VI. CHRISTIAN MISSION DURING THE MIDDLE AGES (800-1627)
1. From Charlemagne to the 1st Protestant Missionary to Taiwan
1.1 The Timeline of Mission from 800-1627 A.D.
1.2 From a European Latin to a Trans-continental, Multilingual Church
1.3 Successful Missionaries in Europe and Beyond
1.4 Fore-Runners of Protestant Reformation
1.5 Movements of Influence for Christian Mission
1.6 Moving Toward More Bible Translations in European Languages
1.7 Introduction of Better English-, Alemanic- German-, Dutch- & French Bibles
1.8 The Latin-German Church Mission Efforts (800-1627)
2. The Eastern Church’ Mission within Islam, Buddhism & Hinduism
2.1 Timeline of the “East Church” (800-1627 AD)
2.2 The Rise of the Greek Rite Eastern Church - Mission among the Slavs
2.3 The East- Church’ Missionaries
2.4 The Nestorian- (& Jacobite) Churches in Asia
2.5 The East- (Syriac Rite) Rite Churches in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka)
2.6 Latin Rite and Protestant Church Mission Support in Asia
2.7 The East Church Mission Efforts
3 The Expanding African Church and Fighting Islam (503-800 AD)
3.1 The Timeline of Mission in Africa from 800-1627 A.D.
3.2 Mission and the Egyptian Christian Church (800-1627 AD)
3.3 Mission and the North-West African Christian Church (800-1627)
3.4 Mission and the Christian Church in Ethiopia (800-1627 AD)
3.5 Mission and the Sub-Saharan African Church (800-1627 AD)
3.6 Bible Translation into African local Languages (800-1627 AD)
3.7 The African Churches’ Mission Efforts (800-1627 AD)
4. South - & North America Latin Rite Christian Mission 800-1627 A.D.
4.1 Pre-Colonial Christian Mission in South and North America?
4.2 Mission Timeline
4.3 Mission Efforts in North- Central and South America during 800-1627 A.D.
5. Medieval Christian Mission Efforts Till the 1st Protestant Missionary in Taiwan (800-1627)
2. From Charlemagne to Protestant Mission in Taiwan (800- 1627 AD)
1.2 The Timeline of Mission from 800-1627 A.D.
1.2 From a European Latin to a Trans-continental, Multilingual Church
1.3 Influential Missionaries in Europe and Beyond, Anskar, Peter the Venerable, Raimundus Lullus, Franz Xavier.
1.4 Fore-Runners of Protestant Reformation, John Wycliff, Jan. Hus.
1.5 Movements of Influence for Christian Mission, The Franciscan Order, The Waldensian Church, The Hussites and Taborites, The Crusades of the Middle Ages.
1.6 Moving Toward More Bible Translations in European Languages, Johann Gutenberg, Thomas Linacre, John Colet, Erasmus, Tyndale, Martin Luther.
1.7 Introduction of Better English-, Alemanic- German-, Dutch- & French Bibles
1.8 Results of the Latin-German and National Churches’ Mission Ministries
1. From Charlemagne to the 1st Protestant Missionary in Taiwan (800- 1627)
1.1 The Timeline of Mission the Latin Rite European Church ( 800-1627 A.D.
• 1462 - Johannes Gutenberg begins printing the Bible with his movable-type printing process;
• 1527 - Missionary Conference of Augsburg -- Organized by the Anabaptists, it is the first-ever Protestant missionary conference
• 1536 - Northern Italian Anabaptist missionary Hans Oberecker (also spelled Overacker and Overakker) is burned at the stake in Vienna, Austria
• 1537 - Pope Paul III orders that the Indians of the New World be brought to Christ "by the preaching of the divine word, and with the example of the good life."
• 1543 - Anabaptist Menno Simons goes as a missionary from the Netherlands to Germany
• 1578 - King of Spain orders the bishop of Lima not to confer Holy Orders on mestizos
• 1595 - Dutch East India Company chaplains expand their ministry beyond the European expatriates
• 1619 - Dominican missionaries found the University of St. Tomas in the Philippine islands
• May 4th 1627 – Dutch Rev. George Candidius sent out to Formosa with the Ost Indian Company as the first Protestant missionary.
1.3 From a Latin-German to a European Multi-lingual Christian Church
1.2.1 Charlemagne - Founder of a New Age (742-814 A.D.)
The central purpose of Charlemagne, to the service of which all his policies and his conduct were directed, was the maintenance of the Christian World View as embodied in the Latin Western Church, whose great champion he became. At this period the two great powers in the Christian world were the Roman pontiff and the Frankish king.
When Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as emperor of the Romans, on Christmas Day, 800 A.D., the Roman Empire, extinct since 476, was renamed “Holy Roman Empire of the Germans”, and thus fully restored. This was an event of significance. Charlemagne served the Church and fulfilled his own purposes through the military subjugation of all whom he could overcome among the barbarians and heathens of his time by means of Christian colonization and a net of monasteries throughout the empire.
By the union of the Teutonic with the Roman interests, and of northern vigor with the culture of the South, Charlemagne is considered by historians the beginner of a new era - in fact, as Bryce declares, of modern history itself. Gibbon has said that of all the heroes to whom the title of "the Great" has been given, Charlemagne alone has retained it as a permanent addition to his name. In regard to the outside world Charlemagne placed a solid foundation to the Frankish Christian dominion by stopping, the flood of barbarians in the north and the Arabs in the south, including paganism and Islamism; the inundations of Asiatic populations spent their force in vain against the Gallic frontier. Latin Rite Christian Europe was placed, territorially, beyond reach of attacks from the foreigners, allowing monasteries and churches to increasingly influence the pagan Scandinavian and Baltic tribes of North and North Eastern Europe.
1.2.2 The Spread of and Conversion to Christianity in Northern Europe, 800-1200 AD
One of the major cultures won next for Christianity were the Vikings. The 700's saw the emergence of fierce Viking raiding parties that pillaged and plundered much of western Europe. Not long after that, Christian missionaries began arriving in Scandinavia. Then, within about 400 years, Christianity had become the dominant religion in Viking lands. Three main factors form what might be seen as the strategy employed to evangelize the Viking peoples.
Map 1: Empire of Cnut the Great
1. In almost all of the Viking lands, "conversion was accomplished as a community affair by mass conversion that had been common in the Germanic - or barbarian cultures, because of the tribal makeup and group decision - making process - of Viking cultures.
2. The second feature of the pattern in which the Vikings were won to faith in Jesus Christ was that in almost all areas "the eventual triumph of Christianity (came) through royal initiative." In these cases Christianity was not a grass-roots, popular movement which in the end captured the tribal leadership.
Around 1000 A.D. there were also some English priests working in Danmark and Sweden first accepted missionary preachers from nearby Hamburg-Bremen, but later political considerations caused their leaders to turn to England for ecclesiastical guidance. King Cnut wished to have his own English bishops in Scandinavian territory under his control to avoid domination by the German emperor through the church. Other Scandinavian kings had similar motives. At first, Olav Haraldson wanted to deal with his former ally, England. After his opponent, Cnut, dominated England, Olav turned back to Hamburg-Bremen again. Later, Svein Estrithson's claim to the English crown made all Scandinavians suspect in Norman controlled England.
1.2.3 The Conversion of the Slavs in the Latin Rite Church Europe (9th-12th century)
184.108.40.206 The Beginnings of Latin Rite Church Slavic Christian Mission.
The Slavs were probably dominated in succession by the Scythians and the Sarmatians , by the Goths, by the Huns, and by the Avars, in whose westward expansion they shared and whose slaves they often were. By the 6th century Slavs had settled in Germany East of the Elbe River. They invaded the Balkan Peninsula, the Byzantine Empire in 576 and again in 746, and they settled in the country districts of Greece.
A sedentary, agricultural people, the Slavs tended to adopt a loosely democratic organization. Primitive Slavic religion shows its Iranian influence. The Slavs were animists; their supreme god was the god of lightning. In material culture, especially in military matters, the Slavs were greatly influenced by the Goths.
Religiously and culturally, the Slavs fall into two main groups-those traditionally associated with the Orthodox Eastern Church (the Great Russians, most of the Ukrainians, some of the Belorussians, the Bulgarians, the Serbs, and the Macedonians). And those historically affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church (the West Slavs, most of the Belorussians, some of the Ukrainians, and the Croats and Slovenes). In the 8th century Charlemagne temporarily subdued the Slavs East of the Elbe, under the collective name of Wende , occupied the Northern part of Germany, along the coast of the Baltic, from the mouth of the Elbe to the Vistula: Wagrians in Holstein, Obotrites in Mecklenburg, Sorbians on the Saxon boundary, Wilzians in Brandenburg.
Map 2: Countries with dominating Slavic ethnics:
• West Slavic (lightgreen)
• East Slavic (green)
• South Slavic (dark green)
The decisive victories, which Otto I. gained over the Wends, gave him an opportunity to attempt, on a large scale, the establishment of the Christian church among them. Episcopal sees were founded at Havelberg in 946, at Altenburg or Oldenburg in 948, at Meissen, Merseburg, and Zeitz in 968. It was on the advice of Otto I. that he founded the first Polish bishopric at Posen and placed it under the authority of the archbishop of Magdeburg. With Henry the Lion of Saxony in the 12th century the German eastward expansion permanently pushed the Slavs beyond the Oder River in the Wendic Crusade. From then on, the area of the Bohemian and Polish states was greatly changed by German immigration.
When the Moravian Slavs were subjugated by Charlemagne, the bishop of Passau was charged with the establishment of a Christian mission among them. Moymir, their chief, was converted and bishoprics were founded at Olmütz and Nitra. But Lewis the German suspected Moymir of striving after independence and supplanted him by Rastislaw or Radislaw.
He formed an independent Moravian kingdom and defeated Lewis the German, and politicaly he also broke the ecclesiastical connections with Germany, requesting the Byzantine emperor, Michael III., to send him some Greek missionaries. Thus, Cyrillus and Methodius became the apostles of the Slavs. Cyrillus understood the Slavic language, and succeeded in making it available for literary purposes by inventing a suitable alphabet. A national Slavic church rapidly arose; the German priests with the Latin liturgy left the country.
220.127.116.11 Cooperation between the Greek-Rite and Latin Rite Church
Map 3: Holy Roman Empire 1490 A.D.
In 868 Cyrillus and Methodius went to Rome, and a perfect agreement was arrived at between them and Pope Adrian II., both with respect to the use of the Slavic language in religious service and with respect to the independent position of the Slavic church, subject only to the authority of the Pope. The organization of this new diocese of Pannonia was, to some extent, an encroachment on the dioceses of Passau and Salzburg. After the death of Swatopluk, the Moravian kingdom fell to pieces and was divided between the Germans, the Czechs of Bohemia, and the Magyars of Hungary; thereby the Slavic church lost, so to speak, its very foundation. Moravia was soon destroyed by the Magyars. The duchies (later kingdoms) of Poland and Bohemia became the most powerful of the Western Slavic medieval states in the 10th century. In the south, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia each reached a relatively high degree of political development before being absorbed (14th-15th cent.) by the Ottoman Empire. The most significant among them was the East Slavic Kievan state, which rose in the 10th century. However, it was destroyed during the Mongol invasion in the first half of the 13th century.
German priests, representing Roman doctrines and rites, and using the Latin language, began to work beside the Slavic priests who represented Greek doctrines and rites and used the native language, and when finally the Polish church was placed wholly under the authority of Rome, this was not due to any spontaneous movement within the church itself, such as Polish chroniclers like to represent it, but to the influence of the German emperor and the German church. Under Mieczyslav’s son, Boleslav Chrobry (997), the first king of Poland and one of the most brilliant heroes of Polish history, Poland, although Christianized only on the surface, became itself the basis for missionary labor among other Slavic tribes.
1.4 Influental Missionaries of European Latin Rite Churches ( 800-1627 A.D.)
1.3.1 Anskar – “Apostle of the North” (North Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden)
Anskar or Oscar (801 –865), was an Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen. Hamburg was ideal as a place to bring Christianity to the North. Ansgar became known as the "Apostle of the North".
801: Birth of Ansgar in Amiens, France.
822: Sent to found the abbey of Corvey in Westphalia, teaching, preaching.
829: Louis the Pious at Worms appoints Ansgar as missionary to Denmark.
831: Return to Louis: is appointed Bishop of Hamburg. Diocese formed from those of Bremen and Verden. As metropolitan Anskar had the right to send missionary groups into all the northern lands and to consecrate bishops for them.
830- 840s: A very successful time for Anskar.
840: Due to the division of Louis’ empire, Anskar loses Turholt.
845: Hamburg was destroyed by the Danes, so that he was a bishop without either see or revenue. Many of his helpers deserted him, and his work was in danger of extinction. The new king, Louis the German, came to his aid; after failing to recover Turholt for him, he planned to bestow upon him the vacant diocese of Bremen.
Map 4: Baltic Tribes in the 13th Century
847: Bishopric in Bremen. Start of reviving the Danish mission.
850: Through all this political turmoil, Anskar continued his mission to the northern lands and reviving the mission to Sweden. Times were difficult during the Danish civil war. Anskar was forced to establish good relations with two kings, Horic the Elder and his son, Horic II., both were receptive to his mission and collaborated with him until Anskars death in Bremen 865.
854: Anskar returned to Sweden. Now king Olof ruled in Birka. According to Rimbert, he was well disposed to Christianity. On a Viking raid to Apuole in Kurland, the Swedes prayed, and with God's help they plundered the Curonians.
He did not forget the Swedish mission, and spent two years there in person (848-850), at the critical moment when a pagan reaction was threatened, which he succeeded in averting. After Anskar’s death the mission in the North came into trouble. From his living place, where human sacrifices were given to the gods, Gorm the Old (King of Jutland) destroyed all of Anskars foundations. From 934 on under King Henry I. the Fowler changes took place. In Norway King Eric and Haakon began to support mission work. In 949 Olaf Trygvason used cruel means to force the Norwegian people to accept the Christian faith.
Map 5: The Spread of Christianity by 1000 A.D.
In Denmark many followers of King Harald got baptized, many of them several times. Some pagan only shortly before leaving this world wanted to be baptized, believing they would have less sins when entering the heavens. While he was in Saxon Thorwald from Iceland became a Christian. After returning to his home-country he preached the gospel not only in Iceland it also reached the Greenland of those days.
Dr. Jorgensen, one of the foremost authorities on Danish history, referring to the practical wisdom displayed by Anskar, writes,
"The Mission of Anskar showed a hardihood and a greatness which must surprise anyone who imagines the Apostle of the North to have been an unpractical dreamer. He possessed a rare eloquence both in preaching and in common talk, so that he left on all men an extraordinary impression: the mighty and haughty were frightened by his tone of authority, the poor and humble looked to him as to a father, whilst his equals loved him as a brother. What he carried out in the thirty ¬three years of his bishopric was of imperishable importance for those nations to which lie devoted his efforts. "
In spite of all his efforts, he was unable to establish a permanent base for Christianity in Scandinavia. After he died, the people reverted to paganism. Interestingly enough, it was not the missionaries, but the common Christians captured as slaves by the Vikings who eventually succeeded in sharing the Gospel with the Northmen and bringing them to faith in Jesus.
1.3.2 Peter the Venerable (1092-1156 A.D.) “Fighting Islam with the Spirit”
Peter was "dedicated to God" at birth and given to the monastery at Sauxillanges of the Congregation of Cluny. He took his vows there at age seventeen, swiftly rising in esteem and becoming professor and prior of the monastery of Vézelay at only twenty years of age. Later he went to the monastery at Domene. Peter initiated the translation of the Quoran. He was well known for collecting sources on and writing about Islam and also he is the author of vast amounts of letters on common theological questions, the Christian doctrine of the divinity of Christ, current heresies, and miracles. His writings are counted as some of the most important documents of the 12th century.
Peter used the newly translated material in his own writings on Islam, of which the most important are the Summa totius heresis Saracenorum (The Summary of the Entire Heresy of the Saracens) and the Liber contra sectam sive heresim Saracenorum (The Refutation of the Sect or Heresy of the Saracens) and portrays Islam as a Christian heresy that approaches paganism. While his interpretation of Islam was basically negative, through the bypassing of products of the hyperactive imagination of some earlier Western Christian writers, it helped to come to a more reasoned approach to Islam. Although this alternative approach was not widely accepted or emulated by other Christian scholars of the Middle Ages, it did achieve some influence among a limited number of Church figures, including Roger Bacon.
1.3.3 Raimundus Lullus (1232-1315): Mission among Islam
Raimundus Lullus believed the truth of the Christian faith can be proven. In fact he translated the Quoran into Latin, founded a mission seminar in Mallorca, learned some Arab and did some mission work among North- Africans in Tunesia. When he went to Tunesia for the third time he was stoned to death. There was no theological discussion about the content of the Islam teaching yet. Islam increasingly emphasized military strength. This influences Islam’s world values to today. Raimundus’ intention was to use proofs about the truth to convince Muslim believers of Christ, the Son of God. Thanks to his suggestion the Church Council in Vienna (in 1311 A.D.) decided to begin with the teaching of oriental languages at the universities of Oxford, Paris and Salamanca.
In the first half of the 13th century Dhingis Khan came to Europe with his army. A crusading Europe had lost many thousands of knights and good people it its battles in the Orient. Only 30,000 men under the army leadership of King Henry the Pious dared to fight. Although the battle of Liegnitz 1241 in the end was lost the Mongols had a hard time to win and lost lots of their able people too. In the end they retreated back to Asia.
Since the Muslims attempt to enter Western Europe in the 7th/8th century no such large army was ever seen. The Islam remained the basic challenge until the dawn of reformation. Despite attempts to improve efforts to convince Muslims of the true of Christian faith the results were meager. The main reason for it could be the wrong approach. Christians went to request acceptance of their belief and were fighting against Islam. Also, there were no praying Mission-Churches behind the sent Muslim missionaries.
1.4 Fore - Runners of Protestant Reformation (13th-15th century)
1.4.1 John Wycliff: The first hand-written Middle English language Bible manuscripts were produced in 1380's A.D. by John Wycliff, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian.
Wycliff, (also spelled “Wycliffe” & “Wyclif”), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures.
They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliff. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that he in 1518 AD, 44 years after Wycliff had died, ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!
1.4.2 Jan Hus: (1369 – 1415 A.D.)
He was a Czech thinker, philosopher, reformer, and master at Charles University in Prague. Hus was a key contributor to the Protestant movement whose teachings had a strong influence on the states of Europe and on Martin Luther himself.
John Hus, actively promoted Wycliffe’s ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution. Once Hus adopted Wycliffe's ideas, he proposed to reform the church in Bohemia just as Wycliff had tried to do in England.
Hus was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s bible manuscript used to kindle the fire. The last words of John Hus were that, “in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.”
Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention (a list of 95 issues of heretical theology and crimes of the Roman Catholic Church) into the church door at Wittenberg. The prophecy of Hus had come true!
1.5 Movements of Influence for Christian Mission (800-1627 A.D.)
1.5.1 The Waldensian Church.
The Waldensians, Waldenses or Vaudois began as a Christian spiritual movement of the later Middle Ages, descendants of which still exist in various regions (Waldo of Lyons, from whom the church’s name originates), 1140 - 1217.
Over time, the denomination became the theological backbone of the Genevan or Reformed branch of the Protestant Reformation.
According to the Waldense Church and the Waldense Scholarship, the Waldensians started with Peter Waldo, who began to preach on the streets of Lyon in 1177.
Map 6: Waldensians in shady patches all over Western/Eastern Europe
Valdo lived during the same period as Saint Francis of Assisi (1181 or 1182 – 1226). Like Francis, Waldo also believed in the value of the evangelical poverty of the early church and, after a profound spiritual crisis, gave all his assets to the poor in order to freely preach the gospel. The movement, known as “The Poor of Lyons” in France and “The Poor Lombards” in Italy, continued to spread throughout Europe.
But in a short time it was accused of heresy. Despite very difficult times and the violence of the inquisition through the Roman Catholic Church, the movement continued to evangelize and succeeded in establishing an important community in the western Alps of the Piemont, the South of France, Germany, Austria, southern Italy (in Calabria), Argentinien, Uruguay.
The Waldense Church had made a good quality translation from the Latin Vulgate. Pope Innozenz III., but in 1199 he forbid its use in private meetings.
1.5.2 Reform-Movements changing the Latin-German Church:
The Franciscan Order (Order of Friars Minor). It was founded by Franz von Assisi (1182-1226), a Roman Catholic friar. He inspired many to follow his example. His life and order helped uncountable numbers of [illiterate and sick] people to follow Christ.
This Order grew quickly and was worldwide the largest within the Roman Catholic Church. Its influence with the growing number of monasteries during the time of middle ages was tremendous and became an important element within the Western Christian monasticism.
1.5.3 The Hussites and Taborites in Europe:
The Hussites were a Christian movement following the teachings of Czech reformer John Huss, propelled by social issues, they prepared the reformation. While some of Hus’ followers became known as Hussites, his more radical followers were called Taborites.
The Taborites rejected the idea the Roman Catholic Church was biblically founded. Later, in about 1450, some of the Taborites founded a group known as the Bohemian Brethren. The Moravian church further developed this group in Germany. The Hussite Wars resulted in the Basel Compacts which prepared the Reformed Church in the Kingdom of Bohemia - almost a century before such developments would take place in the Lutheran Reformation. The council of the Roman Catholic Church had Hus put to death for his challenge, but the Hussites fought a successful war for religious freedom.
1.5.4 The Crusades of the Middle Ages
Crusades were fought against Muslims, pagan Slavs, Russian and Greek Orthodox Christians, Mongols, Cathars, Hussites, and political enemies of the popes. The Crusades originally were expeditions undertaken, in fulfillment of a solemn vow, to deliver the Holy Places from Muslim tyranny, especially with the goal of recapturing Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim rule. They were launched in response to a call from the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire for help against the expansion of the Muslim Seljuk Turks into Anatolia. The origins of the Crusades lie in developments in Western Europe earlier in the Middle Ages. The Byzantine Empire in the east, caused by a new wave of Turkish Muslim attacks, was deteriorating.
The breakdown of the Carolingian Empire in the late 9th century, combined with the relative stabilization of local European borders after the Christianization of the Vikings, Slavs, and Magyars, had produced a large class of armed warriors whose energies were misplaced fighting one another and terrorizing the local populace. The Church tried to stem this violence with programs to stir the Peace and Truce of God movements, which was somewhat successful. However, trained warriors always sought more challenging opportunities for territorial expansion and to use their skills. At the same time they increasingly lost attraction for large segments of the governing nobility. Taking into account the fall of the Byzantines, the Crusades could be portrayed as the defense of Roman Catholicism against the violent expansion of Islam, rather than the defense of Christianity as a whole against Islamic expansion. Combined with the Mongol Empire, Western Europe traded extensively with East Asia, the security of the Mongol Empire allowing the products of Asia to be brought to such Western European controlled ports as Acre, Antioch, Kaffa (on the Black Sea) and even, for a time, Constantinople itself. The Fifth Crusade of 1217-1221 and the Seventh Crusade of 1248-1254 were largely attempts to secure Western European control of the Red Sea trade region, as both Crusades were directed against Egypt, the power base of the Ayyubid, and then Mameluke, Sultanates. It was only in the 1300s, as the stability of trade with Asia collapsed with the Mongol Empire, that the Mamelukes destroyed the Middle Eastern Crusader States. The rising Ottoman Empire impeded further Western European trade with Asia, so that Western Europeans had to look for alternate trade routes to Asia, ultimately leading to Columbus's voyage of 1492.
1.5.5 The Roman Catholic Mission in India, Malaysia, Japan and China
18.104.22.168 Franz Xavier (1506-1552).
The Jesuits in this time began with their mission work. Franz Xavier was their first missionary, who went to India. He arrived in May 6th 1542 at the Malabar coast, Goa, which at that time was a Portuguese colony. Xavier baptized many from India’s South-East and West coast. Only three years later already he left for Malaysia, where he among others baptized Japanese. With two of them and Hanjiro as leader he went to Japan in 1549, where he traveled throughout Japan for 2 ½ years time. Finally he died on the small island Chang Chwen (St. John), which belonged to Portugal. His whole missionary life lasted only 10 years. Some Catholics think Xavier should be regarded as the greatest of Christian missionaries since the first century A.D. His Jesuit biographers attribute to him the conversion of more than 700,000 persons in less than ten years; and though these figures are absurd, the work which Xavier accomplished was enormous. He inaugurated new missionary enterprises from Hormuz to Japan and the Malay Archipelago, leaving an organized Christian community wherever he preached.
22.214.171.124 Robert de Nobili (1577-16 January 1656).
He was a Tuscan Jesuit missionary to Southern India and founded the so called Madura Mission. . He pioneered new methods of evangelism (enculturation), adopting Brahmin customs which were not, in his opinion, contrary to Christianity, in order to get a hearing.
This practice was very controversial in the following decades. Roberto de Nobili arrived in Goa on May 20, 1605. After a short stay in Kochin, he arrived in Madurai. He observed that the Sadhus (Hindu monks) are respected in the society, and he assumed the robes of a Hindu sadhu. He began wearing saffron robes and carrying a kamandalu (a water jug) like Brahmin monks. He became an expert in Tamil. He studied Sanskrit from a Brahmin teacher Shivadharma. He was eventually able to convert twelve Brahmins and tried to use methods of the Hindu believers. However, the Hindu believers were unable to see a difference between a Christian and a Hindu. Nobili, one of Xaviers followers, tried to keep the system of casts also among Christians, but this was not welcomed in catholic circles.
126.96.36.199 Matteo Ricci (1552-1610).
He was a Jesuit, and taught Christianity would be nothing else but a renewal of Confucian teaching.
His baptismal students only had to confess the existence of the only Supreme Trinitarian God und promise to keep the 10 Commandments. When dying in 1610 China counted already several hundred churches. In order to see the Emperor he used watches as presents.
1.6 Moving Toward More Bible European Translations
Before Western Europe experienced Reformation several Bible-Translations helped to pave the way for its success. After Charlemagne in the Latin Rite Church no work on Bible translations was made. The Vulgata was the only accepted version for a long time.
1.6.1 New Bible Translations from 800-1627 in Latin Rite Europe
The first whole bible translation was made in Catalan language was made by the Catholic Church and entrusted to Jaume de Montjuich by Alfons II of Aragon. The Pope in 1234 forbid translations in Romanian languages, especially when the Waldense Movement showed up with better quality versions.
Next were the “Hussen Bible” (only some fragments left) in Hongarian (1439), the Czeck Bible (“Dresdner Bible” 1460), the whole bible in Middle English by John Wycliff (short after 1380), followed by the so called “Malerni” Bible in Italian (1471).
Before the Bible was available in Welsh (1488) Christians in Spain received a Bible translation in Valencianian (1478), while the first German Bible in High Alemanian (Zurcher Bible) came out in print in 1526. Before Martin Luther printed his version in High German (1531), French theologian Jacques Lèvefre d’Etaples published the first Bible in French in Antwerpen/Belgium.
Between the publication of the first whole bible in Swedish (1541) and an excellent translation in Dutch based on Greek and Hebrew originals in 1637, one in one more European language, a new translation in Irish (1602) was produced. The first complete translation In Croation was done from 1622 to 1637, but remained unpublished until 2000. The first Portugues Bible hit the market in 1644.For such an amazing development only realitvely few people were very instrumental.
1.6.2 Johann Gutenberg
He invented the printing press in the 1450's, and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany. Gutenberg’s Bibles were surprisingly beautiful, as each leaf Gutenberg printed was later colorfully hand-illuminated. Born as “Johann Gensfleisch” (John Gooseflesh), he preferred to be known as “Johann Gutenberg” (John Beautiful Mountain). Ironically, though he had created what many believe to be the most important invention in history, Gutenberg was a victim of unscrupulous business associates who took control of his business and left him in poverty.
Nevertheless, the invention of the movable-type printing press meant that Bibles and books could finally be effectively produced in large quantities in a short period of time. This was essential to the success of the Reformation.
1.6.3 Thomas Linacre.
In the 1490’s another Oxford professor, and the personal physician to King Henry the 7th and 8th, Thomas Linacre, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary, “Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel… or we are not Christians.” The Latin had become so corrupt that it no longer even preserved the message of the Gospel… yet the Church still threatened to kill anyone who read the scripture in any language other than Latin… though Latin was not an original language of the scriptures.
1.6.4 John Colet.
In 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek and translating it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could understand, that within six months there were 20,000 people packed in the church and many outside trying to get in! Fortunately for Colet, he was a powerful man with friends in high places, so he amazingly managed to avoid execution.
1.6.5 Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466/1469-1536)
In considering the experiences of Linacre and Colet, the great scholar Erasmus was so moved to correct the corrupt Latin Vulgate, that in 1516, with the help of printer John Froben, he published a Greek-Latin Parallel New Testament.
The Latin part was not the corrupt Vulgate, but his own fresh rendering of the text from the more accurate and reliable Greek, which he had managed to collate from a half-dozen partial old Greek New Testament manuscripts he had acquired. This milestone was the first non-Latin Vulgate text of the scripture to be produced in a millennium and the first ever to come off a printing press. The 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus further focused attention on just how corrupt and inaccurate the Latin Vulgate had become, and how important it was to go back and use the original Greek (New Testament) and original Hebrew Old Testament languages to maintain accuracy.
1.6.6 William Tyndale (1494-1536)
He holds the distinction of being the first man to ever print the New Testament in the English language. Tyndale was a true scholar and a genius, so fluent in eight languages that it was said one would think any one of them to be his native tongue.
He is frequently referred to as the “Architect of the English Language”, (even more so than William Shakespeare) as so many of the phrases Tyndale coined are still in our language today.
1.4.7 Martin Luther (1483-1546) 1483-1546
He declared his intolerance for the Roman Church’s corruption on All Saints Day (November 1st) in 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door.
Luther, who would be exiled in the months following the Diet of Worms Council in 1521 that was designed to martyr him, would translate the New Testament into German for the first time from the 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus, and publish it in September of 1522. Luther also published a German Pentateuch in 1523, and another edition of the German New Testament in 1529. In the 1530’s he would go on to publish the entire Bible in German.
1.7. Improved Bibles in English, Alemanic German and French
1.7.1 The Impact of the “Geneva Bible”
Despite being virtually unknown today, the Geneva Bible is most revolutionary of all English Bibles. It was born out of persecution and takes its name from the initial city of publication. It was the first English Bible to have modern verse divisions as well as modern chapter divisions. It was the first Bible to use italics to indicate words not in the original language and the first Bible to change the values of ancient coins into English pound sterling equivalents.
It was also the first to use plain Roman type, which was more readable than the old Gothic type, and it was in a handy quarto size for easy use. With prologues before each book, extensive marginal notes, and a brief concordance, the Geneva Bible was in fact the first English "study Bible."
Bibles in the French language had existed from the middle of the twelfth century. These were made by the Albigenses of Southern France and the Waldenses In 1523 Jacques Lefevre D’etaples [Faber Stapulensis] (1455-1536), a professor at the University of Paris, published a French New Testament followed by the Old Testament in 1528; the whole French Bible appeared in Antwerp/Belgium with the Geneva Bible chapter divisions integrated.
English and French speaking people were excited. For the first time common people could not only understand the words in the Bible, they could actually own one. The Geneva Bible was widespread and the first edition in the English world solidified the English language among the common people, not the 1611 King James Bible as many assume. In fact, the Geneva Bible was the principal English Bible initially brought to American soil, making it the Bible that shaped early American life and impacted Colonial culture more than any other.
In the century following Wycliff’s death, two important historical events occurred that further affected the spread of English scripture.
The first was the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, which dispersed Greek refugees and their Greek biblical texts across Western Europe. This, along with the influence of Italian Humanism, returned the knowledge of Greek language to Western Europe after being absent for nearly one thousand years.
The second occurred in Mainz, Germany, between 1453 and 1455 when Johann Gutenberg developed a printing press with movable type. Gutenberg’s printing press, considered the greatest invention of the last millennia, forever changed Western Culture and initiated the mass production of Bibles. Erasmus of Rotterdam, influenced by these two historical events, published the first printed Greek New Testament in 1516 and then four other editions in 1519, 1522, 1527, and 1535.
Martin Luther utilized Erasmus’s second edition of 1519 to produce his first German New Testamens edition from the original Greek (1522).
It was not Luther’s "95 Theses" nailed to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, that secured the Reformation on the continent but rather his German translation of the Bible, which put scripture in the hands of the people.
1.7.2 Developments in German speaking Europe
188.8.131.52 Impact of The Swiss Zurich Bible
Map: Spread of High Alemannic dialects. In red: the Brünig - Napf-Reuss line.
The “Zwingli” or “Zurich Bible” (Zürcher Bibel,) is a Bible translation historically based on the translation by Huldrych Zwingli. Zwingli's translation grew out of the "Prophezey", an exegetical workshop, taking place on every weekday, with the participation of all clerics of Zürich, working at a German rendition of Bible texts for the benefit of the congregation.
The translation of Martin Luther was used as far as it was already completed. This helped Zwingli to complete the entire translation five years before Luther.
At the printing shop of Christoph Froschauer, the New Testament appeared from 1525 to 1529, and later parts of the Old Testament, with a complete translation in a single volume first printed in 1531, with an introduction by Zwingli and summaries of each chapter.
184.108.40.206 Impact of the Froschauer Bible
The Froschauer Bible, containing more than 200 illustrations, became notable as a masterpiece of printing at the time. The translation is mainly due to Zwingli and his friend Leo Jud, pastor at the St. Peter parish. While Luther’s German translation of Erasmus’s Greek text forever influenced the German speaking continent, William Tyndale’s first printed English New Testament in 1526 forever changed the English world.
In Tyndale’s day the publication of English scripture was forbidden, so he published his New Testament while in exile in Germany. He also used Erasmus’s Greek text (third edition) to produce the first printed English New Testament. Later he revised his New Testament and it was printed in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1534. Despite living like a hunted criminal, Tyndale’s work was exceptional and so accurate that the later widespread Geneva and King James Bibles would utilize more than 80 percent of his exact wording. In fact, much of the vast influence attributed to the Geneva and King James Bibles should be attributed to one man—William Tyndale.
1.8 The Latin-German Church Mission Efforts (800-1627 A.D.)
This period was a time of Christianization with various, often unspiritual means, but it fundamentally changed Europe. Europe grew together as a philosophical multilingual entity and by 1627 shared many common values. – The Roman Catholic Church since the 13th century went through moral and politically difficult times of uncertainty about its purpose. It had to face hard challenges voiced by well educated theologians. The desire to begin something new was growing. The discovery of new continents resulted in the sending of missionaries to China (Franz Xavier 1506-1552) and Matteo Ricci (1577-1656) as well as to South America and Africa.
Despite the improving education the need for change and the understanding of God’s will became apparent. In the bible translation movement, where researchers through diligent hard work produced more trustworthy bibles traced from copies written in its old languages (Aramaic, Syriac, Hebrew or Greek), the longing of thousands to understand the origin intent of Gods written revelation was fulfilled. Like a storm the bible translation movement changed Europe’s society into a developing force. To study the bible brought the church back to see itself as a messenger not only a householder for Christ.
The reading of the bible in its new translations (English, High Alemanian, French, Dutch and High German) at the beginning of the 17th century led to an (educational) awakening and through the establishment of Sunday schools resulted in far-reaching reforms. With the Anabaptist’s arranging their first ever Protestant mission conference in Augsburg in 1527, the focus for the Great Commission as the central task of the LORD’s church was back on the agenda of the now multi-lingual Western European Christian church, which was ready to share the gospel from a new angle.
With the Dutch, a new sea power nation and the first Protestant nation in Europe, Protestant missionary work alongside with the Danish brethren was ready to be brought to Africa, Asia and the New World.
The Eastern Church Christian Mission in Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism (800-1627 A.D.)
2.1 Timeline of the “East Church” (800-1627 AD)
3.2 The Rise of the Greek Rite Eastern Church despite aggressive Islam.
Mission among the Slavs
3.3 The East- Church’ Missionaries
3.4 The Nestorian (and Jacobite) Churches in Minor (Arab Peninsula) Central- and Far East Asia
3.5 The East- (Syriac Rite) Rite Churches in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka)
3.6 Latin Rite and Protestant Church Mission Support in Asia
3.7 The East Church Mission Efforts
By the year 800 there were more Christians east of Damascus than there were west of that city. This statement seems astonishing, if not incredible, to the average Western reader who knows almost nothing about Eastern church mission history. But scholars of the early growth and spread of Christianity in the Orient in addition testify also the remarkable missionary zeal of the Central Asian and eastward bound Christians.
2.1 (Mission-) Timeline of the “East Church” (800-1627 A.D.)
This timeline includes information from the Greek-Rite Byzantinian (including the Melkite ) and the Syriac-Rite (Nestorian-, Jacobite-, Armenian- and Malankara) churches.
• 801-806 Kobo Daishi and Dengyo Daishi from Japan studied Buddhism in Ch'ang An, near the Christian church there, returning to Japan to establish new esoteric forms of Buddhism. 807 - Caliph Harun al-Rashid orders some churches to be torn down Dar al-Hikmah ("House of Learning") established by Caliph al-Ma'mun, composed primarily of Nestorians.
• 807 - Caliph Harun al-Rashid orders some churches to be torn down Dar al-Hikmah ("House of Learning") established by Caliph al-Ma'mun, composed primarily of Nestorians.
• 830s - The Kirghiz drive the Uighurs west to the Tarim Basin.
• 849/50 - Caliph al-Mutawakkil deposes the patriarch and institutes persecution of Christians.
• c. 850 - Probable date of the Kerala copper plates, which give details of Christians in India.
• 859 - Execution of Eulogius, proponent of confrontational Christian witness in Muslim societies. Opposed to any feeling of affinity with Muslim culture, Eulogius advocated using a missiology of martyrdom to confront Islam.
• 860 - Second Rus-Byzantine War, a naval raid and the first siege of Constantinople by the Rus. 931. Catholicos Stepanos II Rshtouni transfers the Catholicosate to the island of Aghtamar, the royal seat of the Artsruni Kingdom of Vaspurakan.
• ca. 860 - Christianization of the Rus' Khaganate.
• 861 - Cyril and Methodius depart from Constantinople to missionize the Slavs; Council of Constantinople attended by 318 fathers and presided over by papal legates confirms Photius the Great as patriarch and passes 17 canons.
• 862 - Rastislav of Moravia converts to Christianity.
• 863 - Cyril and Methodius are invited by Rastislav to evangelize in Great Moravia and the Balaton Principality, first translations of Biblical and liturgical texts into Church Slavonic by Cyril and Methodius.
• 864 - Conversion of Prince Boris of Bulgaria, Synaxis of the Theotokos in Miasena in memory of the return of her icon.
• 867-69 The rise of the Saffarid dynasty (Shi'ite) in Persia.
• 867 - The Serbian and Montenegrin peoples embrace Christianity.
• 870 - Conversion of Serbia; death of Rastislav of Moravia; Malta conquered from the Byzantines by the Arabs; martyrdom of Edmund, King of East Anglia.
• 874/75 - The Persian Samanid dynasty (Sunni) obtains the administration of Transoxiana, with its capital in Bukhara, from the Caliph.
• 877 - Arab Muslims conquer all of Sicily from Byzantium and make Palermo their capital.
• 878 - Last definite reference to Christians in China before the Mongol era.
• 880 - First Slavic archbishopric established in Great Moravia with Methodius as its head.
• 883 - Muslims burn the monastery of Monte Cassino.
• 886 - Glagolitic alphabeth, (now called Old Church Slavonic) adopted in Bulgarian Empire.
• 900 - The Samanids overthrow the Saffarids, thus extending their rule into all of Persia.
• 902 - Taormina, the last Byzantine stronghold in Sicily, is captured by the Aghlabid Arabs.
• 904 - Thessalonika sacked and pillaged by Saracen pirates under Leo of Tripoli, a Greek pirate serving Saracen interests.
• 907 - Third Rus-Byzantine War, a naval raid of Constantinople (or Tsargrad in Old Slavonic) led by Varangian Prince Oleg of Novgorod, which was relieved by peace negotiations.
• 907 - Collapse of the T'ang dynasty in China.
• 957 - Princess Olga of Kiev baptized.
• 960 – 1085 - The imperial style of Constantinople became a part of the Melkite ritual. Despite the now close ties to Constantinople, the Melkite church people never broke off relations with Rome and with the Pope.
• 973 Moravia assigned to the Diocese of Prague, putting the West Slavic tribes under jurisdiction of German church.
• 981 - Nestorian monks visiting China find no traces of Christian community left.
• 988 - Baptism of Kievan Rus' under Vladimir I.
• 988. King Smbat II Bagratuni, "the Master of the Universe," lays the cornerstone for the Cathedral of Ani.
• 989/90. Gagik I. becomes King. Under Gagik I, the Bagratuni capital of Ani reaches its zenith and is renowned as "the city of 1,001 churches." Armenian architecture enters its Golden Age and its influences are felt as far as in Western Europe.
• 1000. The Cathedral of Ani is completed. 1041-1048 Seljuk invasion of Armenia.
• 1001- The first Muslim invasion of India occurred.
• 1007 - Conversion of 200,000 Kerait Turks to Nestorian Christianity.
• 1015 - Russia is said to have been "comprehensively" converted to the Orthodox faith.
• 1036 - A Tun-huang cliff-cave was sealed containing some 2,000 Buddhist manuscripts, a few Christian ones, and some Christian paintings.
• 1042-1080 Armenian migration to Cilicia.
• 1063-Metropolitan ordained for Khitai (northern China).
• 1065- Establishment of Nestorian metropolitanate of Jerusalem.
• 1071- Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk occupation of Armenia.
• 1071-Seljuk Turks defeat Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert, beginning Islamification of Asia Minor; Norman princes led by Robert Guiscard capture Bari, the last Byzantine stronghold in Italy, bringing to an end over five centuries of Byzantine rule in the south.
• 1097. The Crusaders of the First Crusade are assisted by the Armenians of Caesarea, Cilicia, and Syria, in their efforts to capture the Holy Land from Islam. For nearly the next three centuries, the Armenians are active at all levels of the Crusade.
• 1099 - Crusaders capture Jerusalem and massacre 70,000 Muslims as well as Jews.
• 1142 - Formal reconciliation between Nestorian patriarch and Jacobite primate.
• c. 1180 - Metropolitan appointed for Kashgar.
• 1200 - The Bible is now available in 22 different languages.
• 1220 - The Mongols defeated the Muslim army of Persia.
• 1240 - Kiev falls to the Mongols and Russia comes under the Mongol yoke.
• 1249-1345 - Date of inscriptions on Nestorian gravestones near Bishkek.
• 1250 – The reign of the Mamelukes (1250 to 1516) terminates the Western occupation in Middle East, but also brings harsh reprisals on the Christians of Antioch. Continuous destruction of religious sites, persecutions of clergy, the massacres of faithful finally led to a depopulation of the entire Middle East region with its Christian community.
• 1278-1281- Mar Sergius (a Nestorian Christian) becomes Patriarch in Gansu Province, China, he was one of two Oriental monks who left Peking to visiting the patriarch at Bagdad.
• 1284 - Bar Hebraeus restructures the Jacobite church in the Persian Il-khanate & The Uighur Kingdom is absorbed into the Chagatai Khanate.
• 1291 - Argun Il Khan (a Christian) wrote to the king of France a proposal for a joint war on the Muslims of Egypt, but died shortly after writing.
• 1295 - Conversion of the Il-khans of Persia to Islam under Ghazan (Mahmud).
• 1310 - Muslim massacre of Christians in Arbela.
• 1311 - Creation of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
• 1313-41/42 - The rule of the Golden Horde by Khan Uzbek, under whom the Horde converts to Islam.
• 1326 - Changatid Khan Ilchigedai grants permission for a church to be built in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
• 1329 - Nicea falls to Muslim Ottoman Turks.
• 1323 - Franciscans make contacts on Sumatra, Java, and Borneo.
• 1339 - Christians in Almaliq (including Catholic bishop and priests) massacred by Muslims.
• 1340 - Nestorian college for "Tatars" still operating in Merv.
• 1369 -The Ming Dynasty took over China and proscribed Christianity.
• 1370 - 1405 Tamerlane, Khan of the Middle East, destroyed many cities and slaughtered great numbers of Christians in his Muslim Holy War. In 1375 Cilician Armenia is conquered by Mamluk Turks.
• 1387 - Lithuania converts to Roman Catholicism, while most Ruthenian lands (Belarus and Ukraine) remain Orthodox.
• 1390 - Ottomans take Philadelphia, last significant Byzantine enclave in Anatolia.
• c. 1390 - Final conversion of the Uighurs in Turfan to Islam.
• 1402-1405 - Mass migration of Armenians from Cilicia.
• 1401 - Timur sacks Baghdad, killing thousands of Muslims and Christians.
• 1402 - Last invasion of Armenia by Timur the Lame (Tamerlane).
• 1405-1502 - Invasions by Black Sheep and White Sheep Turkomans.
• 1405 - Death of Timur en route to his planned invasion of China.
• 1441 - Reestablishment of Holy See at Etchmiadzin. After a 957 years of absence. The Council of Vagharshapat elects the monk Kirakos Khor Virapetsi as Catholicos of All Armenians. Catholicos Kirakos I. revitalizes and reorganizes Etchmiadzin.
• 1453 - Constantinople falls to the Muslim Ottoman Turks who make it their capital.
• 1448 - Church of Russia unilaterally declares its independence from the Church of Constantinople; Vatican Library formally established by Pope Nicholas V.
• 1453 - Constantinople falls to invasion of the Ottoman Turks, ending Roman Empire; Hagia Sophia turned into a mosque; martyrdom of Constantine XI Palaiologos, last of the Byzantine Emperors; many Greek scholars escape to the West with books that become translated into Latin, triggering the Renaissance.
• 1503 - Mar Elijah, Patriarch of the East Syrian church, sends three missionaries "to the islands of the sea which are inside Java and to China."
• 1512 - Printing of first Armenian books.
• 1517 - The Mughal Rulers of Delhi opened the door of Bengal to Christian missionaries.
• 1522 - Portuguese missionaries establish presence on coast of Sri Lanka and begin moving inland with Portuguese military units.
• 1533 - First Christian missionaries from Europe arrive in Tonkin, Vietnam.
• 1545 - Catholic missionary Franz Xavier goes to Malaysia.
• 1546 - Francis Xavier travels to the Indonesian islands of Morotai, Ambon, and Ternate.
• 1547 - Wealthy Spaniard Juan Fernandez becomes a Jesuit. He will wind up in Japan as a missionary.
• 1548 - Francis Xavier founds the College of the Holy Name of God in Baçaim on the northwest coast of India.
• 1549 Franz Xavier arrives in Japan with some Japanese converts 1542 - Francis Xavier goes to Portuguese colony of Goa in South India.
• 1552 - Formation of Chaldean Patriarchate (Uniate body in communion with Rome).
• 1555 - Ottoman-Persian partition of Armenia.
• 1567 - Establishment of Armenian printing press in Constantinople.
• 1587 - All foreigners ordered out of Japan; Manteo becomes the first American Indian to be baptized by the Church of England.
• 1593 - The Franciscans arrive in Japan and establish St. Anna's hospital in Kyoto.
• 1594 - First Jesuit missionaries arrive in Pakistan.
• 1595 - Dutch East India Company chaplains expand their ministry beyond the European expatriates.
• 1597 - Twenty-six Japanese Christians are crucified for their faith by General Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Nagasaki, Japan. By 1640, thousands of Japanese Christians will have been martyred.
• 1603 - The Jesuit Mission Press in Japan commences publication of a Japanese- Portuguese dictionary.
• 1605 - Roberto de Nobili goes to India.
• 1606 - Japanese Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu bans Christianity.
• 1608 - Matteo Ricci reports finding a small remnant of Nestorians in China.
• 1610 - Chinese mathematician and astronomer Li Zhizao is baptized.
• 1613 - Missionary Alvarus de Semedo goes to China.
• 1614 - Anti-Christian edicts issued in Japan.
• 1616 - Nanjing Missionary Case in which the clash between Chinese practice of ancestor worship and Catholic doctrine ends in the deportation of foreign missionaries. Missionary Johann Adam Schall von Bell arrives in China.
• 1617 - Portuguese missionary Francisco de Pina arrives in Vietnam.
• 1619 - Dominican missionaries found the University of St. Tomas in the Philippine islands.
• 1620 - Carmelites enter Goa.
• 1623 - A team of workers digging near an ancient Christian church and monastery in Ch'ang-ngan (Si-ngan-fu), China unearth an ancient stone monument over 9 feet tall, 33 inches wide, and 10 inches thick. The text told of the arrival of a missionary, A-lo-pen (Abraham), in AD 625. He had arrived "bearing the sacred books, braving difficulties and dangers."
• 1624 - Persecution intensifies in Japan with 50 Christians being burned alive in Edo (now called Tokyo).
• 1625 - Vietnam expels missionaries.
• 1626 - After entering Japan in disguise, Jesuit missionary Francis Pacheco is captured and executed at Nagasaki.
• 1627 - Alexander de Rhodes goes to Vietnam where he baptizes in three years of ministry 6,700 converts.
• May 4th 1627 – Dutch Rev. George Candidius arrives in Sinckan (now Sinshih) on Formosa (now called Republic of China, Taiwan) as the first Protestant missionary.
2.2 The Greek Rite Church’ Involvement in the Conversion of the Slavs
One of the brightest chapters in the history of Christianity was recorded by two amazing brothers Cyril and Methodios, the ‘Apostles to the Slavs.’ Cyril, who was born Constantine, and his brother Methodios were two Greek brothers from Thessalonike, Methodios was born about AD 825, Constantine about 827.
Both were scholars in the classical tradition, outstanding as intellectuals, theologians, and linguists. Cyril was a professor of philosophy at the patriarchal school in Constantinople and at one point took a leave of absence to participate in a mission among the Arabs. Methodios was the abbot of a Greek monastery when they decided to join in working for the conversion of the Khazars, northeast of the black Sea. Their success in this joint effort brought them to the attention of the hierarchy, and they were encouraged to remain as a team in prospective programs for the spread of the Christian faith.
In 862 A.D. Rastislav, the ruler of Moravia, was seeking to offset German political and religious pressures influence through the Frankish kingdom. So he asked in Constantinople for Orthodox support and missionaries. The Byzantine Emperor Michael III and the great Patriarch Photios sent him the two missionaries.
Map 1: The „Carpatho Rusyn“ Homeland
On their journey to Moravia Cyril and Methodius proceeded along the Tisa River to the northern part of Bulgaria, where they intended to follow the so-called Salt Route, connecting the salt mines of Maramorosh with Central Europe, all the way to Moravia and Bohemia. Northern Bulgaria was, at that time, already populated by Slavs, who were ruled by their own princes, recognizing the Bulgarian suzerainty. They populated both sides of the Tisa River, and their land extended deep into present day Transylvania and Hungary. They recognized the peculiarity of the language and customs of their ancestors and called the land - Rhos, i.e. Rus'. Thus the locals began to call themselves Rusi syny (children of Rus'), Rusiny (modified by Latin in Rusyns) and their land - Rus'. In the following year they started their work among the Slavs, whose language they had mastered.
In fact, historians believe that the Golden Age of the ninth and tenth centuries of the East-Church was brought not only by the great Patriarch Photios but also by the two missionaries Cyril and Methodios. Cyril understood the Slavic language, and succeeded in making it available for literary purposes by inventing a suitable alphabet. Because of the German invasion Cyril and Methodius were not able to continue their journey to Moravia. As a result they remained there preaching the Gospel of Christ to the Rusyn tribe until the summer of 864 A.D. Thus, between 863-864 A.D., even as the simple people of the Rusyn understood the teaching in Slavonian, they adopted Christianity and chose to use the Slavonised Byzantine Greek-Rite to worship the Almighty God. Seeing the great success of their mission, Cyril and Methodius provided them with their own Bishop and necessary priests before they left heading westward to reach the Moravians. Thus, the „Carpatho Rusyn“ received Christianity first, before Cyril and Methodius reached the Great Moravian State. In Velehrad (Veľkomoravské učilište) they founded a Mission Training Center using the Slavonian language and training a great number of Slavic Christian missionaries. Among their students were a number of Rusyn youth, who later returned to their homeland and extended their missionary work even to other Rusyn tribes in neighboring Galicia (Belarussians, Russians), among the Kievan Rus' (todays Ukrainians) and Bulgarians. Cyril and Methodios accepted an invitation by Pope Nicholas to go to Rome to explain why they had used the Slavic tongue in the Liturgy. The German Archbishop of Salzburg and the bishop of Passau claimed control of the Slavic territory and the right to use the Latin Liturgy. However, by the time the missionaries arrived in Rome, there was a new Pope, Hadrian II, who sympathized with them, not to change. The Slavic mission was successful mainly because Hadrian II. agreed with the patriarch of Constantinople and authorized the further use of the Slavic Liturgy the native language of the people rather than Latin or Greek, helping the local Slavic Byzantine Church to grow quickly and become strong.
2.3 The Nestorian-, Jacobite-, Armenian- and Malankara Churches in Asia
2.3.1 The "Nestorian" Christianity Central and East in Asia (800-1627 A.D.)
220.127.116.11 The Extent of the Nestorian Mission Work
The extent of the Syrian Rite Nestorian Christianity at the beginning of the ninth century is amazing. Of the size of the church Gibbon says, "its numbers, with those of the Jacobites, were computed to surpass the Greek and Latin communions."
Unfortunately those established missions were later either destroyed or the church reduced through cruel persecution by the Chinese, Hindu and Muslims.
Map 2: Ancient Asian Trade Routes used by Nestorians
18.104.22.168 Nestorian Bishoprics & Metropolitanates after 800 A.D.
A commented list to highlight the cross-denominational working structure of the Nestorian churches underlining their efforts to quickly reach the ends of the earth.
Episcopal Sees City/Town Comments
Edessa, Hirah, Isfahan, Margha, Nishapur, Tirhan, Tus Patriarchate: Seleucia-Ctesiphon (to 800) Baghdad (after 800)
Beth Katraye (Oman), Najran, Sana, Socotra, Other Churches: Aden, Dhofar (Mirbat)
Kan-chou (Shandan?), Ning-hsia (Ningxia), Ta-t'ung (Taiyuan), Yang-chou, (Changzhou?), Chen-chiang (Shanghai), Ch'eng-tu (Chengdu), Ch'uan-chou (13th-14th cent. Quanzhou), Khanbalik (1248, Beijing), Ta-t'ung (13th cent.= Taiyuan) Other Churches in: Chen-chiang (Shanghai), Ch'eng-tu (Chengdu), Ch'uan-chou (Quanzhou), Hang-chou (Hangzhou), Hsi-ning (Xining), Kuang-chou (Guangzhou), Tun-huang (Dunhuang)
Almalyk (Yining/Gulja), Balkh, Cambaluc (Karamay?), Kashgar(1176-1190?)Kara-Khoja (Urumchi?), Kumul (Hami), Turfan, Other Churches:
Socotra (11th cent.) Other Churches: Bombay, Cranganore, Kottayam, Quilon
Tibet Tangut (781) Bishop
The Nestorian Mission Work was well organized and structured. In addition, some of its ministries were channeled through other organizations. Since the 7th century their center of operations was in Persia. Their involvement in ministries in places such as Ceylon started in the 6th century and in Tibet in the 8th century. Though there was activity in Java, there is a lack of precise records, while there are still reports about ongoing ministries in Turkestan until the 13th century. Where practical the Nestorians also worked with other Patriarchates like: Alexandria (Coptic Orthodox), Artashat (Armenian Orthodox), Antioch, Constantinople (Eastern/Byzantine Orthodox), Damascus (Syrian Orthodox), Jerusalem, Rome (Catholic).
Newly opened Bishoprics & Metropolitanates (mostly) after 800 A.D
Bishop (Date) Metropolitan (Date)
Armenia Metropolitan (779-823): 13th in rank
Arran (West of Caspian Sea) Metropolitan (900)
Java Metropolitan(1503) : 15th in rank
Jerusalem Jerusalem Bishop (835) Metropolitan (1065)
China/Turkestan Kashgar & Nuakith Metropolitan(1180) : 27th in rank
Hyrcania (on Caspian Sea) Khamlikh/Halah Bishop
China Khan Balik & Falik(Peking) Bishop Metropolitan (1248): 25th in rank
China (north China) Khatai Metropolitan (1063)
China/Turkestan Kumul/Hami Bishop (1266)
Yemen Bishop (779-823)
22.214.171.124 The Mystery about the Failure of the Nestorian Work after the Tang Dynasty
The Nestorians did not lack evangelistic zeal. Some claimed that their Christology was wrong. As we know, there was nothing particularly different in their doctrine of the person of Christ. They emphasized that He was truly man, of our flesh and blood, but at the same time that He was God from heaven, both the divine and human in the one incarnate Person. But this was the widespread teaching of the universal Church by the middle of the fifth century anyway. In his list the reasons Saecki suggests (order changed):
1. "Nestorianism" in China remained a foreign religion until the end.
2. Most of the "Nestorian" church members in China were foreigners, not Chinese, and mostly from the despised mercenary soldiers of the Uigur and Tungu tribes, "barbarians" from the Mongol plains.
3. In China they failed to train native leaders, lay and clergy, as indicated by the "Nestorian" Monument where, of 72 names, only one might be Chinese.
4. The complexity of the Chinese civilization, its philosophical, educational and spiritual environment surpassed what foreigners of could satisfactorily comprehend for such a job.
5. The fall of the Persian Empire in 642 was due to the militant Muslims.
6. The loss of the imperial favor and support occurred in the ninth century, with the outlawing of Christian and Buddhist monasteries decided in 845.
7. The Huang Chao Rebellion, in which many great cities were captured and their people slain, included the decimation of most of the "Nestorian" remnant.
8. The monogamic principle of the Christians was unpopular with the polygamic Chinese and Muslim.
9. There was constant badgering and sometimes violent persecution from the Muslims.
10. The converted tribesmen in the armies of the Mongol Khans died like flies as some of these believing mercenaries fought the wars of conquest, or were lost through the sinking of the invading fleet before Japan in a typhoon, while the eventual destruction of the civilizations from Delhi to Damascus, under the ruthless Tamerlane, decimated masses of Christians.
While it is true that by the 7th century, in the time where the famous stele in Xian was erected, many Nestoirans were foreigners, but this may not apply for later times. We know, that Matteo Ricci in 1627 still met some Chinese Nestorian believers. The Yuan dynasty brought a new revival with a potential for further reaching influence into the central Asian cultures, but it seems the resources from the Nestorian homelands had dried out too much already to make good use of this period (the losses suffered through cruel massacres by Muslim leaders in the previous centuries). As it seems the Nestorian-Christian tradition in its presented form did not answer the basic questions of life of an average local Chinese in an alternative way.
All of these factors were probably contributing to disappearance of the Nestorian Church in China. The high cultural level of the Chinese court, with the sophisticated philosophies of the Buddhists and Taoists, along with the prevailing ethics, all constantly discussed by the intelligentsia, presented an additional barrier for these Syrian missionaries to penetrate the Chinese culture on a grass-root level with the simple gospel. Starting at the top level of society quickly consumed all of their precious time and did not allow them to produce appropriate training material in local Chinese languages in the set timeframe leaving leaders without training in a critical period.
126.96.36.199 Theological Implications.
The Eastern Christians were inclined to be activists, using that term in a good sense to apply to those whose Christian faith led them to put the emphasis on service rather than meditation. The Gospels closed with the Great Commission to take the message of Christ to all the world, and doing this was seen by them as the climactic act of obedience. The Antiochene tradition saw the life as a service in obedience to the LORD to lead others to HIM, as Young writes “..the Antiochene tradition and its missionaries was to consider that the work of a Christian consisted in preparing for life, to lead the obedient life of service themselves and to lead others into it and into life eternal for the age to come. The missionaries' belief in a universal atonement, and the consequent native ability of men to respond in faith of deliverance from death, Satan and sin, doubtless encouraged many of them with a false optimism.” They were convinced that Christians were called to evangelize!
Taking the Scriptures literally, they believed the fulfillment of this command was vital to their obedience and going on to perfection. Following the example of Jesus meant a sacrificial life of service, and the medical schools of Edessa and Dschondisapur in Khuzistan, the theological schools of Edessa and Nisibis, their hospitals and medical service, their missionary effort in India and across to China, all testify to the extent of their effort to render that service and to the extent of their missionary zeal. Yet all of this effort was eventually to fade away.
188.8.131.52 The main reason for failure.
The major mistake, and the one which ultimately doomed their mission to failure, was their constant effort to phrase the gospel message in the philosophical terms of the court, to make it intellectually acceptable to society, even though those terms had a strictly Buddhist or Taoist connotation. Thus they were doubtlessly lessening the uniqueness of the gospel as the Word of the Holy God to sinful men. Instead of using the gospel's authority and power of the living God, to call men for conversion it was through the adoption of some pagan religions terminology completely muffled the message and into something much different. The writings of the early missionaries of 635 show that they did have the gospel, and obviously they wanted to communicate it, but they faced the impossible task of fulfilling the emperor's order to produce a translation of some of their doctrinal writings in Chinese quickly, although they lacked the linguistic qualifications to fulfill this job satisfactorily.
Foster gives us a vivid picture of their predicament: We can imagine them sitting in the great Library with their scribes. The translator would find chapter and verse in His Scriptures, and explain its meaning in halting Chinese to the clerk. The clerk would ask for further light upon this or that point. Then, often only half comprehending, he would write down what he thought was meant. After each sentence or paragraph he would read his Chinese version. The translator would try to check it ... Phrases bore a meaning different from that which he intended, but they were unfamiliar, and he had to accept them on trust. It was weary work -especially for the scribe, whose heart was not in it. Once attention began to flag, all manner of mistakes crept into the text. But the Emperor had commanded them to prepare samples of their gospel, so however ill-equipped for the task, they must proceed.
No wonder the later missionaries, in listing the thirty translated manuscripts in "The Book of Praise" for which they gave praise, did not mention the first ones translated before 638! Those later missionaries, however, with their superior knowledge of the Chinese language and religions, were far less excusable for dimming the light of the gospel with the wisdom of this world. In the "Discourse on Rest and Joy," for instance, we read such assertions as this purporting to be from Jesus to Peter:
Know you Simon Samgha [Peter] that if any of you wants to prepare himself for "the Victorious Way," as a rule he must get rid of both "motion" and "desire" before every thing else ... If he is of "non-desire" and is of "non-action," then he may be pure and serene ... understand and demonstrate (the truth) ... be all illumining and all pervading. And to be all illumining and all pervading is nothing but the concatenation of cause and effect which will lead (people) to the state of rest and joy.
“Non-desire” and “non-action” are Taoist terms while the latter ones are Buddhist. Lao-tsu, founder of Taoism, was known to have ten heavy wrinkles on his face. In the continuation of the above passage we find Jesus calling the attention of Peter to the "curious markings on my face. But all these `ten streaks' may be assumed to signify my attainment of wisdom . . ." Then shortly later, "If you cut yourselves off from the things that defile you, then you could be as pure as the state of pure-emptiness itself." The discourse ends with these words, "Hearing too much may lead you into doubt," a Taoist concept but hardly a Christian one! Both the Monument and the Motwa Hymn speak of either the "Vessel of Mercy" or "the salvation raft," of which Saeki says, "As far as the Chinese are concerned, it corresponds to Kwan-yin, the Goddess of Mercy, who is called `the Boat of Mercy' or `Salvation Raft'."
Coupled with this compromising of the gospel presentation by the language used, there was another great weakness in the missionary ministry. This was their readiness to take advantage of the superstitious mind of the Emperor and court personnel by using their beliefs which appealed to the pagan mindset. Young believes this was the primary reason for their receiving the court's reimbursement, that is, their willingness "earnestly to offer prayers for the living and the dead," as the Monument puts it. Praying for the dead is a form of worship recorded in the earliest religious records of Oriental peoples. Moore speaks of ancestor worship in China "at the most remote time of which any record is preserved," and points out that it was in India long before any transmigration of souls was taught. Different motivations for praying to or for the dead have been presented. In some instances it is for the comfort of the living, in satisfying their desire for continued fellowship with the dead. Anezaki claims this is a common practice in Japan. Again it is for the comfort of the dead, in some cases it being held that such prayers "saved from the torment of revengeful spirits" in hell, a belief in some Japanese Buddhism. With Buddhists, prayers for the dead are held to bring merit to the deceased in their transmigrations and enable that the offerer "himself will be led up more closely to the realm of bliss." But the motivation seems to be the fear that the deceased spirit will make trouble in this life for the relative who fails to pray to it, a common belief in Taiwan and Japan. "If their wants were not supplied, they might avenge the neglect," Moore writes of a similar belief in India. Of the "Nestorians," Latourette writes, "While opposed to the doctrine of purgatory, they prayed for the dead." Coleman says concerning recent times that "while the Nestorians thoroughly reject the doctrine of purgatorial fire, they still say prayers over the dead."
These prayers probably began as marks of veneration for the martyred dead. In the latest Syriac manuscript of China the purpose of the prayers to the deceased martyrs is seen to be both to praise them and to secure their protection and help. The opening sentence runs, "In the midst of our injuries, may we be guarded by your prayers, ye Blessed Ones." Further on we read, "Be a suppliant for all of us that we may be counted worthy of forgiveness."
Among the blessings listed on the Monument as resulting from the early Christian religious efforts we read, "The dead can have joy." The Monument also states that the imperial portraits (in their neighborhood the five emperors) were hung up in the state-built monastery.
The five emperors were the immediate ancestral predecessors of the reigning monarch, and apparently the missionaries were well rewarded for praying for them. "Seven times a day [i.e., at the canonical hours] we worship and praise, a great protection for the living and the dead," the Monument reads. Foster comments: “Without doubt one of the strong appeals of Christianity in ancestor-loving China was the message of a future life and that the piety of the living could contribute to the peace of the dead. Buddhists living side by side with Christians in Ch'an-An were not slow to see that this was the most attractive feature of their rivals. They were making preparations at this very time to compete with Christianity in this regard by the addition of such practices within Buddhism”.
The leader of this [competitive] movement within Buddhism was an Indian monk, Amogha Vajra, who lived as the near neighbor of the Christians in Ch'ang-An. One of the Palace eunuchs, a man of great wealth, had built a magnificent new Buddhist monastery in the capital. It was here, in the year 766, the completion of Amogha Vajra's work of Buddhist "masses for the dead" was first displayed. On the fifteenth day of the seventh moon a solemn service was held, with prayers for the ancestors of the reigning dynasty (763-780) seven generations beyond the Emperor Tai Tsung (627-650). The portraits of the "Five Sages" already hung in the Nestorian monastery, but they went back only to T'ai Tsung himself. The Buddhists were now attempting to show that they could beat the Christians at their own game.
Not only that, a "Feast of Wandering Souls," a Buddhist All-Souls Day, was added. Prayers were said and offerings made on behalf of all who had departed this life without the blessing of sons of their own to arrange the proper masses for them. This feast continues still in ancestor-loving China. A monastery may arrange for similar ceremonies at other times whenever there are well-disposed people to pay the costs. Thus they acquire merit on their own, and for these needy, lonely souls a speedier release from Purgatory. A still further development is seen in the "Pure Land School" of Buddhism. Here there is a festival of masses for the souls of the dead which continues for forty-nine days, ending in a day of solemn feasting.
There is little doubt that here we have the Buddhist counterpart of the Nestorians' observance of Lent and Easter, known to them in Ch'ang-An in the days when the chorepiscopos Yazdbozid (the father of deacon Adam who set up the Nestorian stone Monument in 781) "assembled the monks for reverent service and proper worship to fulfill the whole of the Quinquagesima."
In China today masses for the dead are one of the most popular features of Buddhism. It is strange to see surviving there practices copied from the Nestorian Christian Church which disappeared so many centuries ago.
Thus the decision of the Chinese Nestorian church leadership to compensate the missing linguistic ability to produce what the emperor wanted by taking advantage of the superstitious mindset of him and his court people in the end back-fired and eliminated the central meaning of the gospel like no wrong decision ever made in their history before.
2.4 The East-Church’ - (Jacobite-/ Nestorian- ) Influence in India
2.4.1 The 2nd Syrian Colonization of AD 825. In early 9th century the Syrian fathers Mor Sabor and Mor Apfrot reached Malankara with a group of immigrants, at the then famous trade centre in South Kerala, Kollam. On arrival they were accorded certain privileges and rights by the local Ruler. That they were saintly persons was proven by the fact that there were many churches in their names which is corroborated by the records of the decisions of the 'Synod of Diamper (Udayamperoor)'.
With not much proof for either side’s opinion it is at least clear, that Nestorians from Persia in earlier centuries didn’t gain much influence in Southern India until after 1490 A.D. When a Nestorian bishop came to help the weakened Syrian Jacobite Church even Kottapparambil writes:
”They were received by Malankara Christians without any opposition. Since there were certain similarities in the liturgy and rituals of the Jacobites and Nestorians, Malankara Syrian Christians who until then followed the Jacobite faith, were not reluctant to accept these Nestorian bishops.”
According to one tradition, the Malayalam Calendar era (Kolla Varsham) started with these holy fathers who settled at Kollam in AD 825.
2.4.2 The Malankara Church between the 10th and 15th Century
During the 10th and the 11th centuries the Malankara Church was within the authority of the Patriarch of Antioch. This is authenticated in the Travancore State Manual as also in other books, such as that authored by the protestant historian Huff. Unfortunately, falling prey to some Roman Catholics propaganda to promote their own history and also to disseminate some vested interests, some in Malankara recently are propagating a new version that the Malankara Church had connections only with the Persian Nestorian Church till the 17th century. But all the circumstantial evidences and history proves otherwise.
As for the 12th century, there is an authoritative record now safely maintained at Cambridge University, which clearly indicates there were ties of Malankara Church with he Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch in the period. This is the Bible written in Estrangela script during the time of the great Patriarch Michael (1199). This book, which was in Malankara from the 13th century, was presented to Dr. Claudius Buchannan, one of the earliest protestant missionaries who came to Kerala in 1807, by the then Malankara Metropolitan Mor Dionysius the Great. It contained special Gospel portions for reading on the feasts of the Mother of God and the Gospel readings for the Holy Mass on Saturdays in lent. In the notes contained in the book there are very respectful references to Mor Sevarios, the famous Patriarch of Antioch.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, it can safely be assumed that the Malankara Church continued to stay within the Syrian Orthodox belief. In the 14th century, a Roman Bishop named John de Marinjoli is believed to have landed in Kollam. But he had no connection with the Malankara Church. In 1328 Pope John XXII had ordained the Friar Jordanoos as Bishop of Kollam and deputed him to India, but he does not seem to have reached India.
In short, from all the circumstantial evidences, it has to be believed that between 4th and 15th centuries the Malankara Church remained as part of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church. This fact is recalled in the scholarly work of Arch Bishop Mar Ivanios of Syrian Catholic Church (Fr. P T Vargheese), "Were Syrian Christians - Nestorians". It says "Thus from internal - external and circumstantial evidences, it is evident that the church in Kerala was nothing but Jacobite before the 15th century".
Again late Paulose Mar Gregorios of Indian Orthodox Church (Methran Kakshi) says (ref. Shema Vartha, 1968 Oct) "We in India belong to this Patriarchate even if we have our own Catholicos and are autonomous (not autocephalous). We have no other source from which to receive our ancient tradition - except the tradition of Antioch, of the great Syrian Church which once had spread through the length and breadth of Asia right up to China and Korea".
2.4.3 The Nestorian Church Influence in Indian Churches (between 800-1627 A.D.)
From the 14th century onwards, the Syrian (Jacobite) Patriarchate of Antioch, gradually became weak following the continued persecution by the Romans, Mohammedans and also because of internal squabbles. In this period of serious crisis, the Patriarchate was not in a position to send any dignitaries to Malankara. By the 15th century the Episcopal ties of the Malankara Church with its parental church at Antioch were interrupted.
When for the first time the Nestorian bishops landed in Malankara in 1490 A.D., they were received by Malankara Christians without any opposition. Moreover, as there were several similarities in the liturgy and rituals between the Jacobites and Nestorians traditions, the Malankara Syrian Christians, who until then followed the Jacobite faith, accepted these Nestorian bishops without much discussion.
Since the Nestorian bishop did not come before 1490 it is clear that before that date the Church in Kerala was not Nestorian. When he arrived he wrote to the Nestorian 'Catholicos-Patriarch' that, he was well received by Christians, that there would be about 30,000 Christian families around and that the name of the area is Malabar. Obviously he was not writing to a Patriarch who knew a lot about Malankara.
From AD 1490 to 1599 the Malankara Church had received Metropolitans from the Nestorian patriarchs of Persia. Yet it cannot be assumed that the entire Malankara Church took to Nestorian faith, this presumption is supported from the decisions of Synod of Diamper in which it is recorded that, before the arrival of Portuguese, there were people who held Dioscorous, who was revered holy father of the west Syrian Church, in reverence and that Western Syriac was in use here in addition to the use of Chaldaya Syriac and that the liturgy of baptism used by the Jacobite Syrians was in operation. Yet it may be supposed that from 1490 till 1599, when the Synod Diamper was convened and the Malankara Christians were forcefully drawn to the Roman catholic Church, the Church may have been under the suzerainty of Nestorians.
2.4.5 Introduction of Roman Catholic Faith in Kerala- Malankara Christians Reaction
The Roman Catholic faith started to have its foothold in Malankara with the arrival of Vasco De Gama, the famous Portuguese sailor in 1498. Initially the Portuguese Priests concentrated on the poor people living on the sea coast of Kerala and Goa and converted many to the Latin Catholic faith, some times even forcibly. But later they tried to introduce their faith among the Syrian Christians of Kerala. For that they even adopted some unholy practices.
On June 20, 1599 the Roman Catholic Archbishop Menezes, with the help of local rulers, convened the historical Synod of Diamper (Udayamperoor), using this as pretext to force the Syrian churches to convert them to their Latin Rite tradition. They burned all the historical documents, and thereby terrified the Syrian Christians. Consequently the Malankara Church had to suffer servitude and indignities under the Roman Catholic bishops.
Finally, in response to the continuous appeal of the Thomas Arkadiyakon (archdeacon), who was then the leader of the Malankara Church the Patriarchate of Antioch in 1653 sent Mor Ignatius Ahattula. As the story goes the Portuguese arrested him, tied him up and cast him in the Ocean. Consequently, the Syrian Christians got angry and as a result, a large gathering of about 25,000 assembled at Mattancherry and took Oath at 'Koonan Cross' which happens to be known as the historical 'Koonam Kurisu Sathayam' in 1653 and declared that they and their future generations will always stay loyal to the throne of Antioch. They also vowed to fight against the atrocities of the Roman/Latin Catholics.
The Malankara Church sent request to the Patriarch of Antioch again and in 1665 Saint Gregorios of Jerusalem was deputed to Malankara. The link between Malankara and Antioch thus was broken and remained separated for about 150 years, but was re-established with the arrival of the holy father. Arakadiyakon as Bishop who assumed charge as Mar Thoma I ordained Saint Gregorios. And once again, the Malankara Church became an integral part of the Syrian Orthodox Church, adopting its rituals, rites and liturgy as before.
2.4.6 The Armenian Church’ Progress in Mission (800-1627)
184.108.40.206 Between Islam and Byzanz
Since ancient times, the Armenian Church as autonomous administrative jurisdictions recognized certain areas with Armenian Christian inhabitants living outside the geo-political borders of the Armenian homeland. The heads of such churches, while remaining in very close contact with the center of the Armenian Church, were called "catholicoi." The original title of the Catholicos was "chief bishop of Armenia," which was replaced with "Catholicos of Armenia," presumably during the fifth century. From the 10th and 11th centuries on the diocese outside of Armenia was responsible to use the title "Catholicos of All Armenians."
220.127.116.11 The (Mission-) Timeline of the Armenian Orthodox Church
• 931. Catholicos Stepanos II Rshtouni transfers the Catholicosate to the island of Aghtamar, the royal seat of the Artsruni Kingdom of Vaspurakan.
• 988. King Smbat II Bagratuni, "the Master of the Universe", lays the cornerstone for the Cathedral of Ani.
• 989/90. Gagik I becomes King. Under Gagik I, the Bagratuni capital of Ani reaches its zenith and is renowned as "the city of 1,001 churches." Armenian architecture enters its golden age and its influences are felt as far as Western Europe.
• 1000. The Cathedral of Ani is completed. 1041-1048 Seljuk invasion of Armenia
• 1042-1080 Armenian migration to Cilicia
• 1071 Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk occupation of Armenia
• 1097. The Crusaders of the First Crusade are assisted by the Armenians of Caesarea, Cilicia, and Syria, in their efforts to capture the Holy Land from Islam. For nearly the next three centuries, the Armenians are active at all levels of the Crusade
• 1311. Creation of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem
• 1375 Cilician Armenia conquered by Mamluk Turks.
• 1402-1405 Mass migration of Armenians from Cilicia
• 1402 Last invasion of Armenia by Timur the Lame (Tamerlane)
• 1405-1502 Invasions by Black Sheep and White Sheep Turkomans
• 1441 Reestablishment of Holy See at Etchmiadzin. after a 957 year absence. The Council of Vagharshapat elects the monk Kirakos Khor Virapetsi as Catholicos of All Armenians. Catholicos Kirakos I re-vitalizes and reorganizes Holy Etchmiadzin.
• 1512 Printing of first Armenian books
• 1555 Ottoman-Persian partition of Armenia
• 1567 Establishment of Armenian printing press in Constantinople
• 1637 Theological seminary established at Etchmiadzin.
2.5 Bible Translations in the Greek- & Syriac Rite Church from 800-1527 A.D.
OLD ARABIC - In the 10th century A.D. Saadia Gaon wrote a Tafsir, an Arabic translation of the Tanakh with a lengthy commentary. This was written in Hebrew characters (Judeo-Arabic). Much of the commentary is lost, but the translation survived in good quality, and even served as part of the liturgy of Yemenite Jews, who read the Torah in the synagogue with each Hebrew verse translated twice: First to the Aramaic Targum, and second to Saadia's Tafsir Rev. Fr. Chidiac looking for clues for early translations in Arab searched everywhere for Gospel sources and finally found a manuscript in the library of Leningrad written about 1060 by a certain Ibn al-Assal as the first edition of a Christian text in Arabic. This is confirmed by the research of local Middle East Christians. Therefore we know for certain there did not yet exist any Arabic edition of the Gospels during the Pre-Islamic period.
SLAVONIC - From Greek from mid 9th century; the oldest manuscripts are written in the Glagolitic, which is older than the Cyrillic. The oldest manuscripts belong to the 10th or 11th century, and the first complete collection of Biblical books in the Church Slavonic language originated in Russia in the last decade of the 15th century. It was completed in 1499 under the auspices of Archbishop Gennady of Novgorod (1484-1504), and the Old Testament was translated partly from the Vulgate, and partly from the Septuagint. The New Testament is based upon the old Church Slavonic translation. That Bible, called the “Gennady Bible” (Gennadievskaia Biblia) is now in the State History Museum on Red Square.
BELARUS: The first translation into Belarusian was made by Francysk Skaryna. He printed his first book entitled The Psalter, in the Old Belarusian language on August 6, 1517 in Prague. He continued his printing work in Vilnius. The culmination of his life's work was a printing of the Bible in Old Belarusian. From 1517 to 1519 he printed 23 books of the Bible. Skaryna laid the foundations of the Belarusian literary language. The Belarusian Bible was the first translation in any Eastern Slavic language.
JAPANESE: Roman Catholic missionaries (Kirishitan) entered Japan in 1549, and Jesuits published the full New Testament in Kyoto, in 1613. Shortly afterwards, however, Christianity was banned and all the missionaries were exiled. That translation of the Bible is now lost.
There could more bible translations made during the time of Nestorian, Jacobite Malankara and Melkite Church Christian mission efforts, but not known to us yet.
2.6 The East Church Mission Efforts
The Great Schism due to doctrinal issues: In the 11th century the Great Schism took place between Rome and Constantinople, which led to separation of the Church of the West, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Churches of the East.
This Schism is often considered to have come as a result of the sacking of Constantinople at the Fourth Crusade in 1204. This Fourth Crusade had the Latin Church directly involved in a military assault against the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, and the Orthodox Patriarchate. The sacking of the Church of Holy Wisdom and establishment of the Latin Empire in 1204 is viewed with some rancor to the present day.
Orthodox Christian culture reached its Golden Age during the high point of Byzantine Empire and continued to flourish in Russia, after the fall of Constantinople. Numerous autocephalous jurisdictions were established in Eastern Europe and Slavic areas. In 1453, the last of the Roman Empire (with its capital at Constantinople) fell to the Ottoman Turks. By this time Egypt had been under Muslim control for some seven centuries, but Orthodoxy was very strong in Russia; and so Moscow, called the Third Rome, became a major new center of the Church at that time.
4. The Expanding African Church & Fighting Islam (800-1627 AD)
4.1 The Timeline of Mission in Africa from 800-1627 A.D.
4.2 Mission and the Egyptian Christian Church (800-1627 AD)
4.3 Mission and the North-West African Christian Church (800-1627)
4.4 Mission and the Christian Church in Ethiopia (800-1627 AD)
4.5 Mission and the Sub-Saharan African Church (800-1627 AD)
4.6 Bible Translation into African local Languages (800-1627 AD)
4.7 The African Churches’ Mission Efforts (800-1627 AD)
3.1 The Timeline of Mission in Africa from 800-1627 A.D.
• ca. 1131-45 Coptic Pope of Alexandria Gabriel II initiates addition of Arabic as a liturgical language with his Arabic translation of the Liturgy.
• 1200 - The Bible is now available in 22 different languages
• 1276 - Ramon Llull opens training center to send missionaries to North Africa
• 1448 - First Christians reported in Mauritania
• 1462 - Johannes Gutenberg begins printing the Bible with his movable-type printing process; Pope Pius II assigns the evangelization of the Portuguese Guinea Coast of Africa to the Franciscans led by Alfonso de Bolano
• 1485 - After having come into contact with the Portuguese, the King of Benin requests that a church be planted in his kingdom
• 1486 - Dominicans become active in West Africa, notably among the Wolof people in Senegambia.
• 1489 - Baptism of Wolof king Behemoi in Senegal
• 1491 - The Congo sees its first group of missionaries arrive. Under the ministry of these Franciscan and Dominican priests, the king would soon be baptized and a church built at the royal capital.
• 1492 - Birth of the church in Angola
• 1498 - First Christians are reported in Kenya
• 1499 - Portuguese Augustinian missionaries arrive at Zanzibar. Their mission will end in 1698 due to the Oman-Arab conquest.
• 1506 - Mission work begun in Mozambique
• 1515 - Portuguese missionary Francisco Evares is sent on a diplomatic mission to Dawit II, the Negus or Emperor of Abyssinia (an old name for Ethiopia)
• 1517 - The Mughal Rulers of Delhi opened the door of Bengal to Christian missionaries
• 1518 - Don Henrique, son of the king of the Congo, is consecrated by Pope Leo X as the first indigenous bishop from Black Africa
• 1541 Portuguese expeditionary force arrives in Ethiopia.
• 1542 Ethiopians and Portuguese defeat Ahmad ibn Ibrahim Gran of Adal, neutralizing Adal threat to Ethiopia.
• 1550 - Printed Bibles are available in 28 languages
• 1577 - Dominicans enter Mozambique and penetrate inland, burning Muslim mosques as they go
• 1586 - Portuguese missionary Joao dos Santos reports that locals kill elephants to protect their crops in Sofala, Mozambique.
• 1633 Ethiopian emperor Fasilides expels Jesuits and other Roman Catholic missionaries from Ethiopia.
3.2 Mission and the Christian Church in Ethiopia (800-1627 AD)
During the seventh century, the Muslim conquests cut the Ethiopians off from the rest of the Christian world, except for the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem, which continued to be a pilgrimage site for pious Ethiopian monks, and the continuing thread of contact with Egypt maintained because the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria supplied the Ethiopian Church with its Abuna.
3.2.1 Suffering the Muslim Conquests:
Initially relations between the Ethiopians and the Muslims were cordial, with mutual trade and mutual religious toleration, some of which grew out of real religious similarities.
The prophet Mohammed also instructed his followers to be kind to the Ethiopians, since they had been kind to several of Mohammed’s companions who had fled there. Eventually, however, relations deteriorated and Ethiopia slid into its dark ages, retreating into the security of the mountains to defend themselves against the Muslims. They did, however, maintain their independence, their culture, their identity and their faith.
3.2.2 King Lalibela & the Rock Churches
In the 12th century Ethiopia emerged from the dark ages under the leadership of a new Zagwe (Zague) dynasty. The Zagwes were from central Ethiopia and of dubious background. Later ecclesiastical texts accuse them of not being of the pure Solomonid lineage -- that is not being descended from Menelik, the son of the biblical king Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, who supposedly founded the royal house of Ethiopia. They sought, in part, to establish their religious credentials, to stake a claim to God’s favor, to create a focus for religious devotion inside Ethiopia and particularly at the Zagwe capital, to re-direct the energies of pilgrims from Jerusalem, and in part out of genuine religious devotion.
King Lalibela had a set of ten churches built in his capital of Roha, which has since be renamed Lalibela. These churches, carved out of the living rock, deserve to be one of the wonders of the world and are a remarkable monument to the skill and craftsmanship of the 13th century Ethiopians.
2.2.3 The Modern Church & Contact with the West
In the sixteenth century Ethiopia was nearly overrun by the armies of the Muslim general Ahmed Gran who waged jihad on Ethiopia with great success. He took control of the country, but when he was killed by a Portuguese musket in an Ethiopian counter-attack in 1543 the incipient Muslim state in Ethiopia simply fell apart for lack of leadership. Portuguese military support was critical to the success of the counter-attack, though it had not been enough to prevent Ahmed Gran from overrunning Ethiopia in the first place. - John Bermudez, a Portuguese who had been visiting Ethiopia during Ahmed Gran’s conquest, and who had slipped through to appeal for Portuguese aid, took advantage of the death of the abuna to claim that the dying patriarch had appointed him successor, and that the pope has appointed him Archbishop of Ethiopia when John Bermudez had been in Europe. There is no evidence that either claim was true, but the Portuguese in Ethiopia believed him and pressured king Galawdewos to adopt the Latin Roman Catholic Liturgy. A mission of Jesuits was sent out to further pressure the Ethiopian court, which resisted any thought of joining the Roman Catholic Church
The following century, king Suseynos (1607-32) became Catholic in the hope of an advantageous military alliance with the west, but his successor drove the Catholic missionaries out of Ethiopia again when they tried to assert full-blown Catholicism. Alphonsus Mendes, who was sent out as patriarch of Ethiopia, demanded that all Ethiopian Christians be re-baptized, and the priests re-ordained, though he permitted the married priests to remain married. He prohibited the Ethiopian custom of circumcision, and insisted that Saturday be turned from the Sabbath as observed by the Ethiopians to a fast day as observed by Ethiopian Christians.
2.4 Worship & Practice:
Ethiopia is a land of churches. Most village churches are round or octagonal, with a conical grass roof. Monastic churches and older churches are larger and typically rectangular. This reflects the fact that Ethiopian local church architecture adapted itself to the African hut form, though at the same time, it also reflects the fact that the Ethiopian church liturgy, with its emphasis on the holy mysteries in the center of the church, the Tabot (or the ark) also in the center, and with the participation of multiple priests and lay clerks chanting and drumming, simply works better in a round church.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Churches typically consist of three concentric rings: the innermost ring, called the sanctuary, holds the ark, typically a small wooden coffer. Priests and the emperor take the Eucharist, which is a part of every service [check] in the sanctuary. The second ring is the "holy place" where the congregation receives the sacrament, while the outer ring is called the "choir, " where the priests chant the scriptures in Ge’ez. - The Ethiopian Church has maintained many more Jewish practices than most other Christian Churches, every Ethiopian Christian male is circumcised, devout Ethiopian Christians keep Sabbath (as well as Sunday), an ark is an essential part of every church, and is carried out of the church for festivals , and priests will sacrifice a goat or a lamb for the sick.
Ethiopian Christians claim a long Jewish heritage before the coming of Christianity. They trace the royal line back to Menelik the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, though that claim cannot be independently verified. They also claim that the true Ark of the Covenant still exists and is kept safe in an Ethiopian monastery.
3. 3 Mission and the Egyptian Christian Church (800-1627AD)
It was the time after the rise of Islam. 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.
3.3.1 Egyptian society changed by the Roman occupation
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. Constantine became directly involved in Alexandrian affairs when he called the Council of Nicea in 325 to settle a dispute between the bishop of Alexandria and a theologian by the name of Arius. The Alexandrians persuaded Constantine and the Council that Arianism was a dangerous heresy, and led the Council to affirm what has become the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. More than a century later, the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, condemned Alexandrian theology, declaring their Monophysite (my page) understanding of the nature of Jesus Christ to be heretical. This resulted in the separation of the Coptic Church from the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, a separation that has persisted to the present, though discussions which began in 1966 show signs of healing the breach between the Coptic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
3.2 The Coptic Church Under Islam.
Coptic Christianity flourished in Egypt until the seventh century, when Islam rose in Saudi Arabia, then swept across North Africa, carrying all before it. Islam came to dominate Egyptian society, in part because the Egyptians welcomed the Arabs as a source of liberation from Byzantine domination, which had become increasingly onerous since the Council of Chalcedon. At first the Muslim overlords tolerated the Coptic Christians, because they, like the Jews, were "People of the Book," but gradually they began to tax the Christians more and more heavily, interspersing their taxation policy with active persecution. In the 8th century marks were burned on the hands of Christians, in order to identify and control them, in the 9th century Christian were forced to wear five pound crosses around their necks, as a means of identification. All new churches were burned, Christian education forbidden, and public worship restricted.
The next millennium saw intermittent persecutions with occasional retaliatory rioting, but a general stabilization of the Coptic Church, which unlike the Western North African Church, maintained its identity through the centuries and has remained a viable and stable church.
3.4. Missions and the Medieval Nubian Church (800-1627A.D.)
3.4.1 Rooted in East Church Mission efforts.
The Nubians consist of seven non-Arab Muslim tribes who originated in the Nubia region, an area between Aswan in southern Egypt and Dongola in northern Sudan. For centuries, this territory was a crossroads between Egypt and the African tribal kingdoms. By A.D. 580, Christianity had become the official religion of the northern Sudan. If our main literary sources are to be believed, Nobatia and Alwah were Monophysite and Makuria and the Garamantes nomad Melkite Christians. A study of the tombstones which were found in considerable numbers, show most of these tombstones written in Greek.
The prayers for the deceased on them were those in use in the orthodox church. We also know that there was at one time a Melkite Bishop of Taifa, in Egyptian Nubia, so it may well be that the very partial story of John of Ephesus has overstated the Monophysite case and that there was a Melkite church in Nobatia as well as in Makuria.
3.4.2 Medieval Nubia Mission Timeline after 800 A.D.:
831 Treaty between Egypt and the Beja.
856 New Treaty with the Beja.
956 Nubians attack Aswan and occupy Upper Egypt.
1172 Egyptians capture lbrim and leave a garrison.
1272 Nubians attack Aidhab.
1323 Kanz el Dawla replaces Kudanbes on throne.
1504 Defeat of Soba kingdom by the Fung.
3.4.3 From the Christian Eparch to the first half of the 12th century
The United Kingdom under King Cyriacus was powerful enough to invade Egypt in the year A.D. 745 in defense of the Patriarch of Alexandria, who had been imprisoned. A contemporary document shows that the title Eparch and other Byzantine titles, such as Domestikos, were still in use; this suggests that the Byzantine traditions introduced by the first missionaries were still alive.
From A.D. 822-836 there was continual warfare with Egypt until, in the latter year, George, son of King Zakaria, was sent on an embassy to Baghdad to the Caliph Muatasim. The number of accounts of this embassy shows that it was considered an important event, and Nubia was regarded as a Near Eastern power.
3.4.4 The Organization of Mission Ministries:
Five bishoprics are attested in Nubia: Kurte, Qasr Ibrim, Faras, Sais, and Old-Dongola. Probably also in Soba, the capital of Alwa was a bishop (P. Vansleb speaks of 13 bishops, even in Makourios, six in Alwa). All of these bishops stood under the supervision of the patriarchate of Alexandria.
3.4.5 Occupation of Upper Egypt
By the middle of the tenth century, hostilities with Egypt had again broken out. The Nubians invaded that country and, benefiting from the state of disorder there, reached the town of Akhmim in the year A.D. 962; so far they controlled Upper Egypt, at least to the north of Edfu. The discovery of Nubian documents in the monastery of St. Mercurios suggests that Edfu in those days had become a centre of Nubian culture. This occupation of Upper Egypt continued for some while after the Fatimid conquest in A.D. 969; the relations between Nubia and Egypt were good, and the king of Nubia was regarded as protector of the patriarch of Alexandria.
This period of the late tenth and eleventh centuries marks the height of Nubian power. From then on the history is one of increasing Arab pressure and lessening Nubian strength, and control of Upper Egypt was lost.
3.4.6 The Nubian language:
It is probably from this period that the few known texts in the Nubian language come. They are unfortunately very few and are of little or no value from a historical point of view. They are, however, of great importance linguistically, and show that by at least the end of the tenth century Nubian had become a written language. This language, known as Old Nubian, is closely related to the modern Mahass dialect of Nubian, which is spoken from the Second Cataract to Abu Fatina at the Third Cataract, and thus covers very much the area of Nobatia.
It was written with the Coptic form of the Greek alphabet, using some, but not all, of the extra Coptic letters, and introducing three letters of its own, probably based on Meroitic signs, for sounds that did not exist in Coptic or Greek. Apart from odd graffiti and scratchings there are only seven known Old Nubian texts, and these are all but one of a religious nature. This may mean that by the end of the tenth century, Nubian had displaced Greek as the language of the church, but Greek still continued to be used for grave inscriptions till late in the twelfth century, and no grave stones inscribed in Nubian are known.
3.4.7 Steady Islamization
With the end of Fatimid rule in A.D. 1171 peace with Egypt came to an end, and after capturing Aswan, the Nubians advanced into Upper Egypt. Saladin (Salah ed Din), the new ruler of Egypt, sent an army under the command of his brother Shams ed Din Turan Shah against them, defeated them and drove them back to lbrim, which was captured. The main church was turned into a mosque, and a garrison was left there for two years.
3.4.8 The Near End of a Christian Kingdom:
There are a hundred years of silence after this event, until in 1272 the Nubians under King David attacked the Arab town of Aidhab on the Red Sea coast. This was the last aggressive action of the now much weakened Nubian state; its history from then on is a story of dynastic intrigue, with Egypt always ready to take advantage of dissensions and place her nominee on the throne. The last Christian king of Dongola was Kudanbes, who in A.D. 1323 was defeated by Kanz ed Dawla; the Christian kingdom came to an end and the country Islamized.
The Nubian kingdoms were good in defending what with which they were entrusted, but seem to have difficulty without their own bible translation to advance the gospel beyond the Sub Saharan tribes. They obviously were able at the peak of their political strength to develop an own alphabet and introduce it to some people. But his did not result in the translation of biblical texts. With all educators emphasizing Greek or Coptic the church could not reach the Arabs in their culture and reverse the challenge into an option for the kingdom of Christ.
While in present Sudan Byzantine spirituality and culture once had its long-term influence in the independent Christian kingdoms of the Nubian peoples, it was lost because governmental politics did only defend a Nubian (Christian) heritage and did not demonstrate the ability to reach the tribes with the gospel beyond its own cultural borders with the message of love. After Greek as a language lost its influence the word of God neither in Greek nor in Nubian was in peoples heart any longer, Islamization easily replaced it.
3. 5. Mission and the North-West Africans Church (800-1627 AD)
3.5.1 Coming from a Rich Theological Heritage: Augustine of Hippo.
Perhaps the greatest of the North African Christian theologians was Augustine, bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia. Augustine applied his enormous erudition against the Donatists, breaking the schism through theological argument, as well as justifying the use of force by the Church against schismatics and heretics. The Roman empire fell during Augustine’s episcopate prompting the thoroughly Romanized Augustine to defend Christianity against those who accused the Christians for being responsible for the fall of the Empire. Augustine himself died during the siege of Hippo Regius when the Vandals invaded North Africa.
3.5.2 The Vandals and the Spiritual Decline of the North African Churches
The Vandals were Arian Christians, and therefore hostile both to the Donatists and to the Catholic Christians, but their presence was superficial enough to prevent any significant number of North Africans from becoming Arian. The Vandal kingdom was destroyed by a Byzantine invasion in 533, and, although African Christians welcomed the re-establishment of Catholic Christianity, this was the moment at which the Eastern Church and the Western Church came to a parting of the ways.
3.5.3 Facing Islamic Invasion - Conversion to Islam
Neither the Church nor the ruling Byzantine politics were able to resist the Islamic invasions of the seventh century, particularly since they were at odds with each other. Within a century the Christian church had died out, without any particular persecution on the part of the Muslim rulers, who treated the Christians leniently because they were "People of the Book." Christians were, however, required to pay additional taxes, and within a generation or two found these taxes too onerous to be worth maintaining a Christian identity. The church, divided and quarreling, could not persuade its members of the truth and importance of the Gospel message. If the blood of the martyrs had been the seed of the North African church, the feeling that Christianity was unfashionable and rather expensive withered the plant. Had Islam persecuted the North African Christians rather than tolerating them, Christianity may well have continued to flourish.
3.6. Mission and the Sub-Saharan African Church (800-1627 AD)
3.6.1 Pre-colonial Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa (1450-1890)
18.104.22.168 African Coast Evangelism
Portuguese Catholics were the first Europeans to venture south of the Sahara desert in significant numbers. They took the sea route, exploring further and further down the coast through the course of the 15th century. Many of these seafaring explorers were accompanied by Christian missionaries, whose work bore good fruit when the Kingdom of the Kongo became a Christian kingdom in the 1490s, though similar efforts in Benin and Mutapa were less successful. Portuguese priests and missionaries joined in the protests of the Catholic Christian king of Kongo in appealing to the pope and the king of Portugal for support against the slave trade, but to no avail.
22.214.171.124 Introduction of Roman Catholic Christianity in Sub-Saharan Congo & Angola
Christianity among the Kongo people, who lived and still live in what is now northern Angola and much of coastal Congo, began with the visit of Diego Cam, a Portuguese explorer, in 1484. Cam invited several Kongolese to return to Portugal with him, and when he agreed to leave several Portuguese seamen behind to ensure that they were not being taken as slaves, they agreed. The following year the men returned, having learned Portuguese and the basic facts of Christianity. The Manikongo (ruler of the Kongo) was impressed with what they had learned and asked for missionaries to be sent to the Kongo. They arrived in 1491, were well received, with a significant number of Kongolese accepting the message of the gospel, with varying degrees of sincerity. Among them were the manicongo, his queen and their eldest son, Mbemba Nzinga. The conversion of the king and queen were short-lived, foundering on the stumbling block of European resistance to polygamy, but Mbemba Nzingas conversion seems to have been sincere and durable, surviving his banishment when his parents rejected Christianity.
Mbemba Nzinga won the throne in battle upon his father’s death in 1506 and ruled until his own death in 1543. He remained a Christian all his life, taking on the throne name Afonso. Politically his devotion to Christianity and the new ways was aided by the fact that he had no traditional claim to the throne, though his Portuguese supporters assumed he was the heir. He was his father’s eldest son by his principal wife, but the title passed matrilineally and his mother was not from the ruling clan. He could not become manicongo unless he abandoned the ancestral traditions, which were reinforced by the traditional religion.
Afonso’s commitment to the new ways included an interest in western medicine, education, and technology. At first he was willing to pay for the new imports with slaves, but then relented, saying, "our country is being completely depopulated and Your Highness should not agree with this nor accept it as in your service. And to avoid it we need from these [your] Kingdoms no more than some priests and a few people to each in schools, and no other goods except wine and flour for the holy sacrament."
Afonso’s son Henrique entered the church, studying in Portugual for thirteen years, and returning to the Kongo as a bishop, through not of Kongo, but as titular bishop of Utica in Tunis, North Africa. The Portuguese clergy resented his authority and marginalized him, so he returned to Portugal in despair in 1529.
3.6.2 The Beginnings of Colonial Christianity
The history of Christianity in Africa south of the Sahara begins in the fifteenth century, with the arrival of the first missionaries carrying the gospel from Europe. The story of these missionaries is equally Catholic and Protestant, equally the story of Liberal Christians and Evangelicals, equally the story of women missionaries and men; but the story of the spread of Christianity in Africa during the last five centuries is far more the story of African Christians spreading the gospel in Africa than it is the story of European or American Christians spreading the gospel in Africa.
126.96.36.199 Roman Catholic Christianity.
Roman Catholic Churches were founded by the Roman Catholic missionary orders. They have, by and large, retained the Roman Catholic Church’s stress on the unity and authority of the Church, and have, in the last half of the 20th century, taken their place as full and equal partners in the world-wide Roman Catholic Church.
188.8.131.52 Protestant Colonial Christianity
Protestant Churches were founded by Protestant missionaries and retain significant identification with European or American protestant churches. They tend to stress the authority of the Bible and the need for an individual relationship with Jesus Christ as a personal saviour. African Protestant churches range from the churches of the Anglican Communion, which have much in common with the Roman Catholic community to Pentecostal mission churches under African leadership, virtually indistinguishable from African Initiated Churches (AIC’s), on the other.
3.6.3 The Beginning of African Christian Initiated Churches
AICs are African Initiated Churches, African Independent Churches, or African Indigenous Churches, depending on who is describing them. They have typically grown out of a protestant mission context, but, often in frustration with the western missionaries, have gone their own way and function without reference to overseas churches. They range from independent versions of western protestant churches to highly syncretistic Christian versions of traditional African religions, which may use Christian language in reference to God, but have no real role for Jesus Christ.
3.7 The African Churches’ Mission Efforts (800-1627 AD)
The African Church went through special pains. Although the first Christian church outside of Israel was planted in Ethiopia (Ac 8) and the fact that much of the Western Christian doctrines did originate from Alexandria the churches had a hard time to really get their job done. – The strongest and deepest rooted Christian testimony can be found in the Ethiopian Church with its close link to some Old Testament Jewish traditions. – Most of the church leaders also came from Ethiopia itself. If a mission church was characterized by its ability to translate the gospel in its surrounding languages, the Ethiopian Church also progressed most. The Nubian churches were too much involved in power struggles with Egypt to develop a tradition of their own, but would have been certainly successful in reaching to the more Sub-Saharan and North-West Saharan tribes. However education and alphabetization was not the highest priority, so in the long run, Arab culture gradually convinced the local leaders more without having translating Christian texts into other (Arabian) languages. Greek died out at the end of the 11th century, Nubian did not survive as an educational language. Long-lasting support from other Christian centers could keep Christian traditions alive for some time, but not help to learn other languages and translate the bible into the direct environment of unreached cultures. –
In terms of the extent of missionary work it should be noted, that the African church managed to spread the Good News over an as large area as the Latin Rite European church did for centuries. While deeper research one day might reveal some heroic exceptions, the overall performance of the African churches regarding mission work during rising Islam turned into a struggle of survival against a cruel and strong enemy, thus slowing down the speed to expand the good news to unreached areas of Africa to almost zero. In the meantime the Iberian Latin Rite Churches used their ships to expand their business areas as merchants like the Arab did centuries earlier with Islam and set up colonies and mission centers wherever it seemed meaningful.
4. South - & North America Christian Mission 800-1627 A.D.
4.1 The Pre-Colonial Era of Christian Mission
In a globalizing world it is helpful to find the cultural similarities for ministries quickly. Interestingly as far as the Americas are concerned we have three accounts leading to the assumption, that Christian mission may have begun earlier than commonly known.
There is a great possibility that the Phoenicians discovered South America even long before Christ was born through their Carthaginian kinsmen. Carthaginian amphorae have been found in the Americas, as well as weapons, oil lamps, glass "trade" beads along the St Lawrence river among other "anomalous" finds. – The possibility that the early Phoenician Church (Melkite Church) used this obvious channel to bring the gospel “to the ends of the earth“ by messenger via Carthago is quite possible. The Melikite Church also had missionaries in secret missions in Ethiopia and Nubia for centuries.
The Petroglyphs of Celtic Mission in the rocks of West Virginia dating back to 654 A.D. demonstrate the decision of the Irish church to bring the gospel to the Alonquin Indians. While Leif Erikson's arrived in Baffin Island, Woodland and Newfoundland in 1001 AD, in 1005 Leaf Thorwalds Grandson followed him and found Rhode Island. Norwegian colonists as possible missionaries are testified to in the Celtic mission documents.
This implies that some of the Christian teaching may have at a very early stage entered some local cultures and in the same way as seen with the Nestorian teaching in China, Japan, and Tibet, shaped local religions content and teaching with “bridges” still remaining to channel the gospel to local Indians/Mestizos more easily.
4.2 The Mission Timeline
- 1493 - Christopher Columbus takes Christian priests with him on his second journey to the New World
- 1494 - First missionaries arrive in Dominican Republic
- 1495 - The head of a convent in Seville, Spain, Mercedarian Jorge, makes a trip to the West Indies.
- 1496 - First Christian baptisms in the New World take place when Indian chief Guaticaba along with other members of his household are baptized on the island of Hispaniola
- 1500 - Franciscans enter Brazil with Cabral
- 1501 - Pope Alexander VI grants to the crown of Spain all the newly-discovered countries in the Americas, on condition that provision be made for the religious instruction of the native populations
- 1502 - Bartolome de Las Casas, who will later become an ardent defender of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, goes to Cuba. For his military services there he will be given an encomienda, an estate that included the services of the Indians living on it.
- 1510 - Dominicans begin work in Haiti
- 1516 - Three Franciscans are killed by cannibals in northeastern South America, in the area of Colombia and Venezuela
- 1519 - Two Franciscans accompany Hernán Cortés in his expedition to Mexico
- 1520 - German missionary Maximilian Uhland, also known as Bernardino de San Jose, goes to Hispaniola with the newly appointed Bishop Geraldini.
- 1521 - Pope Leo X grants Franciscan Francis Quiñones permission and faculties to go as a missionary to the New World together with Juan Clapión
- 1524 - Martin de Valencia goes to New Spain with 12 Franciscan friars
- 1525 - Italian Franciscan missionary Giulio Zarco is sent to Michoacán on the western coast of Mexico where he will become very proficient in Indian languages
- 1526 - Franciscans enter Florida; Twelve Dominican friars arrive in the Mexican capital
- 1528 - Franciscan missionary Juan de Padilla arrives in Mexico. He will accompany Coronado's expedition searching for the Seven Cities and eventually settle among the Quivira (now called the Wichita)
- 1529 - Franciscan Peter of Ghent writes from Latin America that he and a colleague had baptized 14,000 people on one day.
- 1531 - Franciscan Juan de Padilla begins a series of missionary tours among Indian tribes southeast of Mexico City.
- 1532 - Evangelization of Peru begins when missionaries arrive with Francisco Pizzaro's military expedition
- 1534 - The entire caste of Paravas on the Coromandel Coast are baptized -- perhaps 10,000 people in all
- 1535 - German Franciscan missionary Maximilian Uhland (also called Bernardino de San Jose) speaks before the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith about the wretched condition of Indians in the New World
- 1537 - Pope Paul III orders that the Indians of the New World be brought to Christ "by the preaching of the divine word, and with the example of the good life."
- 1538 - Franciscans enter Paraguay
- 1539 - The Pueblos of what is now the U.S. Southwest are encountered by Spanish Franciscan missionary Marcos de Niza
- 1540 - Franciscans arrive in Trinidad and are killed by cannibals
- 1541 - Franciscans begin establishing missions in California
- 1542 - Franciscans reach what is now New Mexico
- 1544 - Franciscan Andrés de Olmos, a veteran missionary in Mexico, struck northward into the Texas wilderness. After gathering a group of Indian converts, he leads them back into Tamaulipas
- 1549 - Dominican Luis Cancer, who had worked among the Mayans of Guatemala and Mexico, lands at Tampa Bay, Florida with two companions. They are immediately killed by the Calusa within sight of the ship from which they had disembarked.
- 1550 - Printed Bibles are available in 28 languages
- 1551 - Dominican Jerome de Loaysa founds the National University of San Marcos in Lima (Peru) as well as a hospital for the Indians
- 1555 - John Calvin sends Huguenots to Brazil
- 1558 - The Kabardian duke Saltan Idarov converts to Orthodox Christianity
- 1560 - Goncalo da Silveira, a Portuguese Jesuit missionary, visited the Munhumutapa Empire, where he quickly made converts
- 1562 - Diego de Landa burns the libraries of the Maya civilization
- 1566 - The first Jesuit to enter what is now the United States, Pedro Martinez, is clubbed to death by fearful Indians on the sands of Fort George Island, Florida
- 1569 - Jeronimo da Cruz is murdered along with two newly-arrived missionaries
- 1570 - Ignacio Azevedo and 39 other Jesuit missionaries are killed by pirates near Palma, one of the Canary Islands, while on their way to Brazil
- 1571 - Capuchin friars of the 'Strict Observance' arrive on the island of Trinidad with conquistador Don Juan Ponce of Seville.
- 1572 - Jesuits arrive in Mexico
- 1573 - Large-scale evangelization of the Florida Indian nations and tribes begins with the arrival of Franciscan friars
- 1574 - Augustinian Guillermo de Santa Maria writes a treatise on the illegitimacy of the war the Spanish government was waging against the Chichimeca in the Mexican state of Michoacán
- 1578 - King of Spain orders the bishop of Lima not to confer Holy Orders on mestizos
- 1581 - Luis de Valdivia becomes a Jesuit. After finishing his studies, he will be sent to Peru
- 1587 - Manteo becomes the first American Indian to be baptized by the Church of England
- 1589 - Francis Solano goes to Peru as a missionary
- 1591 - First Roman Catholic church built in Trinidad;
- 1594 - First Jesuit missionaries arrive in Pakistan
- 1598 - Spanish missionaries push north from Mexico into what is now the state of New Mexico
- 1600 - French missionaries arrive in the area of what is now Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
- 1604 - Jesuit missionary Abbè Jessè Flèchè arrives at Port Royal, Nova Scotia
- 1607 - Missionary Juan Fonte establishes the first Jesuit mission among the Tarahumara in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Northwest Mexico
- 1608 - A missionary expedition into the Ceará area of Brazil fails when the Tacariju kill the Jesuit leader
- 1611 - Two Jesuits begin work among Mi'kmaq Indians of Nova Scotia
- 1612 - Jesuits found a mission for the Abenakis in Maine
- 1615 - French missionaries in Canada open schools in Trois-Rivieres and Tadoussac to teach Native American children with the hopes of converting them
5. The Christian Church’s Mission Efforts and Impact (800-1627 A.D.)
Charlemagne’s decision to define the Great Commission into a program of European wide Christianization also determined the tools, structures and the political mechanism to achieve this goal together with the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Church for a long time. Despite several attempts by the Muslims and the Mongols to destroy its domination, by the beginning of the 14th century Europe was Christianized, the Roman Catholic Church had expanded to the very North, West and South of Western and Central Europe. In North East (Poland) and Central Europe (Bohemia, Hongrie) and South East Europe (Moldavia, Romania) were or became Latin Rite, while the Greek Rite Orthodox Church successfully increased its efforts among the Slavic nations in Ukraine, Serbia, Russia and among the Black Sea region tribes.
In terms of bible translations the Latin Rite churches seems to have learned most from the Greek Rite’s Church and its success among the Slavic nations. In this time Islam had gained power and was able to geographically divide the Central Asian and Syrian Rite East from the Greek and Latin Rite churches. Communication became difficult. Nevertheless, the Nestorian, Jacobite and Indian Thoma Christians continued to expand, although with slower speed. For centuries they failed to inculturate the gospel in local languages deeply enough. Especially the Nestorian church in China at this point could not meet the expectations. The once flourishing ministry of the African churches failed to impact the coming Arab tribes and merchands, in the end leading to the undermining of their Christian culture.
The diminishing quality of Latin bible copies and the disappearance of Latin as the lingua franca of the people in Europe became a dilemma for the church. In order to gain back the purity of the Word of God access to the Greek version was needed. While the army of the Ottoman Empire routed Constantinople another time the escaping Greek professors fled to Western Europe and brought their knowledge of Greek and Greek literature with them, leading to the bible translation movement and through the reformation to a renaissance within the Latin Rite church; in fact slowly transforming it from a Latin Rite tradition background into a multi-lingual “Western” Church. Through the bible-translation movement the church successfully implemented just newly created local or national languages with an alphabet to address the “Christianized”, yet not much evangelized nations in their spiritual needs.
The Netherlands became Europe’s first Protestant Nation and a sea power with its faster ships. – After the Roman Catholic Church tried to catch momentum by encouraging Spain and Portugal to conquer the world for the church, the Dutch at many places in Asia, including Formosa, forced both nations’ representatives to leave their captured sites, thus bringing the teaching of reformation to many strategic places of the New World in East, South and West. When the first Dutch missionary arrived in Formosa in 1627, nobody knew how influential those few years of Christian teaching would become for the future of Taiwan’s islanders.