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Author Topic: Why is there less unity among the OO Churches than the EO?  (Read 945 times) Average Rating: 0
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MichaelArchangelos
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« on: December 05, 2012, 07:13:49 AM »

From my limited experience of Oriental Orthodoxy (attending several Coptic liturgies and one Indian Orthodox liturgy, as well as watching Youtube videos) it seems that the practice and worship vary much more between the OO Churches than between the EO Churches. While there are Greek and Slavic forms of the Divine Liturgy, it's still the same Liturgy and all EO churches that I've seen pictures of have the basic layout (iconostasis and square altar). However, the Coptic Church uses the Liturgy of St Basil and the Indian Orthodox Church uses the Liturgy of St James. The Ethiopian and Armenian liturgies seem to be different again. The Coptic church I visited has a similar layout to EO Churches (although no royal doors, just a curtain) with a square altar and iconostasis, but the Indian Orthodox church had an altar very similar to a pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic altar but with no Tabernacle and more candles. It was simply closed off by a curtain.

What is the reason for the disunity among OO churches on things like Liturgy and church layout? Why aren't these things more unified like in the EO Church?
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 07:14:08 AM by MichaelArchangelos » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 07:19:52 AM »

History. The ancient EO sees also had such diversity at one time.
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 08:10:31 AM »

EO-like unity is an artificial creation. Diversity of rites and traditions is how it used to be and how it should still be.
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 08:54:05 AM »

Diversity in local customs is not disunity. Christian unity is about loving and serving one another, about sharing the same faith and Communion, not about using identical rites. In the U.S. where there are many OO rites, there are frequent concelebrations. The host Church's Liturgy is used, but all the visiting clergy pray sections of the Liturgy in their own tunes.

There is a great deal of disunity in both the OO and EO Communions where there should be unity. A Greek and a Russian Church a block apart should not operate as if the other did not exist, neither should a Coptic and and Eritrean one, but this happens all the time. We place culture and rites above the Christian unity we are called to, but this seems to be a problem equally in both EO and OO, the diversity in Liturgical practise, which used to be the universal norm, is not a hinderance to unity.
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 10:29:22 AM »

Diversity doesn't equal disunity.

While not seemingly as diverse as the OO, the EO have the Western Rite which uses different liturgies.
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 10:55:25 AM »

EO-like unity is an artificial creation. Diversity of rites and traditions is how it used to be and how it should still be.
+1
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2012, 09:26:45 PM »

Thanks for the replies. I knew about the Western Rite.

Would it be permissible for an EO church under the Patriarch of Alexandria to use the Coptic liturgy of St Basil, for example?
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2012, 03:50:24 PM »

EO-like unity is an artificial creation. Diversity of rites and traditions is how it used to be and how it should still be.
It may be how it used to be but I think its a little presumptuous to declare that's how it "should be." What authority do we have to dictate that?
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2012, 03:59:17 PM »

Do you think the Rite of Constantinople should be the only one in the Church?
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2012, 04:38:44 PM »

From my limited experience of Oriental Orthodoxy (attending several Coptic liturgies and one Indian Orthodox liturgy, as well as watching Youtube videos) it seems that the practice and worship vary much more between the OO Churches than between the EO Churches. While there are Greek and Slavic forms of the Divine Liturgy, it's still the same Liturgy and all EO churches that I've seen pictures of have the basic layout (iconostasis and square altar). However, the Coptic Church uses the Liturgy of St Basil and the Indian Orthodox Church uses the Liturgy of St James. The Ethiopian and Armenian liturgies seem to be different again. The Coptic church I visited has a similar layout to EO Churches (although no royal doors, just a curtain) with a square altar and iconostasis, but the Indian Orthodox church had an altar very similar to a pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic altar but with no Tabernacle and more candles. It was simply closed off by a curtain.

What is the reason for the disunity among OO churches on things like Liturgy and church layout? Why aren't these things more unified like in the EO Church?

The reason we all in the EO celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the manner we do is because of the Byzantine Synthesis. It was the movement to make the rite of the "Great Church" (Hagia Sophia) to be the rite of the Eastern Church. This movement didn't occur until after the schism with the Oriental Orthodox. The other reason is that the Slavic peoples were under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, whose church celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

You also have to understand that the title of "Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch", "Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria" and "Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem" really are accurate in many aspects. The chant, and even to a degree, the ethnicity of the members of those churches is Greek, and they were very heavily influenced by the Constantinople Patriarchate.

So really, what you see as "unity" is really just a conformity of liturgical rite which arose from various historical circumstances. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, instead of going the route of the Roman Church, which sought both liturgical uniformity and linguistic uniformity, the Eastern Church instead sought liturgical uniformity while promoting the vernacular language and permitting local traditions.

However, in the ancient Church, and until the Byzantine Synthesis (and in the West, the Roman Rite Reforms) there were dozens, if not hundreds of various rites. What we call the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was simply the rite which was practiced in Hagia Sophia. This was essentially derived from the Liturgy of St. Basil and the ancient liturgies of the Holy Land. However, it was, in its own way, somewhat unique from the other churches.

Disclaimer, I may have read wrong about this, and so don't take the following as complete fact:
For example, the Great Entrance is somewhat unique, because in many other Christian Churches at the time, the gifts may have been stored in the Church itself. However, Hagia Sophia had a "skeuophylakion" which stored many of the treasures of the Patriarchate, and I think this included the chalice and plate for communion. The Great Entrance was literally an entrance where the gifts were brought into the cathedral from the skeuophylakion. Many other churches probably didn't have this great entrance because they didn't have a skeuophylakion as a separate building. Today, the gifts are kept in the altar in the prothesis (which is sometimes a separate apse next to the altar) but the Great Entrance is kept.
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2012, 04:39:23 PM »

Do you think the Rite of Constantinople should be the only one in the Church?

No, many rites can exist, and if unity is ever achieved between the EO and OO or the EO and the RCC, then they will keep their rites.
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2012, 05:37:12 PM »

Here's some OO disunity for you: Today we were blessed with a visit from an Ethiopian family who occasionally come here for liturgy (maybe 3 times total since I started attending in August of last year, and one of those times was just the father of the family by himself). They live in Denver, Colorado, and make it a point to come here to Albuquerque at least once a year to participate in the liturgy, say hello to the priest (an old friend from years ago, when they live in the area I guess) and the people, and (today, anyway) help out with the construction on the new church building ahead of visits from city inspectors sometime next week.

Given that they're willing and eager to make the ~450 mile, 6.5 hour trip (really 900 miles, 13 hours) just to be here maybe once or twice a year, why on earth would it be a problem that in their own national church they have different liturgies or hymns or what have you? Those are distinctive traits and practices of their own ancient church, which are as beautiful and venerable as ours. And of course the faith is one and the same faith. So I'm having trouble seeing where the "disunity" is. I wouldn't want the Armenians to be forced to use St. Basil's liturgy, nor Eritreans that of St. James, but maybe I don't understand what unity means in EO terms. I don't think any of my EO friends have expressed belief in the kind of unity envisioned by the OP either, though. Odd.

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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2012, 12:55:20 AM »

"You also have to understand that the title of "Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch", "Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria" and "Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem" really are accurate in many aspects. The chant, and even to a degree, the ethnicity of the members of those churches is Greek, and they were very heavily influenced by the Constantinople Patriarchate."

Two things:
1) If I'm not mistaken, in the original languages that term ("Greek Orthodox") actually read "Roman Orthodox," and reflects those churches imperial affiliation after Chalcedon.
2) The pro-Chalcedon Church of Alexandria may have survived on Greeks, but the Orthodox of Greater Syria (Syria/Lebanon/Palestine) were largely Aramaic/Syriac-speaking for centuries, hence the quick transition to Arabic after the conquest. (Not to deny that there were many Greek-speakers there too, particularly in urban areas - St. Severus of Antioch comes to mind :-).)(http://araborthodoxy.blogspot.com/search/label/Syriac) The byzantinization of their services is undeniable, but likely not grounded in a Greek ethnic identity.


From my limited experience of Oriental Orthodoxy (attending several Coptic liturgies and one Indian Orthodox liturgy, as well as watching Youtube videos) it seems that the practice and worship vary much more between the OO Churches than between the EO Churches. While there are Greek and Slavic forms of the Divine Liturgy, it's still the same Liturgy and all EO churches that I've seen pictures of have the basic layout (iconostasis and square altar). However, the Coptic Church uses the Liturgy of St Basil and the Indian Orthodox Church uses the Liturgy of St James. The Ethiopian and Armenian liturgies seem to be different again. The Coptic church I visited has a similar layout to EO Churches (although no royal doors, just a curtain) with a square altar and iconostasis, but the Indian Orthodox church had an altar very similar to a pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic altar but with no Tabernacle and more candles. It was simply closed off by a curtain.

What is the reason for the disunity among OO churches on things like Liturgy and church layout? Why aren't these things more unified like in the EO Church?

The reason we all in the EO celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the manner we do is because of the Byzantine Synthesis. It was the movement to make the rite of the "Great Church" (Hagia Sophia) to be the rite of the Eastern Church. This movement didn't occur until after the schism with the Oriental Orthodox. The other reason is that the Slavic peoples were under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, whose church celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

You also have to understand that the title of "Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch", "Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria" and "Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem" really are accurate in many aspects. The chant, and even to a degree, the ethnicity of the members of those churches is Greek, and they were very heavily influenced by the Constantinople Patriarchate.

So really, what you see as "unity" is really just a conformity of liturgical rite which arose from various historical circumstances. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, instead of going the route of the Roman Church, which sought both liturgical uniformity and linguistic uniformity, the Eastern Church instead sought liturgical uniformity while promoting the vernacular language and permitting local traditions.

However, in the ancient Church, and until the Byzantine Synthesis (and in the West, the Roman Rite Reforms) there were dozens, if not hundreds of various rites. What we call the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was simply the rite which was practiced in Hagia Sophia. This was essentially derived from the Liturgy of St. Basil and the ancient liturgies of the Holy Land. However, it was, in its own way, somewhat unique from the other churches.

Disclaimer, I may have read wrong about this, and so don't take the following as complete fact:
For example, the Great Entrance is somewhat unique, because in many other Christian Churches at the time, the gifts may have been stored in the Church itself. However, Hagia Sophia had a "skeuophylakion" which stored many of the treasures of the Patriarchate, and I think this included the chalice and plate for communion. The Great Entrance was literally an entrance where the gifts were brought into the cathedral from the skeuophylakion. Many other churches probably didn't have this great entrance because they didn't have a skeuophylakion as a separate building. Today, the gifts are kept in the altar in the prothesis (which is sometimes a separate apse next to the altar) but the Great Entrance is kept.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2012, 01:00:01 AM by kijabeboy03 » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2012, 02:08:18 AM »

What became the 'Byzantine liturgy' was really a synthesis of Antioch-Jerusalem-Constantinople, which had strong mutual influences over each other from the 4th through the 13th centuries, at which time the current EO liturgical picture more or less took form. This was not at all bound by language, and we can find examples along this continuum in Greek, Syriac, Arabic, Georgian, Slavonic, and even Armenian (the Tzatoi) during this period, more or less in that order of importance. The link shared above (http://araborthodoxy.blogspot.com/search/label/Syriac) gives good examples of how the Syriac-language Chalcedonian liturgy looked in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. Joseph Nasrallah's work, Histoire du mouvement littéraire dans  l'Église Melchite du Ve au XXe siècle gives a good amount of information about the liturgy during said period in each available language in the patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem.


Additionally, the liturgy of the Syriac Orthodox is heavily 'Byzantinized', especially in its Eucharistic liturgy (aside from the anaphoras) and the 'Greek hymns'. There was a very interesting paper about this at this past summer's Symposium Syriacum in Malta given by Fr Baby Vargese, which will be published eventually in the proceedings...
« Last Edit: December 12, 2012, 02:11:12 AM by Samn! » Logged
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