Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sergei Brun on the Church of Antioch under the Crusaders

Originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of The Wheel.

An Eastern Church Amid the Struggles of Rome and Constantinople:
The Patriarchate of Antioch During the Crusades

by Sergei P. Brun

 The Age of the Crusades is by far one of the most popular subjects in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue (or rather, in the ongoing Orthodox-Catholic polemics), a time period which constantly arises in the field of historical as well as theological deliberation. The Christian East, suffering from the aggression of the Latins, is indeed a popular image, constantly present in the Orthodox perception of history and in Orthodox historical memory. This image is, in fact, one of the principal generators of the ‘victim complex’ in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox mindset. In many ways, this complex derives from the fear of change: the fear to be changed  by the other and, ultimately, by communion with the other. That is why in the Eastern Christian communities one may find an overly protective attitude in which the Catholic West is perceived as a force of subjection, latinization, and a threat to the traditions and spirituality of the East that is protected and harbored by Byzantium.

Yet in the case of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the age of the Crusades (11th to 13th centuries) we see an Eastern Orthodox Church that was beset equally by prolonged, intensive periods of Latin and Byzantine intervention, episodes that had immense consequences for its history and tradition. The position of the Chalcedonian Orthodox Church of Antioch during the period of the Second Byzantine (969–1084) and Latin rule (1098–1291) in Syria is often entirely overlooked, since most authors concentrate exclusively on the conflicts of Rome and Constantinople, seeing the latter as the single voice of Orthodoxy. But is the Orthodox Church bound to the position of Constantinople, and the Orthodox world to the Byzantine Empire? This is a fundamental question, pertaining to Orthodox Christians’ identity and perception of history.


Read the whole article here.

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