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Eastern Orthodoxy: Home

This guide serves as an introduction to resources and information on the history, theology and practices of Eastern Orthodoxy.

Eastern Orthodox Church

Three Bar Cross 

The Three Bar Cross Explained

The Orthodox Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ and his apostles, begun at the day of Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit in the year 33 A.D. It is also known (especially in the contemporary West) as the Eastern Orthodox Church or the Greek Orthodox Church. It may also be called the Orthodox Catholic Church, the Orthodox Christian Church, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, or simply the Church.

The bishops of the Orthodox Church trace unbroken succession to the very apostles themselves, therefore ultimately receiving their consecrations from our Lord Jesus Christ. All the bishops of the Church, no matter their titles, are equal in their sacramental office. The various titles given to bishops are simply administrative or honorific in their essence. At an ecumenical council, each bishop may cast only one vote, whether he is the Ecumenical Patriarch or simply an auxiliary bishop without a diocese. Thus, there is no equivalent to the Roman Catholic papacy within the Orthodox Church.

As with its Apostolic succession, the faith held by the Church is that which was handed by Christ to the apostles. Nothing is added to or subtracted from that deposit of faith which was "handed once for all to the saints" (Jude 3). Throughout history, various heresies have afflicted the Church, and at those times the Church makes dogmatic pronouncements (especially at ecumenical councils) delineating in new language what has always been believed by the Church, thus preventing the spread of heresy and calling to repentance those who rend asunder the Body of Christ. Its primary statement of faith is the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

The Orthodox Church of today consists of fourteen or fifteen autocephalous churches and five autonomous churches, sometimes referred to as jurisdictions. Autocephalous churches are fully self-governing in all they do, while autonomous churches must have their primates confirmed by one of the autocephalous churches, usually its mother church. All the Orthodox churches remain in full communion with one another, sharing the same faith and praxis. There have been occasional breaks in communion due to various problems throughout history, but they generally remain brief and not developing into full schism. The Patriarchate of Constantinople is also the Ecumenical Patriarchate and has the status of "first among equals" among the Orthodox Churches.

The most common estimates of the number of Orthodox Christians worldwide is approximately 225-300 million individuals.



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Article Quick Search

Need an article quickly? Search several Ebsco databases here, including the American Theological Library Association's databse (ATLA).



The Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity

Divine Ascent
Greek Orthodox Theological Review

International Journal of Orthodox Theology

Journal of American Orthodox Church History

Journal of the Orthodox Pastoral School - Diocese of Chicago & Mid-America - ROCOR

Living Orthodoxy
Orthodox Life

Orthodox Tradition

The Orthodox Word

Road to Emmaus

St. Tikhon’s Theological Journal

St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Quarterly


Primary vs. Secondary

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of events or time periods in history.

Secondary sources are based upon the examination of primary and/or other secondary sources.

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Eastern Orthodoxy

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David Cassens
Dean of Libraries

Saint Louis University

3650 Lindell Blvd.

St. Louis, MO 63108

Phone: (314) 977-3095

FAX: (314) 977-3587

Pius XII Memorial Library

Librarians are in the process of creating more research guides in this style.  For guides created in the previous style, go to Research Guides.