Avestan known as Zend, refers to two languages: Old Avestan and Younger Avestan. The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, from which they derive their name. Both are early Iranian languages, a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages within the Indo-European family, its immediate ancestor was the Proto-Iranian language, a sister language to the Proto-Indo-Aryan language, with both having developed from the earlier Proto-Indo-Iranian. As such, Old Avestan is quite close in grammar and lexicon with Vedic Sanskrit, the oldest preserved Indo-Aryan language; the Avestan text corpus was composed in ancient Arachosia, Aria and Margiana, corresponding to the entirety of present-day Afghanistan, parts of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The Yaz culture of Bactria-Margiana has been regarded as a archaeological reflection of the early "Eastern Iranian" culture described in the Avesta. Avestan's status as a sacred language has ensured its continuing use for new compositions long after the language ceased to be a living language.
"Avestan, associated with northeastern Iran, Old Persian, which belongs to the southwest, together constitute what is called Old Iranian." Scholars traditionally classify Iranian languages as "old", "middle" and "new" according to their age, as "eastern" or "western" according to geography, within this framework Avestan is classified as Eastern Old Iranian. But the east-west distinction is of limited meaning for Avestan, as the linguistic developments that distinguish Eastern from Western Iranian had not yet occurred. Avestan does not display some typical Western Iranian innovations visible in Old Persian, so in this sense, "eastern" only means "non-western". Old Avestan is related to Old Persian and agrees morphologically with Vedic Sanskrit; the old ancestor dialect of Pashto was close to the language of the Gathas. The Avestan language is attested in two forms, known as "Old Avestan" and "Younger Avestan". Younger Avestan did not evolve from Old Avestan; every Avestan text, regardless of whether composed in Old or Younger Avestan, underwent several transformations.
Karl Hoffmann traced the following stages for Avestan. In chronological order: The natural language of the composers of the Gathas, the Yasna Haptanghaiti, the four sacred prayers. Changes precipitated by slow chanting Changes to Old Avestan due to transmission by native speakers of Younger Avestan The natural language of the scribes who wrote grammatically correct Younger Avestan texts Deliberate changes introduced through "standardization" Changes introduced by transfer to regions where Avestan was not spoken Adaptions/translations of portions of texts from other regions Composition of ungrammatical late Avestan texts Phonetic notation of the Avestan texts in the Sasanian archetype Post-Sasanian deterioration of the written transmission due to incorrect pronunciation Errors and corruptions introduced during copyingMany phonetic features cannot be ascribed with certainty to a particular stage since there may be more than one possibility; every phonetic form that can be ascribed to the Sasanian archetype on the basis of critical assessment of the manuscript evidence must have gone through the stages mentioned above so that "Old Avestan" and "Young Avestan" mean no more than "Old Avestan and Young Avestan of the Sasanian period."
The script used for writing Avestan developed during the 3rd or 4th century AD. By the language had been extinct for many centuries, remained in use only as a liturgical language of the Avesta canon; as is still the case today, the liturgies were recited by rote. The script devised to render Avestan was natively known as Din dabireh "religion writing", it is written right-to-left. Among the 53 characters are about 30 letters that are – through the addition of various loops and flourishes – variations of the 13 graphemes of the cursive Pahlavi script, known from the post-Sassanian texts of Zoroastrian tradition; these symbols, like those of all the Pahlavi scripts, are in turn based on Aramaic script symbols. Avestan incorporates several letters from other writing systems, most notably the vowels, which are derived from Greek minuscules. A few letters were free inventions, as were the symbols used for punctuation; the Avestan alphabet has one letter that has no corresponding sound in the Avestan language.
The Avestan script is alphabetic, the large number of letters suggests that its design was due to the need to render the orally recited texts with high phonetic precision. The correct enunciation of the liturgies was considered necessary for the prayers to be effective; the Zoroastrians of India, who represent one of the largest surviving Zoroastrian communities worldwide transcribe Avestan in Brahmi-based scripts. This is a recent development first seen in the ca. 12th century texts of Neryosang Dhaval and other Parsi Sanskritist theologians of that era, which are contemporary with the oldest surviving manuscripts in Avestan script. Today, Avestan is most typeset in the Gujarati script; some Avestan letters with no corresponding symbol are synthesized with additional diacritical marks, for example, the /z/ in zaraϑuštra is written with j with a dot below. Aves
The Sarmatians were a large Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD. Originating in the central parts of the Eurasian Steppe, the Sarmatians started migrating westward around the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, coming to dominate the related Scythians by 200 BC. At their greatest reported extent, around 1st century AD, these tribes ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube and eastward to the Volga, bordering the shores of the Black and Caspian seas as well as the Caucasus to the south, their territory, known as Sarmatia to Greco-Roman ethnographers, corresponded to the western part of greater Scythia. In the 1st century AD, the Sarmatians began encroaching upon the Roman Empire in alliance with Germanic tribes. In the 3rd century AD, their dominance of the Pontic Steppe was broken by the Germanic Goths. With the Hunnic invasions of the 4th century, many Sarmatians joined the Goths and other Germanic tribes in the settlement of the Western Roman Empire.
Since large parts of today's Russia the land between the Ural Mountains and the Don River, were controlled in the 5th century BC by the Sarmatians, the Volga–Don and Ural steppes sometimes are called "Sarmatian Motherland". The Sarmatians were decisively assimilated and absorbed by the Proto-Slavic population of Eastern Europe. Sarmatae originated as just one of several tribal names of the Sarmatians, but one that Greco-Roman ethnography came to apply as an exonym to the entire group. Strabo in the 1st century names as the main tribes of the Sarmatians the Iazyges, the Roxolani, the Aorsi and the Siraces; the Greek name Sarmatai sometimes appears as "Sauromatai", certainly no more than a variant of the same name. Historians regarded these as two separate peoples, while archaeologists habitually use the term'Sauromatian' to identify the earliest phase of Sarmatian culture. Any idea that the name derives from the word lizard, linking to the Sarmatians' use of reptile-like scale armour and dragon standards, is certainly unfounded.
Both Pliny the Elder and Jordanes recognised the Sar- and Sauro- elements as interchangeable variants, referring to the same people. Greek authors of the 4th century mention Syrmatae as the name of a people living at the Don reflecting the ethnonym as it was pronounced in the final phase of Sarmatian culture. English scholar Harold Walter Bailey derived the base word from Avestan sar- from tsar- in Old Iranian, which gave its name to the western Avestan region of Sairima, connected it to the 10–11th century AD Persian epic Shahnameh's character "Salm". Oleg Trubachyov derived the name from the Indo-Aryan *sar-mat, the Indo-Aryan and Indo-Iranian word *sar- and the Indo-Iranian adjective suffix -mat/wat. By this derivation was noted the unusual high status of women from the Greek point of view and went to the invention of Amazons; the Sarmatians were part of the Indo-Iranian steppe peoples, among whom were Scythians and Saka. These are grouped together as "East Iranians". Archaeology has established the connection'between the Iranian-speaking Scythians and Saka and the earlier Timber-grave and Andronovo cultures'.
Based on building construction, these three peoples were the descendants of those earlier archaeological cultures. The Sarmatians and Saka used the same stone construction methods as the earlier Andronovo culture; the Timber-grave and Andronovo house building traditions were further developed by these three peoples. Andronovo pottery was continued by the Sarmatians. Archaeologists describe the Andronovo culture people as exhibiting pronounced Caucasoid features; the first Sarmatians are identified with the Prokhorovka culture, which moved from the southern Urals to the Lower Volga and northern Pontic steppe, in the 4th–3rd centuries BC. During the migration, the Sarmatians seem to have grown and divided themselves into several groups, such as the Alans, Aorsi and Iazyges. By 200 BC, the Sarmatians replaced the Scythians as the dominant people of the steppes; the Sarmatians and Scythians had fought on the Pontic steppe to the north of the Black Sea. The Sarmatians, described as a large confederation, were to dominate these territories over the next five centuries.
According to Brzezinski and Mielczarek, the Sarmatians were formed between the Don River and the Ural Mountains. Pliny the Elder wrote; the Sarmatians differed from the Scythians in their veneration of the god of fire rather than god of nature, women's prominent role in warfare, which served as the inspiration for the Amazons. The two theories about the origin of the Sarmatian culture are: The Sarmatian culture was formed by the end of the fourth century BCE, based on the combination of local Sauromatian culture of Southern Ural and foreign elements brought by tribes advancing from the forest-steppe Zauralye, from Kazakhstan and from the Aral Sea region. Sometime between the fourth and third century BC, a mass migration carried nomads of the Southern Ural to t
The Ossetians or Ossetes are an Iranian ethnic group of the Caucasus Mountains, indigenous to the ethnolinguistic region known as Ossetia. They speak Ossetic, an Eastern Iranian language of the Indo-European languages family, with most fluent in Russian as a second language; the Ossetian language is neither related to nor mutually intelligible with any other language of the family today. Ossetic, a remnant of the Scytho-Sarmatian dialect group, once spoken across the Pontic–Caspian Steppe, is one of the few Iranian languages inside Europe; the Ossetians populate Ossetia, politically divided between North Ossetia–Alania in Russia, South Ossetia, a de facto independent state with partial recognition integrated in Russia and claimed by Georgia. Their closest relatives, the Jász, live in the Jászság region within the north-western part of the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County in Hungary. Ossetians are Eastern Orthodox Christian, with sizable minorities professing Uatsdin or Islam; the Ossetians and Ossetia received their name from the Russians, who adopted the Georgian designations Osi and Oseti, used since the Middle Ages for the single Iranian-speaking population of the Central Caucasus and based on the old Alan self-designation "As".
As the Ossetians lacked any single inclusive name for themselves in their native language, these terms were accepted by the Ossetians themselves before their integration into the Russian Empire. This practice was put into question by the new Ossetian nationalism in the early 1990s, when the dispute between the Ossetian subgroups of Digoron and Iron over the status of the Digoron dialect made the Ossetian intellectuals search for a new inclusive ethnic name. This, combined with the effects of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, led to the popularization of "Alania", the name of the medieval Sarmatian confederation, to which the Ossetians traced their origin, inclusion of this name into the official republican title of North Ossetia in 1994. Iron in the east and south form a larger group of Ossetians, they speak Iron dialect. Irons are divided into several subgroups: Alagirs, Tagaurs, Tual and Chsan. Kudar are the southern group of Ossetians. Tual are in the central part of Ossetia. Chsan are in the east of South Ossetia.
Digoron in the west. Digors live in Digora district, Iraf district, some settlements in Kabardino-Balkaria and Mozdok district. Digors living in Digora district are Christian, they speak Digor dialect. The folk beliefs of the Ossetian people are rooted in their Sarmatian origin and Christian religion, with the pagan gods having been converted into Christian saints; the Nart saga serves as the basic pagan mythology of the region. The Ossetians descend from a Sarmatian tribe; the Alans were the only branch of the Sarmatians to keep their culture in the face of a Gothic invasion, those who remained built a great kingdom between the Don and Volga Rivers, according to Coon, The Races of Europe. Between 350 and 374 CE, the Huns destroyed the Alan kingdom, the Alan people were split in half. One half fled to the west, where they participated in the Barbarian Invasions of Rome, established short-lived kingdoms in Spain and North Africa, settled in many other places such as Orléans, France; the other half fled to the south and settled on the plains of the North Caucasus, where they established their medieval kingdom of Alania.
In the 8th century a consolidated Alan kingdom, referred to in sources of the period as Alania, emerged in the northern Caucasus Mountains in the location of the latter-day Circassia and the modern North Ossetia–Alania. At its height, Alania was a centralized monarchy with a strong military force and had a strong economy that benefited from the Silk Road. After the Mongol invasions of the 1200s, the Alans were forced out of their medieval homeland south of the River Don in present-day Russia. Due to this, the Alans migrated toward the Caucasus Mountains, where they would form three ethnographical groups; the Jassic people were a fourth group. In more-recent history, the Ossetians participated in the Ossetian–Ingush conflict and Georgian–Ossetian conflicts and in the 2008 South Ossetia war between Georgia and Russia. Key events: 1774 — North Ossetia becomes part of the Russian Empire. 1801 — Following the Treaty of Georgievsk, the modern-day territory of South Ossetia becomes part of the Russian Empire, along with Georgia.
1922 — Ossetia is divided into two parts: North Ossetia remains a part of the Russian SFSR, while South Ossetia remains a part of the Georgian SSR. 20 September 1990 – The independent Republic of South Ossetia is formed. Though it remained unrecognized, it detached itself from Georgia de facto. In the last years of the Soviet Union, ethnic tensions between Ossetians and Georgians in Georgia's former Autonomous Oblast of South Ossetia and between Ossetians and Ingush in North Ossetia evolved into violent clashes that left several hundred dead and wounded and created a large tide of refugees on both sides of the border; the Ossetian language belongs to the Eastern Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. Ossetian is divided into two main dialect groups: Ironian in South Ossetia. In these two groups are some subdialects, such as Tualian and Ksanian; the Ironian dial
In religious studies and folkloristics, folk religion, popular religion, or vernacular religion comprises various forms and expressions of religion that are distinct from the official doctrines and practices of organized religion. The precise definition of folk religion varies among scholars. Sometimes termed popular belief, it consists of ethnic or regional religious customs under the umbrella of a religion, but outside official doctrine and practices; the term "folk religion" is held to encompass two related but separate subjects. The first is the folk-cultural dimensions of religion; the second refers to the study of syncretisms between two cultures with different stages of formal expression, such as the melange of African folk beliefs and Roman Catholicism that led to the development of Vodun and Santería, similar mixtures of formal religions with folk cultures. Chinese folk religion, folk Christianity, folk Hinduism, folk Islam are examples of folk religion associated with major religions.
The term is used by the clergy of the faiths involved, to describe the desire of people who otherwise infrequently attend religious worship, do not belong to a church or similar religious society, who have not made a formal profession of faith in a particular creed, to have religious weddings or funerals, or to have their children baptised. In The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, John Bowker characterized "folk religion" as either "religion which occurs in small, local communities which does not adhere to the norms of large systems" or "the appropriation of religious beliefs and practices at a popular level."Don Yoder argued that there were five separate ways of defining folk religion. The first was a perspective rooted in a cultural evolutionary framework which understood folk religion as representing the survivals of older forms of religion; this definition would view folk religion in Catholic Europe as the survivals of pre-Christian religion and the folk religion in Protestant Europe as the survivals of Medieval Catholicism.
The second definition identified by Yoder was the view that folk religion represented the mixture of an official religion with forms of ethnic religion. Yoder's third definition was that employed within folkloristics, which held that folk religion was "the interaction of belief, ritual and mythology in traditional societies", representing that, pejoratively characterised as superstition; the fourth definition provided by Yoder stated that folk religion represented the "folk interpretation and expression of religion". Noting that this definition would not encompass beliefs that were unconnected from organised religion, such as in witchcraft, he therefore altered this definition by including the concept of "folk religiosity", thereby defining folk religion as "the deposit in culture of folk religiosity, the full range of folk attitudes to religion", his fifth and final definition represented a "practical working definition" that combined elements from these various other definitions. Thus, he summarized folk religion as "the totality of all those views and practices of religion that exist among the people apart from and alongside the theological and liturgical forms of the official religion".
Yoder described "folk religion" as existing "in a complex society in relation to and in tension with the organized religion of that society. Its unorganized character differentiates it from organized religion". Alternately, the sociologist of religion Matthias Zic Varul defined "folk religion" as "the un-reflected aspect of ordinary practices and beliefs that are oriented towards, or productive of, something beyond the immediate here-and-now: everyday transcendence". In Europe the study of "folk religion" emerged from the study of religiöse Volkskund, a German term, used in reference to "the religious dimension of folk-culture, or the folk-cultural dimension of religion"; this term was first employed by a German Lutheran preacher, Paul Drews, in a 1901 article that he published, titled "Religiöse Volkskunde, eine Aufgabe der praktischen Theologie". This article was designed to be read by young Lutheran preachers leaving the seminary, to equip them for the popular variants of Lutheranism that they would encounter among their congregations and which would differ from the official, doctrinal Lutheranism that they had been accustomed to.
Although developing within a religious environment, the term came to be adopted by German academics in the field of folkloristics. During the 1920s and 1930s, theoretical studies of religiöse Volkskund had been produced by the folklorists Josef Weigert, Werner Boette, Max Rumpf, all of whom had focused on religiosity within German peasant communities. Over the coming decades, Georg Schreiber established an Institut für religiöse Volkskund in Munich while a similar department was established in Salzburg by Hanns Koren. Other prominent academics involved in the study of the phenomenon were Heinrich Schauert and Rudolf Kriss, the latter of whom collected one of the largest collections of folk-religious art and material culture in Europe housed in Munich's Bayerisches Nationalmuseum. Throughout the 20th century, many studies were made of folk religion in Europe, paying particular attention to such subjects as pilgrimage and the use of shrines. In the Americas, the study of folk religion de
Tsey or Tsey Gorge is a gorge, ski resort and one of the main tourist centres of the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania, Russia. Tsey is part of North Ossetia State National park. There is an Ossetian temple named Rekom. There are two chairlifts in the Tsey one of them. Ski run starts from Skazskiy glazier at 2,870 metres, descent down to 1,860 metres; the longest run is about 3,000 metres. There are 3 red and 2 blue runs. Ski season closes in April; the gorge is situated less than 100 km from the capital of North Osetia-Alania. Asphalt road is paved up to the top lodges and alpine camp; the only way to Tsey is go through Buron settlement. Two times a day from the bus station bus service to "Vladikavkaz - Tsey". Aday-Khokh 4410 m Pik Antonovicha 4200m Vils 3870m Zaramag 4200 m Pik Zolotareva 4200m Kalper 3800m Kaltberg 4120 m Lagau 4124 m Mamison 4360 m Monakh 2990 m Moskvich 3790m Pik Nikolayeva 3850m Pik Oniani 4200m Passionariya 4000m Pik Pliyeva 3990m Pik Poyasova 4200m Ronketti 4050 m Malaya Songuti 4000m Spartak-Tseysky Pik Turistov Turkhokh 4110m Uilpata 4648 m Ularg 4320m Khitsan 3600m Tsey-Khokh 4110m Chanchakhi 4450 m Pik Shulgina 3900m About Tsey General info about Alagirsky District
Ringing Cedars' Anastasianism
The Ringing Cedars or Anastasianism is a new religious movement that started in central Russia in 1997 and spread across neighboring countries as well as parts of Europe, America and Australia, based on the series of ten books entitled The Ringing Cedars of Russia written by Vladimir Megre. At the 2018 Frankfurt Book Fair, where the author drew a large crowd, it was claimed the books have sold 20 million copies worldwide and has been translated in 20 languages. Family and environmentalism are core values for the Anastasians; the knowledge contained in the books is attributed to a woman named Anastasia who dwells in the Siberian Taiga. Ringing Cedars' Anastasians are sometimes categorisable as Rodnovers, as many of them are proponents of the return to a Slavic Native Faith or other indigenous religion. Other scholars do not categorise them as Rodnovers, but as a distinct modern Pagan movement; the books that the movement relies upon offer a holistic worldview teaching about humanity's relationship with nature and the universe, the creation of the world, the power of thought in modelling the future, cyclical eschatology, relationships between men and women, education.
The name "Ringing Cedars" comes from Anastasians' beliefs about spiritual qualities of the Siberian'cedar'. Anastasianism has been classified as part of the broad spectrum of self-described "Vedic" religions arising in post-Soviet Russia. Anastasians propose a whole new model of social organisation, that of the "kinship homestead" or settlement; the Ringing Cedars have become popular in Russia, the movement has spread to other Slavic countries, broader Eastern Europe, communities have been established in the West. In Russia, Anastasians face the hostility of the Russian Orthodox Church; the two names of the movement are explainable as follows: "Ringing Cedars" refers to the movement's beliefs about the spiritual qualities of the Siberian cedar, a kind of pine. The theme of the "singing tree" appears across various Indo-European-originated cultures; the Ringing Cedars may be described as a nature religion, since Anastasian spirituality emphasises the sacredness of nature or generation, conceived as a source of divinity and the mean of communication with God.
Scholar Rasa Pranskevičiūtė characterises this vision as pantheistic, notes how it is a fundamental influence in Anastasians' social project. They stress the importance of harmony, to say giving and receiving love and respect, appropriate reciprocal cultivation, to be put into practice among individual persons and between the community of individuals and the divinity of all nature. A Lithuanian Anastasian has defined God as follows: God is Nature – a twitter of birds, the wind, a rustle of trees... everything, in Nature is the living book of sensual information, much more: He touches us through Nature. Anastasians believe that nature is the "materialised thoughts of God". All living things are believed to be thoughts of God, therefore by communicating with them humanity may communicate with God; the Ringing Cedars believe in the interconnectedness of all being, therefore they emphasise the moral responsibility of individuals and humanity towards the umbegoing world. They believe that human thoughts and feelings magically influence the umbegoing world, having the power to affirm or disrupt natural harmony.
Pranskevičiūtė reports the following excerpt from Megre's doctrine: When a man is full of love, he is radiant. That energy of radiance reflects into the planets above him in a short particle of a second, comes back to earth again and gives life to everything, alive... If a man is ful of anger, his disseminating radiance is dark. After striking deep into the bowels, it comes back and manifests itself as a volcanic eruption, an earthquake, war. In order to be respectful towards other forms of life, Anastasians try to eschew any form of killing, therefore they adopt vegetarian and raw food diets, wear clothes made of natural materials. According to Megre, when a man lives in harmony with his own kin within a homestead of at least a hectare in size, a "love space" is established. A "love space" is where God is present and constitutes a "Heaven on earth", where kindred people grow together with the surrounding world; the concept of "love space" is not geographic, but includes anything good which an individual may create.
A kinship homestead is a web of natural relationship, between kindred people. In other words, the kinship homestead mirrors the modality of God's work through nature. In his hectare of land a man is capable of building a house with natural materials, growing plants and domesticating animals, creating an ecosystem; as such it is perceived as a holy land, a microcosm reflecting the macrocosm, wherein individuals may "co-create" with kindred people and with God. Accord
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