The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great

By Henry Chadwick | Go to book overview

56 The Ancient Oriental Churches

For the apostles Peter and especially Paul Rome was the capital of the Gentile world, and therefore became a focus of Gentile Christianity. The identification of interest between Church and Empire left the legacy that Christianity is commonly thought of as a European religion, even in an age when the majority of believers are not Europeans, and the conversion of Constantine the Great and of his successors other than Julian reinforced a conviction already widely held among the Christians of the Mediterranean world.

But the missionary spirit of the ancient churches looked beyond the frontier. To this day there are substantial Christian bodies with ancient roots in countries where Christianity is not necessarily the predominant allegiance of most of the inhabitants. The Armenians, centred on their much contested native land, were soon rooted in the Holy Land with an ecclesial body at Jerusalem, and the natural abilities of the race carried them to form a colony in Constantinople. The Armenians acquired an extensive dispersion. Unlike the Greek churches of Orthodox tradition they used unleavened bread for the Eucharist, a fact which caused some sharp differentiation in medieval times. They dissented from the Christological Definition of the Council of Chalcedon to which it is unclear whether they were actually invited. In any event Persian hostilities at the time were giving them grave matters to think about. The libraries of the Armenian Church have preserved ancient Christian documents otherwise lost, notably an early version of Irenaeus and the attack on the council of Chalcedon by Timothy the Weasel (Ailouros). The detachment of the Armenians from doctrine and customs normative in the Greek Orthodox communities no doubt assisted the survival of their churches under Persian pressure.

In Persia most of the Christians were expatriates from the Roman Empire, which did not help to assimilate them with the indigenous people. The Persian churches had their focus not at Antioch in Syria but at Seleucia- Ctesiphon (Koke); this structure of authority was in fact set up at the suggestion of the patriarchate of Antioch which sent a deputy, bishop Marutha of Maipherqat, to urge this ordered organization on them at their synod in 410. Fourteen years later their synod formally declared independence of the west. It was also important that they and the Romans (i.e. of New Rome)

-628-

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The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Church in Ancient Society iii
  • Prefatory Note vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The First Followers of Jesus 5
  • 2: The Jewish Matrix 13
  • 3: Jews and Christians Survive Rome's Crushing of Revolts 21
  • 4: The Hebrew Scriptures in the Church 27
  • 5: Interpreting Scripture 32
  • 6: Apostles and Evangelists 43
  • 7: Women Among Jesus' Followers 53
  • 8: 'Barnabas', Jewish Christianity, Trouble at Corinth 56
  • 9: Ignatius of Antioch 65
  • 10: Didache 84
  • 11: Marcion 89
  • 12: Justin 93
  • 13: Irenaeus of Lyon 100
  • 14: The New Testament Text 108
  • 15: Celsus: A Platonist Attack 110
  • 16: Montanism: Perpetua 114
  • 17: Tertullian, Minucius Felix 118
  • 18: Clement of Alexandria 124
  • 19: Julius Africanus 130
  • 20: Hippolytus and Liturgy 132
  • 21: Origen 135
  • 22: Cyprian of Carthage 145
  • 23: Dionysius of Alexandria 161
  • 24: Paul of Samosata 166
  • 25: Mani 170
  • 26: Plotinus, Porphyry 173
  • 27: Diocletian and the Great Persecution; Rise of Constantine 176
  • 28: Constantine 190
  • 29: The Seeds of Reaction 201
  • 30: The Church at Prayer 212
  • 31: Athanasius, Marcellus, and the Gathering Storm 226
  • 32: A Fiasco at Serdica 240
  • 33: Religious Division 254
  • 34: Athanasius' Return 260
  • 35: Constantius' Double Council of Unity 279
  • 36: Julian and the Church 295
  • 37: Damasus, Siricius, Papal Authority, Synesius of Cyrene 314
  • 38: Basil of Caesarea (Cappadocia) 331
  • 39: Ambrose 348
  • 40: Ambrosiaster 379
  • 41: Donatism 382
  • 42: Monks: The Ascetic Life 394
  • 43: Messalians 411
  • 44: Schism at Antioch 415
  • 45: Jerome and Rufinus 433
  • 46: Pelagius, Caelestius, and the Roman See in Gaul and North Africa 446
  • 47: Julian of Eclanum 464
  • 48: Augustine 473
  • 49: John Chrysostom 479
  • 50: Innocent I and John Chrysostom's Honour 499
  • 51: The Christological Debate, I 515
  • 52: The Christological Debate, Ii 538
  • 53: The Christological Debate, Iii 557
  • 54: The Aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon 592
  • 55: Justinian, Origen, and the 'Three Chapters' 612
  • 56: The Ancient Oriental Churches 628
  • 57: The Church and the Barbarian Invasions in the West 633
  • 58: Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) 658
  • 59: Worship After Constantine 675
  • 60: Pilgrims 684
  • 61: Penance 688
  • Further Reading 694
  • Dates of Roman Emperors 714
  • Index 721
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