Oriental Orthodoxy

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Oriental Orthodoxy
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{{User:RMCD bot/subject notice|1=Oriental Orthodox Church|2=Talk:Oriental Orthodoxy#Requested move 22 August 2019 }}{{short description|Branch of Eastern Christianity}}{{Distinguish|Eastern Orthodox Church}}{{pp-move-indef}}

icon_alt | theology = Miaphysitism|name=Oriental Orthodox Church|native_name=|native_name_lang=|image=Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Abbasyia, Cairo.JPG|imagewidth=220px|alt=|caption=Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo

Eastern Christianity>Eastern ChristianCommunion (religion)>CommunionEpiscopal polity>Episcopal|division1=|division_type2=|division2=|division_type3=|division3=|language=Koine Greek, Ge'ez, Arabic and othersArmenian Rite>Armenian, Alexandrian Rite, Malankara Rite>Malankara and West Syrian|headquarters=|origin_link=Jesus Christ, according to Sacred tradition#In the Catholic and Orthodox churches>Oriental Orthodox traditionChristianity in the 1st century>1st century|founded_place=Holy Land, Roman Empire|separated_from=Chalcedonian Christianity|parent=|absorbed=Autocephaly>Autocephalouschurches
    |branched_from=|defunct=|congregations_type=|congregations=|members=70 million|ministers_type=|ministers=|missionaries=|churches=|hospitals=|nursing_homes=|aid=|primary_schools=|secondary_schools=|tax_status=|tertiary=|other_names=Oriental Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox churches|leader_title=Primus inter pares
    Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria>Tawadros II of Alexandria{edih}{{Oriental Orthodox sidebar}}{{Christianity}}Oriental Orthodoxy is the communion of Christian churches that adheres to Miaphysite Christology and theology, with 60 to 70 million members worldwide.WEB, Orthodox churches (Oriental) — World Council of Churches,weblink, en, WEB, RELIGION LIBRARY Oriental Orthodoxy,weblink, en, WEB, Orthodox Christianity in the 21st Century Pew Research Center,weblink 8 November 2017, As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Armenia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and parts of the Middle East and India. An Eastern Christian communion of autocephalous churches, its bishops are equal by virtue of episcopal ordination, and its doctrines can be summarized in that the communion recognizes the validity of only the first three ecumenical councils.BOOK, Hindson, Ed, Mitchell, Dan, The Popular Encyclopedia of Church History, 2013, Harvest House Publishers, 978-0-7369-4806-7, 108, The Oriental Orthodox communion is composed of six autocephalous churches: the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.WEB,weblink Orthodox churches (Oriental) — World Council of Churches,, Collectively, they consider themselves to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. Most member churches are part of the World Council of Churches. Three very different rites are practiced in the communion: the western-influenced Armenian Rite, the West Syrian Rite of the two Syriac churches, and the Alexandrian Rite of the Copts, Ethiopians and Eritreans.At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, the Oriental Orthodox churches separated from the Imperial Roman Church, primarily over differences in Christology. Oriental Orthodoxy developed distinctively under the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt, originally part of the Pentarchy, and the only episcopal see besides the See of Rome to maintain the title "Pope". The majority of Oriental Orthodox Christians live in Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Armenia, with smaller Syriac communities living in the Middle East—decreasing due to persecution—and India. There are also many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora, conversions, and missionary activity.


    The name "Oriental Orthodox Churches" was coined for the Conference of Addis Ababa in 1965. At the time there were five participating churches, the Eritrean church not yet being autocephalous.Mirrit Boutros Ghali, "Oriental Orthodox Churches", in The Coptic Encyclopedia (Macmillan, 1991), 6:1845b–1846a, online at the Claremont Colleges Digital Library.Other names by which the churches have been known include Old Oriental, Ancient Oriental, Lesser Eastern, Anti-Chalcedonian, Non-Chalcedonian, Pre-Chalcedonian, Miaphysite or Monophysite,Aram Keshishian (1994), "The Oriental Orthodox Churches", The Ecumenical Review 46(1): 103–109. although the Church of the East is equally anti-, non- and pre-Chalcedonian.


    The Oriental Orthodox churches are distinguished by their recognition of only the first three ecumenical councils during the period of the State church of the Roman Empire—the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381 and the Council of Ephesus in 431. Oriental Orthodoxy shares much theology and many ecclesiastical traditions with the Eastern Orthodox Church; these include a similar doctrine of salvationWEB,weblink The Transfiguration: Our Past and Our Future, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, and a tradition of collegiality between bishops, as well as reverence of the Theotokos and use of the Nicene Creed.WEB,weblink SMSV - Divine Liturgy, Sunday, October 1, 2017, October 1, 2017, YouTube, The primary theological difference between the two communions is the differing Christology. Oriental Orthodoxy rejects the Chalcedonian Definition, and instead adopts the Miaphysite formula, believing that the human and divine natures of Christ are united. Historically, the early prelates of the Oriental Orthodox churches thought that the Chalcedonian Definition implied a possible repudiation of the Trinity or a concession to Nestorianism.Other differences include minor deviations in social teaching and different views on ecumenism. Oriental Orthodox churches are generally considered to be more conservative with regard to social issues as well more enthusiastic about ecumenical relations with non-Orthodox churches.The break in communion between the Imperial Roman and Oriental Orthodox churches did not occur suddenly, but rather gradually over 2-3 centuries following the Council of Chalcedon.WEB,weblink Chalcedonians, TheFreeDictionary, June 11, 2016, Eventually the two communions developed separate institutions, and the Oriental Orthodox did not participate in any of the later ecumenical councils. The Oriental Orthodox churches maintain their own ancient apostolic succession.{{sfn|Krikorian|2010|pp=45, 128, 181, 194, 206}} The various churches are governed by holy synods, with a primus inter pares bishop serving as primate. The primates hold titles like patriarch, catholicos, and pope. Among these patriarchs, the Pope of Alexandria takes precedence, and is sometimes considered the "face" of Oriental Orthodoxy. The Alexandrian Patriarchate, along with Rome and Antioch, was one of the most prominent sees of the early Christian Church, and contains a majority population of Coptic Christians, and unlike Antioch is still a major population center. That said, the Pope of Alexandria has no governing powers with respect to the non-Coptic churches. Oriental Orthodoxy does not have a magisterial leader like the Catholic Church, nor does the communion have a leader who can convene ecumenical synods like the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    Non-Chalcedonian Christology

    The schism between Oriental Orthodoxy and the adherents of Chalcedonian Christianity was based on differences in Christology. The First Council of Nicaea, in 325, declared that Jesus Christ is God, that is to say, "consubstantial" with the Father. Later, the third ecumenical council, the Council of Ephesus, declared that Jesus Christ, though divine as well as human, is only one being, or person (hypostasis). Thus, the Council of Ephesus explicitly rejected Nestorianism, the Christological doctrine that Christ was two distinct beings, one divine (the Logos) and one human (Jesus), who happened to inhabit the same body. The churches that later became Oriental Orthodoxy were firmly anti-Nestorian, and therefore strongly supported the decisions made at Ephesus.Twenty years after Ephesus, the Council of Chalcedon reaffirmed the view that Jesus Christ was a single person, but at the same time declared that this one person existed "in two complete natures", one human and one divine. Those who opposed Chalcedon saw this as a concession to Nestorianism, or even as a conspiracy to convert the Christian Church to Nestorianism by stealth. As a result, over the following decades, they gradually separated from communion with those who accepted the Council of Chalcedon, and formed the body that is today called Oriental Orthodoxy.At times, Chalcedonian Christians have referred to the Oriental Orthodox as being Monophysites—that is to say, accusing them of following the teachings of Eutyches (c. 380 – c. 456), who argued that Jesus Christ was not human at all, but only divine. Monophysitism was condemned as heretical alongside Nestorianism, and to accuse a church of being Monophysite is to accuse it of falling into the opposite extreme from Nestorianism. However, the Oriental Orthodox themselves reject this description as inaccurate, having officially condemned the teachings of both Nestorius and Eutyches. They define themselves as Miaphysite instead, holding that Christ has one nature, but this nature is both human and divine.BOOK, Davis, Society of Jesus, SJ, Leo Donald, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology (Theology and Life Series 21), 1990, Michael Glazier/Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 978-0-8146-5616-7, 342, Today, the Oriental Orthodox churches are in full communion with each other, but not with the Eastern Orthodox Church or any other churches. Slow dialogue towards restoring communion between the two Orthodox groups began in the mid-20th century,WEB,weblink Middle Eastern Oriental Orthodox Common Declaration - March 17, 2001,, and dialogue is also underway between Oriental Orthodoxy and the Catholic Church and others.WEB, Dialogue with the Assyrian Church of the East and its Effect on the Dialogue with the Roman Catholic,weblink Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California, and Hawaii, 2 June 2016, In 2017, the mutual recognition of baptism was restored between the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Catholic Churchweblink Also baptism is mutually recognized between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church.WEB,weblink Agreed on baptism in Germany,, 2019-01-08, WEB,weblink CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Baptism,, 2019-01-08,


    Post Council of Chalcedon (451 AD)

    The schism between the Oriental Orthodox and the rest of Christendom occurred in the 5th century. The separation resulted in part from the refusal of Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria and the other thirteen Egyptian bishops to accept the Christological dogmas promulgated by the Council of Chalcedon, which held that Jesus is in two natures: one divine and one human. They would accept only "of or from two natures" but not "in two natures".To the hierarchs who would lead the Oriental Orthodox, the latter phrase was tantamount to accepting Nestorianism, which expressed itself in a terminology incompatible with their understanding of Christology. Nestorianism was understood as seeing Christ in two separate natures, human and divine, each with different actions and experiences; in contrast Cyril of Alexandria advocated the formula "One Nature of God the Incarnate Logos"WEB, Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, NATURE OF CHRIST,weblinkweblink St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, 30 November 2014, 1999, (or as others translate,WEB, CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, Pusey, P. E. (Trans.), FROM HIS SECOND BOOK AGAINST THE WORDS OF THEODORE,weblink The Tertullian Project, 30 November 2014, "One Incarnate Nature of the Word"), stressing the unity of the incarnation over all other considerations. It is not entirely clear that Nestorius himself was a Nestorian.The Oriental Orthodox churches were therefore often called "Monophysite", although they reject this label, as it is associated with Eutychian Monophysitism; they prefer the term "Miaphysite". Oriental Orthodox churches reject what they consider to be the heretical Monophysite teachings of Apollinaris of Laodicea and Eutyches, the Dyophysite definition of the Council of Chalcedon and the Antiochene christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Nestorius, Theodoret, and Ibas of Edessa.Christology, although important, was not the only reason for the Alexandrian Church's refusal to accept the declarations of the Council of Chalcedon; political, ecclesiastical and imperial issues were hotly debated during that period.In the years following Chalcedon the patriarchs of Constantinople intermittently remained in communion with the non-Chalcedonian Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch (see Henotikon), while Rome remained out of communion with the latter and in unstable communion with Constantinople. It was not until 518 that the new Byzantine Emperor, Justin I (who accepted Chalcedon), demanded that the Church in the Roman Empire accept the Council's decisions.WEB,weblink CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Pope St. Hormisdas,, Justin ordered the replacement of all non-Chalcedonian bishops, including the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria. The extent of the influence of the Bishop of Rome in this demand has been a matter of debate. Justinian I also attempted to bring those monks who still rejected the decision of the Council of Chalcedon into communion with the greater church. The exact time of this event is unknown, but it is believed to have been between 535 and 548.St Abraham of Farshut was summoned to Constantinople and he chose to bring with him four monks. Upon arrival, Justinian summoned them and informed them that they would either accept the decision of the Council or lose their positions. Abraham refused to entertain the idea. Theodora tried to persuade Justinian to change his mind, seemingly to no avail. Abraham himself stated in a letter to his monks that he preferred to remain in exile rather than subscribe to a faith which he believed to be contrary to that of Athanasius of Alexandria.

    20th century

    By the 20th century the Chalcedonian schism was not seen with the same importance, and from several meetings between the authorities of the Holy See and the Oriental Orthodoxy, reconciling declarations emerged in the common statement of Syriac Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas and the Roman Pope John Paul II in 1984:According to the canons of the Oriental Orthodox churches, the four bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch were all given status as patriarchs; in other words, the ancient apostolic centres of Christianity, by the First Council of Nicaea (predating the schism)—each of the four patriarchs was responsible for those bishops and churches within his own area of the Church. Thus, the Bishop of Rome has always been held by the others to be fully sovereign within his own area, as well as "first-among-equals", due to the traditional belief that the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul were martyred in Rome.{{Citation needed|reason=Reliable, non Roman Catholic, source needed for the whole sentence|date=August 2014}}The technical reason for the schism was that the bishops of Rome and Constantinople excommunicated the non-Chalcedonian bishops in 451 for refusing to accept the "in two natures" teaching, thus declaring them to be out of communion.The highest office in Oriental Orthodoxy is that of patriarch. There are patriarchs within the local Oriental Orthodox communities of the Coptic, Armenian, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Syriac, and Indian (Malankara) Orthodox churches. The title of pope, as used by the leading bishop of the Coptic Church, has the meaning of "Father" and is not a jurisdictional title.

    Geographical distribution

    File:Oriental Orthodoxy by country.png|right|thumb|400px|Distribution of Oriental Orthodox Christians in the world by country:{{legend|#550000|Main religion (more than 75%)}}{{legend|#d40000|Main religion (50–75%)}}{{legend|#ff0000|Important minority religion (20–50%)}}{{legend|#ff5555|Important minority religion (5–20%)}}{{legend|#ffaaaa|Minority religion (1–5%)}}{{legend|#ffc8aa|Tiny minority religion (below 1%), but has local autocephalyautocephalyAccording to the Encyclopedia of Religion, Oriental Orthodoxy is the Christian tradition "most important in terms of the number of faithful living in the Middle East", which, along with other Eastern Christian communions, represent an autochthonous Christian presence whose origins date further back than the birth and spread of Islam in the Middle East.BOOK, Encyclopedia of Religion, "Christianity: Christianity in the Middle East", Thomson Gale, 2005, 2nd, Farmington Hills, MI, 1672–1673, It is the dominant religion in Armenia (94%), the ethnically Armenian unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (95%)UN Security Council resolutions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflictWEB,weblink Statement of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, OSCE, June 25, 2011, and in Ethiopia (43%, the total Christian population being 62%), especially in two regions in Ethiopia: Amhara (82%) and Tigray (96%), as well as the capital city of Addis Ababa (75%).WEB,weblink Ethiopia: 2007 Census, It is also one of two dominant religions in Eritrea (50%).It is a minority in Egypt (

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