Kabbalah is an esoteric method and school of thought of Judaism. A traditional Kabbalist in Judaism is called a Mequbbāl; the definition of Kabbalah varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it, from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its adaptations in Western esotericism. Jewish Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between God, the unchanging and mysterious Ein Sof, the mortal and finite universe, it forms the foundation of mystical religious interpretations within Judaism. Jewish Kabbalists developed their own transmission of sacred texts within the realm of Jewish tradition, use classical Jewish scriptures to explain and demonstrate its mystical teachings; these teachings are held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional rabbinic literature and their concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances. One of the fundamental kabbalistic texts, the Zohar, was first published in the 13th century, the universal form adhered to in modern Judaism is Lurianic Kabbalah.
Traditional practitioners believe its earliest origins pre-date world religions, forming the primordial blueprint for Creation's philosophies, sciences and political systems. Kabbalah emerged after earlier forms of Jewish mysticism, in 12th- to 13th-century Southern France and Spain, was reinterpreted during the Jewish mystical renaissance of 16th-century Ottoman Palestine. Isaac Luria is considered the father of contemporary Kabbalah. During the 20th-century, academic interest in Kabbalistic texts led by the Jewish historian Gershom Scholem has inspired the development of historical research on Kabbalah in the field of Judaic studies. According to the Zohar, a foundational text for kabbalistic thought, Torah study can proceed along four levels of interpretation; these four levels are called pardes from their initial letters. Peshat: the direct interpretations of meaning. Remez: the allegoric meanings. Derash: midrashic meanings with imaginative comparisons with similar words or verses. Sod: the inner, esoteric meanings, expressed in kabbalah.
Kabbalah is considered by its followers as a necessary part of the study of Torah – the study of Torah being an inherent duty of observant Jews. Modern academic-historical study of Jewish mysticism reserves the term "kabbalah" to designate the particular, distinctive doctrines that textually emerged expressed in the Middle Ages, as distinct from the earlier Merkabah mystical concepts and methods. According to this descriptive categorisation, both versions of Kabbalistic theory, the medieval-Zoharic and the early-modern Lurianic kabbalah together comprise the theosophical tradition in Kabbalah, while the meditative-ecstatic Kabbalah incorporates a parallel inter-related Medieval tradition. A third tradition, related but more shunned, involves the magical aims of Practical Kabbalah. Moshe Idel, for example, writes that these 3 basic models can be discerned operating and competing throughout the whole history of Jewish mysticism, beyond the particular Kabbalistic background of the Middle Ages.
They can be distinguished by their basic intent with respect to God: The theosophical tradition of Theoretical Kabbalah seeks to understand and describe the divine realm. As an alternative to rationalist Jewish philosophy Maimonides' Aristotelianism, this speculation became the central component of Kabbalah The Ecstatic tradition of Meditative Kabbalah strives to achieve a mystical union with God. Abraham Abulafia's "Prophetic Kabbalah" was the supreme example of this, though marginal in Kabbalistic development, his alternative to the program of theosophical Kabbalah The Magico-theurgical tradition of Practical Kabbalah endeavours to alter both the Divine realms and the World. While some interpretations of prayer see its role as manipulating heavenly forces, Practical Kabbalah properly involved white-magical acts, was censored by kabbalists for only those pure of intent, it formed a separate minor tradition shunned from Kabbalah. Practical Kabbalah was prohibited by the Arizal until the Temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt and the required state of ritual purity is attainable.
According to traditional belief, early kabbalistic knowledge was transmitted orally by the Patriarchs and sages to be "interwoven" into Jewish religious writings and culture. According to this view, early kabbalah was, in around the 10th century BCE, an open knowledge practiced by over a million people in ancient Israel. Foreign conquests drove the Jewish spiritual leadership of the time to hide the knowledge and make it secret, fearing that it might be misused if it fell into the wrong hands, it is hard to clarify with any degree of certainty the exact concepts within kabbalah. There are several different schools of thought with different outlooks. Modern halakhic authorities have tried to narrow the scope and
Nièvre is a department in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in the centre of France named after the River Nièvre. Nièvre is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790, it was created from the former province of Nivernais. Nièvre is part of the current region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, although it was not part of the province of Burgundy, it is surrounded by the departments of Yonne, Côte-d'Or, Saône-et-Loire, Allier and Loiret. The department is crossed by the longest river in France. Nièvre is a rural department with about 33 inhabitants per km²; the main cities are Nevers, Cosne-sur-Loire, Varennes-Vauzelles, Decize, Clamecy and La Charité. Only two cities reach 10 000 inhabitants, it indicates the characteristic of the department, predominantly rural. Nièvre is well known for its white wine, Pouilly Fumé; the vineyards are scattered around villages including Pouilly-Sur-Loire, which lends its name to the appellation, Tracy sur Loire, Saint Andelain.
The word fumé is French for "smoky", it is said the name comes from the smoky or flinty quality of these wines. The only grape allowed in the Pouilly-Fumé AC is Sauvignon blanc, which produces wines that are crisp and somewhat grassy. In common with most French wine-producing departments, Nièvre is traditionally a left-wing department; the results of the second round of voting in presidential elections reflect this consistently: In the 2007 presidential election, Ségolène Royal received 52.91% of the department's votes, as against a national per centage of just 46.94%. In the 1995 presidential election, Lionel Jospin received 57.07% of the department's votes, as against a national per centage of just 47.36%. In the 1981 presidential election, François Mitterrand received 62.91% of the department's votes, as against a national per centage of 51.76%. Nièvre's best-known political representative was François Mitterrand who served as a senator and a deputy for the department, as mayor of Château-Chinon for 22 years before his election to the presidency in 1981.
The Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours hosted the Formula One French Grand Prix from 1991 to 2008, the Bol d'Or from 2000 to 2014, the French round of the Superbike World Championship since 2003. USO Nevers is a professional rugby team that plays in Rugby Pro D2. Cantons of the Nièvre department Communes of the Nièvre department Arrondissements of the Nièvre department Parc naturel régional du Morvan Prefecture website General council website Nievre at Curlie Official website of the Departmental Touristic Agency of Nièvre in Burgundy
A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in the Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. In common use, "mandala" has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; the basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the general shape of a T. Mandalas have radial balance; the term appears in the Rigveda as the name of the sections of the work, Vedic rituals use mandalas such as the Navagraha mandala to this day. Mandalas are used in Buddhism. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. A yantra is similar to a mandala smaller and using a more limited colour palette, it may be a two- or three-dimensional geometric composition used in sadhanas, puja or meditative rituals, may incorporate a mantra into its design.
It is considered to represent the abode of the deity. Each yantra is unique and calls the deity into the presence of the practitioner through the elaborate symbolic geometric designs. According to one scholar, "Yantras function as revelatory symbols of cosmic truths and as instructional charts of the spiritual aspect of human experience"Many situate yantras as central focus points for Hindu tantric practice. Yantras are not representations, but are lived, nondual realities; as Khanna describes: Despite its cosmic meanings a yantra is a reality lived. Because of the relationship that exists in the Tantras between the outer world and man's inner world, every symbol in a yantra is ambivalently resonant in inner–outer synthesis, is associated with the subtle body and aspects of human consciousness; the Rajamandala was formulated by the Indian author Kautilya in his work on politics, the Arthashastra. It describes circles of friendly and enemy states surrounding the king's state. In historical and political sense, the term "mandala" is employed to denote traditional Southeast Asian political formations.
It was adopted by 20th century Western historians from ancient Indian political discourse as a means of avoiding the term'state' in the conventional sense. Not only did Southeast Asian polities not conform to Chinese and European views of a territorially defined state with fixed borders and a bureaucratic apparatus, but they diverged in the opposite direction: the polity was defined by its centre rather than its boundaries, it could be composed of numerous other tributary polities without undergoing administrative integration. Empires such as Bagan, Champa, Khmer and Majapahit are known as "mandala" in this sense. In Vajrayana Buddhism, mandalas have been developed into sandpainting, they are a key part of Anuttarayoga Tantra meditation practices. The mandala can be shown to represent in visual form the core essence of the Vajrayana teachings; the mind is "a microcosm representing various divine powers at work in the universe." The mandala represents the nature of Enlightened mind. An example of this type of mandala is Vajrabhairava mandala a silk tapestry woven with gilded paper depicting lavish elements like crowns and jewelry, which gives a three-dimensional effect to the piece.
A mandala can represent the entire universe, traditionally depicted with Mount Meru as the axis mundi in the center, surrounded by the continents. One example is the Cosmological Mandala with Mount Meru, a silk tapestry from the Yuan dynasty that serves as a diagram of the Tibetan cosmology, given to China from Nepal and Tibet. In the mandala, the outer circle of fire symbolises wisdom; the ring of eight charnel grounds represents the Buddhist exhortation to be always mindful of death, the impermanence with which samsara is suffused: "such locations were utilized in order to confront and to realize the transient nature of life". Described elsewhere: "within a flaming rainbow nimbus and encircled by a black ring of dorjes, the major outer ring depicts the eight great charnel grounds, to emphasize the dangerous nature of human life". Inside these rings lie the walls of the mandala palace itself a place populated by deities and Buddhas. One well-known type of mandala is the mandala of the "Five Buddhas", archetypal Buddha forms embodying various aspects of enlightenment.
Such Buddhas are depicted depending on the school of Buddhism, the specific purpose of the mandala. A common mandala of this type is that of the Five Wisdom Buddhas, the Buddhas Vairocana, Ratnasambhava and Amoghasiddhi; when paired with another mandala depicting the Five Wisdom Kings, this forms the Mandala of the Two Realms. Mandalas are used by tantric Buddhists as an aid to meditation; the mandala is "a support for the meditating person", something to be contemplated to the point of saturation, such that the image of the mandala becomes internalised in the minutest detail and can be summoned and contemplated at will as a clear and vivid visualized image. With every mandala comes what Tucci calls "its associated liturgy... contained in texts known as tantras", instructing practitioners on how the mandala should be drawn and visualised, indicating the mantras to be recited during its ritual use. By visualizing "pure lands", one learns to understand experience
Sant Climent, Taüll
Sant Climent de Taüll known as the Church of St. Clement of Tahull, is a Roman Catholic church in Catalonia, Spain, it is a form of Romanesque architecture. Other influences include the Lombard and Byzantine styles, which can be seen throughout the exterior and interior of the building; the church is a basilica plan structure with three naves, each of them with a terminal apse, large columns separating the side naves. Connecting to the church is a slim bell tower that has six floors plus a base; the artwork inside the church include the famous mural paintings by the Master of Taüll, as well as the wooden altar frontal. These works of art represent different aspects of Christianity that can be found in many other works of art; the most famous fresco, of Christ in Majesty in the main apse of the church, has been moved to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona. Sant Climent de Taüll is located in Taüll in the municipality of Valley of Boí, in the province of Lleida, Spain; the exact date of construction is unknown.
In 1064, before Sant Climent de Taüll was constructed, it was an object of sale and exchange by several different counts, including the Counts of Pallars Sovereign, the Counts of Pallars Jussà, as well as tle Erill and other possessions. Sant Climent de Taüll was consecrated by Guillem Ramon, Bishop of Roda-Barbastro. One day Guillem Ramon consecrated Santa Maria de Taüll, another Romanesque church located near Sant Climent de Taüll. Sant Climent de Taüll is a Romanesque-style church influenced by the Lombard style, which can be seen through its exterior decoration; the bell tower is an example of Byzantine influence. The church was intended as a place for Christian worship, unlike other churches of the time, which were intended as a pilgrimage; the artwork in Sant Climent de Taüll was important in bringing the art into the public atmosphere. The main work of art is the mural painting, located on the central apse of the church; the identity of the painter is referred to as Master Taüll. The altar-frontal was created by a native Catalan artist in a workshop in La Seo de Urgel.
Sant Climent de Taüll is the largest, most well preserved, has the most outstanding architecture out of all the churches in the Valley of Boí. The church is a basilica plan structure, that has three naves, large columns separating the side naves. One of the doorways opens on the west side of the building, with the remains of what might have been a porch; the other openings are located on the access tower. The facades of the church do not have any decoration, but the apses have simple Lombard decorations and are built with stone and brick; the central apse on the exterior is decorated by groups of four arches, separated by half columns. The apsidioles, have groups of three arches instead of four, with each of the apses having one window each. In addition, the central apse has three arched windows located on ground level and two portholes on either side of the central apse. In the south corner of the church there is a tall, slim bell tower that has a square plan with a prism-shaped roof; the tower has seven floors.
As we ascend through the bell tower, the structure becomes lighter in weight because of the larger windows near the top of the tower. On each of the plants there is the same amount of windows on the four sides of the tower, there are five arcs in the space around the windows. Inside Sant Climent de Taüll three naves are separated by three cylindrical columns; the columns are made of amalgamated stone, which support the arcades, the roof of the church has wooden beams. The first column on the north side of the church near the apse was found to have the inscription of the consecration of the church; this document is painted with white letters on red and black background and is now preserved in the National Museum of Catalan Art. The interior of the church were covered with polychrome decoration. In the early twentieth century, the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona took the mural paintings inside the church to protect and preserve them. An exact replica of the mural painting on the central apse was made in place of the original.
However, the original mural painting on the northern apse can only be seen in the National Art Museum of Catalonia. The removal of the mural paintings was done by applying horsehide glue; the hardened glue was peeled off, carrying the pigments of the mural with it. Mural painting is an art, painted and applied to the wall, ceiling or other permanent surfaces that are sufficient in size; the technique used is called fresco, where the paint ceilings. The pigment is mixed with water on a small layer of wet lime mortar or plaster, where it is absorbed. After several hours, the plaster dries; this creates a chemical reaction making the pigment stick to the plaster. Over a long period of time, the painting will end up with brilliant colors. One of the main mural paintings is four meters in diameter located on the central apse. There are several holes, due to excess moisture, on the original mural painting on the central apse that have not been restored. A polychrome wood carving and other objects are located inside the church, some of which w
Star of David
The Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David, is a recognized symbol of modern Jewish identity and Judaism. Its shape is that of the compound of two equilateral triangles. Unlike the menorah, the Lion of Judah, the shofar and the lulav, the Star of David was never a uniquely Jewish symbol; the symbol became representative of the worldwide Zionist community, the broader Jewish community, after it was chosen as the central symbol on a flag at the First Zionist Congress in 1897. The earliest Jewish usage of the symbol was inherited from medieval Arabic literature by Kabbalists for use in talismanic protective amulets where it was known as the Seal of Solomon among Muslims; the symbol was used in Christian churches as a decorative motif many centuries before its first known use in a Jewish synagogue. During the 19th century the symbol began to proliferate among the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe being used among the Jewish communities in the Pale of Settlement. A significant motivating factor, according to scholar Gershom Scholem, was the desire to represent Jewish religion and/or identity in the same manner the Christian cross identified that religion's believers.
Before the 19th century, official use in Jewish communities was known only in the region of today's Czech Republic and parts of Southern Germany, having begun in medieval Prague. The identification of the term "Star of David" or "Shield of David" with the hexagram shape dates to the 17th century; the term "Shield of David" is used in the Siddur as a title of the God of Israel. The hexagram does appear in Jewish contexts since antiquity as a decorative motif. For example, in Israel, there is a stone bearing a hexagram from the arch of a 3rd–4th century synagogue in the Galilee; the hexagram may have been employed as an architectural ornament on synagogues, as it is, for example, on the cathedrals of Brandenburg and Stendal, on the Marktkirche at Hanover. A hexagram in this form is found on the ancient synagogue at Capernaum. In the synagogues it was associated with the mezuzah; the use of the hexagram in a Jewish context as a meaningful symbol may occur as early as the 11th century, in the decoration of the carpet page of the famous Tanakh manuscript, the Leningrad Codex dated 1008.
The symbol illuminates a medieval Tanakh manuscript dated 1307 belonging to Rabbi Yosef bar Yehuda ben Marvas from Toledo, Spain. A Siddur dated 1512 from Prague displays a large hexagram on the cover with the phrase, "He will merit to bestow a bountiful gift on anyone who grasps the Shield of David." A hexagram has been noted on a Jewish tombstone in Taranto, Apulia in Southern Italy, which may date as early as the third century CE. The Jews of Apulia were noted for their scholarship in Kabbalah, connected to the use of the Star of David. Medieval Kabbalistic grimoires show hexagrams among the tables of segulot, but without identifying them as "Shield of David". In the Renaissance Period, in the 16th-century Land of Israel, the book Ets Khayim conveys the Kabbalah of Ha-Ari who arranges the traditional items on the seder plate for Passover into two triangles, where they explicitly correspond to Jewish mystical concepts; the six sfirot of the masculine Zer Anpin correspond to the six items on the seder plate, while the seventh sfira being the feminine Malkhut corresponds to the plate itself.
However, these seder-plate triangles are parallel, one above the other, do not form a hexagram. According to G. S. Oegema Isaac Luria provided the hexagram with a further mystical meaning. In his book Etz Chayim he teaches that the elements of the plate for the Seder evening have to be placed in the order of the hexagram: above the three sefirot "Crown", "Wisdom", "Insight", below the other seven. M. Costa wrote that M. Gudemann and other researchers in the 1920s claimed that Isaac Luria was influential in turning the Star of David into a national Jewish emblem by teaching that the elements of the plate for the Seder evening have to be placed in the order of the hexagram. Gershom Scholem disagrees with this view, arguing that Isaac Luria talked about parallel triangles one beneath the other and not about the hexagram; the Star of David at least since the 20th century remains associated with the number seven and thus with the Menorah, popular accounts associate it with the six directions of space plus the center, or the Six Sefirot of the Male united with the Seventh Sefirot of the Female.
Some say that one triangle represents the ruling tribe of Judah and the other the former ruling tribe of Benjamin. It is seen as a dalet and yud, the two letters assigned to Judah. There are 12 Vav, or "men," representing patriarchs of Israel. In 1354, King of Bohemia Charles IV prescribed for the Jews of Prague a red flag with both David's shield and Solomon's seal, while the red flag with which the Jews met King Matthias of Hungary in the 15th century showed two pentagrams with two golden stars. In 1460, the Jews of Ofen received King Matthias Corvinus with a red flag on which were two Shields of David and two stars. In the first Hebrew prayer book, printed in Prague in 1512, a large hexagram appears on the cover. In the colophon is written: "Each man beneath his flag according to the house of their fathe
Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. Depending on the specific denomination of Christianity, practices may include baptism, prayer, confirmation, burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations hold regular group worship services. Christianity developed during the 1st century CE as a Jewish Christian sect of Second Temple Judaism, it soon attracted Gentile God-fearers, which lead to a departure from Jewish customs, the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. During the first centuries of its existence Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, to Ethiopia and some parts of Asia. Constantine the Great decriminalized it via the Edict of Milan; the First Council of Nicaea established a uniform set of beliefs across the Roman Empire.
By 380, the Roman Empire designated Christianity as the state religion. The period of the first seven ecumenical councils is sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united full communion of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, before their schisms. Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon over differences in Christology; the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism over the authority of the Pope. In 1521, Protestants split from the Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation over Papal primacy, the nature of salvation, other ecclesiological and theological disputes. Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity was spread into the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, the rest of the world via missionary work and colonization. There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world, or 31.4% of the global population. Today, the four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy.
Christianity and Christian ethics have played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization around Europe during late antiquity and the Middle Ages. In the New Testament, the names by which the disciples were known among themselves were "brethren", "the faithful", "elect", "saints" and "believers". Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as'The Way' coming from Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord." According to Acts 11:26, the term "Christian" was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning "followers of Christ," by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch. The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD. While Christians worldwide share basic convcitions, there are differences of interpretations and opinions of the Bible and sacred traditions on which Christianity is based. Concise doctrinal statements or confessions of religious beliefs are known as creeds, they began as baptismal formulae and were expanded during the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries to become statements of faith.
The Apostles' Creed is the most accepted statement of the articles of Christian faith. It is used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical churches of Western Christian tradition, including the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism and Western Rite Orthodoxy, it is used by Presbyterians and Congregationalists. This particular creed was developed between the 9th centuries, its central doctrines are those of God the Creator. Each of the doctrines found in this creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period; the creed was used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Its main points include: Belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Holy Spirit The death, descent into hell and ascension of Christ The holiness of the Church and the communion of saints Christ's second coming, the Day of Judgement and salvation of the faithful; the Nicene Creed was formulated in response to Arianism, at the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in 325 and 381 and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431.
The Chalcedonian Definition, or Creed of Chalcedon, developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, though rejected by the Oriental Orthodox churches, taught Christ "to be acknowledged in two natures, unchangeably, inseparably": one divine and one human, that both natures, while perfect in themselves, are also united into one person. The Athanasian Creed, received in the Western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: "We worship one God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity. Many evangelical Protestants reject creeds as definitive statements of faith while agreeing with some or all of the substance of the creeds. Most Baptists do not use creeds "in that they have not sought to establish binding
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Eastern Orthodox Church the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with 200–260 million members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia; the church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Near East. Eastern Orthodox theology is based on the Nicene Creed; the church teaches that it is the One, Holy and Apostolic church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains, its patriarchates, reminiscent of the pentarchy, autocephalous and autonomous churches reflect a variety of hierarchical organisation.
Of its innumerable sacred mysteries, it recognises seven major sacraments, of which the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in synaxis. The church teaches that through consecration invoked by a priest, the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ; the Virgin Mary is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the God-bearer, honoured in devotions. The Eastern Orthodox Church shared communion with the Roman Catholic Church until the East–West Schism in 1054, triggered by disputes over doctrine the authority of the Pope. Before the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, the Oriental Orthodox churches shared in this communion, separating over differences in Christology; the majority of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Southeast and Eastern Europe, Cyprus and other communities in the Caucasus region, communities in Siberia reaching the Russian Far East. There are smaller communities in the former Byzantine regions of the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East where it is decreasing due to persecution.
There are many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora and missionary activity. In keeping with the church's teaching on universality and with the Nicene Creed, Orthodox authorities such as Saint Raphael of Brooklyn have insisted that the full name of the church has always included the term "Catholic", as in "Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church"; the official name of the Eastern Orthodox Church is the "Orthodox Catholic Church". It is the name by which the church refers to itself in its liturgical or canonical texts, in official publications, in official contexts or administrative documents. Orthodox teachers refer to the church as Catholic; this name and longer variants containing "Catholic" are recognised and referenced in other books and publications by secular or non-Orthodox writers. The common name of the church, "Eastern Orthodox Church", is a shortened practicality that helps to avoid confusions in casual use. From ancient times through the first millennium, Greek was the most prevalent shared language in the demographic regions where the Byzantine Empire flourished, Greek, being the language in which the New Testament was written, was the primary liturgical language of the church.
For this reason, the eastern churches were sometimes identified as "Greek" before the Great Schism of 1054. After 1054, "Greek Orthodox" or "Greek Catholic" marked a church as being in communion with Constantinople, much as "Catholic" did for communion with Rome; this identification with Greek, became confusing with time. Missionaries brought Orthodoxy to many regions without ethnic Greeks, where the Greek language was not spoken. In addition, struggles between Rome and Constantinople to control parts of Southeastern Europe resulted in the conversion of some churches to Rome, which also used "Greek Catholic" to indicate their continued use of the Byzantine rites. Today, many of those same churches remain, while a large number of Orthodox are not of Greek national origin, do not use Greek as the language of worship. "Eastern" indicates the geographical element in the Church's origin and development, while "Orthodox" indicates the faith, as well as communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
There are additional Christian churches in the east that are in communion with neither Rome nor Constantinople, who tend to be distinguished by the category named "Oriental Orthodox". While the church continues to call itself "Catholic", for reasons of universality, the common title of "Eastern Orthodox Church" avoids casual confusion with the Roman Catholic Church; the first known use of the phrase "the catholic Church" occurred in a letter written about 110 AD from one Greek church to another. The letter states: "Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be as where Jesus may be, there is the universal Church." Thus from the beginning, Christians referred to the Church as the "One, Holy and Apostolic Church". The Eastern Orthodox Church claims that it is today the continuation and preservation of that same early Church. A number of other Christian churches make a similar claim: the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Assyrian Church and the Oriental Orthodox.
In the Eastern Orthodox v