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Author Topic: Question about OO in India  (Read 2548 times) Average Rating: 0
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_Seraphim_
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« on: November 18, 2007, 11:59:07 PM »

The recent post about the chant of Father Saji Thomas (which is beautiful beyond words) has reminded me of a couple questions I’ve been meaning to ask:


How exactly are the Syrian and Indian Orthodox related?  I have the impression that Indian is very influenced by Syrian… is this correct?

Also, I recently read an issue of a very prominent (and anonymous for now) EO publication that featured an article about “The Orthodox Church in India.”

Here is the beginning:

“In the middle of the first century, the Apostle Thomas arrived in India, bearing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Laboring in southern India, he performed numerous miracles and was eventually martyred for the Faith… 

“Despite being geographically separated from the rest of the Orthodox world by Muslim empires for many centuries, Christianity survived in small pockets into modern times.  Although many of these groups trace their lineage back to the Apostle Thomas, none of these churches remained in communion with the [Eastern] Orthodox Patriarchates.”


From the OO perspective, is this accurate?  Are there “fringe” groups in India that aren’t officially part of OO?… or is this EO publication simply referring to the OO in India?

Thanks in advance   Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2007, 08:06:00 PM »

Probably no one will believe me on this but here it goes. The Christians of India were in full union with [or rather, part of] the Nestorian Church of the East until the 16th century Latin infiltration. When the Latins tried to take things over many Indians turned to the OO Syrian Patriarch of Antioch for relief. The Patriarch traveled to India I believe and set up an OO heirarchy. The OO Indians will deny tooth and nail that India was Nestorian for centuries. But its true. Of course the Roman Catholics had to destroy everything and now the St Thomas Christians are ridiculously divided. Today there are only 31 parishes of the Church of the East in India. 

Something pecuiliar I notice about St Thomas Christians is that they float around from Papal Catholicism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Church of the East quite easily. I guess what I mean to say is that they dont seem very ecclesiastically minded. So fringe churches are not the least bit out of the ordinary.

Even the OO Indians are right now divided into two major groups. One of them is ecclesiologically liberal. I forget their name. And btw I'm not refering to the Mar Thoma sect here.
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2007, 02:05:00 AM »

I would have no problem believing you if you cited primary sources and/or peer-edited scholarly works that can be verified to substantiate your claims.
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2007, 02:56:58 PM »

Probably no one will believe me on this but here it goes. The Christians of India were in full union with [or rather, part of] the Nestorian Church of the East until the 16th century Latin infiltration. When the Latins tried to take things over many Indians turned to the OO Syrian Patriarch of Antioch for relief. The Patriarch traveled to India I believe and set up an OO heirarchy. The OO Indians will deny tooth and nail that India was Nestorian for centuries. But its true.

This is also what I was told when I asked a Cambridge scholar specialising on the Church of the East about the nature of the Indian Church prior to the Catholic infiltration.

It's quite remarkable to think that what is now an almost extinct community (thanks to union with Latins, internal division, and the intensified Muslim persecution resulting from the current Iraq war) was at one point a vibrant Church with a territory stretching as far east as Tibet and China.
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2007, 08:37:17 PM »

We have a few Indian Orthodox posters who post here once in a while.  I'm looking forward to their explanation of their Church's history.
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2007, 02:25:58 AM »

We have a few Indian Orthodox posters who post here once in a while.  I'm looking forward to their explanation of their Church's history.


As am I!
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2007, 03:56:03 PM »

Probably no one will believe me on this but here it goes. The Christians of India were in full union with [or rather, part of] the Nestorian Church of the East until the 16th century Latin infiltration. When the Latins tried to take things over many Indians turned to the OO Syrian Patriarch of Antioch for relief. The Patriarch traveled to India I believe and set up an OO heirarchy. The OO Indians will deny tooth and nail that India was Nestorian for centuries. But its true. Of course the Roman Catholics had to destroy everything and now the St Thomas Christians are ridiculously divided. Today there are only 31 parishes of the Church of the East in India. 

Something pecuiliar I notice about St Thomas Christians is that they float around from Papal Catholicism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Church of the East quite easily. I guess what I mean to say is that they dont seem very ecclesiastically minded. So fringe churches are not the least bit out of the ordinary.

Even the OO Indians are right now divided into two major groups. One of them is ecclesiologically liberal. I forget their name. And btw I'm not refering to the Mar Thoma sect here.

I don't think OO Indians denied that they were Nestorians.  The Independant Indian Orthodox (OO) have taken their patriarchal lineage back to Nestorian patriarchs to Persian patriarchs to St. Thomas from my knowledge.  I think the Indian Orthodox under the Syrians would say that there was both a Syrian and Nestorian presence in India (and Persia).

But I'm not sure.  I would like to see documentation as well, but I can't personally confirm this.

God bless.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2007, 03:56:56 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2007, 12:39:55 AM »

First of all I think Pathofsolitude should visit an Indian Church and see for himself what ecclesiastic mind we have .  Both the Orthodox and Catholic in India are extremely well versed in their respective theologies.  The Indian Church lived outside the bounds of the Roman Empire. The Christians closest us to us geographically were those of the Church of the East (in Iran and Iraq), it is thus that we came to rely on them during times of isolation.  The Church in India is not a daughter Church of any other Church.

It cannot be denied that there was Nestorian influence in India, what has not been proved is

1. From when did the Indian Church come under Nestorian influence?  When the Portuguese arrived the only Metropolitan in India was an East Syrian , who was very quick to accept the Christological definitions of the latins. Most Indian scholars admit to a definite connection only between the years 1100 and 1600.

2. How exactly did the Nestorian influence affect us doctrinally.  Was it a mere dependence for episcopal jurisdiction , or did the Indian Church actually follow Nestorian theology in toto. The use of murals, images and the precense of prayers to the Theotokos in some ancient churches, does point to a more complex picture.

3. The Metropolitanate of the Church of the East in India was founded by the Eastern Catholics who crossed back to the Church of the East, got ordination from the Nestorians in Qudshanis and came back. Historically their formation is traced back to the arrival of Mar Tomas Rokos and Mar Elai Melus, who were of the Chaldean Catholic Church but when mistreated by the latin Catholics organized independant Churches which then went under the Church of the East proper.


Suraj

(Edit by Salpy to remove the word "uniates")
« Last Edit: November 24, 2007, 05:07:08 PM by Salpy » Logged
_Seraphim_
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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2007, 07:53:24 PM »

surajiype,

Thank you so much for your input... it was very helpful.  Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2007, 06:21:55 AM »

Salpy,

Sorry for the oversight.  I did not use the "U" word in a derogatory manner, just forgot the forum rules.

I Apologize for the same

Suraj
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« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2007, 08:17:02 AM »

I have a question which might be out of sorts here, but I don't know if it needs a thread.

Do the Mar Thoma Christians circumcize?  I know that their is a Hebrew origin to them, hence the term Nasrani.

They are the only OO I don't know on this.  All other OO, except the Armenians, circumcize.

While we are at it, do the Maronites circumcize? (I'm just hoping one of our Maronites will see this).  None of the EO do, except Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, where the Greeks don't but the Arabs do.

Just curious.
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« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2007, 09:03:50 PM »

Salpy,

Sorry for the oversight.  I did not use the "U" word in a derogatory manner, just forgot the forum rules.

I Apologize for the same

Suraj

I could tell it was an oversight.  Don't worry.   Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2007, 03:38:14 AM »

Ialmisry,

The Indian OO don't circumcize.  We dont have such a custom. Nazrani is roughly equivalent to the "those of Nazareth/followers of the Nazarean".   It does not imply that the Indian OO are necessarily of Jewish extraction.

However there is an endogamous community called the Northists/Knanaya, who believe that their ancestors were Jewish Christians of Iraq who immigrated to kerala. They do preserve many Jewish customs, but I dont believe that they circumsice either. Perhaps Mathew GM can correct me.

Suraj
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« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2007, 01:39:04 PM »

So I read, that group keeps many Jewish customs, but unfortunately is not friendly towards potential converts. I suppose this is what allowed them to keep their Jewish identity; if you were a missionary group, converts would be open for marriage and mix the race, I think.
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« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2007, 11:42:47 PM »

Jawa man,

The Knanayites have been allowed certain privelages since as long as anybody knows.  They had churches which had priests from the same community and which were administered by them.  Later they were placed under a vicar-general of their own community.  Later among the OO, they were given a Episcopal See of their own. This has been followed also among the Knanayites who went over to Rome.  Rome has erected a eparchy which administers Knanayites all over the world.  So in Rome speak, the local ordinary has no rights upon them.

Re mission activity, remember that this is a very small group, the 2 OO jurisdictions are considerably larger. 

Suraj
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« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2007, 04:43:10 PM »

The Knanaya are successors of an immigrant community. For many years they were under the care of Catholicos of the East. They have semitic background.
http://www.ghg.net/knanaya/comunity/kna-hist.htm
http://www.indianchristianity.org/knanaya.html

For a long period, the Knanaya remained united to the Orthodox Church in India, their bishops sitting in the same Synod of Orthodox Church.  Currently they are directly under SOC.  Church is in a divided state today.

The rest of the Orthodox Church in India also have some Jewish links. According to tradition, Apostle Thomas baptized the local Jews. He preached the gospel first to the Jews and then to the native people.The current Orthodox church in India is a collection of people from various communities of India, their ancestors baptized by Apostle Thomas and later by bishops of the Indian Church through local missions.

http://www.malankaraorthodoxchurch.org/historyofkkm.htm

Paul
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Tags: Syriac Orthodox Indian Orthodox circumcision Knanaya 
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