Monday, January 31, 2011

Between Jerusalem and Constantinople

During the early history of Christianity there was five cities became particularly important for the church: Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Rome.

Antioch was one of the first cities to be evangelised by Christian missionaries and there,  the followers of Christ  had acquired name of Christian (Acts 11:26).

 The church in Alexandria was, according to tradition, founded by Mark the Evangelist.

Constantinople,  the ancient city of Byzantium, became the capital of the new pro-Christian under Constantine  empire of Byzantium.

Jerusalem was at the heart of Christ's ministry and the place of his crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension.

 Rome is the martyrdom Place of  both St Paul and St. Peter under  the rule of Nero.
The word "Jerusalem" means "city of peace." thus Jerusalem is one of the most interesting cities in the world. It is always in the news. Jerusalem is a holy city for  religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity  and muslims, Jerusalem is known as the city of David  in which Solomon’s temple exist there, Jesus was crucified,  

Jerusalem has many titles that identify it as the ‘city of God’ (Psalms 46:4, Revelation 3:12), the city of Jehovah (Isaiah 60:14), the mountain of the Lord (Isaiah 2:3), the mountain of Jehovah of hosts (Zechariah 8:3), the holy mountain of Jehovah (Isaiah 27:13) and Zion of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 60:13). Generally the phrase "the holy mountain", refers to Jerusalem (Psalms 48:1, Isaiah 11:9, Daniel)
The book (Halley’s Bible Handbook / 655) refers:

 "Jewish Wars, in revolt against Rome, began A.D. 66. Titus with his Roman Army arrived before the walls of Jerusalem on the day of Passover, A.D. 70. Banks of earthwork were built, battering rams were placed, and the siege began. The Roman Army numbered 30,000; the Jewish Army, 24,000. The city was crowded with 600,000 visitors, according to Tacitus. After 5 months the walls were battered down, the Temple burned, and the city left ruined and desolate, except Herod's three great towers at the northwest corner, which were left standing as a memorial of the massive strength of the fortifications which Titus had demolished. 'The Roman Army moved down to Caesarea. Over 1,000,000 Jews were killed. 95,000 captives were taken, among them Josephus."

Thus, they consider that Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel during the History and "all evidence  confirm that fact",  while strong aspiration of the others to occupation of  Jerusalem was a dream and still, specially Islam which was aware that the fall of Jerusalem constitute a victory for the their religion, therefore, in the year 637 A.D. Jerusalem fell to the followers of Islam, and it remained a muslim's city, except for a period of about 100 years during the Crusade Period, until 1917 when it returned under the control of Jews.

For Christians, during the history of patriarchs of Constantinople, the holy  see of Constantinople's patriarch has had a great spiritual prestige, as well as an authority over his political rivals.

Between the 8th and 11th centuries the  jurisdiction of patriarchate saw  a great spread over westwards from southern Italy, northwards into Russia.

In 1453 Constantinople fell under the Ottoman rule; where was the end of Constantinople and  the imperial lineage, where the last Byzantine emperor died in battle defending the city walls.

and  Constantinople, the Byzantine's capital, became under Ottoman Empire  the command of Sultan Mehmed II, that was in Tuesday, May 29, 1453.

 The final destruction of the Eastern Roman Empire, was  at  the  death of Constantine XI, the previous Byzantine emperor, but also the strategic conquest crucial for Ottoman rule over the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans. The city remained capital of the Ottoman Empire until the empire's dissolution in 1922, and was officially renamed Istanbul by the Turkish Republic in 1930.

The conquest of Constantinople and subsequent expansion into the Balkans was more than compensated of  their loss of islamic  possessions in Spain.

 Islamic world has a big coveted in Constantinople, since  the   time of the caliphate, after "Muhammad"  the Islamic Prophet, onwards to Islamic periods subsequent to the present day, has had a dream to conquer Byzantine Empire, represented  by  Orthodox  Church, where Orthodox Church considered an extension to Byzantine Empire.

In Europe, the fall of Constantinople was a tragic moment. Where Byzantines  was  represented the  Vanishing Roman Empire, which created the early  Europe, and  the  new  Rome "Constantinople" has had a direct influence on  legacy, political and social and legal practice of Europe  as  well  as  was  the  dream to  restoring Empire  of Europe..

Now patriarchate of Constantinople  is a prisoner of the Turks in Istanbul since the conquest by the Ottoman , So the Orthodox Patriarchs are prisoners in their own city. The situation is worse today because the Patriarchs of  Constantinople ,  accepted  the  Gregorian calendar,  which  meaning  they left the Orthodox line, so  they  became subject to the will of the Pope of Rome,  that led to the loss of historic orthodox strength, as  well  as  led to the loss of a lot of sacred tradition.


Editor: Rev.Spyridon Tanous
Orthodox Patristic Church- Sweden