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Eastern Orthodox

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Eastern Orthodox

Athina Hocevar



December 7, 2015

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Eastern Orthodox

        Eastern Orthodoxy is one of the main sectors of Christianity, and practiced all throughout the world.  “Eastern Orthodoxy arose as a distinct branch of Christianity after the 11th-century "Great Schism" between Eastern and Western Christendom” (ReligionFacts, 2015, para. 3).  Eastern Orthodox Churches follow the belief of one God and his existence within 3 persons (Religion Library: Eastern Orthodoxy, 2015). Similar to other branches of Christianity, Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Pentecost.  This research report will examine the history of the Eastern Orthodox religion, and what the people who practice this religion believe and celebrate, which in some ways is similar to the Catholic faith.

History Background

        According to Encyclopedia Britannica (2015, para. 4), “Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the AD 300s”.  Shortly after the eastern part survived the invasion of the empire in the 400s, “the patriarch of Constantinople became the head of the Eastern church” (Encyclopedia Britannica, para. 4).  There were several significant religious, cultural, and political differences between the Eastern and Western churches; some of these include icons in worship, nature of the Holy Spirit, and the date on which Easter is to be celebrated on (ReligionFacts, 2015).  “When [Constantine] died his two sons divided their rule, one taking the Eastern portion of the empire and ruling from Constantinople and the other taking the western portion, ruling from Rome” (Fairchild, 2015).  This lead to the separation of the Eastern and Western churches in 1054, as Fairchild stated, it marked an important time in the history of all Christian denominations because it designates the very first major division in Christianity and the beginning of "denominations". This resulted in the Eastern Orthodox church

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being the largest church in the world today (Encyclopedia Britannica).  The religion Eastern Orthodox has been one of the most practiced sectors of Christianity all throughout time and is very similar but different from all the other branches, and its history shows the changes the religion has made over time.

Religious Beliefs

        Followers of the Eastern Orthodox religion believe that what they practice is the true doctrine of God in the right ways (BBC, 2008).  “The word orthodox means "right believing" and was adopted to signify the true religion that faithfully followed the beliefs and practices defined by the first seven ecumenical councils” (Fairchild, n.d.).  Although, “they believe that they follow Christianity in the same way that the first Christians did . . . they do not recognize the authority of the pope” (Britannica Encyclopedia, 2015).  Research by BBC shows that the Eastern Orthodox religion worships the Bible, which was passed on from the beginning of Christianity; this Bible is very similar to that of the Western Churches, except, “its Old Testament is based not on the Hebrew, but on the ancient Jewish translation into Greek called the Septuagint”.  Based on the story of Adam and Eve, Meyendorff (2015) claims that they believe that humans are only free when in communion with God, otherwise they are slaves to their body and the world.  Fairchild determined in her research that, the Eastern Orthodox worship is considered to be highly liturgical and the center of their church life, and embracing the seven sacraments. Similar to the Catholic faith, the Eastern Orthodox Church believes in the Trinity,  which are “three persons in the Godhead, each divine, distinct and equal. The Father God is the eternal head; the Son is begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father” (Fairchild).  Another point made in Fairchild's research, The Son of God is believed to be Jesus

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Christ, who had died on the cross as man's Savior, he resurrected and ascended to heaven and he will return again to judge all the living and the dead.  The beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox church follow the teachings of the bible and God.

Holidays and Festivals

        All religions have holidays and celebrations that may or may not be followed by all other religions, this includes Eastern Orthodoxy.  In the Eastern Orthodox religion there are many holidays celebrated that are similar to the ones that are celebrated by the Catholics, this includes the celebrations that have become more secular over time.  Eastern Orthodox celebrate the Nativity of Christ, which is the Feast of Christmas (Crumm, 2015).  They fast for a total of 40 days in the preparation of Christ, beginning on November 15th which Crumm points out and once the day of the Nativity of Christ arrives those who participated in the fasting leading to the day, are overwhelmed with joy.  Many rituals take place on the day of the Nativity of Christ:  

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