Sunday, October 07, 2007



1. The Latin & Celtic Church of the West (313-503 AD:
1.1 The Timeline of Mission from 313-503 A.D. l
1.2 Introduction to Western Imperial & Celtic Church’ Mission Efforts
1.3 Missionaries in Europe (313-500 A.D.)
1.4 Bible Translations initiated by (Western) Latin Imperial and Celtic Churches
1.4 The (Western) Latin Imperial and Celtic Churches’ Mission Efforts

2. The Multi-Lingual Church of the East (313-503 A.D.:
2.1 Growth, Gnosis and Traditions (313-503 AD)
2.2 Major Cities / Areas of Strategic Importance for Growth.
2.3 The Theological Centers, Development and Separation of the Assyrian Church.
2.4 Christian Mission among Arabs in (3. - 4th Century)
2.5 The Expansion of Mission Ministries to India
2.6 The Phoenician Melkite Church’s Contribution to Mission
2.7 The East Multi-lingual Imperial and Assyrian (“Nestorian”) Church’ Mission Efforts

3 The Coptic , Abyssinian & Nestorian Church of the South (313-503AD)

3.1 From Early Christian Mission to Strong Church Traditions
3.2 The Early Christians and Mission in Nubia
3.3 Christian Mission in Aksum (The Melkite Greek- Rite East Church )
3.4 How the Gospel entered Egypt
3.5 Mission Support from the East Church
3.6 The Story of the Nubian Christian Church
3.7 Bible Translations into Local Languages
3.8 African Church Mission Efforts:

4. Main Development in this Time of Mission Ministries (313-503 AD)

APPENDIX Section IV: Manichaeism in Asia’s & Europe’s Mission History


1. The (Western) Latin & Celtic Church from 313-503 AD

In this period the Latin and the Greek Imperial churches were the same church, using different rites and a different way of self governing. The Roman Latin speaking churches used different rites than the Celtic churches, but used Latin in the church services.

1.1 The Timeline of Mission from 313-503 AD

Map: Distribution of Local Power at the Roman-Byzantine Levant[1]

314 - Tiridates I of Armenia converted by Gregory the Illuminator
327 - Emperor Constantine baptized shortly before his death
328 - Frumentius takes the gospel to Ethiopia
333 - Ethiopian King Ezana of Axum makes Christianity an official religion
334 - The first bishop is ordained for Merv in Transoxiana
340 - Ulfilas begins work with the Goths in present-day Romania
350 - Two young Christians, shipwrecked in the Red Sea, are taken as slaves to Ethiopia to serve in the royal court. Given freedom to preach the gospel, their witness gives birth to the Abyssenian Church.
354 - Theophilus "the Indian" reports visiting Christians in India; Philostorgius mentions a community of Christians on the Socotra islands, south of Yemen in the Arabian Sea.
364 - Conversion of Vandals to Christianity during the reign of Emperor Valens
370 - Ulfilas translates the Bible into Visigothic, the first Bible translation done specifically for missionary purposes
381 - Roman Emperor Theodosius I makes Christianity the official state religion
382 - Jerome is commissioned to translate the Bible into Latin
386 - Augustine of Hippo converted
390 - Nestorian missionary Abdyeshu builds a monastery on the island of Bahrain
397 - Ninian evangelizes the Southern Picts of Scotland
410 - New Testament translated into Armenian
420 - An Arabian Bedouin tribe is converted under sheik Peter-Aspebet
425 - The first bishops are ordained for Herat (Afghanistan) and Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
432 - Patrick goes to Ireland as missionary
496 - Conversion of Clovis I, king of Franks in Gaul, along with 3,000 warriors
500 - First Christians reported in North Yemen
503 - A bishop's seat established in Samarkand.

For the Western Latin Churches after 503 AD a new era begins, which influenced the whole church and its development for over thousand years.

1.2 Introduction to the (Western) Latin & Celtic Church’s Efforts

With Emperor Constantine accepting Christianity in the year 313 AD a new era began. Some hold that with the Edict (a governmental ruling) of Milan, about 313 AD, Christianity became the religion of state. In fact, it seems that Christians from then on only were tolerated.
The early Christian Church expanded through the preaching of people traveling along the roads of the Roman Empire. This characteristic is most visible when comparing the details of such an expansion with the map of major Roman roads. After a time of persecution throughout the Roman Empire, it finally became the preferred religion of the Empire in 313 AC, under the reign of Constantine (who also moved the Empire capital to a new city, Constantinople). The following map shows the expansion of the Christian faith around the Mediterranean Sea. [2] Evidences of Christian presence have also been found as far as India (from the 1st century), Sri Lanka (from the 1st century) and China (at the times of Thomas and in the 6th century).

Three major traditions began to shape Christianity: The Western Latin, the Byzant Greek and the Oriental Syriac-Antioch (Assyrian [Nestorian] & Jacobite) tradition.[3] They developed into the South-Indian Malankara, the Armenian-, the Egyptian (Coptic)- and Abyssinian (African-Ge’ez) church traditions, with the Coptic Church almost having an own tradition right from the beginning, and showing a cooperative spirit with other church groups too.
During these years of mission work in Africa, elements of local traditions in the Aksumite kingdom from Salomonian were melted into a new spirituality under missionary efforts and resulted in a unique Ethiopian church tradition with many Judaistic elements. At the same time the Assyrian (“Nestorian”) Church had began to introduce its heritage in Nuba.[4]

1.3 Missionaries in Europe (313-500)

Ulfilas (c. 311-383) This man whose name means “Little Wulf” was the Apostle of the Gotc people on the west of the Danube River. In the year 341, Euseb, an Arian bishop of Constantinople, sent him out as a missionary and bishop to this people. He spent 30 difficult years in missionary service among his people. His success was so overwhelming, that he was hated for it by many. He created a Gothic alphabet. With the exception of 1st and 2nd Samuel and the Kings, he translated the whole bible into the Gothic language. He died in 383.
Ulfila, was the apostle of Christianity to the Gothic race, and, through his translation of the Scriptures into Gothic, the father of Teutonic literature, was born among the Goths of the trans-Danubian provinces about the year 311. The Arian historian Philostorgius (Hist. eccl. ii. 5) says that his grand-parents were Christian captives from Sadagolthina in Cappadocia, who had been carried off to the lands beyond the Danube in the Gothic raid of 264, and became so naturalized that the boy received a Gothic name, Wulfila (Little Wolf). - An authoritative record of the outlines of his life was only discovered early in the 19th century in a writing of Auxentius of Milan, his pupil and companion. At an early age Ulfilas was sent, either as an envoy or as a hostage. During the preceding century Christianity had been planted sporadically among the Goths beyond the Danube, through the agency in part of Christian captives, many of whom belonged to the order of clergy, and in part of merchants and traders. Ulfilas may therefore have been a convert to Christianity when he reached Constantinople. But it was here probably that he came into contact with the Arian doctrines which gave the form to his later teaching, and here that he acquired his command over Greek and Latin. For some time before 341 he worked as a lector (reader of the Scriptures), probably among his own countrymen in Constantinople, or among those attached as foederati to the Imperial armies in Asia Minor. From this work he was called to return as missionary bishop to his own country, being ordained by Eusebius of Nicomedia and " the bishops who were with him," probably at Antioch, in 341. He was now thirty years of age, and his work as " bishop among the Goths " covered the remaining forty years of his life. Seven of these years were spent among the Visigoths beyond the Danube, till the success that attended his labours drew down the persecution of the still pagan of the tribe. With the consent of the emperor Constantius he led them across the Danube, " a great body of the faithful," and settled in Moesia at the foot of the range of Haemus and near the site of the modern Tirnova (349 A.D.) Here they developed into a peace-loving pastoral people. His work and influence were not confined to his own immediate flock, but radiated by means of his homilies and treatises, and through the disciples he dispatched as missionaries, among all the Gothic tribes beyond the Danube. Thus the Church beyond the Danube, which had not been extinguished on Ulfilas's withdrawal, began to grow once more, and once more had to undergo the fires of persecution. If, as seems probable from the circumstances of his ordination, he was a semi-Arian and a follower of Eusebius in 341, at a later period of his life he departed from this position, and vigorously opposed the teaching of his former leader. The other legacy bequeathed by Ulfilas was of less questionable value. His version of the Scriptures is his greatest monument.

By it he became the first to raise a barbarian tongue to the dignity of a literary language; and the skill, knowledge and adaptive ability it displays make it the crowning testimony of his powers as well as of his devotion to his work. The personal qualities of the man may be inferred from his pupil's description of him as "of most upright conversation, truly a confessor of Christ, a teacher of piety, and a preacher of truth, a man whom I am not competent to praise according to his merit, yet altogether keep silent I dare not."

St. Martin of Tours (316-400 AD).
St. Martin was born in the Austrian Pannonia. For 15 years he entered military service. He was baptized in Gallia. After leaving the army he joined Hilarius, the bishop of Pointier. He was appointed to be bishop of Tours. His methods of evangelism were those of a soldier. He initiated many places of worship that were built in France. In the end he was chosen as an example of France and protector of the country.

St. Martin, called "the glory of Gaul," was born about the year 316 of pagan parents in Sabaria, Upper Pannonia, a province comprising northern Yugoslavia and western Hungary. His father was an officer in the Roman army who had risen from the ranks. While Martin was still a child, his father was transferred to a new station in Pavia, north Italy. Here the boy learned of Christianity, felt drawn to it, and became a catechumen. As the son of a veteran, at the age of fifteen he was required to begin service in the army. Though never shirking his military duty, he is said to have lived more like a monk than a soldier. Young Martin was stationed at Amiens, in Gaul, when the incident occurred which tradition and art have rendered so famous. As he rode towards the town one winter day, he noticed near the gates a poor man, thinly clad, shivering with cold, and begging alms. Martin saw that none who passed stopped to help the miserable fellow. He had nothing with him but the clothes he wore, but, drawing his sword from its scabbard, he cut his great woolen cloak in two pieces, gave one half to the beggar, and wrapped himself in the other. The following night, the story continues, Martin in his sleep saw Jesus Christ, surrounded by angels, and dressed in the half of the cloak he had given away. A voice bade him look at it well and say whether he knew it. He then heard Jesus say to the angels, "Martin, as yet only a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak." Sulpicius Severus, the saint's friend and biographer, says that as a consequence of this vision Martin "flew to be baptized."
When Martin was about twenty, some Teutonic tribes invaded Gaul, and with his comrades he went before the Emperor Julian[2] to receive a war-bounty. Suddenly he was moved to refuse it. "Up to now," he said to Julian, "I have served you as a soldier; allow me henceforth to serve Christ. Give the bounty to these others who are going out to battle. I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight." Julian, angered, accused Martin of cowardice; the young man replied that he was ready to go into battle the next day unarmed, and advance alone against the enemy in the name of Christ. He was taken off to prison, but discharged as soon as a truce had been made. He then went down to Poitiers, where the renowned Hilary had been bishop for many years. Hilary gladly received this "conscientious objector" and ordained him as deacon. Having heard in a dream a summons to revisit his home, Martin crossed the Alps, and from Milan went over to Pannonia. There he converted his mother and some other persons; his father he could not win. While in Illyricum he took sides against the Arians with so much zeal that he was publicly scourged and forced to leave. Back in Italy once more, on his way to Gaul, he learned that the Gallic Church was also under attack by the Arians, and that his good friend Hilary had been banished. He remained at Milan, but soon the Arian bishop, Auxentius, drove him away. Martin took refuge with a priest on the island of Gallinaria, in the gulf of Genoa, and stayed there until Hilary returned to Poitiers in 360.
It had become Martin's desire to pursue his religious calling in solitude, and Hilary gave him a small piece of land in central France, now called Liguge. He was joined by other hermits and holy men, and the community grew into a monastery, the first, it is said, to be founded in Gaul. It survived until 1607; in 1852 it was rebuilt by the Benedictines of Solesmes. For ten years Martin lived there, directing the life of his disciples and preaching in outlying places. Many miracles were attributed to him. About the year 371, Lidorius, bishop of Tours, died, and the people demanded Martin in his place. Martin was so reluctant to accept the office that they resorted to stratagem and called him to the city to give his blessing to a sick person, then forcibly conveyed him to the church. When neighboring bishops were summoned to confirm this choice, they thought the monk's poor and unkempt appearance proved him unfit for the office, but they were overruled by the acclamations of the local clergy and the people. Even as a bishop, Martin lived an austere life. Martin's piety and preaching resulted in the decline of paganism in that part of Gaul.
He destroyed temples and felled trees which the heathen held sacred. Once when he had demolished a certain temple, he proceeded to the cutting down of a pine tree that stood near. The chief priest and other pagans there offered to cut it down themselves, on condition that he who trusted so strongly in his God would stand under it wherever they would place him. The bishop agreed and allowed himself to be tied and placed on the side towards which the tree was leaning. Just as it seemed about to fall on him, he made the sign of the cross, at which the tree fell in the other direction. Another time, as he was pulling down a temple in the vicinity of Autun, a crowd of pagans fell on him in fury, one brandishing a sword. Martin stood and bared his breast, at sight of which the armed man fell backwards, and in terror begged forgiveness. These marvels are narrated by Sulpicius Severus, who also describes various revelations and visions with which Martin was favored. Once a year the bishop visited each of his parishes, traveling on foot, or by donkey or boat. He continued to set up monastic communities, and extended the bounds of his episcopate from Touraine to such distant points as Chartres, Paris, Autun, and Vienne. At Vienne, according to his biographer, he cured Paulinus of Nola of a disease of the eyes. The churches of other parts of Gaul and in Spain were being disturbed by the Priscillianists, an ascetic sect, named for its leader, Priscillian, bishop of Avila. A synod held at Bordeaux in 384 had condemned his doctrines, but he had appealed to Emperor Maximus. Meanwhile, Ithacius, the orthodox bishop of Ossanova, had attacked him and urged the emperor to have him put to death. Neither Ambrose at Milan, however, nor Martin at Tours would hold communion with Ithacius or his supporters, because they had appealed to the emperor in a dispute over doctrine, and now were trying to punish a heretic with death. Martin wrote to reprove Ithacius severely. It was sufficient, he said, that Priscillian should be branded as a heretic and excommunicated by the bishops. Maximus, yielding to Martin's remonstrances, ordered the trial deferred and even promised that there should be no bloodshed, but afterwards he was persuaded to turn the case over to his prefect Evodius. He found Priscillian and some others guilty on several charges and had them beheaded. At this news, Martin went to Treves to intercede for the lives of all the Spanish Priscillianists who were threatened with a bloody persecution, and also for two men under suspicion as adherents of the late Emperor Gratian. As a condition before granting this request, Maximus stipulated that Martin should resume communion with the intolerant Ithacius and his party. Since they were not excommunicated, this was no violation of any canon, and he accordingly promised the emperor that he would do so, provided the emperor would pardon the two partisans of Gratian and recall the military tribunes he had sent to Spain.
The next day Martin received the Sacrament with the Ithacians in order to save so many people from slaughter; yet he was afterwards troubled in conscience as to whether he had been too yielding. For their part in the affair both the emperor and Ithacius were censured by Pope Siricius. It was the first judicial death sentence for heresy, and it had the effect of spreading Priscillianism in Spain. When his final sickness came upon him, he was at Candes, in a remote part of his diocese. The monks entreated him to allow them at least to put a sheet under him and make his last hours comfortable. "It becomes not a Christian," said Martin, "to die otherwise than upon ashes. I shall have sinned if I leave you any other example." He lay with eyes and hands raised to Heaven, until the brothers begged him to turn on one side to rest his body a little. "Allow me, my brethren," he answered, "to look towards Heaven rather than to earth, that my soul may be ready to take its flight to the Lord." On November 8 he died, and three days later was buried at Tours. Two thousand monks and nuns gathered for his funeral. His successor built a chapel over his grave, which was replaced by a fine basilica. A still later church on this site was destroyed during the French Revolution, but a modern one has since been built there. Throughout the Middle Ages, the knightly Martin, who shared his cloak with a beggar, was the subject of innumerable anecdotes, which expressed the love and veneration of the people. His tomb became a national shrine in France, of which country he is patron saint, and one of the most popular pilgrimage places of Europe. St. Martin is patron of the cities of Wurtburg and Buenos Aires. Many churches in France and elsewhere have been dedicated to him. His emblems are a tree, armor, a cloak, and a beggar.

St. Patrick of Ireland (389-461 AD).
Patrick was born in Roman Britain (Scotland). He spent some time in a monastery in France (Auxerre). When he was about sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. He worked 30 years in Ireland, during this time he had never left the island. His time of service begun at the year of 432 A.D. He built several hundreds of churches, baptized thousands and founded several monasteries, which became centers of Irish spirituality. He died in 461 when he had reached his 72 year of life. He became the most influential missionary in early middle age history. He entered the church, as his father and grandfather had before him, becoming a deacon and a bishop. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary, working in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he actually worked and no link can be made with Patrick and any church. By the eighth century he had become the patron saint of Ireland. The Irish monastery system evolved after the time of Patrick and the Irish church did not develop the diocesan model that Patrick and the other early missionaries had tried to establish. The available body of evidence does not allow the dates of Patrick's life to be fixed with certainty, but it appears that he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the fifth century. He built churches and baptized thousands. He also founded many monasteries, which became centers of piety and education. He was the most influential missionary of the middle age church.
St. Ninian. (c. 360 - 432)(also Nynia) is the earliest known bishop to have visited Scotland. Neither his place and date of birth, nor his early life, are known with any certainty. Also known as Saint Ringan. The traditional story is that he was born in Brythonic Cumbria, probably Rheged, but traveled to Rome as a young man to study Christianity. There he was made a bishop and given the task of converting the Picts by the Pope, St Siricius. Tradition (first mentioned by Bede) states that around 397 he set up his base at Whithorn in southwest Scotland, building a stone church there, known as the Candida Casa which means the White House. From there he began work among the Northern Brythons of the surrounding area. Later he undertook a journey northwards along the east coast in order to spread Christianity among the southern Picts.

Three of those four influential missionaries of this period came from the Celtic church background in Scotland or Ireland, one was from Austria. This demonstrates clearly how early missionary work in Western Europe in its modern sense of teaching God’s word was not so much in the focus of the Roman Latin Church, but of the newly reached areas at the borders of the Roman Empire, similar to Assyrian Church (“Nestorian Church”) in the East.

1.4 Bible Translations, Initiated by Latin Imperial & Celtic Churches

LATIN: The Old and the New Testament were translated from Greek during 390-405 A.D. Jerome completed his translation of the Bible into Latin - this translation was widely used in Europe, and was known as the Vulgate; Jerome cites the expanded ending in Mark after Mark 16,14; Jerome places the Pericope of the Adultress in John's Gospel (John 7:53-8:11).

GOTHIC from the Greek in the 5th century by Ulfillas. Ulfilas was the missionary who translated the Bible into Gothic (an early Germanic language) in about 460 A.D. To do so, he had to design an alphabet for the Gothic language.[5]

1.5 The (Western) Latin and Celtic Church’s Mission Efforts
When the Emperor changed his belief the whole Roman World officially changed to Christianity. From the outside it seems like a big triumph of the church, as from now on it was possible to spread the gospel every where in the whole Roman Empire. At many places the simple time of worship was replaced by a carefully thought through system of ceremonies.

The Western Church adopted the Latin rites as their major language to communicate spiritual matters within the churches. The Irish and Scottish Celtic churches adopted the Latin but not yet the rites from Rome. By the emphasis of a biblical moral, combined with a Creator related working philosophy, they laid the groundwork for the early middle age society out of wild tribes in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Northern Italy. The main method of spreading the gospel was the founding of monasteries. People were “churched” and educated about the will of God, but not necessarily asked about their decision to follow Christ, because they had a tribal background.

Since Latin was spread all over the Roman Empire and spoken by most tribes in North Africa and Europe, the church adopted Latin as the clerical language and language of education everywhere. For local evangelism a translator was needed. Progress in evangelism among non-Latin speaking tribes was very slow. As the church was slowly filling in the vacuum of the weakening Roman Empire, the church on many places took over governmental responsibilities. At the same time this strengthened the church’s public authority. Much of the missionaries’ average life was spent in the establishment of an educational background among the “barbarians” to teach the “barbarians” the Word of God. –

At the same time with Ulfila translating the bible into the Gothic language, tribal languages were elevated to the honor of important languages like the written Latin. By giving the Gothic people the word of God they were also entrusted with a Christian mission and a new meaning of their existence as tribe. With a new, powerful hope in their breasts they moved further westwards, finally with their relentless attacks breaking the neck of the Roman Empire at its north east front and marching toward the capital city of the Empire. – It was not the last fight yet, but when the Roman Empire finally collapsed in 476 A.D., the church was able to take over governing authority. From then on any new king or Emperor would need to work with the church to assure his success.

As a result of the diligent mission efforts of the Irish Celtic church, a new Latin-Teutonic Church emerged, with an emphasis on meaningful work combined with a God-pleasing work moral, preparing the church for a period of mission work under new lords. The heathen (“barbarian” as called by the Celtic Church) environment without written languages and higher education forced the church to develop a program of thoughtful “Christianization” (changing the local cultures of Europe through the implementation of Christian values) in order to survive as church but also to be faithful and successful to the LORD of Mission.

2. The Multi-lingual Church of the East (313-503 A.D.):
The Multilingual Church of the East used the languages Syriac, Greek, Aramaean and Hebrew for its rites. The use of these languages allowed them to read the scripture and the apostolic writings in the language of its authors and to more easily understand its origin meaning. As a result this period produced a lot of great theologians and missionaries, able to cross cultural barriers and to bring the gospel to many unreached peoples groups mainly in Central Asia, Mesopotamia, among Arabs and Persia.

Map: Areas largely Christian by 600

2.1 Essentially Christian Countries (313-503 AD):
Countries, where Christians made up an essential part of the population were: Antioch, the northern part of Syria, Egypt, Rome, parts of North Africa, where Roman governors were residing and Nubian (Upper Egypt).
The fastest expanding group among the East church were the Assyrian Church (“Nestorian Church”).[6] In the Nestorian Church, the Christians, which used Syriac as teaching language had, expanded its mission efforts beyond the Roman Empire’s border into Central Asia quickly, establishing several educational centers in Antioch, Damascus and Edessa and even entertaining church-plants in India. They founded several monasteries teaching disciplines and supporting missions, establishing libraries and doing practical research. “Nestorians communities” were also there among those who evangelized much of N. Africa before Islam came.[7] Also the “Nestorians” discovered medical mission as a way to enter new mission fields at Armenia, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea Area.
From its very beginning, the Assyrian church (Nestorian Church) expressed its faith through missionary efforts. When the western church was busily engaged in theological controversies, the East Syrian church was busy preaching the Gospel to the Persians, the Arabs, the Indians, the Turks and the Chinese. The existence of trade routes connecting Syria with China, India and Tibet offered great opportunities.[8]

2.1.1 Bridging to Central Asia in the Fifth Century. By the end of the fifth century, Persian missionaries were making converts among the Huns and the Turks in Central Asia."[9] (Huns and Turks occupied the steppes in central Asia. They were a nomadic people. Sometimes the word ‘Turks’ is used to designate a group of people all of whom used one form or other of a Turkish family of languages.
2.1.2 Christian Doctors entering Central Asia. When the Persian King Kavadh I had to flee his country to Central Asia in AD 499, he met on the way a group of Christian missionaries -- a bishop, four presbyters and four laymen -- going to Central Asia to preach to the Turks. Their mission was successful and many Turks became Christians. In addition to the work of Christian missionaries, Christian influence was making its way through the agency of Christian doctors, scribes and artisans who were readily able to find employment among the Turks and Huns. It needs to be noted that the Christians in the Sassanian kingdom were chiefly from the Syriac speaking population of the empire.

2.2 Centers of the “Nestorian”(Assyrian) Church’ Mission Work.
In Mesopotamia most physicians, the larger portion of the mercantile and artisan classes and many members of the civil bureaucracy, appeared to have been Christians. In the middle of the sixth century, a priest of the Hephthalite Huns was consecrated as bishop for his people by the Nestorian Catholicos. [10]

2.2.1 Merv was an important missionary base from which mission was undertaken to Central Asia. From Men’, the urban centres of Bukhara and Samarquand in Transoxiana were reached with the Gospel. Mingana speaks of a large number of converts beyond the Oxus river as a result of missionary work undertaken by Elliya, the metropolitan of Men’ in the seventh century.[11]

2.2.2 Samarquand. In due course Samarquand became an important Christian centre and a base for missionary expansion further eastwards. About the Christian community in Samarquand, Wilfred Blunt writes: The Christian community there, like that found in many Central Asian countries, included at different times Jacobite (Syriac Christians of the Syrian Orthodox Church), Melkites (Syriac Christians of the Greek rites) and Armenians (of the Armenian Apostolic Church). But as early as the fifth century, it was an important ‘Nestorian centre’, and by the eighth century, continuing until the fifteenth century, had its own metropolitan.[12]
They were active in trade, education, and medical occupations, and drew freely on the scholarship and traditions of the East Syrian Church with which they appear to have been in regular contact.[13]

2.2.3 Edessa--the capital of the small kingdom of Osrohene, lying between the outer edges of the two great empires of Rome and Parthia--sometimes a tributary of Rome (116 A.D.) and sometimes under the suzerainty of Parthia--became a Roman military colony in 216. The Sassanian dynasty of Persia, farther south, conquered Parthia in 226 and throughout that century was at intermittent war with Rome. In 258, the Sassanian king, Shopur I, captured Antioch and brought many learned scholars and doctors, among whom were Christians, back to Beth Lapat of Khuzistan, near Susa. Here they were ordered by the king to build a new city, Djondishapur, the future Eastern cultural, academic, and medical center of learning.

2.2.4 Djondishapur. It was here that many of the eastbound missionaries received their training in theology and medical lore. Later some of them were to testify that like Abraham they had left the land of Ur to bear witness for God. The Romans recovered their losses and finally in 303 signed a treaty of peace with the Persians making the Abaros River, a tributary of the Euphrates, the boundary between the two empires.

Map: Eastern Church Confessions after the Council of Chalcedonia

2.2.5 Osrohene: First Christian (Armenian) Kingdom (301 AD). Christianity was brought to the kingdom of Armenia by two of Jesus' Apostles, Thaddeus and Bartholomew in first century[14] . The Roman backed king, Terdat, had been restored to the throne of the Osrohene Kingdom of Lesser Armenia, a small country of northern Mesopotamia, and in 301 A.D. he declared his kingdom a Christian state, the first in history, with Gregory the Illuminator as the Church's head. Until the 5th century, Christian worship in Armenia was conducted in Greek or Syriac, since there was no Armenian alphabet, hence no written language. [15]

After King Terdat embraced the gospel, his people became Christians. With the death of Constantine in 327 and of Terdat in 342, however, the Persian king launched an attack to regain the lost western territories.
The Christians of Armenia were identified with the Roman enemy, whose emperors were now Christian, and violent persecution was carried out against them, including the burning of their churches. With the death of the peace-minded Yezdegerd I in 420, persecution of Christians broke out again and for many of the same reasons as before. Warfare with Rome also was renewed on the frontier but peace was concluded in 422.

2.2.6 Armenian-Mesopotamia Area. The persecution affected the churches of the Armenian-Mesopotamian area. It convinced them that they must by all means disassociate themselves from the Roman Church's jurisdiction (they were under the patriarch of Antioch) to escape future persecutions for political reasons. In 424 another Council was called, this time at Markabta, with six metropolitans and 31 bishops attending. They declared their independence from the patriarch of Antioch and made their own Catholicos their new patriarch. They further agreed "that no appeal should be made from his decrees to 'western patriarchs'."

2.3 The Assyrian Church’ Separation from the Imperial Church[16]

Although no doctrinal difference was declared to exist between the Church of the East and Rome, the Council did proclaim its Church to be independent in government and, in the words of Wigram, "it did as much as a Council could do to set an Oriental papacy over itself." It was the first major crack in the structure of the Christian Church's organizational unity. In the next act of separation from the Western church, however, doctrine was involved.[17]

2.3.1 Antioch. The sympathies of the Eastern churches were with the Antiochene theology as we shall see later.
Many of the leaders of their churches and of their theological college in Edessa, as well as the founders of the school of theology in Djondishapur, had been trained at the Antiochene theological seminary. Thus they opposed the decision of the Ephesus Council of 431 and supported the deposed Nestorius.

2.3.2 Edessa. The christological controversy raged in the Edessa Theological College itself for many years until in 488 the Roman Emperor Zeno closed the college, had it torn down, and on the site erected a church dedicated to Mary with the controversial title theotokos (birthgiver of God, Mother of God). It was the first major crack in the structure of the Christian Church's organizational unity.

2.3.3 Nisibis. Most of the students and faculty moved east to Nisibis to reopen a theological school there, one which eventually became very large and influential. By the year 424, as the missionaries planted churches northwards, Merv, Nishapur and Herat, south of the Oxus River, all had bishops while their monks taught the converts how to read and improve their vegetable growing. In a day when there was little understanding of the importance of fresh fruit or vegetables to maintain health, the "Nestorian" physicians with this knowledge brought healing to many.

Map: Distribution of the Assyrian ("Nestorian") Churches.[18]

2.3.4 Samarkand. In 503 a bishop's seat was established in Samarkand. The missionaries kept moving northward, with perhaps their greatest success being the great Kerait conversions of the eighth century, with 400,000 families converted. The Onguts and Uigurs also were largely converted.

2.3.5 Nestorius and the Council of Ephesus 431 A.D. Nestorius, a leading bishop and teacher at the Edessa Theological Seminary was accused to teach the wrong Christology later called "Nestorianism". In a thorough research of the historical facts John M.L.Yang comes to the conclusion: "There is no evidence that Rome's Christology differed from that of Nestorius, and in the whole controversy the pope carefully avoided discussing that basic matter. Indeed, Leo's Tome of 448 was held by Nestorius to be a clear reflection of his own Christology and in his later apology he praised Leo for his doctrine. Yet the pope determined to exert the full power of his position against Nestorius making the focal point the latter's rejection of theotokos, even though Nestorius had written him that he could accept that term so long as it was not used so as to make Mary a Goddess. Rome's reasons seem to have been twofold. First, Nestorius appeared to be setting himself up as a doctrinal leader of the whole Church by challenging the time-honored concept of Mary as theotokos. Rome therefore used Cyril at the council as its instrument for the removal of Nestorius without ever revealing that its own Christology was basically similar to that of Nestorius.” [19]
Beside the fact that obviously some personal reasons were behind the excommunication of Nestorius’, characteristics of different languages like the Syriac, Nestorius’ mother tongue also seem to have played a role: Part of the characteristic of the Syrian language is to not adequately distinguish the abstract from the concrete, which in this case resulted in having one word, kenume, to refer either to the set of characteristics which identifies a personality (personal characteristics in the abstract) or to the person concretely. Nestorius and the "Nestorians" were duophysites holding that Christ was One person with two natures, each nature with its distinctive characteristics. Church theologians of later times, including the Protestant Church, recognized clearly that each nature had its own will, the duothelite concept.” [20] By doing so they agreed with Nestorius’ teaching.
As it seems, human failure to see clearly through the mechanisms of communication was also part of problem. As a result the Syriac speaking churches decided to establish their own papal system.

2.4 Christian Mission among Arabs in (3. - 4th Century)

The name "Arab" is given to the ancient inhabitants of Arabia, a large country located at the east of Red Sea (entrance by the Suez Channel, near the city of Alexandria in Egypt), and often applied to the peoples closely allied to them in ancestry, language, religion and culture. In present days, Arabs constitute the overwhelming majority of the population in the states of Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and in the states of Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Morocco…). Culturally, and for the most part linguistically, they are a Semitic people. Arabia was the site of a flourishing civilization long before the Christian era. Arab influence spread, little by little, throughout the Near East to parts of Europe, particularly the island of Sicily (south of Italy), Spain and France, to Africa, to India and more eastward and southward.[21] The first Arab Christian ruler in history was Abgar VIII of Edessa, who converted ca. 200 AD[22] Many Arabs tribes were Christians since the first century, including the Nabateans and the Ghassanids (who were of Qahtani origin and spoke Yemeni-Arabic as well as Greek), who protected the south-eastern frontiers of the Roman and Byzantine Empires in north Arabia. The tribes of Tayy, Abd Al-Qais, and Taghlib were also known to have included a large number of Christians prior to Islam.[23]

2.4.1 Yemen and Nairan: Center of Arab Christianity. The main centre of Christianity in Arabia was in Yemen and in Najran in South Arabia.[24] Fragments of a Syriac work written in AD 932, gives us some information about Christianity in South Arabia. There is a tradition which says that during the reign of Yazdegerd I (399-420 AD) in Persia, a merchant named Hayyan, from Yemen of the Himyarites kingdom, went to Constantinople. On his return he stopped at the Arab tributary kingdom of Hirta on the Persian border east of Euphrates. While there he frequented the company of Nestorian Christians and was converted to Christian faith. On his return to Yemen, he proclaimed the Gospel in Yemen as well as in the neighbouring places. In Yemen, the Jews were numerous and they persecuted the Christians.
Map: From the Middle East to Hindus[25]

2.4.2 Zafar, Aden Sana and Nairam: other centers of Arab Christianity. There is another tradition about the introduction of Christianity to this area. About AD 354, the Roman emperor Constantius, son of Constantine the Great, sent Theophilus "the Indian" to lead an embassy to southern Asia. On his way, the embassy visited the southwest corner of Arabia. There Theophilus, who was a deacon in the church preached the Gospel. As a result the Himyarite king was converted and three or four churches were built -- in Zafar, the capital of the Himyarite kingdom, in Aden, in Sana (a place half way between Nairam and Aden) and at Hormuz on the Persian Gulf. By about AD 500, Nairam was a great centre of Christians, Christians being numerous in that region. In the list of bishops consecrated by Catholicos Timothy I (780-820), there is the mention of bishops of Yemen and Sana.

2.5 The Expansion of Mission Ministries to India

The Christian Community of Kerala (India) traces its origin and its subsequent spiritual stabilization and growth back to the advent of St. Thomas, the Apostle to India, who reached the Cragnanore Port in AD 52. According to tradition, Thomas preached first to the Jewish settlers in and around Cochin, and then worked among the Indian Religious Groups which consisted of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Through his ministry and stories of the many miracles which tradition attributes to him, he converted influential high caste Vedic Brahmins. It is believed that he organized seven Christian communities for the use of these Christians, and ordained presbyters from four leading families. - The seven churches were 1. Cranganore (Malankara) 2. Chavakad (Palur) 3. Parur near Alwaye 4. Gokamangalam, 5. Niranam 6. Nilakkal (Chayal) and 7. Quilon (Kollam). It is believed that the Apostle started his gospel mission in India, from a small town called "Malayankara” on the sea coast of 'Paravur' Taluk in Kerala, at a short distance away from Cranganore Port. All these places except Nilakkal are near the sea coast. Nilakkal is in the ghat region near Sabarimala, the Hindu place of pilgrimage.[26]
Map: A Rough Chronology of Mission in India from Thomas to 503 AD: [27]
Historical Event
Apostle Thomas in the service of King Gondaphares in Takshasila
52 Nov 21
The Apostle Thomas lands at Cranganore (Kodungalloor, in the present Thrissur District)
The Apostle builds 7 churches: Palayoor, Kodungaloor, Parur, Kokamangalam, Niranam, Nilackal, Kollam.
72 July, 3th
Martyrdom of St. Thomas in the vicinity of Mylapore, Madras.
Mesopotamia and Assyria become Roman provinces.
Pantaenus, probably the founder of the famous Catechetical School of Alexandria, visited India and the Nazranies.
Sassanians become a major power.
Archbishop John, of Persia and Great India, at the first Ecumenical Council of Nicea.
Thomas of Cana from Persia landed at Cranganore with 72 families of immigrants.
By the Thazhekad Sasanam the Nazranies granted special rights and privileges.
North Pudukkad church founded.
Hormis church, Angamaly founded.
Enammavu church founded.
St. George church, Edappally founded.

It is thus that, when about 400 Christian Settlers from Syria came over in AD 345 under the leadership of Thomas Kana, they started referring to all their surroundings as "Malankara" (Phonetically similar to 'Malayankara'). In the course of time, as the settlers spread out, all of the Malayalam speaking area together became 'Malankara' (Rhymes well with the local language, Malayalam too). This has been recorded in the writings of Mor Youseph, an emissary of the Holy See of Antioch, sent over to administer the needs of the Syrian Christian settlers.
With the coming of these Christian missionaries from Syria in AD.345, the entire Malankara Christian community adopted the rites & liturgies of the Syrian Church of Antioch and became a part of that ancient Patriarchal See; thus the early Christian converts (St. Thomas Christians) as well as the new Christian settlers (Knanaya Christians) came to be known as 'Syrian Christians'.

2.6 The (Phoenician) Melkite Church’s Contribution to Mission

2.6.1 The Biblical Aramaic and the Aramaic of Jesus preserved
At the beginning of the Christian era, Aramaic, in various dialects, was the dominant spoken language of Syria and Mesopotamia. It developed a number of literary dialects, known as Palestinian Jewish Aramaic, Samaritan Aramaic, Syro-Palestinian Christian Aramaic, Syriac, Babylonian Talmudic Aramaic, and Mandaic Aramaic. In Galilee[28] and Samaria[29], Aramaic dialects became the day-to-day means of communication.
The evidence of the Aramaic language of Jesus is impossible to explain if Aramaic was not His spoken language. The Scriptures were provided with Targum[30] for the Aramaic-speaking masses who could no longer understand Hebrew. In the Synagogue, following the Babylonian Exile, Palestinian Jews had their public reading of the Hebrew Scripture rendered in vernacular Aramaic. [31]
Targums exist for the Pentateuch.[32] The oldest appears to be the Palestinian Pentateuch Targum, which is available in its entirety through the Codex Neofiti I of the Vatican Library. It preserves the idiomatic Aramaic used in Palestine perhaps as early as the first centuries of the Christian era. The second is known as the Jerusalem Targums of the Pentateuch (I and II), also known as the Pseudo-Jonathan Targums. [33]

2.6.2 Missionaries & Translator to Ethiopia: Frumentus and Edesius
''Frumentius''' (died c.383), introduced Christianity into Ethiopia, and is styled as the Apostle of Ethiopia. He was a Greek born in Tyre, according to the 4th-century historian Rufinus, who cites Frumentius' brother Edesius as his authority.
They (Frumentius and Edesius) remained in Ehtiopia and used their influence to spread Christianity. First they encouraged the Christian merchants, who were temporarily in the country, to practice their faith openly by meeting at places of public worship; later they also converted some of the natives. When the prince came of age, Edesius returned to his friends and relatives at Tyre and was ordained as priest, but did not return to Abyssinia. Frumentius, on the other hand, who was eager for the conversion of Abyssinia, accompanied Edesius as far as Alexandria, where he requested St. Athanasius to send a bishop and some priests to Abyssinia. Bishop Athanasius considered Frumentius himself the most suitable person as bishop and consecrated him in 328, according to others between 340-46.[34]
Frumentius returned to Abyssinia, erected his episcopal see at Axum, baptized King Aeizanas, who had meanwhile succeeded to the throne, built many churches, and spread the Christian Faith throughout Abyssinia. Abyssinian tradition credits him with the first Ethiopian translation of the New Testament.[35]

2.7 Bible Translations within East Imperial & Assyrian Churches:

SYRIAC (ca 400 A.D.); the Peshitta (Syriac/Aramaic translation of the Bible), excludes: 2Peter, 2 & 3 John, Jude, Revelation. The Peshitta became the standard Syrian Christian Bible
ARMENIAN - from Greek or Syriac early 5th century
GEORGIAN - possibly from Syriac or Armenian from 5th century

2.8 The East Church Missionary Efforts

From the beginning the East Church had more problems to share the Good News because it was on the east side of the Roman Empire and had to face the challenge to translate the bible into new languages earlier and use new languages and its writing to inculturate churches in cultures with a heathen background. But this paid off. The church fathers worked hard to keep the Christian brotherhood and sound teaching in the churches.

The four most common languages in the East church were Syriac, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaean. The degree of literacy in the orient was higher than in Europe or Northern Africa. The East Church was able to access the content of scripture in its original languages and could prevent long fruitless discussions about its interpretation. At the same time it was clear that Syriac with its close affinity to Aramaic the spoken language of the LORD, was also most helpful to spread the gospel from the middle east to Central Asia, China and the seashores of the South and East Asia.[36]

Some doctrinal, and as deeper research reveals also, bishop Cyrils side personal issues led to the sad decision that bishop Nestorius was excommunicated for something he never taught, thus bringing the Syriac speaking churches in separation from the other churches. Since it is clear today, that Nestorius himself never taught was later became known as “Nestorianism” we call those churches as they call themselves too “Assyrian Churches”.

Chrysostomos of the Antioch’ (Phoenician) Melkite church with its contribution in Africa’s mission history[37] shows how relatively small conventions can achieve a lot for the kingdom. Obviously the sensitivity for the need to understand the gospel in the local language helped to translate the bible in Ge’er, which was widely used and spoken as the language of the kingdom of Aksum.

During this period, in terms of mission ministries, the East Imperial and especially the Assyrian church were very busy. Compared to their European counterparts they did not need to confront themselves with wild homeless tribes without written languages and nearly no civilization, but could soon use biblical education and medicine as tools to witness God's power and establish Christian congregations.

3. The Coptic and Abyssinian Church of the South (313-500AD)

3.1 From Early Christian Mission to Strong Church Traditions
Several different distinctive groups of Christians developed within the first centuries. The Gnostics was one of the important groups centered in Egypt and had influence throughout North Africa. One of the other major factions of the early Christian Gnostics was centered in Rome. This faction, which was more influenced by the teachings of the Apostle Paul, became increasingly prominent in the fourth century A.D. when the Roman Empire officially became Christian. Some African Christians feel that this group, in its attempt to collect sacred papyri and texts for the purpose of solidifying Christian faith, did not show much respect for important books written by early Christians or writers of the African Church.[38]
Map: Ancient African History[39]

This collection is known as the New Testament and is a central part of the Christian Bible. However, in creating the New Testament, the Roman faction did not include other writings about Jesus or rejected them as heresy. Many of those are either not included or are condemned as heretical writing. Most of them originated from the feather of Gnostic North African Christian writers. There is no wonder few people know of the importance of these early African Christians. – Most African believers did not understand the need, to make a sharp distinction between trustworthy and good to read literature. In spite of the repression of the Gnostic Christians by Roman Christians, Christianity continued to flourish throughout North Africa until the arrival of Islam in the seventh century A.D. Although by the time Islam arrived in the seventh century, the Gnostic influence in the Coptic Church could no longer be seen, underlying what could still have been the cultivated dream of an “African Way of Faith” which would explain the relatively low resistance against the new faith.
The Christians in this area were known as Coptic Christians, named after the main language of the area. The Coptic faith, like the Gnosis placed a great deal of emphasis on contemplation and monasticism.[40] In structure, it was similar to the Church of Rome. It practiced the same sacraments, and the church structure was made up of priests and bishops. Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church is headed by a Patriarch (similar to the Pope in the Roman Church) who lives in Alexandria.
Even after Egypt had been taken over by Arab Moslems, the Coptic Christians continued to form a small but important segment of Egyptian society. Indeed, Coptic Christians today comprise approximately fifteen per cent of the Egyptian population.

3.2 How the Gospel entered Egypt
The first Egyptian converts came from the large Jewish community in Alexandria, but the new faith soon spread throughout Egyptian society, in part because traditional Egyptian religion had been based on the divinity and authority of the Pharaoh, who had been overthrown by the Romans. Since the religious base of Egyptian society had been undermined by the Roman occupation, Christianity became a key factor enabling Egyptian culture to survive the Roman era. At first Christianity had only a rather precarious toe-hold on the African continent, but towards the end of the second century it became indigenous, and spread rapidly among the native Egyptian population (rather than the Graeco-Roman ruling class). The third and fourth centuries were marked by the ascendancy of Alexandrian Christianity. The churches of Alexandria, Antioch and Rome were the three most influential churches. In the fourth century Jerusalem and Constantinople were also recognized as patriarchates, and Constantinople, the new imperial capital, was given precedence over Alexandria. This led to a certain amount of rivalry, which tended to exacerbate some of the theological disputes in the following centuries. In the fifth century, following the Council of Chalcedon, there was a split in the Church of Alexandria, and since then there have been two rival popes in Alexandria, the Coptic and the Byzantine. The Byzantine Patriarchate of Alexandria remained in communion with the other patriarchates of Rome, Constantinople and Antioch, while the Coptic patriarchate did not. The schism affected mission. Ethiopia, which had been evangelized in the fourth century, was affiliated with the Coptic Patriarchate, while two rival missions were sent to Nubia. [41]

3.3 Christian Mission in Aksum (later called “Abyssinia, Ethiopia”)
The kingdom of Aksum (sometimes written as Axum, in English), founded more than 2000 years ago, is historically connected to the contemporary nation-state of Ethiopia. Ethiopia, was never colonized by outsiders, is the oldest continuous nation-state in Africa. In the fourth century A.D., the rulers of Aksum converted to Christianity after Christian travelers and traders brought the religion into the area from Egypt and western Asia. Over the next 1,600 years, a distinctively Ethiopian form of Christianity developed and became entrenched in Ethiopia. It is important to recognize that Aksum became a predominately Christian nation short before the Roman Empire officially became Christian.
This means that Christianity in this part of Africa was entrenched many centuries before Christianity was introduced into countries in northern and western Europe, areas that are normally associated with Christianity.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was similar to the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and the Syrian Orthodox Church in western Asia in structure. Church leadership was comprised of nuns, priests, and bishops, with a Patriarch (Pope) at its head. As with the Coptic Church in Egypt monasteries that were home to contemplative orders of monks and nuns were important in the Ethiopian church. These monasteries were also centers of learning. Monks played an important role in writing and interpreting the history and traditions of the Ethiopian kingdom. In this role, they helped develop a common identity among the peoples of Ethiopia. A strong identification with the church and the kingdom of Ethiopia helped keep Ethiopia united and was able to resist external threats.[42]

3.4 The Gospel enters Ethiopia

Having converted during the fourth century AD, it is also the second-oldest country to become officially Christian, after Armenia.[43] African tradition maintains that this eunuch who became knows as Qinaqis also did some preaching in Ethiopia.

Map: The Kingdom of Aksum and its Trade Relations[44]

In the ensuing centuries, Christian teachers and merchants slowly found their way into Africa along the trade routes of the Nile valley, the Red Sea, and North Africa. North Africa ended up becoming home to both Tertullian and Augustine, two of the greatest early Fathers of the Latin Church.
The Kingdom of Aksum at its height extended across portions of present-day Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, Yemen, southern Saudi Arabia northern Somalia, Djibouti, and northern Sudan. The capital city of the kingdom was Aksum, now in northern Ethiopia. Today a country village, the city of Aksum was once a bustling metropolis, a bustling cultural and economic center. Two hills and two streams lie on the east and west expanses of the city, perhaps providing the initial impetus for settling this area. Along the hills and plain outside the city, the Aksumites had cemeteries with elaborate grave stones called Steale, or obelisks. Other important cities included Yeha, Hawulti, Matara, Adulis, and Qohaito, the last three of which are now in Eritrea.
Many see the date of Christianity entering to Ethiopia to the fourth century AD. As the story goes a Christian philosopher from Tyre named Meropius was shipwrecked on his way to India. Meropius died but his two wards, Frumentius and Aedesius were washed ashore and taken to the royal palace. Eventually they became king Ella Amida’s private secretary and royal cupbearer respectively. They served the king well, and Frumentius became regent for the infant prince Ezana when Ella Amida died. Frumentius and Aedesius were also permitted to prosyletize the new religion in Aksum (as modern Ethiopia was then known). After some time, Frumentius and Aedesius returned to the Mediterranean, traveling down the Nile through Egypt to do so. When they reached Egypt, Frumentius contacted bishop Athanasius of Alexandria and begged him to send missionaries back to Aksum (see map of Kingdom of Aksum) , since the people there had proved so ready to receive the gospel. Athanasius agreed that the need was urgent, and immediately appointed Frumentius to the task, which needed someone fluent in the language and sensitive to the customs of Aksum.[45] His mission was successful and, with the support of king Ezana, Ethiopia became a Christian nation.

Map: Aksum and South Arabia at the end of GDRT's[46] reign in the 3rd century AD.[47]

For more than 400 years Aksum thrived on the Red Sea, growing rich on trade with Rome, southern Arabia, and even Gaul—modern-day France. When Islam rose in the seventh century, the Christian kingdom began to fall.

Aksum was an important participant in international trade from the 1st century CE (Periplus of the Erythraean Sea) until circa the later part of the 1st millennium when it succumbed to a long decline against pressures from the various Islamic powers leagued against it.

3.5 Mission Support from the East Syrian Church.

At the end of the 5th century nine Syrian monks arrived. These monks may have been driven out of Syria after the Council of Chalcedon for being Monophysite Christians. Monophysites (mono=one, phusis = nature) believe that the divine and human natures of Christ were fused into a single nature at his birth.
The Ecumentical Council of Chalcedon, on the other hand distinguished between the divine nature of Christ and his human nature, declaring that Jesus had two distinct natures, and in the process declaring the Monophysites heretical. At any rate, whether or not it was due to the Nine Saints, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, along with the Coptic Church of Egypt, and smaller churches in Syria, Turkey and Arminia, have remained non-Chalcedonian.. These non-Chalcedonian churches have formed a distinctively Southern branch of the worldwide church.

3.6 The Early Christians and Mission in Nubia[48]

The kingdom of Nubia was located in present day Sudan. Nubia was an ancient kingdom whose historical roots go back to the time of the era of the Pharaohs in Egypt. Christianity was introduced in Nubia by Christian monks and traders in the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. By the seventh century, the rulers of Nubia and most Nubians had converted to Christianity. In practice and structure, the Nubian church was similar to the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt. Nubia was also called - Upper & Lower Nubia, Kush, Land of Kush, Te-Nehesy, Nubadae, Napata, or the Kingdom of Meroei. Where these people of Nubian speech came from may never be known with certainty, but the close resemblances between some of the languages of the Nuba hills, of Jebel Meidob, in the far west, and river Nubian suggests that they came from the west and south west. The inscription of the Axumite king Aezanes in the year A.D. 350 speaks of 'Noba' at Merod. This may well refer to Nubians, and if so, it is their first appearance in history.
Picture: Early Nubian Church
By the sixth century, three states had emerged as the political and cultural heirs of the Meroitic kingdom. Nobatia in the north, had its capital at Faras, in what is now Egypt; the central kingdom, Muqurra, was centered at Dunqulah, the old city on the Nile about 150 kilometers south of modern Dunqulah; and Alwa, in the heartland of old Meroe in the south, had its capital at Sawba. In all three kingdoms, warrior aristocracies ruled Meroitic populations from royal courts where functionaries bore Greek titles in emulation of the Byzantine court.

3.8 Bible Translations into the local Language (s) of Africa

Into Ge’ez [49]; from Greek in the 5th century. - The translation of the Christian Bible was undertaken by Syrian monks known as the Nine Saints[50], who had come to Ethiopia in the 5th century fleeing the Byzantine persecution of the Monophysites[51].

The Ethiopic Bible contains 81 Books; 46 of the Old Testament and 35 of the New. A number of these Books are called "deuterocanonical" (or "apocryphal" according to certain Western theologians), such as the Ascension of Isaiah, Jubilees, Enoch, the Paralipomena of Baruch, Noah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Maccabees, Moses and Tobit. [52] Ge’ez was the language of the people at that time. The Ethiopian church continues to use Ge’ez as its liturgical language, though it is no longer a living language.[53]

3. 9 African Church Mission Efforts:
Evangelization by monks seems to have been the most important tool to spread Christianity further south and to the African inland from the original base around the capital at Axum.

Egyptian monasticism has played a strong role in the development of Ethiopian monasticism, thanks to travel, written communication, and translations of Egyptian monastic literature. Ethiopian Christianity, although formally dependent on the church of Alexandria with, for example, the head of the Ethiopian Church (the abuna), receiving consecration from the Coptic patriarch,[54] developed a distinctive Christian culture. Ethiopian Christianity, due to its long historical link with the times of King Salomo[55] maintained a strong emphasis on Hebrew Scriptures and on “Judaizing practices” such as Sabbath observance and dietary restrictions.[56] The split between the churches under Coptic & Byzantine Patriarchates in Alexandria (5th century) had serious consequences and weakened the African church. It kept the Nubian church from integrating with the Coptic and Abeyssynian Church in the early stage of mission work, which then opened them for control mechanisms used by other powers to ensure trade in the Red Sea and towards Asia.

4. Main Development in this Time of Mission Ministries (313-503 AD)

Mission Activities increased in three directions: Europe, Africa and Asia. As the governing structures of the Roman Empire were slowly taken over by the clergies of the Roman Catholic Church, Christianity in Europe become strong in terms of controlling power, but it lost its spiritual impact on the level of grassroots evangelism. As a result the shadow of a program could be seen already called “Christianization of Europe” turning itself into a program of civilizing Europe’s “barbarians” with the goal of an educated working society to support the new clerical structures, led by local monks and priests, trying to secure the advancement of the gospel.

Centers of Christianity. In the centers of Christianity in Africa and Asia, where Christian culture and Christian worldview changed the local culture in its roots, Christianity gradually continued to gain influence. The Mar Thoma Church in the 4th century even experienced a time of reformation as influential for the church at the time of Martin Luther’s attempt to reform the Catholic churches in Saxony and other places of Germany. In every place the early churches tried to contextualize the gospel into other nations’ cultures and worldview.

The Impact: As a result during the 4th- 5th century, Christianity increasingly became the dominant religion of the European and Mediterranean world. In this time from Ireland in the west to the Krim at the Wolga, including Asia Minor south to Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia (Nubia & Aksum) in the whole North Eastern Africa people had converted to the new Christian faith.

Between 313 and 590 A.D. the organized church changes from the Catholic church (with each bishop equal) to the Roman Catholic Church (with the Roman bishop as first among equals). Bishops of the church in Rome claim their church was founded by the apostles Peter and Paul, that Peter was its first bishop, that Christ appointed Peter to be His vicar on earth, and that the bishops of Rome inherit this vicarship of Christ by apostolic succession from Peter.

By 590 A.D. these claims are accepted in the western half of the organized church. In 445 A.D. the Roman emperor officially recognizes the primacy of the Roman bishops. Leo I (440-61 A.D.) is the first Roman bishop to assume the title of papas ("pope"). He claims judicial authority for the Roman church over the entire church. When the western half of the Roman Empire falls in 476 A.D., the Roman church provides leadership and stability for Western Europe.

Advancement of the Great Commission. Celts of Britain become true believers in Jesus before the Anglos and Saxons invade. 432-461 A.D. Ireland converts to Celtic Christianity through the missionary work of Patrick, a British, Celtic Christian. By the end of this time about 1/4 of the Romans Empire total population were Christians.[57] Countries, where Christians made up an essential part of the population were: Antioch, the northern part of Syria, Egypt, Rome, parts of North Africa, where Roman governors were residing and Numbian (Upper Egypt). Countries, where Christians only were sparsely spread: Palaestinia, the Arab Peninsula, certain parts of Mesopotamia and Greece, northern and middle Italy, North-West Africa, Mauretania and in the West of Lybia, Tripolitania.

By 496 A.D. the king of the Franks and his people adopt Christianity. Columba, an Irish Christian, leads in the evangelization of Scotland. As far as the progress of the fulfillment of the Great Commission is concerned, the border regions of the weakening Roman Empire experienced several persecutions of Christians, especially by enemies in the middle east region who felt Christians must be supportive of the Romans interests. In the background of this mindset a strong Anti-Rome Movement was growing on the Arab peninsula and in Persia. –

The period of the Imperial churches was characterized by much freedom to spread the gospel, much fighting for the right doctrine and discussions about the right foundation for Christian faith as well at its application in a pagan context. The areas within the Roman Empire remained in touch with each other while the Assyrian church, due to a very regrettable decision at the council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., was forced to go its own way. By doing so it developed more zeal and more creativity to reach the ends of the earth eastwards than any other church convention did in a comparable time.

The Assyrian (“Nestorian”) Church at this time already was on its way to make more disciples than all other churches including the new emerging churches like the Celtic- , the Ethiopian-, the Nubian- and Coptian churches together.
Development of Church Rites. While the Eastern churches tended to rely more on their rites either in Greek or Syriac, the Western churches were discussing doctrinal matters for quite some time. With this approach they managed to translate the bible in more languages than their Western counterparts. The African churches profited from trade routes leading to their harbours in North East Africa and the Theological Seminary in Alexandria thus getting support from different sites for their needs in Egypt, Ethiopia and Nubia.
Church Councils and Theological Disputes. From 313 on (to 590 A.D.) the church faces theological disputes concerning the person of Jesus Christ, the person of the Holy Spirit, the nature of man, and how man is saved. Several church councils convene to examine and settle these issues.
Development of Organized Monasticism. Some individuals pursue a monastic lifestyle through isolation. Eventually monasteries are built, where monks worship and live together apart from society. The first monastery is built on an island in the Nile River in 340 A.D. In the early 500s the first monastic order, the Benedictine Order, is established under Benedict’s Rule of poverty, chastity, and obedience.[58]
Development of Views and Practices. The following concepts develop between 313 and 590 A.D: purgatory and baptismal regeneration; veneration of angels, saints, relics, statues, and pictures; the system of seven sacraments; the observance of Christ’s birth on December 25; more holy days; Sunday as an official day of rest and worship; antiphonal singing; acceptance of infant baptism; communion as a sacrifice; pilgrimages for penitential and thanksgiving purposes; the building of magnificent church buildings. Veneration of Mary begins. She is called "the mother of God" and "the queen of heaven"; eternal virginity and sinlessness are ascribed to her; prayers are offered to her; she is made the head of all saints and is said to have ascended bodily into heaven. Augustine popularizes the amillennial view of eschatology, which strips Israel of future blessing.


Manichaeism’s in Asias & Europe’s Mission History[59]

Manichaeism (in Modern Persian آیین مانی Āyin e Māni; Chinese: 摩尼教) was one of the major dualistic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.
Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani (Syriac, ܡܐܢܝ, c. 210–276 A.D.) have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived. At its height, Manichaeism was one of the most widespread religions in the world, with Manichaean churches and scriptures being found as far east as China, and as far west as the Roman empire. Although its last organized form appears to have died out before the 16th century in southern China, a modern revival has been attempted under the name of Neo-Manichaeism.
The original six sacred books of Manichaeism, composed in Syriac Aramaic, were soon translated into other languages to aid in the spread of the religion. As they spread to the east, the writings of the religion passed through Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian, and ultimately Uyghur Turkish and Chinese translations. As they spread to the west, they were translated into Greek, Coptic, and Latin. The spread and success of Manichaeism was seen as a threat to other religions, and it was widely persecuted by Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and later, Islam.

Mani lived approximately 210–276 A.D. and resided in Babylon, which at the time was one of the many provinces of the Persian Empire. The primary language of Babylon at that time was Eastern Middle Aramaic, which included three main dialects: Judeo-Aramaic (the language of the Talmud), Mandaean Aramaic (the language of the Mandaean religion), and Syriac Aramaic - which was the language of Mani, as well as of the Assyrian Christians. Mani is a Persian name and, found as it is in all three Aramaic dialects, fairly common among its speakers. Mani composed seven writings, six of which were written in Syriac Aramaic. The seventh, the Shabuhragan, was written by Mani in Middle Persian and dedicated to the contemporary King of Sassanid Persia, Shapur I, who was a strong supporter of Manichaeism and encouraged its spread throughout his empire. Mani also created a distinctive version of the Syriac script - Manichaean script - which was used in all of the Manichaean works written within the Persian Empire, whether they were in Syriac or Middle Persian, and also for most of the works written within the Uyghur Empire, which also included eastern Iranian languages and Uygur Turkish.

One of the tenets of Manichaeism was that it presented the complete version of teachings only revealed partially by teachers such as Zoroaster, Buddha, and Jesus. Accordingly, as Manichaeism passed through time, location, and language, it adapted new religious deities from the surrounding religions into the Manichaean scriptures. So, while the original Aramaic texts already contained stories of Jesus, as they moved eastward and were translated into Iranian languages, the names of the Manichaean deities (or angels) were often transformed into the names of Zoroastrian yazatas. Thus Abbā dəRabbū’ā ("The Father of Greatness" - the highest Manichaean deity of Light), in Middle Persian texts might either be translated literally as pīd ī wuzurgīh, or substituted for by the name of the deity Zurwān. Likewise, the Manichaean primal figure Nāšā Qa’māyā "The Original Man" was rendered "Ohrmazd Bay", after the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda. This development continued to Manichaeism's ultimate meeting with Chinese Buddhism, where, for example, the original Aramaic "karia" (the "call" from the world of Light to those seeking rescue from the world of Darkness), becomes identified in the Chinese scriptures with Guan Yin (觀音, literally, "hearing sounds [of the world]", the Bodhisattva of Compassion in Chinese Buddhism).

The original six Syriac writings are not preserved, although we have their Syriac names, as well as fragments and quotations from them. A lengthy quotation, brought by the Syrian Nestorian Christian, Theodor bar-Khonai, in the 8th century, shows clearly that in the original Syriac Aramaic writings of Mani there was absolutely no influence of Iranian or Zoroastrian terms. The terms for the Manichaean deities in the original Syriac writings are purely in Aramaic. The adaptation of Manichaeism to the Zoroastrian religion, however, appears to have begun in Mani's lifetime, with his writing of the Middle Persian Shabuhragan, his book dedicated to the King Shapuhr. In it, we find mention of Zoroastrian deities such as Ohrmazd, Ahriman, and Az. Manichaeism is often presented as a Persian religion, mostly due to the vast number of Middle Persian, Parthian, and Soghdian (as well as Turkish) texts discovered by German researchers near Turfan, in the Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan) province of China, during the early 1900s. Looking at the phenomenon of Manichaeism from the point of view of its origins, however, it is no more accurate to say that Manichaeism is a Persian or Iranian religion than it is to say that Talmudic Judaism or Babylonian Mandaeism (which were also written in Aramaic in Babylon in roughly the 3rd century A.D.) are Iranian religions.

Mani was likely influenced by Mandaeanism and began preaching at an early age. According to biographical accounts preserved by Ibn al-Nadim and the Persian polymath al-Biruni, Mani received a revelation as a youth from a spirit, whom he would later call his Twin, his Syzygos, his Double, his Protective Angel or 'Divine Self'. This 'spirit' allegedly taught him divine truths which developed into the Manichaean religion. His 'divine' Twin or true Self brought Mani to Self-realization and as such he becomes a 'gnosticus', someone with divine knowledge and a liberating insight into things. He claimed to be the 'Paraclete of the Truth', as promised in the New Testament: the Last Prophet and Seal of the Prophets that finalized a succession of men guided by God and included figures such as Zoroaster, Hermes, Plato, Buddha, and Jesus.

Another source of Mani's scriptures, was a section of the original Aramaic "Book of Enoch", entitled the "Book of Giants". This book was quoted directly, and expanded on by Mani, to become one of the original six Syriac writings of the Manichaean Church. Besides brief references by non-Manichaean authors through the centuries, we had no original sources of "The Book of Giants" (which is actually part six of the "Book of Enoch"). Then, with the discovery in the twentieth century of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judaean Desert, and of the Manichaean writings of the Uyghur Manichaean kingdom in Turfan, we came into possession of some scattered fragments of both the original Aramaic "Book of Giants" (which were analyzed and published by J. T. Milik in 1976), and of the Manichaean version of the same name (analyzed and published by W.B. Henning in 1943). Henning writes there: It is noteworthy that Mani, who was brought up and spent most of his life in a province of the Persian empire, and whose mother belonged to a famous Parthian family, did not make any use of the Iranian mythological tradition. There can no longer be any doubt that the Iranian names of Sām, Narīmān, etc., that appear in the Persian and Sogdian versions of the Book of the Giants, did not figure in the original edition, written by Mani in the Syriac language.

From a careful reading of the Book of Enoch and Book of Giants, alongside the description of the Manichaean myth, it becomes clear that the "Great King of Glory" of the Manichaean myth (this is a being that sits as a guard to the world of light at the seventh of ten heavens in the Manichaean myth, see Henning, A Sogdian Fragment of the Manichaean Cosmogony, BSOAS, 1948), is identical with the King of Glory sitting on the heavenly throne in the Book of Enoch. In the Aramaic book of Enoch, in the Qumran writings in general, and in the original Syriac section of Manichaean scriptures quoted by Theodor bar-Khonai, he is called "malka raba de-ikara" (the great king of glory).

While Manichaeism was spreading, the large existing religious groups such as Christianity and Zoroastrianism were gaining social and political influence. Although having fewer adherents than either group, Manichaeism won the support of many high-ranking political figures. With the aid of the Persian Empire, Mani initiated missionary excursions. After failing to win the favor of the next generation, and having the disapproval of the Zoroastrian clergy, Mani is reported to have died in prison awaiting execution by the Persian Emperor Bahram I. The date of his death is fixed at 276–277 A.D.

In Egypt a minuscule codex was found and became known via antique dealers in Cairo. It was purchased by the University of Cologne in 1969, and two of its scientists Henrichs and Koenen produced the first edition of this ancient manuscript known since as the Cologne Mani-Codex, which they published in four articles in the Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. The content of the small papyrus manuscript contained a Greek text describing the life of Mani. From this recent discovery, we know much more about the man who founded one of the most influential world religions of the past.
The most striking principle of Manichaean theology is its dualism. Mani postulated two natures that existed from the beginning: light and darkness. The realm of light lived in peace, while the realm of darkness was in constant conflict with itself. The universe is the temporary result of an attack from the realm of darkness on the realm of light, and was created by the Living Spirit, an emanation of the light realm, out of the mixture of light and darkness.

A key belief in Manichaeism is that there is no omnipotent good power. This claim addresses a theoretical part of the problem of evil by denying the infinite perfection of God and postulating the two equal and opposite powers mentioned previously. The human person is seen as a battleground for these powers: the good part is the soul (which is composed of light) and the bad part is the body (composed of dark earth). The soul defines the person and is incorruptible, but it is under the domination of a foreign power, which addressed the practical part of The Problem of Evil. Humans are said to be able to be saved from this power (matter) if they come to know who they are and identify themselves with their soul.

Following Mani's travels to the Kushan Empire (several religious paintings in Bamiyan are attributed to him) at the beginning of his proselytizing career, various Buddhist influences seem to have permeated Manichaeism: Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Mani's religious thought. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean belief, and the quadripartite structure of the Manichaean community, divided between male and female monks (the "elect") and lay followers (the "hearers") who supported them, appears to be based on that of the Buddhist sangha. (Richard Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road) In some Gnostic writings of the Death of Mani, Mani attains Parinirvana. The word "Buddha" is frequently used in Manichean writings of later centuries according to the same work. Other Indian religions might have influenced Manicheasm. In the 4th century, Ephraim criticized Mani for adopting "the Lie" from India, promoting "two powers which were against each other". In the story of the Death of Mani (according to the Gnostic Bible by Willis Barnstone, here is one of many authenticating references proving the centrality of Buddhism in Mani's formulation of Gnosticism): It was a day of pain and a time of sorrow when the messenger of light entered death when he entered complete Nirvana" Also, in the Great Song of Mani (13th–14th century) Mani is many times referred to as Buddha Mani. In China Manichaean theology featured structural repetitions of images of woken light liberated from darkness[citation needed]: the Son of God was woken from demonic imprisonment by the Holy Spirit and escaped its darkness; conversion to Manicheanism was depicted both as an awakening and an illumination; and in death the converted spirit would escape the darkness of the body. Converts were only guaranteed salvation if they could continue this repetition and convert another in turn

The Manichaean cosmogony
From its inception, one of the striking features of Manichaeism is that it presents an elaborate description of the conflict between the spiritual world of light and the material world of darkness. The beings of the world of darkness all have names, and the beings they attack in the world of light also have names. There are numerous sources for the details of the Manichaean myth (see "Sources for Manichaeism", below). We do have two portions of Manichaean scriptures, however, that are probably as close as we will ever come to the original Manichaean writings in their original languages. These are the Syriac-Aramaic quotation by the Nestorian Christian Theodor bar-Konai, in his Syriac "Book of Sects" (8th century), and the Middle Persian sections of Mani's Shabuhragan discovered at Turfan (a summary of Mani's teachings prepared for Shapur I; published in BSOAS, 1979). It is very likely that these two sections are the original Syriac and Middle Persian written by Mani himself. From these alone we can derive a short example of the detailed nature of the Manichaean vision: At one point, the God of Light sends a representative Nāšā Qaḏmāyā ("original man", in Aramaic), to battle with the attacking powers of Darkness, which include the Demon of Greed. The original man is armed with five different shields of light, which he loses to the forces of darkness in the ensuing battle. A call is then issued from the world of Light to the Original Man ("call" thus becomes a Manichaean deity), and an answer ("answer" becoming another Manichaean deity) returns from the Original Man to the world of Light. The myth continues with many details of how light is captured into the world of matter, and eventually liberated by entrapping some great demons and causing them to become sexually aroused by "Twelve Virgins of Light", and expelling, against their will, the light from within their bodies. The light, though, is again entrapped in the world of darkness and matter, and the myth continues, eventually arriving to the creation of living beings in the material world, Adam and Eve, and Jesus appearing at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.

The complete Manichaean story of the creation and purpose of the universe, from beginning to end, has been reconstructed from numerous original Manichaean sources, and can be read about in the works in the bibliography and in the external links (below).

Sources for Manichaeism
Until discoveries in the 1900s of original sources, the only sources we had for Manichaeism were descriptions and quotations from non-Manichaean authors, either Christian, Muslim, or Zoroastrian. While these writers were often criticizing Manichaeism, they also brought many quotations directly from Manichaean scriptures. Thus we have always had quotations and descriptions in Greek and Arabic, as well as the long quotations in Latin by Saint Augustine, and the extremely important quotation in Syriac by Theodor bar-Khonai.

Then, in the early 1900s, German scholars excavated at the ancient site of the Manichaean Uyghur Kingdom near Turfan, in Chinese Turkestan (destroyed around 1300 A.D.). While most of the writings they uncovered were in very bad shape, there were still hundreds of pages of Manichaean scriptures, written in three Persian languages - Middle Persian, Parthian, and Sogdian, as well as in old Turkish. These writings were taken back to Germany, and were analyzed and published at the Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin. While the vast majority of these writings were written in a version of the Syriac script known as Manichaean script, the German researchers, perhaps for lack of suitable fonts, published most of the writings using Hebrew letters (which could easily be substituted for the 22 Syriac letters). Perhaps the most comprehensive of these publications was Manichaeische Dogmatik aus chinesischen und iranischen Texten (Manichaean Dogma from Chinese and Iranian texts), by Waldschmidt and Lentz, published in Berlin in 1933. More than any other research work published before or since, this work printed, and then discussed, the original key Manichaean texts in the original scripts, and consists chiefly of sections from Chinese texts, and Middle Persian and Parthian texts transcribed with Hebrew letters. (It is interesting to note that after the Nazi party attained power in Germany, while the Manichaean writings continued to be published during the remainder of the 1930s, the publishers no longer used Hebrew letters, but instead transliterated the texts into Latin letters.)

Additionally, in the early 1900s, German researchers in Egypt found a large body of Manichaean works in Coptic. Though damaged as well, many complete pages survived and were also published in Berlin before World War II. Unfortunately, some of these Coptic Manichaean writings were destroyed during the war.

After the success of the German researchers, French scholars went into China and discovered perhaps the most complete set of Manichaean writings ever, written in Chinese. These three Chinese writings are today kept in London, Paris, and Beijing. The original studies and analyses of these writings, along with their translations, originally appeared in French, English, and German, before and after World War II. The complete Chinese texts themselves were originally published in Tokyo, Japan in 1927, in the Taisho Tripitaka, volume 54. While in the last 30 years or so they have been republished in both Germany (with a complete translation into German, alongside the 1927 Japanese edition) and China, the Japanese publication still remains the standard reference for the Chinese texts.

In the latter part of the 20th century another Manichaean work, written in Greek and describing the life of Mani, was discovered

Manichaean sacred books

There were seven (or according to other lists, eight) books originally written by Mani, which contained the teachings of the religion. Only scattered fragments and translations of the originals remain.

Originally written in Syriac

The Evangelion: Quotations from the first chapter were brought in Arabic by al-Nadim, who lived in Baghdad at a time when there were still Manichaeans living there, in his book the "Fihrist" (written in 938), a catalog of all written books known to him.
The Treasure of Life, The Treatise, Secrets The Book of Giants: Original fragments were discovered at Qumran (pre-Manichaean) and Turfan.

Augustine brings quotations, in Latin, from Mani's Fundamental Epistle in some of his anti-Manichaean works.

Originally written in Middle Persia

Other books The Ardahang, the "Picture Book". In Iranian tradition, this was one of Mani's holy books which became remembered in later Persian history, and was also called Aržang, a Parthian word meaning "Worthy", and was beautified with paintings. Therefore Iranians gave him the title of "The Painter". The Kephalaia, "Discourses"

Non-Manichaean works preserved by the Manichaean Church

The Acts of Thomas

Originally written in Middle Persian

The Shabuhragan, dedicated to Shapur I: Original Middle Persian fragments were discovered at Turfan, quotations were brought in Arabic by al-Biruni.

Later works

In later centuries, as Manichaeism passed through eastern Persian speaking lands and arrived to the Uyghur Empire, and ultimately the Uyghur kingdom of Turfan (destroyed around 1335), there were also long hymn cycles and prayers composed in Middle Persian and Parthian. A translation of one of these produced the Manichaean Chinese Hymnscroll (the 下部贊), which we have today in its entirety (see the external links section).

Map: Expansion of Manichaeism[60]

Manichaeism spread with extraordinary rapidity throughout both the east and west. It reached Rome through the apostle Psattiq by AD 280, who was also in Egypt in 244 and 251. The faith was flourishing in the Fayum area of Egypt in 290 A.D.. Manichaean monasteries existed in Rome in 312 A.D.during the time of the Christian Pope Miltiades. By 354 A.D., Hilary of Poitiers wrote that the Manichaean faith was a significant force in southern France.

The Manichaean faith was also widely persecuted. Mani was martyred by the Persian religious establishment in 277 A.D., which ironically helped to spread the sect widely. In 291, persecution arose in the Persian empire with the murder of the apostle Sisin by Bahram II, and the slaughtering of many Manichaeans. In 296 A.D., Diocletian decreed against the Manichaeans: "We order that their organizers and leaders be subject to the final penalties and condemned to the fire with their abominable scriptures.", resulting in numerous martyrs in Egypt and North Africa. In 381 A.D. Christians requested Theodosius I to strip Manichaeans of their civil rights. He issued a decree of death for Manichaean monks in 382 A.D.

The faith maintained a sporadic and intermittent existence in the west (Mesopotamia, Africa, Spain, France, North Italy, the Balkans) for a thousand years, and flourished for a time in the land of its birth (Persia) and even further east in Northern India, Western China, and Tibet. While it has long be thought that Manichaeism arrived in China only at the end of the 7th century, a recent archaeological discovery demonstrated that it was already known there in the second half of the sixth century. The religion was adopted by the Uyghur ruler Bugug Khan (759–780 A.D.), and it remained state religion for about a century before the collapse of the Uyghur empire. In the east it spread along trade routes as far as Chang'an, the capital of the Tang Dynasty in China. In the 9th century, it is reported that the Muslim Caliph Ma'mun tolerated a community of Manichaeans.

In the Song and Yuan dynasties of China remnants of Manichaeanism continued to leave a legacy contributing to the variety of religious thought represented by sects like the Red Turbans.

Influence on Christianity

Early 3rd-4th century Christian writers such as Hippolytus and Epiphanius write about a Scythianus, who visited India around 50 AD from where he brought "the doctrine of the Two Principles". According to these writers, Scythianus' pupil Terebinthus presented himself as a "Buddha" ("He called himself a Buddas", writings of Cyril of Jerusalem). Terebinthus went to Palestine and Judaea where he met the Apostles "becoming known and condemned", and ultimately settled in Babylon, where he transmitted his teachings to Mani, thereby creating the foundation of Manicheism.

The Manichaeans made every effort to include all known religious traditions in their faith. As a result, they preserved many apocryphal Christian works, such as the Acts of Thomas, that otherwise would have been lost. Mani was eager to describe himself as a "disciple of Jesus Christ", but the early Christian church rejected him as a heretic. Mani declared himself, and was also referred to as, the Paraclete: a Biblical title, meaning "comforter" or "helper", which the Orthodox Tradition understood as referring to God in the person of the Holy Spirit. When Christians first encountered Manichaeism, it seemed to them to be a heresy, as it had originated in a heavily Gnostic area of the Persian empire. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) converted to Christianity from Manichaeism, in the year 387. This was shortly after the time that the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, prompted by Catholics, had issued a decree of death for Manichaeans (in 382 A.D.), and shortly before he declared Christianity to be the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire (in 391). According to the Confessions of St. Augustine, after eight or nine years of adhering to the Manichaean faith (as a member of the Manichaean group of "hearers"), Augustine became a Christian and a potent adversary of Manichaeism.[1]
Until the 20th century, most of the Western world's concept of Manichaeism came through Augustine's polemics (St. Augustine originally was a Manichaean) against it after his conversion to Christianity, which included long theological debates with Manichaeans, which were completely recorded in writing. It is speculated by some modern scholars (Alfred Adam, for example), that Manichaean ways of thinking had an influence on the development of some of Augustine's ideas, such as the nature of good and evil, the idea of hell, the separation of groups into elect, hearers, and sinners, the hostility to the flesh and sexual activity, and so on.
The extent of influence that the Manichaeans actually had on Christianity is still being debated. It has been suggested that the Bogomils, Paulicians, and the Cathars were deeply influenced by Manichaeism. However, the Bogomils and Cathars, in particular, left few records of their rituals or doctrines, and the link between them and Manichaeans is tenuous. Regardless of its historical accuracy the charge of Manichaeism was levelled at them by contemporary orthodox opponents, who often tried to fit contemporary heresies with those combatted by the church fathers. The Paulicians, Bogomils, and Cathars were certainly dualists and felt that the world was the work of a demiurge of Satanic origin (Cross), but whether this was due to influence from Manichaeism or another strand of Gnosticism is impossible to determine. Only a minority of Cathars held that the evil god (or principle) was as powerful as the good god (also called a principle) as Mani did, a belief also known as absolute dualism. In the case of the Cathars, it seems they adopted the Manichaean principles of church organization, but none of its religious cosmology. Priscillian and his followers apparently tried to absorb what they thought was the valuable part of Manichaeaism into Christianity.

[3] More about the different names of the East Church in the following chapter.
[4] For more background please refer to 3.6 „The Early Christians and Mission in Nubia“
[6] It should be noted, that these churches do not want to be called “Nestorians”, but “Assyrian Church”, as neither bishop Nestorius nor they themselves were ever teaching what some Church Councils termed as “Nestorianism”.
[8] Later Marco Polo tells us that in his day the trade route from Baghdad to Peking was lined with Nestorian churches.
[9] The Turks of Central Asia in the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries occupied a strategic situation. Economically they were important because of their control of the land routes from east to west. Politically they held a key position in a power struggle involving China, Turks in Mongolia, Tibetans and the Muslim Caliphate. (They influenced all these groups culturally too.)

[10] Vine, (R. Aubrey, The Nestorian Churches: A Concise History of Nestorian Christianity in Asia from the Persian Schism to the Modern Assyrians (London: Independent Press, 1937), 62.
[11] Browne, E. Lawrence, The Eclipse of Christianity in Asia. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1933).
[12] Blunt, Wilfred, The Golden Road to Samarkund (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1973), 137.
[13] Many members of this church of the East often lived in village settlements. Remains of Nestorian Christian villages north of Samarquand date from at least as early as the ninth century.

[15] In 404 A.D., monk Mesrob completed an alphabet of 36 letters. His objective was to translate the Bible into Armenian, and the golden age of classical Armenian literature began shortly thereafter.
[16] The Assyrian Church of the East is the apostolic church of Mesopotamia, Persia, India and the Far East. It was divided from the other apostolic churches by the Nestorian Schism during the 5th century. Today it has only a few million adherents which are scattered mostly over Iraq, India, and the US. During the early Christian centuries and the Middle Ages it was the dominant Church in Asia and could easily compare itself to the western churches. In the west the church is often referred to as the “Nestorian Church”. Nestorius is indeed one of the doctors of the church, though not the most important. The Assyrian Church has never taught Nestorianism, the belief that Jesus consisted of two separate persons, one human and one divine.At the heart of the theology of the Assyrian Church stand the theologians Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia which headed the important school of Antioch during the 4th century. Only few of their writings have survived. Babai the Great (551-628) compiled the systematic Christology of the Assyrian Church. His principle surviving Christological work is the 'Book of Union'. In it he explains that the two qnome (essence) of Christ are unmingled but eternally united in his one parsopa (personality). This, and not Nestorianism, is the teaching of the Nestorian Church.
[17] The Sassanid Persian kings, who were at constant war with Byzantium, saw the opportunity to assure the loyalty of their Christian subjects and supported the Nestorian schism: They granted protection to Nestorians (462), They executed the pro-Byzantine Catholicos Babowai who was then replaced by the Nestorian Bishop of Nisibis Bar Sauma (484). They allowed the transfer of the school of Edessa to the Persian city Nisibis when the Byzantine emperor closed it for its Nestorian tendencies (489).
[20] As the need for differentiation later arose, the Syriac parsufa (presence) was used to denote clearly when the concrete person was intended. Nestorius believed that Jesus Christ had two kejane (natures) and two kenume (referring to each of the two sets of personal characteristics of the divine and human natures) in one parsuf a (concrete person).
[22] Shahid, Irfan. Rome and The Arabs: A Prolegomenon To The Study Of Byzantium And The Arabs (1984).
[24] A. Moberg , The Book of Himyarites, (London: Oxford University Press, 1924).
[27] This overview was taken from
[28] Galilee's most significant period was the thirty-year span of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and especially the short "active ministry" during which he proclaimed his gospel of salvation.
[29] G.A. Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, 1894.
[30] That tradition was necessary due to the growing number of Jews who were more familiar with Aramaic than with Hebrew (Neh.8:8). This oral interpretation began as a simple paraphrase, but later, it became more elaborate and the various explanations tended to become fixed and traditional, and finally, these Aramaic interpretations of the Scriptures were reduced to writing, known as Targums (or Targumim).
[31] Targum means “Translation”, in Hebrew. Targums are Translations or close to a literal translation writings-expressions from the Old Testament into Aramaic. The Targumim belong after the LXX (Septuagint) to the first bible translations are an important historical source of research for old Hebrew texts.
[32] The first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Torah, or the "Five Books of Moses". They include (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).
[33] Targum Pseudo-Jonathan is a western, i.e Land of Israel, targum on the Torah. Its correct title is Targum Yerushalmi ("Jerusalem Targum"), which is how it was known in medieval times. But because of a printer's mistake it was later labeled Targum Jonathan the title by which it is called to this day in some circles.
[37] He was ordained as a deacon in 381 by Saint Meletius of Antioch, and was ordained as a presbyter (that is a priest) in 386 by Bishop Flavian I of Antioch. Over the course of twelve years, he gained popularity because of the eloquence of his public speaking, especially his insightful expositions of Bible passages and moral teaching. The most valuable of his works from this period are his Homilies on various books of the Bible. His straightforward understanding of the Scriptures (in contrast to the Alexandrian tendency towards allegorical interpretation) meant that the themes of his talks were practical, explaining the Bible's application to everyday life. Such straightforward preaching helped Chrysostom to garner popular support. See Cajetan Baluffi, The Charity of the Church, trans. Denis Gargan (Dublin: M H Gill and Son, 1885), 39, Alvin J. Schmidt, Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001), 152; in Woods Thomas, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, (Washington, DC: Regenery, 2005), 174.
[40] Christian monasticism is a way of religious living (also called the "counsels of perfection") that is being embraced as a vocation from God out of a desire to attain eternal life in his presence.
[44] Aksum was an important participant in international trade from the 1st century AD (Periplus of the Erythraean Sea) until circa the later part of the 1st millennium before it declined against pressures from the various Islamic powers leagued against it.
[45] He ordained Frumentius the first abuna or bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Frumentius has since come to be known as the Abuna Salama or bishop of peace.
[46] GDRT (also GDR, vocalized by historians as Gadarat) was a king of the Ethiopian Kingdom of Aksum (c.200), known for being the first king to involve Axsum in the affairs of what is now Yemen. Munro-Hay, Stuart. Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity (Edinburgh: University Press, 1991), 75.
[49] The Ge'ez language is one of the Semitic languages spoken in Ethiopia in the past and probably originated from 2 sources: The Sabaean language originated in Southern Yemen few centuries B.C; and represents an old Arabic Semitic language spoken by the famous biblical Queen of Sheba. It was also known as Himyarite language. And the second source was from Egypt during the Hyksos ruling. The Hyksos were Semitic tribes; invaded old Egypt and ruled for 400 years. When they were expelled out of Egypt they fled to Nuba, Ethiopia, and Canaan. Further more the Christian Kingdom of Aksum had occupied Yemen in the early centuries A.D. The Ge’ez language is a combination of the two; the Semitic and the old Ethiopian languages. It was vanished with time and only used in biblical and Christian Orthodox schools in old Ethiopia. Nowadays, it is a historical language and used only in some African Christian institutions and small Coptic Orthodox Yemenite community as well.
[50] The Nine Saints were a group of missionaries who were important in the spread of Christianity in what is now Eritrea and Ethiopia during the late 5th century. Their names were Abba Pantelewon, Abba Gerima (Issac, or Yeshaq), Abba Aftse, Abba Guba, Abba Alef, Abba Yem’ata, Abba Liqanos, Abba Aragawi, and Abba Sehma. Although frequently described as coming from Syria, only two or three actually came from that province; according to Paul B. Henze, others have been traced to Constantinople, Anatolia, and even Rome. Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), 38.
[51] Monophysitism (from the Greek monos meaning 'one, alone' and physis meaning 'nature'), or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Christ has only one nature(divine), as opposed to the Chalcedonian position which holds that Christ has two natures, one divine and one human. Monophysitism was particularly popular in Syria, the Levant, Egypt, and Anatolia, where Monophysitism among the people.
[54] The link between the Ethiopian church and the Patriarch of Alexandria was not broken until the 21st century, since the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria has sent Ethiopia each of its succeeding Abunas. This has meant that the Ethiopian church has been ruled by Egyptians for sixteen centuries.
[55] Read: The Queen of Saba and her oly son Menyelek
[57] Adolf Harnack concluded as follows: Countries, in which about half of the population were Christians were: Asia Minor, Thrazien, Cyprus, Edessa, including Arrmenia.
[59]Originates from:

[60] The spread of Manichaeism (300-500 CE). Reference: World History Atlas, Dorling Kindersly. Drawn by PHG, 2005, released under GDFL.Map published under:


Elle said...

Good post.

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