Are there other adjectives we can use to distinguish between the 'Eastern Orthodox' and the 'Oriental Orthodox'?

Technically speaking the words ‘eastern’ and ‘oriental’ mean the exact same thing, though in English we understand the distinction between the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian Orthodox when we use these two adjectives. The distinction becomes a bit blurry if not all together absent in other languages.

Yesterday I was having a conversation in Spanish with my neighbor about religion in general and I continually used “Ortodoxo Oriental” in reference to the Oriental Orthodox without even considering that “Oriental” literally means “Eastern” in Spanish. This poor woman became confused as it seems that in Spanish “Ortodoxo Oriental” is used in reference to the Chalcedonian “Eastern Orthodox”.

I asked her what the name of the non-Chalcedonian church is in Spanish and she didn’t seem to know. Are there other adjectives used in various other languages to distinguish between these two communions?

Usaría un frase como “Ortodoxo de Europa oriental” porque es como se parece - donde hay en Europa y en una mapa de Europa como Rusia, Románica, Ucrania, Serbia o Grecia (aunque los dos no están en Europa oriental)"]

I’ll paraphrase what I said, but in English: I’d use “Eastern European Orthodox” even though some of them, like Serbia and Greece aren’t really Eastern Europe.

And what about the actual Oriental Orthodox? They’re far more geographically separated (stretching as far east as India and as far west as Egypt).

“Los Ortodoxos que no acceptan el Consejo Ecuménico de Chalcedon”?

I was hoping for something less verbose than that

Edit: or maybe “Los Ortodoxos MUY Oriental”? :smiley:

Spanish Wikipedia seems to mainly call them “iglesias no calcedónicas” but they have other appellations listed here: antiguas iglesias orientales.

Hmm. That’s interesting. Thanks!

It seems that the Wiki article uses ‘Oriental’ with respect to the non-Chalcedonians and drops all adjectives (using only “Orthodox”) in reference to the Byzantines, while recognizing that the Oriental Orthodox self-refer as simply “Orthodox”, “though they should not be confused with the Orthodox Church that separated during the Great Schism of 1054”:

“También se las conoce como Iglesias ortodoxas orientales ya que se autodenominan Ortodoxas, pues generalmente guardan las más primitivas tradiciones litúrgicas del cristianismo oriental, pero no se las debe confundir con la Iglesia ortodoxa que se separó en el Gran Cisma de 1054, seiscientos años después.”

Looks like there isn’t a hard and fast rule here, possibly due to the relative lack of non-Chalcedonians in Spanish speaking nations. I sort of like “Ortodoxos no Calcedónicos”

In the interviews I’ve seen in the media from Bolivia and Mexico (where most Coptic Orthodox are in Latinoamerica; there is now also a mission in Costa Rica, and there are other Oriental Orthodox in other parts of Latinoamerica, I just don’t know as much about them as my own church), the term used has been “no Calcedonica”. I’ve never heard “antiguas igelsias orientales”. I think I have heard “pre-Calecedonica”, though (and it’s much easier to understand than “antiguas”…Byzantine Chalcedonians call themselves that in Spanish, too, so it’s still pretty vague).

The Oriental/Eastern terminology doesn’t work in a lot of languages. Granted, we just say “Orthodox” no matter what the language, but even in Arabic it seems artificial (sharqi vs. mashriqi…yawn; I’ve never heard either of these used by any Coptic person, except maybe during the liturgy when it’s in Arabic during Holy Week and the deacon exhorts us to stand up and look toward the East). Not terribly surprising when you consider that the whole East/West division has no point in the first place outside of the Western/Byzantine division of the Roman Empire, which is completely irrelevant to a lot of the non-Chalcedonian communion (Armenians in Iran, Ethiopians and Eritreans, and Syriac Indians). It might upset some Byzantines to read this, but to many of the non-Chalcedonians, you are all Western churches, whether Latin or Byzantine. (Sort of like how some EO see the RCC and Protestantism as two sides of the same coin.)

I don’t think there is a perfect terminology.

You could use Chalcedonian and Non-Chalcedonian, but that doesn’t distinguish between the Chalcedonian West and Chalcedonian East.

You could use the term “Byzantine” to refer to the Eastern Orthodox (since we all use the Byzantine Rite), but there is no equivalent term that blankets all the Oriental Orthodox.

You could use the insulting terms, Melkite and Monophysite, but in addition to each term having additional meanings or being inaccurate, you really don’t want to insult people like that.

I think we’re stuck using terms that aren’t very good for now.

Is Melkite an insulting term nowadays? :confused:

Some people may lump the different rites as “Melkite” in the same way one sometimes calls people of different Latin American ethnic groups as “Mexican”, at least, that’s what I assume.

Its roots are certainly pejorative, as it was originally applied disapprovingly by Syriac Orthodox to those of their own West Syriac cultural group (as well as others, I think; initially it was a sort of catch-all term…Greeks in Egypt were just as much “Melkites” as Syriacs in and around Antioch who went with Chalcedon, at least according to some of the older OO polemics I have read that treat them all the same) who went along with the imperial decision of Chalcedon (hence, “Melkite” from Syriac “Malkoyo” – kingly, imperial). Of course, now that the Melkites are completely Arabized and largely don’t recognize their own roots, it might be viewed differently.

I don’t know how Middle-Easterners would feel about it, but when I’ve seen it written in English it is usually being used in a pejorative way. The term itself does imply that Byzantine theology is dependent on the whims of the Court.

Hmm. Possibly. It seems like originally it meant “agreeing with the Imperial decision” rather than “depending on the court”, but perhaps that’s splitting hairs. Certainly the post-Chalcedonian political situation, at least as relates to Egypt, showed that the Melkite rulers did depend on the court, if not for theology at least to have any sort of foothold in ruling over the Christians of the country (as the vast majority did not agree with Chalcedon). But I would think any unbiased reading of ecclesiastical history would have to conclude that this was a continuation of former imperial policies (e.g., the various Arians who were similarly foisted upon the people via the emperor in the years before Chalcedon; the only thing different post-Chalcedon in this regard is that the emperor was now admitting a different confession).

Uhhh, I’m thoroughly confused now. :confused:

‘Melkite’ is pejorative? Is that only the case with Syriac Orthodox in Antioch (and not, say, with the Melkite Catholics whose church actually utilizes such a name)? My understanding of Eastern Christians is very minimal so I appreciate any education I can come upon.

Back to my original post: It seems “Chalcedonian” and “non-Chalcedonian” is probably the best distinguishing label in any language, agreed?

My point is that historically it began as a pejorative term. That doesn’t necessarily mean it still is one in all contexts (“Christian” also began as a pejorative), though I guess it could be depending on the context in which it is used. I trust Nine Two’s take on the matter, since I don’t keep up with the inner workings of any Byzantine/Chalcedonian Church, Orthodox or not.

(I haven’t asked any OO people, since there’d be no point, but I would imagine that Melkite is inherently pejorative coming from anyone in our communion, since it indicates some missteps in theology. We usually just call all EO “Greeks”, though, similar to how some Slavs will use “Armenian” as a shorthand for all OO. Meh.)

Back to my original post: It seems “Chalcedonian” and “non-Chalcedonian” is probably the best distinguishing label in any language, agreed?

Probably. It’s the most neutral and descriptive, anyway.

A related question: do EOs and OOs call each “Orthodox” in most languages?

That’s kind of difficult to answer, Peter J, since whether or not any particular person considers the other communion to be Orthodox has nothing to do with that, and “Orthodox” is a loanword in most languages anyway.

I’ve never heard anyone in my church say categorically that the EO are Orthodox, but they don’t say they’re heterodox either. When the EO are referred to (very rarely), “the Greeks” (that’s the catch all term for EO around these parts) are talked about very positively, probably due to the long history of Greek/Coptic pastoral care and friendships built between members of the two churches during the years before we had Coptic services in this area.

This is something different than having anything positive to say about the Tome of Leo or the events surrounding the Council of Chalcedon, mind you, which are the actual sources of disagreement with the Greeks according to the Copts. Well…that, and the Greeks fast like weaklings. :stuck_out_tongue: “Forty days? And they eat cheese for the first week? What? How is that fasting?”

Actually that week is outside the 40.

But yeah, anytime an EO wants to feel prideful about the fast they just need to look at the OO.

Hahaha. Copts don’t generally know anything about EO practices, beyond the fact that you fast less than we do. When I told a friend from church about the EO tradition of Cheesefare week, somehow that mutated in their mind to “the EO eat cheese during the first week of their fast”, probably because Copts don’t have preparatory anything (well, actually we do, but it’s another fast…prepare for fasting by fasting? Oy vey!). It’s just straight from the weekly Wed/Fri fast to the Great Fast (the ‘preparation’ is two weeks before, in the form of Jonah’s Fast/the Fast of the Ninevites, which is very strictly observed and constantly reinforced as preparation for the Great Fast, e.g., treat Jonah’s fast strictly and you’ll be better attuned to fasting when the Great Fast begins).

Actually, counting cheesefare week, it would be 56 days from cheesefare Monday to Easter. Not counting cheesefare, it’s 49. Cheesefare week itself originates as a compromise between fasting traditions. One was to count forty days of fasting, excluding the Sabbath and Sunday (yielding eight weeks). The other was to count all days, which has the great fast running from Clean Monday (seven weeks before Easter), to the Friday before Palm Sunday, with Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and Holy Week being their own fasting days, not counted as part of the great fast.

Nine Two and Cavaradossi: Thanks for the info. I’ll pass it on, if it ever comes up again. I think part of the problem is that Copts don’t really know anything about EO practices, so the idea of such a week seems strange, since we don’t have anything like Cheesefare week in the COC.

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