Oriental Christianity refers to all the Churches that developed in the Oriental provinces of the Roman Empire, and farther in the Middle-East, in Armenia and Asia. It is characterised by a non-centralised organisation, producing different rites and traditions.
The main branches of Christianity saw a number of smaller branches creating as many different denominations. The result was a profusion of Churches in the Orient.
They belong to three different groups:
- the Orthodox communion Churches;
- the independent Churches;
- the Churches united to Rome.
A: Christians of Nestorian origin A’: Catholics of Nestorian origin
B: Christians of Monophysite origin B’:Catholics of Monophysite origin
C: Catholics of Orthodox origin D: Catholics before the schism in the Orient
E: Christians of Malabar Catholic origin F: Catholics of Malankare origin
G: Catholics of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Many Oriental Christians migrated in the past, as well as recently, to escape persecutions or conflicts, thus creating large diasporas.
Table of the Churches in the Orient
Christians in groups A, B and E belong to independent Churches in the Orient.
Christians in groups A’, B’, C, D and F belong to Churches united to Rome.
If group D was united to Rome before the schism in the Orient, groups A’, B’, C and F drew nearer to Rome during their history; several of them are lead by a patriarch.
Christians in group G belong to a Catholic Church patriarchate.
Churches in the Orient Dates
A: Christians of Nestorian origin:
Christians of the Church in the Orient (1)®Assyrians 431 / 1553
A’:Catholics of Nestorian origin:
B: Christians of Monophysite origin
1- Coptic Catholics ® Coptic Orthodox 451 / 1824
2- Ethiopians ® Orthodox Ethiopians 451 / 1839
3- Syriac Catholics ® Syriac Jacobites 512 / 1783
4- Gregorians ® Apostolic Armenians 555 / 1441
B’: Catholics of Monophysite origin:
1- Coptic Catholics 1824
2- Ethiopian Catholics 1839
3- Syriac Catholics 1783
4- Armenian Catholics 1742
C: Catholics of Orthodox origin:
1- Greco-Catholics of Ukraine 1596
2- Greco-Catholics of Romania 1688
3- Catholic Melkite Greeks 1742
D: Catholics before the schism in the Orient:
1- Malabars (2) or Syrio-Malabars, Chaldean rite 431
2- Maronites 5th century
E: Christians of Alabama Catholic origin (D1)
Malarial Jacobites 1653
F: Catholics of Jacobite Malankare origin (E)
Malankar Jacobites 1930
G: Catholics after the first Crusade:
Latins (Latin patriarchate of Jerusalem) 1099
(1)Very ancient Church that evangelised India and China; broke away from the Nestorian Church in 431.
(2) Linked to the Church in the Orient in 431; to be found today in the Kerala (Southern India)
- LE COZ Raymond, Histoire de l’Église d’Orient, Cerf, 1995
- LORIEUX Claude, Chrétiens d’Orient en terre d’Islam, Perrin, 2001