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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Eastern Church

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a designation given,

1. Specifically to what is commonly called the Greek Church, in distinction from the Western (or Latin Church). The title claimed by that Church itself is Καθολικὴ καὶ ἀποστολικὴ ἐκκλησία τῆς ἀνατολικῆς The Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church. (See GREEK CHURCH). Bishop Coxe, in the Churchman's Calendar, calls it the "Grand Trunk, or main stem of the Catholic Church."

2. The name Eastern Church, or, more properly, Eastern churches, is given to Eastern Christendom, divided into the churches named in the following list, which gives their statistics to the close of 1867, as far as they can be ascertained:

1. The Greek Church. Russia (in Europe, 51,000,000; in Siberia, 2,600,000; in the provinces of the Caucasus no official account of the ecclesiastical statistics has yet been made; the total population of this part of the empire is 4,257,000, the population connected with the Greek Church may be estimated at about 1,500,000; hence total population of Russia connected with the Greek Church is about), 55,000,000; Turkey (inclusive of the dependencies in Europe and Egypt), about 11,500,000; Austria, 2,921,000; Greece (inclusive of the Ionian Islands), 1,220,000; United States of America (chiefly in the territory purchased in 1867 from Russia), 50,000; Prussia, 1500; China, 200; total, 69,692,700. The figures referring to Russia, Austria, and Prussia are from an official census; those concerning China are furnished by the Russian missionaries in Pekin; those on Turkey and Greece are estimates almost generally adopted. (See GREEK CHURCH); (See RUSSIA).

2. The Armenian Church. According to D. Petermann (in Herzog's Real-Encyklopadie), the total number of Armenians scattered in the world is about 2,500,000. Of these, about 100,000 are connected with Rome, and are called United Armenians; 15,000 are Evangelical Armenians, and all others belong to the National (or "Gregorian") Armenian Church. The number of the latter may therefore be set down at about 2,400,000. The great majority of them (about 2,000,000) live in Turkey, about 170,000 in Russia, and 30,000 in Persia. (See ARMENIAN CHURCH).

3. The Nestorians, including the Christians of St. Thomas in India, number about 165,000 souls, exclusive of those who have connected themselves with Rome, or have become Protestants. (See NESTORIANS).

4. The Jacobites in Turkey and India are estimated at about 220,000, but the information concerning them is less definite than that about the preceding churches. (See JACOBITES).

5. The Copts and Abyssinians.-The Copts may be roughly estimated at about 200,000, the Abyssinians at about 3,000,900. (See ABYSSINIAN CHURCH); (See COPTS).

Together, therefore, the population connected with these Eastern communions embraces a population of about 76,500,000. All these bodies lay claim to having bishops of apostolical succession, and consequently all of them are embraced in the union scheme patronized by the High-Church Anglicans. Both the Low-Church and the Broad-Church parties dislike the idea of a union with the Greeks, Copts, Abyssinians, and the other Eastern communions; but the High-Churchmen, of all shades of opinion, are a unit on this subject. An important fact in the history of this movement is the official transmission of a Greek translation of the pastoral letter issue; (1867) by the Pan-Anglican Synod to all the patriarchs and bishops of the Greek Church (Schem, in Methodist Quarterly Review, 1868, p. 280).

On the Eastern churches, besides the articles on the separate churches in this Cyclopaedia, see Stanley, Lectures on the History of the Eastern Church (N. Y. 1867, 8vo); Neale, History of the Holy Eastern Church (London, 1847-1850, 4 vols. 8vo). -A list of the patriarchates, sees, etc., of the Eastern churches is given in the Churchman's Calendar, 1868, p. 36 sq.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Eastern Church'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/e/eastern-church.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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