Portal:Eastern Christianity

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The Eastern Christianity Portal

The enthronement of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.


Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity.

The term is generally used in Western Christianity to describe all Christian traditions that did not develop in Western Europe. As such, the term does not describe any single communion or common religious tradition, and in fact some "Eastern" Churches have more in common historically and theologically with "Western" Christianity than with one another. The various "Eastern" Churches do not normally refer to themselves as "Eastern," with one exception (the Church of the East).

The terms "Eastern" and "Western" in this regard originated with divisions in the Church mirroring the cultural divide between the Hellenistic east and Latinate west and the political divide between the weak Western and strong Eastern Roman Empires. Because the most powerful Church in the East was what has become known as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the term "Orthodox" is often used in a similarly loose fashion as "Eastern", although strictly speaking most Churches consider themselves part of an Orthodox and Catholic communion.

Eastern Christians do not have shared religious traditions but many of these groups have shared cultural traditions. Christianity divided itself in the East during its early centuries both within and outside of the Roman Empire in disputes about Christology and fundamental theology, as well as national divisions (Roman, Persian, etc.). It would be many centuries later that Western Christianity fully split from these traditions as its own communion. Today there are four main branches or families of Eastern Christianity, each of which has distinct theology and dogma.

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Christian Nubia in the three states period. Makuria would later absorb Nobatia.
Makuria was a kingdom located in what is today Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt. It was one of a group of Nubian kingdoms that emerged in the centuries after the fall of the Kushite Kingdom, which had dominated the region from approximately 800 BC to AD 350. Makuria originally covered the area along the Nile River from the Third Cataract to somewhere between the Fifth and Sixth Cataracts. It also had control over the trade routes, mines, and oases to the east and west. Its capital was Dongola, and the kingdom is sometimes known by the name of its capital. By the end of the 6th century it had converted to Christianity, but in the 7th century Egypt was conquered by the Islamic armies, and Nubia was cut off from the rest of Christendom. In 651 an Arab army invaded, but it was repulsed and a treaty known as the baqt was signed creating a relative peace between the two sides that lasted until the 13th century. Makuria expanded, annexing its northern neighbour Nobatia either at the time of the Arab invasion or during the reign of King Merkurios. The period from roughly 750 to 1150 saw the kingdom stable and prosperous, in what has been called the "Golden Age". Increased aggression from Egypt, and internal discord led to the state's collapse in the 14th century.

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Cathedral of Christ the Savior
Credit: Joaquim Alves Gaspar

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a church in Moscow, Russia, south-west of the Kremlin, which was consecrated in 1883. With an overall height of 105 metres (344 ft), it is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world.

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Saint Daumantas of Pskov

Selected biography

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem - a centre long shared and disputed between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches which  Zoghby attempted to reunite.
Elias Zoghby (January 9, 1912 – January 16, 2008) was the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Baalbek and a leading advocate of Roman Catholic-Eastern Orthodox ecumenism. He is best known for his ecumenical interventions during Vatican II and his 1995 Profession of Faith, known as the Zoghby Initiative, which attempted to re-establish communion between the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church while maintaining communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Zoghby's views on topics such as Roman Catholic–Eastern Orthodox "double communion" and dissolution of marriage were controversial.

Although Zoghby's proposal of double communion has not been accepted by Rome or the Orthodox Church, the initiative focused greater attention on ecumenical discussions and renewed efforts for East–West unity. Zoghby also suggested a solution which considers adultery and abandonment as causes for the dissolution of marriage. Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV declared that, while "Archbishop Zoghby, like all Fathers of the council, enjoys full freedom to say what he thinks ... [Zoghby] speaks only for himself personally. With respect to the heart of the problem, the Church must hold fast to the indissolubility of marriage." Critics labeled him the enfant terrible of his church, while supporters lauded him as an energetic visionary who sought to re-unite the Eastern Churches.

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