What are the different Christian Orthodox Churches

Who are the Christians of the Eastern Churches?

As early as the first centuries after Christ, discussions and controversies arose within the Church, particularly with regard to the concept of the single and triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and the dual nature of Jesus Christ (Man and Son of God). These basic questions should be answered and dogmas defined at ecumenical councils.

The councils

325 - The Council of Nicaea and the divine character of Christ

The council convened by Emperor Constantine confirmed that the son is as divine as the father; the key word is homoousiouswhich can be translated as "similar in nature". With this, the council rejected the thesis of Arius, a priest from Alexandria, who saw Christ as divine, but still as a creature, i.e. of a lower divine nature than the Father.

381 - The Council of Constantinople

It put an end to the Arian controversy and contradicted all who saw the Holy Spirit as a subordinate divine being to Father and Son. With this council the doctrine of the Trinity was introduced, which describes a God with three divine beings of equal rank.


431 - The Council of Ephesus

Confrontation from two points of view: Nestorius saw two persons united in Jesus Christ - one divine and one human - while for Cyril of Alexandria the divine nature was in the foreground. The council followed Kyrill's argumentation and established its dogma of the “hypostatic union”, that is, the union of the divine and

human nature of Christ in a single person. This dogma was developed into monophysitism, which only recognizes the divine nature of Christ.

451 - Le concile de Chalcédoine

Réuni par le pape Léon le Grand, il condamne solennellement le monophysisme et définit le dogme christologique le plus fondamental, celui de l’existence en Christ de deux natures, l’une humaine et l’autre divine, sans confusion ni séparation.

The Eastern Churches

The dogmas established by the ecumenical councils were not recognized by all churches, which led to numerous divisions in the Christian Orient. From the 5th and 6th centuries on, at least three main currents can be distinguished within Christianity: the Monophysitists (in Egypt, Syria and Armenia), the Nestorians (in the Persian Empire) and the Chalcedonian churches (known today as Catholics and Orthodox).

The Assyrian Church of the East: Rejection of the Council of Ephesus

The Christians who emerged towards the end of the 1st century Eastern Church have remained true to the doctrine of Nestor, for whom Jesus Christ exists as a double being in divine form (in the form of the word) and as a human being (in the form of Jesus).

The Assyrian Church has about 300,000 members.

In 1553 there was a split within the Assyrian Church of the East in the wake of those who Chaldean Catholic Churchpracticing the Byzantine rite came into being. You have over a million believers.


Les Églises orientales-orthodoxes: le rejet du concile de Chalcédoine

Believers are called monophysitists because they only acknowledge the divine nature of Christ.

The Syrian Eastern Church split into the in the 17th century Syrian Orthodox Church (also as Jacobites designated) with 750,000 believers and the Syrian Catholic Church with 175,000 members.

• The Copts

The Coptic Church arose in the early days of Christianity in Egypt. Today 10-15% of the Egyptian population belong to the 40 dioceses headed by a synod-based patriarch. In total, the Coptic Church has an estimated 10 million followers worldwide; 250,000 of them are Catholic.

The Ethiopian Church

Ethiopia was Christianized as early as 330. In 1959 the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church made itself independent from the Copts and today has 35 million Orthodox and 900,000 Catholic members.

The Armenian Orthodox Church

Armenia converted under King Trdat III around the year 300. to Christianity and was one of the first countries in which it became the state religion. The Armenian Orthodox Church has six million members; to Armenian Catholic Church 200,000 Catholics profess.

Chalcedonian Churches: Appeal to the Council of Chalcedony

The Greek churches are since the schism of 1054 - i.e. the split between Rome (Western Church) and Constantinople - as orthodox designated. They number 14 million believers, between 750,000 and 1 million of whom live in the Near and Middle East.

The Greek Catholic or Melkite Church

The Melkites follow the Christian-Byzantine rite and joined the Catholic Church in 1724. Around 700,000 followers of this belief live in the Middle East today, particularly in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

The Maronite Community

The Maronites were gradually expelled from Syria by the Muslims from the 7th century onwards, before the Byzantines finally forced them into exile in Lebanon in the 10th century. Around 900,000 religious followers still live there today. A total of 4 million Maronites are distributed in the Diaspora worldwide, 80,000 of them in France. The community referred to itself as Catholic from the beginning, but historians only confirm its ties to Rome from the 12th century onwards.