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Author Topic: Assyrians in Armenia  (Read 2790 times) Average Rating: 0
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bergschlawiner
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« on: November 05, 2007, 12:09:54 AM »

News Article: There are two working Assyrian churches in Verin Dvin. Shara, the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East of Armenia is based on the Nestorian Church, while the Church of Marez follows the Orthodox faith. If Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as the state religion, the Assyrians were the first people to accept the Christian faith as early as the 1st Century A.D. From the beginning, Assyrians professed the Nestorian doctrine that declares that Jesus exists as two separate persons; Jesus, the human being and Jesus, the Divine Son of God. Those Assyrians who migrated to Russia from Persia adopted the Orthodox faith. Those who fled to Armenia during the 1915 Genocide retained their traditional Nestorian religion for a time. Today, Assyrians living in Armenia are either followers of the Orthodox Church or profess Roman Catholicism. In accordance with Nestorian Church tradition only a cross is placed in the Church of Shara, while icons adorn the Church of Marez.
http://www.hetq.am/eng/society/7208/

This article is somewhat confusing as to what "Orthodox" Church they are referring to but it would seem that these Assyrians have been "uniatized" in some way by either the Armenian Orthodox or the Russian Orthodox or perhaps both?
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2007, 12:38:09 AM »

From reading the article, it seems the Orthodox parish in Verin Dvin they are talking about is Russian.  The second to last paragraph says there is no Armenian church there.  However, the article also makes the statement that the Assyrians living in Armenia are either Orthodox or Catholic.  In that sentence, they are probably talking about the Armenian Church.  It could be the author doesn't know the difference between the Russian and Armenian Churches. 

The Armenians and Assyrians, although Christologically very different, are geographically next door neighbors, so to speak, and have both been persecuted by the Turks and other Muslims.  That sort of thing brings people together despite theological differences.  It is not uncommon for Assyrians and Armenians to intermarry.  I've known Assyrians who speak Armenian and Armenians who speak Assyrian.  Also, it is not uncommon for Assyrians and Armenians to take communion in each other's churches, even though there would be canons against it. 
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2007, 01:03:55 AM »

I know there were some Assyrians who converted to the Russian Church about a century ago.  I think that is alluded to in the article and would explain the Russian Church in that village. 

It seems the author doesn't know that much about the Churches.  In addition to confusing the Armenian Church and Russian Church, she seems to not know much about the Church of the East.  I am less than an expert, but I don't think she quite explains their beliefs properly.
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2007, 05:01:54 AM »

This is funny, because directly before coming accross this thread [maybe 30 sec before] I read that the Assyrians had a Metropolitan over Nestorians in Armenia in 1298AD, which surprised me greatly. And I am even more surprised to see that they still exist in Armenia. Does anybody know if this was an unbroken presence since the 13th century?

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Assyrians professed the Nestorian doctrine that declares that Jesus exists as two separate persons

Our author really has no idea what she is talking about! The Nestorians dogmatized over and over again in numerable official synods that the Lord Jesus is only one person. And she goes so far as to say that the persons are "separate"!? This is just crazy. Nestorians even deny that the natures are "separate". They teach that the natures are united in the one person.


« Last Edit: November 05, 2007, 05:11:45 AM by pathofsolitude » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2007, 01:09:38 AM »

This is funny, because directly before coming accross this thread [maybe 30 sec before] I read that the Assyrians had a Metropolitan over Nestorians in Armenia in 1298AD, which surprised me greatly. And I am even more surprised to see that they still exist in Armenia. Does anybody know if this was an unbroken presence since the 13th century?

Our author really has no idea what she is talking about! The Nestorians dogmatized over and over again in numerable official synods that the Lord Jesus is only one person. And she goes so far as to say that the persons are "separate"!? This is just crazy. Nestorians even deny that the natures are "separate". They teach that the natures are united in the one person.
Then why have we declared Nestorianism anathema since the Third Ecumenical Council?  Reading what you just wrote, one could think that our condemnation of Nestorians is totally unjust.
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2007, 01:44:09 AM »

I think since the time of Babai the Great, the Church of the East has used more subtle language, a lot of which could pass as Orthodox.  That's what the author got wrong.  I think she said they teach two seperate persons, which the Church of the East would never say, at least not now.  However, despite the improvement in some of their language, they still don't feel comfortable calling the Virgin Mary "Mother of God" and they refuse to confess that One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh.  This indicates that they still see Christ's Divinity and humanity as somehow operating seperately.  This, plus their continued condemnation of the Third Council, keeps them from being what either OO's or EO's would consider Orthodox.
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2007, 12:18:32 PM »

What is the modern Assyrian view on Nestorius's belief that God could not be a baby?

Last I understood the Assyrians believed that Divinity abandoned our Lord before He died and thus they separate the natures of Christ.

However the fact that the Assyrians have neither icons nor miracles is enough to seal the case as best I understand it.

Thank you.
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2007, 12:25:30 PM »

However the fact that the Assyrians have neither icons...

I wouldn't expect them to; I don't think iconography was very popular in the primitive stages of the church.
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2007, 01:22:05 PM »

The Assyrians don't have icons because of their lack of saints.

But I thought they did have relics. Wrong, eh? Not first time.
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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2007, 06:02:52 PM »

I have to say, I'm sorta confused with their differences in sacraments.  For example, they don't consider marriage a sacrament.  Would that be a reason why they don't find it appalling to marry someone outside the Church?
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« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2007, 09:26:55 PM »

I split off some posts about icons in the early Church and moved them to the Faith Issues section:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13284.msg182888.html#msg182888
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2007, 11:52:15 PM »

Then why have we declared Nestorianism anathema since the Third Ecumenical Council?  Reading what you just wrote, one could think that our condemnation of Nestorians is totally unjust.

Because the Council of Ephesus 431 condemned Nestorianism for denying the title "Theotokos." That would be the sole justification. Nestorius and his followers were always very adament that the Lord Jesus Christ is only one compound person with divine personality and human personality. The whole "two Sons" polemic was invented by Cyril.
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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2007, 12:19:06 AM »

What is the modern Assyrian view on Nestorius's belief that God could not be a baby?

Hello my dear Didymus. Nestorius never believed that. Nestorius himself said:

"Even the infant is the all-powerful God, so far, O Arius, is God the Word from being subject to God."

"We recognize the humanity of the infant, and His Divinity; the unity of His Sonship we guard in the nature of humanity and divinity."

"Great is the mystery of the gifts! For this visible infant, who seems so young, who needs swaddling clothes for His body, who in the substance which we see is newly born, is the Eternal Son, as it is written, the Son who is the Maker of all, the Son who binds together in the swathing-bands of His assisting power the whole creation which would otherwise be dissolved."


Before the modern era everyone believed that Nestorius wrote that God could not be a baby. This belief is derived from an intentional[?] mistranslation by Socrates the historian. Even the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia of 1911 said that the passage is fraudulent! I will post the sources and the exact sentence whenever I find it.

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Last I understood the Assyrians believed that Divinity abandoned our Lord before He died and thus they separate the natures of Christ.

Did you hear this from an angry miaphysite priest? I assure you that the Assyrians never uttered that blasphemy.


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« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2007, 12:35:29 AM »

In the thread below, Anastasios gives a good explanation as to why Nestorius' Christology cannot be considered Orthodox.  As I said in one of my posts above, Nestorian writings often sound Orthodox, partly due to the work done by Babai the Great in the sixth century.  However, there is more to their Christology than meets the eye.  In addition to not embracing the term "Mother of God," they deny that One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh.  Again, they are denying a true union as both the EO's and OO's understand it.  If you believe Nestorius to be Orthodox, I am afraid you are going to be pretty much alone here in that opinion.

Here is the thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3673.0.html
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EkhristosAnesti
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« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2007, 12:36:55 AM »

The Fathers often presented the viewpoints of their opponents in a manner that represented the extreme logical implications of what they taught, regardless of whether such implications had not been expressly admitted, or even expressly denied, by those opponents. Those implications are drawn, and ultimately justified in consideration of a range of contextual factors.
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« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2007, 08:35:44 AM »

In the thread below, Anastasios gives a good explanation as to why Nestorius' Christology cannot be considered Orthodox.  As I said in one of my posts above, Nestorian writings often sound Orthodox, partly due to the work done by Babai the Great in the sixth century.  However, there is more to their Christology than meets the eye.  In addition to not embracing the term "Mother of God," they deny that One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh.  Again, they are denying a true union as both the EO's and OO's understand it.  If you believe Nestorius to be Orthodox, I am afraid you are going to be pretty much alone here in that opinion.

Here is the thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3673.0.html

Actually he did a horrible job, because he is telling us why a work by "Nestorius" is heretical, when in fact Nestorius didnt even write it. Anastasios admits this at the end when confronted with this fact by another poster. I thought I would mention that because someone might read on the link some of what "Nestorius" said, and say "oh gosh!", and refuse to give any further hearing to Nestorius.



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« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2007, 09:30:30 AM »

PoS, as Salpy has already said,

If you believe Nestorius to be Orthodox, I am afraid you are going to be pretty much alone here in that opinion.

In general, we here stand by what the Church has said, which is that Nestorius is a heretic. Until she says otherwise, we will stick to her. But feel free to believe what you want. Your ideas are certainly welcome--provided they are expressed in an appropriate manner--even if they may not be shared by anyone else.
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« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2007, 03:55:48 PM »

I think since the time of Babai the Great, the Church of the East has used more subtle language, a lot of which could pass as Orthodox.  That's what the author got wrong.  I think she said they teach two seperate persons, which the Church of the East would never say, at least not now.  However, despite the improvement in some of their language, they still don't feel comfortable calling the Virgin Mary "Mother of God" and they refuse to confess that One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh.  This indicates that they still see Christ's Divinity and humanity as somehow operating seperately.  This, plus their continued condemnation of the Third Council, keeps them from being what either OO's or EO's would consider Orthodox.

I think you have accurately summarized the situation.  I'll just add a detail or too.

It seems that Babai's reform of Nestorian Christiology is in part due to the condemnations of the Fifth Ecumenical Council and the Three Chapters.  Theodore was one of his main authorities, but he interpreted him towards, instead of away from, Orthodox thought.

I had to say that on the Catholic Answers forum, I was a little unnerved that the Chaldeans are still allowed to refer to the Lord's mother as Yaldath MshiKHa (bearer of Christ) in order, it seems to avoid Yaldath Alaha (bearer of God).  The Chaldean said it was a matter of tradition, but in this case the tradition had a tradition of schism: it was, after all, what smoked Nestorius out.  It also was an issue in the switch of the Indian Church to Orthodoxy. 

If you read the writers of their previous Catholicos he often said that the Nestorians were all Protestants, and the ancient, original Protestants of the East, and he cited the rejection of the Mother of God title as proof of that.
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« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2007, 03:57:36 PM »

But I thought they did have relics. Wrong, eh? Not first time.

They did.  Vestiges of it remain in there services, practices, etc.  but as a practice I believe they have abandoned the veneration of relics and icons.
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« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2007, 04:10:04 PM »

I have to say, I'm sorta confused with their differences in sacraments.  For example, they don't consider marriage a sacrament.  Would that be a reason why they don't find it appalling to marry someone outside the Church?

I don't know any of the Assyrians who would approve of such a marriage (to a non-Christian) at all.

They do number their sacraments differently, but the limitation to the number 7 was an innovation of the Scholastics, which has been picked up by the East in the Western captivity.

They count the sign of the Cross and the leaven of the Eucharist (they believe it was handed down from the Apostles) as sacraments, instead of marriage and unction.
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« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2007, 03:21:13 PM »

Still wondering about my original posting re Assyrians in Armenia.  Everyone seems to think that it could never ever happen that an Assyrian church would place itself under an EO bishop but why not?  Some have had no problem being under Rome (Chaldeans).  The point I am making is there is no reason whatsover for Assyrians not to be part of the EO Church while retaining their own Liturgy.  Or Armenians for that matter.  And I find it hard to believe that this has not happened in former Russian territories where Orthodox missionaries had to have been active.  Or where an isolated community aligned itself with the Orthodox. This is not impossible, I read on this forum of Orthodox worshipping in Latin with the Roman Liturgy all the time.
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« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2007, 03:55:21 PM »

Still wondering about my original posting re Assyrians in Armenia.  Everyone seems to think that it could never ever happen that an Assyrian church would place itself under an EO bishop but why not?  Some have had no problem being under Rome (Chaldeans).  The point I am making is there is no reason whatsover for Assyrians not to be part of the EO Church while retaining their own Liturgy.  Or Armenians for that matter.  And I find it hard to believe that this has not happened in former Russian territories where Orthodox missionaries had to have been active.  Or where an isolated community aligned itself with the Orthodox. This is not impossible, I read on this forum of Orthodox worshipping in Latin with the Roman Liturgy all the time.

Although the article is not clear, I have always understood that some Assyrians did voluntarily submit to the Russian Orthodox Church , at least in Iraq/Iran. Why not in Armenia as well? Also, we cannot assume that just because they are Assyrians that they are automatically in the Chaldean church. There have been Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries in both Iraq and Iran (until very recently, maybe still there) for centuries. Perhaps in Armenia as well? One cannot assume that ethnicity always dictates which church a people are in in stereotypical fashion. I image there are few "Greeks" in these regional GO churches.
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Tags: Assyrian Church of the East Nestorius nestorianism Armenian Church 
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