ORTHODOX EASTERN CHURCH (frequently spoken of as “the Greek Church,” and described officially as “The Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Eastern Church”), the historical representative of the churches of the ancient East. It consists Origins of the Greek or Eastern Church. of (a) those churches which have accepted all the decrees of the first seven general councils, and have remained in full communion with one another, (b) such churches as have derived their origin from these by missionary activity, or by abscission without loss of communion. The Eastern Church is both the source and background of the Western. Christianity arose in the East, and Greek was the language of the Scriptures and early services of the church, but when Latin Christianity established itself in Europe and Africa, and when the old Roman empire fell in two, and the eastern half became separate in government, interests and ideas from the western, the term Greek or Eastern Church acquired gradually a fixed meaning. It denoted the church which included the patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Constantinople, and their dependencies. The ecclesiastical division of the early church, at least within the empire, was based upon the civil. Constantine introduced a new partition of the empire into dioceses, and the church adopted a similar division. The bishop of the chief city in each diocese naturally rose to a pre-eminence, and was commonly called exarch—a title borrowed from the civil jurisdiction. In process of time the common title patriarch was restricted to the most eminent of these exarchs, and councils decided who were worthy of the dignity. The council of Nicaea recognized three patriarchs—the bishops of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. To these were afterwards added the bishops of Constantinople and Jerusalem. When the empire was divided, there was one patriarch in the West, the bishop of Rome, while in the East there were at first two, then four and latterly five. This geographical fact has had a great deal to do in determining the character of the Eastern Church. It is not a despotic monarchy governed from one centre and by a monarch in whom plenitude of power resides. It is an oligarchy of patriarchs. It is based, of course, on the great body of bishops; but episcopal rule, through the various grades of metropolitan, primate, exarch, attains to sovereignty only in the five patriarchal thrones. Each patriarch is, within his diocese, what the Galilean theory makes the pope in the universal church. He is supreme, and not amenable to any of his brother patriarchs, but is within the jurisdiction of an ecumenical synod. This makes the Eastern Church quite distinct in government and traditions of polity from the Western. It has ever been the policy of Rome to efface national distinctions, but under the shadow of the Eastern Church national churches have grown and flourished. Revolts against Rome have always implied a repudiation of the ruling principles of the papal system; but the schismatic churches of the East have always reproduced the ecclesiastical polity of the church from which they seceded.
The Greek Church, like the Roman, soon spread far beyond the imperial dioceses which at first fixed its boundaries, but it The barbarian invasions in West and East. was far less successful than the Roman in preserving its conquests for Christianity. This was due in the main to the differing quality of the forces by which the area covered by the two churches was respectively invaded. The northern barbarians by whom the Western empire was overrun had long stood in awe of the power and the civilization of Rome, which they recognized as superior; the conquerors were thus predisposed to enter into the heritage of the law and the religion of the conquered empire and, whether they were pagans or Arian heretics, became in the end Catholic Christians. In the East it was otherwise. The empire maintained itself long, and died hard; but its decline and fall meant not only the overthrow of the emperors of the East, but largely that of the civilization and Christianity which they represented. The Arabs, and after them the Turks, attacked the empire as the armed missionaries of what they regarded as a superior religion; Christianity survived in the vast territories they conquered only as a despised and tolerated superstition, its ecclesiastical organization only as a convenient mechanism for governing a subject and tributary population. It is true that the Eastern Church made up in some sort for her losses by missionary conquests elsewhere. Greek Christianity became the religion of the Slavs as Latin Christianity became that of the Germans; but the Orthodox Church never conquered her conquerors, and the historian is too apt to enlarge on her past glories and forget her present strength.
Early History.—The early history of the Eastern Church is outlined in the article Church History. Here it is proposed only to give in somewhat more detail the causes of division which led (1) to the formation of the schismatic churches of the East, and (2) to the open rupture with Latin Christianity.
The great dogmatic work of the Eastern Church was the definition of that portion of the creed of Christendom which Controversies and schisms. concerns theology proper—the doctrines of the essential nature of the Godhead, and the doctrine of the Godhead in relation with manhood in the incarnation, while it fell to the Western Church to define anthropology, or the doctrine of man's nature and needs. The controversies which concern us are all related to the person of Christ, the Theanthropos, for they alone are represented in the schismatic churches of the East. These controversies will be best described by reference to the ecumenical councils of the ancient and undivided church.
All the churches of the East, schismatic as well as orthodox, accept unreservedly the decrees of the first two councils. The schismatic churches protest against the additions made to the creeds of Nicaea and Constantinople by succeeding councils. The Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan creed declared that Christ was consubstantial (ὁμοούσιος) with the Father, and that He had become man (ἐνανθρωπήσας). Disputes arose when theologians tried to explain the latter phrase. These differences took two separate and extreme types, the one of which forcibly separated the two natures so as to deny anything like a real union, while the other insisted upon a mixture of the two, or an absorption of the human in the divine. The former was the creed of Chaldaea and the latter the creed of Egypt; Chaldaea was the home of Nestorianism, Egypt the land of Monophysitism. The Nestorians accept the decisions of the first two councils, and reject the decrees of all the rest as unwarranted alterations of the creed of Nicaea. The Monophysites accept the first three councils, but reject the decree of Chalcedon and all that come after it.
The council of Ephesus (a.d. 431), the third ecumenical, had insisted upon applying the term Theotokos to the Virgin Mary, and this was repeated in the symbol of Chalcedon, which says that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, “according to the manhood.” The same symbol also declares that Christ is “to be acknowledged in two natures . . . indivisibly and inseparably.” Hence the Nestorians, who insisted upon the duality of the natures to such a degree as to lose sight of the unity of the person, and who rejected the term Theotokos, repudiated the decrees both of Ephesus and of Chalcedon, and upon the promulgation of the decrees of Chalcedon formally separated from the church. Nestorianism had sprung from an exaggeration of the theology of the school of Antioch, and the schism weakened that patriarchate and its dependencies. It took root in Chaldaea, and became very powerful. No small part of the literature and science of the Mahommedan Arabs came from Nestorian teachers, and Nestorian Christianity spread far and wide through Asia (see Nestorius and Nestorians).
The council of Chalcedon (451), the fourth ecumenical, declared that Christ is to be acknowledged “in two natures—unconfusedly, unchangeably,” and therefore decided against the opinions of all who either believed that the divinity is the sole nature of Christ, or who, rejecting this, taught only one composite nature of Christ (one nature and one person, instead of two natures and one person). The advocates of the one nature theory were called Monophysites (q.v.), and they gave rise to numerous sects, and to at least three separate national churches—the Jacobites of Syria, the Copts of Egypt and the Abyssinian Church, which are treated under separate headings.
The decisions of Chalcedon, which were the occasion of the formation of all these sects outside, did not put an end to Christological controversy inside the Orthodox Greek Church. The most prominent question which emerged in attempting to define further the person of Christ was whether the will belonged to the nature or the person, or, as it came to be stated, whether Christ had two wills or only one. The church in the sixth ecumenical council at Constantinople (680) declared that Christ had two wills. The Monothelites (q.v.) refused to submit, and the result was the formation of another schismatic church—the Maronite Church of the Lebanon range. The Maronites, however, were reconciled to Rome in the 12th century, and are reckoned as Roman Catholics of the Oriental Rite.
Later History.—The relation of the Byzantine Church to the Roman may be described as one of growing estrangement from Conflict with Rome. the 5th to the 11th century, and a series of abortive attempts at reconciliation since the latter date. The estrangement and final rupture may be traced to the increasing claims of the Roman bishops and to Western innovations in practice and in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by an alteration of creed. In the early church three bishops stood forth prominently, principally from the political eminence of the cities in which they ruled—the bishops of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. The transfer of the seat of empire from Rome to Constantinople gave the bishops of Rome a possible rival in the patriarch of Constantinople, but the absence of an overawing court and of meddling statesmen did more than recoup the loss to the head of the Roman Church. The theological calmness of the West, amid the violent theological disputes which troubled the Eastern patriarchates, and the statesmanlike wisdom of Rome's greater bishops, combined to give a unique position to the pope, which councils in vain strove to shake, and which in time of difficulty the Eastern patriarchs were fain to acknowledge and make use of, however they might protest against it and the conclusions deduced from it. But this pre-eminence, or rather the Roman idea of what was involved in it, was never acknowledged in the East; to press it upon the Eastern patriarchs was to prepare the way for separation, to insist upon it in times of irritation was to cause a schism. The theological genius of the East was different from that of the West. The Eastern theology had its roots in Greek philosophy, while a great deal of Western theology was based on Roman law. The Greek fathers succeeded the Sophists, the Latin theologians succeeded the Roman advocates (Stanley's Eastern Church, ch. i.). This gave rise to misunderstandings, and at last led to two widely separate ways of regarding and defining one important doctrine—the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father or from the Father and the Son. Political jealousies and interests intensified the disputes, and at last, after many premonitory symptoms, the final break came in 1054, when Pope Leo IX. smote Michael Cerularius and the whole of the Eastern Church with an excommunication. There had been mutual excommunications before, but they had not resulted in permanent schisms. Now, however, the separation was final, and the ostensible cause of its finality was the introduction by the Latins of two words Filioque into the creed. It is this addition which was and which still remains the permanent cause of separation. Ffoulkes has pointed out in his second volume (ch. 1-3) that there was a resumption of intercourse more than once between Rome and Constantinople after 1054, and that the overbearing character of the Norman crusaders, and finally the horrors of the sack of Constantinople in the fourth crusade (1204), were the real causes of the permanent estrangement. It is undeniable, however, that the Filioque question has always come The “Filioque” controversy. up to bar the way in any subsequent attempts at intercommunion. The theological question involved is a very small one, but it brings out clearly the opposing characteristics of Eastern and Western theology, and so has acquired an importance far beyond its own worth. The question is really one about the relations subsisting between the persons of the Trinity and their hypostatical properties. The Western Church affirms that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from” the Father and from the Son. It believes that the Spirit of the Father must be the Spirit of the Son also. Such a theory seems alone able to satisfy the practical instincts of the West, which did not concern itself with the metaphysical aspect of the Trinity, but with Godhead in its relation to redeemed humanity. The Eastern Church affirms that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father only, and takes its stand on John XV. 26. The Eastern theologian thinks that the Western double procession degrades the Deity and destroys the perfection of the Trinity. The double procession, in his eyes, means two active principles (αἰτίαι) in the Deity, and it means also that there is a confusion between the hypostatical properties; a property possessed by the Father and distinctive of the First Person is attributed also to the Second. This is the theological, and there is conjoined with it an historical and moral dispute. The Easterns allege that the addition of the words Filioque was made, not only without authority, and therefore unwarrantably, but also for the purpose of forcing a rupture between East and West in the interests of the barbarian empire of the West.
Attempts at reconciliation were made from time to time afterwards, but were always wrecked on the two points of papal Attempts at reunion. supremacy, when it meant the right to impose Western usages upon the East, and of the addition to the creed. First there was the negotiation between Pope Gregory IX. (1227-1241) and Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople. The Roman conditions were practically recognition of papal jurisdiction, the use of unleavened bread and permission to omit Filioque if all books written against the Western doctrine were burnt. The patriarch refused the terms. Then, later in the 13th century, came negotiations under Innocent IV. and Clement IV., in which the popes proposed the same conditions as Gregory IX., with additions. These proposals were rejected by the Easterns, who regarded them as attempts to enforce new creeds on their church.
The negotiations at the council of Lyons (1274) were, strictly speaking, between the pope and the Byzantine emperor, and were more political than ecclesiastical. Michael Palaeologus ruled in Constantinople while Baldwin II., the last of the Latin emperors, was an exile in Europe. Palaeologus wished the pope to acknowledge his title to be emperor of the East, and in return promised submission to the papal supremacy and the union of the two churches on the pope's own terms. This enforced union lasted only during the lifetime of the emperor. The only other attempt at union which requires to be mentioned is that made at the council of Florence. It was really suggested by the political weakness of the Byzantine empire and the dread of the approach of the Turks. John Palaeologus the emperor, Joseph the patriarch of Constantinople, and several Eastern bishops came to Italy and appeared at the council of Florence—the papal council, the rival of the council of Basel. As on former occasions the representatives of the East were at first deceived by false representations; they were betrayed into recognition of papal supremacy, and tricked into signing what could afterwards be represented as a submission to Western doctrine. The natural consequences followed—a repudiation of what had been done; and the Eastern bishops on their way home took care to make emphatic their ritualistic differences from Rome. Soon after came the fall of Constantinople, and with this event an end to the political reasons for the submission of the Orthodox clergy. Rome's schemes for a union which meant an unconditional submission on the part of the Orthodox Church did not cease, however, but they were no longer attempted on a grand scale. Jesuit missionaries after the Reformation stirred up schisms in some parts of the Eastern Church, and in Austria, Poland and elsewhere large numbers of Orthodox Christians submitted, either willingly or under compulsion to the see of Rome (see Roman Catholic Church, section Uniat Oriental Churches).
Doctrines and Creeds.—The Eastern Church has no creeds in the modern Western use of the word, no normative summaries of what must be believed. It has preserved the older idea that a creed is an adoring confession of the church engaged in worship; and, when occasion called for more, the belief of the church was expressed more by way of public testimony than in symbolical books. Still the doctrines of the church can be gathered from these confessions of faith. The Eastern creeds may thus be roughly placed in two classes—the oecumenical creeds of the early undivided church, and later testimonies defining the position of the Orthodox Church of the East with regard to the belief of the Roman Catholic and of Protestant Churches. These testimonies were called forth mainly by the protest of Greek theologians against Jesuitism on the one hand, and against the reforming tendencies of the patriarch Cyril Lucaris on the other. The Orthodox Greek Church adopts the doctrinal decisions of the seven oecumenical councils, together with the canons of the Concilium Quinisextum or second Trullan council (692); and they further hold that all these definitions and canons are simply explanations and enforcements of the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan creed and the decrees of the first council of Nicaea. The first four councils settled the orthodox faith on the doctrines of the Trinity and of the Incarnation; the fifth supplemented the decisions of the first four. The sixth declared against Monothelitism; the seventh sanctioned the worship (δουλεία, not ἁληθινὴ λατρεία) of images; the council held in the Trullus (a saloon in the palace at Constantinople) supplemented by canons of discipline the doctrinal decrees of the fifth and sixth councils.
The Reformation of the 16th century was not without effect on the Eastern Church. Some of the Reformers, notably The Reformation and the Orthodox Church. Melanchthon, expected to effect a reunion of Christendom by means of the Easterns, cherishing the same hopes as the modern Old Catholic divines and their English sympathizers. Melanchthon himself sent a Greek translation of the Augsburg Confession to Joasaph, patriarch of Constantinople, and some years afterwards Jacob Andreae and Martin Crusius began a correspondence with Jeremiah, patriarch of Constantinople, in which they asked an official expression of his opinions about Lutheran doctrine. The result was that Jeremiah answered in his Censura Orientalis Ecclesiae condemning the distinctive principles of Lutheranism.
The reformatory movement of Cyrillos Lucaris (q.v.), patriarch of Constantinople (1621), brought the Greek Church face to face with Reformation theology. Cyril conceived the plan of reforming the Eastern Church by bringing its doctrines into harmony with those of Calvinism, and by sending able young Greek theologians to Switzerland, Holland and England to study Protestant theology. His scheme of reform was opposed chiefly by the intrigues of the Jesuits, who in the end brought about his death. The church anathematized his doctrines, and in its later testimonies repudiated his confession on the one hand and Jesuit ideas on the other. The most important of these testimonies are (1) the Orthodox confession or catechism of Peter Mogilas, confirmed by the Eastern patriarchs and by the synod of Jerusalem (1643), and (2) the decree of the synod of Jerusalem or the confession of Dositheus (1672). Besides these, the catechisms of the Russian Church should be consulted, especially the catechism of Philaret, which since 1839 has been used in all the churches and schools in Russia. Founding on these doctrinal sources the teaching of the Orthodox Eastern Church is:—
Christianity is a Divine revelation communicated to mankind through Christ; its saving truths are to be learned from the Comparison of Orthodox, Roman and Protestant doctrine. Bible and tradition, the former having been written, and the latter maintained uncorrupted through the influence of the Holy Spirit; the interpretation of the Bible belongs to the Church, which is taught by the Holy Spirit, but every believer may read the Scriptures.
According to the Christian revelation, God is a Trinity, that is, the Divine Essence exists in Three Persons, perfectly equal in nature and dignity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father only. Besides the Triune God there is no other object of divine worship, but homage (ὑπερδουλία) may be paid to the Virgin Mary, and reverence (δουλία) to the saints and to their pictures and relics.
Man is born with a corrupt bias which was not his at creation; the first man, when created, possessed immortality, perfect wisdom, and a will regulated by reason. Through the first sin Adam and hcs posterity lost immortality, and his will received a bias towards evil. In this natural state man, who even before he actually sins is a sinner before God by original or inherited sin, commits manifold actual transgressions; but he is not absolutely without power of will towards good, and is not always doing evil.
Christ, the Son of God, became man in two natures, which internally and inseparably united make One Person, and, according to the eternal purpose of God, has obtained for man reconciliation with God, and eternal life, inasmuch as He by His vicarious death has made satisfaction to God for the world's sins, and this satisfaction was perfectly commensurate with the sins of the world. Man is made partaker of reconciliation in spiritual regeneration, which he attains to, being led and kept by the Holy Ghost. This divine help is offered to all men without distinction, and may be rejected. In order to attain to salvation, man is justified, and when so justified can do no more than the commands of God. He may fall from a state of grace through mortal sin.
Regeneration is offered by the word of God and in the sacraments, which under visible signs communicate God's invisible grace to Christians when administered cum intentione. There are seven mysteries or sacraments. Baptism entirely destroys original sin. In the Eucharist the true body and blood of Christ are substantially present, and the elements are changed into the substance of Christ, whose body and blood are corporeally partaken of by communicants. All Christians should receive the bread and the wine. The Eucharist is also an expiatory sacrifice. The new birth when lost may be restored through repentance, which is not merely (1) sincere sorrow, but also (2) confession of each individual sin to the priest, and (3) the discharge of penances imposed by the priest for the removal of the temporal punishment which may have been imposed by God and the Church. Penance accompanied by the judicial absolution of the priest makes a true sacrament.
The Church of Christ is the fellowship of all those who accept and profess all the articles of faith transmitted by the Apostles and approved by General Synods. Without this visible Church there is no salvation. It is under the abiding influence of the Holy Ghost, and therefore cannot err in matters of faith. Specially appointed persons are necessary in the service of the Church, and they form a threefold order, distinct jure divino from other Christians, of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. The four Patriarchs, of equal dignity, have the highest rank among the bishops, and the bishops united in a General Council represent the Church and infallibly decide, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, all matters of faith and ecclesiastical life. All ministers of Christ must be regularly called and appointed to their office, and are consecrated by the sacrament of orders. Bishops must be unmarried, and priests and deacons must not contract a second marriage. To all priests in common belongs, besides the preaching of the word, the administration of the six sacraments—baptism, confirmation, penance, eucharist, matrimony, unction of the sick. The bishops alone can administer the sacrament of orders.
Ecclesiastical ceremonies are part of the divine service; most of them have apostolic origin; and those connected with the sacrament must not be omitted by priests under pain of mortal sin.
Liturgy and Worship.—The ancient liturgies of the Eastern Church were very numerous, and have been frequently classified. J. M. Neale makes three divisions—the liturgy of Jerusalem or of St James, that of Alexandria or of St Mark, and that of Edessa or of St Thaddaeus; and Daniel substantially agrees with him. The same passion for uniformity which suppressed the Gallican and Mozarabic liturgies in the West led to the almost exclusive use of the liturgy of St James in the East. It is used in two forms, a shorter revised by Chrysostom, and a longer called the liturgy of St Basil. This liturgy and the service generally are either in Old Greek or in Old Slavonic, and frequent disputes have arisen in particular districts about the language to be employed. Both sacred languages differ from the language of the people, but it cannot be said that in the Eastern Church worship is conducted in an unknown tongue—“the actual difference,” says Neale, “may be about that between Chaucer's English and our own.” There are eleven chief service books, and no such compendium as the Roman breviary. Fasting is frequent and severe. Besides Wednesdays and Fridays, there are four fasting seasons, Lent, Pentecost to SS. Peter and Paul, August 1-15 preceding the Feast of the Sleep of the Theotokos, and the six weeks before Christmas. Indulgences are not recognized; an intermediate and purificatory state of the dead is held but not systematized into a doctrine of purgatory. The Virgin receives homage, but the dogma of her Immaculate Conception is not admitted. While ikons of the saints are found in the churches there is no “graven image” apart from the crucifix. There is plenty of singing but no instrumental music. Prayer is offered standing towards the East; at Pentecost, kneeling. The celebration of the Eucharist is an elaborate symbolical representation of the Passion. The consecrated bread is broken into the wine, and both elements are given together in a spoon.
The ritual generally is as magnificent as in the West, but of a more archaic type. (For the liturgical dress see Vestments and subsidiary articles.)
Monastic Life.—Monasticism is, as it has always been, an important feature in the Eastern Church. An Orthodox monastery is perhaps the most perfect extant relic of the 4th century. The simple idea that possesses the monks is that of fleeing the world; they have no distinctions of orders, and though they follow the rule of St Basil object to being called Basilians. A few monasteries (Mt Sinai and some on Lebanon) follow the rule of St Anthony. K. Lake in Early Days of Monasticism on Mount Athos (1909) traces the development through three well-defined stages in the 9th and 10th centuries—(a) the hermit period, (b) the loose organization of hermits in lauras, (c) the stricter rule of the monastery, with definite buildings and fixed rules under an ἡγούμενος or abbot. The monasteries now have taken over the name lauras. They are under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan; a few of the most important deal direct with the patriarch and are called Stauropegia. The convent on Mt Sinai is absolutely independent. Apart from hermits there are (1) κοινοβιακοί, monks who possess nothing, live and eat together, and have definite tasks given them by their superiors; (2) ἰδιορυθμακοί, monks who live apart from each other, each receiving from the monastery fuel, vegetables, cheese, wine and a little money. They only meet for the Divine Office and on great feasts, and are the real successors of the laura system. The most famous monasteries are those on Mount Athos; in 1902 there were twenty lauras with many dependent houses and 7522 monks there, mainly Russian and Greek. The monks are, for the most part, ignorant and unlettered, though in the dark days of Mahommedan persecution it was in the monasteries that Greek learning and the Greek nationality were largely preserved. Since priests must be married and bishops must not, only monks are eligible for appointment to bishoprics in the Eastern Church. See further, Monasticism.
The Branches of the Church.—In addition to the ancient churches which have separated themselves from the Orthodox faith, many have ceased to have an independent existence, owing either to the conquests of Islam or to their absorption by other churches. For example, the church of Mount Sinai may be regarded as all that survives of the ancient church of northern Arabia; the autocephalous Slavonic churches of Ipek and Okhrida, which derived their ultimate origin from the missions of Cyril and Methodius, were absorbed in the patriarchate of Constantinople in 1766 and 1767 respectively; and the Church of Georgia has been part of the Russian Church since 1801-1802. At the present day, then, the Orthodox Eastern Church consists of twelve mutually independent churches (or thirteen if we reckon the Bulgarian Church), using their own language in divine service (or some ancient form of it, as in Russia) and varying not a little in points of detail, but standing in full communion with one another, and united as equals in what has been described as one great ecclesiastical federation. However, in using such language it must be remembered that we are not dealing with bodies which were originally separated from one another and have now entered into fellowship, but with bodies which have grown naturally from a single origin and have not become estranged.
A. The Four Ancient Patriarchates
1. The Patriarchate of Constantinople or New Rome.—The ancient patriarchate of Constantinople included the imperial dioceses of Pontus, Asia, Thrace and Eastern Illyricum—i.e. speaking roughly, the greater part of Asia Minor, European Turkey, and Greece, with a small portion of Austria. The imperial diocese of Pontus was governed by the exarch of Caesarea, who ruled over thirteen metropolitans with more than 100 suffragans. Asia was governed by the exarch of Ephesus, who ruled over twelve metropolitans with more than 350 suffragan bishops. In Asia Minor the church maintains but a small remnant of her former greatness; in Europe it is otherwise. The old outlines, however, are effaced wherever the Christian races have emancipated themselves from the Turkish rule, and the national churches of Greece, Servia and Rumania have reorganized themselves on a new basis. Where the Turkish rule still prevails the church retains her old organization, but greatly impaired. Still, the Oecumenical Patriarch, as he has been called since early in the 6th century, is the most exalted ecclesiastic of the Eastern churches, and his influence reaches far outside the lands of the patriarchate. His jurisdiction extends over the dominions of the Sultan in Turkey, together with Asia Minor and the Turkish islands of the Aegean; there are eighty-two metropolitans under him, and the “monastic republic” of Mount Athos. He has great privileges and responsibilities as the recognized head of the Greek community in Turkey, and enjoys also many personal honours which have survived from the days of the Eastern emperors.
The patriarch under the old Ottoman system had his own court at Phanar, and his own prison, with a large civil jurisdiction over, and responsibility for, the Greek community. In ecclesiastical affairs he acts with two governing bodies—(a) a permanent Holy Synod (Ἱερὰ Σύνοδος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας Κωνςταντινουπόλεως), consisting of twelve metropolitans, six of whom are re-elected every year from the whole number of metropolitans, arranged in three classes according to a fixed cycle; (b) the Permanent National Mixed Council (Διαρκὲς Ἐθνικὸν Μικτὸν Συμβούλιον), a remarkable assembly, which is at once the source of great power by introducing a strong lay element into the administration, and of a certain amount of weakness by its liability to sudden changes of popular feeling. It consists of four metropolitans, members of the Holy Synod, and eight laymen. All of these are chosen by an electoral body, consisting of all the members of the Holy Synod and the National Mixed Council, and twenty-five representatives of the parishes of Constantinople. The election of the patriarch is also, to a considerable extent, popular. An electoral assembly is formed for the purpose consisting of the twelve members of the Holy Synod, the eight lay members of the National Mixed Council, twenty-eight representatives of as many dioceses (the remaining dioceses having only the right to nominate a candidate by letter), ten representatives of the parishes of Constantinople, ten representatives of all persons who possess political rank, ten representatives of the Christian trades of Constantinople, the two representatives of the secretariat of the patriarchate, and such metropolitans, to the number of ten but no more, as happen to be in Constantinople at the time for some canonical reason (παρεπιδημοῦντες). On the death or deposition of the patriarch, the Holy Synod and the National Mixed Council at once meet and elect a temporary substitute for the patriarch (Τοποτηρητής). Forty days afterwards the electoral assembly meets, under his presidency, and proceeds to make a list of twenty candidates (at the present day they must be metropolitans), who may be proposed either by the members of the electoral assembly or by any of the metropolitan of the patriarchate by letter. This list is sent to the sultan, who has by prescription the right to strike out five names. From the fifteen which remain the electoral assembly chooses three. These names are then submitted to the clerical members of the assembly, i.e. to the members of the Holy Synod and the παρεπιδημοῦντες who meet in church, and, after the usual service, make the final selection. The patriarch-elect is presented to the Porte, which thereupon grants the berat or diploma of investiture and several customary presents; after which the new ruler is enthroned. The patriarch has the assistance and support of a large household, a survival from Byzantine times. Amongst them, actually or potentially, are the grand steward (μέγας οἰκόνομος), who serves him as deacon in the liturgy and presents candidates for orders; the grand visitor (μέγας σακελλάριος), who superintends the monasteries; the sacristan (σκευοφύλαξ); the chancellor (χαρτοφύλαξ), who superintends ecclesiastical causes; the deputy visitor (ὁ τοῦ σακελλίου), who visits the nunneries; the protonotary (πρωτονοτάριος); the logothete (λογοθέτης), a most important lay officer, who represents the patriarch at the Porte and elsewhere outside; the censer-bearer, who seems to be also a kind of captain of the guard (κανστρίσιος or κανστρήνσιος); the referendary (ῥεφερενδάριος); the secretary (ὑπομνημογράφων); the chief syndic (πρωτέκδικος), who is a judge of lesser causes; the recorder (ἱερομνήμων); and so on, down to the cleaners of the lamps (λαμπαδάριοι), the attendant of the lights (περιεισερχόμενος), and the bearer of the images (βασταγάριος) and of the holy ointment (μυροδότης).
2. The Patriarchate of Alexandria, consisting of Egypt and its dependencies, was at one time the most powerful, as it was the most centralized, of all, and the patriarch still preserves his ancient titles of “pope” and “father of fathers, pastor of pastors, archpriest of archpriests, thirteenth apostle, and ecumenical judge.” But the secession of the greater part of his church to Monophysitism [Coptic Church], and the Mahommedan conquest of Egypt, have left him but the shadow of his former greatness; and at the present time he has only the bishop of Libya under him, and rules over some 20,000 people at the outside, most of whom are settlers from elsewhere.
3. The Patriarchate of Antioch has undergone most changes in extent of jurisdiction, arising from the transfer of sees to Jerusalem, from the progress of the schismatic churches of the East and from the conquests of the Mahommedans. At the height of his power the patriarch of Antioch ruled over 12 metropolitans and 250 suffragan bishops. In the time of the first crusade 153 still survived; now there are scarcely 20, 14 of which are metropolitan sees. The patriarch, though he is “father of fathers and pastor of pastors,” thus retains little of his old importance. His jurisdiction includes Cilicia, Syria (except Palestine) and Mesopotamia. Cyprus has been independent of Antioch since the council of Ephesus.
4. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem.—In the earlier period of the church, ecclesiastical followed civil divisions so closely that Jerusalem, in spite of the sacred associations connected with it, was merely an ordinary bishopric dependent on the metropolitan of Caesarea. Ambitious prelates had from time to time endeavoured to advance the pretensions of their see, but it was not until the council of Chalcedon, in 451, that Jerusalem was made a patriarchate with jurisdiction over Palestine. From this time on to the inroad of the Saracens the patriarchate of Jerusalem was highly prosperous. It ruled over three metropolitans with eighty suffragans. The modern patriarch has under his jurisdiction 5 archbishops and 5 bishops. The chief importance of the patriarchate is derived from the position of Jerusalem as a place of pilgrimage.
B. The Nine National Churches
G. Finlay, in his History of Greece, has shown that there has been always a very close relation between the church and national life. Christianity from the first connected itself with the social organization of the people, and therefore in every province assumed the language and the usages of the locality. In this way it was able to command at once individual attachment and universal power. This feeling died down to some extent when Constantine made use of the church to consolidate his empire. But it revived under the persecution of the Arian emperors. The struggle against Arianism was not merely a struggle for orthodoxy. Athanasius was really at the head of a national Greek party resisting the domination of a Latin-speaking court. From this time onwards Greek patriotism and Greek orthodoxy have been almost convertible terms, and this led naturally to revolts against Greek supremacy in the days of Justinian and other emperors. Dean Stanley was probably correct when he described the heretical churches of the East as the ancient national churches of Egypt, Syria, and Armenia in revolt against supposed innovations in the earlier faith imposed on them by Greek supremacy. In the East, as in Scotland, the history of the church is the key to the history of the nation, and in the freedom of the church the Greek saw the freedom and supremacy of his race. For this very reason Orthodox Eastern Christians of alien race felt compelled to resist Greek domination by means of independent ecclesiastical organization, and the structure of the church rather favoured than interfered with the coexistence of separate national churches professing the same faith. Another circumstance favoured the creation of separate national churches. While the Greek empire lasted the emperors had a right of investiture on the election of a new patriarch, and this right was retained by the Turkish sultans after the conquest of Constantinople. The Russian people, for example, could not contemplate with calmness as the head of their church a bishop appointed by the hereditary enemy of their country. In this way the jealousies of race and the necessities of nations have produced various national churches which are independent or autocephalous and yet are one in doctrine.
1. The ancient Church of Cyprus (see Cyprus, Church of).
2. The Church of Mount Sinai, consisting of little more than the famous monastery of St Catherine, under an archbishop who frequently resides in Egypt. It has, however, a few branch houses (μετόχια) in Turkey and Greece. The archbishop is chosen, from a list of candidates submitted by the monks of St Catherine, by the patriarch of Jerusalem and his Synod; and the patriarch consecrates him.
3. The Hellenic Church.—The constitution of the Church of Modern Greece is the result of the peculiar position of the patriarch of Constantinople. The war of liberation was sympathized in, not merely by the inhabitants of Greece, but by all the Greek-speaking Christians in the East. But the patriarch was in the hands of the Turks; he had been appointed by the sultan, and he was compelled by the Turkish authorities to ban the movement for freedom. When the Greeks achieved independence they refused to be subject ecclesiastically to a patriarch who was nominated by the sultan (June 9, 1828); and, to add to their difficulties, there were in the country twenty-two bishops who had been consecrated by the patriarch, twelve bishops who had been consecrated irregularly during the war, and about twenty bishops who had been deprived of their sees during the troubles—i.e. fifty-three bishops claimed to be provided for. In these circumstances the government and people resolved that there should be ten diocesan bishops and forty additional provisional sees. They also resolved that the church should be governed after the fashion of the Russian Church by a synod; and they decreed that the king of Greece was to be head of the church. All these ideas were carried out with some modifications, and gradually. The patriarch of Constantinople in 1850 acknowledged the independence of the church, which gradually grew to be more independent of the state. By the Greek constitution of 16th/28th November 1864 “the Orthodox Church of Greece remains indissolubly united, as regards dogmas, to the great Church of Constantinople, and to every other church professing the same doctrines, and, like these churches, it preserves in their integrity the apostolical constitutions and those of the councils of the Church, together with the holy traditions; it is αὐτοκέφαλος, it exercises its sovereign rights independently of every other church, and it is governed by a synod of bishops.”
4. The Servian Church.—After the suppression of the Church of Ipek in 1766 Servia became ecclesiastically subject to Constantinople; but in 1830 the sultan permitted the Serbs to elect a patriarch (as a matter of fact he is merely styled metropolitan), subject to the confirmation of the patriarch of Constantinople. Eight years later the seat of ecclesiastical government was fixed at Belgrade; and when Servia gained its independence its church became autocephalous.
5. The Rumanian Church.—The fall of the church of Okhrida in 1767 had made Moldavia and Wallachia ecclesiastically subject to Constantinople. On the union of the two principalities under Alexander Couza (December 1861) the Church was declared autocephalous under a metropolitan at Bucharest; and the fact was recognized by the patriarchs, as it was in the case of Servia, after the treaty of Berlin had guaranteed their independence.
6. The Church of Montenegro has from early times been independent under its bishops, who from 1516 to 1851 were also the temporal rulers, under the title of Vladikas, or prince-bishops.
7. The Orthodox Church in Austria-Hungary, which, however, really consists of four independent sections: the Servians of Hungary and Croatia, under the patriarch of Karlowitz; the Rumanians of Transylvania, under the archbishop of Hermannstadt; the Ruthenians of Bukovina, under the metropolitan of Czernowitz; and the Serbs of Bosnia-Herzogovina, where there are four sees, that of Sarajevo holding the primacy.
8. The Russian Church dates from 992, when Prince Vladimir and his people accepted Christianity. The metropolitan, who was subject to the patriarch of Constantinople, resided at Kiev on the Dnieper. During the Tatar invasion the metropolis was destroyed, and Vladimir became the ecclesiastical capital. In 1320 the metropolitans fixed their seat at Moscow. In 1582 Jeremiah, patriarch of Constantinople, raised Job, 46th metropolitan, to the patriarchal dignity; and the act was afterwards confirmed by a general council of the East. In this way the Russian Church became autocephalous, and its patriarch had immense power. In 1700 Peter the Great forbade the election of a new patriarch, and in 1721 he established the Holy Governing Synod to supply the place of the patriarch. This body now governs the Russian Church, and consists of a procurator representing the emperor, the metropolitan of Kiev, Moscow and St Petersburg, the exarch of Georgia and five or six other bishops appointed by the emperor. There are altogether some 90 bishops and about 40 auxiliary bishops called vicars. There are 481 monasteries for men and 249 convents of nuns. The Church of Georgia, which has existed from a very early period, and was dependent first on the patriarch of Antioch and then on the patriarch of Constantinople, has since 1802 been incorporated in the Russian Church. Its head, the archbishop of Tiflis, bears the title of exarch of Georgia, and has under him four suffragans. A petition was presented to the emperor by the Georgians in 1904 asking for the restoration of their church and their language, but nothing came of it.
9. The Bulgarian Church, unless indeed it be classed with the separated churches. It differs from the national churches already mentioned in that it had its origin in a revolt of Turkish subjects against the patriarchal authority. From the earliest times the Bulgarians had occupied an anomalous position on the borders of Eastern and Western Christendom, but they had ultimately become subject to Constantinople. The revival of Bulgarian national feeling near the middle of the 19th century led to a movement for religious independence, the leaders of which were the archimandrite Neophit Bozveli and the bishop Ilarion Mikhailovsky. The Porte espoused the cause of the Bulgarians, partly to pacify them, but still more to strengthen its hold on all the Christians of Turkey by fostering their differences. Ultimately, on 28th February 1870, the sultan issued a firman constituting a new church, including all Bulgarians who desired to join it within the vilayet of the Danube (i.e. the subsequently-formed principality of Bulgaria), and those of Adrianople, Salonica, Kossovo and Monastir (i.e. part of Macedonia, Eastern Rumelia and a tract farther south). The members of this Church were to constitute a millet or community, enjoying equal rights with the Greeks and Armenians; and its head, the Bulgarian exarch, was to reside at Constantinople. Naturally, this was resented by the patriarch Anthimus, who stigmatized the racial basis of the Bulgarian Church as the heresy of Phyletism. A local synod at Constantinople, in August 1872, pronounced it schismatical; Antioch, Alexandria and Greece followed suit; Jerusalem pronounced a modified condemnation; and the Servian and Rumanian churches avoided any definite expression of opinion. Russia was more favourable. It never actually acknowledged the Bulgarian Church, and Bulgarian prelates may not officiate publicly in Russian churches; on the other hand, the Holy Synod of Moscow refused to recognize the patriarch's condemnation, and Russian ecclesiastics have secretly supplied the Bulgarians with the holy oil. Above all, when Prince Boris, the heir-apparent of the principality, was received into the Bulgarian Church on 14th February 1896, the emperor of Russia was his godfather. The position is further complicated by the fact that many Bulgarians, both within and without the kingdom of Bulgaria, still remain subject to the patriarch. Nevertheless, the Bulgarian Church has made great headway both in Bulgaria itself and in Macedonia. The curious thing is that the Russian Church is in communion with both sides. The patriarch of Constantinople dares not excommunicate Russia, but the chief of its many grievances against that country is its patronage of the Bulgarian exarchate. The Bulgarians of course say they are not schismatics, but a national branch of the Church Catholic, using their sacred right to manage their own affairs in their own way. They have never excommunicated the Patriarchists. On the whole it seems likely that the patriarch will ultimately have to yield, in spite of the strong Greek feeling against the Bulgars.
Present Position of the Orthodox Church.—Although the signs of weakness which have characterized the past are still present, there are some indications of improvement. The encyclical on unity of Pope Leo XIII. (1895) called forth a reply from the patriarch Anthimus V. of Constantinople and his Synod, which was eminently learned, dignified and charitable. The theological school of the patriarchate, at Halkē, is not undistinguished, and the university of Athens has a good record. Whilst the parochial clergy are still as unlearned as ever, there are not a few amongst the higher clergy who are distinguished for their learning beyond the limits of their own communion: for example, the metropolitan Ph. Bryennios, who discovered and edited the Didachē; the archbishop N. Kalogeras, who discovered and edited the second part of the commentary of Euthymius Zigabenus (d. c. 1118) on the New Testament; the archimandrite D. Latas, author of a valuable work on Christian archaeology (Athens, 1883); and the logothete S. Aristarchi, who edited a valuable collection of 83 newly discovered homilies of the patriarch Photius. This was published in 1900 at the Phanar press, erected as a memorial to Theodore of Tarsus, archbishop of Canterbury, by Greek and English churchmen, which was set up by the patriarch Constantine V. in 1899. An authorized version of the Scriptures in ancient Greek is also one of the works undertaken by this institution. On the other hand, the attempt made in 1901 by the Holy Synod at Athens, with the co-operation of Queen Olga of Greece (a Russian princess), to circulate a modern Greek version of the Gospels was resented as a symptom of a Pan-Slavist conspiracy, and led to an ebullition of popular feeling which could only be pacified by the withdrawal of the obnoxious version and the abdication of the metropolitan of Athens. The patriarch Constantine V. was deposed on the 12th of April 1901, and was succeeded on the 28th of May by Joachim III. (and V.), who had previously occupied the patriarchal throne from 1878 to 1884, when he was deposed through the ill-will of the Porte and banished to Mount Athos. His re-election had therefore no little importance. His progressive sympathies, illustrated by his proposals to reform the monasteries and the calendar, to modify the four long fasts and to treat for union (especially with the Old Catholics), were not very well received, and in 1905 an attempt was made to depose him. The sultan Abd-ul-Hamid, to whom the different parties appealed, lectured them on charity and concord! The patriarch's great rival was Joachim of Ephesus. Undoubtedly the question of the most pressing importance with regard to the future of Eastern Christendom is the relation between Russia and Constantinople. The Oecumenical Patriarch is, of course, officially the superior; but the Russian Church is numerically by far the greatest, and the tendency to regard Russia as the head, not only of the Slav races, but of all orthodox nations, inevitably reacts upon the church in the form of what has been called pan-Orthodoxy. The Russian Church is the only one which is in a position to display any missionary activity. It has been a powerful factor in the development of several of the churches already spoken of, especially those of Servia and Montenegro, which are usually very much subject to Russian influences (Ῥωσσόφρονες or Ῥωσσώφιλοι). It has taken great interest in non-orthodox churches, such as those of Assyria, Abyssinia and Egypt. Above all, it has shown an increasing tendency to intervene in the affairs of the three lesser patriarchates.
In America the Russian archbishop, who resides in New York, has (on behalf of the Holy Synod) the oversight of some 152 Orthodox Church in America. churches and chapels in the United States, Alaska and Canada. He is assisted by two bishops, one for Alaska residing at Sitka, one for Orthodox Syrians residing in Brooklyn. There are 75 priests and 46,000 registered parishioners. The English language is increasingly used in the services. The increase of Orthodox communities has been very marked since 1888 owing to the immigration of Austrian Slavonians. Those of Greek nationality have churches in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Boston, Lowell (Massachusetts) and other places. If, as seemed likely in 1910, in addition to the Russian and Syrian bishops, Greek and Servian ones were appointed, an independent synod could be formed, and the bishops could elect their own metropolitan. The total number of “Orthodox” Christians in North America is estimated at 300,000. Many of them were Austrian and Hungarian Uniats, who, after emigrating, have shown a tendency to separate from Rome and return to the Eastern Confession. One reason for this tendency is the attempt of the Roman Church to deprive the Uniats in America of their married priests.
The Catholic reaction represented by the Oxford movement in the Church of England early raised the question of a possible The question of Anglian reunion. union between the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Into the history of the efforts to promote this end, which have never had any official sanction on the one side or the other, it is impossible to enter here. The obstacles would seem, indeed, to be insurmountable. From the point of view of Orthodoxy the English Church is schismatical, since it has seceded from the Roman patriarchate of the West, and doubly heretical, since it retains the obnoxious Filioque clause in the creed while rejecting many of the doctrines and practices held in common by Rome and the East; moreover, the Orthodox Church had never admitted the validity of AngUcan orders, while not denying it. Union would clearly only be possible in the improbable event of the English Church surrendering most of the characteristic gains of the Reformation in order to ally herself with a body, the traditions of which are almost wholly alien to her own. At the same time, especially as against the universal claims of the papacy, the two churches have many interests and principles in common, and efforts to find a modus vivendi have not been wanting on either side. The question of union was, for instance, more than once discussed at the unofficial conferences connected with the Old Catholic movement (see Old Catholics). These and other discussions could have no definite result, but they led to an increase of good feeling and of personal intercourse. Thus, on the coronation of the emperor Nicholas II. of Russia in 1895, Dr Creighton, bishop of Peterborough, as representative of the English Church, was treated with peculiar distinction, and the compliment of his visit was returned by the presence of a high dignitary of the Russian Church at the service at St Paul's in London on the occasion of Queen Victoria's “diamond” jubilee in 1897. In 1899 there was further an interchange of courtesies between the archbishop of Canterbury and Constantine V., patriarch of Constantinople. To promote the “brotherly feeling between the members of the two churches,” for which the patriarch expressed a desire, a committee was formed under the presidency of the Anglican bishop of Gibraltar.
On this question of reunion see A. Fortescue, The Orthodox Eastern Church, 257 sqq., 429 sqq.
Authorities.—For the origins of the Eastern Church and the early controversies see the authorities cited in the article Church History. For the Filioque controversy, J. G. Walch, Historia controversiae de Processu Spiritus Sancti (Jena, 1751); E. S. Foulkes, Historical Account of the Addition of Filioque to the Creed (London, 1867); C. Adams, Filioque (Edinburgh, 1884); W. Norden, Das Papsttum und Byzanz (Berlin, 1903); also P. Schaff's History of the Creeds of Christendom. The following are devoted specially to the history and condition of the Eastern Church: M. le Quien, Oriens Christianus (Paris, 1740); J. S. Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis (Rome, 1719-1728); A. P. Stanley's Eastern Church (1861); J. M. Neale, The Holy Eastern Church (General Introduction, 2 vols.; Patriarchate of Alexandria, 2 vols.; and, published posthumously in 1873, Patriarchate of Antioch). For liturgy, see H. A. Daniel, Codex Liturgicus Eccl. Univ. in epitomen redactus (4 vols., 1847-1855); Leo Allatius, De libris et rebus Eccles. Graecarum dissertationes; F. E. Brightman, Eastern Liturgies (Oxford, 1896). For hymnology see Daniel, Thesaurus Hymnologicus (4 vols.); Neale's translations of Eastern Hymns; B. Pick, Hymns and Poetry of the Eastern Church (New York, 1908).
See also J. Pargoire, L'Église Byzantine de 527 à 847 (Paris, 1905); I. Silbernagl, Verfassung u. gegenwärtiger Bestand sämtlicher Kirchen des Orients (1865; 2nd ed., Regensburg, 1904); W. F. Adeney, The Greek and Eastern Churches (Edinburgh, 1908); Adrian Fortescue, The Orthodox Eastern Church (London, 1907), with a full bibliography; F. G. Cole, Mother of All Churches (London, 1908); and M. Tamarati, L'Église Georgienne, des origines jusqu'à nos jours. An interesting estimate of the Orthodox Church is given by A. Harnack in What is Christianity? For the festivals of the Greek Church see Mary Hamilton, Greek Saints and their Festivals (1910).
- The Orthodox Eastern Church has always laid especial stress upon the unchanging tradition of the faith, and has claimed orthodoxy as its especial characteristic. The “Feast of Orthodoxy” (ἡ κυριακὴ τῆς ὀρθοδοξίας), celebrated annually on the first Sunday of the Greek Lent, was founded in honour of the restoration of the Holy Images to the churches after the downfall of Iconoclasm (February 19, 842); but it has gradually assumed a wider significance as the celebration of victory over all heresies, and is now one of the most characteristic festivals of the Eastern Church.
- After the words “and in the Holy Ghost” of the Apostles' Creed the Constantinopolitan creed added “who proceedeth from the Father.” The Roman Church, without the sanction of an oecumenical council and without consulting the Easterns, added “and the Son.” The addition was first made at Toledo (589) in I opposition to Arianism. The Easterns also resented the Roman enforcement of clerical celibacy, the limitation of the right of confirmation to the bishop and the use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist.
- This summary has been taken, with corrections, from G. B. Winer, Comparative Darstellung des Lehrbegriffs der verschiedenen Kirchenparteien (Leipzig, 1824, Eng. tr., Edin., 1873). Small capitals denote differences from Roman Catholic, italics differences from Protestant doctrine.
- The numbers have varied from time to time.
- H. Brailsford in Macedonia (London, 1906) brings a crushing indictment against the Patriarchist party.
- For a different opinion see A. Fortescue, The Orthodox Eastern Church, 435 sqq.