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THE EASTERN CHRISTIANITY PORTAL

Showcased Eastern Christian content

00058 christ pantocrator mosaic hagia sophia 656x800
Eastern Christianity refers collectively to the Christian traditions and churches which developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa and southern India over several centuries of religious antiquity. Eastern Christians have a shared tradition, but they became divided (SEE: SCHISM) during the early centuries of Christianity in disputes about christology and fundamental theology. In general terms, one can identify four branches or families of Eastern Christianity, each of which has distinct theology and dogma. They are: the Assyrian Church of the East, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Eastern Catholic Churches - the latter being in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

All of the Eastern branches, as well as the Western churches, share a common Christian tradition and most of the same Christian Biblical canon. The Eastern branches also share traditional practices in common which are not shared by the Western churches. The Eastern churches' differences from Western Christianity have as much, if not more, to do with culture, language, and politics as theology. The Assyrian Church of the East became estranged from the church of the Roman Empire in the years following the Council of Ephesus (431), Oriental Orthodoxy separated after the Council of Chalcedon (451), and the split between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church is usually dated to 1054. This event is referred to as the Great Schism.

Selected article

Estrangela
Aramaic is a group of Semitic languages with a 3,000-year history. It has been the language of administration of empires and the language of divine worship. It is the original language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, and is the main language of the Talmud. Aramaic was the native language of Jesus (see Aramaic of Jesus). Modern Aramaic is spoken today as a first language by numerous, scattered communities, most significantly by Assyrians, Syriacs, and Chaldeans. The language is considered to be endangered. Christian missionaries brought the language into Persia, India and even China. From the seventh century AD onwards, Aramaic was replaced as the lingua franca of the Middle East by Arabic. However, Aramaic remains a literary and liturgical language among Jews, Mandaeans and some Christians, and is still spoken by small isolated communities throughout its original area of influence. The turbulence of the last two centuries has seen speakers of first-language and literary Aramaic dispersed throughout the world.

Selected picture

Ivan the Terrible and Harsey
Credit: Alexander Litovchenko

Tsar Ivan IV of Russia demonstrates his treasures to an ambassador. The Tsar had St. Basil's Cathedral constructed in Moscow to commemorate the seizure of Kazan.

Did you know...

Chinese Martirs

  • ...that the Chinese government had no objections when the Eastern Orthodox Church canonized Metrophanes, Chi Sung and other martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion, but did object to canonizations by the Roman Catholic Church?
  • ...that Martha, the mother of Simeon Stylites, is said to have only consented to marriage after John the Baptist appeared to her telling her to do so?
  • ...that Anthony of Kiev left his Kiev Monastery of the Caves when it gained 12 members because he felt it was too crowded?
  • Selected biography

    Saint Yaropolk
    Yaropolk Izyaslavich (died 1087) was a Knyaz (prince) in eleventh-century Kievan Rus. The son of Grand Prince Izyaslav Yaroslavich by a Polish princess named Gertruda, he is visible in papal sources by the early 1070s but largely absent in contemporary Rus'ian sources until the year of his father's death, 1078. During his father's exile in the 1070s, Yaropolk can be found acting on his father's behalf in an attempt to gain the favor of the German emperors and the court of Pope Gregory VII. Yaropolk followed his father when the latter returned to Kiev in 1077.

    After his father's death in the folloing year, 1078, Yaropolk was appointed Prince of Vladimir-in-Volhynia and Prince of Turov by the new Grand Prince, his uncle Vsevolod. By 1085 however, Yaropolk had fallen into a state of enmity with the Grand Prince and by extension the Grand Prince's son Vladimir Monomakh, forcing him to flee from his principality to his mother's homeland, Poland. He returned in the following year, but was soon murdered. He was remembered in Rus'ian sources as extremely pious and generous to the church, and is recognized as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He was said to have left all his wealth to the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. The Primary Chronicle's eulogy is the first indication of saintly regard, and indeed today he is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, with his feast day falling on the reported day of his death, November 22.

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