For the early Christians and for ourselves, the content of these terms could have two meanings: A the everyday one geographical, linguistic and political, B the theological and metaphorical one. A. Geographically, East generally had three meanings: 1 within the Roman Empire, it indicated the provinces of Greek culture in which Greek was the predominant language. The frontier between regions of Greek and Latin culture followed more or less this line of demarcation: Syrtis Maior, Scupi, Serdica, Odessos, Tomi, Istros at the time of Diocletian, the European administrative borders deviated from this imaginary line, passing through Scodra and Singidunum; 2 for a citizen of the empire, the East meant the whole of the lands beyond the imperial frontier in Asia, in the modern sense, esp. the neighboring lands: Arabia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Media, Armenia; 3 after the division of the empire into 15 dioceses, from Diocletian to the 6th c., in political administration orientalis meant one of these dioceses, the one containing the ten Near Eastern provinces in the form of a triangle: Mt. Sinai Isauria Mesopotamia.

The linguistic meaning of East was similar to the geographic meaning: for a Roman from the Latin countries, it meant the peoples of Greek culture; for a citizen of the empire, Easterners were the peoples outside the sphere of Hellenism, in Asia. In the history of Christianity, the adjective orientalEastern indicates literature in the Syriac, Georgian, Coptic, Armenian and Palaeoslavonic languages, etc. In the sphere of liturgy, however, it means all types of divine worship derived from the rites of the most ancient Eastern patriarchates, Alexandria and Antioch.


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  1. Tessa Jan 20, 2017

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