ialmisry and ozgeorge:
Just to clarify--which church do you mean by the "Orthodox Church?"
The Orthodox Church:EO, OO and WRO.
Thank you Prodromas. That's what I would think, except I am trying to understand how not calling that empire "Roman" would discredit the OO Church. But then I'm not a history buff.
Simple. The empire falls in the West, so obviously those in the East can't be united because they don't possess the unity of THE capital Rome. Without her staying hand the provinces in the East reverted to the squabbling, between the Byzantines (read EO, Constantinople), the Copts (read Alexandria), the Syrians (read Antioch) and the federati/allies (read Armenia, Georgia, Ethiopia, etc). This helps downplay the Dark Ages (Dark only in the West) and ignores the suppression of the Celtic, Mozarabic, Gallican (actually, much of it self-inflicted), and Ambrosian rites/churches by Rome.
In other words, the EO are not united, the OO are not united, and the EO and the OO are not united and they need to be united through Rome, i.e. Old Rome. Just read Fr. Ryland's articles on the Orthodox: portrays us as a bunch of preschoolers that the teacher has to attend to. Actual case in point: they have three patriarchates of Antioch (Maronite, Melkite, Syriac) overlapping, with three separate patriarchs of Antioch. As far as I know (correct me if I am wrong) there is no connection between the three except submission to Rome. This would be odd in Orthodoxy (witness the metochia) of adjoining patriarchates, let alone those inhabiting the same place.
Fowden has a book "From Empire to Commonwealth: the implications of Monotheism in Late Antiquity" which talks about the connection between the idea of the Roman empire and its universalist claims and the implications for the OO: in brief the OO, although separated in politics (though the Armenians played a LARGE role in East Rome's history, especially 8-11 centuries.) and religion, none the less operate in the universe of Rome, as opposed to say, Zororastrian Iran, which Armenia was part of, yet alien. Treadgold (and others like Mango), speak of how the Church for the first time united the empire, changing it from just a motley of subjects under an emperor, to a society whose members saw themselves as a body politique (e.g. see Treadgold "A History of the Byzantine [sic] State and Society").
The Copts, Syriacs and (at least part) the Armenians were part and parcel of that body (the Armenians would play a large part in East Roman history, particularly in the Macedonian Renaissance, whose dynasty was of Armenian origin), the OO Arabs were supported outside the empire by the empire (versus the Nestorians), Nubia and Ethiopia were allied.
Now, if the Eastern Roman Empire is not the contiuation of the empire in which the Church arose, but a successor state (like the Franks), then the Copts, Syrians and Armenians that were part of that Eastern Roman empire are distinguished from their forebears who were part of the Roman Empire. And if such a thing is comtemplated, then the claim ir rendered plausible that the Copts, Syrians, Armenians, Greeks etc. only entered the patrimony of the ancient Church when they "rentered Catholic unity," i.e. submitted to Rome, which is portrayed as the only link to that ancient church and society. In effect, it makes the role of Rome over the Copts, Syriacs and Armenians (and Greeks) the same as her role in bringing the Visigoths (i.e. Spain), Franks (i.e. France and Germany).
"May as well be all the same" to those west of the Balkans at that time.
Fowden characterizes the Balkans (read Slavic nations) as the "Second Byzantine Commonwealth" (versus the First one of Armenia, Syria, Egypt and Ethiopia). Yes, those in the West want to see it as the same thing, and this also effects the view of the OO. All the OO (leaving aside the Mar Thoma for the present discussion) were part of the Roman empire, mostly directly, the Armenians partly indirectly (as Armenia was partitioned). The Slavs can claim no such antiquity, they received their Church and civilization from New Rome later.
Now, if New Rome was not the same Roman empire, then the Slavs did not receive the a direct link to the early Church and society. Rather they received it second hand. And if New Rome was second hand, so are those cultures of the OO, as the same views discrediting of the ties of New Rome to Old Rome also serve to discredit the connection of the OO to their forebears: e.g. Armenia of the Bagratunids can't claim a connection to that of the Arsacids, if a discontinuity is allowed between the Constantinople of the Roman emperor (and so named by all) Constantine and that of, say, the Macedonian dynasty.
And if that is so, then the OO are not in any closer relationship to the early Church, but are on the same level as the medieval slavic patriarchates. And if their pedigree begins in the Middle Ages, then they have to get connected to the early Church through that only link, the pontifex maximus at (Old) Rome.
True. All those easterners are the same, you know.
This shows up in the distinction between the West (almost entirely Roman rite, but a few Mozarabic, and an actual viable Ambrosian rite) and the East in Rome's canon law codes, etc. where the dicodomy West/East homogenizes the Eastern ChurchES as la meme chose. Also in the mistaken notion that the EP is an Eastern Pope.