Talk:Nestorianism

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Consistency[edit]

There is a major problem with this page: it's thoroughly inconsistent. In the introduction and the section 'The involvement of the Assyrian Church' it clearly states that the Assyrian Church is not Nestorian. Then in 'The spread of "Nestorianism"' and 'Modern Nestorianism', it uses Nestorian and Assyrian interchangeably. Someone needs to sort this out. A good place to start would be clarifying the difference between the theology of Nestorius/Nestorianism and Babai the Great, because as a non-Christian they sound the same to me. KarlM 04:22, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

The Assyrian church does not describe itself as Nestorian, nor does it claim to derive its Christology from Nestorious. But it provided a home for him, did not condemn him, and on the most obvious point it describes Mary, Mother of Jesus as "Mother of Christ" just as he did, not as "Mother of God". And that is why others call the Assyrian church Nestorian. --Henrygb 21:59, 22 June 2006 (UTC)
(hopping in a few years later) I agree that this article was extremely inconsistent. I've given it a complete overhaul, and tried to sort out the Assyrian/Nestorian conflict. In reviewing modern sources, most seem to still be using the term Nestorian, but if other modern reliable sources can be provided which sort out which term should be used when, we can continue to modify the article from there. --Elonka 07:04, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Modern Nestorianism[edit]

The assertion that Oneness Pentecostals are an "extreme" form of Nestorianism is incorrect. The Oneness teach "Sabellianism," or Modal Monarchianism, and "Patripassianism" - not Nestorianism. The Oneness like their historical predecessors view the distinction between the persons of the Trinity as nothing essential, but merely historical manifestations or modes of the one God, i.e. God revealed himself as Father in the Old Testatment, as the Son in the New Testament and as the Holy Spirit since the Day of Pentecost. The Nestorians acknowledged an essential distinction of persons in the Godhead as do orthodox Trinitarians. They did not "blur" the distinction between God the Father, and God the Son. The issue for Nestorians was the relationship of the divine logos, God the Son, to Christ's human nature. For the Oneness, there is no "God the Son" as the second person of the Trinity. There is only the "Son of God" as the human manifestation of the Father. The Oneness concern themselves primarily about the nature of the Godhead, not the nature of the divine/human relationship in Christ. For them, the Godhead is an absolute unity, not a Trinity of eternal persons. Nestorians did not qestion the doctrine of the Trinity, only the relationship of the second person of the Trinity to his human manifestation. This is an important distinction to make.

KStahl, M.Div. M.A. (former "Oneness Pentecostal")

You must understand the Jesus had a dual nature, he had the nature of God and the nature of man yet being only One Person. Let me also say this, He was the Father in Creation, the Son in Redemption and the Holy Ghost in Regeneration. NOT! three co-equal and destinct persons. (Forever a "Oneness Pentecostal") —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.183.210.85 (talk) 11:27, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

All of you guys are guilty of POV!! None of you are treating this as an ENCYCLOPEDIA!!! Nobody cites ANY references!!! I'm plastered and even I can see that!!! Why can't you? (----)

Chalcedonian Church[edit]

I think there should be a section added on the reality that the Chalcedonian churches have at times been accused of Nestorianism. Deusveritasest (talk) 23:15, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Book about nestorianism[edit]

This site: [[1]] has the boook THE MONKS OF KUBLAl KHAN EMPEROR OF CHINA, an old (and excellent book), about nestorianism and its fate in Asia.Agre22 (talk) 14:38, 6 May 2009 (UTC)agre22

What interpretation?[edit]

According to some interpretations[who?], the origin of this belief is mostly historical and linguistic;

It might be the interpretation of some recent Roman Catholic Church Pope, or as early as the erection of the Chaldean Catholic Church. Anybody who knows? ... said: Rursus (bork²) 14:20, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Overhaul[edit]

There has been a discussion here at Prester John, and perhaps elsewhere, about the problems with Wikipedia's articles on Nestorianism and the modern church whose Wikipedia article is titled Assyrian Church of the East. Namely, for several years now the article titled Nestorianism has largely discussed the Nestorian heresy, while Assyrian Church of the East discusses the history of the Christian sect that branched off over the Nestorian heresy. The argument seems to be that "Nestorianism" is the "wrong" thing to call the medieval pan-Asian sect, and "Assyrian Church of the East" is more correct. However, this doesn't appear to follow usage in reliable sources, which do refer to the medieval sect as "Nestorianism". As such it appears that this is the best article to contain the broader discussion of Nestorian Christianity, while the article on its modern descendant, variously known as the Church of the East, the Persian Church, and the Assyrian Church (of the East) should be elsewhere. Other thoughts are welcome.--Cúchullain t/c 20:38, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

I spent quite a bit of time today in a major library, looking through books about Eastern Christianity and Nestorianism, specifically looking for information about "who introduced Christianity to China". The general consensus of sources is that the text on the Nestorian Stele clearly identifies someone named Alopen who came in as a missionary. However, the sources disagree as to Alopen's origins. Some say Persian, some say Syrian, some say "East Syriac" or "from the Church of the East," some just say Nestorian. There's agreement that some of the names on the Stele are in Syriac, but that doesn't necessarily mean they were of the Syrian nationality, since Syriac was a commonly used language at the time in many areas. For example, in the Ongud tribe, one historian stated that the Christians there used Turkish exclusively, but they wrote it with Syriac letters. Among the sources I've read so far, most of them don't mention the "Assyrian Church of the East" in any context, let alone in relation to Alopen. How they refer to the early missionaries varies from book to book. In "A study of the History of Nestorian Christianity in China, by Li Tang, he says, "One cannot precisely classify the race of the Nestorian ancestors, since this area was inhabited by many different peoples and nations with diverse economic and social structures. However, if one classified a group of people by the criterion of the language they use, then the ancestors of Nestorians can be counted as Semitic, to be more exact, Syrians, since their language was Syriac." But then when he later identifies Alopen as a Persian. Anyway, I'll keep reading to try and sort out consensus... --Elonka 02:36, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I've been doing some reading too, and I think this case may just be a confusion of terminology and boundaries. After the condemnation of Nestorius, many churches affiliated with him relocated to Sassanid Persia, where they had great centers in Nisibis and Ctesiphon. But they would have continued to use the Syriac language, and many of the individuals would have come from various parts of the Eastern Roman Empire. On top of this, "Church of the East" seems to be an alternative name for what we typically call "Nestorianism", used because it avoids the deficiencies of the term "Nestorianism" (ie, that the later church[es] didn't necessarily adhere to the doctrine advanced by Nestorius). As such, Alopen would have come from Persia, but he probably used Syriac, so he could be (or be called) Syrian or Syriac, and he was certainly affiliated with the "Nestorian" church, but he may not have adhered to the doctrine of Nestorius... I suppose this illustrates why these problems haven't been fixed on Wikipedia after so many years.
However, I think it's clear that (1) Wikipedia should have a good article on the pan-Asian Christian branch known in various sources as "Nestorianism", and that (2) titling that article Assyrian Church of the East is anachronistic and does not follow usage in the sources.--Cúchullain t/c 14:36, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Agree on all counts. --Elonka 17:04, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I would like to avoid getting involved in this, but to me it seems the question is - did those Syriac writing Christians spreading Christianity throughout the Persian empire and China refer to themselves as Nestorians? Did they specifically say that they were followers of "Nestorius"? I believe the answer is no. The term "Nestorian" is not a term you will find in Eastern Christianity, rather it is a derogatory term used by Western Christianity (and its scholars) to describe the Persian Empire form of Christianity which did not merge with the Roman Catholic church. Not only that, but there were Christians writing in Aramaic and Syriac in Babylonia (Persian Empire) well before the appearance of Nestorius (386-415). Calling all non-Roman Catholic Syriac Christians "Nestorian" is simply historically inaccurate. According to the Assyrian Church of the East article, written from the viewpoint of Assyrian Christians themselves, Assyrian (Syriac) Christianity, including that which entered into China, never was "Nestorian". Nestorian is simply an out-dated, western catch-all term for non-Roman Catholic Assyrian Christianity, and it is an historically inaccurate term.(Jimhoward72 (talk) 06:59, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
On Wikipedia, it's not about how the members of a church refer to themselves, it's about what the reliable sources say. The only information that should be going into any Wikipedia article, is information which can be linked to sources. If there are no sources, it shouldn't be on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia:Verifiability. --Elonka 07:13, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
"An academic conference in 2006 changed its name from "Research on Nestorianism in China", explaining in the Preface, "...it was decided not to keep the term "Nestorianism" in the title of the future conferences and the present book, but to use the term Church of the East, which is correct and wide enough to cover the whole field of the research."[7]" - that is from the current article, and it is a reliable source. Going through and changing the articles to say "Nestorian" instead of to say "Church of the East" is a step backwards, not an improvement of Wikipedia articles.Jimhoward72 (talk) 03:08, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
"Assyrian Church of the East" is the modern name for what is clearly the same body as what is referenced as "the Nestorian Church", and thus it is appropriate to refer to that church at any time as the Assyrian Church of the East. The Eastern Orthodox Church probably wasn't referred to as "the Eastern Orthodox Church" throughout all of its history, but it is none the less appropriate to refer to it as such in historical contexts because it is the same church. Deusveritasest (talk) 02:50, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
The difference is that reliable sources refer to the "Orthodox Church" as the "Orthodox Church" through its history. The same is not true of this church; for its early history reliable sources call it "Nestorian Church", "Persian Church", "Church of the East", etc., but never "Assyrian Church of the East". That isn't to say that the article can't be retitled, but we need to have a decent main article for this subject.--Cúchullain t/c 18:09, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I've been pondering whether it might be worth moving some of this information to a Church of the East article. The current dab page there could be moved to Church of the East (disambiguation). Then this Nestorianism article could be kept specifically for information about the doctrine, and not so much about the history. Alternatively, we could perhaps rename the Nestorianism article as History of Nestorian Christianity or something? --Elonka 18:25, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Please see my (very long) comment below.--Cúchullain t/c 19:31, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Merge[edit]

I have tagged a section at Assyrian Church of the East in China, as being more appropriately merged here into the Nestorianism article. Any objections? --Elonka 17:23, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Sounds good, but there's so much potential material that we may end up having to branch out a Nestorianism in China article again.--Cúchullain t/c 17:57, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I'd have no objection to just merging (or splitting) it straight to Nestorianism in China. --Elonka 18:00, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
(followup). I went ahead and performed the split, and merged what was remaining in Assyrian Church of the East in China (there wasn't much left) either to Nestorianism in China, or back to Assyrian Church of the East. --Elonka 07:16, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

Islam?[edit]

How is it even possible that there is not a discussion of how Nestorianism lived under Islamic rule? That is a very important subject. Well, at least that's what brought me to this page... Cyrusrex1545 (talk) 13:59, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

The page is currently undergoing a rewrite. All improvements are welcome.--Cúchullain t/c 14:01, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Name[edit]

Some good points have been raised re the name of this and associated articles. This article has been under a major overhaul because Wikipedia previously had no good main article for the church here described. We had an article titled "Nestorianism", which discussed the Nestorian doctrine associated with Nestorius, and we had "Assyrian Church of the East", which discussed the modern church. Within the latter article was some information on the historical church, and through an effort some years ago all references to the historical church were directed to that article. However, it has recently been pointed out that reliable sources do not typically use the name "Assyrian Church of the East" when referring to the historical church. Reliable sources describe the historical church under a variety of names, including "Nestorianism", "Nestorian Church", "Nestorian Christianity", "Persian Church", and "Church of the East", but rarely if ever "Assyrian Church of the East". The "Assyrian" designation seems to have come into play to distinguish between them and the "Chaldean" faction, which eventually broke away entirely and entered into communion with the Catholic Church. This is a major problem, and conflicts with our policies and guidelines on naming. As such, some editors, including myself, have been rewriting this article to give us a decent boilerplate of a main article for the subject. The current name was chosen for a mesh of historical and aesthetic reasons. First, the article was already called this when we got here. Second, names involving the element "Nestorian" appear to be the most common way of referring to this church. Since Wikipedia article titles use nouns, the noun form "Nestorianism" is a logical choice. Now, the modern Assyrian Church and some scholars have expressed distaste for the "Nestorian" label in recent times, and others have noted that it may be inaccurate. Even so, as a name for the church (as opposed to the doctrine), it is demonstrably still quite common in reliable sources.[2] The form "Nestorianism" is also used for the church in some scholarly literature.[3][4] However, concerns about the title are certainly valid. "Nestorianism" per se is certainly not the most common way to refer to the church in the sources, and as has been noted above, it can cause some confusion between the church and the doctrine. As such, I see a couple of easy solutions:

1. Rename this article "Nestorian Church" or "Nestorian Christianity". This would keep the "Nestorian" element, for better or for worse, but would get rid of any confusion between the church and the doctrine.
2. Rename this article "Church of the East" (and move the dab page to Church of the East (disambiguation)). "Church of the East" is probably the second most common way to refer to this church after "Nestorian",[5] and avoids any negative associations with the "Nestorian" label.
3. Keep this article at "Nestorianism", but keep it focused on the doctrine, and migrate all information on the church back to Assyrian Church of the East. This is where we were before; this option is flawed for the reasons highlighted above.
4. Keep this article at "Nestorianism" and focus it on the doctrine, and migrate information on the church into a new article. This article could be titled "Nestorian Church", or "Church of the East". This option preserves the distinction between the church and the doctrine.
5. Leave this article at "Nestorianism" and keep the same focus.

I lean more towards 1 or 2. I would be against 3 for the reasons I gave above. I feel that 4 would overplay the distinction between the church and its doctrine; at this stage I hardly see the need for it (we don't have articles on both "Roman Catholic Church" and "Roman Catholicism". 5 is okay with me too, but it's looking like it may cause as much confusion as it fixes. But regardless of what happens, my main goal would be to make sure Wikipedia has a decent article on the historical church known variously as "Nestorian Church" or "Church of the East". There might be other options that could achieve this goal even more effectively, What do others say?--Cúchullain t/c 19:34, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for sorting out the possible options. My preferences, from most desired choice to least desired choice, are: 4, 2, 1, 5. I'm deadset against option #3, as that usage would not be supported by reliable sources. I could live with any of the other four options though. --Elonka 21:18, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Another note on "Assyrian Church of the East": the work The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East deals with both the "traditionalist" branch (what we call the Assyrian Church of the East) and the "Catholic" branch (the Chaldean Catholic Church) as two branches of the "Church of the East", which it describes up to 1913. This is probably good reason not to have all of our discussion of the historical church lumped in with only the "Assyrian Church of the East", and instead to have a good main article discussing it all. Additionally, the work specifically avoids the term "Assyrian" as it is was "unknown for most of the period covered in this study".--Cúchullain t/c 21:28, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree in general with the proposal to distinguish between the activities of the Church of the East (the 'Nestorian' church) and the heresy commonly attributed to Nestorius. Nestorianism, i.e. what Nestorius believed and what his enemies said he believed, should be the subject of a self-contained, theologically-slanted article. This article, which is already called 'Nestorianism', is the natural home for a discussion of the Nestorian heresy.
I think we then need (1) a main article entitled 'Church of the East', covering the history of the East Syrian church from its beginnings up to the present day; (2) a subsidiary article on the Assyrian Church of the East, from 1552 to the present day; and (3) a subsidiary article on the Chaldean Church, also from 1552 to the present day. One of the disadvantages of the present arrangement is that it presents the Assyrian Church of the East as the heir of the pre-1552 Church of the East. As the Chaldean Church makes the same claim, with arguably equal justification, this is a problem. The proposed arrangement would give equal billing to both 'branches' of the old Church of the East.
Most of the historical stuff in this article should be moved, in due course, to the main article 'Church of the East'.
Judging from the previous discussion on this topic, I think there might be a consensus for a main 'Church of the East' article. Perhaps the way forward would be to create one and run it in parallel with the existing article Assyrian Church of the East while we sort out what goes into it, and once it's up and running cut down the Assyrian Church of the East article to remove most of the pre-1552 stuff. Once this elegant hierarchy is in place, we will all have more of an incentive to edit the articles Assyrian Church of the East and Chaldean Church to purge them of their frequent distortions and occasional outright falsehoods.
Djwilms (talk) 03:30, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Your input is much appreciated, Djwilms. All taken together, I'm seeing a couple of trends in the conversation. 1). Everyone with an opinion has suggested that "Nestorianism" is not a good title for an article on the historical church described here. 2). Editors who have objected to elements of the recent rewrites are mainly objecting to the "Nestorian" label, rather than the concept of a main article on the historical church. 3). Not everyone agrees on this, but at least three editors with well-considered opinions believe that "Assyrian Church of the East" is not an appropriate title for an article on the historical church.
Historically Wikipedia has redirected readers interested in the historical church to "Assyrian Church of the East". But as Djwilms points out, this neglects the Chaldean Catholic Church. This is a problem that can be solved by a separate main article on the historical church, but this is still going to be an issue. This will need to be resolved with a better treatment of what actually happened in the 16th century and its effects afterward. I get the sense that we're leaning toward splitting off a new article to be titled "Church of the East", which would deal with all the historical information. Personally I don't see the need for a separate article on Nestorian doctrine, but if others want it I'm fine with it (in other words, I favor option 2).--Cúchullain t/c 17:02, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Taking this one stage further, and thinking aloud, I could imagine the putative 'Church of the East' article being structured along the following lines:
(1) The Church of the East in the Parthian and Sasanian periods
(2) The Church of the East in the Umayyad and Abbasid periods (including subsections on Moslem attitudes to the Christian churches of the caliphate and eastern missionary expansion beyond the Islamic lands - the two topics are connected)
(3) The Church of the East in the Mongol period
(4) The 'Dark Centuries' (1318-1552)
(5) The Schism of 1552 and its significance
(6) The Assyrian Church of the East since 1552 (Main Article: Assyrian Church of the East)
(7) The Chaldean Catholic Church since 1552 (Main Article: Chaldean Catholic Church).
I'm relatively optimistic that a suitable form of words can be found to deal with the schism of 1552 and its significance. My book The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East has been abused by Assyrian nationalists of all shapes and sizes for mentioning a number of inconvenient facts, but nobody has yet attacked its treatment of the schism of 1552. There now seems to be a general consensus that Sulaqa and his supporters lied to the Vatican in 1552 to win its support (they claimed that the patriarch Shemon VII Ishoyahb, who remained in office until 1558, had recently died). I established the true course of events in my book, and my presentation has since been generally accepted by western scholars. I would be happy to try to draft something truthful but diplomatic.
Although the subject of christology makes my eyes glaze over, I do think an article on 'Nestorianism' is warranted on Wikipedia. Surely there are similar articles on Novatianism, Donatism and Marcionism? It would be useful to have an authoritative statement on Wikipedia on what the Nestorian heresy was, and whether Nestorius was guilty of it (Sebastian Brock and other experts think that he wasn't). But no way am I volunteering to write it ...
Djwilms (talk) 01:12, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I spent some time looking through indexes of various books today, to see what they used as the entry for things Nestorian. There was no one consistent way, but the most common entries were "Nestorianism", "Nestorians", "Nestorian Christianity", "Nestorian Church", and then some had an additional entry for "Nestorius". My 1978 version of Britannica also had "Nestorian alphabet: See Syriac alphabet", which I thought was interesting. In any case, I very much like Djwilms's outline, especially the idea of having a "Church of the East" article that can go into the history even before the time of Nestorius. We could then WP:SUMMARY link it from other places, such as Sassanid Empire#Christianity. --Elonka 03:00, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
You will also find the art term 'Nestorian cross', particularly with reference to crosses on tombstones found in China. This term, popularised in the 1920s by a less sensitive generation of scholars, has also begun to flutter the squeamish, though it is now so well-established that it seems pointless to censor it. One of my friends in Hong Kong once started writing a crime thriller involving the theft of the famous Nestorian tablet from Xian by a deranged academic, Professor Septimus Ogilvy (based loosely on me). The title of this masterpiece was 'In the Shadow of the Heretical Cross'. Sadly, or perhaps I should say fortunately, it never saw the light of day, or Assyrians everywhere would be gnashing their teeth.
Djwilms (talk) 03:10, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

ACE = "Nestorian church"?[edit]

I am objecting here to a recent edit that was summarized as such: "The article says they don't like the term "Nestorian" and don't follow all the doctrine, but they are definitely the descendants of this church." The problem here is that you don't seem to realize what it means for the church to be called the "Nestorian church". This is not a neutral objective title for the church that was at one point in history universally agreed upon. It was a polemical tool used by the Western church. The Assyrian Church of the East never accepted this as a title for their church. That they are one and the same with the church that was previously popularly called the "Nestorian church" is really meaningless and does not establish your point because that name was never agreed upon in the first place. The ACE has historically rejected the terminology to refer to itself, and it is thus POV for you to continue to identify it as Nestorian, simply because certain Western sources identify it as such. Deusveritasest (talk) 20:50, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

I think you will have to quantify exactly why the title is so inapproriate. There is a quote in the article, from a book by David Wilmshurst, saying "During the period covered in this study [1318-1913] the word 'Nestorian' was used both as a term of abuse by those who disapproved of the traditional East Syrian theology, as a term of pride by many of its defenders (including Abdisho of Nisibis in 1318, the Mosul patriarch Eliya X Yohannan Marogin in 1672, and the Qudshanis patriarch Shem'on XVII Abraham in 1842), and as a neutral and convenient descriptive term by others." So we have here a statement indicating that the term was used by many prominent defenders of the church, and also as a neutral conventional term by others. Obviously the various modern scholars cited here are not using the term to be disparaging, they are using it because it is convenient and recognizable. However, he does say that "Nowadays it is generally felt that the term carries a stigma, and students of the Church of the East are advised to avoid its use", so it may be worthwhile to pursue one of the options I mentioned. Please see my above comments.--Cúchullain t/c 21:17, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Can I get involved here, as the author of The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East? I am presently writing a general history of the Church of the East, The Martyred Church, and have once again had to confront the problem of terminology. After thrashing around for weeks looking for polite alternatives to 'Nestorian' and 'Jacobite', I have decided to use both terms, simply because of their convenience. This will require me to include a disclaimer at the front of the book explaining that I have no intention of being disparaging. On reflection, I now wish to modify my opinion that 'the term [Nestorian] carries a stigma, and students of the Church of the East are advised to avoid its use'. I think I went too far back in 2000 in making that statement, and I would like to see 'Nestorian' used once more by modern Assyrians as a term of pride.
Talking of Abdisho of Nisibis, you might find the following paragraph from the new book of interest (apropos of his book The Pearl):
ʿAbdishoʿ wrote self-consciously, knowing that the Church of the East was considered heretical by the western churches. Doubtless Bar Sawma’s experience with the Roman cardinals was typical of the process by which, in the thirteenth century, increased contact with western Christendom encouraged Nestorian scholars to reflect upon their heritage. ʿAbdishoʿ therefore took pains to explain points of East Syrian liturgy, such as the veneration of the cross, which might be misunderstood by westerners. His approach to the label 'Nestorian' was a model of commonsense, which might with advantage be copied by his modern descendants. He accepted the name, as it conveniently distinguished the Nestorians from the Jacobites, but he insisted that Nestorius had been innocent of heresy. He argued that the Church of the East had preserved without alteration the doctrine it had learned from the apostles. The western churches had allowed this doctrine to become corrupted, and the Church of the East had naturally jumped to the defence of Nestorius when he was persecuted for defending the truth. But that did not mean that the Church of the East had espoused the 'Nestorian' heresy. Nestorius was a Greek, so his views were unlikely to have influenced the Church of the East. The truth of the matter was that Nestorius had followed the Church of the East, not the other way round. This was a reasonable statement of the relationship between the Nestorian church and Nestorius, though the Church of the East would have to wait for five more centuries before European Christians would give its case a fair hearing.
For what it's worth, I have been using the term 'East Syrian' in my series of articles on Nestorian dioceses - see for example Adiabene (East Syrian Ecclesiastical Province) - but I gather that even this term is not free of difficulties. Some western scholars are promoting the alternative term 'East Syriac', which I find quite repulsive, and I was very sad to see that the Syrian Orthodox Church has recently changed its name to the Syriac Orthodox Church, abandoning a name that its adherents have used with pride for nearly 1400 years. Such are the casualties of political correctness.
Djwilms (talk) 02:51, 10 February 2010 (UTC)


Possible lead section, Church of the East article[edit]

There seems to be some support for a new general article, Church of the East, and I have worked up a couple of paragraphs for the lead section, just to see how it might develop. These will need to be followed by the difficult bit, 1552 to the present day, but let's cross that bridge when we come to it. Comments, anyone?

The Church of the East, often referred to as the Nestorian Church, was between the ninth and fourteenth centuries the largest Christian church in the world in terms of geographical extent, with dioceses stretching from the Mediterranean across Asia to China. It was originally the church of the Sassanian empire. By the third century there were significant Christian communities in northern Mesopotamia, Elam and Fars, and these communities were reinforced in the fourth and fifth centuries by large-scale deportations of Christians from the eastern Roman empire during a succession of wars between Rome and Persia. Although several severe persecutions had to be faced, notably during the reign of Shapur II (339–79), the Church of the East grew considerably during the Sassanian period. In the fifth century the Persian church welcomed Christian refugees from the Roman empire, persecuted for espousing the Nestorian heresy. The influx of western Christians at this time both strengthened the native Persian church and gave it its name, the Nestorian church.

After the Sassanian empire was conquered by the Moslem Arabs in the seventh century the Church of the East enjoyed a period of rapid expansion. Syrian and Persian Christians were tolerated by their Moslem rulers and organised into a melet, or official minority group, headed by the Nestorian patriarch. Although they were not permitted to convert Moslems, Nestorian missionaries were otherwise given a free hand, and by the end of the twelfth century Nestorian churches could be found in Egypt and Cilicia, in Persia and Mesopotamia, in India, Ceylon and Soqotra, and in much of Turkestan. All these churches, organised into between fifteen and twenty metropolitan provinces, recognised the authority of the Nestorian patriarch or catholicus, who ruled from Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid caliphate.

The Church of the East enjoyed a final period of expansion under the Mongols. For a while, during campaigns against Moslem enemies, the Mongols saw that Christian support could be valuable to them, and the Nestorians took advantage of the Mongol conquests to establish themselves in strength in China in the second half of the thirteenth century. The Church of the East now reached its greatest geographical extent. But appearances were deceptive. As Mongol power waned throughout Asia the vacuum was filled not by Christianity but by Islam. The Nestorian communities in central Asia, isolated from the Nestorian heartland in Iraq, were reduced by plague in the middle years of the fourteenth century and also faced aggressive Moslem proselytism. Many of them converted to Islam at this period, and those that did not were probably wiped out during the terrible campaigns of Timur Leng towards the end of the fourteenth century. Nestorian Christians were expelled from China after the fall of the Mongol Yuan dynasty in 1368.

Djwilms (talk) 03:14, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

I think that looks great.  :) I took the liberty of merging it into the current Nestorianism article, in a section entitled "Context and history". That way we can work to wordsmith it a bit, and it'll be easy enough to move up to the lead once the article is moved. I also updated a few of the elements about the Mongols (one of my own specialties). So it's good teamwork, as we each work on the information with which we are most familiar!  :) --Elonka 07:40, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
I liked your 13th and 14th century elaborations. There was only one sentence which I have my doubts about, which I think you have pasted in from what was there before, viz. that Nestorian missionaries were active among the Mongols in the 7th century. That seems way too early, and may derive from a confusion with A-lo-pen's mission to China (a very different thing altogether). I would have said 11th century for first Nestorian contacts with Mongols, Naiman, Kerait etc. But we can deal with the detail at leisure.
I'll be out of the office for the next week during Chinese New Year, and off Wikipedia as I don't have internet access at home. Don't think I've lost interest. I'll be back in ten days' time.
By coincidence, I'm presently working on the Mongol chapter of my new book. Once it's ready, I would be grateful if I could run it past you for a second opinion. I'm sure you'll spot some mistakes in it. I have relied heavily on Saunders for the general background (he writes so well), but I guess he may be a bit dated by now.
Djwilms (talk) 08:42, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
I would be delighted to help with your book! I did notice an error or two about the Mongols in the previous book (for example, the year of the Battle of Ain Jalut), and I'd be happy to help proofread. Regarding the conversion of the Mongol tribes, I'm definitely open to discussing that. In reviewing my own sources, they're pretty clear that the Nestorian missionaries were active among the "Turks of Central Asia" in the 7th century, but you're also right that the truly major conversions were occurring in the 11th century. I'm confident we'll get it sorted out. Have a good Chinese New Year, and I look forward to working with you upon your return. --Elonka 17:34, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Hey guys, I've begun a rudimentary article in my userspace at User:Cuchullain/Church of the East. So far it's a bit of a conjunction of Djwilms and Elonka's input plus stuff shipped over from this article. Input appreciated, though it doens't have to be perfect before it's moved into article space. If there are no objections I'll try to move it over today.--Cúchullain t/c 18:28, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
No objections here, and since there have been no objections from anyone about the possible page move, I'd say we should just go ahead and move forward with it. --Elonka 19:01, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Done. It's alright for a start, I think but will need a lot of work. Cheers!--Cúchullain t/c 19:31, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Another rewrite[edit]

Okay, I've rewritten the article and migrated all information on the church itself the new article Church of the East. This article now specifically deals with the Nestorian doctrine itself, as it did originally. Hopefully this will suit everyone involved. Deusveritasest has made a few changes, but I've reverted some of them in good faith. First was the issue with the opening sentence; "Nestorianism" is called "Nestorianism" because it was advanced by Nestorius, so that's what needs to appear in the introduction; Theodore is now mentioned as helping to develop the doctrine. Deus brings up a good issue with terminology regarding what to call the church the Nestorians split from. Originally it said Western Christianity, which is obviously inappropriate as the churches that separated were really originally Eastern. I substituted this for Chalcedonian Christianity, but as he points out, Nestorianism was declared heresy years before the Council of Chalcedon. However, it's not correct to just call all these churches "supportive of Cyril", as they weren't that really. I've attempted just calling it "the rest of the Christian church", since what was really going on was that they were aligning themselves with the Persian Church, which had declared itself independent of the church of the Roman Empire. I suppose another option might be "Church of the Roman Empire". On the issue of "Monophysitism", usage doesn't appear to have been wrong in every case; regardless of the nuances of the theology, "Monophysite" is what the given sources call them, not "Oriental Orthodox".--Cúchullain t/c 01:24, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Once again, these points bear discussion. Please do not blanket revert again, and engage in discussion.--Cúchullain t/c 13:15, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Agree that these blanket reverts are not helpful. I've left a note for Deusveritasest. On the specific points of disagreement though, it might help if we could get more specific citations in place, to help stabilize things. --Elonka 16:06, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

a recent edit[edit]

"the church is not called 'Nestorianism'" HAHAHA. Thanks you Djwilms. I've been trying to argue that point to the two most common editors of this article for quite awhile now. For some reason they were not able to understand. Deusveritasest (talk) 05:58, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Always happy to oblige. I'll get round soon to retitling the articles Nestorianism in China and Nestorianism in Nochiya.
Djwilms (talk) 09:31, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
To Deus, this issue was addressed and mostly resolved some time ago, if you'd read the discussion above, which you don't seem to have participated in. To Djwilms, I already retitled Nestorianism in China to Church of the East in China; I'm not touching the other one ;) It's a bit of a mess.--Cúchullain t/c 14:31, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
Dear Cuchullain,
You are certainly right about Nestorianism in Nochiya. I've written an article that covers most of the same ground, Shemsdin (East Syrian Ecclesiastical Province), and it might be possible to transfer anything of value to the Shemsdin article (for example, the detailed list of village churches, which I wish had been available when I wrote The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East ten years ago) and then delete Nestorianism in Nochiya. There are at least two other related articles on Nochiya (Shemsdin), Christianity in Nochiya and Matran family of Shamizdin, both of which are badly written, poorly structured, anecdotal and unsourced, and it should be possible to salvage the valuable stuff from each of them and then delete them. I've already taken an intriguing, and very probably genuine, list of metropolitans of Shemsdin from Matran family of Shamizdin and transferred it to my own article, and am now almost ready to propose the Matran article for deletion.
Djwilms (talk) 01:53, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

Confusion in the use of the terms "nature", "hypostasis", "essence" and "person"[edit]

The following inline warnings have been added to the articles section Nestorian doctrine:

  • [citation needed] and [dubious – discuss] to: "... Christ as having two loosely joined but distinct natures, or hypostases ..." (because "hypostasis" means "person" or, with technical philosophical word, subsistence, NOT nature (Greek: physis)
  • [verification needed] to the image, where the captions within the circles in the drawing should read "Human/Divine nature", NOT "Human/Divine Person"

Unless the article section and the image are suitably modified, I will modify them myself.
Miguel de Servet (talk) 09:37, 25 September 2010 (UTC)