Eastern Orthodox Church

Byzantine cross
Eastern Orthodox Church
Church of St. George, Istanbul (August 2010).jpg
Saint George's Cathedral, Istanbul (former Constantinople)
TypeEastern Christian
ScriptureSeptuagint, New Testament
TheologyEastern Orthodox theology
PolityEpiscopal
StructureCommunion
Primus inter paresEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
RegionSoutheast Europe, Eastern Europe, Cyprus, Georgia,[1] Siberia, and large communities in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Middle East
LanguageKoine Greek, Church Slavonic, vernacular[2][3][4]
LiturgyByzantine (nearly ubiquitous); also Western
HeadquartersConstantinople[5]
FounderJesus Christ
Origin1st century
Judea, Roman Empire
SeparationsOld Believers (17th century)
True Orthodoxy (1920s)
Members220 million[6]
Other name(s)Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christian Church
Christ Pantocrator, 6th century, Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai; the oldest known icon of Christ, in one of the oldest monasteries in the world

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church,[7][8][9][10] is the second-largest Christian church,[a][11] with approximately 220 million baptised members.[12][6][13] It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods.[13] Roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in the territory of the former Soviet Union, most of those living in Russia.[14][15] The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the bishop of Rome (Pope), but the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares ("first among equals") of the bishops. Historically the Ecumenical Patriarchate was a supranational church in the Orthodox-inhabited territories of the Ottoman Empire, preceding some of today's independent Orthodox churches of the Balkans. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.[16]

Eastern Orthodox theology is based on holy tradition which incorporates the dogmatic decrees of the seven Ecumenical Councils, the Scriptures, and the teaching of the Church Fathers. The church teaches that it is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission,[17] and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles.[18] It maintains that it practices the original Christian faith, as passed down by holy tradition. Its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, and other autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation. It recognizes seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honored in devotions.

The Eastern Orthodox Church shared communion with the Roman Catholic Church in the state church of Rome until the East–West Schism in 1054, disputing particularly the authority of the pope. Before the Council of Ephesus in AD 431 the Church of the East also shared in this communion, as did the Oriental Orthodox Churches before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, all separating primarily over differences in Christology.

The majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians live mainly in Southeast and Eastern Europe, Cyprus, Georgia and other communities in the Caucasus region, and communities in Siberia reaching the Russian Far East. There are also smaller communities in the former Byzantine regions of Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, and in the Middle East, where it is decreasing due to forced migration because of increased religious persecution in recent years.[19][20] There are also many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora, conversions, and missionary activity.

  1. ^ "Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 10 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Eastern Orthodoxy – Worship and sacraments". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  3. ^ Fiske, Edward B. (1970-07-03). "Greek Orthodox Vote to Use Vernacular in Liturgy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  4. ^ "Liturgy and archaic language | David T. Koyzis". First Things. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  5. ^ Eastern Churches Journal: A Journal of Eastern Christendom. Society of Saint John Chrysostom. 2004. p. 181. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is the 270th successor to the Apostle Andrew and spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.
  6. ^ a b Brien, Joanne O.; Palmer, Martin (2007). The Atlas of Religion. University of California Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-520-24917-2. There are over 220 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference Britannica was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference ellwood was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference tsichlis was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference Losch2002 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ Johnson, Todd M. "Status of Global Christianity, 2019, in the Context of 1900–2050" (PDF). Center for the Study of Global Christianity.
  12. ^ Fairchild, Mary (17 March 2017). "Eastern Orthodox Denomination". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  13. ^ a b "BBC – Religions – Christianity: Eastern Orthodox Church". www.bbc.co.uk.
  14. ^ Peter, Laurence (17 October 2018). "Orthodox Church split: Five reasons why it matters". BBC. The Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church has at least 150 million followers – more than half the total of Orthodox Christians....But Mr Shterin, who lectures on trends in ex-Soviet republics, says some Moscow-linked parishes will probably switch to a new Kiev-led church, because many congregations "don't vary a lot in their political preferences."
  15. ^ "Orthodox Christianity's geographic center remains in Central and Eastern Europe". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 2017-11-08. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  16. ^ Ware 1993, p. 8. sfn error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFWare1993 (help)
  17. ^ "The Orthodox Faith – Volume I – Doctrine and Scripture – The Symbol of Faith – Church". www.oca.org. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  18. ^ Meyendorff, John (1983). Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes. Fordham University Press.
  19. ^ Harriet Sherwood (13 January 2016). "Christians flee growing persecution in Africa and Middle East". The Guardian.
  20. ^ Huma Haider University of Birmingham (16 February 2017). "K4D The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East" (PDF). Publishing Service U.K. Government.


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