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Author Topic: Persian church?  (Read 567 times) Average Rating: 0
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deusveritasest
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« on: October 17, 2010, 02:20:41 AM »

Since the Church of the East, for the first several centuries of its existence, was mostly in the Persian Empire and was even often defined as the church for the peoples of the Persian Empire, I am curious if it ever managed to convert a significant amount of Persians or was it always just Syrians?
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2010, 01:24:25 PM »

Since the Church of the East, for the first several centuries of its existence, was mostly in the Persian Empire and was even often defined as the church for the peoples of the Persian Empire, I am curious if it ever managed to convert a significant amount of Persians or was it always just Syrians?

Christianity never gained the same strength in Persia as it did within the Roman Empire, Zoroastrianism remained predominate until the Islamic conquest. There were Christians there, but they were culturally and politically distinct from the Romans, making ties tenuous at best, the political tension came to a head under theological pretenses at the Council of Ephesus when they formally broke communion from the Christians to the west.
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2010, 04:44:31 PM »

Christianity never gained the same strength in Persia as it did within the Roman Empire, Zoroastrianism remained predominate until the Islamic conquest. There were Christians there, but they were culturally and politically distinct from the Romans, making ties tenuous at best, the political tension came to a head under theological pretenses at the Council of Ephesus when they formally broke communion from the Christians to the west.

To summarize a large breadth of history:

On the contrary. The Persian church---simply self-identifying as the Church of the East---was far from being small, and not altogether comprised of Persians. Frequent moments in Persian history witness a greater Christian population than the religion of their leaders. Zoroastrianism remained predominate in the sense of being the "state religion" prior to the dawn of Islam, but its numbers were frequently stifled by the outnumbering Christians, who were in fact Persian. Records do show the Church of the East going through great pains trying to convert Syriac communities, but the Syriac Orthodox vehemently "held their own" for all intents and purposes. The COE's numbers were at one time larger than any other Christian body on the planet, though formally and politically silenced by the Persian King and Emperor's frequent wars. Small amounts of communication between Seleucia-Ctesiphon and Constantinople and Rome existed up until the 8th century, more charitable than one would expect.

Granted, the COE was a subsidiary of the Patriarch of Antioch, though after Ephesus and the formal break in communion, the Catholicose of Seleucia-Ctesiphon eventually renamed himself a Patriarchate, similar to the Maronites' action in appointing their own Patriarch during Antioch's woes at the time. At one point, the the Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon had 23 metropolitan sees, and his reach went as far to Mongolia, China, and south to India, fertilizing their Christian community with the Malabarese "Chaldean" or "Assyrian" based tradition. Communication and in some documented cases authority with the Malabarese is recorded up until the arrival of the Portugese. In the 9th century, post-Islam, while still recovering from one of the largest single genocides of Christians on record, the Patriarchate was transfered to Babylon, earning them the name "Church of the Martyrs" for their immense loss of life. Their numbers have never recovered, and have all but become worse to the Iraqi Occupation and subsequent violence of the Iraqi insurgent movement.

The glory of the Church of the East was immense, formidable to the unified East and West Christians across the Tigris, however brief. Its remnants after Islam were fraught with hereditary patriarchs, Byzantinesque politics, and an unfortunate lack of leadership, and their future is as uncertain as it always has been.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2010, 04:51:22 PM by yeshua » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2010, 03:14:45 PM »

Hmmmmm. With regard to the original question regarding the Persian versus Syrian population of the Church of the East, those sound like two very different answers.  Undecided
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2010, 03:24:30 PM »

Hmmmmm. With regard to the original question regarding the Persian versus Syrian population of the Church of the East, those sound like two very different answers.  Undecided

A majority of the COE's population were (note past tense) Persian, and while there were Syriac communities belonging to the COE, they were few and far between at the Church's historical apex. After what is called today the "Assyrian" Genocide, the surviving Persian communities and remaining Syriac COE communities became one over periods of time, culminating into what is now a purely Syriac (or "Assyrian" beginning in the 20th century) self-identifying population.

If sources are what you're after, let me know.
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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2010, 07:43:57 PM »

There are thousands of Persian saints on the Eastern Orthodox calendars, most of them martyrs. Many were Persians who accepted Christ. The commemorations of EO Persians continue past the Christological controversies. One named St. John was a shah and former Muslim (IIRC) who converted under the influence of St. Theodore of Edessa (again, IIRC). His life is recorded in the collection of saints lives from the Holy Land and Sinai by Holy Apostles Convent. St. John was killed by the mob of his own subjects when he preached Christ to them.
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2010, 08:13:15 PM »

There are thousands of Persian saints on the Eastern Orthodox calendars, most of them martyrs. Many were Persians who accepted Christ. The commemorations of EO Persians continue past the Christological controversies. One named St. John was a shah and former Muslim (IIRC) who converted under the influence of St. Theodore of Edessa (again, IIRC). His life is recorded in the collection of saints lives from the Holy Land and Sinai by Holy Apostles Convent. St. John was killed by the mob of his own subjects when he preached Christ to them.

One thing I wonder is if these sources, by "Persian", mean an inhabitant of the Sassanid Empire, or do they actually mean an ethnic Persian? Because if the former, they could very well still be Syrians of the Sassanid Empire.
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