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May 16th - Lecture #4.doc

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Adam Lehto

May 16 th RLG203 Lecture #4 The Churches of the East – Part 1 - the reason that Eastern churches have been neglected o part of a bias – cannot blame Western chirstians for this bias  because they had a political and cultural divide – next to nothing was known about Christians East of the Roman empire - Christians across most of Asia – thousands of kms away o combine the scope of the Western Latin church and the orthodox byzantine church (Christians in the West) – with the East – all the way to Ireland, China, Mongolia, India, Persian Empire – Eastern Christians had much morel and covered  huge geographical extent of Christians in about 600 (Christians appear in China in 635) - only recently have scholars been believing in this theory – up to 1660 – European empires expanding all across the world th o but before 16 century – Nostorian Church – - in China, India, Europe, anywhere in Western region in 600 – there was a very distinct hierarchy structure – with the support of the empire and Constantine, it got spread out even more – recall: priests, bishops  patriarchs (pope) – level of authorities o operating within the same structure as the Western side – shows how the structure is the same throughout  to be a Christian in these centuries, (this will not change until after) meant to plug into this Christian  If you wanted to be saved as a Christian – you had to go to the Church and physically participate (mass), go to church, be active in the Christian community – that is how you got your salvation • On a popular level – holy men and women commemorated - language of the official church in the East – Latin - language of the official church in the West – Greek o but difference between the official languages of the church and what the Christians on the ground spoke - 2 zone: series of churches stretching from Armenia, Syria, Egypt and Ethiopia – all 4 of these churches share a commitment to a certain type of theology o accoriding to the official churches – they thought that these Christians misunderstood the Chuch - they were tyring to give a philosophical description on the nature of Christ o what it led to was intense disagreements about which terms to use to describe the nature of Christ – and how to interpret the - would not have happened if these theologians had not been o legacy of Greek culture – advanced education – played out in Christian theology this way – made this huge divide  Christians could not agree how to talk about Christ - very real consequences to these disagreements – the edge of the empire had these little national churches - miaphysite – mono – Christ only had one divine nature o puzzle – Christian worldview and notion is that - tragedy – the Churches that became a part of this national identity – they charged almost everything else – they were similar in most respects o everyone assumed that the stakes were so high – if you couldn’t define things properly you cannot live the Christian life and you will not get salvation  these things mattered – a lot - that is why he have Greek Orthodox, etc. - there is something going on here – there’s a relationship between ethnic identity and theological identity – geographical relationship - 3d zone: diophysite: commitment to separating the nature of Christ – and if you did not properly distinguish between the two natures of Christ, you will not get salvation o all 3 theologies thought the same thing – improper definition means no salvation st - 1 zone – the Western empire – original place of Christianity – normal zone - Syriac – language of the East– dialect of Aramaic – the language of Jesus (what Jews spoke at his time) o first evidence of it is from Eastern edge of the Roman world – at Osrhoene – small Arab kingdom o culturally Arab – roots in nomadic pastoral tending of flocks way of life – but the language was a dialect of Aramaic - the huge Persian empire spoke a dialect of Aramaic - because all of the earliest writings were written in the 2 century – everything before that was written in Greek o makes it easy to overlook the possibility that messages about Jesus were sent in his native language – a form of Christianity did in fact spread among Aramaic speakers  can’t track it – no trail – no one writes the languages – not until the 2 century - in terms of Christianity naturally spreading in the Roman world from the West o but there also would have been a natural progression in the East as well  how it got to the Asian cultures so far away - the silk road – a network of major East-West tr
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