Oriental Orthodox Churches

The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian churches adhering to Miaphysite Christology,[1][2] with a total of approximately 60 million members worldwide.[3][4] The Oriental Orthodox Churches are broadly part of the trinitarian Nicene Christian tradition shared by today’s mainstream churches, and represent one of its oldest branches.[5]

Oriental Orthodox Churches
TypeEastern Christian
ClassificationNon-Chalcedonian
TheologyMiaphysitism
PolityEpiscopal
StructureCommunion
LanguageCoptic, Classical Syriac, Armenian, Ge'ez, Malayalam, Koine Greek, English, Arabic and others
LiturgyAlexandrian, West Syriac and Armenian
FounderJesus Christ, according to Oriental Orthodox tradition
Separated fromChalcedonian Christianity
Members60 million
Other name(s)Oriental Orthodoxy, Old Oriental Churches, Oriental Orthodox Communion, Oriental Orthodox Church

As some of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Oriental Orthodox Churches have played a prominent role in the history and culture of Armenia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, India, and some parts of Western Asia. An Eastern Christian body of autocephalous churches, its bishops are equal by virtue of episcopal ordination, and its doctrines can be summarized in that the churches recognize the validity of only the first three ecumenical councils.[6][1]

The Oriental Orthodox Churches are composed of six autocephalous churches: the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Indian Orthodox Church), the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church.[1] Collectively, they consider themselves to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. Most member churches are part of the World Council of Churches. Three very different rites are practiced among the churches: the western-influenced Armenian Rite, the West Syriac Rite of the Syriac Church and the Malankara Church of India, and the Alexandrian Rite of the Copts, Ethiopians and Eritreans.

Oriental Orthodox Churches shared communion with the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church in the Imperial Roman Church before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, as well as with the Church of the East until the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, all separating primarily over differences in Christology.

The majority of Oriental Orthodox Christians live in Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Syria, Turkey and Armenia, with smaller Syriac communities living in Western Asiadecreasing due to persecution. There are also many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora, conversions, and missionary activity.