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The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy (The Church in History, Vol 4) [Paperback]

Aristeides Papadakis , John Meyendorff

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Product details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: St Vladimir's Seminary Press,U.S. (22 Sep 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881410578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881410570
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,374,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This text explores the history of the Eastern Church, spreading from Byzantium to the Orthodox Churches of the Balkans and Russia. It also examines the native Eastern Churches of Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, Armenia and Georgia, and in the process exposes the many factors which contributed to the Christian disunity in the Middle Ages. The book also treats the impact on the East of such movements as the revolutionary Reform Papacy, the crusades, scolasticism and concilarism.

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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough treatment of the subject from Eastern perspective 22 Sep 2003
By Moses Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Aristeides Papadakis' "The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy" is a fantastic work that deals with the subject of the Roman papacy trying to assert itself and its authority over the whole of Christendom.

The book is exhaustive in detail and meticulously notated. It took me quite some time to read because of the complexities of the subject. However, it is one of the best church history books I've ever read and an absolutely essential read. It tells the story of church history from the Eastern perspective and shows why the Eastern Orthodox Church resisted (and continues to resist) the papal claims of universal authority.

The Eastern Orthodox Church has always been conciliar in nature and refutes the "infallibility" claims of the papacy. He draws on Nicholas Cabasilas' view about the idea of papal infallibity as being a flawed concept. He asserts that the College of Cardinals can't give to the pope that which they don't possess (infallibility) and draws on the eastern view that a group of bishops ordains a bishop and can only invest that person with authority that they themselves possess.

It is an idea that is discussed at length. The book also shows a lot of the internal workings within the Byzantine empire and the Slavic kingdoms and how they dealt individually as well as collectively with the papacy. A truly amazing book that should be read by anyone wanting to see the view of the papacy from an Eastern perspective.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Schism between East and West 19 Jun 2007
By topoman - Published on Amazon.com
The period covered in this book is 1071-1453, the final "decline and fall of the Roman Empire". In 1071, both of the Byzantine Empire's deadliest enemies launched their initial attacks - the Turks at Manzikert and the Italian Normans in Greece. The Norman onslaught was intimately connected with the relationship between eastern and western Christianity and caused such a decline that the Empire could not resist the Turks.
In the West, the Saxon kings of Germany had demanded that the Pope restore Charlemagne's title as "Roman Emperor" and grant it to them. Consequently, these "Holy Roman Emperors" (the title actually originates later) interfered in the papacy in order to maintain their claim to be Roman Emperors, forcing their choice of German prelates on the church. Eventually the German Popes asserted themselves and claimed universal authority over all of Christianity and all Christians. They also established the rule that the Cardinal-Bishops, previously a less powerful set of advisers, would be the sole electors of successive popes.
In the middle of the eleventh century, a papal legation attempted to force the Patriarch of Constantinople to be subject to the Pope. The Eastern Church's position is that the Pope was one of five patriarchs, equal in power and independent, differing only in that the Pope was owed a higher degree of respect since his city was the founding city of the Roman Empire. Further, the government of the Church was instituted by the human race for human needs by the Church Councils and the Pope was not an infallible king. The legate (Cardinal Humbert) excommunicated the Patriarch and several other high officials.
This schism was not recognized as being irreparable at the time, but every attempt at reconciliation ran into Papal demands for submission.
Indeed, a friend of mine who is in the Roman Catholic clergy stated that the Catholic Church would welcome the Orthodox back into union and would only impose the "magisterium" of the Pope "lightly" - the very sticking point of the past millennium.
The Normans used these differences to arouse hatred toward the Empire during the course of the Crusades, eventually resulting in the diversion of the Fourth Crusade into the conquest of Constantinople, a catastrophe from with the Empire never fully recovered. The Fourth Crusade and the treatment of the Eastern Church by its western overlords solidified the schism.
The Crusades were devastating for not only the Orthodox, but also for the Copts (Egypt) and Nestorians (Syria, Persia and farther east) who had been quite numerous and had thrived under Muslim rule. The Crusades established the idea that Christians were the enemy of Islam and so these communities were subjected to severe persecution and were vastly reduced in size and influence.
The one permanent success of the Papacy in the East was the union with the Marionites of Lebanon, who are henceforth loyal Catholics.
The supposedly all powerful Papacy suffered itself from schism, first moving to Avignon, then splitting into two (Avignon and Rome) when the return to Rome was attempted and, finally three (Pisa, whose second and last Pope was John XXIII, whose Papacy was so controversial that the Catholic Church avoided this once popular Papal name for 500 years until a Pope decided to ignore him as an anti-pope and take the name and number for himself) before the split was finally healed. This split and the conciliar movement (Ecumenical Councils as a church "Parliament" to balance the Papal monarch), which was spawned then, were part of the background of the Reformation. Ironically, the theory of Papal absolutism resulted in, first, a separation from the non Latin Church and, second, in a substantial civil war and separation in the Latin Church itself.
The Eastern Church turned more metaphysical during this period. St. Gregory Palamas championed the idea that experience of the divine was possible for human beings. For an excellent discussion see The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church.
The West went in the opposite direction - Scholasticism, the idea that Theology could be derived from Axioms in the manner of geometry, prevailed.
In addition to the comprehensive coverage of the Greek and Latin Churches, there is fairly good coverage of the Slavic and Armenian Orthodox Churches.
The people at St. Vladimir's Press informed me that this book and Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions: The Church, 450-680 Ad (Church History ; 2) will be reprinted in the winter of 2007-8 and volume 1, part 1 of this series Formation And Struggles and volume 3 Greek East And Latin West: The Church AD 681-1071 (The Church in History) have appeared in the fall of 2007 with the rest of the series to follow.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Turning Points 22 Mar 2008
By Jay Young - Published on Amazon.com
SVS Press has publishes another invaluable volume for the church historian in "The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy" by Aresteides Papadakis, since it focuses on the much-neglected area of Byzantium. Papadakis' essential thesis is that the final split between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches did not come about in 1054, with the mutual anathemas, but in 1204, when crusaders sacked Constantinople. The factors that led to this were a stronger papal control over the church, and an imperialism during the crusades, wherein Eastern Christians were the victims more than Muslims were.

In the 11th century, the clergy were appointed by feudal lords in Western Europe, which resulted in all kinds of simony and corruption. "It was undoubtedly lay control of ecclesiastical structure that made possible the purchase or sale of virtually every clerical grade the general rule by the tenth century. Simony became in fact unavoidable once clerical offices began to be treated like secular appointments." (p. 23) Most priests were married, and the church property simply went to their children. Further, the papacy itself was a puppet of the German emperor. A reform movement emerged in response to these abuses, led by Peter Damian and Leo IX. First, they wanted to enforce mandatory celibacy to prevent church property to pass into the hands of the priests' children. Second, they wanted to make the papacy independent of secular political control by electing the popes through conclaves made of cardinals. The College of Cardinals, which survives to this day, was Peter Damian's idea. "Significantly, the belief frequently expressed by medieval authors that the college of cardinals was the pope's supreme advisory body and, as such, was an imitation of the ancient Roman senate, was first articulated by one of the most uncompromising of the early Gregorians, Peter Damian." (p. 35-36) Finally, they wanted to end lay investiture.

In the context of the newly-powerful papacy and a suspicion towards Islam, the crusades were launched. The ostensible purpose of the first crusade was to re-capture Jerusalem from the Muslims and help the Christians of the east. Unfortunately, this is not exactly what happened. The papacy wanted to bring the Eastern Christians under its control, evoking the Donation of Constantine and historically specious arguments. Many in the western church saw the easterners as traitors. After the first crusade, parallel Latin jurisdictions were set up in areas where there were no Latin Christians before. This continued through the crusades in the Middle East (to say nothing of the Northern Crusades). Papadakis does not neglect to note that the idea of violence in the Western church had deep roots. "The theoretical justification for just war or even holy war outlined above- expressed for the first time by Augustine- was to have a lasting influence on the ethic of warfare in Western Christendom...Later papal reformers, insofar as they viewed their opposition to feudal power as a struggle against heretics and schismatics, or even excommunicates, were to find in these ideas a number of useful weapons...The belief that the Church had the power to authorize violence against heretics was in fact expanded to include pagans, as pope Gregory I's encouragement of such activity for the purpose of evangelization in the sixth century illustrates. This principle of forcible conversion may have inspired Charlemagne's later campaigns against the pagan Saxons." (p. 80) Many on both sides, however, still thought that some form of reconciliation was possible.

With the sack of Constantinople in 1204, any hope for re-union was effectively destroyed along with the city. The purpose of Fourth Crusade was to conquer Muslim Jerusalem via an invasion of Egypt. Instead, the crusaders diverted to Constantinople and took the city. The sacking was brutal, even by medieval standards. It did not happen in a vacuum or in a fit of mob rage, however. The constant rhetoric that people were hearing in the west was that the Byzantines were heretics, schismatics, and traitors. "Such observations came to be viewed as Gospel truth by the end of the century. They had become so popular by then that the diversionary assault on Constantinople, when it finally did come, was accepted with little hesitation. The fatal attack was rationalized by everyone involved by the belief that the Byzantines were already heretics. For the fourth crusade apparently the schism had been in existence for some time." (p. 103) Although there were attempts at reconciliation after 1204, in the Councils of Lyons and Florence, they ultimately failed. In addition, though Constantinople was eventually returned to the Byzantine Empire, the sacking of the city so weakened the Empire that they were unable to withstand the Turkish assaults in the 15th century. "Conceivably, the systematic Ottoman occupation of Asia Minor and the Balkans would not have been so effortless had the empire been able to maintain its territorial unity and strength after the fourth crusade." (p. 410) Although the Christians in the Ottoman Empire were allowed to exist and practice their religion, theological/cultural development would come to a halt, and they would be cut off from communication with their Western brethren until the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Highly recommended for students of church history.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 7 July 2014
By Steven J Rhudy - Published on Amazon.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow 18 Jun 2014
By Frederick B. Gallaher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Unlike my learned colleagues, I shall say only that this book has spun me around. It is worth your while be you theologian, historian or pure intellectual. A sheer work of art, fantastically well researched.
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