58501 - Orthodox Church History and Institutions (1)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student understands one of the historical forms assumed by christianity in the meeting with different Mediterranean cultures. He understand that Orthodox Christianity is the outcome of the synthesis between evangelical message and Hellenic culture. In particular he is aware of the fact that the knowledge of this reality is an essential instrument for a real comprehension of those historical and cultural dynamics which shaped the European continent up to our days. He can also identify in a long term perspective categories, languages, complex concepts connected with the discipline, and he knows how to express them with the appropriate terminology.

Course contents

Argument: The Image of the Orthodoxy. The Shape of the Other Side of Christianity, between universality and particularity, tradition and innovation.

Aim of this course is to introduce students to the basic knowledge of orthodox Christianism in its history and institution. In this frame, the Schism with Rome will be read – in a clear distinction between historical reality and historiographic myths – not from an Occidental point of view, but with the eyes of the cultural and theological specificities of the orthodox Christianity.
The orthodox Christianity will be studied in its internal dynamics - dimension of church unity vs. plurality of churches, patriarchates vs. autocephalous churches – and in the relation with its traditional antagonists – Latins, Islamics, Hebrews. A geo-political survey on its diffusion will help understand the multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic nature of Orthodoxy, with particular attention to the Slavonic Orthodoxy (the major group today).
Finally, some characteristic aspects of orthodox identity will be presented, as the concept of ecclesiastical economy in the law and in the pastoral care; or the monastic phenomenon – so hegemonic in this church – in its doctrinal and institutional aspects; or the political theology built for the orthodox empires, which shaped so profoundly the mentality of their people; or the liturgical interest for relics and icons, an evidence of the profoundness of the role of the holy in this form of Christianity.


Required titles:

E. Morini, Gli ortodossi, Bologna, Società editrice il Mulino, 2002 ( Farsi un'idea, 77);

B. Petrà, La Chiesa dei Padri. Breve introduzione all'Ortodossia , Bologna, Edizioni Dehoniane, 1998;

I. Alfeev, La Chiesa ortodossa, 1. Profilo storico, Bologna, Edizioni Dehoniane, 2013 (Studi religiosi, Nuova serie).

Recommended titles:

E. Morini, La Chiesa ortodossa. Storia, disciplina, culto , Bologna, Edizioni Studio Domenicano, 1996 (Collana Storia e Cultura, 1);

I. Alfeev, La Chiesa ortodossa, 2. Dottrina, Bologna, Edizioni Dehoniane, 2014 (Studi religiosi, Nuova serie);

G. Dagron, Il cristianesimo bizantino dal secolo VII alla metà del secolo XI, capitoli 1-5, in Storia del cristianesimo. Religione-Politica-Cultura, 4: Vescovi, monaci e imperatori (610-1054), Roma, Borla/Città Nuova, 1999, pp. 27-366;

H.-D. Döpmann, Le Chiese ortodosse. Nascita, storia e diffusione delle Chiese ortodosse nel mondo, Genova, ECIG, 2003 (Dimensione Europa).

In-depth titles:

J. Meyendorff, La teologia bizantina. Sviluppi storici e temi dottrinali, nota introduttiva di L. Perrone, Genova, Marietti 1820, 1984 (“Dabar”, I: Saggi teologici, 9) = Lampi di Stampa, 1999, prima parte: Sviluppi storici, pp. 25-153 (= Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, New York, Fordham University Press, 19792; Initiation a la theologie byzantine: l'histoire et la doctrine, Paris, Les Editions du Cerf, 1975);

R. Morozzo della Rocca, Le Chiese ortodosse. Una storia contemporanea , Roma, Edizioni Studium, 1997;

R. Morozzo delle Rocca, Passaggio a Oriente. La modernità e l'Europa ortodossa, Brescia, Morcelliana, 2012 (Storia, 52);

K.T. Ware, The Orthodox Church, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1964 ( Pelican Books , A592) (= L'Orthodoxie. L'Église des sept conciles , Brouges, Desclèe de Brouwer, 1968).

J.M. Hussey, The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire , Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1986 (Oxford History of the Christian Church).

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons with readings and discussions of presented sources and of most recent bibliography.

Assessment methods

The oral examination will be composed of three questions on qualifying aspects of the religious and cultural identity of Orthodox Christianity, its institutional configuration, and connotative themes of its historical development and is aimed at verifying critical skills and methodological acquisition of the student. This verification involves an assessment of its mastery of the content and the ability to synthesize.

The preparation for attending students should be performed on the titles listed in bibliography as necessary, all available in the Department's library. Non-attending students will supplement their knowledge with the preparation of additional texts, also listed in bibliography, and specifically, the students of the course in Anthropology, Religions and Oriental Civilizations with the two volumes of Morozzo della Rocca, Le Chiese ortodosse. Una prospettiva contemporanea, limited to pp. 7-174, and Passaggio a Oriente. La modernità e l'Europa ortodossa, pp. 1-210, listed in bibliography as in-depth titles, and the students of the course in History with G. Dagron, Il cristianesimo bizantino dal secolo VII alla metà del secolo XI, pp. 27-336, listed in bibliography as recommended titles.

The examination involves three questions, aimed at opening a discussion with the teacher. An excellent knowledge of the subject, coupled with an adequate expressive form, will be evaluated with full marks. Good knowledge of the subject, consisting of synthesis and analysis skills in a correct language, will lead to an assessment that may be good or discrete. Serious gaps in knowledge of the subject and an inadequate expressive form will not allow to pass the exam positively.

Teaching tools

Presentation of textual and iconographical sources.

Office hours

See the website of Enrico Morini