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The History of the Church is a vital part of the Orthodox Christian faith. Orthodox Christians are defined significantly by their continuity with all those who have gone before, those who first received and preached the truth of Jesus Christ to the world, those who helped to formulate the expression and worship of our faith, and those who continue to move forward in the unchanging yet ever-dynamic Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church.
Modern era (1821-1917)
- 1821 Metr. Germanos of Patra declares Greek independence on Day of Annunciation (March 25), also Kyriopascha; martyrdom of Patr. Gregory V of Constantinople, Abp. Kyprianos of Cyprus, and Abp. Gerasimos of Crete in retaliation.
- 1823 Icon of Panagia Evangelistria found on Tinos, led by a vision from Pelagia of Tinos, becoming the most venerated pilgrimage item in Greece, at the Church of Evangelistria.
- 1825 Russia and Britain establish Alaska/Canada boundary.
- 1829 Treaty of Adrianople ends Greek War of Independence, culminating in the creation of the modern Greek state.
- ca. 1830 Slavophile movement begins in Russia.
- 1831 Return of 3,000,000 Uniates with the Orthodox Church at Vilnius in 1831.
- 1832 Church of Serbia becomes de facto autocephalous.
- 1833 Church of Greece declares autocephaly, making it independent of the Constantinople; death of Seraphim of Sarov.
- 1839 Synod of Polotsk abolishes Union of Brest-Litovsk in all areas under Russian rule as Greek Catholic dioceses in Lithuania and Belarus re-enter the Orthodox Church (with the exception of the eparchy of Chelm, in Polish territory, which was itself integrated into the Russian Orthodox Church in 1875).
- 1840s Correspondence of Anglican William Palmer with Alexei Khomakiov, and Philaret of Moscow towards establishment of Western Rite church in England.
- 1847 Restoration of Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem by Pope Pius IX.
- 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs sent by the primates and synods of the four ancient patriarchates of the Orthodox Church, condemning the Filioque as heresy, declaring the Roman Catholic Church to be heretical, schismatic, and in apostasy, repudiating Ultramontanism and referring to the Photian Council of 879-880 as the "Eighth Ecumenical Council."
- 1850 Church of Constantinople recognizes autocephaly of Church of Greece.
- 1851 Translation into English of Septuagint by Lancelot C. L. Brenton; Ottoman Empire recognizes France as supreme Christian authority in Holy Land and grants it possession of the Church of the Nativity.
- 1852 Ottoman Empire makes division of Church of the Holy Sepulchre permanent.
- 1852-72 Tregelles' critical Greek text of the New Testament.
- 1853-56 Crimean War fought between Russia and the Ottoman Empire together with Britain and France, beginning over which church would be recognized as the "sovereign authority" of the Christian faith in the Holy Land.
- 1854 Immaculate Conception declared dogma by Roman Catholic Church.
- 1859 Constantin von Tischendorf discovers Codex Sinaiticus at St. Catherine's Monastery; Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection published; Christian quarter of Damascus sacked by a Muslim mob also involving Turkish troops.
- 1860 Death of Alexei Khomiakov, co-founder of the Slavophile movement.
- 1864 First Orthodox parish established on American soil in New Orleans, Louisiana, by Greeks; death of Jacob Netsvetov; Pope Pius IX presented his Syllabus of Errors.
- 1865 Church of Romania declares its independence from the Church of Constantinople.
- 1867 Sale of Alaska to United States; death of Ignatius Brianchaninov.
- 1869 Celebration of first miracle of the Icon of the Theotokos at Chernigov-Gethsemane; Russian synod authorizes corrected text of Western Rite liturgy and Benedictine offices.
- 1870 Papal Infallibility declared Roman Catholic dogma necessary for salvation by First Vatican Council; Papal States cease to exist; Old Catholic schism occurs; Old Catholics openly courted by Russian church in France and Germany.
- 1871 Nikolai Kasatkin establishes Orthodox mission in Japan.
- 1872 Council in Jerusalem declares phyletism to be heresy; Church of Bulgaria gains de facto autocephaly by a decree of the Sultan.
- 1873 Philotheos Bryennios discovers the Didache in manuscript with copies of several early Church documents.
- 1875 Uniate diocese of Chelm in Poland incorporated into Russian Orthodox Church under Alexander II, with all of the local Uniates converted to Orthodoxy.
- 1876 Theophan the Recluse begins issuing a translation of the Philokalia in Russian.
- 1877 Death of Arsenios of Paros.
- 1879 Church of Constantinople recognizes autocephaly of Church of Serbia; death of Innocent of Alaska; Joseph Julian Overbeck journeys to Constantinople to request approval from patriarch for use of Roman liturgy and Benedictine offices.
- 1881 Wave of anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia causes mass migration of Jews (2.5 million Jews settle in the United States, thousands settle in Palestine).
- 1882 Synod of Constantinople gives conditional approval to use of Roman liturgy and Benedictine offices; Nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declares “God is dead”.
- 1884 The Way of a Pilgrim published in Kazan.
- 1885 Church of Constantinople recognizes autocephaly of Church of Romania; English Revised Version published; Archbishop of Canterbury officially removes all of Apocrypha from King James Bible.
- 1886 Church of Maria Magdalene built on slope of Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem by Tsar Alexander III.
- 1889 Federation of Old Catholic Churches, not in communion with Rome, at the Union of Utrecht.
- ca. 1890 Unseen Warfare further revised by Theophan the Recluse.
- 1890-1 Bp. Vladimir (Sokolovsky-Avtonomov) receives a parish of Swiss Old Catholics at Dyckesville, Wisconsin, as Western Rite parish.
- 1891 Death of Ambrose of Optina.
- 1892 Pastoral visit of Bp. Nicholas (Ziorov) to Western Rite parish in Wisconsin.
- 1895 Reply of Synod of Constantinople to Pope Leo XIII.
- 1896 Pope Leo XIII issues the bull Apostolicae Curae which declares Anglican Orders "absolutely null and utterly void".
- 1896-1906 Oxyrhynchus papyri discovered in Egypt dating from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, including portions of the New Testament.
- 1898 Last ethnically Greek patriarch of Antioch deposed; Western Rite diocese organized in Czechoslovakia by Church of Russia.
- 1899 Restoration of Arabs to the Patriarchal throne of Antioch.
- 1900 Martyrdom of Orthodox Christians in Chinese Boxer (Yihetuan Movement) Rebellion.
- 1901 "Evangelakia" riots in Athens Greece in November, over translations of New Testament into Demotic (modern) Greek, resulting in fall of both government and Metropolitan of Athens.
- 1903 Uncovering of the relics of Seraphim of Sarov.
- 1904 Ecumenical Patriarchate publishes the "Patriarchal" Text of the Greek New Testament, based on about twenty Byzantine manuscripts; petition to Russian synod by Abp. Tikhon (Belavin), Bp. Raphael (Hawaweeny), and Fr. John Kochurov to permit adaption of services taken from Anglican Book of Common Prayer for use by Orthodox people.
- 1905 Death of Apostolos Makrakis; Tsar Nicholas Romanov's decree on freedom of religion results in about 250,000 Ruthenians returning to Uniatism; seat of Russian Orthodox bishop in America moved from San Francisco to New York, as immigration from Eastern Europe and the reception of ex-Uniates shifts the balance of Orthodox population to eastern North America.
- 1907 Archim. Eusebius Matthopoulos founds Zoe Brotherhood; Papal Bull Ea Semper issued, effectively subordinating Greek Catholic clergy in the United States to local Roman Catholic bishops; Commission on Anglican and Old Catholic Affairs of Russian synod reports in favor of adaptation of services from Book of Common Prayer and sets out criteria.
- 1908 Fr. Nikodemos Sarikas sent to Johannesburg, Transvaal, by Ecumenical Patriarchate as first Orthodox priest there, leaving after a short time for German East Africa (later Tanzania) because of the opposition of Johannesburg Greeks to mission among Africans.
- 1908 Death of John of Kronstadt.
- 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference is the formal beginning of the modern Protestant Christian ecumenical movement, a precursor to the World Council of Churches.
- 1912 Death of Nicholas of Japan.
- 1915-18 Armenian Genocide in Turkey.
- Some of these dates are necessarily a bit vague, as records for some periods are particularly difficult to piece together accurately.
- The division of Church History into separate eras as done here will always be to some extent arbitrary, though it was attempted to group periods according to major watershed events.
- This timeline is necessarily biased toward the history of the Orthodox Church, though a number of non-Orthodox or purely political events are mentioned for their importance in history related to Orthodoxy or for reference.
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in America
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in Australia
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in Greece
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in New Zealand
- Timeline of Orthodoxy in Japan
- Timeline of Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic relations
The following are published writings that provide an overview of Church history:
From an Orthodox perspective
- Schmemann, Alexander. The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy.
- Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church: New Edition. (ISBN 0140146563)
- Dr. Kathryn Tsai. A Timeline of Eastern Church History. Divine Ascent Press, CA, 2004. ISBN 0971413924
From a Heterodox perspective
- Boer, Harry R. A Short History of the Early Church. (ISBN 0802813399)
- Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 0310208122)
- Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. (ISBN 0140231994)
- Collins, Michael, ed.; Price, Matthew Arlen. Story of Christianity: A Celebration of 2000 Years of Faith. (ISBN 0789446057)
- Eusebius Pamphilus; Cruse, C.F. (translator). Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. (ISBN 1565633717)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 1: From the Beginnings to the Council of Chalcedon. (ISBN 0687171822)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 2: From Augustine to the Eve of the Reformation. (ISBN 0687171830)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 3: From the Protestant Reformation to the Twentieth Century. (ISBN 0687171849)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume 1: The Early Church to the Reformation. (ISBN 0060633158)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume 2: Reformation to the Present Day. (ISBN 0060633166)
- Hall, Stuart G. Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church. (ISBN 0802806295)
- Hastings, Adrian, ed. A World History of Christianity. (ISBN 0802848753)
- Hussey, J. M. The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire: Oxford History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 0198264569)
- Jones, Timothy P. Christian History Made Easy. (ISBN 1890947105)
- Noll, Mark A. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. (ISBN 080106211X)
- Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). (ISBN 0226653714)
- Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700). (ISBN 0226653730)
- Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 3: The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300). (ISBN 0226653749)
- Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 4: Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700). (ISBN 0226653773)
- Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 5: Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700). (ISBN 0226653803)
- Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 156563196X)
- Wace, Henry; Piercy, William C., ed. A Dictionary of Christian Biography: Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D. With an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies. (ISBN 1565630572)
- Walton, Robert C. Chronological and Background Charts of Church History. (ISBN 0310362814)
- History of Orthodox Christianity (QuickTime movies)
- Timeline of Patriarchal History. Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (Pop-up Video Presentation, in Sections)