A Time Line of Church History

The following timeline and associated text provided further below is intended to provide the reader with a general and simplified overview of the development of the Christian Church.  For a more detailed description of the history of the church, the reader is encouraged to read The Byzantine Legacy in the Orthodox Church by Fr. John Meyendorff and Rome-Constantinople-Moscow Historical and Theological Studies also by Fr. John Meyendorff.  The first chapter in the latter reference begins with the following paragraph:

All historians agree today that the schism which eventually became a permanent form of separation between Eastern and Western Christians did not occur suddenly.  It was the result of a progressive “estrangement” (the English term used by the French theologian Yves Congar), and cannot even be dated.  The churches of Rome and Constantinople were often separated for long periods of time already between the fourth and the ninth centuries.  Those early conflicts were sometimes caused by heresies, held in the capital of the Eastern empire (Arianism, 335-381; Monotheletism, 533-680; Iconoclasm, 723-787; 815-842) and rightfully rejected by Rome.  Sometimes Rome and Constantinople differed in their attitude in the field of eccliastical oikonomia (the “Neo-Nicean” position, inherited from the Cappadocian Fathers, 381-ca. 400; the attitude to be adopted towards the Henotikon, also referred to as the “Acacian schism”, 482-518), and communication was broken on those grounds.   Whatever the issue and whoever was at fault, it is clear that, underneath the debate on a concrete theological or disciplinary problem, there was a developing difference on the repective authority of the “apostolic see” of Rome on the one side, and on the other, the idea of a conciliar consensus prevailing in the East.

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