Sephardi and Eastern Christian Connection?

29 March 2007

Live from the Edgewater . . . .

Not that I think this is a major revelation, or that any conclusions could be reached, I find it interesting that the Sephardi (Near Eastern & Mediterranean Jews) and the Orthodox (Eastern Christians) are almost uniformly stricter in their religious observances and practices than their Western/Northern European co-religionists.

Again, the parallels are not perfect: Spanish Jews are Sephardi while Spanish Christians are not, historically, Orthodox.  And the Sephardi do have some things (e.g., the eating of “kitniyos,” foods like rice and corn from which flour could be made, during Pesach) which are more lenient than Ashkenazic practice, but over all they seem to be a stricter, more rigorously observant bunch.

I’ve turned this idea over in my head, and I can’t figure out why this is.  Historically, these two groups —Sephardi and Eastern Christians— flourished and were tolerated in different places.  The Sephardi found tolerance in Muslim Spain and North Africa, while in these places Christians were persecuted.  At the same time, Eastern Christian strongholds from the Balkans to Syria were locations of religious oppression for these Christians; Ottoman rule was not favorable to them.

And yet, these two groups seem to represent a fairly austere but lively form of their religion.

I’m not drawing any conclusions as to why, but I do think it’s interesting.

2 Responses to “Sephardi and Eastern Christian Connection?”

  1. storbakken Says:

    It is interesting. I’ve always found the Ethiopian Church to be interesting as well. Christianity is ancient there. Their music, the book of Enoch in their scripture, their interpretation of Revelation and their traditions are intriguing. But I betcha if you were raised in that tradition it would be blaise and you might want to check out the freestyle worship services of the evangelicals (or something like that). The “other” is always interesting, unless you are the “other”.

  2. Larry Says:

    hmm, I wonder if what you say is true. “The ‘other’ is always interesting, unless you are the ‘other’.”
    I also wonder if you have mistaken how Jorge uses “interesting” in this post. I too find it interesting that two different groups might have a similar or analogous religious approach, while I may not be “interested” that is drawn to the stricter form of religiousity.
    However, your generalization does not expalain why I would be drawn to Orthodox worship and icons and not Pentecostal worship and church life. Both are “other” to my Lutheran Pietist upbringing. Though, I actually account for my being drawn to orthodoxy not on account of its complete “otherness” but that this “other” has certain affinity to the faith I was raised in.
    No I take issue with your generalization and am not sure it applies to Jorge’s comments, though it might.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s