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Author Topic: The Assyrian Church of the East  (Read 59005 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: July 21, 2006, 08:11:01 PM »

From reading the works of George Lamsa and other scholars, one could conclude that the Assyrian Church is closer to the original Christian communities in faith, practice, lifestyle and culture than any other religious group. Though, traditionally, the label of "Nestorian" has been attached to them, it may not be reasonably justified. From what I've read, it seems that Nestorius himself did not teach that Jesus exists in two persons, but only that Mary was the mother of Jesus' flesh rather than His divinity.
Nonetheless, one may find at their website this denial of what has been commonly referred to as the "Nestorian" Christology:

"TheÂÂ  Church of the East further rejects any teaching that explicitly or implicitlyÂÂ  suggests that there are two Sons, or two Lords, or two Christs in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but we confess one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whoÂÂ  is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
http://www.cired.org/aceov.html

I would consider it a privilege to live among these same people who preserve ancient Aramaic, the language which Jesus and the Apostles spoke, and the customs of His era.ÂÂ  
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2006, 09:51:50 PM »

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it seems that Nestorius himself did not teach that Jesus exists in two persons, but only that Mary was the mother of Jesus' flesh rather than His divinity.

Which is itself a heresy! Sheesh, read up more on theology, Matthew.

BTW, I would wager that you have never been to an Assyrian liturgy--I have, three times. It's nice in some respects, not so nice in others.

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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2006, 09:53:34 PM »

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I would consider it a privilege to live among these same people who preserve ancient Aramaic, the language which Jesus and the Apostles spoke, and the customs of His era.

It is a myth that isolate groups preserve ancient usages. Yes, there are cases when this is true, but by and far, they also change, and people assume that because they are isolated, they must be retaining the original.  Assyrians do not speak Aramaic.  They speak a different modern dialect of Syriac which is related but not mutually intelligible.

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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2006, 10:02:31 PM »

I've thought about moving to India or some third world country to escape the trappings of modernity. I know that may sound hypocritical, considering that I am typing on a computer right now, but I do not always intend to live this way. An isolated group of people, that more or less has remained unchanged since the first century, would be very appealing to me. Do you have any sources to show that such continuity is a myth?
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2006, 10:10:44 PM »

Which is itself a heresy!

If and only if that is against what the earliest Christians believed. What are the earliest sources in favor of the Ephesian Christology? I believe in understanding the Virgin Mary as Mother of God, but I'm also willing to defend others against strawmen, no matter how much I'm against their actual position.

BTW, I would wager that you have never been to an Assyrian liturgy--I have, three times. It's nice in some respects, not so nice in others.


You have wagered correctly. I'd assume it is similar to the Liturgy of St. James celebrated in the Syrian Church. Is that true?
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2006, 07:27:11 AM »

An isolated group of people, that more or less has remained unchanged since the first century, would be very appealing to me.

First question:  Why would such a group necessarily let you live with them?  Why do you assume that they would want you or other people not from their group to be there?  Real human beings do not aften act as we might want or imagine. 

Next: how do you know how much a group has or has not changed since the first century?  Technology?  Trade? No modern medicine? If they haven't changed, how would you communicate with them?  What about outside influences?  Anthropology studies?  Just how much do you know about what 1st Century life? That period on this planet covers alot of ground.  In the 1st Century there were Empires like Rome and China and neolithic cultures and others in between.)

And just why is this idea "appealing" to you?  What to you imagine it would be like?  On what do you base this idea?  Have you analyzed your motivation?

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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2006, 11:12:05 AM »

I've thought about moving to India or some third world country to escape the trappings of modernity. I know that may sound hypocritical, considering that I am typing on a computer right now, but I do not always intend to live this way. An isolated group of people, that more or less has remained unchanged since the first century, would be very appealing to me. Do you have any sources to show that such continuity is a myth?

Escapism is not the Christian way.  You would probably not survive very long in India, if you are anything like the myriad Americans I saw there who went there seeking "enlightenment" or "a new way."  India is a real place with real people, who live vastly different ways, some of whom are far more materialistic than any American--and far more racist in some regards.  In newspaper ads for marriage proposals, which is stil how 85% of marriages are conducted, the expected skin color is blatantly advertised, as well as height and weight.  You have to realize that India is as diverse as America--some people are great, some people are horrible.  You also have to realize that a great number of people there under 40 are desperate to Westernize and throw away their heritage as much as possible.  For me, that was atrocious and distrubing, but it's a reality you would have to get used to.  Indians meeting an American living in India often wonder what the heck they are doing living in India when so many Indians want out.

You would have to get used to the fact that extreme poverty makes people take extreme measures to get out of it, like constant deceipt and scamming (you think scams are bad in the US?), outright lying, and a general poor-person attitude and atmosphere.  Now before you get the wrong idea, let me explain.  There is nothing wrong with being poor--and I know and have lived with poor people my whole life and at times my family could have been classified as such.  However, when you are around an area which is majority poor people, the culture and atmosphere does start to degrade, and you see a general lack of appreciation for order, manners, politeness, cleanliness, and a strong work ethic.  When you get to India and see 45 unemployed men standing around the dirty street in front of their houses, and no one thinks to actually pick up the trash sitting right in front of them while they sip tea, you will understand what I am talking about.

Matthew, if you really want to go live in India, fine, I enjoyed my time there.  But I am far more of a realist and a pragmatist than you.  Some things about India absolutely stunk, and if you go into it thinking about it like you do, that there is some isolated village with pristine values (there isn't--they all have sattelite TV and watch MTV in villages, even the ones that are not paved and are 50 miles in the middle of the desert, sorry to burst your fantasy) you are going to have a real culture shock.

I think you have a rather Orientalist idea of third world countries.  Perhaps you should read the book Orientalism by Edward Said.

When I was your age a few years back, I wanted to go to India, so I did.  I figured out how to get there with virtually no money, and had a great time. If you want to go, do it, don't talk about it on the internet.  Life is about living, not talking. If you go there, and can honestly say you like it, then fine, you win.  But based on these wild fantasies you are writing here on the board, I don't think you have a clue what it is like over there.

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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2006, 11:16:22 AM »

Do you have any sources to show that such continuity is a myth?

From the linguistic point of view, you might want to read The Power of Babel by John MacWorter (sp?).  It shows how isolated languages change more quickly than modern, written languages because the very nature of language is to change.  Assyrians are not speaking the way Jesus did.  As for customs, you would have to read some anthropology textbooks. But if you are interested in just the Assyrian Church, and how it developed and changed over time, I would read "A History of Christianity in Asia, Vol 1" by Samuel Hugh Moffett.

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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2006, 11:18:32 AM »

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You have wagered correctly. I'd assume it is similar to the Liturgy of St. James celebrated in the Syrian Church. Is that true?

That depends on what we mean by similar.  The Assyrian liturgy is East Syrian and the St James Liturgy is West Syrian.  They are closer to each other than say the Byzantine St James liturgy and the Syrian St James liturgy, but would you be able to walk in and know what is going on? Beyond the basics, no.

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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2006, 12:36:22 PM »

George Lamsa has some New Age tendency, and he's a darling of the Protestants.

Strangely enough, the Aramaic of the Apostles still survives as a modern dialect - though only tentatively and is in danger. That would be in Malloula, Syria - where the Eastern Orthodox and Melkite Catholics both preserved Palestinian Christian Aramaic as a spoken language into our times. The tourist industry, accompanying Arabic speaking businessmen settling in the area, and migration to other lands (such as Texas) has reduced the numbers of young speakers, however. West Syriac is the dialect of Edessa, the first kingdom to convert (tradition having it that the King had written letters to Christ, and received letters in return.) Really, all not that different (West Syriac itself has some Greek influence... the Aramaen folk were not illiterate, and often multi-lingual.)

The Assyrians, however, really the same folk (Aramaens) - but the Eastern branch in Persia. Their dialect, as such, is an Eastern dialect - not what Christ would have spoke. Their liturgy is primarily of Mar Addai and Mari (possibly Ss. Thaddeus and Bartholomew, though also considered different people who were disciples of St. Thomas) - though they also have problematic liturgies of Nestorius and Theodore of Mopsuestia. Given that the West Syrians weren't 'Melkite' (supporters of the Roman emperor), and don't share in Nestorian errors - I think it is safe to say that the Assyrian position of a Byzantine innovation in the faith doesn't apply to the Eastern Orthodox (if it was so, the Oriental churches would share the Nestorian error) but that they did adopt the heresy of Nestorius and Theodore of Mopsuestia. Whether they still hold those errors today? One hears various claims. If they don't, they still venerate Nestorius and use his anaphora.

The liturgical tradition of St. James is older, in any case - all liturgies (including the East Syrian) have undergone changes in time. The melding of two traditions: the Antiochian "Liturgy of the Twelve Apostles" (recorded by St. Luke) and the Jerusalem "Liturgy of St. James" taught him by Our Lord were the source material for both Byzantine and West Syrian liturgies, and close brothers to the Roman and Alexandrian rites - which came from Apostles out of Antioch and Jerusalem as well.
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2006, 02:50:46 PM »

First question:ÂÂ  Why would such a group necessarily let you live with them?ÂÂ  

I assume that it would be the Christian thing to do.

If they haven't changed, how would you communicate with them?ÂÂ

That's a good question. I'd probably have to learn Syriac. I wonder how possible that would actually be.

What to you imagine it would be like?ÂÂ  

We'd live off the land, share everything in kind, and wouldn't need modern technology and culture to live meaningful lives.
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2006, 03:02:13 PM »

Escapism is not the Christian way.ÂÂ  You would probably not survive very long in India, if you are anything like the myriad Americans I saw there who went there seeking "enlightenment" or "a new way."ÂÂ  

The Indian Orthodox Church is located in Kerala. It is not "a new way," but was founded by St. Thomas in the first century. I wouldn't plan on living in any other part of the country, and there would already be a support network to help me assimilate. I wouldn't want to live there unless I had a specific thing to do, such as live in a Malankara monastery or go through a seminary.

America is Babylon. Living in a wealthy and powerful nation is not good if at the expense of so many others. Without Western imperialism and economic globalization, we wouldn't enjoy our current comfort in the American way of life. When Jesus instructed us to give up everything, take up His cross, and follow Him, was that a form of escapism? I've been hoping to leave this country for five years. Living in an a culture that is more simple would be desireable. Like Mother Theresa, I would hope to actually help those in need.
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2006, 03:05:19 PM »

George Lamsa has some New Age tendency, and he's a darling of the Protestants.

George Lamsa was a member of the Assyrian Orthodox Church, and his scholarship is considered questionable at best by most Protestants.
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« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2006, 03:40:35 PM »

Quote
When Jesus instructed us to give up everything, take up His cross, and follow Him, was that a form of escapism?

Jesus and the Apostles, except for St Thomas, DID NOT LEAVE THE ROMAN EMPIRE, which was the Babylon of its time.

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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2006, 04:32:46 PM »

I assume that it would be the Christian thing to do.

You presume much that such a closed group would easily take to at Stranger who was totally different from themselves.  You could be percieved as a threat from the "Outside".  You could unknowingly offend against their customs or ethics.  You come across as patronizing.  They would not be "simple" or childlike, but people who had lived a longer and harder life then you have, more then likely. 

I was taught that it is not polite to expect and assume that other people will be obliged to accomodate me or do what I like.  That is presumptuous.

Quote
That's a good question. I'd probably have to learn Syriac. I wonder how possible that would actually be.

They could have their own dialect.  They could have a very different language. there are concepts and customs and behaviours that go along with speech that outsiders often don't know.  Example: In Japan it is offensive to blow ones nose in public.  A gesture in one country that is offensive, in another does not mean anything bad.  You seem to have a dreamworld of what it would be like, just as you did a  year and a half ago when you were talking about how you would join a monastery, and didn't seem to think it possible that any abbot you approached might just not accept you as a monk.  Not from lack of Christian charity, but because he might see that you did not fit the vocation.

Quote
We'd live off the land, share everything in kind, and wouldn't need modern technology and culture to live meaningful lives.

And what if these unchanged people did not have such customs and sharing everything?  What if some of their customs were ones you didn't like.  WOuld you try to change how they treated women or animals for example, if they had practices that were not "enlightened"?  Life in the 1st Century was not some kind of idyllic existance. 

I'm sorry.  But you seem to have no idea about what real life for real human beings in places that you are not familiar with is like.  You scorn your 'here and now' and look for some kind of imagined earthly paradise.  It isn't there.  There is still sin and sorrow and disease and pain.

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« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2006, 04:55:50 PM »

America is Babylon. Living in a wealthy and powerful nation is not good if at the expense of so many others.

America has plenty of poor and not powerful people and places in it.  It has lots of good, hard working people who do what they can.  It has small towns and even smaller villages.  You know very little about how millions upon millions of people live.  Try visiting some place like my home state of Montana, before you lay down such a blanket statement.  Meet a few farm wives or a rancher from the Hi-line, or miners from Butte or a Blackfoot artist that uses recycled materials or a small town doctor, or some people who have had different experiences then you have.

Quote
Without Western imperialism and economic globalization, we wouldn't enjoy our current comfort in the American way of life. When Jesus instructed us to give up everything, take up His cross, and follow Him, was that a form of escapism?

There are more ways to take up a cross then just going off to another "simpler" culture.  Would you have the strength and determination to stay the course for many years with a child with a disability?  Or a family member with depression? Sticking to a promise even if it's hard sometimes?   

And btw there are plenty of people working for Fair Trade and proper treatment of workers here and abroad. You are not the first to believe that globalization is not such a good thing for real Human Beings.

Quote
I've been hoping to leave this country for five years. Living in an a culture that is more simple would be desireable. Like Mother Theresa, I would hope to actually help those in need.

And what can you actually *do* to help them? Do you decide what they need even if they don't want it?  Do you see them as human beings with their own ideas and beliefs and opinions?  Do you think that you have what Mother Theresa had? 

Are you trying to escape from your own life situation?  It's not perfect on the other side of the fence or the country or the globe.  Do you see the world as it really is or as you imagine it to be for good or ill?

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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2006, 11:54:11 PM »

I'm sorry.ÂÂ  But you seem to have no idea about what real life for real human beings in places that you are not familiar with is like.ÂÂ  You scorn your 'here and now' and look for some kind of imagined earthly paradise.ÂÂ  It isn't there.ÂÂ  There is still sin and sorrow and disease and pain.

I am not looking for an earthly paradise, that would be impossible. I'd rather live in a country where this is more suffering, and less comfort, than we have in the United States. We are fed so much jingoism that we are the best nation of all time simply because of the power and wealth we yield, an idea which I find detestable.
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« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2006, 12:03:19 AM »

America has plenty of poor and not powerful people and places in it.

This I know, especially growing up in a lower middle class family. Despite the great wealth of our nation, there is also great disparity between the super rich and the very poor. I'd rather live in a nation without wealth than one where wealth is so unevenly distributed.

  Would you have the strength and determination to stay the course for many years with a child with a disability?  Or a family member with depression? Sticking to a promise even if it's hard sometimes?  ÃƒÆ’‚Â

I am not an especially good or strong person, such things take time.

Do you think that you have what Mother Theresa had?ÂÂ  

No, there is nothing about me that would make me comparable to any saint. What I'm saying is that I'd rather work for the benefit of others rather than for a paycheck. I wouldn't mind sleeping on a cot and eating only bread, because the work of God is worth such sacrifice.

Are you trying to escape from your own life situation?

I enjoy my current life situation. I am doing well at school, have a good family, attend a great church, and am dating a nice girl. But I know that there is more to life than this, and I'd be willing to give up everything to find it. When we look at the lives of the saints, they were oftentimes rather well off people who gave up all earthly possessions and attachments to work for the greater glory of God. I don't see why, at some point, I shouldn't do the same. I don't want to be famous, and it wouldn't matter if I died and no one remembered me. But for the time that I am on this earth, I want to make it count.

Peace.
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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2006, 12:35:20 AM »

Quote
This I know, especially growing up in a lower middle class family. Despite the great wealth of our nation, there is also great disparity between the super rich and the very poor. I'd rather live in a nation without wealth than one where wealth is so unevenly distributed.

What in God's name are you talking about? American wealth is distributed VERY FAIRLY.  Do you have any idea HOW BAD the distribution of wealth is in India? Latin America? Give me a break. In India, you see people driving Mercedes living in 10 million dollar houses with gates and armed guards, while outside are people malnourished and near death in the street. You do NOT see that in America. Get real.

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« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2006, 02:50:45 AM »

Is there any place where we can give up modern technology and live like the first-century Christians?
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« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2006, 12:57:46 PM »

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George Lamsa was a member of the Assyrian Orthodox Church, and his scholarship is considered questionable at best by most Protestants.


Funny - I didn't know you knew most Protestants, at least they haven't mentioned you. Wink

Seriously, George Lamsa is highly respected in most Protestant academic circles. The Nestorians are seen a sort of 'proto-Protestants' by many as many of the things Protestants hate Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy for are lacking with the Nestorians (the problem being, it stems from the teachings of Nestorius!) Not all Assyrians are Nestorian, of course. Many of those living around Urmia in Iran, the Caucasus, and in Baghdad and northern Iraq are actually Orthodox (some in the Syrian church, some once under the Russian Orthodox, now under the Antiochians.) At ORU, two of my close friends (and adopted sisters) were Assyrians who repeatedly told me 'We are the same as Russian Orthodox' (I didn't fully understand the import of that til years later after reading this http://www.roca.org/chicagoanddetroit/bishop.htm .) Also, at ORU at least, and for those in the Pentecostal/Charismatic and even Emerging Church movements - Lamsa's translation is held up as a 'purer text' vs. those 'Roman' texts (Vulgate or Septuagint/Byzantine derived texts.) In discussion with an Assembly of God minister about just this subject during the first week of July, I made the suggestion that learning Western Syriac and reading the Peshitto would be more reliable (note, not the Nestorian Peshitta.) He was quoting another Assembly of God pastor who had suggested Lamsa's text (that pastor having a Doctorate from ORU.)ÂÂ  Strange note - the Chinese texts of the East Syriac Peshitta include the books that the Nestorian Peshitta are missing. Evidence, I think, that the East Syrians once had a Biblical culture and theology in common with the Orthodox.

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Is there any place where we can give up modern technology and live like the first-century Christians?

A Luddite colony? To live like first-century Christians, probably a monastery - St. John Cassian pointed out that the monastic movement was born when those who had been raised in the Church reacted against the new secular Roman 'convert' Church that had become very carnal. They retreated to the deserts of Egypt and Palestine. If one wants that life, there is always the 'monastic desert' (though, I hope that wouldn't mean one would think it has to be Athos, Sinai, or something like. One can 'bloom where they are planted' - monasteries are most everywhere in the world.)
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« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2006, 01:58:37 AM »

Funny - I didn't know you knew most Protestants, at least they haven't mentioned you. Wink

What I am speaking of is Protestant Biblical scholars, most taking for granted that the Greek is the original text.

The Nestorians are seen a sort of 'proto-Protestants' by many as many of the things Protestants hate Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy for are lacking with the Nestorians

The Assyrian Church of the East to which George Lamsa belonged is not Nestorian in its Christology, that is a strawmen often made against them, and Lamsa himself. However, I would be open to contrary evidence.

In discussion with an Assembly of God minister about just this subject during the first week of July, I made the suggestion that learning Western Syriac and reading the Peshitto would be more reliable (note, not the Nestorian Peshitta.)

The Aramaic Peshitta is not Nestorian and is actually older than the Western Peshitto.

If one wants that life, there is always the 'monastic desert'

But rather than living in seclusion with fellow members of the male sex, I'd like a place to raise a family.
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« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2006, 06:25:01 AM »

First off, the 'church' to which George Lamsa belonged was Missionary Bible Church (the one he founded.) Lamsa was a Protestant until his death. His books were all published by Protestant publishers (Spring Arbor now, A. J. Holman while he was alive.) He was also the founder of the 'Christian Mohammedan Society'. He was also a speaker at the "Association for Research and Enlightenment" (the Edgar Cayce foundation.)

The Peshitta itself is a 4th c. reduction of older Aramaic texts (Peshitta meaning 'simple'.) That we have an older copy of the Peshitta than the Peshitto extant does not mean that the Peshitta is older, or especially *more reliable*. Its oddity includes the fact of the removal of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, St. Jude and the Apocalypse of St. John. (However, the East Syrian texts used in China did have these Epistles.)

Lamsa himself taught such oddities as "the Eastern Christians believe in one God with three attributes, instead of three persons." He looked forward to a 'New World Order' without borders. He ignored the Holy Spirit and claimed the Comforter was simply the "influence" of Jesus Christ after his death.

I'd suggest a little more research before making a hero out of the man. Have you read any of his other books perhaps?

As for the monastic life - it has long been the custom to have families attached to a monastery (or nearby) - living Third World style can't guarantee one of a 1st C. Christian life. (Though, if one really wants that - move to Sudan or a country where Christians are actively persecuted.)

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« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2006, 09:38:23 AM »

Do you have any sources to show that such continuity is a myth?

See Bauer & Trudgill, Language Myths (Penguin, 1999)
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« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2006, 09:46:05 AM »

The Assyrian Church of the East to which George Lamsa belonged is not Nestorian in its Christology, that is a strawmen often made against them, and Lamsa himself. However, I would be open to contrary evidence.

If they were not Nestorians, they would submit to the Ecumenical Councils unequivocaly, contact Constantinople with humility, and beg to be brought back to the communion of the Church. But they don't.
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« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2006, 03:52:42 PM »

Lamsa was a Protestant until his death.

If so, why did he have such distaste for Western Christianity?

The Peshitta itself is a 4th c. reduction of older Aramaic texts (Peshitta meaning 'simple'.)

The oldest complete manuscript of the New Testament is the Aramaic Peshitta:
"Among the treasures on view by the public when the renovated QCC Art Gallery reopens in October will be the Khaburis Codex. The Khaburis Manuscript, according to Reverend Deaconess Nancy Witt, PT, MSW, MSJ and Abbott Gerrit Crawford, PhD, MSJ of the Western-Rite Syrian Orthodox Church in America, is a copy of a second century New Testament, which was written in approximately 165 AD (internally documented as 100 years after the great persecution of the Christians by Nero, in 65 AD). Carbon dating has found this copy of the New Testament to be approximately 1,000 years old. Given its origins, this would make it a copy of the oldest known New Testament manuscript. It was scribed on lamb parchment and hand bound between olive wood covers adorned with gold clasps, hinges and corner-brackets. The scribe would have been in ancient Nineveh (present-day Mosul, Iraq), according to the Colophon signed by a bishop of the Church at Nineveh. In the Colophon, the bishop certified (with his inverted signature and seal) that the Khaburis was a faithful copy of the second century original. Of particular interest, is the fact that the Khaburis is written entirely in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus of Nazareth... "
http://www.qgazette.com/news/2004/0804/features/001.html

Lamsa himself taught such oddities as "the Eastern Christians believe in one God with three attributes, instead of three persons."

That is a difference in language rather than doctrine.

He looked forward to a 'New World Order' without borders.

Wasn't that just the hope for a messianic age of peace?

I'd suggest a little more research before making a hero out of the man. Have you read any of his other books perhaps?

I own the Lamsa Bible and Gospel Light, both I read rather often.
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« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2006, 04:35:49 PM »

Wow, M777. Your statements in this thread have to be the dumbest things I have read in a long time. You really know absolutely NOTHING about life or the conditions of people outside of the US. 

Like Anastasios, I too spent some time in India (albeit, only a month) working on a software project. If you think life is better there...... wow. You just have no idea how unfairly wealth can be distributed and how utterly without hope it can be for the poor.
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« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2006, 04:47:13 PM »

I am not looking for an earthly paradise, that would be impossible. I'd rather live in a country where this is more suffering, and less comfort, than we have in the United States. We are fed so much jingoism that we are the best nation of all time simply because of the power and wealth we yield, an idea which I find detestable.

What is this "We"?  Your perceptions are not universal. There are plenty of people in this country who don't go along with that attitude.

As to living in a place with more "sufferintg" it is real human beings who experience suffering and pain and despair and all the ills of life. Life is Suffering.  The Buddha got that right with the first "noble truth".  Part of compassion is trying to aleviate suffering, not somehow revelling in it.  Why does human misery appeal to you as somehow better?  Who are you to tell other people who have suffered more then you have that they have the prefered life?  Could you say that to a mother whose children are starving to death?  Or a farmer in a drought?  Can you see the people there as just as real as you are?  Just as human?  and not some how happy if there is disease and death and hunger or any of the myriad things that cause suffering?

If you want to live with suffering (are *you* going to suffer or is it just other people having more suffering that makes a place desireable in  your eyes? )  You can go down to the Gulf Coast and help rebuild there.  You can go live on a reservation, or in any number of places in the Appalachias or an inner city slum or a shelter or a hospital for the dying.  What if God placed you where you are to do something there and not in some far away and unknown place?

Ebor ÂÂ  
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« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2006, 04:53:05 PM »

Is there any place where we can give up modern technology and live like the first-century Christians?

Which ones?  They weren't all the same.  You could move to a cabin in the  mountains and not have electricity (no computer fora then) or piped in water.  Just how much "modern technology" are you willing to give up?  And would feel yourself able to tell others that they should not have any? would you stop them if they wanted some?  Will you spin and weave your own cloth ?  Give up dentistry and medicine?  Where will you go to find a place to grow food?  Have you ever had to farm for an extended period dependent on the vagaries of the weather?  What is it in your mind that makes "modern technology" a bad thing?  There are Amish and Old Order groups with less "technology" or are they still too advanced? 

How much do you know about basic human survival?

Ebor
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« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2006, 05:03:12 PM »

If so, why did he have such distaste for Western Christianity?

A dislike for Western culture, yes, but he was still an Evangelical Protestant - again, he was the founder of a Protestant Church, his materials were all printed and distributed for and by Protestants (being part of an Orientalist movement in Protestantism that has its full flowering in the Protestant movement now known as Hebraist.) Ever hear of Ethnocentrism? Again - Lamsa's church is the one he founded and pastored: Calvary Missionary Church (evangelical protestant.)

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The oldest complete manuscript of the New Testament is the Aramaic Peshitta:

It isn't complete, as it is missing 5 necessary books which we all have full texts all dating more than 700 years before the Khaburis Codes. The compiling of texts into a 'complete' New Testament was a late development in any case - a book of Gospels, another for Epistles was the custom (often with texts bound in a single volume with other liturgical material or theological writings.) The Khaburis Codex isn't evidence for what you think it is.

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That is a difference in language rather than doctrine.

No - it isn't a language difference, but a difference of *dogma* (more than just doctrine.) The idea that Greek Christians were ignorant of Semitic language, and Semitic Christians ignorant of Indo-European language is false. Lamsa, being a Westerner (he wrote all of his material in the West, in a Western language) was mindful of what he wrote - and dead wrong. One God in three persons is also the tradition of the Christians speaking West Syriac, and Palestinian Christian Aramaic (the actual dialect of Christ - again, spoken only by Eastern Orthodox Antiochians and Melkite Catholics today.) One God in three attributes is simply heretical.

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Wasn't that just the hope for a messianic age of peace?

No, not in the context of Lamsa's complete corpus and associations - he's as Orthodox as Watchman Nee, Father Divine, or E. W. Kenyon (IOW, not at all.) His plan for implementation of his dreamed 'New World Order' was by his own writings and actions based upon a "lowest common denominator" approach to various faiths (Islam among them), and was blatantly political (in an anarchist way.) He flunks on Anthropology as well - all cultures change (and have changed) over time. His upbringing (despite his claims) was not the same as that of Palestinian Jews in the time of Christ's Incarnation. (Not even Aramaic Christians in Palestine have had upbringing like that - not since the time of Christ's Incarnation!) Lamsa's Semitic culture is early 20th century *Modernist* (though he wouldn't like that) Colonial/Post-Colonial early Nationalist Middle Eastern ... the dialect he was raised with wouldn't have even been the same as any of the Apostles (for that matter, St. Matthew records that St. Peter's language was markedly Galilean - as were most of the other Apostles.) Go to Galilee if you want to find those closest to Christ and the Apostles in language, culture, blood, etc.

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I own the Lamsa Bible and Gospel Light, both I read rather often. ÂÂ

Too bad - my Lamsa Bible had the same fate as my Dake's Bible.
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« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2006, 05:32:54 PM »

This I know, especially growing up in a lower middle class family. Despite the great wealth of our nation, there is also great disparity between the super rich and the very poor. I'd rather live in a nation without wealth than one where wealth is so unevenly distributed.

And where is this "wealthless" nation? ÂÂ What makes you think such a place exists? ÂÂ And why should the people there want you to live with them? ÂÂ  You might read some of the classic works on both Utopias and Dystopias such as More's "Utopia", LeGuin's "The Dispossed" and others. ÂÂ

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I am not an especially good or strong person, such things take time.

Indeed, they come by time and living and learning from others and helping others without thinking of oneself and much more.  What are you doing to gain such traits? ÂÂ

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No, there is nothing about me that would make me comparable to any saint. What I'm saying is that I'd rather work for the benefit of others rather than for a paycheck. I wouldn't mind sleeping on a cot and eating only bread, because the work of God is worth such sacrifice.

How do you know you can really do that?  Have you tried it?  For how long?  It's easy to talk about what one might do.  Really doing it is a very different matter.  What if God has other plans for you then yours?  How will you know if your ideas are what He wants?  If you have some other talent or ability, but aren't very good at cots and bread? ÂÂ

Typed words on a computer are a long way from from suffering. ÂÂ What would you DO? What work? ÂÂ What deeds? ÂÂ What benefits other Human Beings? What if what they wanted or needed was something you didn't like? ÂÂ  Sometimes what benefits them might be some small piece of "modern technology" like a well so they can have clean water or the "Solar oven" so that a woman doesn't have to hunt for hours for enough wood to make a fire to cook one meal a day. ÂÂ Millions upon Millions of people don't have the clean water that most of us on this forum can get when ever we want. ÂÂ Not all "modern tech" is evil. ÂÂ  

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I enjoy my current life situation. I am doing well at school, have a good family, attend a great church, and am dating a nice girl. But I know that there is more to life than this, and I'd be willing to give up everything to find it.

What if where you are now is the place you're supposed to be? ÂÂ

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When we look at the lives of the saints, they were oftentimes rather well off people who gave up all earthly possessions and attachments to work for the greater glory of God. I don't see why, at some point, I shouldn't do the same. I don't want to be famous, and it wouldn't matter if I died and no one remembered me. But for the time that I am on this earth, I want to make it count.

There are many ways to make a difference.  How are you making a difference in the lives of the people you see every day, your family and neighbors?  You have Now and Here to do things.  The future may be quite different then what you imagine.

Ebor
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« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2006, 05:40:08 PM »

No - it isn't a language difference, but a difference of *dogma*

I do think that it's a matter of language. Assyrian Christians would rather use the word "attributes" than "persons" to describe the Trinity, as to not be accused of tritheism. This makes sense, considering the predominance of Islam in that region.
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« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2006, 05:56:43 PM »

It helps keep them from being accused of Orthodoxy as well. Language is real - errors in language are real errors - one can say 'three persons' in East Syriac as any other language without expressing 'tritheism'. So, if that is the actual reason - it is an overcompensatory error, but still an error. East Syriac, West Syriac, Palestinian Christian Aramaic - dialects of the same language, and the speakers of two of those listed have no problem with "One God in three persons", without a hint of polytheism ... and all the while living in the same Islamic-dominated society that makes some feel it necessary to disavow Orthodoxy to avoid hints of polytheism. Added: In fact, there are speakers of East Syriac who also have no problem with "God in three persons" without being the least bit tritheistic/polytheistic - again, the Assyrians in the Syriac Orthodox Church (http://sor.cua.edu or the Assyrian Orthodox Church (formerly MP/ROCOR also Antiochian - http://www.roca.org/chicagoanddetroit/bishop.htm - all of them far more involved in their Semitic civilization on a day-to-day basis than George Lamsa and his followers.

Re: the search for a Utopia of Poverty, Ebor is spot on. Do you read the CIA World Factbook? Look up the world's poorest countries and consider their attributes (like Somalia or Afghanistan.)
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« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2006, 07:09:37 PM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lamsa
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« Reply #34 on: July 24, 2006, 07:15:17 PM »

I do think that it's a matter of language. Assyrian Christians would rather use the word "attributes" than "persons" to describe the Trinity, as to not be accused of tritheism. This makes sense, considering the predominance of Islam in that region.

Sorry, Matthew, Assyrian Christians (i.e. the ones who are not Protestants like George Lamsa) accept the term person.  Here is an article that mentions person and which outlines Assyrian theology:

http://www.cired.org/east/0102_assyrian_perspective.pdf

There are other articles on the site:

http://www.cired.org/east.html

I hope you will be able to broaden your understanding of what the Assyrian Church of the East teaches.

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« Reply #35 on: July 24, 2006, 10:16:54 PM »

It helps keep them from being accused of Orthodoxy as well. Language is real - errors in language are real errors - one can say 'three persons' in East Syriac as any other language without expressing 'tritheism'.

What I am saying is that in Lamsa's mind, one could believe in the Trinity, that God exists in three persons, without actually using the word "person." If he were anti-trinitarian, one would expect such a bias to creep into his translation of the New Testament.
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« Reply #36 on: July 24, 2006, 10:52:52 PM »

What I am saying is that in Lamsa's mind, one could believe in the Trinity, that God exists in three persons, without actually using the word "person." If he were anti-trinitarian, one would expect such a bias to creep into his translation of the New Testament.

No, that is not what you said. You said that Assyrians don't use the word person. They do. George Lamsa did not. Hence, he was not an ordinary Assyrian.  It is irrelevant what he thought personally--he used the wrong language, and this is very dangerous in theology.

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« Reply #37 on: July 25, 2006, 02:52:14 AM »

Either Lamsa lied concerning his own faith background, or the the Assyrian Church of the East does use different language in describing the Trinity. According to Lamsa, the term "three persons" implies three gods to the average Semitic mind, which is why Jews and Muslims have traditionally rejected Trinitarian doctrine. Instead, Lamsa used the Aramaic "kenomey," instead of the Greek concept "person," which means "substance" in English.
Linguistic differences are all too often mistaken as heresy. As the Malankara Church to which I belong would assert, language barriers are the reason why the split of Chalcedon occurred. Therefore, I'd be careful to learn more about a person and his particular beliefs before using such a strong term.

"An examination of William Jennings' Lexicon to the Syriac New Testament, shows that the word "Kenomey" means "solid existence, substance, Hebrews XI (as distinct from the shadow); person, so the self, -self" (27). The word is used in the Syriac (Lamsa's Aramaic) translation of John 5:26. Here John writes that the Father has life "in himself." He also states that the Father grants to the Son to have life "in himself." Thus, it would seem that "kenomey" could be used not just as "substance", but as "person," as Jennings indicates. It's also important to realize the fluidity and interchangeability of words used for the three persons of the Trinity by the early Church. Various words such as the Greek words "hypokeimenon", "hypostasis", "prosopon" and even "ousia", as well as Latin words such as "persona" and "substantia" were used to designate the three members of the Trinity (28).

...One wonders what Lamsa meant by "one God with three Kenomey attributes." The word "attributes" might lead one to speculate that Lamsa was a modalist, one who held to one God in one person. It is important to note that Nestorianism in itself does not reject the Trinity. Mar Abd Yeshua, 13th century Nestorian Metropolitan of Nisibis and Armenia, spoke in favor of the Trinity. For him, "The 'Holy' thrice repeated in the seraphic hymn, as mentioned by Isaiah, joined with one 'LORD,' attests Three Persons in One Essence" (32). Those who railed "at the truth of the Catholic Church, on account of her faith in the Trinity", he wished to "be confounded and put to shame" (33).

Lamsa's inconsistency is probably best understood in light of the Nestorian idea of the Trinity. Nestorianism does not reject the Trinity. It does, however, use different terminology to describe the doctrine. Lamsa appears to be unique in his dislike for the term "Trinity." Nestorians in general do not appear to share Lamsa's dislike. Lamsa's dislike for the term probably resulted from his dislike of anything Greek (34).

Lamsa probably was a Trinitarian, even though he disliked the word "Trinity." To dislike a word does not mean that one disagrees with the concept behind the word. St. Augustine disliked the word "persons" when speaking of the Trinity. He thought it was too easy to misunderstand the word and think of it as meaning separate individuals, therefore destroying the divine unity of the Godhead. However, he adopted the word "because of the necessity of affirming the distinction of the Three against Modalism" (35). When asked what three were within the divine unity, Augustine would answer that "human language labors altogether under great poverty of speech. The answer however, is given three 'persons,' not that it might be (completely) spoken, but that it might not be left (wholly) unspoken" (36).

Nestorian writers often distinguished the three in the Trinity not by the Persons but by the characteristics or attributes that made each person unique. Thus the characteristic that made the Father unique was the fact that He is the begetter and not the begotten. What made the Son unique was the fact that He is begotten and not the begetter. What sets the Holy Spirit off from the other two Persons is that He proceeds (37). Nestorians, in saying this, are not denying the persons. They even use the word Person in describing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, it is the special characteristics or attributes that set the persons off from one another. This is possibly what Lamsa meant when he described God as "one God with three attributes, instead of three persons" (38). However, even if Lamsa was within the fold of Trinitarianism, his explanation of God would be easily misunderstood by Western Christians and mistaken for modalism."
http://cochise.uia.net/~messiah7/rsr_originJesus.htm

Peace.
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« Reply #38 on: July 25, 2006, 06:26:49 AM »

Quote
According to Lamsa, the term "three persons" implies three gods to the average Semitic mind, which is why Jews and Muslims have traditionally rejected Trinitarian doctrine.

Which is simply not true - the first Christians were Semitic, and those same Christians had no problem with "three persons", which is why Middle Eastern Orthodox and Catholics have traditionally defended Trinitarian dogma (note, not doctrine - but *dogma*).

Also, the Greek concept 'person' does *not* mean 'substance' in English (that would be confusing prosopon with ousion.) It shows not only an ignorance of Greek, but especially an ignorance of English.

If one doesn't use the word Trinity, and refuses that there is One God in three persons, they they are not a Trinitarian. What Lamsa was: a user of slick sophistry to sell his own Protestant ideology. Not for nothing his works and considered cultic.

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« Reply #39 on: July 25, 2006, 06:48:30 AM »


Also, the Greek concept 'person' does *not* mean 'substance' in English (that would be confusing prosopon with ousion.) It shows not only an ignorance of Greek, but especially an ignorance of English.


However, 'hypostasis' (ηπο- στασiς -sp?) does mean 'sub-stance' as in basis or underfooting. "Person" really confuses the meaning. "Substance" as in material makeup is όυσια.
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« Reply #40 on: July 25, 2006, 10:11:36 AM »

Is there any place where we can give up modern technology and live like the first-century Christians?


Yes. Go to PA, OH, or MO, and be Amish

And while you're there, give up any modern mediciene, contract a simple cold, and die from it. Because that's what you would have done in the first century.
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« Reply #41 on: July 25, 2006, 10:27:01 AM »


Yes. Go to PA, OH, or MO, and be Amish

And while you're there, give up any modern mediciene, contract a simple cold, and die from it. Because that's what you would have done in the first century.

And, of course, your computer and the Internet  Grin
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« Reply #42 on: July 25, 2006, 10:32:23 AM »

While you're in India hanging out, make sure to drink some cow urine mixed with ghee (clarified butter). It's what those noble poor people do to get those special divine blessings.

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« Reply #43 on: July 25, 2006, 04:18:19 PM »

And while you're there, give up any modern mediciene, contract a simple cold, and die from it. Because that's what you would have done in the first century.

What is so wrong with death? Isn't it nothing more than the passage into another life?
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« Reply #44 on: July 25, 2006, 04:19:47 PM »

If one doesn't use the word Trinity, and refuses that there is One God in three persons, they they are not a Trinitarian. What Lamsa was: a user of slick sophistry to sell his own Protestant ideology. Not for nothing his works and considered cultic.
Lamsa probably was a Trinitarian, even though he disliked the word "Trinity." To dislike a word does not mean that one disagrees with the concept behind the word. St. Augustine disliked the word "persons" when speaking of the Trinity...

Peace.
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