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Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, is one of the three main
branches A branch, sometimes called a ramus in botany, is a woody structural member connected to the central trunk of a tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, usually suppo ...
of
Chalcedonian Christianity Chalcedonian Christianity is the branch of Christianity that accepts and upholds Christian theology, theological and ecclesiological resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon, the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held in 451. Chalcedonian Christianity ac ...
, alongside
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
and
Protestantism Protestantism is a Christian denomination, branch of Christianity that follows the theological tenets of the Reformation, Protestant Reformation, a movement that began seeking to reform the Catholic Church from within in the 16th century agai ...
. Like the
Pentarchy Pentarchy (from the Ancient Greek, Greek , ''Pentarchía'', from πέντε ''pénte'', "five", and ἄρχειν ''archein'', "to rule") is a model of Church organization formulated in the laws of Emperor Justinian I (527–565) of the Roman ...
of the first millennium, the mainstream (or "
canonical The adjective canonical is applied in many contexts to mean "according to the canon (basic principle), canon" the standard (metrology), standard, rule or primary source that is accepted as authoritative for the body of knowledge or literature in t ...
")
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a Communion (Christ ...
is organised into
autocephalous Autocephaly (; from el, αὐτοκεφαλία, meaning "property of being self-headed") is the status of a hierarchical A hierarchy (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, name ...
churches independent from each other. In the 21st century, the number of mainstream autocephalous churches is seventeen; there also exist autocephalous churches unrecognized by those mainstream ones. Autocephalous churches choose their own
primate Primates are a diverse order (biology), order of mammals. They are divided into the Strepsirrhini, strepsirrhines, which include the lemurs, galagos, and lorisids, and the Haplorhini, haplorhines, which include the Tarsiiformes, tarsiers and ...
. Autocephalous churches can have
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Jur ...
(authority) over other churches, some of which have the status of "
autonomous In developmental psychology and morality, moral, political, and bioethics, bioethical philosophy, autonomy, from , ''autonomos'', from αὐτο- ''auto-'' "self" and νόμος ''nomos'', "law", hence when combined understood to mean "one who g ...
" which means they have more autonomy than simple
eparchies Eparchy ( gr, ἐπαρχία, la, eparchía / ''overlordship'') is an ecclesiastical unit in Eastern Christianity Eastern Christianity comprises Christian traditions and church families that originally developed during classical and la ...
. Many of these jurisdictions correspond to the territories of one or more modern states; the
Patriarchate of Moscow , native_name_lang = ru , image = Moscow July 2011-7a.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = , caption = Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia , abbreviation = ROC , type ...
, for example, corresponds to Russia and some of the other
post-Soviet states The post-Soviet states, also known as the former Soviet Union (FSU), the former Soviet Republics and in Russia as the near abroad (russian: links=no, ближнее зарубежье, blizhneye zarubezhye), are the 15 sovereign states that wer ...
. They can also include metropolises,
bishoprics In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, pro ...
,
parishes A parish is a territorial entity in many Christianity, Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a priest#Christianity, priest, often termed a parish priest ...
,
monasteries A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of Monasticism, monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in Cenobitic monasticism, communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes ...
, or outlying metochions corresponding to diasporas that can also be located outside the country where the primate resides (e.g., the case of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople ( el, Οἰκουμενικὸν Πατριαρχεῖον Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, translit=Oikoumenikón Patriarkhíon Konstantinoupóleos, ; la, Patriarchatus Oecumenicus Constanti ...
whose
canonical territory A canonical territory is, in some Christian denominations, a geographical area seen as belonging to a particular bishop or Christian denomination, Church as its own when it comes to ecclesiastical matters, whether by tradition or by canon law. The ...
is located partly in northern Greece and the east); sometimes they overlap (the case of
Bessarabia Bessarabia (; Gagauz language, Gagauz: ''Besarabiya''; Romanian language, Romanian: ''Basarabia''; Ukrainian language, Ukrainian: ''Бессара́бія'') is a historical region in Eastern Europe, bounded by the Dniester river on the east ...
where the jurisdictions of the patriarchs of Bucharest and of Moscow overlap). The spread of Eastern Orthodoxy began in the eastern area of ​​the
Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (; also known as the Mediterranean Region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded ...
within
Greek culture The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, beginning in Minoan civilization, Minoan and later in Mycenaean Greece, continuing most notably into Classical Greece, while influencing the Roman Empire and its successor the Byzantine ...
. Its communities share an understanding, teaching and offices of great similarity, with a strong sense of seeing each other as parts of one Church. Every Eastern Orthodox Christian sees his or her year punctuated by the
liturgical calendar The liturgical year, also called the church year, Christian year or kalendar, consists of the cycle of liturgy, liturgical seasons in Christian churches that determines when feast days, including Calendar of saints, celebrations of saints, a ...
of the church on which they depend. Eastern Orthodoxy holds that the
Holy Spirit In Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. I ...
proceeds from the
Father A father is the male parent of a child. Besides the paternal bonds of a father to his children, the father may have a parental, legal, and social relationship with the child that carries with it certain rights and obligations. An adoptive fathe ...
and rejects the clause added by Latin churches, "and the Son" (''
Filioque ( ; ) is a Latin term ("and from the Son") added to the original Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (commonly known as the Nicene Creed), and which has been the subject of great controversy between Eastern Christianity, Eastern and Western Chri ...
''), on the grounds that no council was called for the addition.


Theology


Trinity

Eastern Orthodox Christians believe in the
Trinity The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (, from 'threefold') is the central dogma concerning the nature of God in most Christian churches, which defines one God existing in three coequal, coeternal, consubstantial divine persons: God t ...
, three distinct, divine persons ('' hypostases''), without overlap or
modality Modality may refer to: Humanities * Modality (theology), the organization and structure of the church, as distinct from sodality or parachurch organizations * Modality (music), in music, the subject concerning certain diatonic scales * Modalities ...
among them, who each have one divine
essence Essence ( la, essentia) is a polysemic term, used in philosophy and theology as a designation for the property (philosophy), property or set of properties that make an entity or substance theory, substance what it fundamentally is, and which it ...
(''ousia'', Greek: οὐσία)—uncreated, immaterial, and eternal. These three persons are typically distinguished by their relation to each other. The
Father A father is the male parent of a child. Besides the paternal bonds of a father to his children, the father may have a parental, legal, and social relationship with the child that carries with it certain rights and obligations. An adoptive fathe ...
is eternal and not begotten and does not proceed from any, the Son is eternal and begotten of the Father, and the
Holy Spirit In Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. I ...
is eternal and proceeds from the Father. Eastern Orthodox doctrine regarding the Trinity is summarised in the
Nicene Creed The original Nicene Creed (; grc-gre, Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας; la, Symbolum Nicaenum) was first adopted at the First Council of Nicaea in 325. In 381, it was amended at the First Council of Constantinople. The amended form is a ...
. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe in a
monotheistic Monotheism is the belief that there is only one deity, an all-supreme being that is universally referred to as God.F. L. Cross, Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A., eds. (1974). "Monotheism". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2 ed.). Ox ...
conception of God (God is only one), which is both transcendent (wholly independent of, and removed from, the material universe) and immanent (involved in the material universe). In discussing God's relationship to his creation, Eastern Orthodox theology distinguishes between God's eternal essence, which is totally transcendent, and his ''uncreated energies'', which is how he reaches humanity. The God who is transcendent and the God who touches mankind are one and the same. That is, these energies are not something that proceed from God or that God produces, but rather they are God himself: distinct, yet inseparable from God's inner being. This view is often called
Palamism Palamism or the Palamite theology comprises the teachings of Gregory Palamas (c. 1296–1359), whose writings defended the Eastern Orthodox Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, is one of the three main branches of ...
. In understanding the Trinity as "one God in three persons", "three persons" is not to be emphasised more than "one God", and vice versa. While the three persons are distinct, they are united in one divine essence, and their oneness is expressed in community and action so completely that they cannot be considered separately. For example, their salvation of mankind is an activity engaged in common: "Christ became man by the good will of the Father and by the cooperation of the Holy Spirit. Christ sends the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father, and the Holy Spirit forms Christ in our hearts, and thus God the Father is glorified." Their "communion of essence" is "indivisible". Trinitarian terminology—essence, hypostasis, etc.—are used "philosophically", "to answer the ideas of the heretics", and "to place the terms where they separate error and truth."


Sin, salvation, and the incarnation

When Eastern Orthodox Christians refer to fallen nature they are not saying that human nature has become evil in itself. Human nature is still formed in the image of God; humans are still God's creation, and God has never created anything evil, but fallen nature remains open to evil intents and actions. It is sometimes said among the Eastern Orthodox that humans are "inclined to sin"; that is, people find some sinful things attractive. It is the nature of temptation to make sinful things seem the more attractive, and it is the fallen nature of humans that seeks or succumbs to the attraction. Eastern Orthodox Christians reject the Augustinian position that the descendants of Adam and Eve are actually guilty of the original sin of their ancestors.


Resurrection of Christ

The Eastern Orthodox Church understands the death and resurrection of Jesus to be real historical events, as described in the gospels of the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...
.


Christian life

Church teaching is that Eastern Orthodox Christians, through baptism, enter a new life of salvation through repentance whose purpose is to share in the life of God through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Eastern Orthodox Christian life is a spiritual pilgrimage in which each person, through the
imitation of Christ In Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, as well as on Christian tradition. Chri ...
and ''
hesychasm Hesychasm (; Greek: Ησυχασμός) is a contemplative monastic tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, se ...
'', cultivates the practice of unceasing prayer. Each life occurs within the life of the church as a member of the
body of Christ In Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, as well as on Christian tradition. Chri ...
. It is then through the fire of God's love in the action of the Holy Spirit that each member becomes more holy, more wholly unified with Christ, starting in this life and continuing in the next. The church teaches that everyone, being born in God's image, is called to theosis, fulfillment of the image in likeness to God. God the creator, having divinity by nature, offers each person participation in divinity by cooperatively accepting His gift of grace. The Eastern Orthodox Church, in understanding itself to be the
Body of Christ In Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, as well as on Christian tradition. Chri ...
, and similarly in understanding the Christian life to lead to the unification in Christ of all members of his body, views the church as embracing all Christ's members, those now living on earth, and also all those through the ages who have passed on to the heavenly life. The church includes the Christian saints from all times, and also judges, prophets and righteous Jews of the first covenant, Adam and Eve, even the angels and heavenly hosts. In Eastern Orthodox services, the earthly members together with the heavenly members worship God as one community in Christ, in a union that transcends time and space and joins heaven to earth. This unity of the Church is sometimes called the '' communion of the saints''.


Virgin Mary and other saints

Pre-eminent among the saints is the
Virgin Mary Mary; arc, ܡܪܝܡ, translit=Mariam; ar, مريم, translit=Maryam; grc, Μαρία, translit=María; la, Maria; cop, Ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ, translit=Maria was a first-century Jews, Jewish woman of Nazareth, the wife of Saint Joseph, Jose ...
(commonly referred to as ''Theotokos'' or ''Bogoroditsa'': "
Mother of God ''Theotokos'' (Koine Greek, Greek: ) is a Titles of Mary, title of Mary, mother of Jesus, used especially in Eastern Christianity. The usual Latin translations are ''Dei Genitrix'' or ''Deipara'' (approximately "parent (fem.) of God in Christ ...
"). In
Eastern Orthodox theology Eastern Orthodox theology is the Christian theology, theology particular to the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is characterized by Monotheism, monotheistic Trinitarianism, belief in the Incarnation (Christianity), Incarnation of the essentially d ...
, the Mother of God is the fulfillment of the Old Testament archetypes revealed in the
Ark of the Covenant The Ark of the Covenant,; Geʽez, Ge'ez: also known as the Ark of the Testimony or the Ark of God, is an alleged artifact believed to be the most sacred relic of the Israelites, which is described as a wooden Chest (furniture), chest, covere ...
(because she carried the New Covenant in the person of Christ) and the
burning bush The burning bush (or the unburnt bush) refers to an event recorded in the Jewish Torah (as also in the biblical Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based ...
that appeared before
Moses Moses hbo, מֹשֶׁה, Mōše; also known as Moshe or Moshe Rabbeinu (Mishnaic Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, ); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, Mūše; ar, موسى, Mūsā; grc, Mωϋσῆς, Mōÿsēs () is considered the most important Prop ...
(symbolising the Mother of God's carrying of God without being consumed). The Eastern Orthodox believe that Christ, from the moment of his conception, was both fully God and fully human. Mary is thus called the ''Theotokos'' or ''Bogoroditsa'' as an affirmation of the divinity of the one to whom she gave birth. It is also believed that her virginity was not compromised in conceiving God-incarnate, that she was not harmed and that she remained forever a virgin. Scriptural references to "brothers" of Christ are interpreted as kin. Due to her unique place in salvation history according to Eastern Orthodox teaching, Mary is honoured above all other saints in this religion and especially venerated for the great work that God accomplished through her. The Eastern Orthodox Church regards the bodies of all saints as holy because of their participation in prescribed rituals called
holy mysteries Sacred mysteries are the areas of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious belief and praxis (process), praxis. Sacred mysteries may be either: # Religious beliefs, rituals or practices which are kept secret from the Initi ...
. Physical items connected with saints are also regarded as holy, through their participation in the earthly works of those saints. According to Eastern Orthodox church teaching and tradition, God himself bears witness to this holiness of saints'
relics In religion, a relic is an object or article of religious significance from the past. It usually consists of the physical remains of a saint or the personal effects of the saint or venerated person preserved for purposes of veneration as a tangi ...
through the many miracles connected with them that have been reported throughout history since biblical times, often including healing from disease and injury.


Eschatology

Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that when a person dies the soul is temporarily separated from the body. Though it may linger for a short period on Earth, it is ultimately escorted either to paradise ( Abraham's bosom) or the darkness of
Hades Hades (; grc-gre, ᾍδης, Háidēs; ), in the ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, myth, is the god of the dead and the king of the Greek underworld, underworld, with which his name became synonymous. Hades was the eldest son of Cro ...
, following the Temporary Judgment. Orthodox do not accept the doctrine of
Purgatory Purgatory (, borrowed into English language, English via Anglo-Norman language, Anglo-Norman and Old French) is, according to the belief of some Christianity, Christian denominations (mostly Catholic), an intermediate state after physical death ...
, which is held by Catholicism. The soul's experience of either of these states is only a "foretaste"—being experienced only by the soul—until the Final Judgment, when the soul and body will be reunited.Rose, Father Seraphim, ''The Soul After Death'', St. Herman Press, Platina, CA, c. 1980 The Eastern Orthodox believe that the state of the soul in Hades can be affected by the love and prayers of the righteous up until the Last Judgment. For this reason the Church offers a special
prayer for the dead Religions with the belief in a Judgment Day, future judgment, a resurrection of the dead or a purgatory often offer prayers on behalf of the dead to God. Buddhism For most funerals that follow the tradition of Chinese Buddhism, common practices in ...
on the third day, ninth day, fortieth day, and the one-year anniversary after the death of an Eastern Orthodox Christian. There are also several days throughout the year that are set aside for general commemoration of the departed, sometimes including nonbelievers. These days usually fall on a Saturday, since it was on a Saturday that Christ lay in the
Tomb A tomb ( grc-gre, τύμβος ''tumbos'') is a :wikt:repository, repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. Placing a corpse into a tomb can be ...
. The Eastern Orthodox believe that after the Final Judgment: * All souls will be reunited with their resurrected bodies. * All souls will fully experience their spiritual state. * Having been perfected, the saints will forever progress towards a deeper and fuller love of God, which equates with eternal happiness.


Bible

The official Bible of the Eastern Orthodox Church contains the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Greek language, Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible. It includes several ...
text of the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;
, with the
Book of Daniel The Book of Daniel is a 2nd-century BC biblical apocalypse with a 6th century BC setting. Ostensibly "an account of the activities and visions of Daniel, a noble Jew exiled at Babylon", it combines a prophecy of history with an eschatolog ...
given in the translation by
Theodotion Theodotion (; grc-gre, Θεοδοτίων, ''gen''.: Θεοδοτίωνος; died c. 200) was a Hellenistic Jewish scholar, perhaps working in Ephesus, who in c. 150 CE translated the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;Patriarchal Text is used for the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...
. Orthodox Christians hold that the Bible is a verbal icon of Christ, as proclaimed by the 7th ecumenical council. They refer to the Bible as
holy scripture Religious texts, including scripture, are Text (literary theory), texts which various religions consider to be of central importance to their religious tradition. They differ from literature by being a compilation or discussion of beliefs, m ...
, meaning writings containing the foundational truths of the Christian faith as revealed by Christ and the
Holy Spirit In Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. I ...
to its divinely inspired human authors. Holy scripture forms the primary and authoritative written witness of
holy tradition Sacred tradition is a theological term used in Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament ...
and is essential as the basis for all Orthodox teaching and belief. Once established as holy scripture, there has never been any question that the Eastern Orthodox Church holds the full list of books to be venerable and beneficial for reading and study, even though it informally holds some books in higher esteem than others, the four gospels highest of all. Of the subgroups significant enough to be named, the " Anagignoskomena" (ἀναγιγνωσκόμενα, "things that are read") comprises ten of the Old Testament books rejected in the Protestant canon, but deemed by the Eastern Orthodox worthy to be read in worship services, even though they carry a lesser esteem than the 39 books of the Hebrew canon. The lowest tier contains the remaining books not accepted by either Protestants or Catholics, among them, Psalm 151. Though it is a psalm, and is in the book of psalms, it is not classified as being within the Psalter (the first 150 psalms). Eastern Orthodoxy does not subscribe to the doctrine of ''
sola scriptura , meaning by scripture alone, is a Christian theology, Christian theological doctrine held by most Protestantism, Protestant Christian denominations, in particular the Lutheranism, Lutheran and Reformed tradition, Reformed traditions of Protest ...
''. Rather, Eastern Orthodoxy teaches that its church has defined what Scripture is, and therefore, its church also interprets the meanings of Scripture. Scriptures are understood by Eastern Orthodox interpretation to contain historical fact, poetry, idiom, metaphor, simile, moral fable, parable, prophecy and
wisdom literature Wisdom literature is a genre of literature common in the ancient Near East. It consists of statements by sage (philosophy), sages and the Wisdom, wise that offer teachings about divinity and virtue. Although this genre uses techniques of tradition ...
, and each bears its own consideration in its interpretation. While divinely inspired, the text still consists of words in human languages, arranged in humanly recognisable forms. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not oppose honest critical and historical study of the Bible.


Holy tradition and the patristic consensus

" That faith which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all", the faith taught by Jesus to the apostles, given life by the
Holy Spirit In Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. I ...
at
Pentecost Pentecost (also called Whit Sunday, Whitsunday or Whitsun) is a Christianity, Christian holiday which takes place on the 50th day (the seventh Sunday) after Easter Sunday. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in the Ne ...
, and passed down to future generations without additions and without subtractions, is known as
holy tradition Sacred tradition is a theological term used in Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament ...
. Holy tradition does not change in the Eastern Orthodox Church because it encompasses those things that do not change: the nature of the one God in Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the history of God's interactions with his peoples, the Law as given to the Israelites, all Christ's teaching as given to the disciples and Jews and recorded in scripture, including the parables, the prophecies, the miracles, and his own example to humanity in his extreme humility. It encompasses also the worship of the church, which grew out of the worship of the synagogue and temple and was extended by Christ at the last supper, and the relationship between God and his people which that worship expresses, which is also evidenced between Christ and his disciples. It includes the authority that Christ bestowed on his disciples when he made them apostles. Holy tradition is firm, even unyielding, but not rigid or legalistic; instead, it lives and breathes within the church. For example, the New Testament was entirely written by the early church (mostly the apostles). The whole Bible was accepted as scripture by means of holy tradition practised within the early church. The writing and acceptance took five centuries, by which time the holy scriptures themselves had become in their entirety a part of holy tradition. But holy tradition did not change, because "that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all" remained consistent, without additions, and without subtractions. The historical development of the Divine Liturgy and other worship services and devotional practices of the church provide a similar example of extension and growth "without change". Besides these, holy tradition includes the doctrinal definitions and statements of faith of the seven ecumenical councils, including the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and some later local councils, patristic writings,
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or chur ...
, and icons. Not all portions of holy tradition are held to be equally strong. Some—the holy scriptures foremost, certain aspects of worship, especially in the Divine Liturgy, the doctrines of the ecumenical councils, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed—possess a verified authority that endures forever, irrevocably. However, with local councils and patristic writings, the church applies a selective judgement. Some councils and writers have occasionally fallen into error, and some contradict each other. In other cases, opinions differ, no consensus is forthcoming, and all are free to choose. With agreement among the Church Fathers, though, the authority of interpretation grows, and full patristic consensus is very strong. With canon law (which tends to be highly rigorous and very strict, especially with clergy) an unalterable validity also does not apply, since canons deal with living on earth, where conditions are always changing and each case is subject to almost infinite variation from the next. By tradition, the Eastern Orthodox Church, when faced with issues that are larger than a single bishop can resolve, holds a local council. The bishops and such others as may attend convene (as St. Paul called the Corinthians to do) to seek the ''mind of the church''. A council's declarations or edicts then reflect its consensus (if one can be found). An ecumenical council is only called for issues of such import or difficulty or pervasiveness that smaller councils are insufficient to address them. Ecumenical councils' declarations and canons carry binding weight by virtue of their representation across the whole church, by which the mind of the church can be readily seen. However, not all issues are so difficult as to require an ecumenical council to resolve. Some doctrines or decisions, not defined in a formal statement or proclaimed officially, nevertheless are held by the church unshakably and unanimously without internal disturbance, and these, also reflecting the mind of the church, are just as firmly irrevocable as a formal declaration of an ecumenical council. Lack of formality does not imply lack of authority within holy tradition.


Territorial expansion and doctrinal integrity

As the church increased in size through the centuries, the logistic dynamics of operating such large entities shifted: patriarchs, metropolitans, archimandrites, abbots and abbesses, all rose up to cover certain points of administration.


Liturgy


Church calendar

Lesser cycles also run in tandem with the annual ones. A weekly cycle of days prescribes a specific focus for each day in addition to others that may be observed:


Church services


Music and chanting

For the composition of religious chant, the
Octoechos Oktōēchos (here transcribed "Octoechos"; Greek language, Greek: ;The feminine form exists as well, but means the book Octoechos (liturgy), octoechos. from wikt:ὀκτώ, ὀκτώ "eight" and wikt:ἦχος, ἦχος "sound, mode" called ech ...
, an eight- tone (mode) system, analogous to the Gregorian modes in the West, and to other ancient Christian musical systems, is used.
Byzantine music Byzantine music ( Greek: Βυζαντινή μουσική) is the music of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern prov ...
is
microtonal Microtonal music or microtonality is the use in music of microtones—interval (music), intervals smaller than a semitone, also called "microintervals". It may also be extended to include any music using intervals not found in the customary Wes ...
. Northern Slavs, however, have used simpler tonal systems evolved through the sundry local types of
Znamenny chant Znamenny Chant (russian: знаменное пение, знаменный распев) is a singing tradition used by some in the Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinent ...
; today Western music, often with
four-part harmony The term "four-part harmony" refers to music written for four Human voice, voices, or for some other musical medium—four musical instruments or a single keyboard instrument, for example—for which the various musical parts can give a different ...
, and the "tones" are simply sets of melodies. There are numerous versions and styles that are traditional and acceptable and these vary a great deal between cultures.


Traditions


Monasticism

The Eastern Orthodox Church places emphasis and awards a high level of prestige to traditions of
monasticism Monasticism (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following perio ...
and
asceticism Asceticism (; from the el, Wiktionary:ἄσκησις, ἄσκησις, áskesis, exercise', 'training) is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw ...
with roots in
Early Christianity Early Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major reli ...
in the
Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region in Western Asia, that was once the hist ...
and Byzantine
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
. The most important centres of Christian Orthodox monasticism are
Saint Catherine's Monastery Saint Catherine's Monastery ( ar, دير القدّيسة كاترين; grc-gre, Μονὴ τῆς Ἁγίας Αἰκατερίνης), officially the Sacred Autonomous Royal Monastery of Saint Katherine of the Holy and God-Trodden Mount Sinai, ...
in the
Sinai Peninsula The Sinai Peninsula, or simply Sinai (now usually ) (, , cop, Ⲥⲓⲛⲁ), is a peninsula in Egypt, and the only part of the country located in Asia. It is between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the south, and is a l ...
(
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
) and
Mount Athos Mount Athos (; el, Ἄθως, ) is a mountain in the distal part of the eponymous Athos peninsula and site of an important centre of Eastern Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodox monasticism in northeastern Greece. The mountain along with the respective ...
in
Northern Greece Northern Greece ( el, Βόρεια Ελλάδα, Voreia Ellada) is used to refer to the northern parts of Greece, and can have various definitions. Administrative regions of Greece Administrative term The term "Northern Greece" is widely used ...
. All bishops are monks; if a man who is not a monk is elected a bishop, he must be tonsured a monk before he may be consecrated. Customarily, also, a man must either be a monk or be married to be ordained.


Icons and symbols


Icons

Aspects of the
iconography Iconography, as a branch of art history, studies the identification, description and interpretation of the content of images: the subjects depicted, the particular compositions and details used to do so, and other elements that are distinct fro ...
borrow from the pre-Christian
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
and
Hellenistic art Hellenistic art is the art of the Hellenistic period generally taken to begin with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and end with the Roman Greece, conquest of the Greek world by the Romans, a process well underway by 146 BCE, when the ...
. Henry Chadwick wrote, "In this instinct there was a measure of truth. The representations of Christ as the Almighty Lord on his judgment throne owed something to pictures of Zeus. Portraits of the Mother of God were not wholly independent of a pagan past of venerated mother-goddesses. In the popular mind the saints had come to fill a role that had been played by heroes and deities." Icons can be found adorning the walls of churches and often cover the inside structure completely. Most Eastern Orthodox homes have an area set aside for family prayer, usually an eastern facing wall, where are hung many icons. Icons have been part of Orthodox Christianity since the beginning of the church.


Iconostasis

An ''iconostasis'', also called the ''templon'', is a wall of
icons An icon () is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, in the cultures of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Catholic Church, Catholic churches. They are not simply artworks; "an icon is a sacred image used in religious devo ...
and religious paintings, separating the
nave The nave () is the central part of a church architecture, church, stretching from the (normally western) main entrance or rear wall, to the transepts, or in a church without transepts, to the chancel. When a church contains Aisle#Church arc ...
from the
sanctuary A sanctuary, in its original meaning, is a sacred space, sacred place, such as a shrine. By the use of such places as a haven, by extension the term has come to be used for any place of safety. This secondary use can be categorized into human sa ...
in a
church Church may refer to: Religion * Church (building), a building for Christian religious activities * Church (congregation), a local congregation of a Christian denomination * Church service, a formalized period of Christian communal worship * Chris ...
. ''Iconostasis'' also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church. The modern iconostasis evolved from the
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
templon A templon (from Greek language, Greek τέμπλον meaning "temple", plural ''templa'') is a feature of Byzantine architecture, Byzantine churches consisting of a barrier separating the nave from the chancel, sanctuary near the altar. The solid ...
in the 11th century. The evolution of the iconostasis probably owes a great deal to 14th-century Hesychast
mysticism Mysticism is popularly known as becoming one with God or the Absolute, but may refer to any kind of Religious ecstasy, ecstasy or altered state of consciousness which is given a religious or Spirituality, spiritual meaning. It may also refer to ...
and the wood-carving genius of the
Russian Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = ru , image = Moscow July 2011-7a.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = , caption = Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Fed ...
. The first ceiling-high, five-leveled Russian iconostasis was designed by Andrey Rublyov in the
cathedral of the Dormition The Cathedral of the Dormition (russian: Успенский собор , translit = Uspensky sobor), also known as the Assumption Cathedral or Cathedral of the Assumption, is a Russian Orthodox church (building), church dedicated to the Dormitio ...
in Vladimir in 1408.


Cross

The small top crossbar represents the sign that
Pontius Pilate Pontius Pilate (; grc-gre, Πόντιος Πιλᾶτος, ) was the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under Emperor Tiberius Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus (; 16 November 42 BC – 16 March AD 37) was the second Rom ...
nailed above Christ's head. It often is inscribed with an acronym, "INRI", Latin for " Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" or "INBI", Greek Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ βασιλεύς τῶν Ἰουδαίων for " Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews"; however, it is often replaced or amplified by the phrase "The King of Glory" in order to answer Pilate's statement with Christ's affirmation, "My Kingdom is not of this world". Other crosses associated with the Eastern Orthodox Church are the more traditional single-bar crosses, budded designs, the
Greek cross The Christian cross, with or without a figure of Christ included, is the main religious symbol of Christianity. A cross with a figure of Christ affixed to it is termed a ''crucifix'' and the figure is often referred to as the ''corpus'' (Lat ...
, the
Latin cross A Latin cross or ''crux immissa'' is a type of cross in which the wikt:vertical, vertical beam sticks above the wikt:crossbeam, crossbeam, with the three upper arms either equally long or with the vertical topmost arm shorter than the two horizo ...
, the
Jerusalem cross The Jerusalem cross (also known as "five-fold Cross", or "cross-and-crosslets") is a heraldic cross and Christian cross variant consisting of a large cross potent surrounded by four smaller Greek cross The Christian cross, with or with ...
(cross pattée),
Celtic cross The Celtic cross is a form of Christian cross featuring a halo (religious iconography), nimbus or ring that emerged in Ireland, France and Great Britain in the Early Middle Ages. A type of ringed cross, it became widespread through its use ...
es, and others. A common symbolism of the slanted foot stool is The foot-rest points up, toward Heaven, on Christ's right hand-side, and downward, to Hades, on Christ's left. "Between two thieves Thy Cross did prove to be a balance of righteousness: wherefore one of them was dragged down to Hades by the weight of his blasphemy '' he balance points downward', whereas the other was lightened of his transgressions unto the comprehension of theology '' he balance points upward'. O Christ God, glory to Thee."


Art and architecture

The Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on New York City's
Upper East Side The Upper East Side, sometimes abbreviated UES, is a neighborhood in the boroughs of New York City, borough of Manhattan in New York City, bounded by 96th Street (Manhattan), 96th Street to the north, the East River to the east, 59th Street (Man ...
is the largest Eastern Orthodox Christian church in the
Western Hemisphere The Western Hemisphere is the half of the planet Earth that lies west of the prime meridian (which crosses Greenwich, London, United Kingdom) and east of the 180th meridian, antimeridian. The other half is called the Eastern Hemisphere. Politica ...
.


Local customs

Locality is also expressed in regional terms of churchly jurisdiction, which is often also drawn along national lines. Many Orthodox churches adopt a national title (e.g.
Albanian Orthodox The Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania ( sq, Kisha Ortodokse Autoqefale e Shqipërisë), commonly known as the Albanian Orthodox Church or the Orthodox Church of Albania, is an autocephaly, autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern O ...
,
Bulgarian Orthodox The Bulgarian Orthodox Church ( bg, Българска православна църква, translit=Balgarska pravoslavna tsarkva), legally the Patriarchate Patriarchate ( grc, πατριαρχεῖον, ''patriarcheîon'') is an Ecclesiolo ...
,
Georgian Orthodox The Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia ( ka, საქართველოს სამოციქულო ავტოკეფალური მართლმადიდებელი ეკლესია, tr), commonly ...
,
Greek Orthodox The term Greek Orthodox Church (Greek language, Greek: Ἑλληνορθόδοξη Ἐκκλησία, ''Ellinorthódoxi Ekklisía'', ) has two meanings. The broader meaning designates "the Eastern Orthodox Church, entire body of Orthodox (Chalced ...
,
Romanian Orthodox The Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC; ro, Biserica Ortodoxă Română, ), or Patriarchate of Romania, is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox Christian churches, and one of the nine patriarcha ...
,
Russian Orthodox Russian Orthodoxy (russian: Русское православие) is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whose liturgy is or was traditionally conducted in Church Slavonic language. Most C ...
,
Serbian Orthodox The Serbian Orthodox Church ( sr-Cyrl, Српска православна црква, Srpska pravoslavna crkva) is one of the autocephalous (ecclesiastically independent) Eastern Orthodox Christian denomination, Christian churches. The majori ...
, Ukrainian Orthodox, etc.) and this title can identify which language is used in services, which bishops preside, and which of the typica is followed by specific congregations. In the Middle East, Orthodox Christians are usually referred to as ''
Rum Rum is a liquor made by fermentation (food), fermenting and then distillation, distilling sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. The distillate, a clear liquid, is usually aged in oak barrels. Rum is produced in nearly every sugar-producing reg ...
'' ("Roman") Orthodox, because of their historical connection with the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.


Holy mysteries (sacraments)

Those things which in the West are often termed
sacraments A sacrament is a Christianity, Christian Rite (Christianity), rite that is recognized as being particularly important and significant. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments ...
or
sacramentals A sacramental in Christianity is a material object or action (in Latin ''sacramentalia'') ritually blessed by a priest to signal its association with the sacrament A sacrament is a Christianity, Christian Rite (Christianity), rite that is ...
are known among the Eastern Orthodox as the "sacred mysteries". While the Roman Catholic Church numbers seven sacraments, and many Protestant groups list two (baptism and the Eucharist) or even none, the Eastern Orthodox do not limit the number. However, for the sake of convenience,
catechism A catechism (; from grc, κατηχέω, "to teach orally") is a summary or exposition of doctrine and serves as a learning introduction to the Sacraments traditionally used in catechesis, or Christian religious teaching of children and adult c ...
s often speak of the seven great mysteries. Among these are
Holy Communion The Eucharist (; from Greek , , ), also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, is a Christianity, Christian Rite (Christianity), rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an Ordinance (Christianity), ordinance in ot ...
(the most direct connection),
baptism Baptism (from grc-x-koine, βάπτισμα, váptisma) is a form of ritual purification—a characteristic of many religions throughout time and geography. In Christianity, it is a Christian sacrament of initiation and adoption, almost i ...
,
Chrismation Chrismation consists of the sacrament or Sacred Mysteries, mystery in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church ...
,
confession A confession is a statement – made by a person or by a group of persons – acknowledging some personal fact that the person (or the group) would ostensibly prefer to keep hidden. The term presumes that the speaker is providing information th ...
, unction,
matrimony Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouses. It establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between t ...
, and
ordination Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity In religious organizations, the laity () consists of all Church membership, members who are not part of the clergy, usually includ ...
. But the term also properly applies to other sacred actions such as monastic
tonsure Tonsure () is the practice of cutting or shaving some or all of the hair on the scalp as a sign of religious devotion or humility. The term originates from the Latin word ' (meaning "clipping" or "shearing") and referred to a specific practice in ...
or the blessing of
holy water Holy water is water that has been Blessing, blessed by a member of the clergy or a religious figure, or derived from a well or spring considered holy. The use for cleansing prior to a baptism and spiritual cleansing is common in several religi ...
, and involves fasting, almsgiving, or an act as simple as lighting a candle, burning incense, praying or asking God's blessing on food.


Baptism

Baptism Baptism (from grc-x-koine, βάπτισμα, váptisma) is a form of ritual purification—a characteristic of many religions throughout time and geography. In Christianity, it is a Christian sacrament of initiation and adoption, almost i ...
is the mystery which transforms the old and sinful person into a new and pure one; the old life, the sins, any mistakes made are gone and a clean slate is given. Through baptism a person is united to the
Body of Christ In Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, as well as on Christian tradition. Chri ...
by becoming a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church. During the service,
water Water (chemical formula ) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known living ...
is blessed. The catechumen is fully immersed in the water three times in the name of the Trinity. This is considered to be a death of the "old man" by participation in the crucifixion and burial of Christ, and a rebirth into new life in Christ by participation in his resurrection. Properly, the mystery of baptism is administered by bishops and priests; however, in emergencies any Eastern Orthodox Christian can baptise.


Chrismation

Chrismation Chrismation consists of the sacrament or Sacred Mysteries, mystery in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church ...
(sometimes called
confirmation In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of the covenant (religion), covenant created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. For adults, it is an wikt:affirmation, affirma ...
) is the mystery by which a baptised person is granted the gift of the
Holy Spirit In Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. I ...
through anointing with Holy
Chrism Chrism, also called myrrh, ''myron'', holy anointing oil, and consecrated oil, is a consecrated oil used in the Anglican Communion, Anglican, Assyrian Church of the East, Assyrian, Catholic Church, Catholic, Nordic High Church Lutheranism, Luther ...
. It is normally given immediately after baptism as part of the same service, but is also used to receive lapsed members of the Eastern Orthodox Church. As baptism is a person's participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, so Chrismation is a person's participation in the coming of the Holy Spirit at
Pentecost Pentecost (also called Whit Sunday, Whitsunday or Whitsun) is a Christianity, Christian holiday which takes place on the 50th day (the seventh Sunday) after Easter Sunday. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in the Ne ...
. A baptised and chrismated Eastern Orthodox Christian is a full member of the church and may receive the Eucharist regardless of age. Anointing with chrism substitutes for the laying-on of hands described in the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...
.


Holy Communion (Eucharist)

Communion is given only to baptised and chrismated Eastern Orthodox Christians who have prepared by fasting, prayer and confession. The priest administers the gifts with a spoon, called a "cochlear", directly into the recipient's mouth from the chalice. From baptism young infants and children are carried to the chalice to receive holy communion.


Repentance (Confession)

There are many different practices regarding how often Eastern Orthodox Christians should go to confession. Some Patriarchates advise confession before each reception of
Holy Communion The Eucharist (; from Greek , , ), also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, is a Christianity, Christian Rite (Christianity), rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an Ordinance (Christianity), ordinance in ot ...
, others advise confessing during each of the four fasting periods (
Great Lent Great Lent, or the Great Fast, (Greek Language, Greek: Μεγάλη Τεσσαρακοστή or Μεγάλη Νηστεία, meaning "Great 40 Days," and "Great Fast," respectively) is the most important fasting season of the church year withi ...
,
Nativity Fast In Christianity, the Nativity Fast—or Fast of the Prophets in Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church—is a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Churches ...
,
Apostles' Fast The Apostles' Fast, also called the Fast of the Holy Apostles, the Fast of Peter and Paul, or sometimes St. Peter's Fast, is a fasting, fast observed by Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, and Reformed Orthodoxy (Eastern Christi ...
and Dormition Fast), and there are many additional variants.


Marriage

From the Orthodox perspective, marriage is one of the holy mysteries or sacraments. As well as in many other Christian traditions, for example in Catholicism, it serves to unite a woman and a man in eternal union and love before God, with the purpose of following Christ and his Gospel and raising up a faithful, holy family through their holy union. The church understands marriage to be the union of one man and one woman, and certain Orthodox leaders have spoken out strongly in opposition to the civil institution of
same-sex marriage Same-sex marriage, also known as gay marriage, is the marriage of two people of the same Legal sex and gender, sex or gender. marriage between same-sex couples is legally performed and recognized in 33 countries, with the most recent being ...
. Jesus said that "when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Mk 12:25). For the Orthodox Christian this passage should not be understood to imply that Christian marriage will not remain a reality in the Kingdom, but points to the fact that relations will not be "fleshy", but "spiritual". Love between wife and husband, as an icon of relationship between Christ and Church, is eternal. The church does recognise that there are rare occasions when it is better that couples do separate, but there is no official recognition of civil divorces. For the E. Orthodox, to say that marriage is indissoluble means that it should not be broken, the violation of such a union, perceived as holy, being an offense resulting from either adultery or the prolonged absence of one of the partners. Thus, permitting remarriage is an act of compassion of the church towards sinful man.


Holy orders

Widowed priests and
deacons A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christianity, Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the ...
may not remarry and it is common for such members of the clergy to retire to a monastery (see
clerical celibacy Clerical celibacy is the requirement in certain religions that some or all members of the clergy be unmarried. Clerical celibacy also requires abstention from deliberately indulging in sexual thoughts and behavior outside of marriage, because thes ...
). This is also true of widowed wives of clergy, who do not remarry and become nuns when their children are grown. Only men are allowed to receive holy orders, although deaconesses had both liturgical and pastoral functions within the church. In 2016, the Patriarchate of Alexandria decided to reintroduce the order of deaconess. In February 2017, Patriarch Theodore II consecrated five women to be deacons within the
Patriarchate of Alexandria The Patriarch of Alexandria is the archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Historically, this office has included the designation "Pope (word), pope" (etymologically "Father", like "Abbot"). The Alexandrian bishop, episcopate was revered as one of t ...
.


Distribution

Eastern Orthodoxy is the predominant religion in the world's largest country, Russia (77%), where roughly half the world's Eastern Orthodox Christians live. The religion is also heavily concentrated in the rest of
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is a subregion of the Europe, European continent. As a largely ambiguous term, it has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic connotations. The vast majority of the region is covered by Russ ...
, where it is the majority religion in Ukraine (65.4%РЕЛІГІЯ, ЦЕРКВА, СУСПІЛЬСТВО І ДЕРЖАВА: ДВА РОКИ ПІСЛЯ МАЙДАНУ (''Religion, Church, Society and State: Two Years after Maidan'')
, 2016 report by Razumkov Center in collaboration with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches. pp. 27-29.
–77%), Romania (82%),
Belarus Belarus,, , ; alternatively and formerly known as Byelorussia (from Russian ). officially the Republic of Belarus,; rus, Республика Беларусь, Respublika Belarus. is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by R ...
(48%Religion and denominations in the Republic of Belarus by the Commissioner on Religions and Nationalities of the Republic of Belarus from November 2011
/ref>–73%), Greece (95%–98%),
Serbia Serbia (, ; Serbian language, Serbian: , , ), officially the Republic of Serbia (Serbian language, Serbian: , , ), is a landlocked country in Southeast Europe, Southeastern and Central Europe, situated at the crossroads of the Pannonian Bas ...
(97%),
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the eastern flank of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedon ...
(88%),
Moldova Moldova ( , ; ), officially the Republic of Moldova ( ro, Republica Moldova), is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country located at the crossroads of Central Europe ...
(93%), Georgia (84%),
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in 1991 as one of the successor states of Socialist Feder ...
(65%),
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Its continental position is disputed; while it is geo ...
(89%) and
Montenegro ) , image_map = Europe-Montenegro.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Podgorica , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Mo ...
(72%); it is also predominant in the disputed territories of
Abkhazia Abkhazia, ka, აფხაზეთი, tr, , xmf, აბჟუა, abzhua, or ( or ), officially the Republic of Abkhazia, is a partially recognised State (polity), state in the South Caucasus, International recognition of Abkhazia and ...
,
South Ossetia South Ossetia, ka, სამხრეთი ოსეთი, ( , ), officially the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania, is a international recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, partially recognised Landlocked country, ...
and
Transnistria Transnistria, officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), is an List of states with limited recognition, unrecognised breakaway state that is internationally recognised as a part of Moldova. Transnistria controls most of the narro ...
. Significant minorities are present in several European countries:
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina ( sh, / , ), abbreviated BiH () or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and Pars pro toto#Geography, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country at the crossroads of Southern Europe, south and southeast Euro ...
(31%),
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of ...
(18%),
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...
(14%),
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or ), or , also or . officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It is located on the Adriatic Sea, Adriatic and Ionian Seas within the ...
(7%), Religion in Albania#Religious demography
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no ), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of three Baltic states and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania ...
(4%),
Croatia , image_flag = Flag of Croatia.svg , image_coat = Coat of arms of Croatia.svg , anthem = " Lijepa naša domovino"("Our Beautiful Homeland") , image_map = , map_caption = , capi ...
(4%),
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , Abbreviation, abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the s ...
(2%), and Finland (1.5%). In the former Soviet republics of
Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the c ...
, Eastern Orthodoxy constitutes the dominant religion in northern
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to Kazakhstan–Russia border, the north and ...
, representing 23.9% of the population of the region,Table 28, 2013 Census Data – QuickStats About Culture and Identity – Tables
and is also a significant minority in
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan,, pronounced or the Kyrgyz Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan border, the north, Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border, the west, Tajikistan to K ...
(17%),
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan / Түркменистан, ) is a country located in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border, northwest, Uzbekistan to the Turkmenistan–Uzbekistan border, north, eas ...
(5%),
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes / , ; russian: Узбекистан), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi, italic=yes / ; russian: Республика Узбекистан), is a Doubly landlocked, do ...
(5%),
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
(2%), and
Tajikistan Tajikistan (, ; tg, Тоҷикистон, Tojikiston; russian: Таджикистан, Tadzhikistan), officially the Republic of Tajikistan ( tg, Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон, Jumhurii Tojikiston), is a landlocked country in Centra ...
(1%). Significant Eastern Orthodox populations in the
Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the East, eastern approximate One half, half, or third, of the Mediterranean Sea, often defined as the countries around the Levantine Sea. It typically embraces all of that sea's coastal zones, refe ...
(primarily
Greek Orthodox The term Greek Orthodox Church (Greek language, Greek: Ἑλληνορθόδοξη Ἐκκλησία, ''Ellinorthódoxi Ekklisía'', ) has two meanings. The broader meaning designates "the Eastern Orthodox Church, entire body of Orthodox (Chalced ...
) are
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue ...
(8%),Lebanon – International Religious Freedom Report 2010
U.S. Department of State. Retrieved on 14 February 2010.
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
(5–8%),
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' is a country in Western Asia. It is situated at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe, within the Levan ...
(2–5%),
State of Palestine Palestine ( ar, فلسطين, Filasṭīn), Legal status of the State of Palestine, officially the State of Palestine ( ar, دولة فلسطين, Dawlat Filasṭīn, label=none), is a state (polity), state located in Western Asia. Officiall ...
(1%–2.5%), and
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
(1–2%).


See also

*
Orthodoxy Orthodoxy (from Greek: ) is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified p ...
*
Eastern Orthodox theology Eastern Orthodox theology is the Christian theology, theology particular to the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is characterized by Monotheism, monotheistic Trinitarianism, belief in the Incarnation (Christianity), Incarnation of the essentially d ...
*
Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar The Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar describes and dictates the rhythm of the life of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Passages of Holy Scripture, saints and events for commemoration are associated with each date, as are many times special rule ...
*
Revised Julian calendar The Revised Julian calendar, or less formally the new calendar, is a calendar proposed in 1923 by the Serbian scientist Milutin Milanković as a more accurate alternative to both Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendar, Gregorian calendars. ...
*
Western Rite Orthodoxy Western Rite Orthodoxy, also called Western Orthodoxy or the Orthodox Western Rite, are Church (congregation), congregations within the Eastern Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodox tradition which perform their liturgy in Latin liturgical rites, Western f ...
* Russian Orthodox cross * List of Eastern Orthodox saints


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* (Introduction by C. S. Lewis) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Tertiary reference works

* * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * Krindatch, Alexei D. ed., ''Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches'' (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2011
online
* * * * * * * * * * Scouteris, Constantine,
A Brief Outline of the Orthodox Church, Ἐκκλησιαστικός Φάρος, 65 (2004), pp. 60–75.
' {{Christianity footer