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Author Topic: Georgian Orthodox Church (Oriental to Eastern)  (Read 3268 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 15, 2009, 06:15:08 AM »

I hope I'm posting this in the right place.  If not, I'm sorry and feel free to move it.

I heard somewhere on this forum that some time around the 6th century the Georgian Orthodox Church was for a period of about 100 years OO and then became EO.  Does anybody know the circumstances surrounding this- such as why the switch and how it was actually accomplished?  I've looked a little on the internet and couldn't find anything.

Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2009, 01:52:48 PM »

The Georgian Church was related to the Armenian, and rejected Chalcedon. It was established by Syrian anti-Chalcedonian monks who are still venerated by the Georgian Church.

The main reason for the Georgian Church becoming Chalcedonian was that it sought freedom from the jurisdiction of the Armenian Church and therefore turned for help to the Byzantine Empire, which was happy to support its independence in return for an acceptance of Chalcedon.

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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2009, 08:03:32 PM »

A book about the event is reviewed here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16969.0.html
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2009, 08:18:18 PM »

Georgia received autocephaly from Antioch at the latest 474.  There is a thread on an Armenia Chronicle that mentions the event:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20212.0.html

The traditional date of it being consolidated is 486.  She waivered on Chalcedon, as did Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. Rome didn't, to the point of rejecting at first the Fifth Ecumenical Council (the origin, btw, of the Patriarchate of Venice).

Georgia was evangelized by Armenia, which in turn was evangelized by Caesarea (Greec-Roman) and Antioch (Syriac).  This is on top of the activities of SS. Andrew, Bartholomew, Thaddeus etc.  That they were under Antioch (at least initially) is why their primates bear the title of Catholicos (as does the Nestorian one).
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2009, 09:24:09 PM »

Actually, Bishop Ukhtanes' history, which I reviewed here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16969.0.html

indicates that at the time of the split (early 600's) there was a sort of dependent relationship between the Armenians and the Georgians, to the extent that the Catholicos of the Georgians used to be ordained by the Catholicos of the Armenians. (page 41)  I have no idea how that dependent relationship came to be, or how long things had been that way.   

Bishop Ukhtanes' book is of value, because he basically just gathered together and organized the actual correspondence which was written by the parties at the time.  One interesting thing is that the Catholicos of the Georgians, Kyrion, never explicitly states why he is breaking away.  The thing that started the whole business was Kyrion's ordination of a Nestorian bishop, an ethnic Khujik, named Kis.  (page 42.)  When confronted by the Armenians about this, Kyrion at first skirts the issue, but then finally writes a letter confessing the "four councils" of the Greeks (not five, surprisingly) and says "I shall pass through Armenia only if I have to, on my way across; otherwise I have no business to be there." (page 101.)  Ouch.

Bishop Ukhtanes guesses at why Kyrion would do this, and relates an oral tradition which until that time had not been written down.  He tells a story of when the Armenian Catholicos invited Kyrion and another Catholicos to dine with him.  The Armenian Catholicos served the two men with his own hands, but served the other Catholicos first, because he was elderly.  Kyrion was insulted by this and became angry over this, saying he should have been served first, since he had more bishops than the other, elderly, Catholicos.  The Armenian Catholicos tried explaining to Kyrion that it was proper to serve the oldest first, but Kyrion remained angry and left the table.  (page 120) 

Who knows if that story was true.  Bishop Ukhtanes himself was not really sure about what really motivated Kyrion.   A desire to be independent of the Armenians was undoubtedly at least part of the reason, as Fr. Peter said.
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2010, 11:01:56 AM »

I don't know about the ecclesiastical relationship between Georgia and Armenia, but there was a political link, in some respect. The Bagratid dynasty of the Georgian royal house originated in Armenia. The Kingdom of Georgia, in medieval times, encompassed parts of Armenia as well, when the base of Armenian power had its concentration in Cilicia. Regarding Chalcedon, the situation had been rather fluid in Georgia for awhile. A closer alliance with the Byzantine Empire helped solidify things. Many Armenian Chalcedonians fled to Georgia over the centuries.
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2010, 11:05:26 AM »

Actually we would be more likely to say that the Georgian church was OO for a period of almost 600 years.
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2010, 12:21:54 PM »

I do not agree with this notion, from studying what little there is of Georgian historical sources in English from an objective viewpoint.
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2010, 01:48:19 PM »

I do not agree with this notion, from studying what little there is of Georgian historical sources in English from an objective viewpoint.

Ummmmm. So you just flat out deny that the Georgian Catholicoses participated in the councils of Dvin which rejected Chalcedon which numerous Armenian sources they say were present at?
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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2010, 01:55:59 PM »

I would need to do more research before I could "flat out deny" what one side says. Anyway, there are two separate questions involved--whether the catholicos attended monophysite councils as a monophysite, and whether it necessarily followed that, because of this, all the members of the Georgian Church were monophysites. As I said earlier, the status of the acceptance of Chalcedon in Georgia was fluid for a time.
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2010, 02:03:36 PM »

whether the catholicos attended monophysite councils as a monophysite,

Monophysite? That formula is not the issue here. Anti-Chalcedonianism is.

and whether it necessarily followed that, because of this, all the members of the Georgian Church were monophysites.

Generally speaking, the subjects of a bishop are to be considered of the same faith as him if they follow him without objection.
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2010, 02:24:11 PM »

Actually we would be more likely to say that the Georgian church was OO for a period of almost 600 years.
No, it wasn't that long: a century or two after Chalcedon, during which time much was in flux in most of the East (the West having its own, different problems).
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« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2010, 02:31:33 PM »

Actually we would be more likely to say that the Georgian church was OO for a period of almost 600 years.
No, it wasn't that long: a century or two after Chalcedon, during which time much was in flux in most of the East (the West having its own, different problems).

When before the early 7th century is there evidence of Georgia being Chalcedonian, such that your contradiction of my claim would not simply be a matter of whether the pre-Chalcedonian church was substantially OO or EO in faith?
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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2010, 02:41:57 PM »

The "evidence" all depends on who is consulted. There in contention over this period regarding who believes what when. One example is the holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali. It is unclear, from a non-partisan point of view, whether he was a supporter of Chalcedon or not, because the Orthodox sources say one thing, and the claims of the anti-Chalcedonian partisans say another.
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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2010, 03:42:22 PM »

The founding monastic saints of the Georgian Church were all Syrian non-Chalcedonians, and the great Georgian saint Peter the Iberian was a non-Chalcedonian.
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« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2010, 03:49:40 PM »

The Syrian Fathers, while important, are not the founding saints of the Georgian Orthodox Church. They were preceded by Sts. Nino, Mirian, and others who evangelized the country well prior to Chalcedon, building on the work of the Apostle Andrew.

Anyway, it would appear there is contention over whether or not the Syrian Fathers were anti-Chalcedonian. It depends on who you ask, as I said before. Peter the Iberian is not venerated by the Georgians, but the Syrian Fathers are. Things are not black and white in this case. They appear, more often that not, to point to fluidity.
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« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2010, 03:59:03 PM »

The "evidence" all depends on who is consulted. There in contention over this period regarding who believes what when. One example is the holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali. It is unclear, from a non-partisan point of view, whether he was a supporter of Chalcedon or not, because the Orthodox sources say one thing, and the claims of the anti-Chalcedonian partisans say another.

Such things are much more easily debated. Councils, there participants, and the decisions of those councils are not so easily debated, since they usually have minutes recording such things. There are councils in the 6th century of the Caucasian churches (Armenian, "Iberian" [Georgian], and "Albanian") where they collectively decided against the Council of Chalcedon with the participation of the Georgian Catholicoses. Such a matter is far less disputable than the religious affiliation of a civic leader.
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« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2010, 04:44:21 PM »

There are Georgian lives of St Peter the Iberian, and I have seen manuscripts with icons of him, so he certainly WAS venerated.

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« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2010, 05:04:55 PM »

I'm not denying that Peter the Iberian was venerated by certain Georgians at one time. He is not now, however, while the Syrian Fathers and others of that era are. To me, this points to Georgia having been for awhile not wholly in a particular camp, but that ecclesiastical conciliar allegiance was fluid, just as it was for a long time in the Byzantine Empire during the Christological controversies.
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« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2010, 08:27:40 PM »

Many Armenian Chalcedonians fled to Georgia over the centuries.

Do you have any sources on that?
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« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2010, 08:30:13 PM »

Actually we would be more likely to say that the Georgian church was OO for a period of almost 600 years.

Georgia converted to Christianity in the early 300's and left the Church in the early 600's, when they adopted Chalcedon.  So I think it could be said they were OO for about 300 years.
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« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2010, 08:33:52 PM »

I would need to do more research before I could "flat out deny" what one side says. Anyway, there are two separate questions involved--whether the catholicos attended monophysite councils as a monophysite, and whether it necessarily followed that, because of this, all the members of the Georgian Church were monophysites. As I said earlier, the status of the acceptance of Chalcedon in Georgia was fluid for a time.

As far as I know, no Georgian catholicoi ever attended any Monophysite councils.  I'm not aware of the Monophysite heresy ever reaching the Caucasus.
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« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2010, 08:50:25 PM »

The "evidence" all depends on who is consulted. There in contention over this period regarding who believes what when. One example is the holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali. It is unclear, from a non-partisan point of view, whether he was a supporter of Chalcedon or not, because the Orthodox sources say one thing, and the claims of the anti-Chalcedonian partisans say another.

We know from contemporary sources that in the early 500's the Georgians joined with the Armenians at the Council of Dvin in condemning Chalcedon.  We also know from contemporary sources that as of the early 600's they were still OO, until their catholicos Kyrion ordained a Nestorian bishop, broke off relations with the Armenians, and accepted the "four councils" (not five) of the Greeks.    

From what little I know of King Vakhtang (mid 400's to early 500's,) no one knows for sure if he was Chalcedonian or OO, but he did marry the daughter of Emperor Zeno, who downplayed Chalcedon in his Henotikon.  Since he made his alliance with the Empire during the time of the Henotikon, he probably was not a staunch Chalcedonian.
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« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2010, 09:06:09 PM »

I'm not denying that Peter the Iberian was venerated by certain Georgians at one time. He is not now, however, while the Syrian Fathers and others of that era are. To me, this points to Georgia having been for awhile not wholly in a particular camp, but that ecclesiastical conciliar allegiance was fluid, just as it was for a long time in the Byzantine Empire during the Christological controversies.

Are you sure about Peter the Iberian?  I know Wikipedia is not the most scholarly source in the world, but according to this article, he is still commemorated by the Georgians:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_the_Iberian

I've looked, and I can't find anything saying he is no longer commemorated.


The Georgians also commemorate St. Evagrius Ponticus, who was condemned at the EO's fifth council.  I'm not sure when the Georgians came to accept Constantinople II, but they kept Evagrius as a saint, yet another vestige from their OO days.

http://www.kalvesmaki.com/evagpont/


Does anyone have a link to an actual Georgian list of saints?
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« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2010, 10:05:04 PM »

Actually we would be more likely to say that the Georgian church was OO for a period of almost 600 years.

Georgia converted to Christianity in the early 300's and left the Church in the early 600's, when they adopted Chalcedon.  So I think it could be said they were OO for about 300 years.

*facepalm*

Yes. For some reason I was thinking of the Apostolic age as the beginning of that timeline.  Undecided
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« Reply #25 on: May 11, 2010, 10:07:07 PM »

I would need to do more research before I could "flat out deny" what one side says. Anyway, there are two separate questions involved--whether the catholicos attended monophysite councils as a monophysite, and whether it necessarily followed that, because of this, all the members of the Georgian Church were monophysites. As I said earlier, the status of the acceptance of Chalcedon in Georgia was fluid for a time.

As far as I know, no Georgian catholicoi ever attended any Monophysite councils.  I'm not aware of the Monophysite heresy ever reaching the Caucasus.

I don't know that he/she was meaning Eutychianism by that.
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« Reply #26 on: May 11, 2010, 10:09:55 PM »

I'm giving him/her the benefit of the doubt.   Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2010, 10:18:15 PM »

The "evidence" all depends on who is consulted. There in contention over this period regarding who believes what when. One example is the holy King Vakhtang Gorgasali. It is unclear, from a non-partisan point of view, whether he was a supporter of Chalcedon or not, because the Orthodox sources say one thing, and the claims of the anti-Chalcedonian partisans say another.

We know from contemporary sources that in the early 500's the Georgians joined with the Armenians at the Council of Dvin in condemning Chalcedon.  We also know from contemporary sources that as of the early 600's they were still OO, until their catholicos Kyrion ordained a Nestorian bishop, broke off relations with the Armenians, and accepted the "four councils" (not five) of the Greeks.

That seems like pretty sufficient evidence to me.
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« Reply #28 on: May 12, 2010, 12:40:31 AM »

Georgian Orthodox icon of St. Peter the Iberian:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Peter_the_iberian.jpg




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« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2010, 03:13:19 AM »

I'm not denying that Peter the Iberian was venerated by certain Georgians at one time. He is not now, however, while the Syrian Fathers and others of that era are. To me, this points to Georgia having been for awhile not wholly in a particular camp, but that ecclesiastical conciliar allegiance was fluid, just as it was for a long time in the Byzantine Empire during the Christological controversies.

Are you sure about Peter the Iberian?  I know Wikipedia is not the most scholarly source in the world, but according to this article, he is still commemorated by the Georgians:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_the_Iberian

I've looked, and I can't find anything saying he is no longer commemorated.


The Georgians also commemorate St. Evagrius Ponticus, who was condemned at the EO's fifth council.  I'm not sure when the Georgians came to accept Constantinople II, but they kept Evagrius as a saint, yet another vestige from their OO days.

http://www.kalvesmaki.com/evagpont/


Does anyone have a link to an actual Georgian list of saints?

According to Orthodoxwiki.org St. Evagrius was never condemned as a person. It was only his teachings.
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