Despite the fact that the eastern orthodox church is not as ancient as its western counterpart, it can still be traced back to the early years of Christianity. In fact, this religion is thought to have originated from the early church of Constantine, which was the first to recognize Jesus as the son of God. During the centuries that followed, the church split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political, and geographic lines. The result was the East-West Schism, which eventually led to the rise of Protestantism.
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Rise of monasticism
During the early centuries of Christianity, monasticism developed as an ascetic movement. This was modeled on Jesus’ forty days in the desert. Monasteries became unifying centers for Christians in the Middle Ages. They provided a communal space for prayer and knowledge, as well as a storehouse of religious practice. Monastic life spread to the rest of the Roman Empire and to the Holy Land. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the monastic rule of Basil the Great became the standard for later Orthodox monasticism.
The monastic movement developed within the Church, but also was inspired by the early church’s conception of a “perfect” Christian life. This was defined by a “perfect love for God,” as well as world-denying asceticism. Monasteries were the central producers of knowledge. These centers influenced ecclesiastical and political affairs.
In the fourth century, monasticism began to be recognized as an established Christian institution. The first monks lived in caves and tombs, and established themselves as eremitical hermits. Some lived alone while others dwelt in communal huts. In the desert, anchorites would gather weekly for prayer services.
Split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political, and geographic lines
Throughout the centuries, the Eastern Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic church have split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political, and geographic lines. These differences were exacerbated by a series of events that culminated in a formal separation of the two churches in 1054.
Despite the fact that there has been a long history of ecclesiastical separation between the Eastern and Western churches, there has never been a complete resolution of this fundamental Church breach. However, theological differences among the two churches have been addressed and a number of serious reconciliation efforts have been made.
The early Roman Church’s ecclesiology was largely universal and emphasized the idea of a universal church. Nonetheless, over the centuries, the church became increasingly split along linguistic, doctrinal, and liturgical lines.
The Nicene Creed was drawn up by the first Ecumenical Council in 325. This was amended by the Second Ecumenical Council, which added the word “who proceeds from the Father”. This addition was prompted by changes in the extent of the Empire that ruled from Constantinople. The Eastern Church also adopted a Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament. This was in contrast to the Western Church’s acceptance of the Hebrew text.
During the late fifth and early sixth centuries, Eastern Christians became isolated from Western Christians. The Latin church captured Constantinople in 1204. After a series of schisms, the two churches reunited in 1439. However, these reconciliations did not heal the fundamental breach between the two churches.
The Eastern Orthodox Church does not recognize the authority of the Western papacy. They also hold that the primacy of the Patriarch of Rome is honorary. They assert that the pope’s role is only to administer honor and not make rulings for the whole church.
The East-West Schism, also known as the Great Schism, is the break of communion between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. This separation was the result of a series of disagreements over doctrinal, liturgical, and political issues. The primary cause was the inclusion of the Filioque clause in the Nicene Creed. The Eastern Church disputed this insertion and considered the clause heretical.
Triumph of Orthodoxy
Among the Byzantine Empire’s many festivals, the Triumph of Orthodoxy is one of the most important. It marks the triumph of iconodules over iconoclasts during the Iconoclastic Controversy in the eighth and ninth centuries. The Triumph is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox church on the first Sunday of Great Lent.
The iconodules had argued for the devotional use of icons. They were persecuted by the Emperor Leo V and the Emperor Theophilus. Despite the persecutions, iconodules continued to support the veneration of icons.
In 843, Empress Theodora called a regional council in Constantinople and called for the restoration of Holy Icons. A procession was held at Hagia Sophia with icons being carried by clergy and the Emperor.
After the synod, the holy icons were restored to the great church Aghia Sophia in Constantinople. A mosaic of the Virgin and Child was placed in the apse. This may be the earliest figural image in Hagia Sophia.