Who Are the Christians in the Middle East?

By Betty Jane Bailey; J. Martin Bailey | Go to book overview

The Oriental Orthodox Family

An Introduction to the Oriental Orthodox Family

Although there are great differences among the Oriental Orthodox churches, early in their histories they all struggled to uphold their national interests against the imperial presence of the Byzantine and Persian Empires. The defining moment for each came in 451, when the Council of Chalcedon stated that Christ is one person in two natures “of one substance with the Father according to His divinity, of one substance with us according to his Humanity … in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.” Those who rejected this formula believed that to say this was to overemphasize the duality of Christ, and to compromise the unity of his person. Although the break in communion with the Eastern Orthodox still persists, there is official dialogue (p. 81). These churches are sometimes known as the non-Chalcedonian churches to distinguish them from those who accepted the doctrine.

In the case of the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria, the vast majority of Egyptian Christians rejected the position of the Council of Chalcedon and, therefore, dominated the Patriarchate. They became the Coptic Orthodox Church. The minority, who accepted the Council, are today the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. The situation was further complicated in Egypt by strong opposition at that time to Byzantine political and religious influences.

The Armenians were enmeshed in war and did not attend the Council in 451. Fifty-five years later they formally rejected the phrasing

-69-

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Who Are the Christians in the Middle East?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • More Praise for This Book i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the Second Edition ix
  • Our Love Affair with the Middle East- An Introduction xi
  • Part I - The Churches of the Middle East 1
  • A Western Christian Appreciation of Eastern Christianity 3
  • The Future of Christians in the Arab World 12
  • The Churches of the Middle East Now Work Together 22
  • The Importance of Jerusalem to Christians 32
  • A Timeline of Christianity in the Middle East 37
  • A Word about Numbers 44
  • Part II - Profiles of the Churches 47
  • The Origins of the Diversity of Christianity in the Middle East 49
  • The Eastern Orthodox Family 56
  • The Oriental Orthodox Family 69
  • The Catholic Family 82
  • The Evangelical (Protestant) Family 101
  • The Assyrian Church of the East 134
  • Part III - Church and State in the Middle East 139
  • A Brief History 141
  • Cyprus 145
  • Egypt 148
  • The Holy Land- Israel and Palestine 154
  • Iran 164
  • Iraq 168
  • Jordan 173
  • Lebanon 178
  • The Maghreb (North Africa) 185
  • The Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia 189
  • Sudan 195
  • Syria 199
  • Turkey 204
  • Annotated Bibliography 210
  • Index 214
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