Lent, Great Lent, or Great Fast?

Easter or Pascha?

Christmas or Nativity?

Holy Week or Great Week?

Assumption or Dormition?

Epiphany or Theophany?

Sacraments or Mysteries?

Advent or Nativity Fast?

(Parish) church or temple?

Original Sin or Ancestral Sin?

In each of the sets above, the first items are Western-Church English terms – or Western-influenced – often used by Orthodox today – laity, priests, and even Bishops. The latter items in each set are often considered to be translations more faithful to the traditional Orthodox terminology, usually from Greek. Sometimes which term is used is considered freighted with theological significance…though far from always.

The biggest irony of all is that often culturally-assimilating cradle/ethnic-Orthodox immigrants or their descendants use the Western terms…and (non-marital) converts – especially laity, I think – insist on the non-Western terms!!!

Speaking experientially, I can attest to a certain desire to ‘dis-assimilate’ somewhat from the Western Heterodoxy I left behind. After all, I didn’t convert mostly because of Orthodoxy’s similarities with the Latin or Mennonite Churches, or the Society of Friends, or even the Eastern Catholicism I passed by!

To be fair, I believe some use of the Western terms is for the purpose of being somewhat comprehensible to Westerners within earshot or readership – would-be converts, non-converting spouses or relatives or neighbors (convert/writer Al Fragola just hates it when some otherwise English-speaking parishes use, e.g., Slavonic terms for services [molieben] and other things, “especially when perfectly good English terms exist”!), etc.

IS which term you use theologically significant, or merely culturally? Does it have to be theologically significant, or is it always more in how we Orthodox mean the terms we seem to share with the West, just as in other cases? (“We don’t mean the same thing when we say the same thing,” as I’ve discussed often before.)

That’s the debate. And I’m not gonna solve it here! 🙂


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