EUH-3931: HISTORY OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY
Olomouc, Czech Republic, May-June 2011
When Orthodox Christians recite the Creed during the
Liturgy, they cross themselves at the words "Believe in One, Holy,
and Apostolic Church." The gesture is more than just a matter of
for the significance of these words has to do with identity and with
in the Kingdom of God. The Church is not just an institution, but a
of life and a way of being in the world. As such, it has a history,
is often understood as the history of Christianity as a whole. Indeed,
the foundation of the Church was laid by Jesus Christ Himself.
His death and Resurrection, the Church evolved and grew into what we
now call Orthodoxy. However, although Jesus founded only One Church, we
now see a multitude of churches, all of which define themselves as
and successors of the Church established by Christ. Understanding the
of Christianity is therefore a critical element in understanding the
of Orthodoxy and the historical significance of the Holy Orthodox
in both past and present times. In an era of constantly blurring
between false and true teachings, an examination of the historical
of our Orthodox heritage may also strengthen our belief in the One,
and Apostolic Church.
This course is designed as a chronological and
introduction to the history of the Orthodox Church, from the beginning to the
Since this is a three-week survey, it is impossible to cover
Instead, the course will offer a selection of representative topics
a much larger possible list. We will examine some of the key concepts
theology that had historical significance, the political circumstances
leading to the separation of various churches, and the main aspects of
Orthodox Christian life throughout history. Our focus will be on Orthodoxy, but
we will also take quick glimpses at some other churches, especially at
the Roman-Catholic church. Anyone with enough curiosity and desire to
is welcome. There are no pre-requisites and no special recommendations
for this course.
This course is offered for three (3) semester
of coursework. The credit for these hours is to be applied entirely to
History (EUH-3931). The course is offered in cooperation with the Institute for Byzantine and Eastern Christian Studies and will take place in Olomouc (Czech Republic). Classes will be
taught , using lectures
and class discussions, supplemented by three field trips. For more details, see the course handout.
There are numerous books about the history of
and even more literature on the history of the Church. Not all of them
are available and even fewer can be used successfully in a survey
like this. There is a tendency in the literature published in English
shift the focus to the Roman-Catholic church after ca.
thus leaving out some of the most important developments in the history
of Orthodoxy, which we will discuss in this course. Such books are
of little use to us, no matter how detailed or accurate their coverage
of Western developments may be. During the last few years, there has
been a resurgence of interest in the history of Byzantine Christianity
and of the Eastern churches, in general. The choice of volume 5 of the
Cambridge History of Christianity for this course is based on the
concision of the presentation, most appropriate for the brevity of this
study-abroad course. However, should you desire to broaden your
knowledge of Christian Orthodoxy, you may find the list of recommended
books useful. Irrespective
of your choice, the teaching approach in this course will be
enough to accommodate all learning skills and strategies. The format
be a combination of lectures and discussion and much of what we will
as "primary sources" will be available online, from the links indicated
- The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5: Eastern Christianity. Edited by Michael Angold. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006 [hereafter Angold]
- John Binns. Introduction to the Christian
Churches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
- Victoria Clark. Why
Fall: A Portrait of Orthodox Europe. London: Macmillan, 2000.
- John Meyendorff. The Orthodox
Church. Its Past and Its Role in the World Today. 4th edition. Crestwood, N.J.: St. Vladimir's Seminar Press, 1996.
- Brian Moynahan. The Faith. A History of
Christianity. New York: Doubleday, 2002.
Orthodox Church. A Well Kept Secret, 2nd edition. Minneapolis:
and Life Publishing, 1997.
- Kallistos Ware. The Orthodox Church
Penguin Books, 1972.
- The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity. Edited by Ken Parry. Malden: Blackwell, 2007.
The Chosen People of God and the "fullness of time"
Read: Genesis 2.16-18; Galatians
Christianity spreads to the Jews.
Early Christian Church.
Persecutions, martyrdom, and saints. St. Constantine, Nicaea, and the
of the imperial church.
for an example
of Judaic religious practices of the first century A.D.,
see a description of the rituals prescribed for the sacrifices on the
Atonement (Yom Kippur) in
reconstruction of the Temple
of Solomon on the basis of its description in the Bible
destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, see the account of Flavius
Essenes, see the Dead
for the early
Christian rites of baptism and Eucharist, see the Didache
see a map showing the spread of Christianity within the Roman Empire, ca.
for the account of Perpetua's martyrdom, see the passion
of SS. Perpetua and Felicity
account of Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity and a modern
account of the emperor's reign
see the Edict
of Milan (313)
see the Nicaean
Christological debates and ecumenical councils.
see a short history of Arianism
see the Chalcedonian definition of faith (Fourth
Ecumenical Council, 451) and an account of the Fourth Ecumenical Council
May 28: Visit to the sites of Jewish traditions in Moravia (Lostice and Usov)
Monasticism. Literature, iconography, and liturgy
Lecture: Manuela E. Gheorghe, "Christianity as a Word-centered culture: the Word as Text and Image"
see the Life of
St. Antony and a presentation
of his life and activity
brief presentation and excerpts from the Bohairic Life
see a brief presentation of the life and work of John
Cassian and an excerpt from the Benedictine
read the Divine
Liturgy of St. Basil the Great and compare with that of St.
John Chrysostom and with the Liturgy
of the Pre-Sanctified (a Lenten liturgy)
see a selection of the most
important works of
St. Basil the Great
The rise of Islam and the iconoclastic controversy.
see a brief presentation of Emperor Heraclius'
reign and an account
of his religious policies, with a particular emphasis on the
see a couple of surahs
from the Quran and the Pact of
Umar, following the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem
see al-Baladhuri's account of the battle at the
Yarmuk River (636)
see a map of the
Byzantine Empire during the seventh and early eighth century
see a map
of the Byzantine Empire and the Arab Caliphate during the tenth century
John of Damascus' defense of the icons and the canons of the iconoclastic
Church council of 754;
for quick reference, see a contrast
of iconodule and iconoclastic views
see a brief survey
of the iconoclastic controversy
The victory of the iconodules. Christianity spreads to the Slavs.
disputation, Photian Schism
Lecture: Petr Balcárek, "Eastern Christian art and architecture"
see an aniconic Muslim coin
and several views of the Dome of the Rock (exterior,
and cross section)
see two coins of Emperor Justinian II before and after the
introduction of Christ's portrait
read the decisions
of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787) that restored the cult of the
see a portrait
and a brief
biography of St. Thedora, the empress who finally restored the cult
of the icons (843)
see a brief presentation of the Sunday
of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of Lent
see the Rule of
the Monastery of St. John Stoudios in Constantinople, the most
important monastic rule following the Iconoclastic Controversy
see a brief
presentation and facsimile
see an introduction to the Glagolitic
see a biography of Patriarch
see a brief biography of Prince
Boris of Bulgaria
see an icon of St.
of Ohrid (now in the St. Mary Most Glorious Church in Ohrid)
monastery "St. Panteleimon" and the monastery
of St. Naum in Ohrid
June 2 :
The doctrine of papal primacy and the rise of the papal state.
visit the basilica of Sant'Apollinare
Nuovo in Ravenna
Sophia in Constantinople
see a picture of the Church
of Saint Elias (now Atik Mustafa Camii in Istanbul)
visit the Church
of Christ Pantocrator (now Zeyrek Camii in Istanbul)
see a picture of the Church
of the Holy Apostles in Athens
visit the Monastery
of St. Luke in Phokis
visit the Daphni
Monastery near Athens
see pictures of the St.
Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and of Santa
Maria dell'Amiraglio ("La Martorana") in Palermo
read a sermon of Pope Leo I on
the doctrine of papal primacy
read Pope Gregory
the Great's Book on the Pastoral Rule (ca. 590)
see the Creed of the
Council of Toledo (675)
read the Donation of Constantine
see a brief description of the "cadaver synod" that
condemned Pope Formosus posthumously (897)
The Great Schism: causes, developments, consequences [Angold 3-78 and 373-429]
Lecture: Petr Balcárek, "Art and architecture in the Carpathian region"
June 4: Visit to the first Christian centers in Moravia (Mikulčice and Staré Město near Uherské Hradiště)
see a brief presentation of the Great Schism
(together with a presentation of the Great Schism in the Catholic
church, for which see below)
see a short biography of Photius
read the decisions of the Councils of Lyons
(1274) and Florence
Western Scholasticism and Orthodoxy [Angold
79-100 and 457-487]
Renaissance and Orthodoxy. Council of Florence (1439), national
Churches, and Reformation [Angold 101-186 and 253-301]
Manuela E. Gheorghe: Hesychasm in Romanian literature
Reformation and Orthodoxy [Angold 187-209]
Orthodoxy during the modern period (15th-18th cc.)
[Angold 210-252 and 302-372, 488-538, and 558-599]
June 11: Visit to Eastern Slovakia