|Re: THE TRAGEDY OF THE ASSYRIANS-1933|
- Sunday, September 26 2004, 18:49:51 (CEST)|
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So much for the Assyrian claim that they are the lineal descendants of the ancient empire of Nineveh. It is of great ethnological interest, but is largely academic when compared with the claims they have put forward, that their Church is the survival of the ancient Eastern Church-this aspect of Assyrian history is of great important in view of the fact that in the Middle East religion and nationality are to all intents and purposes synonymous. (1)
(1) A few years ago some Turks of undoubted Turkish blood were sent to Greece in the course of the inter-transfer of Turks and Greeks, simply because they were Christians.
When the political power of Rome fell to pieces before the onslaughts of the barbarians from Central Europe, and Christianity, that new religion, began to take its place as one of the great factors in the development of European civilization, the Church in the East began to exert those political influences which have had their actions and repercussions down to our own time.
The spread of Christianity in the East was far more rapid than it was in the West. (2)
(2) According to tradition, more or less well founded, Christianity was introduced into Mesopotamia in the first century A.D. by St. Adai ( Thaddaeus of the New Testament) and his disciple St. Marai. St. Thomas had already passed farther east into India. There was a flourishing Christian community in Babylon as early as A.D. 80, and it appears that Christianity spread even more rapidly farther north, round what is now Mosul. The Parthians, who were at this time rulers of the country, were probably not averse to seeing a healthy rival to the religion of their Persian enemies.
Nor is this surprising. Christianity was an Eastern religion. Its first missionaries were Eastern. As everywhere else, Christianity took hold first among the humble people. In the West, Rome was still persecuting the Christian, and as Rome was at war with Persia, it seemed politic to the Persian rulers to tolerate their Christian subjects. These wars of East against West, too, prevented much intercourse between the established Church of the East and the growing Church of the West. For though the See of Antioch was nominally under Antioch, it was even from the earlier days almost independent. Thus the fury of the dispute over the Aryan heresy hardly touched the Church of the East. On the other hand, the Church of the East accepted the doctrine of Nestorius, (3) and in so doing, opened the first breach with the Western Church.
(3) Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, was condemned in A.D. 431 at the Oecunomical Council of Ephesus, the Third Council of the Church. He had quarreled with Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria. Much of the argument was obscured by term, and indeed Nestorius himself found it difficult to describe the dual personality of Christ that Mary was not the Mother of God, but that she was the Mother of Christ; that the Second Person of the Trinity was not born of the Virgin; that Christ died on the Cross as a man, and that His Deity did not suffer thereon. The Assyrians still follow this belief, and are sometimes known as "Nestorians".
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