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Author Topic: Monophysites -> Non-Chalcedonians -> Oriental Orthodox  (Read 852 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 06, 2012, 02:04:51 PM »

I'd appreciate some clarification as to the evolution of the Christians' name that rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451. To my understanding, for 1500 years or so, they were known as Monophysites because of their belief in the one nature. Then, for "PC" reasons, they were called Non-Chalcedonians. (This is an important change between the first and second editions The Orthodox Church.) At a later time, this group was then referred to as "Oriental Orthodox".

Why Oriental Orthodox? "Oriental" literally means Eastern. Unless "Eastern Orthodox" refers to the Eastern Roman Empire and "Oriental Orthodox" refers to the geographic east. Of course, "Romans" would say that Orthodoxy isn't restricted to the East, so it must refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. Is "Oriental Orthodox" a name bestowed on the Non-Chalcedonians by Western academics, like "Eastern Orthodox" on the Chalcedonians?

Any help would greatly clarify this issue. Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2012, 02:06:15 PM »

Pardon my ignorance, but I'd like to know why did they reject the Council of Chalcedon.

Thanks.
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2012, 02:33:00 PM »

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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2012, 02:39:08 PM »

I know that we were derogatorily called Monophysites but we have always rejected that term. We prefer Miaphysite because we believe Christ is one Hypostasis of both the Divine and Human Natures whereas true monophysites deny one of the two natures of Christ. I don't know exactly how we  became called Oriental Orthodox though Sad
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2012, 02:50:03 PM »

Can less knowledgeable, not-quite-yet-Orthodox (at least not for another 21 days...but who is counting) answer? Because these are really just language questions.

I'd appreciate some clarification as to the evolution of the Christians' name that rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451. To my understanding, for 1500 years or so, they were known as Monophysites because of their belief in the one nature. Then, for "PC" reasons, they were called Non-Chalcedonians. (This is an important change between the first and second editions The Orthodox Church.) At a later time, this group was then referred to as "Oriental Orthodox".

As they always rejected the heretical monophystism of Eutyches, it was never appropriate to call them "Monophysites", no matter how popular it has been in the past. (See "Coptic Interpretations of the Fourth Ecumenical Council" by Fr. Matthias Wahba for more on the Coptic rejection of Monophysitism and of Chalcedon.)

Quote
Why Oriental Orthodox? "Oriental" literally means Eastern. Unless "Eastern Orthodox" refers to the Eastern Roman Empire


Well, it does in Arabic, whereby you guys are "Rum Orthodoks". I have seen on occasion a few apologetics texts even in English that ask about differences between the "Roman Orthodox" and the Coptic Orthodox, but of course it is the norm in English to say "Eastern", as those in union with Rome have sort of absconded with that particular adjective (as they have tried to do with the noun "Pope" for centuries now, much to our chagrin  Grin).

Quote
and "Oriental Orthodox" refers to the geographic east. Of course, "Romans" would say that Orthodoxy isn't restricted to the East, so it must refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. Is "Oriental Orthodox" a name bestowed on the Non-Chalcedonians by Western academics, like "Eastern Orthodox" on the Chalcedonians?


Well, we are just Orthodox among ourselves, right? Just like you guys don't shy away from calling yourselves "Catholic" when this indeed your own understanding of your church, and it is obvious what this means (and doesn't mean) to the audience in which you are speaking. So you can see that, for instance, in Coptic the name for our church is just "ti-ekklesia en-remenkimi en-orthodoxos" (remenkimi = Copt = Egyptian). Nothing about "Oriental" or "Eastern" in there. That is a convenience to basically say "not in communion with the Chalcedonians", because it is quicker to say than that whole sentence. (I don't know where it started, though; again, I can only go by Arabic, where Oriental Orthodoxy is quite literally translated "Orthodoksiya mashriqiya"; maybe indicating a borrowing from the West?)

I don't think our churches are too geographically dissimilar, are they? Granted there are some places where for historical reasons most churches are EO (e.g., Greece) or OO (e.g., Ethiopia), but neither would say that this somehow defines their faith, only speaks to their historical circumstances.
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2012, 02:58:22 PM »

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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2012, 03:55:11 PM »

I'd appreciate some clarification as to the evolution of the Christians' name that rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451. To my understanding, for 1500 years or so, they were known as Monophysites because of their belief in the one nature.

I think you are about 500 years off on the front-end for how long they were called "Monophysites". While I don't have time (or the resources) to run the check against the whole Patristic corpus, I have run a search in the documents relating to the Ecumenical Councils (and all the smaller councils recognized by them) and Monophysite is never used at an Orthodox council. The one time it shows up in the conciliar period is at the Iconoclast council where the Orthodox 'pro-image' position is described as Monophysite.

In the centuries immediately following Chalcedon, the "Non-Chalcedonians" in were not a single clear separate group. On the one hand, the schism proceeded at different speeds in different places with various moments of pereceived rapprochement. On the other hand, the Non-Chalcedonians themselves had several divisions, such that it's only after the Arab conquests that you really see the situation solidify into two clearly recognizable groups ("Eastern Orthodox' and "Oriental Orthodox") as we have them today. Prior to that, non-Chalcedonians were generally referred to (by others) as either Eutychians (his being the heresy actually condemned at Chalcedon) or (when it was recognized that they rejected both Eutyches and Chalcedon) by the name of a prominent leader. Thus for example, this from a letter of Pope St. Agatho to the Sixth Ecumenical Council:

Quote
a thing which the Arians and the Apollinarists, the Eutychians, the Timotheans, the Acephali, the Theodosians and the Gaianitæ taught

I'm not sure who the "Gaianitae" are, but the "the Eutychians, the Timotheans, the Acephali, the Theodosians" are all "Non-Chalcedonians". The Timotheans and Theodosians are what we would now call Oriental Orthodox (the Copts and the Syrians, respectively, I believe), while the Eutychians and Acephali are groups that rejected Chalcedon along with the Timotheans and Theodosians, but were in turn rejected by those two groups as heretical as well.


Quote
Why Oriental Orthodox? "Oriental" literally means Eastern. Unless "Eastern Orthodox" refers to the Eastern Roman Empire and "Oriental Orthodox" refers to the geographic east. Of course, "Romans" would say that Orthodoxy isn't restricted to the East, so it must refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. Is "Oriental Orthodox" a name bestowed on the Non-Chalcedonians by Western academics, like "Eastern Orthodox" on the Chalcedonians?

As dzherimmi touches on, this question is basically about usage in Western languages. If you look at the names used in the languages where Orthodox (of the 'eastern' or 'oriental' variety) are the majority Christians, you get a whole different context. But in Western languages where Rome has managed to largely monopolize the term 'catholic', *and* historically the Orthodox Churches were all "east" of the speaker, basically the distribution of the Chalcedonians as "eastern" and the non-Chalcedonians as "oriental" was pretty much an arbitrary decision because Western speakers needed a way to distinguish the two.
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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2012, 04:12:14 PM »

I'd appreciate some clarification as to the evolution of the Christians' name that rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451. To my understanding, for 1500 years or so, they were known as Monophysites because of their belief in the one nature. Then, for "PC" reasons, they were called Non-Chalcedonians. (This is an important change between the first and second editions The Orthodox Church.) At a later time, this group was then referred to as "Oriental Orthodox".

Why Oriental Orthodox? "Oriental" literally means Eastern. Unless "Eastern Orthodox" refers to the Eastern Roman Empire and "Oriental Orthodox" refers to the geographic east. Of course, "Romans" would say that Orthodoxy isn't restricted to the East, so it must refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. Is "Oriental Orthodox" a name bestowed on the Non-Chalcedonians by Western academics, like "Eastern Orthodox" on the Chalcedonians?

Any help would greatly clarify this issue. Thanks!

yeah, There is inherent in the question quite a number of declaration I would like to addressed as well,
1= was there an EVOLUTION of NAME+> if there is from whose perspective was it and Why?

2= we were never monophosites, so Why were we called monophysites if it was not because we believed in only  ONE Divine nature of Christ? =>

3= Then Was/IS there is a PC reason at all for refraining to call us Monophysites by those who know what we believe, or was it simply choosing to adhere to the Truth ?

4= so did our Theology evolve/ change over time as is insinuated?



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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2012, 06:56:09 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Monophysites is a pejorative term used by the Byzantines and Latins to deride the Oriental jurisdictions as illegitimate and heretical.  However, none of the Oriental jurisdictions in any of their languages have ever used this term, if anything it is very commonly refuted.  We prefer the one and same term and language used by the illustrious father Saint Cyril of Alexandria, who said that our Lord existed in a μία φύσις (miaphysis) which is to say, a composite nature.  In the Ethiopic it has evolved to the term Tewahedo (ተዋሐደ) which essentially means "made into a oneness or unity."

We are called Oriental because until the split in 1054, the Latins and Byzantines were a single Catholic Church, and further until the 15th century Byzantium was the unbroken continuation of the Roman Empire.  So Oriental (yes, literally "Eastern") was a geographic term to describe the Orientals as coming from the East of both the old and new Roman Empire.  After the Schism, the Byzantines took to calling themselves Orthodox to separate from the proclaims heresies of the Latins, and the Latins preferred the term Catholic to imply their universal supremacy over the East, be it Oriental or Byzantine. 

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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2012, 02:08:43 AM »

Pardon my ignorance, but I'd like to know why did they reject the Council of Chalcedon.

Thanks.
That's like asking "why did the French Revolution happen". There's a lot behind it.

Then, for "PC" reasons, they were called Non-Chalcedonians.
It's more accurate, because historically beliefs varied between the churches that did not accept Chalcedon. They were not the quasi-united faith bloc you see today until centuries after Islam.

For example, the Armenians were strong Julianists for a while, where the syrian non-chalcedonians weren't so much.
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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2012, 02:52:44 AM »

As dzherimmi touches on, this question is basically about usage in Western languages. If you look at the names used in the languages where Orthodox (of the 'eastern' or 'oriental' variety) are the majority Christians, you get a whole different context. But in Western languages where Rome has managed to largely monopolize the term 'catholic', *and* historically the Orthodox Churches were all "east" of the speaker, basically the distribution of the Chalcedonians as "eastern" and the non-Chalcedonians as "oriental" was pretty much an arbitrary decision because Western speakers needed a way to distinguish the two.

Are there any languages in which EOs or OOs are called as Catholics?
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2012, 03:29:35 AM »

Pardon my ignorance, but I'd like to know why did they reject the Council of Chalcedon.

Thanks.
That's like asking "why did the French Revolution happen". There's a lot behind it.


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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2012, 05:41:34 AM »

As dzherimmi touches on, this question is basically about usage in Western languages. If you look at the names used in the languages where Orthodox (of the 'eastern' or 'oriental' variety) are the majority Christians, you get a whole different context. But in Western languages where Rome has managed to largely monopolize the term 'catholic', *and* historically the Orthodox Churches were all "east" of the speaker, basically the distribution of the Chalcedonians as "eastern" and the non-Chalcedonians as "oriental" was pretty much an arbitrary decision because Western speakers needed a way to distinguish the two.

Are there any languages in which EOs or OOs are called as Catholics?
called by whom?
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« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2012, 06:09:17 AM »

As dzherimmi touches on, this question is basically about usage in Western languages. If you look at the names used in the languages where Orthodox (of the 'eastern' or 'oriental' variety) are the majority Christians, you get a whole different context. But in Western languages where Rome has managed to largely monopolize the term 'catholic', *and* historically the Orthodox Churches were all "east" of the speaker, basically the distribution of the Chalcedonians as "eastern" and the non-Chalcedonians as "oriental" was pretty much an arbitrary decision because Western speakers needed a way to distinguish the two.

Are there any languages in which EOs or OOs are called as Catholics?
called by whom?

By all. In Finnish language "katolinen" refers to those in full communion with pope Benedict XVI despite myriad of other churches referering themselves as "katolinen" in their theological treatises. I wonder whether there are cultures/languages where first reference point for "Catholic" is not flock of pope Benedict XVI but some other communion?
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« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2012, 06:28:41 AM »

As dzherimmi touches on, this question is basically about usage in Western languages. If you look at the names used in the languages where Orthodox (of the 'eastern' or 'oriental' variety) are the majority Christians, you get a whole different context. But in Western languages where Rome has managed to largely monopolize the term 'catholic', *and* historically the Orthodox Churches were all "east" of the speaker, basically the distribution of the Chalcedonians as "eastern" and the non-Chalcedonians as "oriental" was pretty much an arbitrary decision because Western speakers needed a way to distinguish the two.

Are there any languages in which EOs or OOs are called as Catholics?
called by whom?

By all. In Finnish language "katolinen" refers to those in full communion with pope Benedict XVI despite myriad of other churches referering themselves as "katolinen" in their theological treatises. I wonder whether there are cultures/languages where first reference point for "Catholic" is not flock of pope Benedict XVI but some other communion?
Depends on what you are talking about.  In Arabic, kaathuuliikii means Benedict's boys.  That term, however, isn't used, for instance, in the Creed, where "Catholic" is "Jaami'i." "yhteisen"?
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« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2012, 07:06:21 AM »

Depends on what you are talking about.  In Arabic, kaathuuliikii means Benedict's boys.

That's more or less what I asked. Thanks.

Quote
"yhteisen"?

That's the Protestant version. police The Finnish Orthodox chants  "yhteen, pyhään, katoliseen ja apostoliseen kirkkoon" despite being mostly referred as "ortodoksinen" both in colloquial talk and in churh law.
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« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2012, 07:07:24 AM »

NicholasMyra, the Armenians were never 'strong Julianists'.
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« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2012, 08:58:20 AM »

I'd appreciate some clarification as to the evolution of the Christians' name that rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451. To my understanding, for 1500 years or so, they were known as Monophysites because of their belief in the one nature. Then, for "PC" reasons, they were called Non-Chalcedonians. (This is an important change between the first and second editions The Orthodox Church.) At a later time, this group was then referred to as "Oriental Orthodox".

Why Oriental Orthodox? "Oriental" literally means Eastern. Unless "Eastern Orthodox" refers to the Eastern Roman Empire and "Oriental Orthodox" refers to the geographic east. Of course, "Romans" would say that Orthodoxy isn't restricted to the East, so it must refer to the Eastern Roman Empire. Is "Oriental Orthodox" a name bestowed on the Non-Chalcedonians by Western academics, like "Eastern Orthodox" on the Chalcedonians?

Any help would greatly clarify this issue. Thanks!

For the first change, from Monophysite to non-Chalcedonian, the change occured because of an increasing belief on the part of scholars that the Copto-Syriac-Armenian Communion was not, in fact, Monophysite, and thus the term was inappropriate to call them (just as it would be inappropriate to call the Catholic Church Arian, when they are not in fact Arians).  However, non-Chalcedonian is not exactly a very clear term, seeing as how it would encompass the Assyrians as well, when they are their own, separate group.  Oriental Orthodox is a perfectly fine term to use in English and any other languages where you have a distinction between Oriental and Eastern, despite them being synonyms.  In languages that don't have that distinction, I don't know how the two separate communions are referred to.

I would agree that Oriental Orthodox is a bad term to use for the Copto-Syriac-Armenian Communion if you are calling the Constantinopolitan-Muscovite-Romanian-Jerusalemite Communion Eastern Orthodox.  It causes unnecessary confusion.  If you can propose a better set of terms, please do.
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« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2012, 08:44:48 AM »

Is there a  reason we can't stop calling ourselves  ' Oriental Orthodox' ? 

Can't we stand firm and say we prefer  to be known only and in no other way than ' Orthodox Christians" ?

Let those who accept Chalcedonian as Ecumenical  describe only and when the need to distinguish us in regards to Chalcedon use the term for us  -" Non Chalcedonian Orthodox Christians"
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« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2012, 08:56:38 AM »

geovar, I agree with you, and try to use only the term Orthodox as far as is possible.

I am not 'Oriental Orthodox' if that means something other than Orthodox. The EO who worship in my congregation have not become something else than they were. They remain, as we do, Orthodox Christians.
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