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Author Topic: Would an Arabic Expression of Eastern Orthodoxy Resemble the Coptic Orthodox?  (Read 1706 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 08, 2010, 08:35:51 PM »

Disclaimer: Forgive me if the below question comes off as stupid or ignorant, as I am admittadly ignorant of many parts of Arabic culture.

Today while standing bored at work (I was doing a demo on toilet bowl cleaner. Not a big crowd pleaser) the local Coptic Orthodox priest came by and I began thinking about the thread on Arab Orthodoxy from a few weeks ago.

It has been said that the Antiochian Orthodox Church is more Byzantine in style than Arabic. As Coptic Orthodoxy truly is Arabic, if Antioch was to return to her Arab roots, would it resemble that of the Coptic Orthodox? (I realize Syria and Egypt are different countries, so forgive me if I am over-generalizing. I don't like it when people put Russia and Ukraine in the same bucket, so I don't want to cause the same offense to others.)

Also, why is it that those in Palestine who are Eastern Orthodox are considered "Greek Orthodox" even though they are under the Patriarch of Jerusalem? Why has an Arabic expression of Orthodoxy been taken away from the Palestinians? (Or maybe I'm completely wrong on this too?)

Your thoughts are appreciated.

In XC,

Maureen
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2010, 08:58:04 PM »

Well, Antioch's original rite is preserved by the Non-Chaldeconian Syriac Church, but you have to remember that neither Alexandria nor Antioch's rite are Arabic in origin. Alexandrian rituals are Egyptian in origin, and the Arabs didn't invade until the 6th or 7th century. It's the same with Syria and Palestine. They were originally the Chaldeans, the Mesopotamians, Babylonians, et cetera. So Arab influence I think came in after the Muslim conquests. But I also am no expert on this.

I wonder if the famous saints of Gaza, Damascus, et cetera would be classified as being "Arab." I hadn't imagined it as such.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2010, 09:00:25 PM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2010, 09:10:41 PM »

Disclaimer: Forgive me if the below question comes off as stupid or ignorant, as I am admittadly ignorant of many parts of Arabic culture.

Today while standing bored at work (I was doing a demo on toilet bowl cleaner. Not a big crowd pleaser) the local Coptic Orthodox priest came by and I began thinking about the thread on Arab Orthodoxy from a few weeks ago.

It has been said that the Antiochian Orthodox Church is more Byzantine in style than Arabic. As Coptic Orthodoxy truly is Arabic, if Antioch was to return to her Arab roots, would it resemble that of the Coptic Orthodox? (I realize Syria and Egypt are different countries, so forgive me if I am over-generalizing. I don't like it when people put Russia and Ukraine in the same bucket, so I don't want to cause the same offense to others.)
-
The question of Coptic being Arabic is as frought as the issue of Ukraine and Russia-only worse.

When I am in Egypt (alas, the last time being too long ago) or among Copts, they have trouble seeig me as Arab but see me as "one of us," i.e. Copt.  I don't have any problem with Copts. I speak their language (more on that below), go to their Churches, pray for their Pope daily, almost married a Coptic girl.  A Copt is my son's godmother (her father is an EO deacon, btw).  But I'm not one of them.

They have a problem diassociatig Arab from Islam.  Unlike the Levant and Iraq, Arabs are an import in Egypt.  The Copts are the original Egyptians, and were not part of the Arab world (by irony, the name of Egypt in Arabic comes from the word for "borderland," just as Ukraine's etymology).

The Coptic language is related to Arabic, but only distantly, like Ukrainian and English.  Coptic is actually spoken hieroglyphics: when we went to the Coptic Church, I told my sons that they were  speaking "mummy."

It is only with the advent of Islam that the Copts became any way associated with Arabic culture. Except, of course, that our mother was a Copt, Hagar. It is different with the Syriac Church, which might be a better comparison.  We used to use Syriac, a much closer relative, and much of the vocabulary, even in the Quran  Shocked comes from Syriac.  The Syriac rites and the rites of Arab Orthodox Antioch were the same until the absentee Patriarch "of Antioch" Theodore Balsamon (born, lived, and died IIRC in Constantinople, never having set foot in his patriarchate) suppressed them in Antioch (and in Egypt) around 1200.  Hence why the Arab Orthodox are Constantinoplean rather than Antiochean.  The OO Copts and Syriacs, btw, not being affected by this are very different from each other.


Quote
Also, why is it that those in Palestine who are Eastern Orthodox are considered "Greek Orthodox" even though they are under the Patriarch of Jerusalem? Why has an Arabic expression of Orthodoxy been taken away from the Palestinians? (Or maybe I'm completely wrong on this too?)

This dates back to when the Turkish sultan consecrated the EP as the head of all the subject Christians of the empire, and the Phanar was born.  Greek Orthodox is the English term: in Arabic we say "Ruumii"-Roman, because of the association with the former empire.  The first crypto-Christian Roman emperor was Philip the Arab, and the Arab emperor Leo III repulsed the Muslims from Constantinople (being helped by the Arab Christians switching sides), and reformulated the law code in the Ekloga (he unfortunately also started iconoclasm).  The place has basically been run for pilgrims/tourists, with no regard to a local Church.
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2010, 09:15:46 PM »

Yes, as indicated above, I think what you see in the Syriac Orthodox Church would more closely resemble what the EO Antiochians would have had before they were Hellenized (is that the right word?)

Regarding the Palestinians, I think there used to be a "Jerusalem rite."  Some aspects of it, like its calendar and lectionary, have been preserved exclusively by the Armenian Church:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16853.0.html
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2010, 09:17:25 PM »

Well, Antioch's original rite is preserved by the Non-Chaldeconian Syriac Church, but you have to remember that neither Alexandria nor Antioch's rite are Arabic in origin. Alexandrian rituals are Egyptian in origin, and the Arabs didn't invade until the 6th or 7th century. It's the same with Syria and Palestine. They were originally the Chaldeans, the Mesopotamians, Babylonians, et cetera. So Arab influence I think came in after the Muslim conquests. But I also am no expert on this.

I wonder if the famous saints of Gaza, Damascus, et cetera would be classified as being "Arab." I hadn't imagined it as such.

No, the Arabs were there quite early in Syria. By the time Islam came, most of the population of Palestine, Syria and Iraq were Arab, and had been for centuries.  The Abgar of image fame was Arab, as was Herod's origins.
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2010, 09:48:51 PM »

Thank you for answering my questions. I figured it was much more complex that I was seeing on a surface level, so I am glad that I asked. Smiley

So if Syriac would be the "mother tongue", would it be wrong for the Antiochians to begin implementing it in their Liturgy? Could it be done? Would it benefit anyone if it was? (I mean, if no one were to understand it, it might be as beneficial as Koine Greek.) 

Also, would the Palestinians use a different language than Syriac? Aramaic perhaps? (I'm just guessing.)
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2010, 10:02:05 PM »

So if Syriac would be the "mother tongue", would it be wrong for the Antiochians to begin implementing it in their Liturgy? Could it be done? Would it benefit anyone if it was? (I mean, if no one were to understand it, it might be as beneficial as Koine Greek.)

I honestly don't see a push back toward the local liturgical patrimonies in the EO Church. Right now we're all doing the same thing, aside from the Western Rite and the calendar issue, and I'm not sure more difference would be for the better. That being said, the Syriac Rite with those shaking-tambourine bell things that the acolytes carry are completely awesome, and I wish we used them. The closest thing I've seen are hand censors in a video from Africa, but I think those might be some Greek thing.

This video shows the consecration of the gifts in the original Antiochene liturgy (with the awesome things), and it's in English:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWChywFF9eQ
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2010, 10:03:25 PM »

Thank you for answering my questions. I figured it was much more complex that I was seeing on a surface level, so I am glad that I asked. Smiley

So if Syriac would be the "mother tongue", would it be wrong for the Antiochians to begin implementing it in their Liturgy? Could it be done? Would it benefit anyone if it was? (I mean, if no one were to understand it, it might be as beneficial as Koine Greek.) 

LOL.  In Malula, where they still speak Aramaic (not Syriac, close but not identical) as their usual language, they use Arabic in the DL.  A little girl there could tell me where the water was in Aramaic, but couldn't recite the Lord's prayer in the original.  

There are places where they still speak Aramaic and Syriac: on the boat trip from Arwad to the mainland, I overheard a group speaking Syriac about their travel plans.

There's no real need to implement Syriac where it isn't already.  Arabs can understand it as it bears a similtude to Church Slavonic and Ukrainian/Russian.

Quote
Also, would the Palestinians use a different language than Syriac? Aramaic perhaps? (I'm just guessing.)

There are no Syriac Palestinians to speak of, which is one of the reasons why there is no OO Patriarch of Jerusalem.  There is a large Syriac community of Syrian origin, but they are just like the very large Armenian community in being a expat community.
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2010, 10:27:26 PM »

So if Syriac would be the "mother tongue", would it be wrong for the Antiochians to begin implementing it in their Liturgy? Could it be done? Would it benefit anyone if it was? (I mean, if no one were to understand it, it might be as beneficial as Koine Greek.)

I honestly don't see a push back toward the local liturgical patrimonies in the EO Church. Right now we're all doing the same thing, aside from the Western Rite and the calendar issue, and I'm not sure more difference would be for the better.

Here in America and Europe, maybe not. In Egypt and Syria, the situation is different.

Quote
That being said, the Syriac Rite with those shaking-tambourine bell things that the acolytes carry are completely awesome, and I wish we used them. The closest thing I've seen are hand censors in a video from Africa, but I think those might be some Greek thing.

Yes, the rattling fans (which the Copts don't have, btw) are quite awesome.  I remember seeing the Syriac patriarch ascend the steps up the altar, like the heavens opening.
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2010, 10:31:25 PM »

I would hope it would more so resemble Syriac Orthodoxy, given that it is Assyrian in nature, which is much more similar to native Arabic, both being Semitic, whereas Coptic Orthodoxy is not originally Semitic.
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2010, 01:58:07 PM »

Then there's also the true Arabian Gulf Christians that became extinct sometime around the early years of Islam.  One can only wonder how they prayed.
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« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2010, 03:39:21 PM »

Then there's also the true Arabian Gulf Christians that became extinct sometime around the early years of Islam.  One can only wonder how they prayed.

I doubt it was hugely different from the Assyrians.  Undecided
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