Greek Orthodox Church
March 20, 2011
Greek Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church, of which the Greek Orthodox Church is a part, is rich in history and traditions. The roots of Greek Orthodoxy can be traced back to the conversion of Mediterranean people during the time of the apostle Paul. For most of the Greek Orthodox Church’s history, “…it understands itself to be in direct continuity with the founding of Christianity in Thessalonica, Philippi, Corinth, Athens, Nicopolis, and other Greek cities by the apostle Paul” (Harakas, 2005). Greek Orthodoxy is similar to Roman Catholicism as well as other Christian faiths. In addition, it shares similarities with Islam as well as marked differences. History of the Greek Orthodox Faith.
The Orthodox Church formed during the early days of Christianity as the teachings of Jesus were taken from Judea into the world. The Greek Orthodox Church believes their church began at the time of the first Pentecost in Jerusalem. At that first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the Disciples of Christ during the Last Supper. “It was with this event that they felt authorized to preach the Gospel to the world” (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2011). The apostle, Paul, was instrumental in bringing the teachings of Jesus to the Roman Empire. At that time, Greece was part of the Roman Empire. During the fourth century, Emperor Constantine legally recognized Christianity as a viable religion and under Theodosius it became the official religion of the empire. After Constantine adopted Christianity as a legal religion of the empire, he moved Rome’s central government to Constantinople (formerly the Greek city of Byzantium) in 330 CE. As a result, this city “…became the focus of the new emerging Orthodox civilization” (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2011). As early Christianity continued to grow, the original scripture, the Old Testament, no longer sufficed. “The church saw the need to bring together all the writing of apostolic origin or inspiration into a single canon” (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2011). During the years that followed the move to Constantinople, seven ecumenical councils were convened to establish Christian doctrine. The rulings of these councils determined how Orthodoxy understands the Trinity, the incarnation, and Christ. These councils also developed the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church. Although local churches were self-contained and had an established hierarchy, it became important to establish guidelines for how each church would interact with each other. By the fifth century, “…a ‘pentarchy’ or system of five sees (patriarchates), with a settled order or precedence, had been established” (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2011). Because Rome was the old center of government and the largest city of the empire, it was given the primary place of honor within the pentarchy. Constantinople was second and Alexandria was third. Even though the pentarchy was established, all bishops were considered equal, but the bishop of Rome was the president of the bishops. After a time, “Greek Christianity soon came to be distinguished from other cultural embodiments of the Christian experience, especially Latin Christianity” (Harakas, 2005). As a result of the differences between Greek and Latin approaches, a split soon occurred and Latin Christianity became known as the Roman Catholic Church. Two major areas of contention that caused the split were which language should be used for sacred texts and services and iconography. Western Orthodoxy was stridently pushing for the use of Latin and Eastern Orthodoxy wanted to retain the use of the native languages to make it easier for new converts to understand. In addition, there were disagreements in theology and approaches to how services should be conducted. The approach taken by Greeks in regards to Christianity was strongly based in...
References: Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Pensacola, Florida. (2011). Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Pensacola, Florida. Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Annunciationgoc.org: http://www.annunciationgoc.org/index.shtml
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. (2011). Introduction: What is the Greek Orthodox Church? Retrieved March 8, 2011, from Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8032
Harakas, S. S. (2005). Greek Orthodox church. Retrieved March 8, 2011, from Gale Virtual Reference Library: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?&id=GALE%7CCX3424501227&v=2.1&u=apollo&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w
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