The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, also known as the Antiochian Orthodox Church and legally as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East ( ar, بطريركيّة أنطاكية وسائر المشرق للروم الأرثوذكس, translit=Baṭriyarkiyyat ʾAnṭākiya wa-Sāʾir al-Mašriq li-r-Rūm al-ʾUrṯūḏuks, lit=Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East for the Orthodox Rūm, Romaeans/Byzantines), is an autocephaly, autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox church within the wider communion of Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Headed by the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch, it considers itself the successor to the Christians, Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostle (Christian), Apostles Saint Peter, Peter and Saint Paul, Paul.


The seat of the patriarchate was formerly Antioch, in what is now Turkey. However, in the 14th century, it was moved to Damascus, modern-day Syria. Its traditional territory includes Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and also parts of Turkey. Its territory formerly included the Church of Cyprus until the latter became autocephaly, autocephalous in 431. Both the Orthodox Churches of Antioch and Cyprus are members of the Middle East Council of Churches. Its Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, North American branch is autonomous, although the Holy Synod of Antioch still appoints its head bishop, chosen from a list of three candidates nominated in the North American archdiocese. Its Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand, and All Oceania, Australasia and Oceania branch is the largest in terms of geographic area due to the relatively large size of Australia and the large portion of the Pacific Ocean that the archdiocese covers. The head of the Orthodox Church of Antioch is called List of Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch, Patriarch. The present Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch is John X of Antioch, John X (Yazigi), who presided over the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe (2008–2013). He was elected as primate of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East as John X of Antioch, John X of Antioch (Yazigi) on December 17, 2012. He succeeded Ignatius IV of Antioch, Ignatius IV who had died on December 5, 2012. Membership statistics are not available, but may be as high as 1,100,000 in Syria and 400,000 in Lebanon where they make up 8% of the population or 20% of Christians who make up 39-41% of Lebanon. The seat of the patriarch in Damascus is the Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus. The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch is one of several churches that lay claim to be the canonical incumbent of the Patriarchate of Antioch, ancient see of St Peter and St Paul in Antioch. The Oriental Orthodox Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch makes the same claim, as do the Syriac Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, all of them Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See. These three, however, mutually recognize each other as holding authentic patriarchates, being part of the same Catholic communion. The Roman Catholic Church also appointed titular Latin Rite patriarchs for many centuries, until the office was left vacant in 1953 and abolished in 1964 and all claims renounced.

History and cultural legacy

Pauline Greco-Semitic roots

According to Luke the Evangelist- himself a Greco-Syrian member of that community: St Peter and St Paul the Apostle are considered the cofounders of the Patriarchate of Antioch, the former being its first bishop. When Peter left Antioch, Evodios and Ignatius took over the charge of the Patriarchate. Both Evodios and Ignatius died as martyrs under Roman persecution. Hellenistic Judaism and the Judeo-Greek "wisdom" literature popular in the late Second Temple era amongst both Hellenistic Judaism, Hellenized Rabbinical Jews (known as ''Mityavnim'' in Hebrew) and gentile Greek proselyte converts to mainstream Judaism played an important part in the formation of the Melkite-Antiochian Greek Orthodox tradition. Some typically Greeks, Grecian "Ancient Synagogal" priestly rites and hymns have survived partially to the present in the distinct church service, architecture and iconography of the Melkite Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities of the Hatay Province of Southern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Some historians believe that a sizable proportion of the Hellenistic Judaism, Hellenized Jewish communities and most gentile Greco-Macedonian settlers in Southern Turkey (Antioch, Alexandretta and neighboring cities) and Syria/Lebanon – the former being called ''"Hellenistai"'' in the Acts – converted progressively to the Greco-Roman branch of Christianity that eventually constituted the ''"Melkite"'' (or ''"Imperial"'') Hellenistic Churches in Western Asia and North Africa: Acts 6 points to the problematic cultural tensions between the Hellenized Jews and Greek-speaking Judeo-Christians centered around Antioch and related Cilician, Southern-Anatolian and Syrian "Diasporas" and (the generally more conservative) Aramaic-speaking Jewish converts to Christianity based in Jerusalem and neighboring Israeli towns:

"There is neither Jew nor Greek"

These ethno-cultural and social tensions were eventually surmounted by the emergence of a new, typically Antiochian Greek doctrine (''doxa'') spearheaded by Paul (himself a Hellenized Cilician Jew) and his followers be they 1. Established, autochthonous Hellenized Cilician-Western Syrian Jews (themselves descendants of Babylonian and ‘Asian’ Jewish migrants who had adopted early on various elements of Greek culture and civilization while retaining a generally conservative attachment to Jewish laws & traditions), 2. Heathen, ‘Classical’ Greeks, Greco-Ancient Macedonians, Macedonian and Greco-Syrian gentiles, and 3. the local, autochthonous descendants of Greek or Greco-Syrian converts to mainstream Judaism – known as “Proselytes” (Greek: προσήλυτος/proselytes or ‘newcomers to Israel’) and Greek-speaking Jews born of interfaith marriage, mixed marriages. Paul's efforts were probably facilitated by the arrival of a fourth wave of Greek-speaking newcomers to Cilicia/Southern Turkey and Northwestern Syria: Cyprus, Cypriot and ‘Cyrene, Libya, Cyrenian’ (Libyan) Jewish migrants of non-Egyptian North African Jewish origin and gentile Ancient Rome, Roman settlers from Italy- many of whom already spoke fluent Koine Greek and/or sent their children to Greco-Syrian schools. Some scholars believe that, at the time, these Cypriot and Cyrenian North African Jewish migrants were generally less affluent than the autochthonous Cilician-Syrian Jews and practiced a more ‘liberal’ form of Judaism, more propitious for the formation of a new canon: These subtle, progressive socio-cultural shifts are somehow summarized succinctly in Chapter 3 of the Epistle to the Galatians:

Dual self-designation: "Melkites" and "Eastern Romans"

The unique combination of ethnocultural traits inhered from the fusion of a Greeks, Greek cultural base, Hellenistic Judaism and Ancient Rome, Roman civilization gave birth to the distinctly Antiochian “Eastern Mediterranean-Roman” Christian traditions of Cilicia (Southeastern Turkey) and Syria/Lebanon: Some of the typically Antiochian ancient liturgical traditions of the community rooted in Hellenistic Judaism and, more generally, Second Temple Greco-Jewish Septuagint culture, were expunged progressively in the late medieval and modern eras by both Phanariot European-Greece, Greek (Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople) and Holy See, Vatican (Roman Catholic) theologians who sought to 'bring back' Levantine Greek Orthodox and Greek-Catholic communities into the European Christian fold. But members of the community in Southern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon still call themselves Rûm which means ''"Eastern Roman"'' or ''"Asian Greek"'' in Arabic. In that particular context, the term ''"Rûm"'' is used in preference to ''"Yāvāni"'' or ''"Ionani"'' which means "European-Greek" or Ionian in Biblical Hebrew (borrowed from Old Persian ''Yavan'' = Greece) and Classical Arabic. Members of the community also call themselves 'Melkites', which literally means "monarchists" or "supporters of the emperor" in Semitic languages - a reference to their past allegiance to Greco-Ancient Macedonians, Macedonian, Roman Empire, Roman and Byzantine Empire, Byzantine imperial rule. But, in the modern era, the term tends to be more commonly used by followers of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Greek Catholic Church of Antioch and Alexandria and Jerusalem.

Interaction with other non-Muslim ethnocultural minorities

Following the fall of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and the Tsarist Russian Empire (long the protector of Greek-Orthodox minorities in the Levant), and the ensuing rise of French colonialism, communism, Islamism and Israeli nationalism, some members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch embraced secularism and/or Arab Nationalism as a way to modernize and "secularize" the newly formed nation-states of Northern Syria and Lebanon, and thus provide a viable "alternative" to political Islam, communism and Jewish nationalism (viewed as ideologies potentially exclusive of Byzantine Christian minorities). This often led to interfaith conflicts with the Maronite Church in Lebanon, notably regarding Palestinian refugees after 1948 and 1967. Various (sometimes secular) intellectuals with a Greek Orthodox Antiochian background played an important role in the development of Baathism, the most prominent being Michel Aflaq, one of the founders of the movement.

Abraham Dimitri Rihbany

In the early 20th century (notably during World War I), Lebanese-American writers of Greek-Orthodox Antiochian background such as Abraham Dimitri Rihbany, known as Abraham Mitrie Rihbany (a convert to Presbyterianism), popularized the notion of studying ancient Greco-Semitic culture to better understand the historic and ethnocultural context of the Christian Gospels: his original views were developed in a series of articles for ''The Atlantic Monthly'', and in 1916 published in book form as ''The Syrian Christ''. At a time when most of the Arab world area was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, France and England, Rihbany called for US military intervention in the Holy Land to fend off Ottoman Pan-Islamism, French colonialism, Soviet Communism and radical Zionist enterprises- all viewed as potentially detrimental to Christian minorities.

Administration and structure

The administration and structure of the Antiochian See are governed by statutes.

The Patriarch

The Patriarch is elected by the Holy Synod from amongst the metropolitans who compose it. The Patriarch presides the Holy Synod and executes its decisions. He also acts as metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Antioch and Damascus. The current Patriarch, John X of Antioch, John X (Yazigi), was elected on December 17, 2012, succeeding to Metropolitan Saba Esber, who had been elected ''locum tenens'' on December 7, 2012, following Ignatius IV of Antioch, Ignatius IV (Hazim)'s death.

Archdioceses and metropolitans

There are at present 22 archdioceses, each headed by a metropolitan. In Western Asia: *Archdiocese of Antioch and Damascus: Patriarchal archdiocese *Archdiocese of Aleppo (Beroea) and Alexandretta: Paul Yazigi (2000–present) *Archdiocese of Bosra, Hauran and Jabal al-Arab: Saba Esber (1999–present) *Archdiocese of Homs (Emesa): George Abu Zakhem (1999–present) *Archdiocese of Hama (Epiphania) and Exarchate of North Syria: Nicholas Baalbaki (2017–present) *Archdiocese of Latakia (Laodicea ad Mare) and Exarchate of Theodorias (province), Theodorias: Athanasius Fahd (2018–present) *Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Beirut, Archdiocese of Beirut and Exarchate of Phoenicia: Elias Audi (1980–present) *Archdiocese of Akkar and Dependencies (Wadi al-Nasara, Safita and Tartus): Basilios Mansour (2008–present) *Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Byblos and Batroun, Archdiocese of Byblos and Batroun: Siluan Muci (2018–present) *Archdiocese of Zahleh and Baalbek (Heliopolis): Antonios El Soury (14 Nov 2015–present) *Archdiocese of Tripoli, Lebanon, Tripoli and Koura District, Koura: Ephraim Kyriakos (2009–present) *Archdiocese of Tyre, Lebanon, Tyre and Sidon: Elias Kfoury (1995–present) *Archdiocese of Baghdad, Kuwait and Dependencies: Ghattas Hazim (2014–present) In Asia and Oceania: *Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines: Basilios Qoudsiah (2017–present) In Europe:
Archdiocese of France, Western and Southern Europe
Ignatius Alhoushi (2013–present)
Archdiocese of Germany and Central Europe
Isaac Barakat (2013–present)
Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland
Silouan Oner (2015–present) In the Americas: *Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Archdiocese of North America (Englewood, New Jersey); Metropolitan of New York (state), New York and All North America: Joseph Al-Zehlaoui (2014–present) **Diocese of New York (state), New York and Washington, D.C.: Metropolitan's diocese **Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester and New England: John Abdallah (2011–present) **Diocese of Miami and the Southeastern United States, Southeast: Nicholas Ozone (2017–present) **Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, Wichita and Midwestern United States, Mid-America: Basil Essey (2004–present), ''Titular Bishop of Anfeh (1992–2003)'' **Diocese of Los Angeles and the West: Vacant **Diocese of Eagle River (Alaska), Eagle River and the Northwest: Vacant **Diocese of Charleston, West Virginia, Charleston, Oakland, Maryland, Oakland and Mid-Atlantic states, Mid-Atlantic: Thomas Joseph (2004–present) **Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, Toledo and the Midwestern United States, Mid-West: Anthony Michaels (2011–present) **Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York: Alexander Mufarrij (2004–present) *Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and All Argentina: Jacob Khoury (elected 2018) *Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean, Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean: Ignatius Samaan (2017–present) *Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Santiago and All Chile, Archdiocese of Santiago and All Chile: Sergios Abad (1996–present), ''Bishop of Salamias and Patriarchal Auxiliary for Chile (1988–1996)'' *Archdiocese of São Paulo and All Brazil: Damaskinos Mansour (1997–present)

Titular dioceses and bishops

*Diocese of Shahba: Niphon Saykali (1988–), elevated to archbishop in 2009 and elevated to metropolitan in 2014, Representative of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East at the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia *Diocese of Darayya: Moussa Khoury (1995–), Patriarchal Assistant – Damascus *Diocese of Saidnaya: Luka Khoury (1999–), Patriarchal Assistant – Damascus *Diocese of Banias: Demetrios Charbak (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in Safita, Archdiocese of Akkar *Diocese of Arthoussa: Elias Toumeh (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in Marmarita, Archdiocese of Akkar *Diocese of Zabadani: Constantine Kayal (2011–), Abbot of St Elias – Shwayya Patriarchal Monastery *Diocese of Palmyra: Youhanna Haikal (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Germany and Central Europe *Diocese of Seleucia: Ephrem Maalouli (2011–), Patriarchal Vicar and Secretary of the Holy Synod *Diocese of Edessa: Romanos Daoud (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of São Paulo and Brazil *Diocese of the Emirates: Gregorios Khoury-Abdallah (2014-), Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch *Diocese of Erzurum: Qays Sadek (2014-), Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch *Diocese of Resafa: Youhanna Batash (2017-) *Diocese of Apamea: Theodore Ghandour (2017-)

Retired bishops

*Archdiocese of Zahleh and Baalbek: Spyridon Khoury (1966-2015) (deceased) *Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Byblos and Batroun, Archdiocese of Byblos and Batroun: Georges Khodr (1970-2018) *Diocese of Yabroud: Athanasius Saliba (1979–) *Diocese of Jableh: Demetrios Khoury (1995–2003)

Daughter churches

*Church of Cyprus: Granted autocephaly by the Church of Antioch in 431 AD. *Church of Georgia: Granted autocephaly by the Church of Antioch in 486 AD. *Catholicate of Abkhazia, Church of Imereti and Abkhazia: Granted autocephaly by the Church of Antioch in the 1470s, but suppressed by the Russian Empire in 1814 and continued to be a dependency of the Church of Moscow and all Russia until 1917 when it was reunited with Church of Georgia. *Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, Church of Jerusalem: Originally Bishopric of Caesarea, gained dignity of Patriarchate in 451 AD in Council of Chalcedon with territory carved from Patriarchate of Antioch *Church of Constantinople : Granted autocephaly in 381 AD in Council of Constantinople and gained dignity of Patriarchate in 451 AD in Council of Chalcedon.

See also

*Eastern Orthodoxy in Syria *Antiochian Greeks *Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America *Early Christianity *Eastern Orthodox Church *Greek Orthodox Church *Hellenistic Judaism *List of Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch – 518 to present day *Orthodox Communion (disambiguation), List of Orthodox Churches *List of Patriarchs of Antioch – to 518 *Eastern Orthodoxy in Lebanon *Eastern Orthodoxy in Turkey *Pentarchy *Saint John of Damascus *Saint Joseph of Damascus *Raphael of Brooklyn, Saint Raphael of Brooklyn



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External links

“Christian Church to be Filled by a Damascus Preacher”
(New York Times, September 15, 1895)
OrthodoxWiki – Church of Antioch
{{Authority control Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, Greek Orthodoxy in Syria Greek Orthodoxy in Lebanon Greek Orthodoxy in Turkey Members of the World Council of Churches Eastern Orthodox Church bodies in Asia Organizations based in Damascus