Volume III - Church History


History Questions and Reflections for Discussion


When Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko of blessed memory was in the process of revising his series The Orthodox Faith, he requested the Department of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America, which had originally published the series, to create questions to accompany the texts of each volume. The following questions are the fulfillment of his request for the Church History volume of the series.

There are questions for each chapter of this volume, for each century from the first to the twentieth. They can be used to review the material in the chapter, and page numbers follow each question to show where it came from.

A separate document gives numbered answers. We would suggest that a discussion leader, after the group has read a chapter, give each participant a copy of the questions for that chapter. They can then answer them together. The leader can have a copy of the answer pages for that chapter to check answers if need be (though most of the answers should easily be found in the chapter text.) A reader going through the book on his or her own can use the questions and answers in whatever way is most helpful.

Some of the answers also offer points for reflection.  Father Thomas always liked to reflect further on things as he taught, and we hope readers will want to do the same. Most of all we hope that many people will use and benefit from the revised edition of Father Thomas’ wonderful gift to the Church, his series The Orthodox Faith.

Department of Christian Education
Orthodox Church in America

First century

  1. How many of the 27 writings selected by the Church to be the New Testament were written in the first century? In what language were they written? (p 20)
  2. Did most of the early Christians come from rural and impoverished backgrounds? (p 20)
  3. Did the first-century Church require non-Jewish members (Gentiles) to follow the Mosaic Law? (p 21)

Second century

  1. Roman law declared, “It is not lawful to be a Christian.” Why was this so? (p 23)
  2. In what 3 ways did Saint Irenaeus distinguish true Christian Churches from heretical groups? (pp 26-27)
  3. What are some features of Christian worship as described by Saint Justin Martyr (155 AD) that continue to be part of our liturgical life today? (p 30)

Third century

  1. Who were the “lapsed” and how did the Church care for them? (p 32)
  2. How did Origen view pagan philosophy? (p 36)
  3. In what ways is Hippolytus’ description of baptism similar to present practice? (pp 39-40)

Fourth century

  1. How did Constantine&rsquos dream or vision influence him to issue the Edict of Milan?  (p 44)
  2. How did Constantine form what we know as the weekend? (pp 46-47)
  3. What was the main teaching of Arius/Arianism? (p 49)
  4. Why did Saint Basil emphasize the communal form of monasticism? (p 53)
  5. Did monastics reject or turn their backs on the world as evil? (pp 56-57)

Fifth century

  1. Who was Saint Pulcheria and how did she influence Orthodox worship? (pp 61-62)
  2. What was the teaching of the Monophysites? (p 63)
  3. How did Saint Augustine’s view of marital relations differ from the traditional view of marriage and sexual relations reflected at the Council of Nicaea? (p 66)

Sixth century

  1. What is the Code of Justinian? (p 72)
  2. Who created the “Monastic Rule” that would guide monasticism in the Roman Catholic Church for the next 500 years? (p 75)
  3. Why did the Spanish Church add the words “and the Son” (the phrase known as the filioque) to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed? (pp 76-77)

Seventh century

  1. How did Saint Maximus the Confessor respond to the popular ideas called Monothelitism and Monoenergism? (p 82)
  2. What significant ruling about clergy marriage came at the Trullo/Quinisext Council? (p 84)
  3. How does Canon 102 of the Qunisext Council direct the pastor to deal with a penitent? (p 85)
  4. How did the Arab Conquest affect efforts by Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians to discuss and resolve their differences? (p 90)

Eighth century

  1. What was the major objection of the Iconoclasts to the veneration of icons, and how did Saint John of Damascus address it in his treatises called On the Holy Images? (pp 92-93)
  2. How did the emperor Charlemagne have an impact on the understanding of icon veneration and the inclusion of the filioque in the Creed? (p 101)

Ninth century

  1. What do Empress Irene (8th century) and Empress Theodora (9th century) have in common? (p 104)
  2. Why did Prince Rastislav seek Byzantine missionaries to bring the Christian faith to his Moravian people? (pp 105-106)
  3. What contributions did the Studion Monastery make to our order of worship? (p 112)

Tenth century

  1. What changes concerning marriage came about in the 10th century? (p 117)
  2. Why was it significant that the Archbishop of Bulgaria was granted the title of Patriarch? (p 118)
  3. What similar experience did Saint Paul and Saint Vladimir have? (pp 120-121)

Eleventh century

  1. Other than the filioque, what issues enlarged the divide between the Eastern and Western Churches in the 11th century? (p 124)
  2. What dramatic, decisive event took place in 1054 in Constantinople? (pp 125-126)
  3. What was the original purpose of the Crusades, as called for by Pope Urban? (p 128)
  4. What are “Passion-Bearers” and how were Saints Boris and Gleb examples? (p 129)

Twelfth century

  1. What official proclamation concerning Mount Athos was made during the 12th century? (p 133)
  2. With what name was the Serbian ruler Stephan Nemanya glorified as a saint by the Church, and why? (p 135)

Thirteenth century

  1. How did the Fourth Crusade deepen the split between the Eastern and Western Churches? (p 139)
  2. For what purpose did Saint Sava travel through the Middle East, Europe and the Holy Land? (pp 141-142)
  3. Why did Saint Alexander Nevsky consider the Swedes and Germans a greater threat to the Orthodox Church than the Tatars? (p 143)
  4. What 3 orders of Western monasticism were founded in this century? (pp 144-145)

Fourteenth century

  1. What did Saint Gregory Palamas teach about the possibility for human beings to know God? (p 148)
  2. How did Saint John Cantakuzenos want Byzantine theologians to prepare for dialog with Roman Catholic theologians? (p 150)
  3. Why were the Orthodox Church’s headquarters moved from Kiev to Moscow? (p 152)
  4. How did Saint Sergius of Radonezh influence Russian monasticism? (p 154)

Fifteenth century

  1. The Council of Florence was an attempt to unite the Eastern and Western Churches. What were some conditions of this unity? (pp 161-162)
  2. What is the Rum Milet? (p 164)
  3. What is the Possessors and Non-Possessors controversy? (p 167-168)

Sixteenth century

  1. What 2 events probably turned Tsar Ivan IV (“the Terrible”) toward certain cruel tendencies he had as a youth?
  2. What is the basic Protestant doctrine of salvation? (pp 178-179)
  3. How were the claims of the Council of Trent in opposition to the teachings of Saint Gregory Palamas? (p 179)
  4. Who was Saint Philothei of Athens? (p 182)

Seventeenth century

  1. Who were the Old Believers? (p 189-190)
  2. Why did 2 Church councils condemn the Confession of Faith written by Cyril Lukaris? (pp 192-193)
  3. What was Deism, and why did it emerge? (p 194)

Eighteenth century

  1. Why did Saint Cosmas Aitolos undertake 3 apostolic journeys? (p 197-198)
  2. What is the Philokalia and what spiritual quality did Saint Gregory of Sinai and Saint Gregory Palamas emphasize in their writings about this work? (pp 200-201)
  3. What did Saint Tikhon appreciate in the Pietist writings of the Christian West? (p 207)
  4. What was the attitude of the Russian Orthodox missionaries toward the native Alaskan culture and religion? (p 209)

Nineteenth century

  1. Upon what 2 monks did Dostoevsky model his character Elder Zossima in his masterwork The Brothers Karamazov? (p 215)
  2. What did Saint Seraphim emphasize in conversing with Nicholas Motovilov? (p 216)
  3. In what 2 languages did Saint Innocent write his Indication of the Way to the Kingdom of Heaven? (p 222)
  4. What “first” took place in San Francisco, CA in 1892? (p 226)
  5. How did Father Raphael Hawaweeny contribute to the growth of the Orthodox faith? (p 227)
  6. What is the “Gospel of Wealth” and with whom is it closely associated? (p 232)
  7. What controversial decisions were made by the Roman Catholic Church in the second half of the 19th century? (p 233)

Twentieth century (into the early Twenty-First)

  1. Saint Tikhon gave his last sermon in the United States in 1907. What did he say was the duty of lay people as well as pastors and missionaries? (p 241)
  2. At the 8th All-American Sobor (Council) in 1950, Archbishop (later Metropolitan) Leonty made a statement about the Church in America that was fulfilled 20 years later. What did he say? (p 246)
  3. What were some of the ways Archbishop Athenagoras helped the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America advance and grow? (p 257)
  4. How did Saint Nicholas of Zicha, a priest of the Church in Serbia, spend the final five years of his life? (p 259)
  5. Bishop Polycarp was the first bishop of the new Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, elected in 1935. Besides healing internal disputes and laying the foundations for several Church organizations, what center did he establish? (p 262)
  6. In what way was Syrian-born Metropolitan Antony (Bashir) a “pioneer” and to what did he give outspoken support? (p 266)
  7. In 1929 a group of Ukrainians who had been Byzantine-Rite Catholics formed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America. What was the significant reason for their leaving Roman Catholicism? (p 267)
  8. In 1940 Bishop Orestes (Chornock) led in the formation of a seminary for the Carpatho-Russian Diocese. What is its name, and where is it located? (p 270)
  9. Father (later Archbishop) Theophan Noli conducted the Divine Liturgy in a certain language for the first time anywhere in the world. What language was it, and how did this “first” come about? (p 271)
  10. Why were the years 1949 and 1976 notable for Bulgarian Orthodox immigrants to the United States? (p 273)
  11. What organizations are OCEC, SCOBA, IOCC and OCMC? (pp 277-278)
  12. An assembly of canonical Orthodox bishops of North and Central America first met in New York City in 2010. They agreed to meet annually to prepare for what event? (p 279)
  13. Why might restoring the Patriarchate be called the “most momentous act” of the Council of Moscow in 1917-18? (pp 281-282)
  14. How did the fall of Communism in 1991 change previous decades of “administrative persecution” of the Russian Church? (p 289)
  15. What official declaration was made by Patriarch Alexei in 1970 concerning the Japanese Orthodox Church, and who was glorified as a saint at this time? (pp 289-290)
  16. How did the Greco-Turkish War (1919-23) and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) affect the population of the area overseen by the Patriarchate of Constantinople? (pp 290-291)
  17. Why is the present Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew known as the “Green Patriarch?” (p 294)
  18. Who are the two recently glorified saints of the Serbian Church? (p 295)
  19. The Romanian Church was harshly persecuted by the Communists. What fact slightly moderated the suffering of that Church, as compared to the Church in Russia? (p 295)
  20. According to the 2011 census, what percentage of the Romanian population is Orthodox? (p 296)
  21. What are two notable activities of the Orthodox Youth Movement, which brought new vitality to the Church in Syria and Lebanon? (p 296)
  22. Patriarch Ignatius Hazim was a member of the Orthodox Youth Movement. What institution did he found in 1988? (p 296)
  23. What Patriarchate encompasses all the Orthodox churches in Africa? (p 297)
  24. In 1991 the Polish government granted the Orthodox Church equal status with the predominant Roman Catholic Church. What did this enable the Orthodox Church to do? (p 299)
  25. What was the legal status of the Czech Orthodox Church during the Nazi occupation? (p 299)
  26. What leader helped the severely persecuted Albanian Church make a remarkable recovery when Communism fell in 1991? (p 300)
  27. In 1953 the Bulgarian Church restored something that had been lost since 1393. What was it? (p 301)
  28. What change came about for Eastern-Rite Catholics in Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet regime? (p 302)
  29. Harshly persecuted in Soviet times, the Georgian Church has recently had excellent leaders. What percentage of the present Georgian population is Orthodox? (p 303)
  30. What are the 2 established (State-sponsored) Churches in Finland? (p 304)
  31. Archbishop John (Rinne) was head of the Finnish Orthodox Church from 1987 to 2001. What was noteworthy about him? (p 304)
  32. What is Saint Sergius Institute? (p 305)
  33. What group has sometimes been known as the Karlovtsy Synod? (p 306)
  34. What significant reconciliation was reached in 2007? (p 307)
  35. What well-known Orthodox monastery is located in Essex, England? (pp 307-308)
  36. What is the significance of the letter written by Metropolitan Dorotheus of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, entitled “Unto All Churches of Christendom Wheresoever They Be”? (p 308)
  37. What does the Orthodox Church as a whole see as a condition for sacramental communion with other Christian groups? (p 310)
  38. Billy Graham was a leading member of the younger generation of preachers and scholars calling for a “new fundamentalism.” What did they object to in historic fundamentalism? (p 313)
  39. What is a main emphasis of Pentecostalism? (p 315)
  40. What new emphasis did the popes of the early 20th century encourage in the Roman Catholic Church? (p 318)
  41. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI made overtures of reconciliation to the Orthodox Church. What remains as the most basic obstacle? (p 320)
  42. What was unique about Pope Francis’ background? (p 320)