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Orthodoxy ( ancient Greek ὀρθός Orthos "right", "straight" and δόξα Doxa "opinion", "belief", or "orthodoxy") refers to the basic meaning of the correctness of a doctrine or the following of correct doctrine, as opposed to deviating doctrines that are accordingly deemed wrong and rejected ( heterodoxy ). Basically every doctrine regards itself as orthodox , so that the attribution of orthodoxy is a question of point of view.

Often, however, the term orthodoxy is used in a way that only partially corresponds to the basic meaning: The differences are mainly due to the viewing perspective, which can be either a self-observation or an observation from the outside, the latter in turn in negative or neutral standpoints must be distinguished.

  • With Orthodoxy which is often predominant school of thought called. The prevailing doctrine has prevailed against divergent doctrines, dominates public perception and thus in fact defines the norm , that is, the “correct” doctrine. From the point of view of the adherents of deviating doctrines or from the point of view of neutral observers, however, the ascription of orthodoxy to the prevailing doctrine is questionable.
  • With Orthodoxy one school of thought is often referred to, which is specifically recognized by a modern, enlightened point of view as particularly backward looking and hostile to reform. The reason for this is the fact that in the 19th century the Orthodox Church was considered the epitome of backwardness, which is why the term was loaded with this meaning. In this way, z. B. Orthodox Judaism the ascription orthodox . A more appropriate term to describe backwardness and hostility to reform would be e.g. B. Traditionalism or traditionalist .

Orthodoxy in Christianity

In Christianity , “orthodoxy” is originally the term for adhering to the trinity theological decision of the 1st Council of Nicaea (325) (“ homooúsios tô patrí” “being with the Father”) as opposed to the Arians . Then it denotes the commitment to the Christological dogma of the Council of Chalcedon (451). Only in the post-Reformation period did this mean the insistence on certain traditional doctrines , ideologies or modes of action , as opposed to movements of renewal :

In common parlance, Orthodoxy is understood to mean two large groups of churches:

  • Orthodox Churches - the churches of the Byzantine tradition, the head of honor of which is the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople;
  • Ancient oriental churches , i.e. the oriental churches which the (Byzantine) imperial church no longer regarded as "orthodox" since 451.

Orthodoxy in Judaism

Orthodox Judaism consists of the two main branches of neo-orthodox Judaism and ultra-orthodox Judaism . It is also called normative Judaism . The term orthodox Judaism was probably originally used in liberal Judaism in association with Christian orthodoxy to differentiate itself from those Jews who, despite the social changes of the Enlightenment, did not change their Jewish tradition . As early as the 19th century it was pointed out that the term orthopraxes Judaism (from the Greek orthos , right, and praxis , doing, acting) is more appropriate.

Orthodox Judaism sticks to the traditional roots of the entire Torah (Hebrew for "teaching") from written teaching ( Sefer Torah ) and oral teaching ( Talmud ). And it further developed these foundations in the subsequent works of rabbinic Judaism up to the present day in a way of its own, which was developed as a reaction to Reform Judaism since the 19th century. In Orthodox Judaism , the entire Torah is regarded as the authoritative word of God, but its interpretation is developed and increasingly unfolded over time. The authority of the Torah is formative for the orthodox Jewish life, which is understood as a holistic worship service and is filled with child-rearing, Torah study, praising God, prayer and ritual keeping the person and the family clean . Of all currents in Judaism, Orthodox Judaism is the least homogeneous.

Orthodoxy in Islam

The term orthodoxy , in relation to Islam, is used differently or rejected entirely. Sometimes the term is used to contrast a scriptural form of Islam, including the Qur'an , Hadith , prophets and sacred narratives, and Sharia , with popular belief . Often, Sunni Islam , which is the predominant religion in Islam, is viewed as the orthodox form of Islam. However, this definition is associated with difficulties: On the one hand, it is too narrow, because the Shiite form of Islam also shows characteristics of an orthodox religion and the separation between Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam has often been without clear boundaries in the course of history. There has always been a strong awareness among Sunnis and Shiites that the other religion belongs to Islam. On the other hand, the Sunni beliefs include local folk ideas that go beyond definitive dogmatic norms. Sunni Islam develops discursively without definitive norms, which contradicts the meaning of the term "orthodox". On the other hand, attempts are made to limit orthodoxy to a closed definition within Sunni Islam, such as the four Sunni schools of law ( madhhab ) ( Hanafis , Hanbalites , Malikites and Shafiites ). Another division distinguishes between the three Sunni theological schools of Islam ( Ashʿarīya , Māturīdīya and Atariya ).

Other meanings

Other meanings include:


  • John B. Henderson: The Construction of Orthodoxy and Heresy: Neo-Confucian, Islamic, Jewish, and Early Christian Patterns, SUNY Press 1998.
  • Robert Langer & Udo Simon Dynamics of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy. Dealing with Divergence in Muslim Discourses and Islamic Studies Die Welt des Islams 48 (2008) 273-288 BRILL

Web links

Wiktionary: orthodox  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Walter A. Elwell: Evangelical Dictionary of Theology Baker Academic 2001. Orthodoxy . P. 875.
  2. Ian Richard Netton: Islam, Christianity and Tradition: A Comparative Exploration: A Comparative Exploration Edinburgh University Press, 2006. p.46: 'Orthodoxy' is a notoriously slippery term. [...] For the lexicographer, the definition of 'orthodox' can be equally lacking in final, concise and monovalent definition .
  3. Donald K. McKim: The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms 2nd revised edition, 2014. orthodox . P. 223
  4. ^ John B. Henderson: The Construction of Orthodoxy and Heresy: Neo-Confucian, Islamic, Jewish, and Early Christian Patterns, SUNY Press 1998, p. 85
  5. Irving Hexham: Pocket Dictionary of New Religious Movements: Over 400 Groups, Individuals & Ideas Clearly and Concisely Defined. InterVarsity Press, 2009. orthodoxy . P. 85
  6. ^ Sol Steinmetz: Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms Orthodox, p. 132
  7. ^ Adele Berlin: The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion Orthodoxy p. 549
  8. See e.g. B. Susi Hausammann: Paths and wrong ways to church unity in the light of the Orthodox tradition. V&R unipress GmbH, 2005, p. 185
  9. See e.g. B. Stephan Conermann: Traditionalism , Federal Agency for Civic Education, from: Ralf Elger (Ed.): Kleines Islam-Lexikon. History - everyday life - culture . CH Beck, Munich, 5th, updated and expanded edition 2008.
  10. a b c "The word 'orthodox' means 'orthodox'. It describes those Jews who, despite the Enlightenment and social changes after emancipation, did not change their beliefs and customs. (...) The term came in 19th century and was probably used in a polemical way by the supporters of the reform movement (...) It is rightly pointed out that for Orthodox Jews the focus is less on 'orthodoxy' than on the correct way of observing the mitzvot So it is better to speak of 'orthopraxis' or the 'movement of the right practitioner'. " Gilbert S. Rosenthal, Walter Homolka: "Judaism has many faces - The religious currents of the present", pp. 144ff .; Gütersloh publishing house, Gütersloh, 2000.
  11. Riza Yildirim, "Sunni Orthodoxy vs Shia heterodoxy?" Ashgate Publishing p. 306
  12. John B. Henderson: The Construction of Orthodoxy and Heresy: Neo-Confucian, Islamic, Jewish, and Early Christian Patterns, SUNY Press 1998. pp. 99 f.