Adrian Fortescue and the Eastern Christian Churches

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 1-1-2005


Campus Only

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Michael Slusser

Committee Member

David Petras

Committee Member

Jean Donovan

Committee Member

Marie L. Baird


Byzantine, Orientalism, Uniate, Uniatism


Adrian Fortescue (1874-1923) was widely recognized as one of England's foremost authorities on Eastern Christianity. This dissertation is a critical examination of his writings on the subject. It analyzes what he said about the Eastern Christian Churches, and highlights his insights into key questions. In doing so, the study considers the relationship between Fortescue's writings and the general view held in the Catholic Church during his lifetime. The dissertation concludes by reflecting on the extent to which Fortescue's insights remain pertinent today, and whether or not they have relevance for the contemporary ecumenical movement.

Chapter One introduces his understanding of the schisms. It focuses on his presentation of four historical divisions: the split with the Assyrian Church of the East, the split with the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the two schisms that involved the Eastern Orthodox Church -- the so-called Schism of Photius, and the Schism of Cerularius. Chapter Two analyzes Fortescue's comprehension of Eastern Christian theology, liturgy and faith. In doing so, it explores his presentation of issues such as the Filiqoue, latinization, and the role of the epiclesis. Chapter Three evaluates his description of Eastern Christian church structure. It considers Fortescue's presentation of patriarchs, ecumenical councils, papal primacy, as well as the phenomenon of nationalism. Chapter Four explores his insights into how reconciliation could come about, and what it would mean for all of the parties involved. It includes Fortescue's analysis of failed attempts at reunion, specifically the Second Council of Lyons and the Council of Florence. This chapter also contemplates the status of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and Fortescue's conviction that they play a key ecumenical role.

Chapter Five chronicles later developments from Fortescue's death to the beginning of the 21st century. In it his writings are examined critically in the light of advances in theology and historical scholarship, as well as important developments in the Eastern Christian Churches themselves, in order to ascertain their long-term usefulness and reliability.





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