After having finished the course, you will:
- understand how in ideology and practice, matters of church and community are worked out in ways different from most Western European countries, and how these translate both in majority and minority contexts;
- have insight in the type of sources as well as the historiography and interdisciplinary methods that are being used in the field of the study of Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy;
- have improved your skills in discussing, analysing and writing on the basis of secondary literature in the field.
This seminar delves into one of the most important differences between Eastern and Western churches. This concerns the way in which for most if not all ‘Eastern’ and ‘Oriental’ Orthodox churches, church and national or ethnic community are closely linked. This linkage has strong roots in early translations of the liturgy in the local languages, resulting in churches that though connected in many ways to an ecumenical orthodox tradition, also cherish their distinct local characteristics. Whereas actual support of state or ethnic nationalisms forms a bone of contention in all orthodox churches, both majority churches (in Russia, Greece, Serbia), and minority churches (in the Middle East) have a strong tendency to stress national and ethnic belonging. This raises important questions about state and church, questions that are even more important because church-state relations often directly influence ways of belonging in the state as such. Often, ‘being orthodox’ is less a matter of individual faith, than of taking part in a familial, local and national community that encompasses and transcends religiosity as such. In this class, these different societal and political aspects of ‘being orthodox’ will be discussed taking into account the different countries in which orthodoxy plays an important role.