Author Topic: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches  (Read 472 times)

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Offline Alpha60

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Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« on: September 18, 2017, 09:57:57 PM »
One thing I find heartbreaking is the number of Oriental Orthodox churches or liturgical rites which were either subsumed, destroyed, or had their rites replaced.

Here is an incomplete list:

The Orthodox synod of the Church of the East outside India - Destroyed by Islam (also the Nestorian synod of the same Church)
Numibian Orthodox Church - Destroyed by Islam
Libyan Orthodox Church - Destroyed by Islam and/or Chalcedonians
Iberian Orthodox Church - Effectively destroyed; one parish is open in a Christian village in Azerbaijan, which reopened after the fall of communism; I have no idea how they worship, but they have apparently sent their priests to Moscow for training.  If they join either the EO or OO communion, and do not simply become a Russian Orthodox parish, they will become the smallest church in terms of number of clergy and the size of their church building (the Church of Sinai might have fewer members, although I doubt it, as I believe there are some Orthodox Christians living in Sinai who travel to the monastery when it is safe, and of the Bedouin tribes that protect the monastery in return for medical care, well, Christian Bedouins do exist; I have seen photos of them in Jordan, and it is possible that one or more of those tribes might be secretly numbered among the faithful).

Then, we have the Georgian Orthodox Church which after two centuries of Oriental Orthodoxy, for political reasons, in the form of a royal edict, decided to embrace Chalcedon and then had its liturgy reshaped to the Byzantine mold, although the distinctive triphonal singing was retained.  I consider this event tragic, simply because the ensuing disunity in the Caucasian Peninsula permitted the Islamic conquest of it and probably lead to the near extermination of the Iberian Church; it would have been much better had either all of Caucasia either remained Miaphysite or converted to Chalcedon, in a unified manner.   

Finally, within India, the remaining portion of the Orthodox Church of the East was effectively obliterated from a liturgical standpoint; the East Syriac usages of the Orthodox of India were lost, along with communications with the Catholicos; when the Syriac Orthodox finally got through, since the old service books et cetera had been burned by the Portuguese, the Church of India wound up on the West Syriac Rite, although it seems to me probable that our beautiful, colorful vestment designs are a legacy of the old Indian portion of the Church of the East; their configuration is probably different (as evinced by their dissimiliarity to the distinctive Syro Malabar vestments; Nestorian priests tend to wear a cope and a stole tied in the manner of a Coptic deacon, and do not wear anything like the Phiro or our liturgical slippers, as a rule), but the bright, glorious colors are probably Indian patrimony.  From what I have read, the pre-World War I vestments of both the Syriac Orthodox and Assyrian priests in the Middle East owing to the poverty imposed by the Jizya, the additional bribes, and other economic disadvantages, were very plain, and one German author reported Syriac Orthodox clergy serving the liturgy in bare feet.  The Anglicans donated vestments to the Assyrians; I don't know by what process our Syriac Orthodox vestments became so beautiful; perhaps, after the genocide, with the beginning of the diaspora, money started to flow, with the move of the Patriarchate from Tur Abdin to Damascus and the freedom from the Jizya; with new economic opportunities, the Levantine Syriac Orthodox parishes could afford to import vestments from the Syriac Orthodox Church in India (some were surely donated, and I also have no doubt the Patriarch was well vested during the liturgy as well as a few senior bishops even during the period of poverty; I have seen historic photos of our old Patriarchates in choir dress but alas not in sacred vestments).

~

Cultural heritage aside, far more distressing to contemplate is the human cost of, for example, the destruction of the Church in Libya and Numidia.  We are talking about a complete genocide and ethnic cleansing of all Christians, the Latin Christians of Tunisia, Algeria, and Morrocco, and the Greek or Coptic Christians of Libya, from the ancient sees of St. Cyprian, St. Augustine and other holy figures of antiquity.

Even worse was the purge of both the Nestorian and Orthodox portions of the Church of the East by Tamerlane.  These events resulted in the martyrdom or apostasy of every single Christian in Tibet, China, Mongolia, and Central Asia.
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2017, 12:45:28 AM »
I always thought the Udi (Iberian Orthodox remnant) were just regular Armenian Apostolic. Where have you found further info on them?

Isn't the Coptic remnant in Libya the successors of the ancient "Libyan Orthodox Church"?

I also find the obliteration of Latin Christianity in North Africa extremely tragic, to the point that I even sympathise with Cardinal Lavigerie's ambitious plan of restoring the ancient see of Carthage during French colonisation.
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Re: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2017, 06:04:07 AM »
I always thought the Udi (Iberian Orthodox remnant) were just regular Armenian Apostolic. Where have you found further info on them?
Some time ago I've linked in the reviews section a link to short movie about them:
"The Forgotten Kingdom" - film about Caucasian Albania and its Church
It's a Polish movie, but with English subtitles.
So, they're not completly lost, they exist in some way.

I also find the obliteration of Latin Christianity in North Africa extremely tragic, to the point that I even sympathise with Cardinal Lavigerie's ambitious plan of restoring the ancient see of Carthage during French colonisation.
+1
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2017, 07:45:19 AM »
I think the Udi church is going to Moscow because being connected to Armenia is politically untenable in Azerbaijan at the moment.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2017, 07:47:04 AM »
Also the Georgian adoption of the Constantinople liturgy came much, much later than their subscription to Chalcedon.
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Re: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2017, 08:32:58 AM »
As for the Udi Church, it's said in the film that one of the 4 seminarians is studying/was studying in Warsaw, due to the help of the Polish Orthodox Church; but frankly speaking, i have no more info about it.
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Offline iohanne

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Re: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2017, 12:28:58 PM »
Let us not forget the Nubian Churches in Sudan which, despite being sandwiched between the Coptic Church of Egypt and the Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia went through significant Chalcedonian periods and looked to the Roman empire for its hellenic cultural heritage. The three kingdoms in Nubia/modern-day Sudan were Makuria, Nobatia and Alodia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nubia#Christian_Nubia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makuria#Religion
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobatia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alodia#Christianization_and_peak

All three churches declined with the advent of Islam in the region.

Offline CoptoGeek

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Re: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2017, 08:27:35 AM »
Also the Ghassanid Arabs. There seems to be little awareness of their importance to our history.
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Re: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2017, 01:29:20 PM »
Also the Ghassanid Arabs. There seems to be little awareness of their importance to our history.

But they were never autocephalou nor autonomous. Anyway, I agree they were important.
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Offline CoptoGeek

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Re: Lost Oriental Orthodox Churches
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2017, 03:08:39 PM »
Also the Ghassanid Arabs. There seems to be little awareness of their importance to our history.

But they were never autocephalou nor autonomous. Anyway, I agree they were important.

Yes, very good point. Hoping to one day obtain Irfan Shahid's books on the topic to learn more about them.
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