Oriental Orthodox Churches

The Oriental Orthodox Churches are Eastern Christian churches adhering to Miaphysite Christology,[1][2] with approximately 60 million members worldwide.[3][4] The Oriental Orthodox Churches are part of the Nicene Christian tradition, 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, Miaphysite churches, Oriental Orthodox Communion

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, Western Asia and India. As autocephalous churches, its bishops are equal by virtue of episcopal ordination. Its doctrines recognizes 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, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church.[1] 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. Three rites are practiced by 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 Roman Church before the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, and with the Church of the East until the Council of Ephesus in AD 431, 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 in Western Asiadecreasing due to persecution. There are also many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora, conversions, and missionary activity.


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