The Great (East-West) Schism was a massive trainwreck centuries in the making and centuries in its outworking. At what point in the process did the Eastern Church start identifying itself as the Orthodox Church in exclusion to the Roman See?

I'm not interested in what event caused this to theoretically happen, but when the Orthodox Church started using this particular terminology to refer exclusively to itself.

This is one of a number of related questions I intend to ask regarding the Great (East-West) Schism, terminology and self-identication of the resulting Churches.

The others so far:

1 Answer 1


First of all we need to get some meanings cleared out: as per the Wikipedia entry "The Eastern Orthodox Church considers itself to be both orthodox and catholic" meaning right-worshipping and universal. This is what the words catholic and orthodox mean. The question is regarding the labeling of the Eastern Church as Orthodox.

The term Orthodox Church was first used as an identifier of the Eastern Church, by Roman Catholic theologians and scholars in the years following the Great Schism, with the intention of mocking what they perceived as rigidity and extremely strict adherence to the precepts of right worship, or, orthodoxy.

However, the Eastern Church did not consider this to be pejorative at all, but rather pretty descriptive of their approach (and also pointing fingers back at the West's non-orthodoxy) so they've embraced it.

As you can probably see, it's impossible to pinpoint an exact moment in history when this identification started to take place as it was not decreed officially in any way. It just started to spread around in the years after the Schism.

PS: I can't remember where exactly I have read this so unfortunately I can't provide a proper reference, it was an Orthodox book for sure though.


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