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Department of the Study of Religions

Orthodox Christianity

Course Code:
158000131
Unit value:
0.5
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

Orthodox or Byzantine Christianity is one of the three main branches of Christianity, and includes the Greek and Slav Orthodox Churches, as well as the Georgian Orthodox Church. 

The course explores the development of the various churches, identifying the theological, political and linguistic factors which distinguish them, as well as their architecture and iconography.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The principal aim of this course is to survey the development of Orthodox Christianity (the Chalcedonian churches) from its origins to the present day. Students should reach an understanding of the legacy of the Christological Councils on the formation of the various branches of the Orthodox church. They should also achieve an appreciation of the major regional expressions of Orthodox Christianity, including their missionary enterprise and contact with other religions, (Islam and Buddhism) as well as encounters with Roman Catholicism.

Scope and syllabus

Orthodox or Byzantine Christianity is one of the three main branches of Christianity, and includes the Greek and Slav Orthodox churches, as well as the Georgian Orthodox church. the course explores the development of the various churches identifying the theological, political and linguistic factors which distinguish them, as well their architecture and iconography. Topics include the iconoclastic controversy, the mission of the Byzantine church in the Balkans and Russia, the schism with the Latin church, relations with Islam, the Byzantine church and the Crusades, the Orthodox church under the Ottomans and the modern Orthodox church.

Method of assessment

1 essay (3,000 words) (40%), 2-hour exam (60%).

Suggested reading

  • Binns, J (2002) An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches, Cambridge.
  • Parry, K, ed. (1999) The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, Oxford.