Oriental Orthodox Churches

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Syrian Orthodox Dayro d-Mor Hananyo Monastery, a Christian monastery in the Tur Abdin Mountains since 493 AD .

As Oriental Orthodoxy or ancient Oriental churches substantially that are Eastern churches , made up, according to the Council of Ephesus (431) or after the Council of Chalcedon (451) of the Roman Empire Church separated. The "ancient Orientals" were, on the one hand, regional churches outside the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire ("national churches "), and on the other hand, regional movements in Byzantine-ruled Armenia, Egypt, Georgia and Syria that were directed against Constantinopolitan centralism Copts or Assyrians (Arameans) united ("opposition churches"). The separation had not only dogmatic but also political reasons. There is no theological or historical "ancient orientalism" that unites all these groups.


For a long time the predominant designation in German was old oriental churches , that is, “old churches of the orient ” (not “churches of the old orient ”). Since, on the one hand, these are contemporary churches and, on the other hand, their theology is, according to their own understanding, orthodox (= orthodox) and is recognized as such in the ecumenical dialogue (with Byzantine Orthodox and Catholics), the designation oriental- Orthodox churches preferred. Another common name that has been adopted by some of these churches is pre-Chalcedonian churches

Individual church communities

The following are counted among the Eastern Orthodox churches:

Usually not to the Oriental Orthodox Churches counting all churches or particular Churches that the Chalcedon or the Byzantine-rite Constantinople have assumed the Georgian Orthodox Church and for the most created in modern times Eastern Catholic Churches . The article Pre -Reformation Churches offers a more comprehensive overview of all Eastern Churches and their current ritual affiliation .

Contacts and collaboration

For many centuries, the Eastern Orthodox churches had only very irregular contact with each other across the respective patriarchal boundaries (main and subsidiary churches). Only Copts and Ethiopians had relatively regular and close ties, since a Copt sent by the Alexandrian Patriarch was always appointed to the Metropolitan of Ethiopia ("Abuna") until the 20th century. The self-image of the “Monophysite” churches as part of a denomination largely emerged only in the 20th century.

From January 15 to January 21, 1965, heads and clerics of all Eastern Orthodox churches (apart from the Assyrian Church of the East and the Old Church of the East ) met in Addis Ababa for a conference. This was the first such meeting since the Council of Ephesus . The churches reaffirmed their cooperation and formed structures for it. In 1989 and 1990 a joint commission of the Oriental Orthodox and Byzantine Orthodox Churches passed two consensus documents on Christology. Since 1998, the Coptic Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch have been acting together in the ecumenical dialogues as one denominational family.

The Ancient Near Eastern Christians living in Germany have been represented in Germany by the Central Council of Oriental Christians since 2013 .


The “Monophysite” Oriental Orthodox Churches are similar to the Byzantine Orthodox Churches in teaching and liturgy, but emphasize more strongly the unity of divine and human nature in Jesus Christ . They recognize only three ecumenical councils: the first council of Nicaea (325), the first council of Constantinople (381), and the council of Ephesus (431). The Council of Chalcedon (451) is considered to be the fourth ecumenical council - which separates Orthodoxy from non-Orthodox - in the imperial and their successor churches .

The Assyrian "Church of the East" and the Old Church of the East that emerged from it recognize only the first two of these councils and differ markedly from the other churches in their divine service. As the only Eastern Churches, they (today) only know a few icons . From a theological point of view, they form an antipole to the other ancient oriental churches - they emphasize more strongly the unmixed nature of the divine and human nature in Christ and title Mary as "Mother of Christ", not as "Mother of God".

Sacred languages

The sacred language is the ancient popular language ( Syriac- Aramaic, Coptic , Armenian , Georgian , Old Ethiopian , Old Nubian ). Some churches also use other languages ​​in worship, especially Arabic, Malayalam and modern Western idioms.

Current situation

As a result of waves of refugees, emigration, and conversions to Islam , the Eastern Orthodox churches in their home countries have lost many members. With the exception of today's Republic of Armenia , Eritrea and Ethiopia , they are now minority churches. At the same time, however, they have spread to western cultures. The Assyrian Church has even had to relocate its headquarters to Chicago .

See also

Portal: Christian Orient  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of Christian Orient


Individual evidence

  1. For the terminology cf. Fairy von LilienfeldOrthodox Churches . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 25, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1995, ISBN 3-11-014712-2 , pp. 423-464 (here p. 424).
  2. ^ Francophone special diocese, to be distinguished from the dioceses of the mother church with headquarters in Paris and Geneva.
  3. Your European offshoot, temporarily called the Syrian Orthodox Church of Europe and headed by Moses Görgün , joined the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece (Kallinikos Synod) in 2016 .
  4. ^ Documents of Growing Concord Vol. 2: 1982–1990. 1990, pp. 294-306.
  5. ^ Theresia Hainthaler: Developments in the Dialogue of the Oriental-Orthodox Churches . In: Material service of the Konfessionskundlichen Institut Bensheim 57 (2006), pp. 15-18.