The Eastern Christianity Portal
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.
The First Council of Nicaea
, held in Nicaea
), convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine I
in 325, was the first Ecumenical council
of the early Christian Church, and most significantly resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine
, called the Nicene Creed
. With the creation of the creed, a precedent was established for subsequent 'general (ecumenical
) councils of Bishops' (Synods
) to create statements of belief and canons
of doctrinal orthodoxy
— the intent being to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom
. The Council of Nicaea was historically significant because it was the first effort to attain consensus
in the church through an assembly
representing all of Christendom
. "It was the first occasion for the development of technical Christology
." Further, "Constantine in convoking and presiding over the council signaled a measure of imperial control over the church." Further, a precedent was set for subsequent general councils to create creeds
. The long-term effects of the Council of Nicaea were significant. For the first time, representatives of many of the bishops of the Church convened to agree on a doctrinal statement. Also for the first time, the Emperor played a role, by calling together the bishops under his authority, and using the power of the state to give the Council's orders effect.
Saint John Chrysostom
(c. 347–407, Greek
: Ιωάννης ο Χρυσόστομος
, was an important Early Church Father
. He is known for his eloquence in preaching
and public speaking
, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
, and his ascetic
sensibilities. After his death (or, according to some sources, during his life) he was given the Greek
, meaning "golden mouthed", rendered in English as Chrysostom.
The Eastern Orthodox Church honors him as a saint (feast days: November 13 and January 27) and count him among the Three Holy Hierarchs (feast day, January 30), together with Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzus. Churches of the Western tradition, including some Anglican provinces and parts of the Lutheran Church, commemorate him on September 13. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria recognizes John Chrysostom as a saint (feast days: 16 Thout and 17 Hathor).
Chrysostom is known in Christianity chiefly as a preacher, theologian and liturgist, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Among his sermons, eight directed against the Jews remain controversial for their impact on the development of Christian antisemitism.
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