Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (Greek: Ελληνορθόδοξο Πατριαρχείο Αντιοχείας), also known as the Antiochian Orthodox Church and legally as the Rūm Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (Arabic: بطريركيّة أنطاكية وسائر المشرق للروم الأرثوذكس, romanized: Baṭriyarkiyyat ʾAnṭākiya wa-Sāʾir al-Mašriq li-r-Rūm al-ʾUrṯūḏuks, lit. 'Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East for the Orthodox Rum'), is an autocephalous Greek Orthodox church within the wider communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and one of the historic Pentarchy. Headed by the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch, it considers itself the successor to the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles Peter and Paul. It is one of the largest Christian denominations of the Middle East, alongside the Copts of Egypt and the Maronites of Lebanon.
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
بطريركيّة أنطاكية وسائر المشرق للروم الأرثوذكس
|Scripture||Septuagint, New Testament|
|Theology||Eastern Orthodox theology|
|Primate||John X (Yazigi), Patriarch of Antioch and All the East (since December 17, 2012)|
Turkish (in Turkey)
English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and other languages (extended)
|Headquarters||Mariamite Cathedral, Damascus, Syria|
Traditionally: Antioch, Byzantine Empire
Monastic residence: Balamand Monastery, Koura, Lebanon
|Territory||Primary: Syria, Lebanon, part of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia (formerly also Cyprus, Georgia and parts of the Central Caucasus area)|
Extended: North America, Central America, South America, Western, Southern and Central Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines
|Founder||Apostles Peter and Paul|
|Members||Approx. 4.3 million (2012)|
Its adherents, known as Antiochian Christians, are a Middle-Eastern semi-ethnoreligious Eastern Christian group residing in the Levant region including the Hatay Province of Turkey. Many of their descendants now live in the global Eastern Christian diaspora. The number of Antiochian Greek Christians is estimated to be approximately 4.3 million.
The seat of the patriarchate was formerly Antioch, in what is now Turkey. However, in the 14th century, it was moved to Damascus, modern-day Syria. Its traditional territory includes Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, and also parts of Turkey. Its territory formerly included the Church of Cyprus until the latter became autocephalous in 431. Both the Orthodox Churches of Antioch and Cyprus are members of the Middle East Council of Churches.
Its North American branch is autonomous, although the Holy Synod of Antioch still appoints its head bishop, chosen from a list of three candidates nominated in the North American archdiocese. Its Australasia and Oceania branch is the largest in terms of geographic area due to the relatively large size of Australia and the large portion of the Pacific Ocean that the archdiocese covers.
The head of the Orthodox Church of Antioch is called Patriarch. The present Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch is John X (Yazigi), who presided over the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe (2008–2013). He was elected as primate of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East as John X of Antioch (Yazigi) on December 17, 2012. He succeeded Ignatius IV who had died on December 5, 2012. Membership statistics are not available, but may be as high as 1,100,000 in Syria and 400,000 in Lebanon where they make up 8% of the population or 20% of Christians who make up 39-41% of Lebanon. The seat of the patriarch in Damascus is the Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus.
The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch is one of several churches that lay claim to be the canonical incumbent of the ancient see of Antioch. The Syriac Orthodox Church makes the same claim, as do the Syriac Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church; the latter three are Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See and mutually recognize each other as holding authentic patriarchates, being part of the same Catholic communion. Their fellow Catholic particular church, the Latin Church, also appointed titular patriarchs for many centuries, until the office was left vacant in 1953 and abolished in 1964 with all claims renounced.
History and cultural legacy Edit
Pauline Greco-Semitic roots Edit
According to Luke the Evangelist- himself a Greco-Syrian member of that community:
The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
St Peter and St Paul the Apostle are considered the cofounders of the Patriarchate of Antioch, the former being its first bishop. When Peter left Antioch, Evodios and Ignatius took over the charge of the Patriarchate. Both Evodios and Ignatius died as martyrs under Roman persecution.
Hellenistic Judaism and the Judeo-Greek "wisdom" literature popular in the late Second Temple era amongst both Hellenized Rabbinical Jews (known as Mityavnim in Hebrew) and gentile Greek proselyte converts to mainstream Judaism played an important part in the formation of the Melkite-Antiochian Greek Orthodox tradition. Some typically Grecian "Ancient Synagogal" priestly rites and hymns have survived partially to the present in the distinct church service, architecture and iconography of the Melkite Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities of the Hatay Province of Southern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.
Some historians believe that a sizable proportion of the Hellenized Jewish communities and most gentile Greco-Macedonian settlers in Southern Turkey (Antioch, Alexandretta and neighboring cities) and Syria/Lebanon – the former being called "Hellenistai" in the Acts – converted progressively to the Greco-Roman branch of Christianity that eventually constituted the "Melkite" (or "Imperial") Hellenistic Churches in Western Asia and North Africa:
As Jewish Christianity originated at Jerusalem, so Gentile Christianity started at Antioch, then the leading center of the Hellenistic East, with Peter and Paul as its apostles. From Antioch it spread to the various cities and provinces of Syria, among the Hellenistic Syrians as well as among the Hellenistic Jews who, as a result of the great rebellions against the Romans in A.D. 70 and 130, were driven out from Jerusalem and Palestine into Syria.
Acts 6 points to the problematic cultural tensions between the Hellenized Jews and Greek-speaking Judeo-Christians centered around Antioch and related Cilician, Southern-Anatolian and Syrian "Diasporas" and (the generally more conservative) Aramaic-speaking Jewish converts to Christianity based in Jerusalem and neighboring Israeli towns:
The 'Hebrews' were Jewish Christians who spoke almost exclusively Aramaic, and the 'Hellenists' were also Jewish Christians whose mother tongue was Greek. They were Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora, who returned to settle in Jerusalem. To identify them, Luke uses the term Hellenistai. When he had in mind Greeks, gentiles, non-Jews who spoke Greek and lived according to the Greek fashion, then he used the word Hellenes (Acts 21.28). As the very context of Acts 6 makes clear, the Hellenistai are not Hellenes.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek" Edit
These ethno-cultural and social tensions were eventually surmounted by the emergence of a new, typically Antiochian Greek doctrine (doxa) spearheaded by Paul (himself a Hellenized Cilician Jew) and his followers be they 1. Established, autochthonous Hellenized Cilician-Western Syrian Jews (themselves descendants of Babylonian and 'Asian' Jewish migrants who had adopted early on various elements of Greek culture and civilization while retaining a generally conservative attachment to Jewish laws & traditions), 2. Heathen, 'Classical' Greeks, Greco-Macedonian and Greco-Syrian gentiles, and 3. the local, autochthonous descendants of Greek or Greco-Syrian converts to mainstream Judaism – known as "Proselytes" (Greek: προσήλυτος/proselytes or 'newcomers to Israel') and Greek-speaking Jews born of mixed marriages.
Paul's efforts were probably facilitated by the arrival of a fourth wave of Greek-speaking newcomers to Cilicia/Southern Turkey and Northwestern Syria: Cypriot and 'Cyrenian' (Libyan) Jewish migrants of non-Egyptian North African Jewish origin and gentile Roman settlers from Italy- many of whom already spoke fluent Koine Greek and/or sent their children to Greco-Syrian schools. Some scholars believe that, at the time, these Cypriot and Cyrenian North African Jewish migrants were generally less affluent than the autochthonous Cilician-Syrian Jews and practiced a more 'liberal' form of Judaism, more propitious for the formation of a new canon:
[North African] Cyrenian Jews were of sufficient importance in those days to have their name associated with a synagogue at Jerusalem (Acts 6:9). And when the persecution arose about Stephen [a Hellenized Syrian-Cilician Jew, and one of the first known converts to Christianity], some of these Jews of Cyrene who had been converted at Jerusalem, were scattered abroad and came with others to Antioch [...] and one of them, Lucius, became a prophet in the early church there [the Greek-speaking 'Orthodox' Church of Antioch].
These subtle, progressive socio-cultural shifts are somehow summarized succinctly in Chapter 3 of the Epistle to the Galatians:
Dual self-designation: "Melkites" and "Eastern Romans" Edit
The unique combination of ethnocultural traits inhered from the fusion of a Greek cultural base, Hellenistic Judaism and Roman civilization gave birth to the distinctly Antiochian "Eastern Mediterranean-Roman" Christian traditions of Cilicia (Southeastern Turkey) and Syria/Lebanon:
The mixture of Roman, Greek, and Jewish elements admirably adapted Antioch for the great part it played in the early history of Christianity. The city was the cradle of the church.
Some of the typically Antiochian ancient liturgical traditions of the community rooted in Hellenistic Judaism and, more generally, Second Temple Greco-Jewish Septuagint culture, were expunged progressively in the late medieval and modern eras by both Phanariot European-Greek (Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople) and Vatican (Roman Catholic) theologians who sought to 'bring back' Levantine Greek Orthodox and Greek-Catholic communities into the European Christian fold.
But members of the community in Southern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon still call themselves Rūm (روم) which means "Eastern Romans" or "Asian Greeks" in Arabic. In that particular context, the term "Rūm" is used in preference to "Yūnāniyyūn" (يونانيون) which means "European Greeks" or "Ionians" in Biblical Hebrew (borrowed from Old Persian Yavan = Greece) and Classical Arabic. Members of the community also call themselves 'Melkites', which literally means "monarchists" or "supporters of the emperor" in Semitic languages - a reference to their past allegiance to Greco-Macedonian, Roman and Byzantine imperial rule. But, in the modern era, the term tends to be more commonly used by followers of the Greek Catholic Church of Antioch and Alexandria and Jerusalem.
Interaction with other non-Muslim ethnocultural minorities Edit
Following the fall of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and the Tsarist Russian Empire (long the protector of Greek-Orthodox minorities in the Levant), and the ensuing rise of French colonialism, communism, Islamism and Israeli nationalism, some members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch embraced secularism and/or Arab Nationalism as a way to modernize and "secularize" the newly formed nation-states of Northern Syria and Lebanon, and thus provide a viable "alternative" to political Islam, communism and Jewish nationalism (viewed as ideologies potentially exclusive of Byzantine Christian minorities).
This often led to interfaith conflicts with the Maronite Church in Lebanon, notably regarding Palestinian refugees after 1948 and 1967. Various (sometimes secular) intellectuals with a Greek Orthodox Antiochian background played an important role in the development of Baathism, the most prominent being Michel Aflaq, one of the founders of the movement.
Abraham Dimitri Rihbany Edit
In the early 20th century (notably during World War I), Lebanese-American writers of Greek-Orthodox Antiochian background such as Abraham Dimitri Rihbany, known as Abraham Mitrie Rihbany (a convert to Presbyterianism), popularized the notion of studying ancient Greco-Semitic culture to better understand the historic and ethnocultural context of the Christian Gospels: his original views were developed in a series of articles for The Atlantic Monthly, and in 1916 published in book form as The Syrian Christ.
At a time when most of the Arab world area was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, France and Britain, Rihbany called for US military intervention in the Holy Land to fend off Ottoman Pan-Islamism, French colonialism, Soviet Communism and radical Zionist enterprises- all viewed as potentially detrimental to Christian minorities.
Administration and structure Edit
The administration and structure of the Antiochian See are governed by statutes.
The Patriarch Edit
The Patriarch is elected by the Holy Synod from amongst the metropolitans who compose it. The Patriarch presides the Holy Synod and executes its decisions. He also acts as metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Antioch and Damascus.
The current Patriarch, John X (Yazigi), was elected on December 17, 2012, succeeding to Metropolitan Saba Esber, who had been elected locum tenens on December 7, 2012, following Ignatius IV (Hazim)'s death.
There are at present 22 archdioceses, each headed by a metropolitan.
Western Asia Edit
- Archdiocese of Antioch and Damascus: Patriarchal archdiocese
- Archdiocese of Akkar and Dependencies (Wadi al-Nasara, Safita and Tartus): Basilios Mansour (2008–present)
- Archdiocese of Aleppo (Beroea) and Alexandretta: Ephreim Maalouli (2021–present)
- Archdiocese of Beirut and Exarchate of Phœnicia: Elias Audi (1980–present)
- Archdiocese of Baghdad, Kuwait and Dependencies: Ghattas Hazim (2014–present)
- Archdiocese of Bosra, Hauran and Jabal al-Arab: Saba Esber (1999–present)
- Archdiocese of Byblos and Batroun: Siluan Muci (2018–present)
- Archdiocese of Hama (Epiphania) and Exarchate of North Syria: Nicholas Baalbaki (2017–present)
- Archdiocese of Homs (Emesa): George Abu Zakhem (1999–present)
- Archdiocese of Latakia (Laodicea ad Mare) and Exarchate of Theodorias: Athanasius Fahd (2018–present)
- Archdiocese of Tripoli and Koura: Ephraim Kyriakos (2009–present)
- Archdiocese of Tyre and Sidon: Elias Kfoury (1995–present)
- Archdiocese of Zahleh and Baalbek (Heliopolis): Antonios El Soury (14 Nov 2015–present)
Asia and Oceania Edit
- Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines: Basilios Qoudsiah (2017–present)
- Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland: Silouan Oner (2015–present)
- Archdiocese of France, Western and Southern Europe: Ignatius Alhoushi (2013–present)
- Archdiocese of Germany and Central Europe: Isaac Barakat (2013–present)
The Americas Edit
- Archdiocese of North America (Englewood, New Jersey); Metropolitan of New York and All North America: Saba (Esber) (2023–present)
- Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and Mid-Atlantic: Thomas Joseph (2004–present)
- Diocese of Eagle River and the Northwest: vacant
- Diocese of Los Angeles and the West: vacant
- Diocese of New York and Washington, D.C.: Metropolitical diocese
- Diocese of Miami and the Southeast: Nicholas Ozone (2017–present)
- Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York: Alexander Mufarrij (2004–present)
- Diocese of Toledo and the Mid-West: Anthony Michaels (2011–present)
- Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America: vacant
- Diocese of Worcester and New England: John Abdallah (2011–present)
- Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and All Argentina: Jacob Khoury (elected 2018)
- Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean: Ignatius Samaan (2017–present)
- Archdiocese of Santiago and All Chile: Sergios Abad (1996–present), Bishop of Salamias and Patriarchal Auxiliary for Chile (1988–1996)
- Archdiocese of São Paulo and All Brazil: Damaskinos Mansour (1997–present)
- Diocese of Shahba: Niphon Saykali (1988–), elevated to archbishop in 2009 and elevated to metropolitan in 2014, Representative of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East at the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
- Diocese of Darayya: Moussa Khoury (1995–), Patriarchal Assistant – Damascus
- Diocese of Saidnaya: Luka Khoury (1999–), Patriarchal Assistant – Damascus
- Diocese of Banias: Demetrios Charbak (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in Safita, Archdiocese of Akkar
- Diocese of Arthoussa: Elias Toumeh (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in Marmarita, Archdiocese of Akkar
- Diocese of Zabadani: Constantine Kayal (2011–), Abbot of St Elias – Shwayya Patriarchal Monastery
- Diocese of Palmyra: Youhanna Haikal (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Germany and Central Europe
- Diocese of Edessa: Romanos Daoud (2011–), Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of São Paulo and Brazil
- Diocese of the Emirates: Gregorios Khoury-Abdallah (2014-), Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch
- Diocese of Erzurum: Qays Sadek (2014-), Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch
- Diocese of Resafa: Youhanna Batash (2017-)
- Diocese of Apamea: Theodore Ghandour (2017-)
- Diocese of Diyarbakır: Paul Yazigi (2021-)
Retired bishops Edit
Daughter churches Edit
- Church of Constantinople : Granted autocephaly in A.D. 381 in Council of Constantinople and gained dignity of Patriarchate in A.D. 451 in Council of Chalcedon.
- Church of Cyprus: Granted autocephaly by the Church of Antioch in A.D. 431.
- Church of Georgia: Granted autocephaly by the Church of Antioch in A.D. 486.
- Church of Imereti and Abkhazia: Granted autocephaly by the Church of Antioch in the 1470s, but suppressed by the Russian Empire in 1814 and continued to be a dependency of the Church of Moscow and all Russia until 1917 when it was reunited with Church of Georgia.
- Church of Jerusalem: Originally Bishopric of Cæsarea, gained dignity of Patriarchate in A.D. 451 in Council of Chalcedon with territory carved from Patriarchate of Antioch.
See also Edit
- Eastern Orthodoxy in Syria
- Antiochian Greeks
- Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America
- Early Christianity
- Eastern Orthodox Church
- Greek Orthodox Church
- Hellenistic Judaism
- List of Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch – 518 to present day
- List of Orthodox Churches
- List of Patriarchs of Antioch – to 518
- Eastern Orthodoxy in Lebanon
- Eastern Orthodoxy in Turkey
- Saint John of Damascus
- Saint Joseph of Damascus
- Saint Raphael of Brooklyn
- List of Greek Orthodox Antiochian Churches in Europe
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