Author Topic: Please refer me to a detailed history of the Syriac Orthodox in India  (Read 436 times)

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Offline wgw

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Fr. Peter Farrington, who is one of the more interesting members of this forum, wrote the very excellent work Orthodox Christology, which inckudes as a sort of coda a most edifying chaoter on the involvement of St. Thomas in the foundation of the holy Indian church.

Now, several members of this forum including Mor Ephrem have stated that the prevailing Western idea that the Indian Christians were Nestorian prior to the Portuguese invasion and the alignment of the Malankara Church with the Syriac Orthodox, is false, and instead have affirmed the historic existence of a genuine Orthodox faith on the subcontinent, contemporaneous with the Nestorian church which was forcibly converted to Rcism (the Syro Malabar Catholic Church).

I very much hope someone might be able to refer me to a detailed history showing the extent to which Orthodoxy and Nestorinaism coexisted or competed among the St. Thomas Christians before the arrival of the Portuguese.  I am also curious as to whether the East Syriac liturgy used by the Nestorians was used by the Orthodox as well.

If Fr. Peter ever has the time by the way, I woild be thrilled if he added this to his excellent book.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2016, 11:48:06 AM by wgw »

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Please refer me to a detailed history of the Syriac Orthodox in India
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2016, 12:22:12 PM »
Now, several members of this forum including Mor Ephrem have stated that the prevailing Western idea that the Indian Christians were Nestorian prior to the Portuguese invasion and the alignment of the Malankara Church with the Syriac Orthodox, is false, and instead have affirmed the historic existence of a genuine Orthodox faith on the subcontinent, contemporaneous with the Nestorian church which was forcibly converted to Rcism (the Syro Malabar Catholic Church).

My argument is not that there were simultaneously an Orthodox East Syriac Church in India and a "Nestorian" Church in India when the Portuguese arrived.  There was only the former.  An internal division within the Syro-Malabar community in the nineteenth century resulted in the creation of a "Nestorian" jurisdiction. 

Quote
I am also curious as to whether the East Syriac liturgy used by the Nestorians was used by the Orthodox as well.

Every indication we have leans in this direction, but unfortunately most of the written record was burned by the Portuguese. 

Offline wgw

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Re: Please refer me to a detailed history of the Syriac Orthodox in India
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2016, 02:56:00 PM »
Now, several members of this forum including Mor Ephrem have stated that the prevailing Western idea that the Indian Christians were Nestorian prior to the Portuguese invasion and the alignment of the Malankara Church with the Syriac Orthodox, is false, and instead have affirmed the historic existence of a genuine Orthodox faith on the subcontinent, contemporaneous with the Nestorian church which was forcibly converted to Rcism (the Syro Malabar Catholic Church).

My argument is not that there were simultaneously an Orthodox East Syriac Church in India and a "Nestorian" Church in India when the Portuguese arrived.  There was only the former.  An internal division within the Syro-Malabar community in the nineteenth century resulted in the creation of a "Nestorian" jurisdiction. 

Quote
I am also curious as to whether the East Syriac liturgy used by the Nestorians was used by the Orthodox as well.

Every indication we have leans in this direction, but unfortunately most of the written record was burned by the Portuguese.

Your post raises two interesting possibilities: firstly, if we say the Indian church was entirely Orthodox, would it be not unreasonable to assume thst substantial portions of the East Syriac church destroyed by Timur the Lame, for example, in China, Tibet, Mongolia and Central Asia, were in fact Orthodox?

Secondly, does the possibility exist that portions of what is now the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq and Iran were at one time under an Orthodox hierarchy, and perhaps came under control of the semi-Nestorian hierarchy (of Mar Balai and his successors) as a result of the confusion of events of various persecutions and the genocide of Timur?

Where what you say becomes really interesting is if we suppose a roughly coterminous Orthodox and Nestorian hierarchy in various East Syriac regions, and then add to the mix the interesting dimension of Assyrian tribal politics, which would later result in, for example, the Chaldean schism.  Fr. Ephraim of the Assyrian church (who went to SVS, and for a time was a priest in the Antiochian jurisdiction) told me once that he considered the recent schism beteeen the Assyrian and Ancient Church of the East to have been perpetuated, if not initiated by, tribal political factors.

Offline Minnesotan

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Re: Please refer me to a detailed history of the Syriac Orthodox in India
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2016, 03:13:37 PM »
Now, several members of this forum including Mor Ephrem have stated that the prevailing Western idea that the Indian Christians were Nestorian prior to the Portuguese invasion and the alignment of the Malankara Church with the Syriac Orthodox, is false, and instead have affirmed the historic existence of a genuine Orthodox faith on the subcontinent, contemporaneous with the Nestorian church which was forcibly converted to Rcism (the Syro Malabar Catholic Church).

My argument is not that there were simultaneously an Orthodox East Syriac Church in India and a "Nestorian" Church in India when the Portuguese arrived.  There was only the former.  An internal division within the Syro-Malabar community in the nineteenth century resulted in the creation of a "Nestorian" jurisdiction. 

Quote
I am also curious as to whether the East Syriac liturgy used by the Nestorians was used by the Orthodox as well.

Every indication we have leans in this direction, but unfortunately most of the written record was burned by the Portuguese.

Your post raises two interesting possibilities: firstly, if we say the Indian church was entirely Orthodox, would it be not unreasonable to assume thst substantial portions of the East Syriac church destroyed by Timur the Lame, for example, in China, Tibet, Mongolia and Central Asia, were in fact Orthodox?

Secondly, does the possibility exist that portions of what is now the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq and Iran were at one time under an Orthodox hierarchy, and perhaps came under control of the semi-Nestorian hierarchy (of Mar Balai and his successors) as a result of the confusion of events of various persecutions and the genocide of Timur?

Where what you say becomes really interesting is if we suppose a roughly coterminous Orthodox and Nestorian hierarchy in various East Syriac regions, and then add to the mix the interesting dimension of Assyrian tribal politics, which would later result in, for example, the Chaldean schism.  Fr. Ephraim of the Assyrian church (who went to SVS, and for a time was a priest in the Antiochian jurisdiction) told me once that he considered the recent schism beteeen the Assyrian and Ancient Church of the East to have been perpetuated, if not initiated by, tribal political factors.

Much, if not most, of the so-called "Nestorian" (East Syriac) church during that time was not in fact Nestorian in theology. The Jesus Sutras do not even mention two natures, let alone two persons, and contain theopaschite language (God suffered on the cross). They also have an allegorizing tone, albeit expressed using Chinese philosophy rather than Hellenistic. The original reason the Assyrian church formed a separate administration from the Imperial one was political in nature (due to the Byzantine-Sassanid conflict). As such, the Assyrian church looked more or less like the Byzantine church would have looked if there had been no councils or Constantine (although the Assyrians did accept Nicea/Constantinople when they held their own council decades later).

Secondly, does the possibility exist that portions of what is now the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq and Iran were at one time under an Orthodox hierarchy, and perhaps came under control of the semi-Nestorian hierarchy (of Mar Balai and his successors) as a result of the confusion of events of various persecutions and the genocide of Timur?

This seems about right. The Assyrian church was reduced to less than a tenth of its original size, and as a consequence of that, it no doubt became more theologically homogeneous, and what might have previously been a Nestorian segment within it became identified with the church as a whole.
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Offline wgw

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Re: Please refer me to a detailed history of the Syriac Orthodox in India
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2016, 03:19:35 PM »
It seems to me we ought to hope for the de-Nestorianization of the Assyrian church, in that case.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Please refer me to a detailed history of the Syriac Orthodox in India
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2016, 11:50:23 PM »
Your post raises two interesting possibilities: firstly, if we say the Indian church was entirely Orthodox, would it be not unreasonable to assume thst substantial portions of the East Syriac church destroyed by Timur the Lame, for example, in China, Tibet, Mongolia and Central Asia, were in fact Orthodox?

I can't comment on that (or anything else you asked about) because I'm not well read on the history of Syriac Christianity in those regions. 

Offline wgw

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Re: Please refer me to a detailed history of the Syriac Orthodox in India
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2016, 05:31:33 AM »
Your post raises two interesting possibilities: firstly, if we say the Indian church was entirely Orthodox, would it be not unreasonable to assume thst substantial portions of the East Syriac church destroyed by Timur the Lame, for example, in China, Tibet, Mongolia and Central Asia, were in fact Orthodox?

I can't comment on that (or anything else you asked about) because I'm not well read on the history of Syriac Christianity in those regions.

Well dang it; that's out of character; you are supposed to be omniscient.    :P 

I do understand though; the whole field is rather too obscure.

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Offline dhinuus

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Re: Please refer me to a detailed history of the Syriac Orthodox in India
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2016, 09:16:18 AM »
Fr. Peter Farrington, who is one of the more interesting members of this forum, wrote the very excellent work Orthodox Christology, which inckudes as a sort of coda a most edifying chaoter on the involvement of St. Thomas in the foundation of the holy Indian church.

Now, several members of this forum including Mor Ephrem have stated that the prevailing Western idea that the Indian Christians were Nestorian prior to the Portuguese invasion and the alignment of the Malankara Church with the Syriac Orthodox, is false, and instead have affirmed the historic existence of a genuine Orthodox faith on the subcontinent, contemporaneous with the Nestorian church which was forcibly converted to Rcism (the Syro Malabar Catholic Church).

I very much hope someone might be able to refer me to a detailed history showing the extent to which Orthodoxy and Nestorinaism coexisted or competed among the St. Thomas Christians before the arrival of the Portuguese.  I am also curious as to whether the East Syriac liturgy used by the Nestorians was used by the Orthodox as well.

If Fr. Peter ever has the time by the way, I woild be thrilled if he added this to his excellent book.

Check the following work "Were Syrian Christians Nestorians?" . This is the Master's Thesis of the late Geevarghese Mar Ivanious Panicker. He is the founder of the Syro-Malankara RC rite; when he left the Malankara Orthodox Church and joined with Rome in 1930,

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3Nhs333DL7JT0VjSDhIZ25pOFpTbzB6YllpVVZNbnh6Mnpr/view?usp=sharing
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