Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jordan Times: Jordanian Orthodox Protest Marginalization by Jerusalem Patriarchate

From here. For more background, see here.

Orthodox Christians cry foul as Greek-ruled patriarchate continues ‘exclusion of Arabs’ 

AMMAN — On April 10, members of the Orthodox Christians community staged a sit-in in Amman protesting against what they believe is injustice practised by the Jerusalem-based Greek leaders of their church.

According to key Orthodox leaders in Jordan, they protested against “marginalisation and exclusion”, practised by the church leadership against their clergymen and identity as Arab Orthodox.

During the protest, they raised slogans against “the strangers who are irrelevant as far as the congregation… is concerned”, and called for appointing Jordanian and Palestinian monks in top posts. 

The event was followed by two letters sent by Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem to Archimandrite Hanna “Christoforos” Atallah, the founder of the Monastery of Our Lady Ever Virgin Mary in Dibbeen,  “threatening, and warning” him, according to Atallah.

The Arab vs. Greek differences have been there for a century or so, Orthodox leaders said, but the latest dispute saw what Jordanian Orthodox see as extreme measures against one of their key figure, Archimandrite Atallah, who was excluded by Theophilos III and deprived of his title and authorities.
Atallah and other Orthodox leaders in Jordan have accused the Greek Patriarch and the Holy Synod in Palestine of applying policies that add to the problems prompting Christians in Palestine and the region to migrate and derailing the identity of the congregation.    

Atallah claims that his campaign to reinvigorate the role of the Orthodox church was behind the punishment he received. 

He told The Jordan Times in a recent interview that the Christian community is gradually declining and the faithful are losing their Orthodox identity due to the Patriarch’s refusal to activate the parish system, thus violating the church’s regulations.

He explained that the parish system is the fundamental ecclesiastical system and by not activating it, Orthodox churches and Arab Christians are pushed into a dispiriting situation.

“The parish system is what keeps the church alive; all the Kingdom’s churches will only be active if there were diocesans who, by virtue of their job, are close to their congregation,” he said.

The system involves the establishment of institutions, committees and councils that need a complete structure involving lower-ranking leaders who can interact and lead their communities.  

“Our Patriarchate here has one archbishop; that is his Beatitude the Patriarch. This situation proved to be a failure, especially for the last century and even before that.”

In a lecture he delivered in Salt on April 16, Atallah said in reference to the absence of church-related institutions and activities: “Where are our monasteries? Where are our monks? Where are our clerical and theological schools? Where are our libraries? Where are our spiritual books that we publish?”
Archimandrite Atallah said  he and other clergy men have been “punished only for telling the truth openly”.

[...]

43 comments:

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The rump Byzantines maintain a hierarchical structure that refuses to acknowledge the Empire disappeared centuries ago.

If the Ecumenical Patriarch wants to be Greek, for example, then he should relocate to the Greek capital of Athens. He can start a mission in Istanbul that gives liturgies in Turkish.

It's pretty hilarious here in the US that the Greeks just got around to realizing Orthodoxy is supposed to be a missionary Church and the number of actual Greeks isn't enough left to keep the lights on. So now they're establishing "Hispanic" and "Albanian" vicarates.

OTOH, the Antiochians have done backflips to demonstrate their pan-Arabic loyalty with little consideration for their efforts.

Thymoleon said...

This is an important question that the Palestinian and Jordanian Orthodox need to answer first: "“Where are YOUR monasteries? Where are YOUR monks? Where are YOUR clerical and theological schools? Where are YOUR libraries? Where are YOUR spiritual books that YOU publish?”

Secondly, there is only one thing worse than marginalization or "forced" Hellenization, and that is forced Arabization. When will the Rum Orthodox understand that they are NOT Arabs, that Pan-Arabism can refer only to Muslims, and that Arab culture is in origin Islamc?

Isa Almisry said...

""“Where are YOUR monasteries? Where are YOUR monks? Where are YOUR clerical and theological schools? Where are YOUR libraries? Where are YOUR spiritual books that YOU publish?”
Taken by the tomb worshippers from Greece who want to keep Christ sealed in the Tomb.
!قد قام المسيح
حقّـًا قام!
The Rum Orthodox are Arabs. Get over yourselves, yunan!
As for the origin of Arab Culture, the FACT that plenty of pre-Islamic Arab culture is in Palestine (the oldest inscription of Classical Arabic Poetry is in Avdat, near where the Bible places Ishmael.
http://books.google.com/books?id=2tghviSsrF8C&pg=PA33&lpg=PA33&dq=Avdat+Arabic+inscription&source=bl&ots=T9WskBdugb&sig=vSq9TtK80mc_5-6-pOjuwft7wh0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=zcdfU5fxKqii2AWHpoGwBA&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Avdat%20Arabic%20inscription&f=false
"Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, ...(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and ARABS--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Acts 2:5-11.
Take your Hellenization elsewhere, Phanariots!!!

Isa Almisry said...

The first Arab to ascend the Throne of St. James (who was not Greek, btw) at Jerusalem was St. Eliyas I in 494. The Prophet of Islam wasn't born until 570.

Thymoleon (Ρωμιός) said...

@Isa Almisry

I really don't think you are Christian for three reasons:

1. Your heart, consumed as it is by hate, is not the heart of a man that follows Christ.

2. You seem to suggest that your ancestors came to Palestine in AD 636 with Khalid ibn al-Walid.

3. You are ignorant of the fact that Orthodox Christians venerate the tomb of Christ.

You are also ignorant of history. The native languages of the Rum Orthodox in the Levant are Aramaic/Syriac AND Greek.

Your Arab teachers probably forgot to teach you that Arabic became the language of the Levant after 636 with the Muslim Arab conquests and that Greek together with Aramaic/Syriac were spoken in Palestine since before the time of our Lord; that Aramaic/Syriac and Greek have been spoken in Palestine longer than Arabic.

Your Arab teachers probably also forgot to tell you that our Lord preached in Aramaic and that the great apostles and fathers of the East (St. Paul, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. John of Damascus) wrote and spoke in Greek.

Call me personally what you want, but don't call the Rum Orthodox Arabs.

Thymoleon (Ρωμιός) said...

Let me amend point #2 to the following:

2. Despite what you claim above, by claiming to be Arabs you acknowledge that your ancestral culture came to Palestine in AD 636 with Khalid ibn al-Walid.

When you learn Arabic, the first text you read is the Koran.

While it is true that the Ghassanid Arabs were Christians, modern Arabic culture did not originate with them. Nor were they ever a majority in Palestine and Syria.

You need to learn from the Copts, who reject Pan-Arabism and fight to maintain their distinctness from the Muslims.

Anonymous said...

It is not just the land of Palestine that is occupied by foreigners there churches are also a victim. The Same applies to the native Latins and Melkites who are dominated by the Italians the French and something even the Americans. My God help them all.

Anonymous said...

It is not just the land of Palestine that is occupied by foreigners there churches are also a victim. The Same applies to the native Latins and Melkites who are dominated by the Italians the French and something even the Americans. My God help them all.

Isa Almisry said...

@Thymoleon,

First I shall have to note the arrogance of your claim to read hearts, belied by the ignorance in your other claims.

I don't need advice from a Phanariot (I assUme you are trying to speak as a Greek, and chose to do so as a Hellenizing chauvinist) on Pan-Arabism. Attend to your Mega Idea, but leave us out of it. If you seek the Copts as allies in it-the Copts first have to decide as a group their relation to Arabism. As for me, an Orthodox Arab, I can do without the ruumii appellation. We have it only because history stands.

Which also provides you with several problems:

1) I said nothing about having Palestinian ancestors, coming it with Khalid or before him.
2) Patriarch Elias I, ruling the see of Jerusalem over a century before 636, didn't come in Khaild's entourage.
3)This ARAB Orthodox has venerated the Tomb of Christ, but does not idolize it. Matthew 23:29-24:2. The Christians of Palestine are the Temple of God, not His empty Tomb, destroying the former to cling to the latter ranks as blasphemy, and hearts that commit it worship Zeus as ho theos, not Christ.
4) Besides denying the Bible's teaching in more critical matters (like shepherds acting like the Good Shepherd with HIS flock), you deny its testimony with your fixation on Khalid coming in 636, e.g. Ishmael and his sons (who all gave their name to Arab tribes, attested by ancient inscriptions) Gen. 17:20, 25:13-18; Nehemiah's opponent in Palestine Gershem the ARAB Neh. 2:19, 6:1 (known also from contemporary inscription); the tribute Arabs "of the lands surrounding Judah" brought to Christ's ancestor King Jehosophat in Jerusalem in II Chron. 17:11 (an interesting mention of the Philistines as still distinct from the Arabs) etc.
5) Besides that, you deny the testimony of Herodotus, who attests to the Arabs ruling Sinai, Palestine (locating their capital at Gaza) and Transjordan. His attestation of the name "Alilat" is the oldest we have on the etymology of the word "Allah."
6) As the testimony of Herodotus, long before Alexander, shows, Arabic preceded Greek in Palestine, and were spoken long before Our Lord. If the Apostles, by the power of the Holy Spirit, spoke Arabic in Jerusalem at the birth of the Church-as the book of Acts (cited above) tells us they did-it should be should be good enough for those who claim to be their successors placed over the Arab flocks of Palestine, Jordan and Sinai.

Isa Almisry said...

The statement "The native languages of the Rum Orthodox in the Levant are Aramaic/Syriac AND Greek" displays not only ignorance of the past, but also of the present. The Levant no longer has (nor has had for some time, with the departure of the Ottomans) any native Greeks, and hence Greek can lay no claim as "native language" of the Rum Orthodox there, as its doesn't originate from the Levant either. Aramaic and Syriac originate from Syria/Iraq, and has native Rum Orthodox speakers there, but not in Palestine nor Jordan. In contrast, the testimony of history and the tens of thousands of Pre-Islamic (i.e. BEFORE 636) ARABIC inscriptions throughout the Levant document the native origin of ARABIC in the lands of the Patriarchate of All Palestine, predating Aramaic, Syriac and Greek. The native Rum Orthodox still speak it.

Aramaic came with the Assyrian resettlement of Samaria. Their inscriptions attest that Arabs (Qadar/Kedar etc.)were settled as well then, and roamed the area before.
Syriac came only after Chalcedon, when the anti-Chalcedonian Aramaic hierarchy adopted it. We have Arabic inscriptions in Palestine (as mentioned above)and of the "King of All the Arabs" Imru' al-Qays ibn 'Amr (a Christian, btw) in Syria (in a Church btw) long before that (it is dated to 328).
Greek came with Alexander, who had to beseige the ARABS in their capital of Gaza (they are mentioned in connection of his seige of Tyre in Lebanon-where they had been for some time-as well).

The teaching of Arabic started (and still is comprised, for the Classical language) with Pre-Islamic poetry. "Pre-Islamic" means "before the Quran."

The Ghassinids did not start modern Arabic culture because they did not live in the modern age. However, the "Nahdah" the Renaissance which resulted in Modern Arab Culture arose among their modern descendents (and other Arab Christians-the Muslims joined later).

Isa Almisry said...

"Aspebetos, though a pagan and a Persian subject, became an ally of the Romans [by converting after having had his son healed by the monk Euthymius]. . . . On hearing that the great Euthymius [d. 473] had eventually returned, he came to him with a great number of Saracens [i.e. Arabs], men, women and children, and begged him to preach to them the word of salvation. The holy elder catechised them all and received them into the lower monastery where he baptised them. After remaining with them for the whole week, he then ascended with them to his own cave. Aspebetos brought along skilled workmen and constructed a great cistern . . . and nearby he built a bakehouse. . . . Moreover these people who had previously been wolves of Arabia but had then joined the spiritual flock of Christ begged to remain near him. . . .Taking them to an appropriate spot he said to them: ‘If you want to be very near me, settle ere’. . . . Marking out [the site of] a church for them and tents round it, he told them to build the church and settle there. He frequently made visits to them and assigned them a priest and deacons. Those who had already been baptised came and settled there, and others too who arrived gradually were baptised by him. Since in consequence they became extremely numerous and spread out to form various incampments, our great father Euthymius wrote to Juvenal, patriarch of Jerusalem [422-458], requesting the ordination of a bishop and, when he consented, sent him Aspebetos as most capable of drawing souls to salvation. So it was that Aspebetos [now named Peter] was the first to be ordained in Palestine bishop of the encampments [i.e. of the Arabs]"
Cyril of Scythopolis "The Lives of the Monks of Palestine" 18.24–25

This was in the region of Jericho, the lavra founded named "Pharan" after the homeland of the Ishmaelites, i.e. the ARABS. Btw, the ARAB bishop Aspebetos/Peter attended the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, where he fought on the side of Pope St. Cyril against the heretical Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome Nestorius, and this lavra became a stronghold of support for the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon among the Arabs.

Thymoleon (Ρωμιός) said...

@Isa Almisry

If you reject the sacred name of Rum Orthodox, then you are indeed from Khalid in spirit. Khalid fought the Rum Orthodox and his successors slaughtered the Rum by the thousands because they would not deny the name of Christ.

By rejecting Aramaic/Syriac, you reject the language of Christ, the Apostles, and the desert fathers.

By rejecting Greek, you reject the heritage of St. John of the Ladder, St. John of Damascus (who was a monk at St. Sabbas), and the School of Gaza. Btw, Cyril of Skythopolis wrote in Greek too.

There don't have to be ethnic Greeks native to Palestine for the Greek language to belong to the heritage of the Rum Orthodox of Palestine and Jordan as well.

By rejecting Aramaic and Greek, you've stripped yourself of the greater part of your Christian heritage.

The new identity you've invented is based on secular criteria--that is, it is the invention of Freemasons and revolutionaries, designed to fragment the Orthodox people. Moreover, it is based on the myths that religion is not necessary for the unity of a community.

Regarding the so-called "Nahdah", why don't you ask the Christians of Iraq and Syria what good it has done for them? Ask those from Bagdad, Damascus, or Maaloula.

Regarding the Holy Tomb of Christ, be careful because it is only those possessed by demons that fear the veneration of the Tomb and only they become agitated against it during the Paschal period. Be careful you don't fall into a chauvinist, phyletist-inspired Iconoclasm, when you claim Christians "worship" the Tomb when they venerate it.

No one is saying that you ought think of ourselves as ethnically Greek. But you should realize the role of Greek in your own heritage and through that see that you have more in common with the Greeks than with the Arab Muslims.

Finally, don't think that you insult me when you call me a Phanariot. I'm actually honored, even though I am not from Constantinople--a city sanctified by the blood of thousands of holy men and martyrs.

Samn! said...

"The sacred name of Rum"?!

Dude, what crazy-swamp are you living in?

Our God is holy. The Church is holy. No demonym is holy or sacred.

Thymoleon (Ρωμιός) said...

@ Samn!

Is not the name "Christian" sacred? "Rum Orthodox" means Orthodox Christian. It is therefore sanctified, as it refers to men consecrated to Christ. It is in this sense that we should honor it and venerate it.

Note also that I wrote "Rum Orthodox" and not just "Rum".

Names are sacred by reference not by essence, just as icons are sanctified by reference to their prototype and should be venerated by all Christians. A Rum Orthodox (who wrote in Greek) explained this twelve hundred years ago...

Orthodoxy sanctifies all aspects of man: his soul, his body, his family, and his community.

Samn! said...

At Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit spoke Arabic along with countless other languages, He showed us that these types of ethnic divisions are meaningless and that no culture is more holy or sacred than any other.

Anonymous said...

Amen Samn.

And thank you for removing the comment to your most recent post.

In other church of Jerusalem-related news: http://antiochpatriarchate.org/ar/page/بيان-صادر-عن-أمانة-سر-المجمع-الأنطاكي-المقد-س/473/

Are there other instances in history where such (temporary, I hope) breaking of communion between these two churches happened? If so, how were they resolved?

Praying for resolution and unity...

Isa Almisry said...

@T
"If you reject the sacred name of Rum Orthodox, then you are indeed from Khalid in spirit."
I follow the Spirit of Christ, and render to God what is God's and to Caesar what is Caesar's. If you want to offer incense on the altar of Phyletism, don't expect me to follow. Caesar and Rome killed a Christian or two. And Christ.

"By rejecting Aramaic/Syriac, you reject the language of Christ, the Apostles, and the desert fathers."
I said nothing about rejecting Aramaic/Syriac (which I passed my Doctorate exam in, btw). The "Desert Fathers," btw, spoke Coptic (which I also know).

"Btw, Cyril of Skythopolis wrote in Greek too."
Yes, I read him Greek. I don't reject Greek, I'm just not limited by it.

"There don't have to be ethnic Greeks native to Palestine for the Greek language to belong to the heritage of the Rum Orthodox of Palestine and Jordan as well."
But they do to make Greek a native language there-Russian is more native: do you know that?

Or? How's YOUR Aramaic?

Isa Almisry said...

@Thymeleon
"The new identity you've invented is based on secular criteria--that is, it is the invention of Freemasons and revolutionaries, designed to fragment the Orthodox people. Moreover, it is based on the myths that religion is not necessary for the unity of a community."
"My Kingdom is not of this world." Someone said that. But then He wasn't Rum Orthodox.

"Regarding the so-called "Nahdah", why don't you ask the Christians of Iraq and Syria what good it has done for them? Ask those from Bagdad, Damascus, or Maaloula."
Being my people, I've spoken with them IN Damascus and IN Ma'luulaa. I'd ask the Greeks of Smyrna when I was there what good the Mega Idea did for them, but I couldn't find them.

"Regarding the Holy Tomb of Christ, be careful because it is only those possessed by demons that fear the veneration of the Tomb and only they become agitated against it during the Paschal period. Be careful you don't fall into a chauvinist, phyletist-inspired Iconoclasm, when you claim Christians "worship" the Tomb when they venerate it."
No risk of that, seeing as I eschew the phylestist-inspired idolatry of the demons.

"No one is saying that you ought think of ourselves as ethnically Greek."
Plenty of Phyletists do. At least they are honest.

"But you should realize the role of Greek in your own heritage and through that see that you have more in common with the Greeks than with the Arab Muslims."
I've seen what the Greek atheists and secularists have done to Greece. If you want a part of that, don't drag me down with you.

"Finally, don't think that you insult me when you call me a Phanariot. I'm actually honored, even though I am not from Constantinople--a city sanctified by the blood of thousands of holy men and martyrs" killed mostly by other Constantinopolitans.

Why should I want to insult you? I just believe in calling a spade a spade.

Phanariotism is not a place, but a mentality.

Isa Almisry said...

@Thymelion

"s not the name "Christian" sacred? "Rum Orthodox" means Orthodox Christian."
No, it means "Roman Orthodox." Not that I have anything against Romans, I married one. Just don't have to be one.

Thymoleon (Ρωμιός) said...

@ Isa Almisry

Since you're a PhD, you probably know that the Greek hymns sung at the Patriarchate in Jerusalem today were written in Palestine by the Rum Orthodox scholar and monk, St. John of Damascus, in Greek.

You probably know that much of the Oktoechos, the Triodion, and the Horologion were written in Greek in Palestine too.

You probably know too that the Typikon of St. Sabbas, adopted universally by the Orthodox Church, was written in Greek in Palestine.

You probably know that the use of liturgical Greek in the Church of Sion has an unbroken history, since at least the 2nd century AD.

You probably know that the Gaza school was a center of Greek literature until the seventh century.

You probably also know that many of the Great Fathers of the Palestinian desert left us their writings in Greek.

I don't think we need anyone today "to make" Greek native to Palestine. It is native.

Were the Palestinian fathers that wrote in Greek invaders or colonists? Are they not your forefathers? Is it a limitation to identify with them?

Rather, it would be a limitation if knowledge and use of Greek in Jerusalem would end because of the chauvinism and phyletism of a few Pan-Arabists, whose utopian vision of a secular Arab culture that unites Christians, Sunnis, and Shiites has been dashed and refuted by current realties--first in Lebanon, then in Iraq and Syria.

Regarding the desert fathers, you also probably know that there were desert fathers that lived in Syria and Palestine who spoke Aramaic and Syriac, just as there were desert fathers who spoke Coptic and Greek in Egypt.

Regarding the Roman State, you probably know that after St. Constantine Christianity was legalized and after Theodosius I, Christianity was the official religion of the Roman State until 1453. Conversely, the world has yet to see a Christian Arab state.

The true Rum Orthodox stand with St. Constantine rather than with Jamil al-Sayyid or Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The Rum Orthodox are a distinct people--the native population of the Levant--to whom belong the patristic legacies of Aramaic, Syriac, and Greek, not the koranic legacy of Arabic.

Samn! said...

The Fathers who wrote in Greek were writing in the international, colonial (that is, colonial since Alexander's time) language. After about the mid-8th century, the language of theology and liturgy in Palestine went over to being almost entirely in Arabic, the new international language, until a new Greek ecclesio-colonial phase began under the Ottomans.

If you want an introduction to the early history of the use of Arabic as the Church's main language in Palestine and Syria, take a look at the book in the upper-right hand corner. It has translated samples from over a millennium of Orthodox Christian literature in Arabic.

There's a fairly large literature about why Greek disappeared so quickly from the Middle East, while Coptic died only slowly and Aramaic still exists. You can find some good background and bibliography here: https://www.academia.edu/5640216/Language_and_Identity_Arabic_and_Aramaic

Thymoleon (Ρωμιός) said...

@ Samn

"..No culture is more holy or sacred than any other.."

Actually, this is quite heretical in its implication, because what you're saying that is that faith ought to be separate from the other aspects of man. Faith and culture ought to be separate, and faith compartmentalized. If that's true, then only some aspects of man's nature are saved, not all.

Can man live without culture? Asking this is the same as asking if man exist without language. The answer is no. Culture is innate to man, inasmuch as it arises the moment two men speaking the same language or observing the same religious rites interact.

The Christian faith ought to permeate all aspects of man, including his culture. The relationship, however, ought to be hierarchical. Faith forms and unites the culture of Christians, just as an integrated Christian culture ought to point to the truths of the Orthodox faith.

But then, ask the same question in Mecca or Teheran. Tell me if the culture of Saudi Arabia or Iran are of equal value to the Christian cultures of the Orthodox East?

The claim may be also iconoclastic, breaking the relationship between the material forms of Christian life and their immaterial references. According to this logic, icon would have no relationship to their prototypes.

Is it because of its materiality that culture is not worthy of faith? That's heretical too.

@ Isa Almisry

Once again I am honored to be called a Phanariot, if that means standing together with holy and martyred Patriarchs of Constantinople; with Gennadios Scholarios, Petros Lambadarios, etc, etc.

And most of the martyrs were killed by the Turks. Again you were caught unread, my friend...

Samn! said...

My point is that the Christian faith and the Holy Spirit can illumine all cultures and that Christ can be preached equally in all cultures. The Church must embrace every language and culture because the Holy Spirit did so on Pentecost. Greek is no better or worse than any other language in which the Gospel is proclaimed, and the Gospel can be proclaimed in every language.

Take a look at the latest post on this blog, for a translation of a poem written in Arabic by an 11th century bishop of Gaza on that very theme.

Thymoleon said...

@Samn!

That's a very profound poem. Thank you for posting it. The Church is catholic and as such all are called to her.

But it does not contradict my main point: once called, Orthodox peoples ought to form their culture into an icon of their faith.

Regarding Arabic, I do not wish to suggest that Arabic is inadequate to express Christian truth. All languages may do that, to the extent that language is an innate human faculty. The Gospel can and must be translated into all human languages.

My main concern is with Arab nationalism and the secularist assumptions in the idea that the Rum Orthodox belong to a greater Arab nation. The creation of a secular Arab identity requires the fragmentation of Rum Orthodox culture and identity.

The Rum Orthodox historically were a distinct community. They understood themselves as a community separate from the Muslim Arabs for most of their history. They stood in solidarity with their Greek brothers for centuries, and they studied and chanted in Byzantine Greek because it was a language that belonged to them as well. It was only in the 20th century that the idea emerged that religion ought to be excluded as the basis of communal identity, and that language in the abstract (separated from any religio-literary tradition) ought to replace it.

What I read from Mr. Almisry is the rejection of the ancient tradition of Orthodoxy--which is what Suleiman al-Ghazzi seems to be writing in favor of--for the sake of a utopian dream that has resulted only in fragmentation and conflict.

Samn! said...

Historically, I'm not sure how true it is to say that "ey stood in solidarity with their Greek brothers for centuries, and they studied and chanted in Byzantine Greek because it was a language that belonged to them as well."

Greek wasn't used that often liturgically in Antioch or Jerusalem between about the 9th century and the Ottoman period. I can't think of a single Orthodox author writing in Greek (apart from communications with Constantinople-- communications between Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem in this period were all in Arabic) in Syria or Palestine between about 1000 and 1500. Even in the Ottoman period, the patriarch Makarios ibn al-Za'im only learned Greek (and poorly!) in his 40's. At patriarchal liturgies in his time, the Gospel was read in Arabic, Greek, Turkish and Persian.

As for political alliance with Byzantium, there aren't really that many examples of this, apart from occasional Byzantine church-building projects in Palestine. One major counter-example, though, is the Patriarch Christopher (r. 960-967), a native of Baghdad named 'Isa in the world. When the Byzantine army under Nikephoras Phokas was approaching Antioch and the city began rioting in support, Christopher withdrew to a monastery rather than be forced to betray his friend the Muslim ruler of Aleppo Sayf al-Dawla. Eventually he was murdered by enemies of Sayf al-Dawla and was quickly considered a martyr. A telling example of the Byzantine mentality at its open-minded best is that when Antioch came under Byzantine rule, Christopher's relics were moved into the House of Saint Peter in honor....

Isa Almisry said...

"Since you're a PhD, you probably know that the Greek hymns sung at the Patriarchate in Jerusalem today were written in Palestine by the Rum Orthodox scholar and monk, St. John of Damascus, in Greek."
I know the Arab Orthodox St. Yuhanna, in the world Ibn Mansur b. Sarjun, my patron saint. His mother tongue was Arabic, and he didn't learn Greek until his father ransomed the monk Cosmos of Sicily. I know he was writing defenses of icons under Damascus while the Greeks under Constantinople were destroying them.

"You probably know that much of the Oktoechos, the Triodion, and the Horologion were written in Greek in Palestine too."
Yeah, and? (btw, much of the musical form and theory that went into it came from Syriac/Aramaic. And then there is that Hebrew of the Psalter and the rest of the OT).

"You probably know too that the Typikon of St. Sabbas, adopted universally by the Orthodox Church, was written in Greek in Palestine."
No, the Phanar has issued its own Typikon which the Greeks use. We Arabs, like the Russians, stuck with St. Sabbas.

"You probably know that the use of liturgical Greek in the Church of Sion has an unbroken history, since at least the 2nd century AD."
The Greek ran off, and their friends the Crusaders used Latin. So much for "unbroken."
Arabs have been worshipping in the Church of Zion for most of its history.

"You probably know that the Gaza school was a center of Greek literature until the seventh century."
It was the Arab capital of Palestine in the fifth century BC. The Greek Scholar Herodotus tells us about that.
So, what happened in the seventh century? We know that the Arabs didn't leave:
http://orthodoxwoman.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/gazas-orthodox-church-celebrates-1606-years/

Isa Almisry said...

"You probably also know that many of the Great Fathers of the Palestinian desert left us their writings in Greek.
I don't think we need anyone today "to make" Greek native to Palestine. It is native."
I know that a lot of Athonites like Saint Paisius of Hilendar and others from territory controlled by the Hellenic Republic (SS. Cyril and Methodius, their disciple St. Clement of Ohrid, etc.) wrote in Bulgarian. Is Bulgarian native to Greece?

"Were the Palestinian fathers that wrote in Greek invaders or colonists?"
Both. And some were Hellenized.
"Are they not your forefathers?"
Just in religion.

"Rather, it would be a limitation if knowledge and use of Greek in Jerusalem would end because of the chauvinism and phyletism of a few Pan-Arabists, whose utopian vision of a secular Arab culture that unites Christians, Sunnis, and Shiites has been dashed and refuted by current realties--first in Lebanon, then in Iraq and Syria."
You are quite confused: the Phanariots are the ones imposing chauvinism and phyletism, whose nostalgic vision of a Ottoman Rum culture that subjects Arabs, Slavs, Romanians and Albanians under the ethnarch of Hellenization has been dashed and refuted by current realities--first in Russia, then in Bulgaria and the rest of the Balkans, then the Arab world, and then in Smyrna and the rest of Anatolia.
And now Istanbul.

Isa Almisry said...

"Regarding the desert fathers, you also probably know that there were desert fathers that lived in Syria and Palestine who spoke Aramaic and Syriac, just as there were desert fathers who spoke Coptic and Greek in Egypt."
And those who spoke Arabic in Syria, Palestine, Sinai and Egypt (as well as Iraq and the Arabian peninsula).

"Regarding the Roman State, you probably know that after St. Constantine Christianity was legalized and after Theodosius I, Christianity was the official religion of the Roman State until 1453. Conversely, the world has yet to see a Christian Arab state."
Wrong yet again.
Besides the ancient examples of Tanukh (whose Arab "Bishop of the Arabs" St. Moses Pope Gregory III of Old Rome cited as an example for the increase of St. Boniface's mission among the German. Btw, the Arabs insisted on an Orthodox bishop, and not the Greek Arian that the Roman Emperor Valens wanted to give them from Constantinople), and the Ghassanids and Lakhmids, Lebanon arising as a Christian Arab state, there is the issue of the Arabs who sat on the throne in Constantinople (e.g. Leo III).

Not that that matters-the first three centuries the followers of He Who said "My Kingdom is not of this world" had no state, and although a Christian Coptic or Syriac state has not arisen, I have no doubts about the Christianity of the Copts or Syriacs. Although-what the Hellenic state is up to makes me wonder about the Christianity of the Greeks.

"The true Rum Orthodox stand with St. Constantine rather than with Jamil al-Sayyid or Gamal Abdel Nasser."
We Rum Orthodox can stand on our own feet and decide with whom to stand. Since St. Constantine was a Latin, are you advocating submission to Francis in the Vatican?
As St. Constantine was a "barbarous" like Jamil al-Sayyid and Gamal Abdel Nassar, your comment makes little sense.

"The Rum Orthodox are a distinct people--the native population of the Levant--to whom belong the patristic legacies of Aramaic, Syriac, and Greek, not the koranic legacy of Arabic."
How about the pagan legacy of Homer?
Again, the Arabs were native to the Levant looooong before the Greeks invaded there.

Thymoleon (Ρωμιός) said...

@ Isa Almisry

You've brought up Smyrna more than once. It seems are enjoy talking about how Christianity was destroyed there; how the Orthodoxs Greeks were slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands. Be careful lest something similar happen in your home town, perpetrated by the very people you love so much.

Mr. Almisry, I'll grant you this: You're not worthy of the venerable name of Rum Orthodox.

I'll end with this:

Χαῖρε Σιὼν ἁγία, Μήτηρ τῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν, Θεοῦ κατοικητήριον∙ σὺ γὰρ ἐδέξω πρώτη, ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, διά τῆς Ἀναστάσεως.

Isa Almisry said...

"What I read from Mr. Almisry is the rejection of the ancient tradition of Orthodoxy--which is what Suleiman al-Ghazzi seems to be writing in favor of--for the sake of a utopian dream that has resulted only in fragmentation and conflict."
Why don't you concern yourself with picking up the pieces from 1922 and 1974, and leave us alone to manage our own affairs.

"Once again I am honored to be called a Phanariot, if that means standing together with holy and martyred Patriarchs of Constantinople; with Gennadios Scholarios, Petros Lambadarios, etc, etc."
I don't know about Lambadarios, but Scholarios died at peace in a monastery. The Turks installed him, after the Uniates of Constantinople had been persecuting him.

"And most of the martyrs were killed by the Turks. Again you were caught unread"
No, your revisionism is caught yet again.
The Martyrology recounts plenty of pagan Greeks killing Christians around Byzantium, and almost immediately after the foundation of Constantinople, the Arian Greeks and Romans picked up where the pagans left off. The likes of Macedonius I and Nestorius sitting on the throne of Constantinople continued to produce martyrs, as did the Henotikon and Constantinople's homeborn heresies of Monotheletism and Iconoclasm, the Roman Christian state killing the Orthodox to enforce them. All before the Turks got anywhere near Anatolia, let alone Constantinople.

Isa Almisry said...

"You've brought up Smyrna more than once. It seems are enjoy talking about how Christianity was destroyed there; how the Orthodoxs Greeks were slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands. Be careful lest something similar happen in your home town, perpetrated by the very people you love so much."
You are the one expressing such glee on that point.

"Mr. Almisry, I'll grant you this: You're not worthy of the venerable name of Rum Orthodox"
Sorry, the spirit of the consecration the Ottomans gave you to make such decisions has died.

"Χαῖρε Σιὼν ἁγία, Μήτηρ τῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν, Θεοῦ κατοικητήριον∙ σὺ γὰρ ἐδέξω πρώτη, ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, διά τῆς Ἀναστάσεως"
She is still surrounded by her Arab children, in their Arab land.

Isa Almisry said...

"Can man live without culture? Asking this is the same as asking if man exist without language. The answer is no. Culture is innate to man, inasmuch as it arises the moment two men speaking the same language or observing the same religious rites interact. But then, ask the same question in Mecca or Teheran. Tell me if the culture of Saudi Arabia or Iran are of equal value to the Christian cultures of the Orthodox East?"
Why don't you ask that question in Istanbul? Bursa? Iznik? Izmir? Kadıköy? Efes?

"'..No culture is more holy or sacred than any other..' Actually, this is quite heretical in its implication"
Now, THAT's heresy.

"because what you're saying that is that faith ought to be separate from the other aspects of man"
He said no such thing. He just pointed out the fact that the Iliad and Odyssey aren't the two testaments of the Bible, and the language of Thiyudurus Abu Qurrah does just fine expressing the Faith, and integrating the other aspects of man.

"Can man live without culture? Asking this is the same as asking if man exist without language. The answer is no. Culture is innate to man, inasmuch as it arises the moment two men speaking the same language or observing the same religious rites interact."
And millions of Orthodox do that in Arabic.

Robert Sweiss said...

I am grateful for people like Isa & Sam for their objectivity & critical analysis on such a great topic of discussion. The notion that there were no Arab Orthodox before the rise of Islam is a revisionist theme often coming from the ethno-phylist Greeks as well as from their non Greek disciples.. These revisionists have left their marks on countless of people that do not discern truth from fiction. I hope and pray that these revisionists continue to read and study the history of the Arab Christians and to realize their errors and biases. It was those very same biases that created the negative stereotypes of the Arabs before and after the rise of Islam. These revisionists are concentrated among the Greeks, clergy & laity, in North America and in the Middle East. Sometimes, I do not feel sympathy towards the Greek Ecumenical Patriarch's situation in Turkey and view it as payback for the past & current troubling situation amongst the Arab Orthodox Christians. The Arab Orthodox Church has bled for centuries by losing its people to the non-orthodox Christian and to Islam. I highly recommend the readings of Professor Irfan Shahid and Professor Sidney Griffith.

Papachristou said...

"Sometimes, I do not feel sympathy towards the Greek Ecumenical Patriarch's situation in Turkey and view it as payback for the past & current troubling situation amongst the Arab Orthodox Christians."

This is not a Christian sentiment, especially since the suffering inflicted on the Church of Constantinople in last century was enormous.

Consider the numbers: 750,000 Orthodox Christians slaughtered between 1914 and 1922; nearly 3 million Orthodox Christians "exchanged" or summarily deported between 1922 and 1980.

Mr. Sweiss' comment exhibits the worst kind of phyletism.

Finally, the question of the use of Arabic and the emergence of an Arab communal identity that includes Christians and Muslims are two separate issues.

While the first may go back centuries, it is does not provide grounds for depriving the Rum Orthodox of a Greek literary-liturigcal heritage.

The second cannot be traced further back than the 19th century.



Isa Almisry said...

"This is not a Christian sentiment, especially since the suffering inflicted on the Church of Constantinople in last century was enormous."
And the suffering on the Church of Antioch and the Faithful (as opposed to their absentee hierarchs) any less? Unlike them, the Phanar (if you read any of its statements at the time) brought the debacle of the 1920's on itself, heedlessly, for instance, antagonizing Ataturk-and his army-leaning on the reed of the Western Powers.

"Mr. Sweiss' comment exhibits the worst kind of phyletism."
No, it exhibits the wounds that the worst kind of phyletism-Phanariotism-inflicts.

Take for instance the massacre of Christians in 1860 in the Levant, in which 380 Christian villages and 560 churches were destroyed. The Orthodox did not suffer as much as the Vatican's flock, as Muslim Arabs took to solidarity with the Orthodox and protected them against the marauding Druze and other Muslims, but we did have casaulities-such as St. Joseph of Damascus, beaten to death protecting the Eucharist, and the Patriarchal Cathedral, which was burnt down. In the aftermath a Christian government was instituted in Beirut, and a huge indemnity was paid to the Christians. It went, however, to the hierarchy, and while the bishops of the Maronites and Vatican's Melkites-who came from the flock-spent the money in rebuilding the community, the Phanariots pocketed the money for themselves, and the Orthodox flock were left to fend for themselves.
Didn't do much to foster positive sentiments among the neglected Faithful towards their negligent foreign Greek overlords.

Which is also part of why the Christian Arab Orthodox sided with the Arab Caliphs (whose army already included Christian Arabs, who did not pay the dhimmi poll tax but paid the alms tax at twice the Muslim rate) at Yarmouk in 636-considerably further back than the 19th century.

"While the first may go back centuries, it is does not provide grounds for depriving the Rum Orthodox of a Greek literary-liturigcal heritage"
That Greek isn't our language does that: Homer wasn't translated into Arabic further back than the 19th century.

Isa Almisry said...

Btw, the use of Arabic goes back over a millenium: we have, for instance, a Damascus Psalter from around the 7th century (whether it pre- or post-dates Islam is debated) in Arabic-written in Greek characters. Pope Sa'id ibn Batriq/Eulogios of Alexandria (933-940) was born in Fustan/Old Cairo in 877 and knew no Greek but wrote extensively on the Church in Arabic. By then the Church already had an Arabic literary-liturgical heritage, e.g. the writings of Theodore Abu Qurrah (+820)
http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/T/bo3535574.html
And of course, our host's own work, shown on the main page, more than adequately document this heritage, which stretched as far West as Sicily a thousand years ago, as documented by the Trilingual Psalter, which is in Latin, Greek and Arabic (which is numbered in Arabic/Hindu numerals, i.e. 1, 2, 3, and not A, B, C, or I, II, III etc.)
http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/sacredtexts/tripsalter.html
http://www.qantara-med.org/qantara4/public/show_document.php?do_id=1132&lang=en

Isa Almisry said...

"And the suffering on the Church of Antioch and the Faithful (as opposed to their absentee hierarchs) any less?"
the last reference should read "the Faithful of Jerusalem

Robert Sweiss said...

Phyletism is based on Greek jealousy and control of power. I have become tired and irate with Greeks who continue to downplay the role of the Arab Orthodox throughout time and history. If the Greeks had better relations with the Arabs before Islam spread in 638, no one would have heard of Islam or seen it spread. However, there was a war waged against the Ghassasnid Arab Christians along with the Oriental Orthodox because of Greek dislike and contempt of them. Such schismatic Greeks continue to propagate lies about the Arabs. They have the audacity to lie to the world and continue to state that there were no Arabs until Islam arrived. Some Arab saints have hellenized names to avoid detection as Arabs. Regarding the Ecumenical Patriarch, he lacks value as far as I can tell when it comes to resolving conflicts with jurisdictions. He prefers the Greeks over the Arabs to show their Hellenistic domination and control.

Papachristou said...

"Take for instance the massacre of Christians in 1860 in the Levant..."

"Which is also part of why the Christian Arab Orthodox sided with the Arab Caliphs..."

These statements are incongruous and ahistorical.

The Christians that fought for the Caliphs were freebooters and do not constitute a valid example of anything.

Nonetheless, one might cite the counter-example of the Mardaites.

The Rum Orthodox of the East are in the unique position to lay claim to a triple literary and liturgical tradition--Aramaic/Syriac, Greek, and Arabic. They, perhaps, are best placed to witness to the catholicity of Orthodoxy.

It would be an injustice against their forebears and an example of the purest form of phyletism were the Rum Orthodox to abrogate one of their heritages for the sake of an ideological fancy or a pathological anti-Hellenism.

Thankfully, I think Almisry represents a minority view (which might explain his vitriol), given that there are many Antiochian and Jersusalemite Arab parishes in the East and abroad that regularly chant in both Greek and Arabic.

Papachristou said...

Correction: *forebearers*

Isa Almisry said...

"The Christians that fought for the Caliphs were freebooters and do not constitute a valid example of anything."
Your evidence for that, or did you just make it up for convenience sake?
The Caliph had an informer, Jonah, but he was Greek. George, a unit commander in the Roman right center, rode off before the battle and converted to Islam, dying as a Muslim in the battle. Does that count as a "freebooter"?

"Nonetheless, one might cite the counter-example of the Mardaites."
What about the Monophysites? After their stronghold fell in 708, the Caliphs conscripted them into his army.

"It would be an injustice against their forebears and an example of the purest form of phyletism were the Rum Orthodox to abrogate one of their heritages for the sake of an ideological fancy or a pathological anti-Hellenism."
The foreced Hellenization suppleis the patholoy.
With the sacking of Abp. Attallah, how many native bishops does Jerusalem have? How many native sons are allowed into the Monasteries? Who in the "Brotherhood" isn't there on a Greek passport?
You can't pay lip service to the Arabic and Aramaic/Syriac heritage when Greek is alone allowed to be spoken for the sake of an ideological fancy stemming from a pathological Hellenism.

"many Antiochian and Jersusalemite Arab parishes in the East and abroad that regularly chant in both Greek and Arabic"
That's not the issue: the issue is those required to chant in Greek and forbidden the Arabic.


And no, I'm not the minority-the 500-700 (AT MOST) imported Greeks are.

Isa Almisry said...

"Regarding the Ecumenical Patriarch, he lacks value as far as I can tell when it comes to resolving conflicts with jurisdictions. He prefers the Greeks over the Arabs to show their Hellenistic domination and control."
To be far: the Phanar prefers Greeks over ANY "varvari." Not just the Arabs.

Isa Almisry said...

And oh,
"These statements are incongruous and ahistorical."
They would be-if the chauvinists of "New Rome" had changed any in the thousand years in between.