3/delia_dumitrica-articol.htm.
- Pg. 97
- We are Orthodox from Czechoslovakia. God permitted for us to be greatly tested. We feel, He is burning and testing us like gold in a crucible. We also feel, we are not like gold to survive this fire without the help of God and support of our brothers throughout the world. We beg you therefore to pray for us to the Lord and the Most Holy Theotokos, that Orthodoxy in Czechoslovakia recover her freedom and equal rights with all the other Christian communities and overcome her enemies. The Orthodox Faith was taught to us by the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius in 863. After the repose of Saint Methodius, in 885, the latins expelled the Orthodox priests from Great Moravia and destroyed all their works. Orthodoxy survived only in Carpathia, in the east of our country. The Pope of Rome, unhappy of the fact that the Church (Orthodox) continued to exist, instituted the Unia of Uzgorontzcy in 1649, in which of the 1,200 priests, they allowed only 63.<!-not clear, can this be explained?--> For 300 years the Uniates worked tirelessly to uproot Orthodoxy. Following World War II, people began to return en-masse to the Orthodox Church, which became free again and powerful. But the years of happiness and peace did not last. In 1968 God allowed the first test. The Country recognized the Unia (which called itself “Greek Catholic Church”), which with the forbearance of the State started to torment the Orthodox followers. They confiscated by force our churches and threw the priests with their families to the street. And nobody came to our support. For a while we thought that everything was finished.... However, our Lord and the Most Holy Theotokos had mercy on us and we did not perish completely. The Uniates “allowed” us to continue our worship in our churches, which however we had to share with them. Since then we continuously drink daily from the bitter cup of hatred and malice. The devil however cannot rest, seeing that Orthodoxy still survived in Czechoslovakia. He then unleashed the Uniates against us. They now demanded that we hand over all our churches to them with all their wealth and heritage. If this happens then we will have to worship on the street. What would then happen? The happenings of 885, 1649 and 1968? From past history we have bitter experience of the hardships that Rome visited upon us through its Unia. Brothers we seek your help. Terminate all discussions with the Roman Catholics as long as the Unia problem remains unresolved. Come to us and give us courage. You and we are one body, the body of Christ. Let the world know about our suffering brought on by the Uniates. They say they are Christians but are not. Christians have love for their fellow man. Let the papists sent their church letters to the idolaters, not to the Orthodox of Czechoslovakia and the Ukraine. Here live Christians and not idolaters. (Signed by Orthodox dignitaries of Czechoslovakia). “Orthodox Kypseli” Puplications - Thessalonika, Greece - http://www.impantokratoros.gr/170832DE.en.aspx
- Atrocities of the Uniate or Unia
- "Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus". http://www.mfa.gov.by/eng/index.php?d=belarus&id=24.
- Natalia Shlikhta (2004) "'Greek Catholic'-'Orthodox'-'Soviet': a symbiosis or a conflict of identities?" in Religion, State & Society, Volume 32, Number 3 (Routledge)
- It is no coincidence that in the entry on 'Orthodoxy' in the seventh volume of the Kratkaya Evreiskaya Entsyklopedia, devoted to the Russian Orthodox Church (pp. 733-743), where numerous examples are given of persecution of the Jews in Russia, including religious persecution, no evidence is given of the direct participation of the church, either in legislative terms or in the conduct of policy. Although the authors of the article state that the active role of the Church in inciting the government to conduct anti-Jewish acts (for example in the case of Ivan the Terrible's policy in the defeated territories) is 'obvious', no facts are given in their article to support this. http://www.jcrelations.net/en/?id=787
- Shlomo Lambroza, John D. Klier (2003) Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History, Cambridge University Press
- "Jewish-Christian Relations", by the International Council of Christians and Jews
- It is no coincidence that in the entry on 'Orthodoxy' in the seventh volume of the Kratkaya Evreiskaya Entsyklopedia, devoted to the Russian Orthodox Church (pp. 733-743), where numerous examples are given of persecution of the Jews in Russia, including religious persecution, no evidence is given of the direct participation of the church, either in legislative terms or in the conduct of policy. Although the authors of the article state that the active role of the Church in inciting the government to conduct anti-Jewish acts (for example in the case of Ivan the Terrible's policy in the defeated territories) is 'obvious', no facts are given in their article to support this. http://www.jcrelations.net/en/?id=787
- Undoubtedly the Russian church can be criticised for its total submission to the State in the Synodical period (after the abolition of the Patriarchage in the early eighteenth century), for its inability to express an independent opinion and for its failure to demonstrate love for one's neighbour and defence of the persecuted in accordance with the basic teachings of the Gospel: unlike the Western church, the Russian Orthodox Church took no steps to protect the Jews. But once again we must emphasise that unlike the Western churches, 'antisemitic policies were not conducted in the name of the Russian Orthodox Church'. http://www.jcrelations.net/en/?id=787
- Solzhenitsyn breaks last taboo of the revolution Russia |Guardian Unlimited
- [dead link]
- Solzhenitsyn New Book, Soviet Repression, Jews - Johnson's Russia List 1-25-03
- Lydia Chukovskaya - Interview with Solzhentisyn about "200 Years Together"
- President of Lithuania: Prisoner of the Gulag a Biography of Aleksandras Stulginskis by Afonsas Eidintas Genocide and Research Center of Lithuania ISBN 998675741X / 9789986757412 / 9986-757-41-X pg 23 "As early as August 1920 Lenin wrote to E. M. Skliansky, President of the Revolutionary War Soviet: "We are surrounded by the greens (we pack it to them), we will move only about 10-20 versty and we will choke by hand the bourgeoisie, the clergy and the landowners. There will be an award of 100,000 rubles for each one hanged." He was speaking about the future actions in the countries neighboring Russia.
- Christ Is Calling You: A Course in Catacomb Pastorship by Father Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa Published by Saint Hermans Press April 1997 ISBN 978-1887904520
- History of the Orthodox Church in the History of Russian Dimitry Pospielovsky 1998 St Vladimir's Press ISBN 0-88141-179-5 pg 291
- A History of Marxist-Leninist Atheism and Soviet Antireligious Policies, Dimitry Pospielovsky Palgrave Macmillan (December, 1987) ISBN 0-312-38132-8
- Daniel Peris Storming the Heavens: The Soviet League of the Militant Godless Cornell University Press 1998 ISBN 9780801434853
- "Sermons to young people by Father Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa. Given at the Chapel of the Romanian Orthodox Church Seminary". The Word online. Bucharest. http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/resources/sermons/calciu_christ_calling.htm.
- Twentieth Century Atlas - Historical Body Count p.2
- Father Arseny 1893-1973 Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father. Introduction pg. vi - 1. St Vladimir's Seminary Press ISBN 0-88141-180-9
- The Washington Post Anti-Communist Priest Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa by Patricia Sullivan Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, 26 November 2006; Page C09 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/25/AR2006112500783.html
- Ostling, Richard (24 June 2001). "Cross meets Kremlin". TIME Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,150718,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
- New York Times article on Shrine to Stalins killing fields
- Van Christo. Albania and the Albanians.
- http://litek.ws/k0nsl/detox/anti-humans.htm Dumitru Bacu, The Anti-Humans. Student Re-Education in Romanian Prisons], Soldiers of the Cross, Englewood, Colorado, 1971. Originally written in Romanian as Piteşti, Centru de Reeducare Studenţească, Madrid, 1963
- Adrian Cioroianu, Pe umerii lui Marx. O introducere în istoria comunismului românesc ("On the Shoulders of Marx. An Incursion into the History of Romanian Communism"), Editura Curtea Veche, Bucharest, 2005
- The Orthodox Church. Ware, Timothy. Penguin Books, 1997. (ISBN 0-14-014656-3)
- The Orthodox Church; 455 Questions and Answers. Harakas, Stanley H. Light and Life Publishing Company, 1988. (ISBN 0-937032-56-5)
- The Spirituallity of the Christian East: A systematic handbook by Tomas Spidlik, Cistercian Publications Inc Kalamazoo Michigan 1986 ISBN 0-87907-879-0
- History of the Orthodox Church in the History of Russian Dimitry Pospielovsky 1998 St Vladimir's Press (ISBN 0-88141-179-5)
- Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood press 1994 (ISBN 0938635-69-7)
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