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Ecumene

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For oikoumene.org, see World Council of Churches.


The ecumene (US) or oecumene (UK; Greek: , oikoumn, lit. "inhabited") was an
ancient Greek term for the known world, the inhabited world, or the habitable world. Under
the Roman Empire, it came to refer to the civilized world and the secular and religious imperial
administration. In present usage, it is used as the noun form of "ecumenical" and describes
the Christian Church as a unified whole or the unified modern world civilization. It is also used
in cartography to describe a type of world map (mappa mundi) used in late Antiquity and the Middle
Ages.
Contents
[hide]

1 Etymology

2 Greece

3 Rome

4 Modernity
o

4.1 Religion

4.2 Culture

4.3 Cartography

5 Fiction

6 References

7 External links

Etymology[edit]

A modern depiction of the ecumene described by Herodotusin the 5th century BC.

The Greek term is the feminine present middle participle of the verb (oik, "to inhabit") and is
a clipped form of (oikoumn g, "inhabited world").[1]

Greece[edit]

A Ptolemaic world map(Johannes Schnitzer, 1482).

Eratosthenes of Cyrene (276196 BC) deduced the circumference of the Earth with remarkable
accuracy. The Greek cartographer Crates created a globe about 150 BC.[2] Claudius
Ptolemy (AD 83161) calculated the Earth's surface in hisGeography and described the inhabited
portion as spanning 180 degrees of longitude (from the Fortunate Isles in the west
toSerae and Serica (China) in the east) and about 80 degrees of latitude[3] (from Thule in the north to
anti-Meroe below theequator). Ptolemy was well aware that Europe knew only about a quarter of the
globe[citation needed] and his erroneous belief that the Indian Ocean was landlocked led to expectation of
an unknown land (terra incognita). In fact, symmetry led him to expect that there should be three
other continents to balance the ecumene: Perioeci (lit. "beside the ecumene"), Antoeci ("opposite the
ecumene"), and the Antipodes (opposite the feet).

Rome[edit]

The First Ecumenical Council atNicaea in 325.

The word was adopted within Christianity after Constantine I's assembly of a synod ofbishops from
all over the world, the first ecumenical council, at Nicaea in 325.
By that time, the Greek term had come to refer more specifically to the civilized world and then
simply the Roman Empire. This usage continued after the Diocletian Reforms and theByzantine
emperors used it to refer to their imperial administration. Constantinople was the "Ecumenical City"
and, after 586, its patriarch was known as the "Ecumenical Patriarch". Pope Gregory I objected to
the adoption of this style by John the Faster, as it implied a universal jurisdiction he believed to be
held by Rome.[4] His Fifth Epistle berates John for having "attempted to seize upon a new name,

whereby the hearts of all your brethren might have come to take offence", [5] despite the title having
been granted at the emperor Maurice's behest.

Modernity[edit]
Religion[edit]
Main article: Ecumenism

An ecumenical worship service atTaiz Monastery.

In the 20th century, the term has been employed to refer to unified Christian Churchwhich is the
ultimate goal of Ecumenism, a movement to promote cooperation among the various denominations
of the religion. The movement is not accepted by many Christian groups. The work of ecumenism
takes place in the form of negotiations conducted between committees of various denominations and
also through the deliberations of inter-denominational organizations such as the World Council of
Churches. Relevant issues include Baptism, the Eucharist andMinistry.

Culture[edit]

Known world of the Mesopotamian, Babylonian, and Assyrian cultures from documentary sources

In the context of cultural history, the term was first used in an academic sense by Lewis Mumford in
his work, Technics and Civilization (1934)[6] and later popularized by William McNeill's "Rise of the
West". McNeill suggested that a single global ecumene was created through the dominance of
European political institutions, science, technology, and economic forms from the late 18th century
onwards. One could argue that prior to the great voyages of discovery, initiated by Christopher
Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan, there were originally two separate ecumenes
one covering the Old World and one the New. It was the Spanish conquistadores that fused this
second ecumene to the first to create a single integrated "world system".
It must be said that the "ecumene" can differ depending on the viewpoint from which it is perceived:
for example, Ancient Babylonians would be familiar with a different area of the world than the Ancient
Greeks (though they may overlap). See image to the right.

Cartography[edit]
The term is used in cartography and the historical cartography to describe a type[which?] of symbolic,
schematic world mapmade in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Fiction[edit]

The author J.R.R. Tolkien described his Middle-earth setting for his
fiction as equivalent to the Greek ecumene, the abode of Man.

In the Demon Princes series of science fiction novels by Jack


Vance, the Oikumene is the term used for the human-inhabited
worlds of the galaxy.

In the science fiction novel Time's Eye co-authored by Arthur C.


Clarke and Stephen Baxter Oikoumene is a grassroots religious
unification movement bridging the divide
between Catholicism and Islam.

In The Left Hand of Darkness and other fiction by Ursula K. Le


Guin, the Ekumen is a loose confederation of inhabited worlds,
linked by instantaneous communication, but separated by slowerthan-light travel.

In the science fiction trilogy The Golden Age, by John C. Wright, a


polity called the Golden Oecumene spans all of the Solar System.

In the Halo universe, more particularly in Halo: Combat Evolved


Anniversary and the Forerunner Saga novels, the Forerunner
Ecumene spanned the galaxy more than 100,000 years ago.
[7]
Forerunner society was divided into five main social classes,
called "rates" (in ascending order of social standing/power):
'Engineers', 'Warrior-Servants', 'Lifeworkers', 'Miners', and 'Builders'.
[8]

References[edit]
1.

Jump up^ Oxford English Dictionary. "cumene, n."

2.

Jump up^ Klein, Samuel John (2005), "Oecumene", Cartography


Word of the Day, Designorati, retrieved 2008-01-03

3.

Jump up^ Although Ptolemy did not measure latitude with degrees
but with hours ofmidsummer daylight, from 12 at the equator to 24 in
the arctic.

4.

Jump up^ Schaff, Philip (1882), "Gregory and the Universal


Episcopate", History of the Christian Church, IV: Mediaeval
Christianity: A.D. 5901073, Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson
Publishers; 3rd edition (July 1, 1996), ISBN 978-1-56563-196-0,
retrieved 2008-01-03

5.

Jump up^ St Gregory the Great. Epistle V, xviii.

6.

Jump up^ Mumford, Lewis (1934), Technics and Civilization, New


York: Harcourt, retrieved 2008-01-03

7.

Jump up^ Halopedia Ecumene

8.

Jump up^ Halopedia Rate

External links[edit]

The Apotheosis of Homer showing personification of Oecumene

Pope Gregory and the Universal Episcopate

Categories:

Ancient Greece

Christian terminology

Ecclesiology

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