The Oriental Orthodox Churches

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This the third post on the Eastern Churches. Today, we will be reviewing the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

There are 6 ‘oriental’ churches in full communion with each other, but with distinctive traditions. During the first millennium they have large affiliations buy due to great hardship and persecution, these ‘oriental’ churches have seen a decline in numbers.

The six recognized Oriental Churches are:

1) The Armenian Apostolic Church. Ancient Armenia (Today’s eastern Turkey and border areas of the Russia and Iran) was the first nation to adopt Christianity as the state religion.

2) Coptic Orthodox Church. According to the tradition it was founded by St. Mark the Evangelist. Opposition to the Chalcedon council in 451 triggered the separation from Rome. Nowadays, is the largest Church in the Middle East.

3) Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Emperor Ezana made Christianity the state religion in 330, however it was not until 480 when serious missionary work took place. This Church has kept many Jewish practices and include several unique features in their liturgy, such as the use of ritual umbrellas, drums and dancing.

4) Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. After the Chalcedon council, this church spilt and joint a group under Bishop Jacob Baradi of Edessa (a.k.a Jacobite). Due to persecution, a large number of members moved from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon…at present time the Patriarchal residence is in Damascus.

5) Eritrean Orthodox Church. Eritrea was originally a Christian kingdom, but after multiple occupations, this country declared independency in 1993. In 1998 the first patriarch was chosen.

6) Assyrian Church of the East. During the 3rd century they had presence in upper Mesopotamia, but then expanded into Tibet, China and Mongolia; however, the Patriarchate was moved to Baghdad after the Arab conquest. A split in the 16 century formed the Chaldean Catholic Church.

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