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M.A., B.D., B.Sc. / / 

With Foreword by 





First published 1937 
All rights reserved 

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Made and printed in Great Britain 

By The Camelot Press Ltd 

London and Southampton 



my Maecenas 


IF this book serves to stimulate interest in the Church 
of the East, whose history has been so much more 
difficult than that of Western Christianity, I shall be 
gratified. My people have had a great struggle to 
maintain their Christian faith. They have had to 
stand against other religions having the advantage of 
State support, and they have frequently suffered in 
great racial disturbances. But their witness goes on, 
and I pray God that easier days may soon be granted 
them; this work may help toward that end if it enlarges 
the vision and sympathy of English-speaking Christians. 
I favour every contribution toward the bringing into 
closer relationship of all the people of God : for 'there 
shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 5 


February 1937. 


THE Nestorian churches, which constitute the oldest 
surviving schism from the Catholic Church of the 
early centuries, were almost completely isolated from 
the rest of Christendom for over a millennium. That 
fact alone makes the study of their history interesting, 
though at the same time it has greatly reduced their 
significance iri the general trend of ecclesiastical his- 
tory. Consequently, little attention is usually given to 
them. In so far as the study of theology is concerned 
not much is lost, nor have they had much influence in 
the moulding of civilizations, Christian or otherwise. 
But their history is of value in showing how Chris- 
tianity was able to survive centuries of subjection, for 
during the greater part of their history the Nestorian 
Christians constituted a despised minority in the midst 
of populations owning allegiance to other faiths. 

In the following chapters an attempt will be made to 
give a concise account of their fortunes. At the out- 
set, however, it must be stated that the degree of 
accuracy to be expected in such a history is not com- 
parable with that which can be looked for in histories 
dealing with events in Europe. For this there are 
several reasons. First, the sources are fewer, and it 
is not so often possible to check one source against 
another. It is therefore sometimes impossible to check 



a source of information except by internal evidence, 
and when some of the matter is obviously legendary, 
the nature of the real facts is often entirely a matter of 

Secondly, there is not the same sure framework of 
secular history. Much of the work of the Nestorians 
was done among peoples whose records are scanty and 
unreliable, and even when the secular history, as in 
Persia, is fairly complete and trustworthy, it is not 
always possible to relate the fortunes of the churches 
to the general events of the time. This is due to the 
fact that their influence on general affairs was usually 
so much less than has been the case in Europe, so that 
cross references between secular and ecclesiastical 
history are not so frequent. 

Thirdly, the sources are difficult of access and 
difficult to use. A history of the Nestorian churches, 
compiled entirely from original sources, would necessi- 
tate a knowledge of at least a dozen Oriental languages 
and leisure to travel over a great part of Europe and 
Asia. It is inevitable, therefore, that much must be 
accepted at second hand, and the best that can be 
done is to compile a continuous history from such 
material as is accessible. Such a work can naturally 
make little claim to originality except in the exercise 
of critical judgement in selecting and arranging the 
material; hence indebtedness to former writers is to be 
taken as implicit throughout the book. To avoid undue 
multiplication of footnotes, it is to be understood that 
mention of a book in the bibliography implies that use 
has been made of it, and as a rule references will only 


be given in footnotes when it is probable that the 
actual authority for a particular statement may be 
desired, when sentences are quoted almost verbatim, 
or when it is intended to indicate that the fact or 
opinion quoted is not necessarily accepted by the 
present writer. 

As to the accuracy of facts, only what seems reason- 
ably probable will be recorded. It must be understood, 
however, that there is often considerable difference of 
opinion as to what should be accepted and what 
rejected; such expressions as c it seems probable,' 'it is 
possible,' and the like, will therefore be sometimes 
employed to indicate a degree of uncertainty. As to 
dates, many of them are only approximate, even when 
circa is not prefixed. In the case of the lists of the 
patriarchs the main differences of opinion will be 

The spelling of proper names and titles presents 
another problem. When an Anglicized form exists 
which is generally familiar as the name of a person or 
persons in ancient history, that form will be used. Thus 
it seems undesirable to replace names like John, 
Timothy, Theodore, and Cyril by more correct but 
less familiar forms. On the other hand, some Angli- 
cized forms look out of place in ancient settings, and 
Georgius is therefore preferred to George. Forms such 
as Nestor, Diodore, and Dioscor will also be rejected 
in favour of Nestorius, Diodorus, and Dioscorus, 
because in such cases the Anglicized form has no 
currency except with reference to those persons. 

Latin and Greek names give little trouble, except 


that it is occasionally doubtful whether to use the 
Latin or the Greek form. For example, Catholicus or 
Katholikos serves equally well, though in general Latin- 
ized forms will be preferred. Mixed forms are usually 
to be avoided, though the present patriarch has adopted 
the form Catholicos, as may be seen in the Foreword. 
But Oriental names present greater difficulty, as so 
many systems of transliteration have been used, and 
the same name may occur in upwards of a dozen 
different guises. Fortescue discusses the matter at some 
length in the preface to his Lesser Eastern Churches, 1 
and ends by adding yet another system. The methods 
recommended by the British Association are in several 
instances already out-moded. It has therefore been 
considered best to follow in the main the usage of the 
latest edition (the fourteenth) of the Encyclopedia 
Britannica, though, as might be expected, it is not 
always consistent from article to article, nor invariably 
to be endorsed. But as it is the most generally 
recognized authority, it seems best to follow it. 

This involves adopting some forms which are not yet 
popular, mostly in a small group of Arabic words. As 
Arabic only uses the three vowels a, i and u, no other 
vowels should be used in transliterating pure Arabic 
words. Unfortunately, in the past e has often been 
put instead of a or i, and o instead of u. Thus familiar 
words like Moslem and Omar should, without doubt, 
correctly be rendered Muslim and Umar. The same 
applies to Abu Bekr, Othman, and Omayyad, which 
should be Abu Bakr, Uthman, and Umayyad. 

1 pp. vi-viii. 


There is not the same compunction in adopting the 
spelling Muhammad for the Arabian prophet. The 
much-used Mahomet is an error which has no defence 
but age. Even so long ago as the end of the eighteenth 
century Assemani called attention to it: 'Per id tempus 
innotuit Mohammed, quern vulgo Mahometum 
dicimus, Tajorum seu Arabum propheta.' 1 An addi- 
tional objection to Mahomet is that it gives no derivatives. 
Although the faith and followers of Muhammad should 
be termed Islam and Muslims respectively, it sometimes 
happens that connexion with the prophet himself 
needs to be, emphasized. In such cases, and only in 
such cases, Muhammadanism and Muhammadans may be 
used. Other forms such as Mahommed, Mohammed, and 
their derivatives, are also better discarded. They have 
forfeited consideration by their very variety. But the 
Encyclopedia Britannica is conservative with regard to 
Koran, not adopting Quran. 

Usually only one form of spelling will be put in the 
text, except that, in direct quotations, if the form of a 
name differs more than slightly from that in general 
use, the usual form will be added in brackets or as a 
footnote. But as some names have variants so different 
that it might not be easy to recognize them as the same 
person or place, a supplemental index has been added 
listing some of the more usual alternatives (pp. 223- 
227). This supplemental index is by no means 
exhaustive, but it may help readers to trace names they 
may have met elsewhere in forms different from those 
given in this work, and by analogy may serve to indicate 

1 Bibliotheca Orientalis, III. ii. 94. 


the general nature of such variations, so that names 
not listed will often be safely identified. Thus it will 
be seen that a and e, i and e, u and 0, k and c, q and 
k, k and ch, w and v, are often interchanged; that h 
may be inserted or omitted at the beginning or end of 
a word, or inserted or omitted after g, s, t, and other 
letters; that the Arabic article at is sometimes retained 
and sometimes dropped, and when retained is some- 
times hyphened and sometimes joined directly to its 
noun. But diacritical marks of every kind, accents, 
quantities, and breathings, have been omitted through- 
out, except in quotations from Greek, so that a form 
such as Kald'un would be listed simply as Kalaun. Nor 
are variants listed which depend merely on the presence 
or absence of a hyphen, such as Il-Khan and Ilkhan, or 
writing a name divided or run together, such as Bar 
Sauma and Barsauma. It must also be realized that 
some of the forms given in the supplemental index are 
quite indefensible: they are not approved, they are 
merely listed for reference. 

Not only will the supplemental index be of use for 
tracing variants in the spelling of the same name, but 
it will enable the various changes in the name of the 
same town to be followed, a frequent cause of confusion. 
Many towns have had their names changed by con- 
querors, or have had their names changed for other 
reasons, or have had different names in different 
languages. Thus Seleucia, named after Seleucus 
Nicator in the third century B.C., was renamed Veh- 
Ardashir (Beth Ardashir) by Ardashir (Artaxerxes) I 
in the third century A.D., though the old name remained 


in use side by side with the new one. A third name for 
the same place was provided by the Arabs in the 
seventh century, who named it, jointly with Gtesiphon, 
al-Madain. Thus many towns must be recognized 
under two or even three quite different names, as well 
as under varying forms of the same name. Usually 
the same form will be used throughout for the same 
town, rather than different forms appropriate to the 
various periods. Thus Jundishapur is an Arabic 
form. In the Persian period Gondisapor might be 
preferable, or Beth Lapat, the Syriac name of the same 
place. But to avoid confusion Jundishapur will 
generally be used, and will be added in brackets even 
when another form has to be employed. 

The connotations of a few words need to be defined: 
Roman Empire will be used throughout for what is 
usually styled the Eastern Roman or Byzantine 
Empire, whose capital was Constantinople (Byzan- 
tium) ; for the justification of this usage see the Cam- 
bridge Medieval History, Vol. IV., pp. vii-viii. The 
words schism and heresy will be used to mean the 
separation, administratively and doctrinally respec- 
tively, of a person or group from a church to which 
they formerly belonged, and must be taken as simply 
descriptive of historic fact, without in any way imply- 
ing whether the action or opinion was right or wrong. 
In the same way people will be accorded without 
qualification the names and descriptions they claimed 
for themselves, whether Patriarch, Bishop, Priest, 
Church, or Christian. Thus the word Church will be 
used where some might prefer sect; but the use of the 


word is not to be taken as involving any judgement. 
Similarly, when the word sect is used, it is not neces- 
sarily derogatory: it simply means a part cut off from 
a whole or from a greater part. 

As to the general arrangement of the material, it is 
very difficult to set it out satisfactorily. It is hoped 
that the analytical table of contents on pp. 19-20 will 
make the general plan sufficiently clear, and that cross- 
references and the index will suffice as aids in tracing 
the events connected with a given person or place. 
Rather more general history has been introduced than 
some might think necessary; but without it the story 
moves against a nebulous background, and so loses 
much of its coherence. 


February 1937. 



Foreword 7 


Preface 9 

Analytical Table of Contents 19 

I. The Origin of Nestorianism 21 

II. Transition to Persia 37 

III. The Nestorian Church in the tune of Babai, 

497-502 53 

IV. The Nestorian Church under the Sassanids, 

502-651 64 

V. The Nestorian Church under the Caliphate, 

651-1258 83 

VI. The Nestorian Church under the Mongols and 

Timur, 1258-1405 141 

VII. The Nestorian Church in Kurdistan, 1405- 

1914 170 

VIII. The Nestorian Church in Exile, 1914-1936 194 
Bibliography 209 

Index 211 

Supplemental Index of Variants in the Spelling 
of names 223 

Be 17 



Chapter I. The Origin of Nestorianism 2 1 

Relation of Nestorius to Nestorianism - The Christo- 
logical problem Council of Nicaea Apollinarianism 
School of Alexandria School of Antioch The title 
Theotokos Cyril and Nestorius Council of Ephesus 
Banishment of Nestorius - School of Edessa - Last years of 
Nestorius - Estimate. 

Chapter II. Transition to Persia 37 

Importance of Edessa - Rabbulas and Ibas- Renewed 
conflict between Alexandria and Constantinople over 
Eutychianism Ibas involved Tome of Leo Robber 
Council of Ephesus Council of Chalcedon End of 
School of Edessa - Nestorian remnant flee to Persia - 
Barsumas - The Persian Church moves towards independ- 
ence and Nestorianism. 

Chapter III. The Nestorian Church in the time of 53 

Babai, 497-502 

Babai and Narses - Theology of Narses and the Nestorian 
formula Extent of the Patriarchate in: (i) The Persian 
Empire - (ii) Arabia - (iii) India - (iv) Turkestan - 
(v) China. 

Chapter IV. The Nestorian Church under the Sassa- 

nids, 502-651 64 

i. Relation to the State: Zoroastrianism, Roman wars, 
occasional persecution, Arab expansion 2. Internal 
condition: Mar Aba I, Joseph, Abraham of Kaskar and 
monasticism, Mar Babai the Great 3. Nestorian 
churches outside Persia: Arabia, India, Turkestan, China 
List of bishops, catholici and patriarchs, 315-660 List 
of Sassanid kings, 224651. 

Chapter V. The Nestorian Church under the Cali- 
phate, 651-1258 83 
i. Relation to the State: the Caliphate, Muhammad, the 
Koran, persecutions, taxation, restrictions 2. Internal 
condition: advance followed by decline, causes of decline, 
Timothy I, extent in the tenth century, list of provinces 
3. Nestorian churches outside Persia: Arabia, the West, 
India, Turkestan, China -List of patriarchs, 650-1317- 
List of Caliphs - List of Mongol Great Khans. 




Chapter VI. The Nestorian Church under the Mongols 141 
and Timur, 1258-1405 

Rise of the Mongols - Jenghiz Khan - Hulagu - Favour 
to Christians - Muslim reaction - Mongols tend to Islam - 
Yaballaha III - Rabban Sauma and the Pope - Persecu- 
tion of Christians Decline of the churches Timur 
Nestorians reduced to Kurdistan Nestorian churches 
outside Persia: India, Turkestan, China List of Mongol 
Great Khans and Ilkhans. 

Chapter VII. The Nestorian Church in Kurdistan, 

1405-1914 170 

Settlement in Kurdistan - Succession dispute - Simon 
Denha and John Sulaka - Uniates and schismatics - 
Modern missions begin Their work and problems 
Position in 1914: extent and administration, theology and 
beliefs, services and rites. 

Chapter VIII. The Nestorian Church in Exile, 1914- 

I93 6 . . 194 

The Great War Misfortunes in Kurdistan Flight to 
Persia Trek to Iraq Iraq under the Mandate Iraq 
independent The problem of settlement Hopes for the 
future - Conclusion. 


1 . The Patriarchate of the East, A.D. 500 58 

2. Nestorian Churches in the Caliphate, tenth 

century 121 

3. Nestorian Churches in the Caliphate, A.D. 1258 122 

4. The Nestorian Church in the tenth century 136 

5. Map illustrating the history of the Nestorians since 

1405 196 


NESTORIUS, a fifth-century bishop of Constantinople, 
has provided a name for a heresy which he did not 
originate, possibly did not even hold, and for a Church 
which he did not found. Nevertheless, his name has 
become so firmly associated with a certain Christo- 
logical theory and with the churches which have held 
that theory that it is not now easy to find terms equally 
definite but more exactly descriptive. Nestorianism, 
therefore, must be understood to mean the Chris- 
tology supposedly held by Nestorius, though not origin- 
ated by him, and the Nestorian churches the churches 
holding to the Nestorian Christology. It should 
perhaps be remarked that these churches have never 
officially used the title Nestorian to describe themselves, 
though they have not usually objected to it; their own 
designation is 'Church of the East.' But by retaining 
the term 'Nestorian churches' emphasis is laid on the 
fact that their characteristic is theological rather than 
merely geographical. 

The formation of these churches into a separate 
communion was a gradual process, which may be 
deemed to have reached- completion when Babai, 
Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (487-502), declared 



that the churches of Persia and other churches which 
acknowledged him as their spiritual head were hence- 
forward to be completely independent of the churches 
in the Roman Empire, and that Nestorian theology 
was to be the basis of their doctrine. It is hardly 
desirable, however, to begin their history at that 
point. It is necessary to understand what Nestor- 
ianism was, why it was condemned by the orthodoxy 
of the Roman Empire, how it came to be associated 
with the churches in Persia, and how those churches 
came to separate themselves from the rest of Christen- 
dom. This will necessitate a brief survey of the course 
of Ghristology during the latter part of the fourth 
century and the earlier part of the fifth. 

The Council of Nicaea 1 (325) had established 
orthodox doctrine as to the full deity of Christ; and 
though the repercussions of the Arian controversy 2 
continued for some years, the Council of Constantinople 
(381) reaffirmed the creed of Nicaea, and from that 
time the Nicene Creed was accepted without question 

1 The first (Ecumenical Council. Eight Church Councils are reckoned 
as oecumenical (general, universal): Nicaea, 325; Constantinople, 381; 
Ephesus, 431; Chalcedon, 451; Constantinople, 553; Constantinople, 
580; Nicasa, 787; Constantinople, 869. The Greeks, however, do not 
admit the last one in this list; if they reckon an eighth, it is that of 
Constantinople in 879. 

2 Arius taught that Christ was created { out of things which are not' 
(E oOx OVTCOV); and although prior to and superior to all the rest of 
creation, was not of the same essence (ofcrfcc) as God the Father. The 
Council of Nicaea was called by the Emperor Constantine to resolve the 
acute controversy thus aroused. This Council drew up the Nicene 
Creed, which declares that Christ is the only begotten Son of God, 
begotten (not created) from the essence of the Father, and of like 
essence (6uooOaios) to Him. It also places the generation of Christ 
outside time. (TCHJS SE AyovTocs f\v TTOTE OTE OUK fjv . . . ToO-rovs 

Kal fiirocrroiiKfi eKKAr)aia.) 


by orthodoxy within the Roman Empire. Indeed, 
soon afterwards, in 383, the Emperor Theodosius I 
declared Arianism to be contrary to Roman law, and 
the Nicene Greed thus became the official creed of 
both Church and Empire. 

But the Nicene emphasis on the deity of Christ 
brought into fresh prominence the problem of His 
humanity: if Christ were fully deity, to what extent 
and in what way could He also be human? This 
problem, which had exercised the Gnostics 1 in the 
second century and Origen 2 in the third, was brought 
into prominence again by Apollinarius. Apollinarius, 
bishop of Laodicaea (ob. 390), had put forward a 
Christology based on the Greek idea of man as tri- 
partite: body, animal soul, and intellect (CTCOJJIOC, yuxr|, 
vous). In Christ, intellect was replaced by the Logos 
(Aoyos), the eternally generated Word of God, which 
Apollinarius held to be fully deity. This view had 
been condemned at the Council of Constantinople on 
the ground that without a human intellect Christ 
could not be regarded as really man. Moreover, if 
Christ were not completely human, His sacrifice as 
man for men would be to that extent defective; as 
Gregory of Nazianzus cogently put it, e that which is 
unassumed is unhealed' (TO yap cnTp6arAr)Trrov 
ccOspcnreurov) . But the problem was not solved by 
the mere rejecting of an unsatisfactory solution: it was 

1 The Gnostics regarded Christ as a divine being, but not as deity; 
and they taught that His human form was a mere appearance (S6KTi<Jis). 
This view of Christ's nature is known as docetism. 

2 Origen taught that Christ was the fusion of the continuously 
generated Son of God with an untainted human soul, this fusion 
dwelling in a human body. 


only brought into greater prominence. Two modes of 
approach to the problem now became clearly differ- 
entiated, which were adopted by the school of Alexan- 
dria and the school of Antioch respectively. 

The Alexandrian school, at one time noted for its 
comprehensive scholarship, had gradually adopted a 
more conservative attitude, and had become the 
stronghold of orthodox doctrine. Its influence was 
paramount in Egypt, and of great consequence 
throughout the West. During the earlier part of the 
fifth century the Alexandrian school had a remarkably 
capable representative in Cyril (376-444), who had 
been bishop of Alexandria since 412. His teaching 
may be summarized thus: the Logos, pre-existing as a 
hypostatic distinction in the Godhead, united with 
Himself complete manhood. But the union was not 
in the nature of a mere contact or bond: the Logos had 
not only assumed flesh, but had become flesh. So 
Christ was the Logos united with a complete human 
being; but so perfect was the union that the two 
natures, divine and human, constituted only one 
person. (This union of the two natures into one person 
is referred to as the hypostatic union.) Nevertheless, 
the two natures were not confused or mingled: c the 
flesh is flesh and not deity, even if it has become flesh 
of God'; so that the one person still possessed the two 
complete natures, and could assess experiences accord- 
ing to each of them: as the Logos, His divine nature 
was impassible and unchangeable; but through the 
humanity He had taken to Himself, He entered into 
all human feelings. Thus one person experienced 


through two perfectly united natures. This ability to 
experience through both natures, although there is 
only one person, is explained as due to an interchange 
(ccvTi8oc7is) between the natures of their respective 
characteristics, the 'communicatio idiomatum' of 
Latin theology. This last phrase is difficult to render 
precisely, but perhaps 'sharing of characteristics' may 
serve. In this way the experiences of the God-man 
are both truly divine and truly human. (It will be 
seen that all this involves one rather serious difficulty: 
the Incarnation is simply an event in the eternal life 
of the Logos, but a beginning for the human life of His 
assumed manhood; but though there are two natures, 
there is only one person; one of the natures must therefore 
be impersonal. As it is obvious that the Logos cannot 
be regarded as impersonal, the human nature must 
be so regarded. Harnack considers that this reduces 
Cyril's position to monophysitism, but Loofs maintains 
that it does not necessarily do so, so long as the human 
nature is maintained to be complete and real.) To 
make the union of natures absolute and complete, it 
seemed necessary to postulate that the process of 
fusion proceeded in utero from the moment of con- 
ception. It would follow that the Virgin Mary, in 
bearing the man Jesus, bore also the Logos, that is, 
Deity: the Virgin 'had borne the Incarnate Word 
according to the flesh.' Now while this is quite logical 
and unexceptionable, the same idea, when expressed 
by applying the title Theotokos (GeoTOKos, 'bearer of 
God') to the Virgin Mary, was in danger of extension 
beyond its proper limits. Rightly understood, the 


epithet is innocuous. But if loosely interpreted as 
'Mother of God,' there would obviously be danger of 
the Virgin Mary being popularly regarded almost as 
a goddess. Subsequent events were to prove what a 
storm centre this word could provide. The Alex- 
andrian school, therefore, postulated the full deity 
and the full humanity of Christ, and the perfect union 
of the two complete natures in one person. 

But the Antiochene school, which dominated Syria 
and Asia Minor, approached the problem from quite 
a different standpoint. Their approach was based 
not so much on theological reasoning as on the inter- 
pretation of objective historical data, and to them the 
primary reality was the historic Jesus. Indeed, the 
school of Antioch is often referred to as the Syrian 
historico-exegetical school. Two particularly able 
teachers had given form to the Antiochene Ghristology, 
Diodorus of Tarsus, founder of the school, and Theo- 
dore of Mopsuestia (ob. 429), his most famous pupil. 
Of Diodorus not a great deal is known, as all but a 
few fragments of his works have been lost. But the 
teaching of Theodore can with fair certainty be 
reconstructed, and it was undoubtedly he who gave 
definite form to the views for which Nestorius was later 
condemned. Theodore taught that Christ was prim- 
arily and fully man, but that from before His birth 
God's special complacency (suSoKicc) dwelt in Him. 
Theodore identifies this complacency with the Logos', 
carefully distinguishing the Logos from the Being of 
God, which is omnipresent and therefore indwells all 
men and things indifferently. In addition to the 


Logos, at His baptism Christ received the Holy Ghost, 
by whose power His subsequent work was done. 
Theodore regarded the union of manhood, Logos and 
Holy Ghost as progressive and not completely per- 
fected until the Ascension. Even so, the union was 
regarded as due to a perfect complacency between 
divinity and humanity rather than to a union of 
essence: it is 'according to complacency, not according 
to essence' (KOCT* suSoKiocv, ou KOCT S oucjiocv). Con- 
sequently the divine and human natures are in con- 
junction as though joined by some kind of bond 
(cruvcc9eta), rather than in a state of true unification 
(EVCOCTIS), though it must be admitted that Theodore 
does occasionally use the latter word. Theodore thus 
emphasizes the full humanity of Christ, but gives no 
satisfactory account of the way in which the divine and 
human natures constitute one person. Indeed, al- 
though Theodore asserted the full and unique Sonship 
of Christ, his Christology leaves the impression of a 
person specially favoured, guided and empowered by 
God, but hardly one to whom the term Deity could be 

Among those who were trained under the influence 
of Theodore and his teaching was Nestorius. Of his 
origin and early life little is known, except that he was 
born at Germanicia near Mount Taurus in Syria. 
After a period as a monk at the monastery of Euprepius 
near Antioch, he became a presbyter at Antioch, where 
he gained some distinction both as a preacher and for 
the austerity of his personal life. But he did not come 
into special prominence until difficulty arose in finding 


a suitable successor to Sisinnius as bishop of Con- 
stantinople. Sisinnius had died in December 4275 and 
conflicting local interests had rendered the appoint- 
ment of a Gonstantinopolitan unwise. Looking to 
Antioch, Nestorius seemed suitable, so in April 428 he 
was appointed to the vacant see. 

At first the appointment appears to have been 
acceptable to all sections at Constantinople, both 
clerical and lay; and although the choice had been 
made by the Court, the monkish party, whose leader 
was the Archimandrite Dalmatius, was apparently 
quite satisfied. Unfortunately, the satisfaction was of 
short duration. Nestorius became involved in a 
controversy as to the propriety of applying the term 
Theotokos to the Virgin Mary. Whether Nestorius 
himself precipitated the dispute by attacking the term 
in a sermon he preached early in 429, whether he was 
drawn into it by supporting his presbyter, Anastasius, 
who had attacked the term, or whether he merely 
became involved in a dispute that was already raging 
when he arrived at Constantinople, cannot perhaps be 
certainly decided. 1 But the matter did arise, and 
Nestorius became unhappily implicated. It would 
appear that he was personally quite opposed to the 
term, and suggested replacing it by Christotokos 
(XpioroTOKOs, 'bearer of Christ'), saying, 'Mary did 
not bear the Godhead; she bore a man who was the 
organ of the Godhead. 5 But this compromise was not 
of much help in easing matters, and he eventually 
yielded so far as to allow the use of the title Theotokos, 

1 For a discussion on this point, see Loofs, Nestorius, pp. 28-32. 


provided that its popular implications were not unduly 

Had the controversy been purely local, it might have 
died down and done no lasting harm. But Cyril, 
bishop of Alexandria, took it upon himself to interfere. 
His motives have been much discussed. It may be 
that he was genuinely convinced that the term Theo- 
tokos had to be defended if the full deity of Christ 
were to be maintained. The word had been used by 
Athanasius and possibly by Origen, and was regarded 
as a defence against Unitarian tendencies. But less 
disinterested motives were certainly present. He was 
jealous for the power of his see and of himself, and was 
anxious that Constantinople should be influenced by 
Alexandria rather than by Antioch. He probably also 
saw the dispute as a challenge from Antiochene 
Christology to Alexandrian Christology, and he may 
have thought that successful interference would estab- 
lish the ascendancy of the see of Alexandria over both 
Antioch and Constantinople, thus helping to maintain 
Alexandria against the rapidly increasing prestige of 
Rome. Nestorius suggested an even less creditable 
motive: that Cyril entered into the dispute in order to 
divert attention from accusations against himself; and 
there is certainly some evidence pointing that way. 1 

But whatever the motives may have been, Cyril did 
interfere. He prepared his way with care, fostering 
enmity against Nestorius by agents in Constantinople, 
and taking steps to gain Celestine, bishop of Rome, on 
to his own side. Rome was probably to some extent 
1 See Loofs, op. cit., pp. 33-41. 


inclined to side with Cyril rather than with Nestorius 
owing to the fact that Nestorius had received at 
Constantinople some Pelagians who had been banished 
from Rome. Eventually Cyril was able to persuade 
the Pope to condemn Nestorius, which was done at a 
synod at Rome on August nth, 430. A letter was 
drawn up notifying Nestorius that unless he recanted 
within ten days he would be regarded as excommuni- 
cated. This letter was entrusted to Cyril to deliver. 
But before forwarding it, Cyril held a synod at Alex- 
andria, and condemned Nestorius in similar terms to 
those used at Rome, adding twelve anathemas 1 which 
Nestorius was to accept within ten days or be excom- 
municated. The very first of these anathemas shows 
the way in which the rejection of the term Theotokos 
was assumed by Cyril to imply a questioning of the 
deity of Christ, and so to be contrary to the creed of 
Nicaea: e lf any one does not confess Emmanuel to be 
truly God, and the Holy Virgin therefore the bearer of 
God [Theotokos], for she bore according to the flesh 
flesh which had become the Word [Logos] of God: let 
him be accursed.' 

Meanwhile Nestorius had not been inactive. He 
saw the way events were tending, and knew that 
nothing but his downfall would satisfy Cyril. He 
thereupon took a step which he hoped would save 
himself: to void the excommunications sent from 
Rome and Alexandria he besought the Emperor 
Theodosius II, who was still favourable to him, to call 
an oecumenical council to investigate the whole matter. 

1 They are quoted in full by Gieseler, Ecclesiastical History, i. 397-398. 


The emperor agreed to do so, and issued an order 
accordingly, which was dated November igth, 430, 
thus preceding by a narrow but sufficient margin the 
delivery to Nestorius of the communications from Rome 
and Alexandria, which were received on December 
6th, 430. 

The oecumenical council was called for Whit-Sunday, 
June 7th, 431, and was to meet at Ephesus. The 
proceedings reflected unfavourably on all concerned. 
The Syrian bishops, under the leadership of John of 
Antioch, arrived more than a fortnight late, and the 
Roman legates still later. Cyril, meanwhile, had 
insisted on the council being opened. The emperor's 
commissioner, Count Candidian, protested in vain, 
and the proceedings began. Nestorius refused to 
'appear before so unrepresentative an assembly, con- 
sisting for the most part of Egyptian partisans of Cyril. 
He was therefore condemned in absentia, a condemna- 
tion received in Ephesus with tumultuous approval, 
Memnon, the bishop of Ephesus, being favourable to 
Cyril. When the Syrians arrived, however, they at 
once joined with Nestorius in holding a rival council, 
at which they in turn deposed Cyril and Memnon. 
But when the Roman legates arrived, they sided with 

Theodosius, acquainted with this unseemly impasse, 
appointed a second commissioner, Count John, who 
cut the Gordian knot by confirming all three deposi- 
tions, that of Nestorius by the Alexandrian section of 
the council, and those of Cyril and Memnon by 
the Syrian section. Nestorius was sent back to the 


monastery of Euprepius, which just over three years 
earlier had witnessed his glorious departure for Constan- 
tinople. There he remained, no longer a figure of 
consequence, for the next four years. Cyril and 
Memnon fared better, probably owing to Cyril's skill 
in gaining friends at Court and elsewhere by intrigue 
and bribery. Cyril soon escaped from custody and 
returned to Alexandria, where he resumed his epis- 
copate as though no deposition had been pronounced. 
He had evidently been able to gain the favour of the 
emperor, and of the emperor's elder sister Pulcheria, 
whose influence was considerable. A little later 
Memnon was allowed to resume his office at Ephesus. 

As to the doctrinal problems, nothing had really 
been settled at the Council of Ephesus, or rather at the 
two party councils. Theodosius, therefore, summoned 
each group to send delegates to a further conference at 
Chalcedon; but when it became clear that no decision 
was likely to be reached, Theodosius officially dissolved 
it, merely expressing general approval of the orthodox 
position. Although it formulated no creed and settled 
no problem, the Council of Ephesus has to be reckoned 
the third (Ecumenical Council. 

The events of the next few years reflect the astuteness 
of Cyril and the weakness of the Antiochians. The 
successor of Nestorius as bishop of Constantinople was 
Maximian, of whom Cyril approved. Having now the 
friendship of the emperor and the co-operation of the 
new bishop of Constantinople, Cyril proceeded by 
intrigue and bribery to force the Antiochians to come 
to an understanding with him; for they continued to 


hold Nestorius in esteem and regarded Cyril's twelve 
anathemas as heretical. But Cyril's methods eventu- 
ally triumphed, and in 433 Alexandrians and Antioch- 
ians made their peace. The terms were that the 
Antiochians should acknowledge the validity of Cyril's 
section of the council, at any rate as regards the anathe- 
matizing of Nestorius, though Cyril's twelve anathemas 
were not specifically endorsed; and that the Alex- 
andrians should accept an Antiochian confession of 
faith. This agreement healed the breach between 
Alexandria and Antioch. In effect, the Syrians had 
sacrificed Nestorius in order to secure peace with 
Egypt and the West; and John, bishop of Antioch, who 
had been foremost among the Syrian negotiators, now 
found Nestorius, his former friend, a grave embarrass- 
ment. There were, therefore, few to voice protest or 
regret when in 435 Nestorius was banished, first to 
Petra in Arabia, and then to Oasis in Egypt, and 
Theodosius issued an edict ordering all his writings to 
be destroyed and his adherents to be called Simonians. 
Though the influence of Nestorius was thus com- 
pletely ended in the school of Antioch, which had 
formerly regarded him with pride, and although he 
was now disowned by the great majority of his original 
supporters, the Syrian bishops, the position which he 
had represented was by no means altogether forsaken. 
Many of the teachers in the important theological 
school at Edessa were still attached to the doctrinal 
system of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and approved 
neither of the events which had taken place at the 

Council of Ephesus nor of the discreditable way in 


which peace had been arranged between Cyril and 
John. Thus it came about that the next scenes in the 
fortunes of Nestorianism were set at Edessa. 

But before passing on to Edessa, it may be desirable 
to complete the personal history of Nestorius himself. 
There is not much to relate. Soon after his banishment 
to Oasis he was captured by Blemmyes, marauding 
nomads. They released him, evidently near Panopolis, 
for from there he wrote a letter to the governor, lest he 
should be suspected of seeking to flee. The governor 
decided to send him to Elephantine, but changed his 
mind and sent him back to Panopolis. His place of 
exile seems to have been changed several times, and 
these removals and his broken health must have made 
his life very hard. He must have survived, however, 
for about fifteen years after his banishment, as his 
Bazaar of Heraclides shows that he had heard of the 
death of Theodosius (450). The only relief to his 
exile was the conviction that Leo and Flavian were 
inclining to his position: c lt is my doctrine,' he wrote, 
'which Leo and Flavian are upholding! 3 He probably 
died before the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and was 
thus saved the humiliation of knowing that it, too, had 
condemned him. As to personal ambition, he had 
abandoned it altogether, and never sought recall from 
exile. Perhaps he feared that his return would only 
precipitate further trouble, and he preferred to remain 
as he was rather than to do that: 'The goal of my 
earnest wish, then,' he wrote, 'is that God may be 
blessed on earth as in heaven. But as for Nestorius, 
let him be anathema! Only let them say of God what 


I pray that they should say. I am prepared to endure 
and to suffer all for Him. And would that all men by 
anathematizing me might attain to a reconciliation 
with God. 5 

Thus died Nestorius, at a place unknown, at a date 
unfixed, whose brief episcopate at Constantinople pre- 
cipitated events which placed his name for ever on the 
pages of history. A just estimate of him is not easily 
made. Although his fate arouses our sympathy, his 
conduct during his first months at Constantinople sug- 
gests that he would have been equally hard on worsted 
opponents of his own. In one of his first sermons before 
the emperor he said: 'Purge me, O Caesar, the earth of 
heretics, and I in return will give thee heaven. Stand 
by me in putting down the heretics, and I will stand 
by thee in putting down the Persians.' He soon tried 
to implement these words by beginning a vigorous 
campaign of suppression against Arians, Novatians, and 
Quartodecimans; so that if Nestorius had gained the 
upper hand, it may be questioned whether he would 
have treated Cyril any better than Cyril treated him. 

It was unfortunate that the purely theological dispute 
was so complicated by other considerations. Theologi- 
cally, there is no doubt whatever that Cyril was far 
more capable than Nestorius. Cyril recognized what 
were the essentials of a sound Christology and boldly 
stated them, not shrinking from any implications. 
Nestorius had not so keen a mind, and possibly never 
clearly distinguished between Godhead and deity nor 
grasped the idea which 'communicatio idiomatum 5 
was meant to convey. His main concern was to prevent 


misuse of the term Theotokos, but that issue soon 
involved him in problems which were too deep for him. 
It may, however, be safely asserted that Nestorius 
never held the crude view of Christ's person which is 
implied by the formula 'Two natures, two persons, 
and one presence.' 1 If he was a heretic, as Bedjan 2 
and Nau 3 maintain, it was his misfortune and not his 
choice. Loofs 4 and Bethune-Baker 5 take a more 
complacent view; but sympathy with a tragic fate must 
not lead us to condone defective theology. Yet there 
is no escaping the conclusion that Nestorius was unfor- 
tunate in having an opponent, not simply so capable, 
but also so astute, so determined, and in some ways 
apparently so unscrupulous, as Cyril. Even if Cyril 
was theologically right, his methods were not always 
commendable, and it would have been more satis- 
factory if sound Christology could have been upheld 
with less acrimony and more charity. 

1 See p. 54. 

2 German editor of the Bazaar of Heraclides. 

3 Translator into French of the Bazaar of Heraclides. 
* Nestoriana and Nestorius. 

6 Nestorius and his Teaching. 


ALTHOUGH Nestorius was banished, the ideas which he 
had represented were not left without exponents. As 
has already been indicated, there was a strong element 
favourable to Nestorian views at the theological school 
at Edessa. The attitude of this school is of particular 
significance because at it most of the clergy for the 
churches in Persia received their training. They were 
trained at Edessa in Roman territory rather than in 
Persia, owing to the frequency and severity of the 
Persian persecutions at this period. (See the list on 
pp. 81-82.) At the time of the Nestorian controversy 
Rabbulas had been bishop of Edessa since 412, and 
Ibas was a presbyter of the church and head of the 
theological school. Rabbulas seems to have vacillated 
in his opinion of Nestorius; or perhaps he was swayed 
by considerations of policy rather than of doctrine. 
He had at first been unfavourable to Nestorius, preach- 
ing a sermon directed against him at Constantinople. 
At the Council of Ephesus, however, he had supported 
Nestorius against Cyril. But when John of Antioch had 
come to terms with Cyril, Rabbulas was among those 
who forsook Nestorius for the sake of peace with 
Alexandria and the West. From that time (433) till 



his death in 435 he did what he could to maintain 
harmonious relations with the other churches of the 
Roman Empire. 

But Ibas had remained true to the Nestorian position. 
He was a devoted disciple of Theodore of Mopsuestia, 
whose works he had translated into Syriac; and think- 
ing that Nestorius represented the views of Theodore, 
Ibas had sided with him at the Council of Ephesus. 
Subsequently he became less favourable to Nestorius 
personally, as is evidenced by his letter to Maris. 1 But 
he never departed from the doctrinal positions of 
Theodore, and as that is what is really meant by 
Nestorianism, Ibas must be reckoned a consistent 

Not only in the theological school, but also among 
the laity in Edessa, there were very many who followed 
Ibas rather than Rabbulas. It was, therefore, not 
surprising that when Rabbulas died in 435 Ibas was 
chosen as bishop of Edessa, which see he occupied 
from 436 to 457. He had not held his episcopate many 
years when the controversy concerning the two natures 
of Christ broke out again. As at the time when Cyril 
and Nestorius were the protagonists, it was not only 
theological interests that were involved. Cyril had 
died in 444, and had been succeeded in his bishopric 

1 This letter was written to 'Maris, bishop of Beth Ardashir' (i.e. 
Seleucia). But as the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon at this time was 
Dadyeshu (421-456), Labourt suggests that Maris is really simply the 
Syriac Mari, 'My Lord,' and not a proper name. The letter denounces 
Rabbulas, and is Nestorian in tone, though Ibas seems to have lost 
regard for Nestorius himself. It was one of the 'Three Chapters' con- 
demned at the Council of Constantinople in 553, the fifth (Ecumenical 
Council. (Mar, Mari, and Mart represent the Syriac for Lord, My Lord, 
and Lady respectively.) 


by Dioscorus, his archdeacon. The new bishop was 
as jealous for the prestige of his see as his predecessor 
had been, and was equally anxious to assert his 
authority over the East, particularly over Constan- 
tinople. There were three men whose downfall he was 
consequently eager to compass. One was Flavian, 
bishop of Constantinople; he was anxious to humble 
him so that the authority of Alexandria over Con- 
stantinople might again be asserted, just as it had been 
by Theophilus over Chrysostom and by Cyril over 
Nestorius. The other two he held in enmity were the 
two leading representatives of the condemned Nestorian 
Christology: Ibas of Edessa, and Theodoret of Cyrus. 

The first real opportunity for Dioscorus came in 448, 
when Flavian deposed Eutyches, archimandrite of a 
monastery near Constantinople, for denying the reality 
of the two natures in Christ. He appears to have taught 
that there was a 'blending and confusion 5 (crOyKpams 
ml auyxuats) of Godhead and manhood at the In- 
carnation. The deposition took place at a synod held 
at Constantinople. But Dioscorus refused to acknow- 
ledge the legality of the synod, and showed his disap- 
probation by entering into communion with Eutyches. 
The Emperor Theodosius II thereupon ordered a 
general council to be called at Ephesus to inquire into 
the matter. Both sides meanwhile appealed to Leo, 
bishop of Rome. Leo delivered his judgement in a 
document usually referred to as the Tome of Leo, in 
which he reiterated the position already established in 
the West, that Christ had two natures in one person; 
and condemned the opinion of Eutyches, which he 


took to imply that before the Incarnation there were 
two natures, but that when the divine and human 
blended only one nature resulted, the divine. This 
statement of the view, whether or not it is exactly 
what Eutyches taught, it called monophysitism. Leo 
thus maintained that the question had already been 
settled, so that no council was needed. 

Nevertheless, the council was held. It met at 
Ephesus in 449, and Dioscorus presided. More by 
intimidation than argument, Dioscorus had everything 
his own way: Eutyches was acquitted and reinstated, 
Flavian and his supporters were deposed, and Ibas and 
Theodoret were deprived of their sees and excom- 
municated. The whole of the proceedings was un- 
dignified and violent, so much so that Flavian died as 
the result of the rough treatment he received there. 
Leo, indignant at the slight implied upon himself, 
declared that the council was nothing better than a 
gathering of robbers (lactrocinium), and of no 
authority. Leo's epithet was apt enough to be adopted, 
and the assembly is usually referred to as the Robber 
Council or Latrocinium. It is not reckoned among the 
(Ecumenical Councils. 

Thus Dioscorus triumphed, and Alexandria held a 
sway over the East as absolute as that of Rome over 
the West. But the triumph was shortlived. The next 
year, 450, Theodosius II died, and imperial support 
for Dioscorus ceased. Pulcheria, sister of Theodosius, 
became empress, and strengthened her position by 
marrying Marcian, who was able and respected both 
as a senator and a general. One of their first acts was 


to call a council to reconsider the verdicts which had 
been reached so precipitately at Ephesus two years 
before. A council was accordingly held at Ghalcedon 
in 451. The Tome of Leo was endorsed, and Dioscorus 
was condemned and deposed. Shortly afterwards he 
was banished to Gangra in Paphlagonia, where he died 
in 454. The cases of Ibas and Theodoret presented 
greater difficulty. To complete the discomfiture of 
Dioscorus it seemed desirable to reinstate them, though 
as the leading Nestorians remaining within the empire, 
simple reinstatement was hardly practicable. After 
much heated discussion it was agreed to reinstate them 
on condition that they anathematized both Nestorius 
and Eutyches, and accepted the Tome of Leo. This 
they did, though with what feelings and mental reser- 
vations it would be interesting to know. Probably 
they regarded themselves as followers of Theodore 
rather than of Nestorius, and accepted the only possible 
way of escape from their unfortunate situation. But 
it was common knowledge that they had not really 
changed their views. 

Thus Ibas was able to resume his see in 451. But 
the state of affairs at Edessa had greatly changed since 
he was acclaimed bishop in 436. There was now 
quite a considerable section against him, led by four 
of his own presbyters. They had caused trouble for 
him even before the Robber Council of Ephesus, by 
making various trivial charges against him. Synods 
at Antioch and Tyre had failed to substantiate these 
charges, but they had naturally lowered his prestige. 
The Nestorian party at Edessa was steadily declining, 


and after the death of Ibas in 457, it became increas- 
ingly difficult for Edessa to remain a centre of Nestor- 
ianism in an empire where Nestorianism was con- 
demned. Losing hold on church and city, it lingered 
on in the theological school until 489, when the school 
was closed and destroyed by order of the Emperor 
Zeno, the Nestorian remnant fleeing into Persia. That 
was the end of Nestorianism in the Roman Empire, its 
final condemnation being delivered by the Council of 
Constantinople, the fifth (Ecumenical Council, in 553, 
which condemned the person and writings of Theodore 
of Mopsuestia, the real author of Nestorianism. 

But while Nestorianism was declining in the Roman 
Empire, it was in the ascendant in Persia. The 
majority of the Persian clergy had for many years been 
trained at Edessa, so that Nestorian views were 
naturally prevalent among them. There was also in 
Persia an ardent advocate of Nestorianism in the person 
of Barsumas. Barsumas had been a disciple and friend 
of Ibas in the days when Rabbulas was bishop of 
Edessa and Ibas head of the theological school. 
Rabbulas had expelled him on account of his pro- 
nounced Nestorianism, and he had gone to Nisibis, just 
over the border into Persian territory. There he was 
well received, became first bishop of Nisibis in 457, and 
founded a theological school. 

As a theological opinion Nestorianism had therefore 
been long in evidence in Persia. But after the Council 
of Chalcedon it assumed a new significance. The 
Persian Government had opposed Christianity partly 
because it was the religion of their national rivals, the 


Romans. But now that Nestorianism had been con- 
demned and Nestorians were seeking refuge in Persia, 
there was no longer any danger that such a form of 
Christianity would be a link with an alien power; on 
the contrary, it would be politically wise to encourage 
Nestorianism among Persian Christians, so as to 
alienate them from Christians in the Roman Empire. 
This was accordingly done, and King Peroz (457-484) 
gave up persecuting the Christians, except for a per- 
secution in 465. But as this was directed against those 
who wished to remain in communion with the Church 
of the Roman Empire, it acted more as a stimulus to 
Nestorianism than as a deterrent from Christianity. 
Indeed, it is said that Barsumas himself took an active 
part in this persecution, telling Peroz that it would be 
best for the Persian authorities if all Persian Christians 
were made to accept Nestorianism. Consequently 
three factors were working in the same direction: the 
attitude of the Persian Government, the dominant 
personality of Barsumas, and the influx of Nestorians 
from Edessa. It is therefore not surprising that 
Nestorianism and the Christian Church in Persia soon 
became practically synonymous. 

Nevertheless, it was some time before the Persian 
Church became formally Nestorian. This was because 
so much depended upon the attitude of the Persian 
Patriarch, the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. This 
position was held by Babowai (457-484), who does not 
appear to have favoured Nestorianism. His opposi- 
tion was probably due to jealousy of Barsumas and a 
desire to retain friendly relations with the Church in the 


Roman Empire, rather than to theological convictions. 
But before considering the conflict of Babowai and 
Barsumas, it is desirablejo see how the bishop of Seleucia- 
Gtesiphon had come to count for so much in Persia. 

The Persian churches, separated from the greater 
part of Christendom both by national frontiers and 
by language, had almost inevitably come to regard 
themselves as a unity, and had begun to look for 
leadership within their own country rather than in 
far away Antioch, in which Patriarchate they were 
reckoned. Other things being equal, leadership would 
naturally be assumed by the bishop of the most im- 
portant see. Now Ctesiphon was at this time the 
principal place of residence of the Persian kings, and 
on the opposite (right) bank of the Tigris stood the still 
older city of Seleucia. These two cities 1 constituted 
one bishopric, which accounts for the hyphened de- 
signation which is always used. Its bishop might 
therefore reasonably claim first place in the Persian 
episcopate, and as far back as 315, Papa Bar Aggai, 
the then bishop of Seleucia- Gtesiphon, had endea- 
voured at a synod held at Seleucia to assert his primacy 
over the other Persian bishops. His claims were only 
partially admitted, and the question was not finally 
settled until a synod held at Seleucia in 410, at the end 
of the episcopate of Isaac, bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon 
from 399 to 410.2 

1 They became increasingly unified, and the Arabs of the seventh 
century renamed them with a single name, al-Madam. The one 
name, however, means 'the (two) cities,' and so to some extent preserves 
the fact that they were originally separate entities. 

2 Isaac's date is thus given by Labourt, Kidd, and Fortescue. The 
Encyclopedia Britannica, xxi. 722, gives 390-410. 


This synod was also notable for another reason, for 
there the Persian bishops declared their adherence to 
the decisions reached at the Council of Nicaea in 325, 
and subscribed to the Nicene Creed. They also laid it 
down that there should only be one bishop to each see, 
that ordination of bishops should be by three other 
bishops, and that Epiphany, Lent, Good Friday and 
Easter should be observed as elsewhere in the Church. 
These decisions are noteworthy, as the Nestorian 
Church of later centuries did not depart from the 
findings of this synod, which can therefore be taken as 
the measure of its agreement with catholicity and 

As to the question of primacy, it was decided that 
the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon should be accounted 
Primate of the Persian Church, and that in recognition 
of this pre-eminence he should be given the title 
Catholicus. The exact meaning of this word is a 
little obscure. It may have been borrowed from 
Roman civil usage, where catholicus was a title ap- 
plied to diocesan 1 ministers of finance; or it may have 
been adopted to indicate that his authority was 
'catholic' (Greek 'throughout the whole') in Persia. 
But in any case it is quite clear what place they 
intended the Catholicus to occupy in the Hierarchy: 
he was to come between the Patriarch and the 

1 The word 'diocese,' now used almost exclusively as an ecclesiastical 
term, was originally the name of large divisions in the Roman Empire, 
such as the diocese of Pontus, the diocese of Thracia, the diocese of 
Dacia, etc. At the end of the fourth century the Western Roman 
Empire was divided into six dioceses and the Eastern Roman Empire 
into seven. 


By the fifth century the whole of the Christian 
Church was regarded as being comprised within four 1 
Patriarchates, which had been defined by the Council 
of Constantinople in 381 as Rome, Constantinople, 
Alexandria, and Antioch, of which Rome was to be 
reckoned the first. Christendom was thus divided 
administratively under four Patriarchs, under whom 
again were Metropolitans. The Metropolitan was the 
primate among the bishops in his province, and each 
bishop was responsible for his own diocese. Thus 
patriarchates, provinces, and dioceses were respectively 
controlled by patriarchs, metropolitans, 2 and bishops. 
It may be pointed out that these all represent degrees 
of standing among bishops, and not separate orders. 
Now the Persians wanted the bishopric of Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon to be ranked higher than the other metro- 
politans in Persia, and they also wanted all Persian 
bishops, ordinary bishops and metropolitans alike, to 
owe their allegiance to the patriarch 'of Antioch, not 
directly, but through the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. 
Obviously this could only be done by interposing a 
degree between metropolitan and patriarch, which 
they accordingly did by making the bishop of Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon Primate of Persia and Catholicus. 

This appointment was the more significant because 
King Yazdegerd I (399-420) himself approved the 
organization of the Persian Church on this basis, and 
issued a firman giving recognition to the Catholicus as 

1 Jerusalem was not made a Patriarchate until a little later, at the 
Council of Ghalcedon, 45 1 . 

2 Later, metropolitans in the West were usually styled archbishops. 
The terms are practically synonymous. 


head of the Persian Christians. They thus became a 
section of the population with a definite standing, re- 
sponsible for their own good order, and answerable to 
the authorities through the Gatholicus, who was their 
accredited link with the civil power. In this way he 
became in a sense their civil as well as religious head. 
The only drawback was that in future the Gatholicus 
had to be approved by the King of Persia, which in 
practice sometimes meant that the office could only be 
filled by his nominee. 

Nevertheless, Yazdegerd was a tolerant monarch 
to whom the Persian Christians owed a great deal, as 
he put an end to the Magian 1 idea that Christians were 
heretics necessarily worthy of death, and gave them an 
approved status. Such communities within the State, 
answerable through their own head to the civil authori- 
ties, have not been uncommon in the East, and many 
different terms have been used to describe them, such 
as rayah (raiyah, raiyyah), dhimmi (dimmi), melet 
(millah, millet). To describe this condition we shall 
consistently use the word melet, though strictly speaking 
different terms should be used according to the exact 
condition and period. Although Yazdegerd put an 
end to the Magian tendency to persecute Christians on 
principle, there were quite a number of later persecu- 
tions under the Sassanids 2 ; but there was always some 
ostensible excuse for them, and none was so fierce or 
prolonged as that under Shapur II. Thus from 410 

1 For a note on the Magians, see p. 65. 

2 For a list of the Sassanid Kings, and indications of their attitude 
toward Christianity, see pp. Qi-8z. 


the Persian Church had a recognized position in the 
Persian state, and a Hierarch acknowledged by the 
Persian King. From 410, therefore, the Catholicus 
is to be reckoned the religious and to some extent the 
civil head of the Christians in Persia. These hap- 
penings manifestly went far toward developing the idea 
of complete religious autonomy. Isaac was con- 
siderably helped at this synod, and in the negotiations 
with Yazdegerd, by Marutha, bishop of Maiperkat. 
The next step was taken at the synod of Markabta in 
424, during the catholicate of Dadyeshu (42 1-456) . At 
this synod it was declared that the bishop of Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon should be the sole head of the Persian 
Church, and that no ecclesiastical authority should be 
acknowledged as above him. In particular, it was laid 
down that 'Easterns shall not complain of their 
patriarch to the western patriarchs: every case that 
cannot be settled by him shall await the tribunal of 
Christ. 5 This is the first time that the bishop of 
Seleucia-Ctesiphon is referred to as patriarch, and, 
according to the Roman Catholic point of view, 1 this 
declaration placed the Persian Church definitely in a 
state of schism. It was not heretical, because no 
matters of doctrine were involved as yet. That issue 
was to arise later. 

But the act of elevating their Catholicus to a Patri- 
arch was of inescapable significance. Until then, 2 no 
one had assumed the title unless it had been conferred 

1 Fortescue, Lesser Eastern Churches, p. 51. 

2 Later, particularly in the West, the title was more loosely used, and 
was assumed by many metropolitans without its earlier significance. 


upon him by an oecumenical council, so that his elevation 
bore the sign of the whole Church's approval. More- 
over, the delimitation of the area of a new patriarchate 
was a matter for careful adjustment, for it was bound 
to involve, to some extent, taking from other patri- 
archates, as happened when Jerusalem became a 
patriarchate. But the Persians boldly took matters 
into their own hands and, without consulting any but 
themselves, broke off a great area of the patriarchate 
of Antioch and constituted it the patriarchate of 
Seleucia-Ctesiphon. The patriarch is sometimes also 
referred to as Patriarch of the East, or of Babylon. 
Curiously enough, Antioch does not seem to have 
made any protest. Thus from 424 the Persian Church 
was completely separated from the rest of Christendom, 
not doctrinally, but administratively. Its supreme 
head was the Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, who 
claimed equality of rank with the other four patriarchs, 
but by whom he was in no way recognized. 

Such, therefore, was the state of affairs when Bar- 
sumas was trying to make the Persian Church definitely 
Nestorian. He could not possibly succeed unless he 
won over the patriarch, or unless he became patriarch 
himself. Practically speaking, Nestorian theology had 
dominated Persia for over half a century, but while 
Babowai remained patriarch it would not be formally 

In 484 Barsumas nearly succeeded in becoming 
patriarch. In that year Babowai was caught engaged 
in treasonable correspondence with the Roman Em- 
peror Zeno. He was charged with writing that c God 



has delivered us up to an impious sovereign.' He may 
have done so, as he disliked King Peroz because Peroz 
favoured Barsumas, and also because he had suffered 
two years' imprisonment by Peroz on the ground that 
he was an apostate from Zoroastrianism. On the other 
hand, it may be that Barsumas was himself partly 
responsible for the charge being formulated. 1 In any 
case, the letter cost Babowai his life, and he was hanged 
by his fingers until he died. Barsumas now seized 
his opportunity, and called a synod to meet at Beth 
Lapat (Jundishapur). 2 This synod exalted 'Theodore 
the Interpreter' (Theodore of Mopsuestia) as the fount 
of true doctrine, and condemned the teaching of 
the Church in the Roman Empire. The synod was 
therefore absolutely Nestorian in character, and if its 
decisions had stood, 484 could be given as the definite 
date when the Persian Church became officially 
Nestorian. But, as will soon be seen, the power of this 
synod was only transient. In addition to doctrinal 
pronouncements, the synod of Beth Lapat discounten- 
anced laws of celibacy. It declared marriage lawful 
for all, including priests and bishops. Barsumas gave 
a practical lead by marrying a nun. 

Just as Barsumas, through this synod, seemed to have 
gained a decided ascendancy, King Peroz died. The 
new King, Balash (484-488), who exercised his right 
of appointing the new patriarch, passed over Barsumas 

1 Labourt, Le Christianisme dans I' empire perse, p. 142. 

2 There is some uncertainty as to whether this synod was convened 
shortly before or shortly after the death of Babowai. In either case the 
date was probably 484, though Eduard Meyer gives 483 (Encyclopedia 
Britannica, xvii. 585). 


and appointed Acacius (485-496). Barsumas indig- 
nantly refused to acknowledge him. But Acacius had 
both religious and civil authority on his side, and at a 
synod held at Beth Adrai in 485, Barsumas had to 
submit. This synod declared that everything done at 
Beth Lapat was void, and the Beth Lapat synod of 484 
'has consequently no place in the canons of the Persian 
Church. Nevertheless, at the synod at Beth Adrai a 
confession was drawn up which definitely savoured of 
Nestorianism, and the abolition of celibacy was main- 
tained. Acacius held another synod the following year 
(486) at Seleucia, where monophysitism was specifically 
condemned and the abolition of celibacy was re- 
affirmed. Although the condemnation of monophysi- 
tism ranked the Persians in that particular with the 
churches of the West, it does not really indicate the 
slightest change of attitude, for Nestorianism lies 
equally far from Western orthodoxy in the exactly 
opposite direction; so the condemnation of mono- 
physitism by Nestorians is of no significance: it is 
exactly what would be expected. 

But Acacius was evidently more a man of policy than 
of principle, for when a year or two later he was sent 
on an embassy to Constantinople he declared that he 
was not a Nestorian, had only intended to condemn 
monophysitism, and was willing to excommunicate 
Barsumas. His readiness to implement this willingness 
by action was not, however, put to the test, for on his 
return from Constantinople Barsumas was dead, 
murdered by monks, according to Barhebraeus, 1 with 

1 Fortescue, op. cit., p. 82. 


the keys of their cells. This was about 493. Acacius 
did not survive much longer, dying in 496. 

He was succeeded by Babai (497-502). Soon after 
his accession Babai held two synods, in 498 and 499, at 
which the moderate policy of Acacius was abandoned 
and a return was made to the attitude of the synod 
convened by Barsumas at Beth Lapat in 484. Babai 
frankly accepted Nestorian theology, which thus 
became the official doctrine of the Persian Church; he 
went further than Barsumas and Acacius in the matter 
of the abolition of celibacy, allowing not only all 
bishops and priests to marry, but permitting re- 
marriage in the event of a wife's death; and he reasserted 
the right of the bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon to the 
title Patriarch of the East, declaring himself inde- 
pendent in every way of the churches of the Roman 
Empire and the rest of Christendom generally. 

The position taken by Babai is perfectly unam- 
biguous, and from his accession the Persian Church is 
not only definitely schismatical but professedly here- 
tical. 1 From 497 we may therefore correctly refer to 
it as the Nestorian Church, and to its head as the 
Nestorian Patriarch. As will be seen shortly, the 
Nestorian Church extended far beyond the limits of 
the Persian Empire, and at one period the Nestorian 
Patriarch had a bigger area under his spiritual 
jurisdiction than any other Christian hierarch. 

1 For the connotation of these terms see p. 15. 





ALTHOUGH Babai must have been a man of consider- 
able practical ability to have been able to establish the 
Persian Church on such a clearly defined basis, he was 
a man of little culture, possibly unable even to read. 1 
He was, therefore, hardly competent to deal with 
theological matters except in the most general way. 
This deficiency, however, was remedied by Narses. 
Narses was reckoned a great authority by the Nes- 
torians, and did much toward defining their theological 
positions at the critical time when they were setting 
out into doctrinal as well as administrative isolation. 
He had been a friend of Barsumas, and had been 
associated with him in the work of the school at 
Nisibis, eventually becoming its president. That 
office he retained till his death in 507. 

His teaching was quite definitely Nestorian, as is 
evidenced by his extant poems and sermons. He left 
no doubt as to the fount of Nestorian theology, describ- 
ing Diodorus, Theodore, and Nestorius as the 'Three 

1 Fortescue, Lesser Eastern Churches, p. 82. 


Doctors.' He vigorously defended the reputation of 
Nestorius, and ascribed his downfall to the bribery 
resorted to by his enemies, notably Cyril. He was, 
naturally, anti-monophysite, and declared Christ to 
have been incarnate in 'two natures, two persons, and 
one presence.' 1 This has been the Nestorian formula 
ever since, and crystallizes their heresy. Narses was so 
highly esteemed by the Nestorians that they styled 
him the 'Harp of the Holy Ghost.' The Jacobites, 2 
however, refer to him as Narses the Leper. 

It may now be desirable to see what was the extent 
of the Nestorian Patriarch's jurisdiction. It has already 
been stated that the patriarchate of the East was 
formed by the action of the Persian bishops at the 
synod of Markabta in 424, when they declared Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon no longer merely a catholicate but a 
patriarchate, and thus detached from the patriarchate 
of Antioch all those churches whose linkage with 
Antioch had been through the Catholicus of Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon. This involved nearly every church in the 

1 In the Syriac, 'two kyane, two knume, one parsufa,' which corre- 
sponds with the Greek ' Suo qniaeis, S\io vnroardocis, ev -rrpoacoirov.' But 
it seems safe to assume that parsufa means no more than the appearance 
of unity presented externally by the fact of Jesus Christ having one body, 
one voice in a word, one physical presence, a mere mask (a frequent 
meaning of irpoacoirov) of unification to cover the two personalities; 
and that knuma corresponds with uirdcrraais in the sense of the person 
as an individuality, not in the sense of the nature of the person. The 
matter is not a simple one, and is carefully discussed by Bethune-Baker, 
Nestorius and his Teaching, pp. 212-232, or more shortly by Fortescue, 
op. cit., pp. 67-69, 84-85. 

2 A sect representing monophysitism in the East. They originated 
with Jacob Baradai in the sixth century, and with headquarters at 
Antioch had a number of churches in Syria and Persia. They were 
never so widely diffused as the Nestorians, and are represented to-day 
by a few small communities, mostly near Mosul, Mardin and Diarbekr. 


continent of Asia with the exception of those within 
the boundaries of the Roman Empire. Whether some 
of the more remote churches realized that happenings 
at Seleucia-Ctesiphon during the fifth century had 
involved them in schism and heresy is open to question; 
but as they continued to look to the Patriarch of 
Seleucia-Ctesiphon as their spiritual head, from 497 
all such churches must be reckoned as Nestorian 

The ways in which Christianity had reached these 
places fall outside the scope of the present work, but 
it is necessary to indicate the general limits of the area 
covered, and to give the names of the principal sees. 
This may most conveniently be done under broad 
geographical headings. 

(i) The Persian Empire. 

By far the greater number of the churches in the 
Nestorian patriarchate were situated in and near the 
valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, that is, in the western 
part of the Persian Empire. In this region the churches 
were well organized, the Patriarch of Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon having under him a number of metro- 
politans, who supervised the bishops of the towns and 
villages in their provinces. If the plan followed in the 
Roman Empire had been adopted, the provinces of 
the metropolitans would have corresponded with the 
secular provinces. This, however, does not appear to 
have been the case, nor did the provinces of the metro- 
politans by any means cover the whole area of the 
patriarchate; for in addition to the metropolitan 


provinces there were many bishoprics independent ol 
any metropolitan, whose immediate superior was the 
patriarch himself. 

It is not an easy matter to discover the location and 
grouping of the various bishoprics. The facts have 
mostly to be gathered from the material collected by 
Assemani and Le Quien, 1 which is often difficult to 
interpret. This is because of the peculiar forms in 
which many of the names occur, making it difficult 
to recognize them, and because the same place some- 
times appears again under a different name. Again, 
the sites of some of the obscurer places are difficult or 
impossible to identify. It is also often uncertain when 
the status of metropolitan was assumed by certain 
bishops; and when the status was assumed, it seems ' 
sometimes to have been more as a title of dignity than 
as indicative of jurisdiction, because some of those 
styled metropolitan do not appear to have had any 
bishops under them. Consequently, those who have 
endeavoured to compile lists of bishoprics seldom agree, 
and authorities like Wiltsch, Sachau and Kidd do not 
even agree as to the number of metropolitans at a 
given period. The following list, therefore, must be 
taken as provisional, being an attempt to interpret the 
data as carefully as possible. Considerations of space 
preclude detailed reasons for the conclusions reached. 

At the time of Babai there were seven metropolitan 
provinces within the Persian Empire. It will readily 
be seen from the map on p. 58 that with the exception 
of Merv all these were in the Tigris-Euphrates area. 

1 In Bibliotheca Orientalis and Oriens Christianus respectively. 


The following is a list of these metropolitan provinces 
together with their known dependent bishoprics : 

Seat of the Patriarch: Seleucia-Ctesiphon. 

(1) Province of Patriarchalis. Metropolitan at 
Kaskar, a bishop at Hira. 

(2) Province of Nisibis. Metropolitan at Nisibis, 
a bishop at Bakerda. 

(3) Province of Teredon. Metropolitan at Basrah, 
a bishop probably at Destesana, and a church, 
if not a bishopric, at Nahar-al-Marah. 

(4) Province of Adiabene. Metropolitan at Erbil, 
bishops at Honita and Maalta. 

(5) Province of Garamaea. Metropolitan at Karkha, 
bishops at Sciaarchadata and Dakuka. 

(6) Province of Khurasan. Metropolitan at Merv. 

(7) Province of Atropatene. Metropolitan at Taur- 

Of the bishoprics owning direct allegiance to Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon, one important group was in the province of 
Susiana, and comprised the four bishoprics of Jundi- 
shapur, Susa, Ahwaz and Suster. Shortly afterwards 
(522) this group constituted a metropolitan province, 
with the bishop of Jundishapur as metropolitan. 
Three other bishoprics which a little later became 
centres of metropolitan provinces were Rawardshir, 
Rai and Herat. Other bishoprics not yet under 
metropolitans included Maiperkat, Nineveh, Singara, 
Drangerda, Ispahan and Nishapur. There was also 
a bishop for the province of Segestan, south of Herat. 



In addition to these bishoprics there were a few 
monasteries (see pp. 73-74), and there were clergy 
schools at Seleucia, Dorkena and Erbil, as well as the 
famous one at Nisibis. Christianity was therefore 
widely diffused in Persia, being strongest in the western 

(ii) Arabia. 

Outside the Persian Empire the churches in the 
patriarchate were fewer and weaker, and our informa- 
tion about them is more scanty and uncertain. But it 
is generally agreed that Christianity had gained 
entrance to Arabia by this time. One of the most 
important modes of entrance had been by emigration 
of Christians from Persia in times of persecution, 
particularly during the latter part of the reign of 
Shapur II (310-379), who severely persecuted the 
Persian Church from about 339 onwards. These 
emigrants had mostly gone either by land through the 
semi-independent Arab state of Hira, or across the 
Persian Gulf to the coast of Oman, and thence south- 
westward to Hadramaut, Yaman, and Najran. 

By the fifth century there were, therefore, many 
Christians in the southern half of the Arabian peninsula. 
There was, as already noted, a bishop at Hira under the 
Metropolitan of Kaskar, and there were bishops at 
Ij'Kufa, Beth Raman, Perath Messenes, Baith Katraye, 
and Najran. There were churches, and therefore 
probably bishops also, at Sana, Aden, and Dhafar; 
and there were monasteries and schools at Mathota 
and Jemana. Many tribes are named as having 


become Christian, including the Hamyar, 1 Ghassan, 
Rabia, Taglib, Bahra, Tonuch, part of the tribes of 
Tay and Kodaa, some tribes in the Nejd, the Beni 
Harith of Najran, and some other tribes between 
Kufa and Medina. 

Although the evidence in some of these cases may be 
slender, and it is a matter of opinion how much of it 
we accept, 2 it is nevertheless sufficiently certain that 
the Christian element in Arabia was considerable; and 
because many of them were emigrants from Persia or 
descendants of such emigrants, and because political 
and geographical considerations linked them more 
naturally with Persia than with the Roman Empire, 
these Christians looked to the patriarch of Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon as their spiritual head. By virtue of that 
allegiance, therefore, these Arabian Christians must be 
reckoned in the Nestorian Church from 497 onwards. 

(iii) India. 

The extent of Christianity in India at the beginning 
of the sixth century is rather difficult to determine. 
Although some modern writers are to be found who 
think even St. Thomas the Apostle may have visited 
India, most ancient references must be received with 
caution, not only because the writers may have been 
quoting on doubtful evidence, but also because the 

1 The Book of the Himyarites, Syriac fragments collected and translated 
by Axel Moberg in 1934, has gone far towards proving that Chris- 
tianity was more widely diffused in south Arabia than had formerly been 

2 Stewart, for example, accepts most of it; Assemani, Sale, and 
Zwemer much of it; and Harnack very little. For much of the evidence 
see Gheikho, Le Christianisme en Arable avant I'lslam. 


name India was very loosely used, being sometimes 
applied even to Arabia Felix or Ethiopia. It is also 
possible that after some centuries a confusion arose 
between St. Thomas the Apostle and Thomas of 
Jerusalem (Thomas Cannaneo), who quite probably 
visited south-west India in the fourth century. The 
persistent Thomas tradition in India may, therefore, be 
a genuine one, but its basis of reality may be the work of 
Thomas of Jerusalem rather than that of the Apostle. 
But it is safe to say that there were certainly some 
Christian communities in India at this time, and an 
indication of their locations may be gathered from the 
writings 1 of Gosmas Indicopleustes, who wrote about 
530. He says there were bishops at Galliana (near 
Bombay), in Male (Malabar), in the island of Sielediva 
(Ceylon), and in the island of Taprobana in the Indian 
Ocean; and that there were Christians in Pegu, the 
Ganges valley, Cochin China, Siam, and Tonquin. 
He definitely states that they were ecclesiastically 
dependent upon Persia, so what Christians there may 
have been in these regions must be reckoned as Nes- 
torians from the sixth century. 

(iv) Turkestan.* 

Persian Christian missionaries had begun to make 
converts among the Ephthalite Huns and the Turks in 

1 Topographia Christiana. 

2 A convenient name for a region of Central Asia extending approxi- 
mately from the Caspian Sea to Lake Baikal. Historically the area 
to which the name has been applied has varied considerably. That 
portion between the rivers Oxus and Jaxartes is often referred to as 
Transoxiana, and contains the important towns of Samarqand and 


the neighbourhood of the Oxus, but no great impression 
had been made so early as 497. In the following year, 
however, when King Kavadh I had to flee temporarily 
from Persia into Turkestan because of the success of 
the usurper Djamasp, he was accompanied on his 
journey by the bishop of Arran, 1 together with four 
presbyters and two laymen, who were going on a 
mission into the same region. 2 This mission of the 
year 498 was very successful, and many Turks became 
Christians. The presbyters continued their work for 
seven years, but the laymen remained until 530. 

In addition to the work of missionaries, Christian 
influence was making its way into the same region 
through the agency of Christian doctors, scribes, and 
artisans, who were readily able to find employment 
among a people of a lower culture. 

(v) China. 

It is doubtful whether there were any Christian 
communities in China so early as A.D. 500. Christian 
influences, perhaps mainly through Gnostic and 
Manichasan channels, had already affected Chinese 
thought to some small extent, 3 and there may have 
been sporadic missionary effort even so early as A.D. 
300.* But the founding of Christian churches did not 

1 Possibly the region of that name immediately north of Atropatene 
and a little to the west of the Caspian Sea. But it may be doubted 
whether there were bishops of Arran so early as this. Quite possibly 
Arran should here be taien as one of the many variants of Herat 
(seep. 224). 

2 J\Iingana 3 Bulk fin of the John Rylands Library, ix. 303. 

3 See A. Lloyd's article. 'Gnosticism in Japan, 5 in The East and the. 
West, April 1910. 

4 Thomas of Marga, Historia Monastica. 


take place, at least on any effective scale, till the 
Nestorian missionary expansion of the seventh and 
eighth centuries. 

This survey of non-Roman Asiatic Christianity at 
the end of the fifth century shows that Babai had 
assumed the spiritual headship of churches scattered 
over an area stretching from Arabia in the west to 
India in the east. The map on p. 58 shows not 
only their distribution, but indicates that their real 
strength was in the Tigris-Euphrates area. Elsewhere 
they were sparser, and our knowledge of them is 
correspondingly less sure. Nevertheless, these churches 
certainly comprised a considerable body of Christians, 
whose future history is that of the Nestorian Church. 


become Christian, including the Hamyar, 1 Ghassan, 
Rabia, Taglib, Bahra, Tonuch, part of the tribes of 
Tay and Kodaa, some tribes in the Nejd, the Beni 
Harith of Najran, and some other tribes between 
Kufa and Medina. 

Although the evidence in some of these cases may be 
slender, and it is a matter of opinion how much of it 
we accept, 2 it is nevertheless sufficiently certain that 
the Christian element in Arabia was considerable; and 
because many of them were emigrants from Persia or 
descendants of such emigrants, and because political 
and geographical considerations linked them more 
naturally with Persia than with the Roman Empire, 
these Christians looked to the patriarch of Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon as their spiritual head. By virtue of that 
allegiance, therefore, these Arabian Christians must be 
reckoned in the Nestorian Church from 497 onwards. 

(iii) India. 

The extent of Christianity in India at the beginning 
of the sixth century is rather difficult to determine. 
Although some -modern writers are to be found who 
think even St. Thomas the Apostle may have visited 
India, most ancient references must be received with 
caution, not only because the writers may have been 
quoting on doubtful evidence, but also because the 

1 The Book of the Himyarites, Syriac fragments collected and translated 
by Axel Moberg in 1934, has gone far towards proving that Chris- 
tianity was more widely diffused in south Arabia than had formerly been 

2 Stewart, for example, accepts most of it; Assemani, Sale, and 
Zwemer much of it; and Harnack very little. For much of the evidence 
see Cheikho, Le Christianisme en Arable avant VIslam. 


name India was very loosely used, being sometimes 
applied even to Arabia Felix or Ethiopia. It is also 
possible that after some centuries a confusion arose 
between St. Thomas the Apostle and Thomas of 
Jerusalem (Thomas Gannaneo), who quite probably 
visited south-west India. in the fourth century. The 
persistent Thomas tradition in India may, therefore, be 
a genuine one, but its basis of reality may be the work of 
Thomas of Jerusalem rather than that of the Apostle. 
But it is safe to say that there were certainly some 
Christian communities in India at this time, and an 
indication of their locations may be gathered from the 
writings 1 of Gosmas Indicopleustes, who wrote about 
530. He says there were bishops at Galliana (near 
Bombay), in Male (Malabar), in the island of Sielediva 
(Ceylon), and in the island of Taprobana in the Indian 
Ocean; and that there were Christians in Pegu, the 
Ganges valley, Cochin China, Siam, and Tonquin. 
He definitely states that they were ecclesiastically 
dependent upon Persia, so what Christians there may 
have been in these regions must be reckoned as Nes- 
torians from the sixth century. 

(iv) Turkestan.* 

Persian Christian missionaries had begun to make 
converts among the Ephthalite Huns and the Turks in 

1 Topographic Christiana. 

2 A convenient name for a region of Central Asia extending approxi- 
mately from the Caspian Sea to Lake Baikal. Historically the area 
to which the name has been applied has varied considerably. That 
portion between the rivers Oxus and Jaxartes is often referred to as 
Transoxiana, and contains the important towns of Samarqand and 


the neighbourhood of the Oxus, but no great impression 
had been made so early as 497. In the following year, 
however, when King Kavadh I had to flee temporarily 
from Persia into Turkestan because of the success of 
the usurper Djamasp, he was accompanied on his 
journey by the bishop of Arran, 1 together with four 
presbyters and two laymen, who were going on a 
mission into the same region. 2 This mission of the 
year 498 was very successful, and many Turks became 
Christians. The presbyters continued their work for 
seven years, but the laymen remained until 530. 

In addition to the work of missionaries, Christian 
influence was making its way into the same region 
through the agency of Christian doctors, scribes, and 
artisans, who were readily able to find employment 
among a people of a lower culture. 

(v) China. 

It is doubtful whether there were any Christian 
communities in China so early as A.D. 500. Christian 
influences, perhaps mainly through Gnostic and 
Manichaean channels, had already affected Chinese 
thought to some small extent, 3 and there may have 
been sporadic missionary effort even so early as A.D. 
300.* But the founding of Christian churches did not 

1 Possibly the region of that name immediately north of Atropatene 
and a little to the west of the Caspian Sea. But it may be doubted 
whether there were bishops of Arran so early as this. Quite possibly 
Arran should here be taken as one of the many variants of Herat 
(see p. 224). 

2 Mingana, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library ', ix. 303. 

3 See A. Lloyd's , article, 'Gnosticism hi Japan,' hi The East and the 
West, April 1910. 

4 Thomas of Marga, Historia Monastica. 


take place, at least on any effective scale, till the 
Nestorian missionary expansion of the seventh and 
eighth centuries. 

This survey of non-Roman Asiatic Christianity at 
the end of the fifth century shows that Babai had 
assumed the spiritual headship of churches scattered 
over an area stretching from Arabia in the west to 
India in the east. The map on p. 58 shows not 
only their distribution, but indicates that their real 
strength was in the Tigris-Euphrates area. Elsewhere 
they were sparser, and our knowledge of them is 
correspondingly less sure. Nevertheless, these churches 
certainly comprised a considerable body of Christians, 
whose future history is that of the Nestorian Church. 






DURING the next one and a half centuries the Nestorian 
Church steadily consolidated its position in Persia and 
in the regions immediately adjoining. The Sassanid 
dynasty 1 continued in power, and was, on the whole, 
tolerant. This was because it was recognized that the 
Church in Persia was alienated from the Church of 
the Roman Empire, and it was considered more 
prudent to make Christians within the Persian Empire 
feel secure within their national boundaries, rather 
than to encourage them to look to their co-religionists 
across the border. The status conferred upon Persian 
Christians by Yazdegerd I (p. 46) was therefore 
generally respected. 

Nevertheless, there was occasional persecution. 
This usually arose at times when there was tension or 
war between the Roman and Persian empires. In 
such circumstances, as the conflict was between an 
empire avowedly Christian and an empire officially 

1 For a list of the Sassanid Kings, with indications of their attitude 
toward Christianity, see pp. 81-82. 



Zoroastrian, 1 Christians in Persia were not unnaturally 
suspect. It was feared that their sympathies might be 
with the enemy on account of their religion, and that 
spies and plotters might reasonably be looked for 
among them. In addition, the Magians, as the leaders 
of Zoroastrianism, were not adverse to encouraging 
repressive measures against the members of a rival 
faith when other circumstances made such repressive 
measures seem reasonable. 

One such persecution during this period was in the 
reign of Chosroes I (531-579), and coincided with the 
time during which he was at war with the Roman 
Empire, 540-545.2 Among the victims of this persecu- 
tion was the good Patriarch Mar Aba I (see pp. 71-72). 
He was arrested and imprisoned, but was offered his 
freedom if he would promise to make no more converts. 
This he refused to do, and continued in prison for a 
considerable time. It is said that the hard treatment 
he received during his imprisonment hastened his 
death, though he lived till 552, seven years after this 

1 Zoroastrianism (Mazdaeism) was the dominant religion of Persia 
from about the eighth century B.C. until the fall of the Sassanid dynasty 
in A.D. 651. It is named after Zoroaster (Zarathustra), whose date is 
very uncertain, but who may have flourished about 1000 B.C. Zoroaster 
established a religious system based on the old Iranian folk-religion, but 
formulating it as a definite dualism. The supreme power of good is 
Ahura Mazda (later contracted to Ormazd), and the supreme power of 
evil is Ahriman. The moral and ethical tone of the religion is a high 
one, the teaching being embodied in their sacred book the Avesta. The 
erroneous idea that Zoroastrians were fire worshippers arose from the 
large place occupied by fire in their sacred symbolism. The priesthood 
was restricted to the members of an exclusive caste, known as the 

2 This was the period of actual warfare, and although an armistice 
was concluded in 545 the war continued spasmodically for some years, 
chiefly in Lazica (Colchis), until a fifty years' peace was concluded in 



persecution had ended. Apart from this one period 
of persecution, Chosroes I seems to have been quite 

Another outbreak occurred towards the end of the 
reign of Ghosroes II (590-628). The reasons on this 
occasion were of the same general nature as previously, 
with the added motive of an urgent necessity for raising 
money. To show how Persia was reduced to such a 
pass necessitates a brief description of the course of 
events during the reign of Chosroes II. Though 
Ghosroes may have been unwise, he was also unfor- 
tunate, and was beset with difficulties from the very 
beginning. Two pretenders, Bahram Cobin and 
Prince Bistam, endeavoured to displace him imme- 
diately he came to the throne, whereupon he fled to the 
Romans and secured the help of the Emperor Maurice. 
With his aid he eventually gained the upper hand, 
though Bistam held out in Media till 596. Though 
Maurice's aid had re-established Chosroes, it had cost 
the cession of some Persian territory, and also implied 
a certain dependence. When, therefore, Maurice was 
assassinated in 602 by the usurper Phocas, Chosroes 
saw an opportunity for regaining his lost prestige, and 
on the pretext of avenging Maurice, made war against 
the Roman Empire. 

For several years everything went in his favour, and 
for a time there seems to have been no prejudice 
against Persian Christians. Indeed, the Patriarch 
Sabaryeshu I (596-604) was with the Persian army in 
603 in order that he might pray for its success. Chosroes 
succeeded in reaching as far as Chalcedon, just opposite 


Constantinople, and even occupied Egypt. Antioch 
and Damascus fell under his sway, and he also captured 
Jerusalem, taking away the Holy Cross. Meanwhile 
he was becoming less complacent toward Christians. 
Sabaryeshu had died in 604, and Gregory had become 
patriarch in 605. But when Gregory died in 608, 
Chosroes would not allow a new patriarch to be 
appointed, and the see had to remain vacant till 628. 
Although deprived of their official head, the Nestorians 
were not leaderless, as during this period they were 
admirably led by Mar Babai, abbot of the monastery 
on Mount Izala, whose effective work in difficult cir- 
cumstances is described later (pp. 74-75). 

The successes of Chosroes continued from 602 till 622, 
and if he had been able to consolidate his gains he would 
have well deserved his title Parvez (Conqueror). But 
in 622 the tide turned. The Emperor Heraclius, who 
had come to power in 610, had gradually been bringing 
order out of the chaotic state into which the Roman 
Empire had fallen, and was at last ready to take action. 
He invaded Persia and inflicted crushing defeats on 
the armies of Chosroes. In 624 he destroyed the great 
fire temple in Atropatene, and by 627 had penetrated 
into the Tigris province. These disasters had the 
usual unfortunate results for Persian Christians; already 
out of favour, they now had to endure persecution. 
This persecution was partly motived by the urgent 
need for money to carry on the forlorn defence, for the 
Christians had many men of substance among them. 
Many innocent persons thus suffered to appease Persian 
fear and to help refill the depleted treasury. The 


most notable case was that of Yazdin, silversmith to the 
king, and a zealous Nestorian. Not only was he killed 
and his goods confiscated, but his wife was tortured to 
make her reveal any secret hoards. It is interesting 
to remark that the wife of Ghosroes was herself a 
Nestorian, but her influence was evidently insufficient 
to avert the misfortunes which befell her fellow- 

But the forces of Heraclius continued their steady 
advance, and Chosroes had to flee from Dastagerd to 
Ctesiphon. Revolution broke out, and in 628 Ghosroes 
was deposed and killed by his son Kavadh II. His 
reign lasted only a few months, and after his death 
complete chaos ensued. During the next four years 
power was held by a succession of rulers, some of the 
Sassanid dynasty, others mere usurpers, till in 632 the 
magnates 1 united and gave the kingship to Yaz- 
degerd III, a grandson of Chosroes II. Peace had 
been concluded with Heraclius, the Holy Cross had 
been returned, and the old frontiers had been restored, 
so that there might have been hope that the two empires 
would recover from their futile and exhausting wars. 

But before Persia had time to recuperate, a new 
enemy was upon her. The great Arab expansion had 
begun, and by 633 incursions had already commenced 
into Persian territory. The Persian resistance was 
feeble, and a decisive defeat was inflicted on the Persians 
at Kadisiya in 637. This gave a large tract of territory, 
including the important twin cities of Seleucia and 
Ctesiphon, into the hands of the Arabs. Yazdegerd 

1 The influential Persian higher nobility. 


held out in Media till 641, when he suffered another 
grave defeat at the battle of Nehavend. Thereafter 
he became practically a fugitive, till he was assas- 
sinated at Merv in 651. With the death of 
Yazdegerd III the Sassanid dynasty came to an end, 
and Persia was soon afterwards completely under the 
control of the Arabs. 

Fortunately for the inhabitants of Persia, most of 
them belonged to faiths which were treated by Muslims 
with special tolerance. According to the teaching of 
Muhammad as recorded in the Koran, leniency was to 
be shown to Jews and Christians, on the ground that 
they were 'people of the Book' (the Bible), and to that 
extent had reverence for the true God. Although no 
mention is made of them in the Koran, in practice the 
same tolerance was extended toward Zoroastrians, 
presumably because the Avesta was regarded as a book 
similar to the Bible, and Ahura Mazda was identified 
with Allah, the one God. Little difference, therefore, 
was shown by the Arabs in their treatment of the two 
religions, Christianity and Zoroastrianism; nevertheless, 
the effect of the change of government was much more 
adversely felt by the Zoroastrians. This was because 
Zoroastrianism had owed so much of its influence to its 
standing as the national faith. That prestige was now 
gone, and it steadily declined as a live force in Persia. 
Indeed, it almost disappeared altogether from Persia, 
and to-day the only Persian Zoroastrians are a few 
families in Kerman and the oasis of Yezd. The 
residue of the faithful emigrated to India, where their 
descendants, now known as Parsees, maintain the 


Zoroastrian faith. They number about 94,000, and are 
to be found mostly in the Bombay Presidency. In 
doctrine they have tended away from the original 
dualism toward monotheism. 

Christianity, however, had nothing to lose in pres- 
tige, as it had long been secondary, from the official 
point of view, to Zoroastrianism. It made little dif- 
ference that it should now be secondary to Islam. The 
Arab attitude was on the whole tolerant, partly, as 
already stated, because Christians were a 'people of the 
Book, 5 and partly because Muhammad is said to have 
at one time had a Nestorian teacher, Sergius Bahira. 1 
This toleration continued, with occasional exceptions, 
for several centuries, and falls to be described in the 
next chapter. 


In spite of the rivalry of Zoroastrianism, the official 
religion of the Persian Empire, and the occasional 
persecutions referred to above, this period was on the 
whole one of advance and development. Babai and 
his immediate successors in the patriarchate did not 
accomplish much of importance; but considerable 
advances were made toward the middle and end of 
the sixth century, when several men of outstanding 
character and ability arose in the Nestorian Church. 
Mention must be made of what each of these accom- 

The most eminent Nestorian Patriarch of the 

1 Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, III. ii. 94. 


sixth century was Mar Aba I, who held office from 540 
to 552. He was by birth and education a Zoroastrian, 
being a member of the Magian clan, and before becom- 
ing a Christian had attained to the important position 
of secretary to the governor of a Persian civil province. 
The mode of his conversion is recorded in what we 
can only regard as a legend. He was about to cross 
the Tigris in a ferry, when he noticed a Jew named 
Joseph in the boat. He ordered the Jew out of the 
boat, telling him to make his crossing later. The 
ferry, however, could not make headway, being twice 
driven back by the wind. Mar Aba then allowed the 
Jew on board, and the crossing was easily accom- 
plished. He then discovered that the Jew was a 
Christian, and being impressed both by the miraculous 
event and by the humility and courtesy of Joseph, he 
decided to give up his official position and ask for 

It may be that the substratum of fact under this 
story is that Mar Aba became attracted to Christianity 
by some signal act of kindness shown him by a Chris- 
tian, or by his observation of the high standard of the 
lives of many of them. Be that as it may, he became a 
Christian, and went to the clergy school at Nisibis to 
study. He visited Constantinople between 525 and 
533, and admitted there his adherence to the teachings 
of Theodore of Mopsuestia and to the Nestorian 
Christology. He was made patriarch in 540, and did 
much for the good order of the churches under his care. 
During his time the ecclesiastical provinces were well 
administered, he himself making many personal visits 


to the various parts of his patriarchate, so that irregu- 
larities and abuses might be put down. In partic- 
ular he stopped the practice of incest, a Persian vice 
which some of the Christians were beginning to copy. 
In addition to such reforms he helped to establish new 
churches. The churches at Anbar and Karkha 1 in the 
province of Patriarchalis date from his time; so does 
the church on the island of Ormuz in the Persian Gulf, 
which belonged to the province of Fars; and the 
Nestorian church which existed for a time at Edessa. 
Altogether, Mar Aba did much to strengthen the 
Persian Church, and he is praised even by Roman 
Catholic writers, whose commendation of heretics is 
obviously likely to be very restrained. It is significant, 
therefore, that Fortescue 2 feels able to say of him that 
'but for his doubtful attitude about the heresy [i.e. 
Nestorianism], he was in every way an excellent 
prelate, 5 and that Labourt 3 styles him 'A glorious con- 
fessor of the Faith, the light of the Persian Church, to 
which he left the double treasure of blameless doctrine 
and a model life.' It is also to be remembered that 
much of his work had to be accomplished during the 
time of persecution under Chosroes I, to which refer- 
ence has been made above (p. 65). His work was 
carried on with almost equal efficiency by his successor 
Joseph (552-567). During his time there arose a 
church at Naamania in the province of Patriarchalis, 
and one at Zuabia in the province of Adiabene. 

1 In Babylonia. Not the same as the Karkha in the province of 
Garamaea, p. 57. It is not heard of again. 

2 Lesser Eastern Churches, p. 83. 

3 Le Christianisme dans V empire perse, p. 191. 


At about the same time that Mar Aba and Joseph 
were so capably governing the Persian Church, a far- 
reaching influence was also being exerted by Abraham 
of Kaskar. Abraham, who was born about 491, re- 
vived monasticism in Persia. During the third and 
fourth centuries there had been monastic orders in 
Persia, but during the latter part of the fifth century 
and the earlier part of the sixth there had been a move- 
ment away from all that monastic life implies, a move- 
ment considerably accelerated by the general relaxa- 
tion of the Church's teaching on celibacy (pp. 50-52). 
Abraham, after first studying at Nisibis, went to Egypt, 
and was so impressed by the flourishing monastic life 
he saw there that he decided to return to his own land 
and endeavour to restore Persian monasticism to an 
equally well ordered condition. On his return he 
established or restored the monastery on Mount Izala 
near Nisibis, and soon gathered round himself a great 
company of monks living to a stricter rule than had 
lately been customary in Persia. From that time the 
monastery on Mount Izala was the most influential 
religious house in the Nestorian Church, and its abbot 
often came second only to the patriarch in influence 
and power. 

Abraham's example at Mount Izala led to the estab- 
lishment of many new monasteries and to the reform of 
those which had continued to exist in a lax form. 
Details of Abraham's life and work, and of the rules he 
made for Persian monasticism, may be found in 
Thomas of Marga's Historia Monastica (The Book of 
Governors). The rules were very similar to those 


followed in Egypt. The monks wore tunic, belt, cloak, 
hood, and sandals, and carried a cross and stick. Their 
tonsure was distinctive, being cruciform. At first they 
met for common prayer seven times a day, but later 
this was reduced to four times. They were vegetarians, 
and ate only once a day, at noon. Celibacy, of course, 
was rigidly enforced. Those who were more capable 
engaged in study and the copying of books, while 
others worked on the land. After three years a monk 
could, if the abbot agreed, retire to absolute solitude 
as a hermit. The connexion between the monasteries 
and the bishops was closer than was usual in the West, 
the control of monastic property being in the hands of 
the nearest bishop. This no doubt both strengthened 
and enriched the hierarchy. 1 

From this time onwards monasticism continued to 
be a considerable force in the Nestorian Church, and 
produced some of its greatest men. A list of some of 
the more important monasteries may conveniently be 
given here: Mount Izala near Nisibis, Dorkena near 
Seleucia (for many centuries the burial place of the 
patriarchs), Tela, Baxaja, Haigla, Henda, Zarnucha, 
Camula, Anbar, Beth-Zabda, Chuchta, Kuph. 
Abraham died in 586 at the venerable age of ninety- 
five, having lived long enough to see great results from 
his labours and example. He was succeeded as abbot 
by Dadyeshu. 

One of the greatest sons of the monastery on Mount 
Izala was Mar Babai the Great (569-628). (This 
Babai is to be carefully distinguished from the patriarch 

1 Fortescue, Lesser Eastern Churches, p. 112. 


Babai.) Originally a monk at the Mount Izala 
monastery, he subsequently became abbot, probably 
succeeding Dadyeshu. He was a strength to the 
Nestorian Church at a very difficult period, acting as 
its administrative head during the long vacancy after 
the death of Gregory in 608 till the appointment of 
Yeshuyab II in 628 (see p. 67). In spite of the diffi- 
culties of the 'times, or perhaps because fear and un- 
certainty turned more people toward religion, many 
new churches were established in his time: two in the 
province of Patriarchalis, Sena and Badraia; two in the 
province of Nisibis, Balada and Arzun; one in the 
province of Garamsea, Marangerd; and one at Beth- 
Daron in Mesopotamia. In addition to administra- 
tive work he helped to establish Nestorian doctrine on a 
well-defined basis, and his Book of the Union (i.e. of 
Godhead and manhood in Christ) is still accepted as a 
true statement of the Nestorian position. He exalts 
Diodorus, Theodore, and Nestorius, and rejects the 
Council of Chalcedon and the term Theotokos. He also 
inveighs against monophysites and Henanians, 1 which 
shows that Jacobites and other .sects and factions did 
not leave the Nestorian Church undisturbed. 

After Mar Babai's death in 628 it was possible to 
appoint a patriarch again, and Yeshuyab II (628- 
643) was instated. Despite the troublous times in 
which he had to labour, he appears to have undertaken 

1 A party within the Nestorian Church, followers of Hanana, who was 
head of the school at Nisibis in the sixth century. They accepted the 
Council of Chalcedon, and preferred the teaching of Chrysostom to that 
of Theodore of Mopsuestia. They may perhaps be regarded as pro- 
Catholic Nestorians. 


his duties effectively, and was responsible for the send- 
ing of a mission to China (see p. 130). 


(i) Arabia. 

Christianity made little further advance in Arabia 
after the beginning of the sixth century. Its only 
notable success was at Hira, where, according to the 
Book of the Himy antes ^ Mundhar, phylarch (petty king) 
of the Arabs in Hira, became a Christian in 512, and 
was baptized by Simon, bishop of Hira. The king's 
sister, Henda, was also baptized, and founded a 
coenobium (convent). 2 Apart from this, the principal 
event which affected Arabian Christianity was the 
struggle between Najran and Yaman. There were 
many Jews in Arabia, and they seem to have been 
particularly influential in Yaman. Indeed, Masruq 
Dhu Namas (or Dunaas), king of Yaman, is supposed 
to have been himself a Jew. But in Najran Chris- 
tianity predominated, so that when war broke out 
between Yaman and Najran in 519, religious differ- 
ences added to the bitterness of the struggle. 

As in the wars between the Roman and Persian 
empires, the political clash brought with it the tendency 
to persecute in each country the minority who sub- 
scribed to the faith of the majority in the country of the 

1 See p. 6o } footnote. 

2 The authority for these statements is Amrus, a Nestorian. Barhe- 
braeus, however, a Jacobite, asserts that the conversion was made by 


enemy. Thus Christians began to be persecuted in 
| Yaman, and Jews in Najran. Christians set fire to 
| synagogues, and Masruq burned Christian churches. 
'] He slew numbers of Christians, particularly in Dhafar, 
j Hadramaut, and Najran, which he had succeeded in 
subjugating. The persecution was fiercest about the 
year 523.! 

In 525, however, the Abyssinians came to the aid of 
the Christians, King Elesbaan (or Kaleb) leading his 
army in person. He completely defeated the forces of 
Masruq, who, seeing that his power was broken, 
drowned himself in the Red Sea. Elesbaan only 
stayed in Arabia seven months, but before returning to 
Abyssinia he set up a Himyarite noble as Christian 
ruler in Najran and Yaman. The dynasty thus in- 
stituted continued in power until the time of Muham- 
mad, though with Persian help Masruq's successors 
were able to regain Yaman. But Yaman may have 
again come under the sway of these Christian rulers, 
for in 567 Abraha Ashram is described as Christian 
king of Yaman, and as building a new cathedral at 
Sana. The new cathedral was defiled by some pagan 
Arabs from the north, and Abraha in 568 led a punitive 
expedition against Mecca. The Koreish Arabs, how- 
ever, easily repulsed him, and their victory is celebrated 
in Sura 105 of the Koran. It has been suggested that 
Abraha's defeat was partly due to the outbreak of an 
epidemic among his troops, possibly small-pox. 

Christianity in Arabia had not now many years 

1 For details see the Book of the Himyarites, or extensive quotations from 
it in Stewart, Nestorian Missionary Enterprise, pp. 5665. 


before it, for about this time, probably in 569, Muham- 
mad was born. After 622, the year of his flight (Arabic 
hegird) from Mecca to Medina, from which momentous 
event the Muhammadan era is dated, he gradually 
gained power over the greater part of Arabia, and 
before his death in 632 he had already planned the 
extension of his faith and dominion into Syria and 
Persia. Although the harshness of Muhammad and 
his followers toward peoples who refused to accept his 
faith has sometimes been exaggerated, there is no 
doubt that far less toleration was shown in Arabia itself 
than elsewhere. Muhammad is supposed to have left 
the dying command that 'Throughout the peninsula 
there shall be no second creed.' Whether he actually 
said so or not, his successors acted on the assumption 
that he had, and a determined attempt was made to 
eradicate all religions but Islam 1 from Arabia. Partly 
by massacres and stern repressive measures, partly by 
defections to Islam prompted by fear or policy, this 
ideal had been very nearly realized by the time of the 
fourth caliph, Ali (656-661). After his time traces of 
Christianity in Arabia are very meagre, and by the end 
of the seventh century it had ceased to be a force of 
any importance in the peninsula. 

(ii) India. 

Apart from the evidence of Cosmas Indicopleustes 
given above (p. 61), there is little specific mention of 

1 The religious system formulated by Muhammad is correctly known 
as Islam (Arabic submission, i.e. to God), and those who follow it are 
Muslims (Arabic those who submit). The terms Muhammadanism and 
Muhammadan are not really good usage, but will occasionally be 
employed when connexion with Muhammad himself needs stressing. 


the Indian churches during this period. Nevertheless, 
we have no reason to suppose that such Christian com- 
munities as there were did not continue steadily, if 
uneventfully, with their work and witness. Two 
interesting inscribed crosses probably date from this 
period. One was found at Milapur (now known as 
St. Thomas's Mount) near Madras in 1547, and, is 
usually called the Thomas Gross, and another at 
Kotayam (Travancore) . Both bear inscriptions in 
ancient Persian (Pahlavi). 1 

(iii) Turkestan. 

There is little to record as to the progress of the 
Nestorian Church in this region between the expedition 
under the bishop of Arran (p. 62), and the renewed 
missionary activity in the time of the patriarch Timothy 
I (p. 128). 

(iv) China. 

The first Nestorian mission to China of which we 
have any authentic record was sent by the patriarch 
Yeshuyab II (628-643) just before the close of this 
period. In order to avoid an unnecessary break of 
continuity, the account of it will be reserved to the 
next period (p. 130). 

1 Robinson, History of Christian Missions., p. 65. 



(This list is based on Kidd's collation 1 of the data given by 

Assemani and Labourt) 

Papa Bar Aggai, floruit circa 315. 

Simon Bar Sabae, obiit 34 1. 2 

Sadhost, 34 1 -342. 3 

Barbasemin, 342-346. 

VACANT, 346-383. 

Tomarsa, 383-392. 

Qayoma, 395-399. 

Isaac, 399-41 o. 4 (First Catholicus, 410.) 

Ahai, 410-415. 

Yaballaha I, 415-420. 

Maanes (Mana), 420. 

Marabochtus (Farbokt), 421. 

Dadyeshu, 421-456. (First Patriarch, 424.) 

Babowai, 457-484. 

Acacius, 485-496. 5 

Babai, 49 7-502. 6 

Silas, 505-523. 

Narses and 

Elisaeus, 524-539. 

Paulus, 539. 

1 Churches of Eastern Christendom, p. 416. 

2 Fortescue, Lesser Eastern Churches, gives ob. 339. 

3 For variants in the spelling of this and other names, see the supple- 
mental index, p. 226. 

* On this date, see the note on p. 44. 

5 Wiltsch, Geography and Statistics of the Church, gives 486-496. 

6 This date is generally given as 497-502/3, and is so given by Kidd. 
Wiltsch gives 498-502/3. 


Mar Aba I, 540-552. 

Joseph, 552-5 6 7- 
Ezechiel, 570-581. 
Yeshuyab I, 582-595. 
Sabaryeshu I, 596-604. 
Gregory, 605-608. 1 
VACANT, 608-628. 
Yeshuyab II, 628-643. 
Maremes, 647-650. 
Yeshuyab III, 650-660.2 

(with indications of their attitude to Christianity) 

Ardashir (Artaxerxes) I, 

Shapur (Sapor) I, 241- 

Hormizd I, 272-273. 

Bahram I, 273-276. 

Bahram II, 276-293. 

Bahram III, 293. 

Narses, 293-302. 

Hormizd II, 302-310. 

Shapur II, 310-379. First Persian king to persecute 

Christians. Began a fierce per- 
secution in 339, which continued 
throughout his reign. Many 
thousands perished. Many Chris- 
tians emigrated. 

1 Wiltsch gives 616 instead of 608, the vacancy 616-633, and Yeshuyab 
II, 6320x1-653. 

2 Wiltsch gives 655-664. Encyclopedia Britannica, xxi. 724, gives 647- 
6 57/8. 




Bahram IV, 388-399. 
Yazdegerd I, 399-420. 

Bahram V, 420-438. 

Ardashir II, 379-383. Continued the persecution, but 

less fiercely. 
Shapur III, 383-388. Comparatively tolerant. 

Comparatively tolerant. 

Very tolerant. Gave Christians a 

recognized status (see p. 46). 

Persecution 420-422. Afterwards 

Yazdegerd II, 438-457. Fairly tolerant, except for a fierce 

persecution in 448, when thou- 
sands perished, principally at 


Hormizd III, 457-459. 
Peroz, 457-484. Persecution in 465 against non- 

Nestorian Christians. 
Balash, 484-488. 

Kavadh I, 488-53 1 . Tolerant. 
(Djamasp, 496-498, usurper.) 
Chosroes I, 531-579. Persecution 540-545. Otherwise 

Hormizd IV, 579-590. Tolerant. Ordered Zoroastrians 

and Christians to dwell peaceably 


At first tolerant. Intolerant after 


Kavadh II, 628. 
Ardashir III, 628-630. 
Period of unsettlement: 
Shahrbaraz, Boran 
and others, 630-632. 
Yazdegerd III, 632-651 . 

Chosroes II, 590-628. 






THE Arab conquest of Persia had naturally caused 
suffering to the Christian element in the population. 
But this cannot be called persecution, because it was 
simply the inevitable concomitant of invasion. Once 
the Arabs had become established, the Christians were 
certainly no worse off than they had been previously. 
The empire of the Sassanids now became part of the 
Arabian Empire, which by the end of the seventh 
century extended from the shores of the Mediterranean 
and Red Seas to the Oxus and the Indus, and from the 
Indian Ocean to the Caucasus and the Caspian. This 
empire is usually described as the Caliphate, being 
ruled by the successors (Arabic khalifah, successor) of 
Muhammad. The first four caliphs, the immediate 
successors of Muhammad, are known as the perfect 
caliphs (632-661). Then followed thirteen caliphs of 
the Umayyad dynasty (661-749), and lastly thirty- 
seven caliphs of the Abbasid dynasty ( 749- 1258). 1 

1 For a list of the caliphs, see pp. 139-140. 


During the whole period Mecca and Medina remained 
the Holy Cities of Islam, but the political centre, 
originally at Medina, moved first to Damascus and 
finally to Baghdad. 

After the death of the caliph Mutawakkil in 86 1 the 
Caliphate began both to decay and to change its 
character. Disorders and rebellions within and 
Turkish incursions from across the Oxus reduced both 
its territory and power, until finally the Caliphs became 
mere titular religious figureheads, 'content with sermon 
and coin,' 1 and the real power was in the hands of the 
Turks. The most notable Turkish leaders at this period 
belonged to the Seljuk family of the Ghuzz tribe. 
These Seljuks gradually asserted their dominance, 
gaining control of Merv by 1040 and of Baghdad by 
1055. From the latter date it is not incorrect to say 
that a Seljuk dynasty was in real control of what had 
once been the Caliphate, though it is to be remembered 
that the Seljuks were Muslims, and that they still 
conceded to the Abbasid caliphs the spiritual headship 
of the State. This was the state of affairs when the 
Mongol expansion of the thirteenth century took place; 
and the last Abbasid caliph of Baghdad, Mustasim, 
was murdered when the Mongol Hulagu captured 
Baghdad in 1258. During this period of over six 
centuries the official religion of the Caliphate was 
Islam, and it is now necessary to trace its attitude to 

1 Quoted by M. J. de Goeje as a common saying regarding the caliphs 
from the time of Muti (946-974) onwards. (Encyclopedia Britannica 
(nth edition), v. 52.) 


Muhammad himself seems at first to have regarded 
Christians with favour, but later his attitude became 
less conciliatory. At first he evidently regarded 
Christians as likely to make good Muslims, if they 
would only renounce the tenets in their faith which he 
considered erroneous, these being particularly the 
divinity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. 
Thus, until the last Suras of the Koran (last, that is, 
in time of composition, not as usually printed and 
numbered), he generally speaks kindly and hopefully 
of Christians. It is to be noted that the expression 
'people of the Book' in the passages quoted below 
includes both Christians and Jews, but the whole tone 
of the Koran is less friendly toward Jews than it is 
toward Christians. The exact chronology of the Suras 
is still uncertain, but it is generally agreed that Sura 9 
is among the last two or three. It will, therefore, be 
sufficient to compare a few extracts from Suras acknow- 
ledged to be earlier with extracts from Sura g. 1 

In Sura 98 we read 2 : 'But the unbelievers among the 
people of the Book, and among the polytheists, 3 shall 
go into the fire of Gehenna to abide therein for aye. 
Of all creatures they were the worst. But they who 
believe and do the things that are right, these of all 
creatures are the best.' 


1 The quotations given are from Suras which are set in the same 
relative chronological order by Noldeke, Grimm, Muir, and RodweU, 
namely 98, 3, 57, 9. The numbers by which the Suras are usually 
quoted have no relation to the times of their composition. 

2 Following Rodwell's translation, which is smoother, if less literal, 
than Palmer's. The only place where Palmer differs from Rodwell 
except in phraseology will be noted. 

3 Palmer translates 'idolaters.' 


In Sura 3 : 'Among the people of the Book are those 
who believe in God, and in what He hath sent down to 
you, and in what He hath sent down to them, humbling 
themselves before God. They barter not the signs of 
God for a mean price. These! their recompense 
awaiteth them with their Lord: aye! God is swift to 
take account.' 

In Sura 57: 'Of old sent we Noah and Abraham, 
and on their seed conferred the gift of prophecy, and 
the Book; and some of them we guided aright; but 
many were evil doers. Then we caused our apostles 
to follow in their footsteps; and we caused Jesus the 
son of Mary to follow them; and we gave them the 
Evangel, and we put into the hearts of those who 
followed him kindness and compassion. But as to the 
monastic life, they invented it themselves. The desire 
only of pleasing God did we prescribe to them, and 
this they observed not as it ought to have been ob- 
served. But to such of them as believed gave we their 
reward, though many of them were perverse. 3 

But in Sura 9, which is generally accepted as dating 
from shortly before Muhammad's death, the tone of 
conciliation is less evident, and Jews and Christians 
alike are regarded as enemies of Islam: 'The Jews say, 
"Ezra is a son of God"; and the Christians say, "The 
Messiah is a son of God." Such the sayings of their 
mouths ! They resemble the sayings of the infidels of 
old! God do battle with them! How are they mis- 
guided! They take their teachers, and their monks, 
and the Messiah, son of Mary, for Lords beside God, 
though bidden to worship one God only. There is no 


God but He ! Far from His glory be what they associate 
with Him!' 

In this Sura we also find justification for two prin- 
ciples which were often applied in later years, namely, 
to tax other peoples converted to Islam at a higher rate 
than Arab Muslims, and, sometimes, to tolerate com- 
munities of other faiths in return for special tribute: 
'Kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye 
shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay 
wait for them with every kind of ambush. But if they 
shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obliga- 
tory alms, then let them go their way, for God is 
gracious, merciful.' 'Make war upon such of those to 
whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in 
God, or in the last day, and who forbid not that which 
God and His Apostle have forbidden, and who profess 
not the profession of the truth, until they pay tribute 
out of hand, and they be humbled. 5 

It is unfortunate that one of the Suras which contains 
important references to Christians is of disputed date. 
Noldeke and Rodwell place Sura 5 later than Sura 9, 
while Grimm and Muir place it earlier. To fit in with 
the general argument advanced above we should wish 
to regard it as earlier. But in any case the relevant 
passages must be quoted: 'Verily, they who believe, 
and the Jews, and the Sabeites, 1 and the Christians - 
whoever of them believeth in God and in the last day, 
and doth what is right, on them shall come no fear, 

1 The Sabeites (Sabians, Sabaeans) were a small semi-Christian sect 
who were to be found mostly near the mouth of the Euphrates. Cere- 
monial ablutions occupied a considerable place in their system. 


neither shall they be put to grief.' 'If the people of the 
Book believe and have the fear of God, we will surely 
put away their sins from them, and will bring them into 
gardens of delight.' 'Thou shalt certainly find those to 
be nearest in affection to them. [i.e. to those who 
believe], who say, "We are Christians." This, because 
some of them are priests and monks, and because they 
are free from pride.' 

Nevertheless, uncertainty about the date of Sura 5 
does not vitiate the general trend of the evidence, 
which is that Muhammad at first hoped that Jews and 
Christians would become ready and valuable converts 
to Islam; but that when experience brought disappoint- 
ment his attitude toward them hardened. 

Muhammad had died in 632, so that by the time the 
Arabs had completed the conquest of Persia (651), a 
certain amount of practical experience in dealing with 
subject peoples who refused to accept Islam had been 
gained. Apart from the occasional massacres which 
ancient empire expansion always seemed to involve, it 
is a travesty of Muhammadanism to say that the alter- 
native was 'Islam or the sword.' It was only in Arabia 
itself that a really determined effort was made to 
eradicate every religion but Islam. Outside Arabia, 
policy usually based itself upon the verses from Sura 9 
quoted on p. 87. These were interpreted as permit- 
ting communities of unbelievers to continue to live, but 
under conditions of special taxation and humiliation. 
Such a community within the State is usually termed a 
melet. But the melet system was not a Muslim innova- 
tion, nor did it come as strange to the Persian 


Christians. Their status under the Sassanids had been of 
a very similar nature ever since the synod of Seleucia in 
410, when Yazdegerd I had given them recognition as 
a subject community within the State (p. 46). The 
conditions of extra taxation and other disabilities were 
also not new to them; Shapur II had made the Chris- 
tians pay double taxes for his wars against the Romans, 
which had continued intermittently from 337 till 363, 
and Chosroes I (531-579) had levied an additional 
poll-tax on Christians on the ground that they rendered 
no military service. As to discrimination in other ways, 
there is evidence that Christians in Persia had to wear 
distinctive dress by the sixth century. 1 When, there- 
fore, the Arab conquerors took control, things were not 
very different. Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians 
constituted three melets within the population, and 
though this was a degradation for the Zoroastrians, it 
left the Christians in much the same condition as 

In so far as any distinction was made between these 
melets, the Christians seem to have been the most 
favoured. Various reasons were advanced to justify 
their claim to special treatment. It is not certain to 
what extent these reasons are fact and to what extent 
fiction, but they may be briefly given: Muhammad was 
said to have had a Christian teacher, Sergius Bahira; 
the Patriarch Yeshuyab II (628-643) was said to have 
seen Muhammad in person, and to have received from 
him a document conferring special privileges upon 
Nestorians; the caliph Umar I was asserted to have 

i Wigram, History of the Assyrian Church, p. 230. 


confirmed this; and the caliph AH was said to have given 
them another letter of protection because they had 
given his army food at the siege of Mosul. Whether 
these reasons for favour were sound or not, in all the 
circumstances the Christians had not a great deal of 
which to complain, so that a bishop in the province of 
Adiabene, writing in about 655, soon after the Muslims 
had taken control, was able to say that the new masters 
were by no means so bad as they were thought to be, 
that they were not far removed from Christianity, and 
that they honoured its clergy and protected its 
churches. 1 

As to taxation, the caliph Umar I (634-644) had 
established it on a threefold basis. Muslims had only 
to pay zakat, a kind of poor rate, but non-Muslims had 
to pay kharaj) a tax on land, and also jizyah, a poll-tax 
levied in lieu of military service. But it was soon found 
that so many converts came over to Islam that it was 
advisable to distinguish between Arab Muslims and 
non-Arab Muslims, so non-Arab Muslims were made 
subject to kharaj. Thus the burden of taxation 
increased in three grades: Arab Muslims, non-Arab 
Muslims, non-Muslims. Jizyah was levied in western 
Persia as early as the time of Umar I, and it is recorded 
that at the first assessment of non-Muslims in Babylonia 
500,000 were found liable. As the tax was a substitute 
for military service, it was only levied on adult males, 
monks and the aged being exempted; so the non- 
Muslim population must have been between one and a 
half and two millions. It is, however, impossible to 

1 Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, III. i. 131. 


estimate what proportion of these were Christians. 
The amount of tax was at first one dinar per head, but 
later this was made a minimum, and those who were 
better off had to pay more accordingly. (The dinar 
was a gold coin weighing about 65 grains troy; the 
British gold sovereign weighs just over 123 grains 

As to other restrictions imposed on the Christians, 
they had to wear distinctive dress, they were not 
allowed to ride on horseback, and they were not per- 
mitted to carry any weapons; no new churches were to 
be built on fresh sites, but permission was given to 
repair or even rebuild existing ones. This last restric- 
tion does not appear to have been strictly imposed, as 
there is evidence that many new churches were built 
under the Caliphate between the seventh and twelfth 
centuries. 1 Indeed, the application of all these restric- 
tions was very variable; sometimes they were applied 
with great exactness, and others added, while at other 
times they were applied very casually. 

During the earlier centuries of Muslim rule the 
Christians were helped to some extent by the fact that 
there were more men of education among them than 
among the Arabs. It thus came about that Christians 
obtained many official appointments, even at the court 
of the caliph. The centres of Nestorian culture at 
Nisibis, Jundishapur, and Merv continued to flourish, 
and supplied a good proportion of the physicians, 
teachers, scribes, and accountants, not only for the 
Caliphate, but for neighbouring parts of Asia. Nor 

1 See Arnold, The Preaching of Islam, pp. 58-59. 


were Nestorians able to hold only utilitarian positions; 
they were also esteemed for their general culture. Thus 
the caliph Abdalmalik (685-705) included among his 
court poets the Christian Akhtal. 

The short reign of Umar (Omar) II (717-720) was 
one of the periods when Christianity suffered. This 
was not due to any active repression, but because Umar, 
in his zeal for Islam, applied many laws which had been 
disregarded. He decided to return to the earlier taxa- 
tion methods of his grandfather Umar I, and exempt all 
Muslims, Arab and non-Arab, from all taxation except 
zakat. The result was a great increase in professing 
Muslims, as acceptance of Islam for a non-Arab now 
meant not only exemption from jizyah, but also from 
kharaj. This exemption of non-Arab Muslims from 
kharaj was soon found to cause too drastic a reduction 
in revenue, and the tax had to be reimposed. But the 
damage to Christianity had been done, for those who 
had become Muslims to avoid kharaj could hardly 
change their faith again on the ground that the tax had 
been reimposed. Besides, the penalty for renouncing 
Islam once accepted was death. Umar also enforced 
the laws of restriction, in particular that against build- 
ing new churches, and ordered the destruction of all 
that had been recently built. 

The severity of Umar, however, was not continued 
by his successors. Indeed, under Hisham (724-743) all 
melets were treated very tolerantly, particularly in the 
eastern part of the Caliphate (Iraq and Khurasan), 
which was under the governorship of Khalid. Khalid, 
whose mother was a Christian, was reputed to be 


exceptionally considerate to Christians, Jews, and 

But there was a period of persecution under the 
caliph Mahdi (775-785). This, as so often, was largely 
the result of war with the Roman Empire. Although 
frontier raids had been going on for many years, indeed 
practically all through the reign of Mansur (754-775), 
there was no really serious clash until the latter part 
of Mahdi's reign, from 780 onwards. The concomitant 
suspicion and persecution of Christians was short and 
severe. An unpleasant feature of this persecution was 
cruelty towards Christian women, as many as a 
thousand lashes with bull's hide thongs being applied 
to make them apostatize. Nevertheless, in spite of this 
persecution a new church was built at Baghdad during 
his reign. It may be noted that Mahdi was even harder 
on Manichaeans 1 and those holding no religion at all. 

During the reign of Harun ar-Rashid (785-809) 
intermittent warfare continued with the Roman 
Empire, and though there was no definite period of 
severe persecution like that under Mahdi, the Muslims 
still regarded the Christians with suspicion, fearing that 
their sympathies might be with the enemy. Dissatisfied 
with the conditions of their life under the Caliphate, 
many Christians emigrated, mostly into the Roman 
Empire, hoping that there they would be able to 

1 Manicheeism was a syncretistic religion containing elements drawn 
from Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and possibly from other faiths also. 
It was a complete dualism, spiritual and material, good being identified 
with light and evil with darkness. It was formulated by Mani, who 
lived in Gtesiphon in the third century A.D., and had a considerable 
vogue for several centuries in places so far apart as China, India, and the 
Roman Empire. 


practise their faith with fewer disabilities. An addi- 
tional cause of Christian unhappiness was Harun's 
impetuosity. He was prone to precipitate action on 
insufficient evidence, and the Christians suffered for 
this on several occasions. For instance, one of his 
officers, Hamdun, told him that in their churches 
Christians worshipped and bowed down before the 
bones of the dead. Harun thereupon destroyed several 
churches, including those at Basrah and Ubullah. It 
is true that Harun was convinced that he had been 
misled and had the churches rebuilt, but the incident 
must have been very disquieting for the Christians 
none the less. Harun ar-Rashid acted equally precipi- 
tately when some monks at Aleppo calumniated the 
Patriarch of Antioch, destroying many churches in 
Syria and Palestine. These, of course, were not Nes- 
torian churches, but such an act added to the sense of 
insecurity felt by all Christians within the Caliphate. 
But it may be of interest to note that Harun's personal 
physician was a Nestorian, Gabriel, who is reputed to 
have been fabulously wealthy. 

In the reign of Mamun (813-833) there was a further 
exodus, due again to wars with the Roman Empire 
and to the unsettled state of the Caliphate, where 
internal disorders were beginning to show themselves. 
A large number of these emigrants settled at Sinope 
on the coast of the Black Sea. The Emperor Theo- 
philus received them well, and rendered their assimila- 
tion easier by enacting that Romans marrying these 
emigrants should not have their status in any way 


During the caliphate of Mutawakkil (846-861) the 
Christians suffered from a severe application of the 
repressive laws, but this change for the worse was 
brought about by the action of one who was himself a 
Christian. Presumably out of jealousy, a Christian 
named Ibrahim ben Nuh made complaint to the 
caliph about the Patriarch Theodosius. The result was 
that Mutawakkil not only deposed Theodosius (849), x 
tbut in 850 began to apply the already existing repres- 
sive laws with full vigour, and added other disabilities 
as well. Christians were commanded to wear dis- 
tinctive garments, 'with a patch on their shirts,' 2 were 
forbidden to ride on horseback, and were forbidden to 
attend market on Fridays. The graves of their dead 
were to be destroyed, their children were not to attend 
the Muslim schools or be taught Arabic, and a wooden 
image of the devil was to be nailed to the door of every 
Christian's house. In addition, a number of churches 
and monasteries were demolished. Nevertheless, no 
Christians appear to have been executed for their faith 
at this time, as Ishudad of Merv, writing about the 
same period, mentions no recent martyrs. It is again 
interesting to remark that in spite of these anti- 
Christian measures, Mutawakkil retained his Christian 
physicians, a detail which shows that Christians were 
still ranking high in learned and professional capacities. 
A few years later, however, there was serious trouble in 
Horns (Emesa) as a result of these repressive measures. 

1 The chronology here is a little difficult, as the date of Theodosius' 
accession is generally accepted as 852. Was the dispute over his 
appointment, resulting in a delay of three years ? 

2 Maris, Amri et Slibce Commentaria, edited by Gismondi, fols. 1910-1916. 


In 855 a revolt broke out, in which Christians wei 
joined by Jews, who had been subjected to very simih 
repressions. The revolt was put down after a vigoroi 
resistance. Many leading Christians and Jews wei 
flogged to death, all churches and synagogues wei 
demolished, and all Christians banished. 

After the time of Mutawakkil, the power of the 
caliphs progressively weakened, and their dominion 
tended more and more to become dismembered. 
Egypt became independent under Ahmad ben Tulun 
in 868, and various other parts of the Caliphate succes- 
sively gained partial or complete independence. 
Those who had originally held office as governors began 
to found minor dynasties, and rendered only a nominal 
allegiance to the caliph at Baghdad. Thus a situation 
arose which was internally unstable and outwardly an 
invitation to aggression. The situation was made 
worse by the action of the caliphs in endeavouring to 
strengthen their position by hiring mercenaries from 
Turkestan. These mercenaries gradually gained in- 
fluence, and by the tenth century Turkish officers 
dominated the policy of the caliphs. Their practice 
was to concede great respect and titular authority 
to the caliph, but to control all practical affairs them- 
selves. They were not, however, united among them- 
selves, being as prone to faction as the Arabs and 
Persians whom they had displaced from power. Grave 
internal unrest therefore continued, and the setting up 
of minor dynasties in various parts of the Caliphate. 
Indeed, on several occasions the caliph had little even 
nominal power outside Baghdad itself. 


During such a period it is not surprising that the lot 
>f the Christians was always uncertain and often 
inhappy. Harassed authorities were hardly likely to 
)e particularly solicitous about the welfare of a melet 
tfhen the Caliphate itself was in danger, and when 
trouble arose it was often because the melet restrictions 
had been laxly applied, advantage of the laxness had 
been taken by the Christians, and the Muslim populace 
had taken matters into its own hands. Thus there 
were several instances of Muslim mob violence against 
Christians during the caliphate of Muqtadir (908-932). 
The Muslim populace destroyed several churches in 
Palestine, including those at Ramleh, Askelon and 
Caesarea. These were probably Catholic churches; 
but at Damascus they destroyed not only the Catholic 
church of Mart Maryam, but also a Nestorian church. 
That was in 924. At about the same time there was 
trouble in Egypt over the collection of jizyah, an 
attempt being made to collect it from monks and 
bishops, who were supposed to be exempt. 

There was similar trouble in the time of the Patriarch 
John V (looi-ion). According to the somewhat 
involved account given by Mari, 1 a Muslim crowd, 
presumably in Baghdad, suspected that a man who 
had been found dead was killed by a Christian, a 
certain Abu Mansur ben al-Daraji. They accordingly 
attacked the Jacobite church of Mar Thoma, and in the 
ensuing confusion the church caught fire. The church 
collapsed, and a great number of people perished. It 
must be recorded to the credit of the Muslim authorities 

1 Op. cit., fols. 2170-2180. 


that the lawyers decided that the guilt rested on the man 
who instigated the attack on the church, and that he 
should be punished. No attack was made at that time 
on any other church in the locality. 

It is possible to make a very interesting comparison 
between the Christian and Muslim points of view by 
comparing two statements on these restrictions which 
cannot differ in date by more than a few years. Accord- 
ing to Mari, 1 in the days of the Patriarch John VI 
(1013-1020), the Christians 'were compelled to wear 
distinctive dress, and a number deserted the faith on 
account of the trials, woes, and injuries that befell them. 
And the people of the western parts were prevented 
from carrying out their funeral processions by day; and 
the people of the Third Quarter [in Baghdad], as many 
as were not religious, became Muslims, and there was 
great affliction. And part of the woodwork at the rear 
of the mosque of ar-Rusafat was burnt; and it was 
laid to the charge of the Christians. But when the 
government of the caliph al-Qadir learnt the truth of 
the matter, they prevented the Muslims from carrying 
out their design of attacking the Christians. . . . And 
the people suffered trials, and made their prayers by 
night, and offered the prayers of Ascension Day by 
night. And the Christians were compelled to wear 
distinctive dress, and to ride on mules and asses [only], 
and to dismiss the slaves and maid-servants from their 
houses. 5 It is true that such restrictions must have 
been very irksome, and that at times it cost a great 
deal in the way of patience and pride to be a Christian. 

1 Op. cit., fols. 2200-2206. 


j But irksomeness is hardly to be ranked with persecu- 
tion, and it is significant that while Man mentions 
I trials and woes in a general way, the items he par- 
i ticularizes are not specially or exceptionally grievous - 
<j they are just the expected lot of melets. 
I Writing at about the same time, Mawardi, a Muslim 
lawyer, gives a summary of the riielet laws as applied 
to the Christians 1 : 'In the poll-tax contract there are 
two clauses, one of which is indispensable and the other 
commendable. The former includes six articles: 
(i) they must not attack nor pervert the sacred book 
[i.e. the Koran], (2) nor accuse the Prophet [Mu- 
hammad] of falsehood, nor refer to him with contempt, 
(3) nor speak of the religion of Islam to blame or con- 
travert it, (4) nor approach a Muslim woman with a 
view either to illicit relations or to marriage, (5) nor 
turn a Muslim from the faith, nor harm him in person 
or possessions, (6) nor help the enemies or receive any 
of their spies. These are the duties which are strictly 
obligatory on them, and to which they must conform. 
The second clause, which is only commendable, also 
deals with six points: (i) change of external appearance 
by wearing a distinctive mark, the ghiyar, and the 
special waistbelt, zunnar, (2) prohibition of erecting 
buildings higher than those of the Muslims; they must 
only be of equal height or less, (3) prohibition of offend- 
ing the ears of Muslims by the sound of the bell, naqus, 
by reading their books, and by their claims concerning 
Uzair [Ezra] and the Messiah, (4) prohibition of 

1 Quoted and translated from Mawardi, Al-ahkam as-sultanijya, by 
Browne, Eclipse of Christianity in Asia,, p. 46. 


drinking wine publicly and of displaying their crosses 
and swine, (5) the obligation to proceed secretly to the 
burial of their dead without a display of tears and 
lamentations, (6) prohibition of riding on horses, 
whether pure-bred or mixed, though they are allowed 
to use mules and asses. These six commendable 
prescriptions are not necessarily included in the con- 
tract of protection, unless they have been expressly 
stipulated, in which case they are strictly obligatory. 
The fact of contravening them when they have been 
stipulated does not entail breach of the contract, but 
the unbelievers are compelled by force to respect them, 
and are punished for having violated them. They do 
not incur punishment when nothing has been stipulated 
about it. 3 

Comparison of the statements of Mari and Mawardi 
suggests that the difference consists more in the point 
of view than in the actual facts; and while we must by 
no means minimize the inconveniences and indignities 
to which Christians under the Caliphate were subject, 
and the occasional persecutions, it seems clear that 
their lot, so far as official treatment was concerned, was 
no worse than it had been under the Sassanids. 


In spite of the fact that conditions under the Caliphate 
were not very different from those which had obtained 
under the Sassanids, the Nestorian Church had no 
similar record of steady and consistent advance. 
During the first three centuries of the Caliphate it is 


true that there was a considerable increase in the 
number of churches, and an increase also in the wealth 
and standing of the Christian community. But at the 
same time an insidious change was coming over the 
character of the Nestorian Christians. They were 
becoming more influential in practically all walks of 
life than was either good for themselves or pleasing to 
the Arabs. This resulted in increased worldliness in 
their own outlook and in increased Muslim antipathy 
against them. Thus it came about that the advance 
during the first three centuries of the Caliphate was 
followed by three centuries of almost continuous 
decline; and although, as has been seen, the lot of 
Christians during the last three centuries was harder 
than it had been during the first three, they were 
partly themselves to blame. Even so, their subjection, 
though irksome, was scarcely comparable to the perse- 
cutions under the Sassanids, which had never brought 
about permanent weakening of the Persian Church. 
So that, though unsettled times and Muslim oppression 
undoubtedly contributed something to the decline of 
the Persian Nestorian Church during the eleventh to 
thirteenth centuries, internal causes must not be 

These generalizations must now be substantiated. 
Perhaps the root of the matter is to be sought in the 
growth of the Christians in wealth and power. To see 
members of a non-Muslim melet surpassing themselves 
both in means and in influence naturally made Muslims 
angry and envious; and there is no doubt that though 
the Arab was a good warrior, the traditions and habits of 


the Nestorians made them superior to the invader in 
business affairs and in all pursuits where education 
counted. As to their wealth, the churches which they 
were able to erect from time to time when restrictions 
were relaxed are reputed to have been elaborate and 
expensive buildings; for instance, in 759, during the 
reign of Mansur (754-775), Cyprian, bishop of Nisibis, 
built a new church there at a cost of 56,000 dinars 
(30,000 gold) . Evidence of the wealth of individuals 
is not easy to obtain, but Gabriel, Nestorian physician 
to Harun ar-Rashid, is reputed to have had a private 
fortune equivalent to several million pounds sterling; 
and the magnitude of the bribes paid by some of the 
patriarchs, which will be mentioned in more detail a 
little later, also testifies to the fact that the Nestorians 
were a wealthy melet: the patriarch of a poor church 
cannot pay bribes running into the equivalent of 
hundreds and, in at least two cases, thousands of 
pounds. Now wealth, though not evil in itself, often 
has two unfortunate results: the engendering of a 
materialistic outlook in the possessor, and the arousing 
of envy in the beholder. It is hardly to be expected 
that the Nestorians were altogether free from the 
former defect, any more than that the Muslims were 
free from the latter. 

Position may arouse envy just as easily as wealth, 
and it was a long time before Arab physicians were able 
to displace the Nestorians. The physicians at the 
court of the caliph were usually Nestorians until about 
the eleventh century. In 765 the caliph Mansur 
summoned Georgius from the Nestorian medical school 


at Jundishapur to be court physician at his new capital, 
Baghdad. From that time forward Christian physicians 
were held in high esteem, and even persecuting caliphs 
retained their Christian doctors, as has been men- 
tioned in the cases of Harun ar-Rashid and Mut- 
awakkil. The court physicians, together with Christian 
scribes, secretaries, and other similar officials, con- 
stituted quite an important group in the caliph's 
entourage, and orthodox Muslims not seldom felt that 
there was too much Christian influence in State affairs. 
It was particularly offensive to many Muslims when, 
as sometimes happened, a Christian was given a 
position of direct authority. They might recognize 
the value of Christians as secretaries and doctors, but 
they resented a Christian having administrative power 
over them. A notable example was the appointment 
by the caliph Mutadid (892-902) of a Christian to the 
governorship of Anbar, an important town on the 
Euphrates about forty-two miles from Baghdad. Envy 
at such appointments naturally caused some Muslims 
to consider that the laws of restriction were too leniently 
applied. This outlook is reflected in the writings of 
Abu Uthman Amr ben Bahr al-Jahiz, who died in 
869. He refers to the wealth of many of the Christians, 
to their use of horses, and to their ignoring other 
restrictions. As to distinctive dress, he complains that 
the special waist-belt was often worn under other 
clothes, and so out of sight, and that some had given 
up wearing it altogether. He says that payment of 
jizyah was often avoided, even by those well able to 
pay. Indeed, in many ways it would appear that 


Christians claimed much the same status as their 
Muslim overlords, and it would seem that 'the blood 
of the Gatholicus and the Metropolitan and the Bishop 
was worth as much as the blood of Jafar and AH and 
al-Abas and Hamza.' 1 

Another unfortunate result of the prosperity of the 
Nestorians during the earlier centuries of the Caliphate 
was that the position of the patriarch became one of 
considerable worldly importance, and the office was 
sought by some whose interests were political and social 
rather than spiritual. The patriarch came to be closely 
associated with the court circle, partly owing to the 
fact that his seat had been removed from Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon to Baghdad. This change took place about 
775, and was due to the fact that Seleucia-Ctesiphon 
was ceasing to be a place of any importance, while 
Baghdad had become the capital of the Caliphate. 
The Arabs had wrought great havoc at Seleucia and 
Ctesiphon at the time of their invasion, and the two 
cities never fully recovered. What was left of them was 
named by the Arabs S al-Madain 5 (the (two) cities), 
and though Madai'n continued to exist, it retained only 
the shadow of its former greatness. When, therefore, 
the second Abbasid caliph, Mansur, wished to have a 
strong capital city in Mesopotamia, he considered it 
wiser to start afresh rather than to revive Ctesiphon. 
He accordingly chose a site on the Tigris about fifteen 
miles above Ctesiphon, and built there a strong 
citadel. The plan adopted was circular, with a mosque 
and his own palace in the centre. The outer wall was 

1 Quoted by Browne, op. cit., p. 48, from J. Finkel, Three Essays, p. 18. 


over three miles round, and had gates toward the four 
cardinal points. The city soon grew beyond the 
confines of this original plan, and, during the middle 
ages, Baghdad came to rank as one of the leading cities 
of the world. The city was begun in 762 and completed 
by 766. Within ten years of its completion the Pat- 
riarch of the East had made it his seat, the change 
taking place in the patriarchate of Hananyeshu II 
(774-779). In spite of this change, the title Patriarch 
of Seleucia-Ctesiphon still continued to be used. 

From that time the association between patriarch 
and caliph was often a close one, and as civil and 
religious head of a wealthy melet, the office of Nestorian 
Patriarch was of considerable importance. As a 
result, there was sometimes considerable competition 
for the position, and it reflects rather unfavourably on 
the general tone of the Nestorian Church at this period 
that such competition occasionally took an unseemly 
form, with a consequent ill effect on the serenity of the 
hierarchy. A notable example was the election of the 
Patriarch Timothy I (7 79-82 3). * His election was 
largely assured by leading the electors to imagine that 
some sacks, presumably full of money, would be the 
reward of his supporters. After he was duly elected, 
it was found that the sacks contained only stones, and 
those who expressed a very natural indignation were 
blandly told that 'The priesthood is not sold for 
money.' Nor was Timothy without imitators in using 
real or pretended bribery. Thus in 912 the Patriarch 

1 Following, as to this date, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, xxi. 724. For 
other opinions see p. 138. 


Abraham III spent 30,000 dinars in intrigues against 
the Orthodox Church; in 1148 the Patriarch Yeshuyab 
V secured his election by a bribe of 5,000 dinars; and 
a century later at least two other patriarchs secured 
election in a similar manner. 

The Nestorian Patriarch was not only head of the 
Nestorian Church, but from about the middle of the 
eleventh century he was given civil jurisdiction over 
Christians of all kinds in the Caliphate. Thus in a 
diploma of appointment dating from the early thirteenth 
century we read: 'The Sublime Authority empowers 
thee to be installed at Baghdad as Catholicus of the 
Nestorians, as also for the other Christians in Muslim 
lands, as representative in these lands of the Rum, 
Jacobites, and Melkites.' 1 

Although the office of patriarch was such an impor- 
tant one, there were vacancies lasting several years at 
various times during the Caliphate. Le Quien 2 

1 Up till the eleventh century the term Melkite was used by Easterns 
to describe all Christians either actually in the Church of the Roman 
Empire or in agreement with that Church. The word is derived from 
the common Semitic root for 'king,' the triliteral root .mlk, which appears 
in Hebrew as melek, in Aramaic as melak, in Syriac as malka, and in 
Arabic as malik. The word Melkite thus really means 'king's men,' 
i.e. those in religious agreement with the Roman Emperor. After the 
Great Schism had divided the original Catholic Church into Roman 
Catholic and Greek Orthodox, a division which may be reckoned as 
complete by 1054, the word is often used in reference to both Catholic 
and Orthodox, and sometimes for Uniates (see the note on p. 109). The 
use of the word Rum is a little uncertain. It may refer to the Roman 
Empire, in which case after 1054 ecclesiastically it would imply the 
Greek Orthodox Church; or it may refer to the city of Rome, in which 
case after 1054 ecclesiastically it would imply the Roman Catholic 
Church. As used here it probably means the latter, for we know that 
for a time during the Middle Ages there was a Roman Catholic Church 
at Baghdad. In this quotation Rum and Melkite may therefore be 
taken to refer to Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox respectively. 

2 Oriens Christianus, ii. 11211140. 


supplies a list of the dates: 681-686, 698-714, 726-728 
(or 728-730), 849-852, 872-877, 986-987, 1038-1041, 
and three short vacancies of two to three years each 
about 1094, 1132, and 1136. These vacancies were 
not always due to external influences or Muslim 
hostility, but sometimes arose as a result of the un- 
pleasant competition which was so liable to accompany 
the election of a new patriarch, as was instanced in the 
case of Timothy. When such competition became too 
acute the see would remain vacant until the contending 
parties reached agreement or compromise, often a 
matter of years. The reason must have been internal 
in the first and third periods in Le Quien's list, as these 
dates fall in the caliphates of Abdalmalik and Hisham 
respectively, both of whom were tolerant toward 
Christianity. The vacancy from 849 to 852 was due 
to the action of the caliph Mutawakkil, but it is not 
probable that he would have taken the action he did if 
the Christians had kept their dispute to themselves 
(seep. 95). 

We are thus driven to the conclusion that the decline 
of the Nestorian Church during the latter centuries 
of the" Caliphate was to some extent due to defects in 
the Nestorian community itself. These defects may 
be summarized as an increasingly material outlook 
due to prosperity and influence, and a loosening grip 
on the essentials of their faith. As Browne remarks, 
it is not permissible to explain the decline as solely 
due to Muslim persecution, for far worse persecutions 
had failed to stop the growth of the Church in the time 
of the Sassanids. 'One is therefore bound to conclude 


that the failure of the Christian community to hold 
its own, and increase in numbers, must have been due 
to the feebleness of their Christian faith.' 1 Not only so, 
but, as has been seen, the persecutions were sometimes 
partly brought about by their own indiscretion. Even 
Assemani, himself a Syrian, writes: 'Not rarely the 
tempest of persecution was aroused by the mutual 
jealousy of the Christians themselves, the licence 
of the priests, the arrogance of the leaders, the tyran- 
nical power of the magnates, and especially the alterca- 
tions of the physicians and scribes about the highest 
authority over their people.' 2 

Nevertheless, it must not be forgotten that there were 
three centuries of advance before this downward 
tendency began to operate, and during those three 
centuries there was considerable extension of the 
Nestorian Church both within and beyond the Cali- 
phate. Eminent among those who rendered effective 
service to the Church during this period of advance 
was the Patriarch Timothy I, who held office for the 
exceptional term of over forty years (779-823). That 
Timothy was not irreproachable has already been seen 
with regard to the mode of his election, an incident 
which caused him some little trouble for several years 
afterwards. Some wished to displace him, and to set 
up Ephraim of Jundishapur in his stead. However, 
he eventually stilled the opposition and set about the 
serious work of his office; and whatever doubts we may 

1 Op. cit., p. 63. 

2 Bibliotheca Orientalis, III. ii. 100. The last sentence is a reference to 
the disputes which so often arose over the election of patriarchs. 


have as to the spirituality of his character, he was 
without question an efficient administrator and skilful 
in dealing with doctrinal matters. 

He did what he could to conciliate other sects such 
as the Maronites, 1 who were monothelites, in order to 
unify the Christian Church in Persia. But when con- 
ciliation was rejected, or was obviously impossible, he 
was a strenuous opponent, as for instance against 
Catholics, who at this time had a bishop at Baghdad, 
Jacobites, Henanians, and Masalians. 2 As patriarch 
he kept a firm control over his patriarchate, checking 
the pretensions of some of the more ambitious metro- 
politans. He put down certain abuses, and imposed 
celibacy on bishops and monks. The ordinary clergy, 
however, were still allowed to marry. He was alive to 
the importance of education, and wrote thus to a newly 
appointed bishop: 'Take care of the schools with all 
your heart. Remember that the school is the mother 
and nurse of sons of the church.' 3 He got on well with 
the caliphs, and won the gratitude of Harun ar- 
Rashid and his wife Zubaidah by a clever solution to a 
difficult problem of divorce and re-marriage. The 

1 The Maronites were a sect of obscure origin, mostly to be found in 
the Lebanon district. They may have originated with Yuhanna 
Marun (ob. 707), and were certainly believers in monothelitism (that 
Christ had only one will, the divine), from the eighth century onwards. 
Since 1445 they have been Uniates. (A Uniate Church is an Eastern 
Church retaining its own rite and hierarchy, but acknowledging the 
supremacy of the Pope and accepting Roman Catholic dogma.) 

2 The Masalians were a small sect which flourished to some extent in 
Syria and Mesopotamia from about the sixth till the twelfth century. 
They were fairly strong in Adiabene and just south of Nisibis. They 
denied all sacraments and forms of hierarchy, and admitted no means 
of grace but prayer. 

3 Fortescue, Lesser Eastern Churches, p. 95. 


details are obscure, but the whole transaction seems to 
have borne testimony more to Timothy's worldly 
wisdom than to his spirituality. 1 Another example of 
his sagacity and readiness is afforded by his skilful 
reply to an awkward question which Harun put to 
him: 'O father of the Christians, tell me briefly which 
religion is the true one in God's eyes. 5 Timothy in- 
stantly answered: 'That religion of which the rules and 
precepts correspond with the works of God.' The 
answer neither belies Christianity nor offends Islam; 
and it must be remembered that though Christians 
were tolerated, any slight from them upon Muhammad 
or Islam would be very seriously regarded (see p. 99). 

As to organization and administration, the Nestorian 
Church probably reached its most efficient condition 
during this period. The power of the patriarch was 
jealously guarded, and apart altogether from his 
ecclesiastical authority, his status as head of the melet 
must have increased his power considerably. Al- 
though the general method of administration remained 
unaltered, the system was worked more consistently. 
Thus the principle of grouping the churches into 
metropolitan provinces was more thoroughly applied, 
and by the tenth century, instead of the seven metro- 
politans under Babai in 497, there were at least twenty. 
The number of bishops without a metropolitan over 
them was also greatly reduced, the tendency being to 
bring all bishoprics into metropolitan provinces. 

The growth of the Church during the eighth, ninth, 

1 The details are in Labourt, De Timotheo I Nestorianorwn Patriarcha et 
Christianorwn condicione sub Caliphis, p. 35. 


and tenth centuries and its decline during the eleventh, 
twelfth, and thirteenth, were gradual processes; it is 
particularly important to notice that the decline was 
progressive and not sudden. It has sometimes been 
supposed that the grave declension of the Nestorian 
Church was due altogether to the Mongols. This is 
not so; and although the Mongols wrought con- 
siderable havoc in certain areas (see pp. 143-144), and 
perhaps gave the coup de grace to many already waning 
churches, the decline was evident long before they 
invaded the Caliphate. Nevertheless, there is no 
doubt that many churches came to their end as a 
result of the great disturbance which the Mongol ex- 
pansion caused in Central Asia and the Caliphate 
during the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. When we 
know that a certain town was sacked and practically 
destroyed by the Mongols in a certain year, and when 
the last reference to the church in that place is within 
the century prior to that date, we may often safely con- 
clude that church and town perished together; for the 
date of the last reference to a church does not neces- 
sarily coincide with the actual end of that church. 
When we say that a church was last heard of or men- 
tioned at a certain date, it may often well be that the 
church continued for quite a long time after that. 
The general impression is therefore one of steady 
decline, accelerated by the troubled internal state of 
the Caliphate during its later years, and in some 
districts culminating in final extinction by Mongol 
invasions of the early thirteenth century. 

All this can be most clearly shown by following the 


fortunes of the patriarchate province by province, and 
indicating the establishing of churches during the 
former three centuries of the Caliphate and their dis- 
appearance during the latter three. It is naturally not 
to be expected that all churches and provinces would 
rise and fall together, but on the average the middle of 
the tenth century seems to have been the time of 
greatest extent of the Nestorian Church in the Caliphate. 
In the Caliphate itself there were fifteen metropolitan 
provinces, 1 instead of the seven under Babai. The 
additional provinces did not all represent advance into 
new areas, many of them being former bishoprics 
which had been elevated into metropolitan sees, in 
some cases owing to actual administrative need and in 
others jure dignitatis. 

Provinces in the Caliphate: 

(i) Province of Patriarchalis. 

In this province three new bishoprics were estab- 
lished in the eighth century, Tirhana, Kosra, and 
Buazicha 2 ; two in the ninth, Ocbara and Wasit; and 
two in the tenth, Radan and Naphara. During the 
same period a few new schools were founded, including 
one at Tirhana about 730 and one at Mahuza, a suburb 
of Baghdad, in 832. But in the eleventh century four 
bishoprics became extinct, those of Hira, Sena, Radan, 
and Buazicha, and in the twelfth five more, Anbar, 
Naphara, Kosra, Badraia, and Naamania. This left 

1 The exact number of metropolitan provinces is not quite certain, as 
the two most ancient authorities, the Notitia of Elias Damascenus 
(ninth century) and the Tabula of Amrus (fourteenth century), do not 
agree. The reservations made on p. 56 must therefore apply here also. 

2 Not the same place as Buazicha in Garamaea, p. 115. 


only four: the metropolitan at Kaskar, and bishops at 
Tirhana, Ocbara, and Wasit. Of these, only the 
bishopric at Tirhana outlasted the Caliphate, the 
metropolitan see itself becoming extinct in 1222, 
Ocbara in 1224, and Wasit at about the same time. 
One solitary event relieves the continuity of the 
decline: the restoration by the patriarch Elias III of 
the monastery of Dorkena, which had evidently been 
allowed to fall into decay. This was in 1 180. 

(2) Province of Jundishapur. 

In this province a school was founded at Lapeta 1 in 
834. It was subsequently transferred to Jundishapur. 
The bishopric of Ahwaz became extinct in the ninth 
century, and that at Suster probably just before the 
end of this period. 

(3) Province of Nisibis. 

In this province considerable advance was made, 
and comparatively little of the ground gained was lost. 
It is to be noted that this province, together with the 
provinces of Mosul and Atropatene, which cover the 
only area where the Nestorian Church afterwards 
survived, was becoming a strong centre of Nestorian 
Christianity long before the end of the Caliphate; so 
that it is hardly accurate to think of the remnant 
'fleeing to the hill country of Kurdistan and establish- 
ing themselves there' at the time of the Mongol expan- 
sion or at the time of Timur i Leng: the area was 

1 Unless Lapeta is merely a variant of Beth Lapat, the old Syriac 
name for Jundishapur. In that case the school was at Jundishapur all 
the time. 



becoming a Nestorian stronghold long before that. 
Naturally, when those invasions did take place, many 
Nestorian refugees made their way to Kurdistan from 
other parts, because it was further from the storm 
centre than regions further south and east, and because 
they knew they would be among their co-religionists; 
but they did not have to establish churches, for they 
were already there. Thus while at the beginning of 
this period we only know of the metropolitan at Nisibis 
and bishops at Bakerda, Balada, and Arzun, together 
with the bishopric of Maiperkat, which was probably 
by this time reckoned in this province, by the end of 
the period not only were all these still in existence, but 
additional bishoprics had become established at 
Gezluna, Mardis, and Amida (modern Diarbekr). 
During the same period only two bishoprics had been 
established and since lapsed, Harran and Raqqa, a 
record which compares very favourably with that of 
other provinces. 

(4) Province of Teredon. 

This province continued uneventfully until about the 
end of this period, the metropolitan see itself (Basrah) 
being last heard of in 1222, and the bishopric of Deste- 
sana in 1260, just after this period. There was also 
for a time a church at Ubullah. 

(5) Province of Mosul. 

This, as already mentioned, was one of the regions 
of advance. It became a province in 651, with the 
seat of the metropolitan at Mosul. The bishopric of 


Nineveh, already in existence, was taken into this 
province, and other bishoprics were established at 
about the following dates: Beth-Bagas, 686; Haditha, 
714; Dasena, 754; Nuhadra, 963; Ormia (modern 
Urmi), 1068. All these bishoprics, together with 
those of Mosul and Nineveh, survived this period. 

(6) Province of Adiabene. 

Metropolitans continued at Erbil and bishops at 
Maalta throughout this period, but the bishopric of 
Honita seems to have disappeared early in the ninth 
century, and that at Zuabia by the end of the twelfth. 
There was also a bishopric at Gaftoun from about the 
end of the tenth till about the middle of the twelfth 

(7) Province of Garamtsa. 

Metropolitans continued at Karkha and bishops at 
Dakuka throughout the period. The bishopric of 
Sciaarchadata had become extinct in the sixth century, 
and that at Marangerd in the seventh, but a bishopric 
was established at Buazicha, 1 probably in the tenth 
century, which continued for the remainder of this 
period. There were bishoprics at Arzuna for a time 
during the seventh century, at Tahal and Telach during 
the eighth and ninth, and at Chanigiara for a time 
during the ninth century. 

(8) Province of Halwan. 

This was a new province, established with a metro- 
politan at Halwan in 754. A bishopric was established 

1 Not the same place as Buazicha in Babylonia, p. 112. 


at Hamadan toward the end of the tenth century. 
Neither is heard of after the end of the twelfth century. 

(9) Province of Pars. 

Although for a time evidently a very important one, 
our information about this province is scanty. The 
only churches definitely known to have existed in this 
area at the time of Babai were those at Rawardshir 
and Drangerda, but there is no trace of the latter after 
the sixth century. It is uncertain when there were 
first metropolitans for Fars: possibly toward the end 
of the sixth century. Their seat is also uncertain, but 
was probably Rawardshir. The Province included 
many widely scattered islands, and there were bishops 
on the islands of Dirin, Ormuz, Socotra (the ancient 
Dioscoris), Gatara and Masamig (small islands near 
Socotra), and bishops or churches at Shiraz, Shapur, 
and Astachar. All dates are uncertain, though the 
most flourishing period seems to have been about the 
seventh to ninth centuries. All except the bishopric of 
the island of Socotra had become extinct some time 
before the end of this period. 

This province seems to have caused Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon a certain amount of anxiety, for the Patriarch 
Yeshuyab III (650-660) had to write reproving the 
metropolitan for neglecting his duties, not only in Fars 
but also in other places under his care, notably India. 
There was trouble again in the time of the Patriarch 
Timothy I (779-823). According to Barhebraeus, 1 a 
Jacobite, the metropolitan and bishops of Fars declared 

1 Quoted by Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, III. ii. 422. 


themselves independent of Timothy and Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon, claiming to be Thomas Christians. Barhe- 
brseus quotes them as saying: c Nos Thomas Apostoli 
discipuli sumus, et nihil nobis cum sede Maris com- 
mune est.' 'The seat of Maris' is, of course, Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon, Maris (Mares, Mari) being the legendary 
founder of many Persian churches . He was supposed to 
have been a disciple of Addai of Edessa, who had been 
one of the seventy, and to have appointed Papa Bar 
Aggai (floruit 315) as first bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. 
(The chronology implied is quite impossible.) The 
metropolitan of Fars had hitherto held jurisdiction 
over India also, but after this incident Timothy 
appointed a separate metropolitan for India. As to 
the threatened secession, nothing more seems to have 
come of it. It may have been merely a spirited pro- 
test against the sterner patriarchal discipline imposed 
by Timothy, to which reference has already been 
made (p. 109). 

(10) Province of Khurasan. 

We only know of metropolitans of Merv and bishops 
of Nishapur, the last metropolitan definitely mentioned 
being in 1070. But it may safely be assumed that the 
Nestorian Church in this province was destroyed at the 
same time as the cities of Merv and Nishapur, which 
received terrible treatment at the hands of Tule, son 
of Jenghiz Khan, in 1221 (see p. 143). 

(n) Province of Atropatene. 

This was the third of the regions where permanent 
advance was made. Metropolitans continued at 


Taurisium all through the period, and bishoprics were 
established at Maragha and Achlat in the eighth 
century, both of which continued into the next period. 
Although there was thus a net advance, it must be 
recorded that for a short time at the beginning of the 
thirteenth century there were bishoprics at Gadhira, 
Hesna, and Salmas. These did not survive. 

(12) Province of Herat. 

The bishopric of Herat became a metropolitan see 
probably in the eighth century, and the bishopric of 
Segestan may have been associated with it. Both 
became extinct about the eleventh century; or possibly 
they shared the fate of the churches of Merv and 
Nishapur under Tule, in which case we should date 
their extinction 1221. 

(13) Province of Arran. 

There were metropolitans at Bardaa from about 
900 to 1 200. 

(14) Province ofRai. 

The bishopric of Rai became a metropolitan see 
about 778, and the bishopric of Ispahan was possibly 
associated with it. Both became extinct by about the 
end of the twelfth century, and in these cases also 
Tule may have been responsible. 

(15) Province of Dailam. 

There were metropolitans for this province at Mukar 
from about 780 till 1000. The first was sent by 
the Patriarch Timothy, and was murdered by the 


Dailamites. The work of the province was very difficult 
throughout its existence. 

These fifteen provinces covered the area of the 
old Persian Empire. In addition to the bishoprics 
which are listed above according to their metropolitan 
provinces, there are some which we cannot with 
certainty assign to any particular province, though at 
this period they were probably linked up with some 
metropolitan. What little information we have about 
such places bears out the same general conclusion: a 
rise followed by a decline. For the sake of complete- 
ness a list of them is appended in the approximate 
order of their origin: Saharzur, Salach, Rhesen, Cadne, 
Nahz, Dir, Nil, Comar, Sarchesa, Themanon, Berbera, 
Rostaca. All these bishoprics came into existence 
during or after the seventh century, and all had dis- 
appeared by the end of this period, or very soon after- 

To complete the list of Nestorian metropolitan 
provinces we have only to add the names of the several 
provinces to which the Nestorian churches in other 
regions were assigned. They were: 

(16) Province of India, with metropolitans, inter- 
mittently and at various places, from about 800 
till well beyond this period. 

(17) Province of China, with metropolitans at Sianfu 
from about 636 till beyond this period. 

(18) Province of Turkestan, with metropolitans at 
Samarqand from about 781 till probably the 
end of the twelfth century or the time of Tule. 


(19) Province of Damascus, with metropolitans to 
care for Nestorians in the West generally, from 
632* till the end of the twelfth century. 

(20) Province of Jerusalem, with metropolitans to 
care for Nestorian pilgrims and any other 
Palestinian Nestorians. Ranked as bishops 
from 895, but as .metropolitans from 1065. 
Extinct by about 1616. 

These are given here in order to give a complete 
list of the Nestorian metropolitan provinces at the time 
of the Nestorian Church's greatest strength and extent. 
Details will be given under the appropriate geo- 
graphical headings (pp. 125-135). Some writers give 
a longer list of metropolitans, 2 including metropolitans 
for other parts of China and Turkestan, and even for 
Tibet and Java. The evidence is often insecure, and 
if such were ever appointed, the status was often merely 

As the tenth century was the time of the greatest 
extent of the Nestorian Church in Persia, it may be 
desirable to set out a list of the metropolitan provinces 
existing at that time, together with their known de- 
pendent bishoprics. A comparison with the list given 
on p. 57 will show how greatly the Church had 
grown, particularly in the provinces of Patriarchalis, 
Mosul and Nisibis; and the list will also make clear the 
extent of the decline between the tenth and thirteenth 

1 But see pp. 125-126. 

2 Assemani gives twenty-five, op. cit.. III. ii. 630, and Stewart, Nestorian 
Missionary Enterprise, reckons as many as thirty-two, according to his 






centuries, for only the places printed in heavier type 
are known to have still possessed bishops or churches 
when Hulagu captured Baghdad in 1258. 

The Nestorian Church in Persia, A.D. 1000: Seat of 
the Patriarch: Baghdad. 

(1) Province of Patriarchalis. Metropolitan at 
Kaskar, bishops at Hira, Anbar, Karkha, 1 
Naamania, Sena, Buazicha, 1 Badraia, Tirhana, 
Kosra, Ocbara, Wasit, Radan, Naphara. 

(2) Province of Jundishapur. Metropolitan at 
Jundishapur, bishops at Susa, Ahwaz, Suster. 

(3) Province of Nisibis. Metropolitan of Nisibis, 
bishops at Bakerda, Balada, Arzun, Gesluna, 
Mardis, Amida (modern Diarbekr), Maiper- 
kat, Harran, Raqqa. 

(4) Province of Teredon. Metropolitan of Basrah, 
bishops at Ubullah, Destesana, Nahar-al- 

(5) Province of Mosul. Metropolitan at Mosul, 
bishops at Nineveh, Beth-Bagas, Haditha, 
Dasena, Nuhadra, Ormia (modern Urmi). 

(6) Province of Adiabene. Metropolitan at Erbil, 
bishops at Maalta, Zuabia, Gaftoun. 

(7) Province of Garamaea. Metropolitan at Kar- 
kha, 2 bishops at Dakuka and Buazicha. 2 

(8) Province of Halwan. Metropolitan at Halwan, 
bishop at Hamadan. 

1 These two places are to be distinguished from those bearing the 
same names in the province of Garamaea. 

2 These two places are to be distinguished from those bearing the 
same names hi the province of Patriarchalis. 


(9) Province of Fars. Metropolitan at Rawardshir, 
bishops at Shiraz, Shapur and Astachar, and on 
the islands of Socotra, Catara, Masamig, 
Dirin and Ormuz. 

(10) Province of Khurasan. Metropolitan at Merv, 
bishop at Nishapur. 

(n) Province of Atropatene. Metropolitan at 
Taurisium, bishops at Maragha and Achlat. 

(12) Province of Herat. Metropolitan at Herat, a 
bishop for Segestan. 

(13) Province of Arran. Metropolitan at Bardaa. 

(14) Province of Rai. Metropolitan at Rai, a 
bishop at Ispahan. 

(15) Province of Dailam. Metropolitan at Mukar. 

The maps on pp. 121 and 122 respectively 
show the difference between the Nestorian Church in 
Persia and the areas immediately adjoining in the 
tenth century and in the year 1258. It is noticeable 
that the greatest decline took place in the eastern and 
southern parts of the Caliphate, and that the centre 
of the Church's strength moved from the region 
around Baghdad to the regions around and to the 
north of Mosul. 


(i) Arabia. 

There is very little definite information about 
Christianity in Arabia after the middle of the seventh 
century, and such information as we have consists of 
a few isolated references: a Nestorian synod was held 


in southern Arabia in 676, presided over by the Patri- 
arch Georgius (660-680) x ; the Patriarch Timothy I 
appointed a bishop for Sana (Yaman) at the end of the 
eighth century; in 901 the Patriarch John IV wrote a 
letter to a priest in Yaman answering certain questions. 
There are occasional references to bishops of Najran; 
but as the caliph Umar I had deported all Najranites 
who refused to embrace Islam to Kufa in Iraq, it seems 
probable that references as late as 864 and 935 to 
bishops of Najran refer to the Najran community at 
Kufa. Christianity also lingered on in a few of the 
nomad tribes, such as the Banu Salih, for as late as 
779 we hear of the caliph Mahdi trying to compel 
them to become Muslims, and they again suffered 
under the caliph Mamun in 823. But it is fairly safe 
to assume that by the end of the tenth century Christi- 
anity in Arabia was virtually extinct, until European 
missionaries began work there towards the end of the 
nineteenth century. 

(ii) The West. 

The extension of the power of the Caliphate over 
regions which had formerly been under the Roman 
Empire made it possible for Nestorian missions to be 
sent where previously the Roman authorities would 
have forbidden them. Thus after 636, by which time 
the Muslims had conquered Palestine and Syria, 
Nestorian churches began to appear in those regions, 
and a little later in Cilicia, Cyprus, and even Egypt, 
the stronghold of monophysitism. According to 

1 Mingana, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, x. 2. 439. 


Wiltsch, 1 the first metropolitan of Damascus was 
appointed in 632. This seems a little early, but we 
may safely assume that a Nestorian metropolitan was 
there before the end of the seventh century. Under 
his care were many presumably small Nestorian congre- 
gations, for though such communities are named as 
existing at Mambeg, Mopsuestia and elsewhere, the 
only bishops mentioned are one for Egypt, in the middle 
of the eighth century, one for Berrhoea, in the middle 
of the eleventh, and one for Tarsus a little later. 
These western Nestorian churches do not seem to have 
made much headway, and gradually died out. By the 
end of the twelfth century only the bishopric of Tarsus 
remained, which lasted till the middle of the fifteenth 

The Nestorians also had a bishop at Jerusalem, but 
he was there more for the sake of pilgrims than for 
permanent residents. It was also probably felt by the 
Nestorians that, like the rest of Christendom, they 
ought to have a representative there; a bishop was 
therefore appointed in 893. After 1065 the bishops of 
Jerusalem were ranked as metropolitans. They are 
not heard of after 1616. 

(iii) India. 

In this period the first reference to the Church in 
India, though an oblique and tenuous one, is neverthe- 
less interesting enough to be cited. In 883 King Alfred 
of England sent Sighelm, bishop of Shireburn, and a 
priest, Athelstan, to India with votive offerings for 

1 Geography and Statistics of the Church, i. 491. 


St. Thomas, which he had promised for his successes 
against the Danes. They presented their offerings, 
and returned with gifts of jewels and spices. 1 

Didacus de Couto 2 testifies to the existence of Chris- 
tians in India at about the same time, and says they 
were to be found at Diamper, Gortale, Cartute, in the 
kingdom of Malea, at Turubuli, Maota, Batimena, 
Porea, Travancore, Pimenta, Tetan, Para, and some 
other places. Metropolitans for India were first 
appointed in the time of the Patriarch Timothy I 
(778-823), before which time the Indian churches were 
under the metropolitan of Fars (see p. 116). Le Quien 
names a few metropolitans of India from 880. They 
resided at first in Malabar. The succession shortly 
became broken, and the Church sent to Baghdad for 
a new metropolitan. One was sent, and resided at 
Cranganora, but if he had any successors we know 
nothing of them. A century or two later Le Quien 
finds mention of a metropolitan at Patna, in about 
1 122. Little more is known of the Church in India till 
the time of Marco Polo (p. 161). 

(iv) Turkestan. 

Central Asia during the Middle Ages was a region of 
great racial fluidity, and the history of the tribes which 
successively overflowed from it is not easy to disen- 
tangle. They were of nomad habit, and it is not pos- 
sible to assign a given area to a certain tribe for any 
great length of time. Their expansive force made 

1 Robinson, History of Christian Missions, p. 65, and Fortescue, Lesser 
Eastern Churches, p. 361. 

2 Quoted by Le Quien, Oriens Christianas, ii. 1273-1276. 


itself felt as far afield as China, India, and eastern 
Europe, and even if for convenience we classify all these 
tribes as Tartars 1 and Mongols, their subdivisions and 
ramifications are almost endless. Nevertheless, there 
were effective Nestorian missions among them, although 
from the nature of the case not much reliable detail is 

In the earlier part of this period, mission work in 
Turkestan owed much to the administrative ability of 
the Patriarch Timothy I (pp. 108-1 10). He was much 
concerned about the welfare of Nestorian churches in 
distant parts, and never failed to send help when it was 
needed or to respond to invitations to open up new 
areas. Thus he sent many missionaries into Turkestan, 
some on his own initiative, and some at the request of 
the heads of certain of the tribes. He appointed a 
metropolitan for Turkestan, whose seat was at Samar- 
qand, and there were bishops at Bukhara and Tashkent. 
Few details are known of these missions beyond the 
fact of their existence. Timothy sent out nearly one 
hundred missionaries, some of whom were monks and 
others of whom he ordained as bishops, so that ordina- 
tions might be effected and a proper hierarchy estab- 
lished in regions where their work was successful. Of 
these the names of very few are known, but Shabhalisho 
is reputed to have been particularly valuable on 
account of his linguistic abilities. But the fact that a 
knowledge of Christianity was so widely diffused among 
the Tartars and Mongols shows that the extent and 
effectiveness of their work must not be underestimated. 

1 More correctly Tatar. 


Much of the evidence has been collected by Mingana. 1 
A few centuries later there is evidence of Nestorian 
activity in Turkestan, particularly further to the north- 
east, toward Lake Baikal. Though there is again 
neither the detail nor the certainty we might desire, it 
seems sufficiently sure that during the tenth and 
eleventh centuries several Tartar tribes were entirely 
or to a great extent Christian, notably the Keraits, 
Uighurs, Naimans and Merkites. The Kerait capital 
at this time was Karakoram, where Marco Polo said he 
found a church. The historical basis of the Prester John 
legend may well have been a Christian ruler of the 
Keraits. Some would identify him with one or other 
of the Unk Khans. This was a hereditary title, and 
among its forms are Unc Khan and Owang Khan. As 
Fortescue points out, 2 Owang is not unlike loannes, so 
perhaps the historicity of Prester John is not so dubious 
as was at one time supposed. Though not Priest and 
King of a mighty Central Asian empire, he may at least 
have been Christian ruler of a considerable Tartar tribe. 
But in any case it is to be doubted whether he would 
have been powerful enough to lead overwhelming 
forces to the help of the Crusaders, as in the twelfth 
century they fondly hoped. 

Christianity was therefore widely diffused through- 
out Turkestan by the twelfth century, and this fact is 
of considerable importance in relation to the Mongol 
expansion. It is true that the Mongol expansion under 
Jenghiz Khan almost obliterated Christianity from 

1 Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, ix. 306-308. 

2 Lesser Eastern Churches, p. 105. 



Western Turkestan and the eastern half of the Cali- 
phate; but that was simply due to the Mongols' 
terrible methods of warfare, not to any special anti- 
pathy to Christianity, as will be made clear in the 
next chapter. The result, however, was much the 
same, and the churches at Samarqand, Bukhara, and 
Tashkent all came to an end when those cities were 
sacked by the Mongols under Jenghiz Khan and his 
son Tule just after the beginning of the thirteenth 
century. But the Nestorian Christian missions in 
Eastern Turkestan and Mongolia had not been fruitless, 
and, incongruous though it may seem, there was a 
considerable Christian element in the armies of Jenghiz 
Khan; it is recorded that wheeled chapels often accom- 
panied the Mongol hosts. It thus came about that 
after the terrible upheaval of the latter part of the 
twelfth and early part of the thirteenth century, there 
was a period of comparative calm during which Christi- 
anity again flourished in Turkestan. What little is 
known of that revival will be set out in the next chapter 
(pp. 164-167). 

(v) China. 

The first effective Christian mission to China of 
which we have any definite knowledge was that sent 
by the Patriarch Yeshuyab II in about the year 635. 
Much of our information about Christianity in China 
during the seventh and eighth centuries is derived from 
the Nestorian stone of Sianfu. It will be assumed that 
this stone is to be accepted as trustworthy, though it 
must be stated that doubts as to its genuineness have 

CHINA 131 

been advanced many times. 1 But as what little other 
information we have fits in as well as can reasonably 
be expected with the statements on this stone, there 
seems no great need to question it. The stone was 
discovered at Sianfu in 1625, either by Jesuit mission- 
aries or by Chinese who gave them early access to it. 
It is nine feet high and three feet wide, and bears a long 
inscription in Chinese and Syriac. 

According to the inscription, it would appear that 
Christianity was brought to China about the year 635 
by Alopen, 2 who, coming from Syria with sacred books, 
'braved difficulties and dangers. 3 This was in the time 
of the Emperor Tai-tsung (627-650) of the Tang 
dynasty. The emperor was favourable to the new 
religion, and in 638 issued the following decree: 
'Alopen, a Persian monk, bringing the religion of the 
Scriptures from far, has come to offer it at the chief 
metropolis. The meaning of his religion has been 
carefully examined. It is mysterious, wonderful, calm. 
It fixes the essentials of life and perfection. It is right 
that it should spread through the Empire. Therefore 
let the ministers build a monastery in the Ining-fang (a 
city square in Sianfu), and let twenty-one men be 
admitted as monks. 5 Alopen was thus able to estab- 
lish a monastery, and before the end of the century 
the new religion had spread through ten provinces, 
many more monasteries being founded. 

1 References to a variety of opinions on this stone may be found in 
Stewart, Nestorian Missionary Enterprise, pp. 170-182. 

2 For variants of this name see the supplemental index, p. 223. 
Several writers have suggested that it is simply a corrupted form of the 
Syriac rabban, monk. 


The next emperor, Kao-tsung (650-683), if not him- 
self a Christian, nevertheless continued to favour the 
new faith. Then followed a period when Buddhism 
came into official favour, but a little later there was 
again an emperor favourable to the Christians, Yuen- 
tsung (713-755). The then reigning emperor, at the 
time of the erection of the stone, Tih-tsung (780-783), 
is also described as friendly toward Christianity. 

The stone was erected in 781, 'in the days of the 
Catholicus Hanan Ishua. 5 It is interesting to note that 
Hananyeshu II died in 779; but this discrepancy in 
date is neither serious nor surprising. Many of these 
dates are difficult to fix with any exactitude; and even 
if both dates are correct, it is not improbable that news 
of the death of Hananyeshu and the accession of 
Timothy I had not yet reached Sianfu. News travelled 
slowly, and we know that some of the outlying Nestorian 
metropolitans and bishops only communicated with 
the patriarch at intervals of four or even six years. 
The inscription ends with a list of the names and 
descriptions of 128 persons, most of whom are priests. 
Among the more notable are Adam, Lingpao, Hsing- 
tung, Sabranishu, and Jazedbouzid. The descriptions 
are not easy to interpret, but Adam was apparently 
the metropolitan. Some of the names are in Chinese 
characters and of Chinese form, while others are in 
Syriac character and form. It may be that this implies 
that the Christian priesthood in China included both 
native and Persian elements; but it is probable that at 
least the metropolitans were almost always sent from 

CHINA 133 

In addition to this historical matter the stone bears 
a eulogy and general description of the Christian faith. 
A few of the more interesting statements may be quoted: 
'Behold the unchangeably true and invisible, who 
existed through all eternity without origin. 5 'This is 
our eternal true Lord God, threefold and mysterious 
in substance/ 'The illustrious and honourable Mes- 
siah, veiling His true dignity, appeared in the world as 
a man/ 'A virgin gave birth to the Holy One in Syria.' 
The stone mentions the bright star that announced 
Christ's birth, and says Persians visited Him. It refers 
to a New Testament of twenty-seven 1 books, and to the 
sacrament of baptism. We gather from it that Chris- 
tian priests turn to the east in praying, pray for both 
living and dead, shave their crowns, but wear beards. 

References contemporaneous with this stone are few, 
but are not incompatible with it. Thus the Patriarch 
Salibazacha (714-726) ordained a metropolitan for 
China, presumably one of Alopen's successors; and the 
Patriarch Timothy I refers to the death of a metropoli- 
tan of China in 790. There are also references in a 
few Chinese documents 2 which bear out the story told 
on the stone. Thus a decree dating from 745 runs: 'It 
is long since the religion of the Scriptures of Persia 
spread through the Middle Kingdom. When they 
first built monasteries we gave them in consequence of 
their supposed origin the name of Persian. In order 

1 But the Syriac New Testament canon consisted of twenty-two books 
(seep. 1 88). This is an interesting discrepancy, and must be taken 
into account when considering the authenticity of the stone. 

2 Details are given by Robinson, History of Christian Missions, pp. 167- 


that men may know their real origin, the monasteries 
of Persia at the capitals are to be changed to monasteries 
of Syria. Let those also in all the prefectures and 
districts observe this.' 

During the seventh and eighth centuries the official 
Chinese attitude seems to have been one of benevolent 
toleration. But in the ninth century the great spread 
of monasticism began to be regarded as undesirable, 
and steps were taken to curtail it. Thus in the time 
of the Emperor Wu-tsung (840-846) a decree was 
issued in the year 845 containing this order: 'As to 
the monks and nuns who come under the head of 
aliens, making known the religions of other countries, 
we decree that over 3,000 Syrians and Muhufu [Mus- 
lims] return to lay life and cease to confound our 
native customs.' Wu-tsung was equally opposed to 
Buddhism, and made 265,000 Buddhist monks and 
nuns return to lay life. It was decreed that in the two 
capitals only two monasteries were to be left in each 
main street, with a limit of thirty monks to each house, 
and in the provinces no monastery was to exceed 
twenty inmates. The number of houses and inmates 
permitted after restriction suggests that Wu-tsung may 
have had good reason for desiring to check the monastic 
tendency. Valuable within limits, an undue number 
of religious houses may become an incumbrance to a 
community instead of a help. 

After the time of Wu-tsung, Christianity in China 
seems to have steadily declined. Abul Faraj, 1 writing 

1 This Abul Faraj died in 1043, and was a Nestorian scribe. He is 
not to be confused with Abul Faraj the Jacobite maphrian (1226-1286), 
who is usually referred to as Barhebraeus. 


in 987, says that a Christian who had travelled exten- 
sively in China told him that there was not a Christian 
left in the whole country, and that the old church 
buildings were in ruins. Others also speak of ruined 
monasteries. Though Abul Faraj's Christian informant 
may not have discovered any Christians, there were 
probably still some there, for we have a reference to a 
Syrian monastery at Sianfu in 1076 and one at 
Chengtu at about the same time. Nevertheless, we 
may safely assume that during the tenth and eleventh 
centuries Chinese Christianity was at a very low ebb. 
It never became quite extinguished, however, and 
although there are no records to give us details, there 
must have been a revival during the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries, as is evidenced by what Marco 
Polo and others found when they visited China in the 
second half of the thirteenth century (see p. 167). 

This chapter may well conclude with a map showing 
the distribution of Nestorian churches at the time of 
their greatest diffusion. The middle of the tenth 
century has been chosen because that was the time when 
the Nestorian Church reached its zenith in the Cali- 
phate. In other regions the date might be different, 
and not always easy to state with any certainty. 
Perhaps for Arabia the fifth century, for India the 
ninth, for Turkestan the thirteenth, and for China the 
eighth. But the tenth century probably gives as high 
an average level as any, and it will be seen from the 
map on p. 136 that in that century the Nestorian 
Church stretched, even if tenuously, right across Asia; 




and Neale's assertion, 1 that e it may be doubted whether 
Innocent III possessed more spiritual power than the 
Patriarch in the city of the Caliphs, 5 has some justifica- 
tion, if not in the number of communicants and degree 
of control, then at least in geographical extent. 



(This list is based on Kidd's interpretation 2 of Assemani. 
Wiltsch, also following Assemani, gives dates which are in 
most cases one or two years different from those of Kidd. 
The differences will usually only be noted if they exceed 

two years.) 

Yeshuyab III, 650-660.3 
Georgius I, 660-680. 
John I, 680-682. 
Hananyeshu I, 685-699. 
VACANT, 700-714.* 
Salibazacha, 714-728. 
VACANT, 728-731. 
Phetion, 73 1-741. 5 
Mar Aba II, 742-752. 
Surinus, 754. 
Jacob II, 754-773. 
Hananyeshu II, 774-778. 

1 History of the Holy Eastern Church, i. 143. 

2 Churches of Eastern Christendom, pp. 415417. 

3 Wiltsch, Geography and Statistics of the Church, gives 655-664. For 
variants in the spelling of this and other names, see the supplemental 
index, pp. 223-227. 

4 The dates of the vacancies are given rather differently by Le Quien. 
Seep. 107. 

6 Wiltsch gives 726-736. 

6 Fortescue, Lesser Eastern Churches, and Wiltsch give 774-779. 


Timothy I, 778-820.1 
Josue, 820-824. 
Georgius II, 825-829.2 
VACANT, 829-832. 
Sabaryeshu II, 832-836. 
Abraham II, 836-849. 
VACANT, 849-852. 
Theodosius, 852-858.3 
Sergius, 860-872. 
VACANT, 872-877. 
Enos, 877-884. 
John II, 884-892. 
John III, 892-898. 
John IV, 900-905. 
Abraham III, 905-937. 
Emmanuel, 938-960. 
Israel, 962. 

Ebedyeshu I, 963-986. 
Mares, 987-1001. 
JohnV, looi-ion. 4 
John VI, IOI3-IO2O. 5 
Yeshuyab IV, 1021-1025. 
Elias I, 1028-1049. 
John VII, 1050-1057. 
Sabaryeshu III, 1063-1072. 
Ebedyeshu II, 1074-1090. 
Machicha I, 1091-1108. 

1 Wiltsch gives 778-821, Fortescue and the Encyclopedia Britannica 
779-823, and Browne, Eclipse of Christianity in Asia, 780-819. 

2 Wiltsch gives 825-832. 

3 Browne gives 852-868. 

4 Browne gives 1009 instead of 101 1. 

5 Wiltsch gives 1012-1026, Browne gives 10121020. 

6 Fortescue gives 10571072, Browne gives 10611072. 


Elias II, 1111-1132. 
Barsuma, 1134-1136. 
Ebedyeshu III, 1138-1147. 
Yeshuyab V, 1 148-1 174. 
Elias III, 1 1 75-1 1 Sg. 1 
Yaballaha II, 1190-1222. 
Sabaryeshu IV, 1222-1225. 
Sabaryeshu V, 1226-1257. 
Machicha II, 1257-1265. 
Denha I, 1265-1281. 
Yaballaha III, 1281-1317. 


Abu Bakr, 632-634. 
Umar I, 634-644. 
Uthman, 644-656. 
All, 656-661. 


Muawiyah I, 661-680. 
Yazid I, 680-683. 
Muawiyah II, 683-684. 
Marwan I, 684-685. 
Abdalmalik, 685-705. 
Walid I, 705-715. 
Sulayman, 715-717. 
Umar II, 717-720. 
Yazid II, 720-724. 
Hisham, 724-743. 

1 Browne gives 1176-1190. Kidd has 'Elias IV,' which is surely an 
oversight or a misprint. 

2 The first three were formerly generally transliterated Abu Bekr, 
Omar, and Othman. 


Walid II, 743-744. 
Yazid III, 744. 
Ibrahim, 744. 
Marwan II, 744-749. 


Abul-Abbas, 749-754. 
Mansur, 754-775. 
Mahdi, 775-785. 
Hadi, 785-786. 
Harun ar-Rashid, 786-809. 
Amin, 809-813. 
Mamun, 813-833. 
Mutasim, 833-842. 
Wathiq, 842-846. 
Mutawakkil, 846-861. 

After Mutawakkil the Abbasid Caliphs cease to be of 
much importance, and of the remaining twenty-seven only 
the dates of those mentioned in this work need be given: 

Mutadid, 892-902. 

Muktafi, 902-908. 

Muqtadir, 908-932. 

Qadir, 991-1031. 

Mustasim, 1242-1258. 


Jenghiz Khan, 1162-1227. 
Ogdai, 1227-1241. 
Kuyuk, 1241-1248. 
Period of dispute, 1248-1251. 
Mangu, 1251-1260. 
Kublai Khan, 1260-1294. 




WHILE the Caliphate had been declining, a new 
power had been arising on its northern and eastern 
borders. The Mongols, first clearly emerging into 
history in the seventh century, had by the twelfth 
century become the greatest power in Asia. Under 
Jenghiz Khan (1162-1227) their sway extended from 
the Yellow River in China to the Dnieper, and during 
his time incursions south-eastward had already reached 
as far as Merv and Nishapur. The Caliphate, by now 
altogether lacking any effective cohesion or central 
authority, fell section by section under Mongol control, 
and the ancient Persian empire was thus becoming 
part of the Mongol empire, ruled from China by the 
Great Khans (Khakhans), the successors of Jenghiz 
Khan. The final subjugation was accomplished by 
Hulagu, brother of the Great Khan Mangu (1251- 
1260). Mangu, hearing that there were disorders in 
those parts of Persia which were already under the 
Mongols, sent Hulagu in 1251 to restore order; Hulagu 

did his work so thoroughly that by 1258 all Persia was 



under his control. While Mangu lived, Hulagu was 
content to act as governor of Persia, but when Mangu 
died in 1260, Hulagu assumed the title ilkhan ('de- 
pendent khan'), and although owning a nominal 
allegiance to the Great Khans in China, from that date 
he was virtually independent ruler of Persia. 

The effect of the Mongol conquest on the Christians 
as such must be carefully distinguished from its effect 
on them as inhabitants of conquered regions. The 
Mongols were not hostile toward Christianity as a 
religion until many years after the conquest of Persia 
by Hulagu, but so ruthless were the Mongols in their 
treatment of the regions which they overran that vast 
numbers of Christians inevitably suffered in the 
common fate. Few invading hordes can have inspired 
such terror as did the Mongols. This was due to a 
combination of astonishing mobility and relentless 
ferocity. They were people of simple life, living in 
tents and waggons, so that as communities they could 
change their habitat much more readily than people 
who had been accustomed to living in towns. Their 
warriors were expert horsemen, and after an incursion 
of mounted warriors it would not be long before a 
whole community would follow on into the newly 
opened territory. 

It is little wonder that such methods inspired panic 
among settled populations. The suddenness of their 
attack is thus vividly pictured by Nau 1 : 'Clothed with 
skins and riding the wind and tempest, they overturned 

1 Quoted by Stewart, Nestorian Missionary Enterprise, p. 257, from Nau, 
L 'expansion Nestorienne en Asie. 


in the twinkling of an eye the strongest towns. They 
razed the walls and massacred their defenders. No 
sooner had news of their arrival been whispered abroad 
than without a moment's delay they seemed to spring 
up everywhere as if by magic. They covered the earth 
like the waters of a flood, and no one could resist them. 5 
In many cases they reduced great cities to mere heaps 
of ruins, some of which never again recovered their 
former greatness. Indeed, some of the cities which 
they devastated virtually ceased to exist. Even allow- 
ing for exaggeration, accounts which have come down 
to us prove that a Mongol invasion was a disaster to be 
utterly dreaded. 

Thus when Tule, youngest son of Jenghiz Khan, was 
sent to invade Khurasan, many formerly great cities 
were reduced to ruins. Merv, which he captured in 
1 22 1, was sacked and burned, and the number of slain 
has been estimated as between 700,000 and 1,300,000. 
From Merv he advanced to Nishapur, a great city of 
probably one and three-quarter million inhabitants. 
The Mongols spent fifteen days there, during which 
time the city was practically demolished, and all the 
inhabitants were slain -men, women and children - 
with the exception of 400 picked artisans, who were 
deported to Mongolia. The site of the city was after- 
wards sown with barley. Herat, at first spared because 
it opened its gates in immediate surrender, shortly 
afterwards shared a similar fate, because signs of in- 
subordination were detected. For a whole week the 
Mongols slew and pillaged and burned, and 1,600,000 
persons are said to have perished. Such accounts 


could be multiplied almost indefinitely, 1 and it is not 
to be wondered at that many Christian communities 
came to their end during the thirteenth century. When 
we find that the last mention of bishops or churches in 
certain places is dated in the first half of the thirteenth 
century, it may often be safely assumed that the church 
and the town perished together. 

So far as Persia was concerned, the Mongol terror 
culminated in the sack of Baghdad by Hulagu in 1258. 
His procedure was true to the Mongol type. The 
Caliph Mustasim sued in vain for peace, finally coming 
in abject surrender to the camp of Hulagu. But it was 
all futile, for when Hulagu had made him deliver up 
all his treasure, he had him and his two sons slain. The 
city was then given up to plunder and pillage. Many 
notable buildings were destroyed, and the bulk of the 
population was massacred, Howorth estimating the . 
dead as at least 800,000. In this case, however, the ' 
Christians received favour. They were all gathered i 
together in one of the Baghdad churches, and Hulagu j 
ordered that they should be spared. Incidentally, the] 
fact that they were all able to take refuge in one church 
seems to show that their numbers at this time werei 
sadly reduced, as the largest number we can imagine 
sheltering in this way could not exceed a few thousand. 

This favour shown by Hulagu opened up a short 
period of Christian prosperity, and when Persia 
eventually became settled again under his rule, the 
Christians enjoyed a freedom that had never been 

1 For further examples of Mongol ferocity see Stewart, op. cit., 
pp. 256-270, Browne, Literary History of Persia, ii. 427-437, or Howorth, 
History of the Mongols, i. 78-101. 


theirs before. Hulagu's tolerance seems to have been 
largely due to the fact that his wife, Dokuz Khatun, 
was a Christian. It is to be noted that although the 
formal religion of the earlier Mongol khans was 
Shamanism, a religion of primitive magic, Christian 
influences had been gradually affecting them for some 
centuries. This was partly due to the Nestorian mis- 
Ijsions which had already penetrated many parts of 
Turkestan, Mongolia and China (see pp. 127-135), 
1 and also to the fact that so many men of special know- 
ledge were Christians. The Mongols were a people of 
little culture, so that Christian doctors, secretaries, 
and other officials were necessarily welcome among 
them. It is hardly to be doubted that by the time of 
the Great Khan Kuyuk there was quite a considerable 
Christian element among the Mongols, not only 
extraneous, but native. Although Jenghiz Khan and 
his son and successor, the Great Khan Ogdai (1227- 
1241), were certainly not themselves Christians, they 
seem to have been favourably disposed toward those 
who were, and full liberty of worship was allowed 
them. The next two Great Khans of importance, 1 
Kuyuk (1241-1248) and Mangu (1251-1260), are, 
however, asserted to have been Christians themselves. 
Thus Barhebraeus writes: '[Kuyuk] was a true Chris- 
tian. His camp was full of bishops, priests and monks.' 
He employed Christians for the management of all 
affairs, and as doctors, and a Christian chapel stood 
before his tent. As to Mangu, Rashid describes him as 

1 There was an unsettled period between Kuyuk and Mangu, during 
which the successive Great Khans were Kaidu and Chapai. 



c a follower and defender of the religion of Jesus. 5 
Assemani quotes Haithon to a similar effect. Hulagu, 
therefore, even though not perhaps himself a Christian, 
had come under a great deal of Christian influence in 
addition to that of his wife. There is also reason to 
believe that his mother, Sarkutti Bagi, was a Christian. 
Other notable Mongol Christians whom we know by 
name include Kaddak, Kuyuk's grand vizier, Bulgai, 
Mangu's secretary, and Sigatsy, viceroy of Samarqand. 
Thus it came about that when Hulagu had estab- 
lished himself in Persia, one of the first effects of the 
new regime was a marked alteration in the status of 
Christians. From being a subject melet they became 
the most favoured religion, and it was the Muslims 
who became subject to restriction. Hulagu gave a 
palace of the former caliphs as a residence for the 
Nestorian patriarch, and allowed a new church to be 
built. Unfortunately, the Christians did not use their 
newly won favour wisely. So long accustomed to 
repression, when they became free they tended to treat 
others as they themselves had been so often treated. 
Thus Maqrizi, a Muslim historian, writes that the 
Christians soon made others realize their new position: 
'They produced a diploma of Hulagu guaranteeing 
them express protection and the free exercise of their 
religion. They drank wine freely in the month of 
Ramadan, and spilt it in the open streets, on the clothes 
of the Muslims, and the doors of the mosques. When 
they traversed the streets bearing the cross they com- 
pelled the merchants to rise, and ill-treated those who 
refused. 5 'When the Muslims complained, they were 


treated with indignity by the governor appointed by 
Hulagu, and several of them were by his orders bastina- 
doed.' Nor is the evidence only from the Muslim side. 
The Armenian king Haithon, a Christian, says of 
Dokuz Khatun, Hulagu' s wife, that 'this devoted 
Christian lady at once sought permission to destroy 
the Saracens' [i.e. Muslims'] temples, and to prohibit 
the performance of solemnities in the name of Muham- 
mad, and caused the temples of the Saracens to be 
utterly destroyed, and put the Saracens into such 
slavery that they dared not show themselves any more. 5 
But Hulagu did not allow the Christians to have things 
entirely their own way, and sometimes they suffered 
for their excesses. Thus when the Christians of Takrit 
plundered their Muslim neighbours, Hulagu ordered 
all the Christians in Takrit to be slain, with the excep- 
tion of the aged and the children, and their cathedral 
to be handed over to the Muslims. 

With one exception, Ahmad, the next five ilkhans 
of Persia were all either Christians or favourably in- 
clined towards Christianity. Thus Abagha (1265- 
1280), Hulagu's successor, ordered that all clerks in 
government offices should be either Christians or Jews, 
but not Muslims. After Abagha came the short reign 
of Ahmad (1280-1284), who was originally a Christian 
but had become a Muslim. Islam was still unpopular 
among the Mongols, and it was largely because of his 
faith that Ahmad was deposed, and another Christian 
ilkhan, Arghun (1284-1291), took his place. 

But now a change of attitude began to evidence 
itself among the Mongols. Some had become 


Christians, a few had become Muslims, but most of them 
had remained heathen. Apart from those who had 
become real Christians, the Mongols appear to have 
had a genuine regard for Christianity. This was based 
upon two considerations: first, a respect for Christianity 
as the faith of men of learning on whom they had come 
to rely for the administration of practical affairs; and 
second, the idea that as they were pitting themselves, 
at least in the south-west, against people whose faith 
was Islam, it would seem logical to identify themselves 
with a faith which those people opposed, namely 
Christianity, rather than with the faith of their enemies. 
Irrelevantly to our way of thinking, but logically to 
theirs, their victories were ascribed to the weakness of 
Islam as a faith, and, by implication, to the desirability 
of Christianity. It is therefore to be feared that a good 
many of those Mongols who became Christians did so 
because they thought Christianity was the faith which 
led to victory and success. 

Nor are they to be altogether condemned for holding 
that view, because Christians appear to have themselves 
encouraged the idea. Thus in a letter which Pope 
Alexander IV is supposed to have sent to Hulagu when, 
he heard that Hulagu was thinking of being baptized, 
the Pope says: 'See how it would enlarge your power in 
your contests with the Saracens if the Christian soldiery 
were to assist you openly and strongly, as it could, 
with the grace of God. You would thus increase your 
temporal power, and inevitably also secure eternal 
glory.' The Pope seems to have overlooked the fact 
that if Hulagu had been baptized, it would almost 


certainly have been done by the Nestorian patriarch, 
so that he would have become merely a heretic and 
schismatic when that rite had been performed. On the 
other hand, the Pope may have been hopeful of getting 
Hulagu to submit to the Roman rite, in which case it 
would have been a signal triumph for Roman Catholi- 
cism. At the same time, we have to remember that 
during the Middle Ages it seems to have been over- 
looked that the Nestorian churches of Asia were ex- 
communicate, and we have the extraordinary circum- 
stance of a Nestorian envoy receiving Holy Com- 
munion from the Pope himself. 1 That was about 1288, 
a matter of little over a quarter of a century after the 
Pope's letter to Hulagu. 

As, therefore, the adherence of the Mongols to 
Christianity was based, at least to a great extent, upon 
its worldly efficacy, it is hardly surprising to find a 
change of attitude when their prosperity in warfare 
began to wane. Indeed, the change over of the Mongols 
from favour towards Christianity to fanatical Muham- 
madanism seems only accountable on the assumption 
that they became convinced that Christianity was not 
a religion ensuring worldly success, and that Islam was 
therefore preferable. Conviction of this kind grows 
cumulatively; and the first indication that Islam was 
not synonymous with inevitable defeat was received 
in 1260, when the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt completely 
defeated the Mongols at the battle of Ain Jalut, be- 
tween Nablus and Baissan. One result of this defeat 
was a persecution of Christians in Damascus, where 

1 See p. 153. 


the Muslims, regaining the upper hand after their 
recent subjugation by Hulagu, made the Christians 
suffer for the arrogance they had displayed when they 
thought their position of superiority permanently 
assured. There was a similar reaction in Mosul two 
years later (1262) when the Muslims temporarily 
drove the Mongols out of that city. Many Christians 
were slaughtered. 

Another test case was the rebellion of the Tartar 
chief, Nayan, against the Great Khan Kublai (1260- 
1294). Kublai Khan did not profess Christianity, 
whereas Nayan did. Nayan's rebellion failed, and he 
himself was slain in battle. The average Mongol con- 
cluded that if Nayan, a baptized Christian, bearing 
on his banner the sign of the cross, was thus worsted, 
the Christian faith was not a faith for conquerors. 
Christian apologists were not slow to point out that it 
could not be expected that God would favour one who 
was rebelling against his overlord, and, according to 
Marco Polo, Kublai Khan himself endorsed that argu- 
ment. But the average Mongol more probably agreed 
with those whom Marco Polo quotes as saying, 'See 
now what precious help this God's cross of yours hath 
rendered Nayan, who was a Christian and a worshipper 
thereof!' This tendency to judge by results was also 
shown by Kublai Khan himself. Marco Polo records 
Kublai' s answer to the question as to why he did not 
become a Christian; the answer is a long one, 1 but its 
tone and outlook is revealed in the first few sentences: 
'How would you have me to become a Christian? You 

1 Given in full in Yule, Travels of Marco Polo, i. 339. 


see that the Christians of these parts are so ignorant 
that they achieve nothing, whilst you see the idolaters 
can do anything they please.' 

Nevertheless, the influence of a capable patriarch 
was still considerable. The outstanding patriarch 
during this period was Yaballaha III. He belonged 
to the Nestorian mission in China, which was enjoying 
a brief period of renewed vitality after becoming almost 
extinguished in the eleventh century. Unfortunately, 
the renewal was of brief duration (see p. 167), but if 
men of the quality of Yaballaha laboured there at 
that time, the work was excellent while it endured. 
Yaballaha evidently intended to make a pilgrimage to 
the Holy Land, and passed through Baghdad on his 
way. The patriarch at that time, Denha I (1265- 
1281), was so impressed by Yaballaha that he dissuaded 
him from going to the Holy Land, and wished him to 
return to China as metropolitan of Cathay and Wang. 
Whether this was intended to be additional to the 
metropolitan of China whose seat we assume to have 
continued at Sianfu, or whether it was intended to 
assign a new area to Yaballaha for missionary expan- 
sion, or whether it was merely a titular honour, is 
impossible to decide; for almost immediately afterwards 
Denha died, and Yaballaha was appointed patriarch. 
He governed the Church very prudently during a most 
difficult period (1281-1317). It was a time of increas- 
ing difficulty and anxiety in Persia, and the churches 
in other parts of Asia were mostly moving steadily to 
their decline. None the less, Yaballaha did what he 
could, and for the most part was able to maintain good 


relations with the ilkhans, particularly with Arghun 
(1284-1291). It was during the reign of Arghun that 
one of the rare contacts between the Nestorian Church 
and Western Christendom was established. The 
circumstances are fully related by Chabot, 1 but at 
least a brief summary may be given. 

The ilkhan Arghun thought it might be of advantage 
to establish contact with Christianity in the West, and 
decided to send an embassage. Consulting Yaballaha 
as to whom to send, Rabban Sauma was selected, who 
was a monk Yaballaha had brought with him from 
China. Rabban Sauma accordingly set out, going 
first to Constantinople and then on to Rome. The 
Pope Honorius IV had just died (1287), but Sauma was 
received by the cardinals. They discussed matters 
of faith with him, and learned that his church had been 
founded by 'Mar Thomas, Mar Addai, and Mar 
Maris.' He recited the Nestorian creed to them, which 
was substantially the Nicene Creed. But he told them 
that Christ had 'two natures, two hypostases, and one 
person,' 2 and also that the Holy Spirit proceeded from 
the Father only. When the cardinals would have taken 
up these theological questions, Sauma very diplo- 
matically told them that he had not come to argue, 
but to venerate the Pope. Pending the election of a 
new Pope, he visited Paris and saw King Philip IV, 
and went to Gascony and met King Edward I of 
England. Edward told Sauma that he was intending 
to fit out another crusade. He did not do so, however. 

1 Histoire de Mar Jab-Alaha, Patriarche, et de Raban Sauma, p. 60. 

2 On this, see p. 54. 


Sauma then returned to Rome, and found the new 
Pope, Nicholas IV (1288-1292). Sauma showed him 
great reverence and received Holy Communion from 
him on Palm Sunday, 1288. He was also given leave 
to celebrate his own liturgy. During all this neither 
Pope nor cardinals seem to have realized that Rabban 
Sauma was a heretic and a schismatic! As to Sauma, 
he regarded the Pope as 'Catholicus and Patriarch of 
the western peoples, 5 just as Yaballaha was Catholicus 
and Patriarch of the East. This, incidentally, has 
always been the Nestorian attitude. They regard 
Christendom as divided into patriarchates, of which 
their own is one, and they regard the Pope as simply 
one of the patriarchs, perhaps senior by right of holding 
the see of St. Peter at Rome, but not entitled to 
jurisdiction over the others. 1 Shortly afterwards Rabban 
Sauma returned to Baghdad, laden with gifts and some 
precious relics, to report to the ilkhan Arghun and to 
the Patriarch Yaballaha the wondrous story of his 
adventures among the Christians of the West. 

Unfortunately, shortly after this an event occurred 
which still further weakened the Mongol belief in 
Christianity as a religion leading to worldly success: 
the Muslims captured Acre, the final stronghold of the 
Crusaders. That was in 1291, and ended the Crusades. 
Not unnaturally, the Mongols regarded it as a victory 
of Islam over Christianity, and from that time onwards 
the Mongols steadily tended away from Christianity 
and towards Islam. At the time of the fall of Acre the 
last Christian ilkhan of Persia, Gaikhatu (1291-1295), 

1 The present patriarch approves this statement. 


had just begun his reign. By the time he died, 
popular feeling had decidedly gone over to Islam. 
There were two claimants to the throne: Baidu, a half- 
hearted Christian, and Ghazan, a professing Muslim. 
The struggle did not last long; the great majority of 
the people went over to the side of Ghazan, and Baidu 
was slain. 

This was a triumph for Islam, and inevitably the 
Christians were again reduced to a position of in- 
feriority and subjection. The genuine Christian stock 
was a very small one, as was made evident when Hulagu 
took Baghdad nearly forty years before. The bulk of 
the indigenous population was Muslim, and at heart 
had remained so. It was therefore to be expected 
that now their Mongol rulers had embraced their 
own faith the pent-up antipathy of forty years would 
find expression. It did so, and as much from popular 
pressure as from his own desire, Ghazan began a fierce 
persecution of all Christians within his domains. 
Nauraz, one of his generals, appears to have been an 
enthusiastic leader of this persecution, and many of 
the edicts were issued in his name. One reads thus: 
'The churches shall be uprooted, and the altars over- 
turned, and the celebrations of the Eucharist shall 
cease, and the hymns of praise, and the sounds of calls 
to prayer shall be abolished; and the heads of the 
Christians, and the heads of the congregations of the 
Jews, and the great men among them, shall be killed. 5 
In many places these orders were literally carried out. 
In others greater clemency was shown, and in return 
for substantial bribes persons and churches were 


spared. Thus the churches at Erbil, both Nestorian 
and Jacobite, were destroyed, because neither the 
metropolitan nor his people could find the money to 
redeem them. But at Mosul a great effort was made, 
and, by selling all the church plate and ornaments, 
as well as by generous personal gifts, destruction was 
bought off. The sum raised, according to Assemani, 
was 15,000 denarii. The Patriarch Yaballaha suffered 
great indignities, including torture and imprisonment, 
only being released on payment of a ransom of 20,000 

Practical help then came from the Armenian king, 
Haithon. His generous gifts helped to buy off the 
church at Maragha from destruction, and he began to 
intercede with Ghazan to stop persecuting the Chris- 
tians. Strangely enough, Ghazan yielded to this 
persuasion, and issued an edict countermanding the 
repressive measures against Christians and ordering 
restoration of all plunder. He also gave the patriarch 
5,000 dinars, presumably by way of compensation, 
and treated him well during the rest of his reign. This 
took place in 1296, so that officially the persecution 
lasted rather less than a year. Outside Baghdad, 
however, little was done in the way of restoration, and 
in outlying provinces sporadic persecution still went 
on. This is not surprising, as the popular spite against 
Christianity was in no way diminished, and men like 
Nauraz were only too ready to exploit it. Nevertheless, 
Yaballaha continued to enjoy Ghazan's favour, and 
was able to build a magnificent new monastery at 


The general trend, however, was toward decline, 
and many churches are not heard of again after the 
thirteenth century. Thus the following churches are 
last heard of at the dates added after each: Destesana, 
1260; Haditha, 1265; Maalta and Nuhadra, 1280; 
Susa, Arzun, and the island of Socotra, 1282. This 
does not imply that these churches ceased to exist in 
the years named. In some cases the decline may have 
been gradual, until the unpopular Christian minority 
gave up the struggle, either becoming Muslims or 
giving up religious practice altogether; in other cases 
the church may have come to its end during a local or 
general persecution, such as that under Ghazan and 
Nauraz in 1295. But it is certain that the thirteenth 
century witnessed a continued decline of Christianity 
in Persia. 

Ghazan was succeeded by Uljaitu (1304-1316), 
whose general attitude was similar to that of Ghazan. 
He himself was tolerant and remained on friendly 
terms with the Patriarch Yaballaha. But he was 
unable or unwilling to prevent Muslim antipathy to 
the Christians breaking out in various parts of his 
kingdom, and there were several persecutions during 
his reign. According to the Book of the Histories of 
Johannes of Dzar^ there was a general persecution of a 
severe nature in 1306. The description is framed in 
such extravagant terms that we can hardly accept 
it as reliable in detail, but a few sentences from it may 
be quoted: 'Kharbanda Khan [i.e. Uljaitu], autocrat 
of the nation of the Archers, a wicked man, who hated 

1 Quoted by Browne, Eclipse of Christianity in Asia, p. 169. 


the Christians, led away by sorcerers and heretical 
sheiks, and inspired by the wicked counsels of their 
assistant, Satan, began the struggle against the invin- 
cible rock of Christ. A decree was published in all the 
universe, referring to the Christians under his dominion, 
that they should adopt the stupid religion of Muham- 
mad, or that each person should pay a kharaj tax of 
eight dahecans, that they should be smitten in the face, 
their beards plucked out, and should have on their 
shoulders a black mark.' 'Meanwhile the Christians 
remained faithful. They paid the exactions, and bore 
the torments joyfully. Kharbanda Khan, seeing that 
these means were insufficient, ordered them all to be 
made eunuchs, and to be deprived of one eye, unless 
they became Muslims.' 

There appears to have been local persecution in 
Georgia in 1307, and there was a very serious outbreak 
of Muslim mob violence against the Christians in 
Erbil in 1310. There does not seem to have been any 
official responsibility for what happened at Erbil, 
beyond the fact that Uljaitu did not trouble either to 
investigate the causes of complaint or to take steps to 
prevent disorder when it threatened. The result was 
a grave loss of Christian life in Erbil, and the Patriarch 
Yaballaha, who was there at the time, barely escaped 
with his life. 

Uljaitu was succeeded by Abu Said (1316-1335), 
during whose reign a disintegration of the Persian 
Empire took place very similar to that which occurred 
under the later caliphs. Powerful viziers and generals 
gradually gained authority in various localities, so 


that, when Abu Said died, the empire was virtually 
split up into about five independent units. The details 
are unimportant 1 from the point of view of Nestorian 
history, as after the time of Uljaitu we have very little 
information about the fortunes of the Nestorians during 
the fourteenth century. We can legitimately conclude 
that in such unsettled times they continued to suffer in 
various localities at the hands of the Muslims, no longer 
restrained by laws against the molestation of Christians. 
Indeed, if there had been such laws, they would hardly 
have been likely to be enforced in such disordered 

Browne contends 2 that the list of patriarchs itself 
witnesses that the period was one of unsettlement, as 
the patriarchate was not only admittedly unoccupied 
for nine years (1369-1378), but the average length of 
reign after the death of Yaballaha in 1317 until the 
end of the fifteenth century was over twenty years. 
This is an appreciably greater average than heretofore, 
and Browne takes it to indicate that there were a 
number of vacancies glossed over by assigning to some 
of the patriarchs periods longer than their actual 
reigns. This may be so. On the other hand, by the 
end of the fifteenth century the patriarchate had become 
hereditary. This had arisen gradually, the practice 
being to appoint a nephew of the previous patriarch, 
at first, probably, by prior right if suitable, and later as 
a matter of course. This would mean accession at an 
earlier age, and may explain the longer reigns. 

1 For a concise summary see Encyclopedia Britannica (nth edition), 
xxi. 227. It is not given in the I4th edition. 

2 Op. cit., p. 172. 


There is further evidence of continued decline in the 
disappearance of churches. The churches at Tirhana, 
Jundishapur, Balada, Dasena, Karkha, and Achlat are 
not heard of after 1318, and we may conclude that they 
became extinct during the unsettled times through 
which Persia passed after the empire of the ilkhans 
began to disintegrate. The churches at Beth-Bagas 
(till 1360), and Gesluna are last heard of a little later, 
but they also disappeared during the same period. 

When, therefore, Timur i Leng (Tamerlane) began 
the conquest of Persia about 1380, it is improbable 
that Nestorian churches were to be found in many 
centres. Indeed, we can only say with certainty that 
there were churches at Baghdad, Mosul, Erbil, Nisibis, 
Bakerda (Gezira), Taurisium (Tabriz), and Maragha. 
There may have been a few others, particularly in the 
regions just north of Mosul and Nisibis; perhaps we 
might safely add to this list Amadia, Ormia (Urmi), 
Mardis, Amida (Diarbekr), and Maiperkat. But a 
comparison of this meagre list with that on pp. 123- 
124 will at once show what a lamentable decline had 
taken place in the Persian Nestorian Church since the 
time of its greatest influence. This fact needs to be 
borne in mind, because it is sometimes said that it was 
Timur who destroyed Nestorian Christianity. It may 
well be that his devastating campaigns sealed its fate, 
but its life was at a very low ebb before he came on the 
scene, and it was already concentrating into that area 
which was to be its only habitation for the next five 
hundred years. 

Timur i Leng (i.e. Timur the Lame) was a Turk of 


the Berlas tribe, who began his reign at Samarqand in 
1369. Almost at once he began a policy of expansion 
and conquest, and swept about Western Asia in much 
the same way that the Mongols had done a century 01 
two earlier under Jenghiz Khan and his successors. 
Timur gradually reduced the minor dynasties which 
had divided Persia, and by 1380 had subjugated 
Khurasan, and by 1392 Mesopotamia and Armenia, 
having captured Baghdad and Diarbekr. By 1395 il 
may therefore be said that the former Persian Empire 
was entirely under his sway, though as was inevitable 
in such large scale conquests there were many minoi 
revolts. As Timur was a Muslim, Christians in the 
conquered territories would expect even worse treat- 
ment than other inhabitants. But as with the Mongol 
expansion, the terrors of invasion were usually equai 
for all, and there are many cases where Timur wipec 
out whole cities in much the same way as the Mongols 
had done. Thus Ispahan was devastated, 70,000 head; 
being piled up in pyramids as a monument of Timur' i 
vengeance; Baghdad was treated in a similar manner 
a pyramid of 90,000 heads being erected on its ruins 
In these wholesale massacres it is little wonder tha 
many of the feebler Christian churches which may stil 
have been existing came to their end; and of thos< 
Christians who did survive, demoralized and unnervec 
by the terrors through which they had passed, th< 
majority yiejded to the forcible acceptance of Islan 
which was imposed on the wretched remnants. 

The fortunes of those few who remained true to thei: 
faith are not easy to trace, but eventually the greate: 

INDIA l6l 

number of them settled among those who were already 
in Kurdistan. Their subsequent history will be de- 
scribed in the next chapter, but after Timur's devasta- 
tion of Persia and the adjoining countries at the end 
of the fourteenth century, Nestorian Christianity as 
a force of any consequence ceased to exist. 

Timur died at Otrar in 1405, on an expedition the 
objective of which was the subjugation of China. 


(i) India. 

Though having little recorded history, the Indian 
churches continued to maintain their work, for Marco 
Polo, who travelled in the East from 1270 to 1295, sa Y s 
that he found Christians and Jews in the kingdom of 
Quilon (Travancore), and that there were six great 
kingdoms in central India, three of which were Chris- 
tian and three Saracen (Muslim). The tradition that 
St. Thomas had been to India was well established by 
the time of Marco Polo's visit, as he tells that many 
pilgrims visited his tomb at Milapur. John of Monte 
Corvino, who was sent by Pope Nicholas IV as special 
missionary to China (see p. 167), on his way stayed for 
some months in India, and says that he baptized several 
hundred people in South India, and that the Church 
of the Apostle St. Thomas was there. This would have 
been about the year 1292. 

Two other references from about the same period 
are not, however, quite so optimistic. Menentillus, a 

friar who visited India in 1310, says that he found 


Christians and Jews in India, but that they were fe\v 
in numbers, of little account, and subject to oppression: 
and Sir John Mandeville, who was in India perhaps a 
little later than Menentillus, says that he found a little 
Christian community of fifteen houses round the tomh 
of St. Thomas, consisting of Nestorian monks, whom he 
describes as 'recreant Christians and schismatics/ 
He also says that the body of St. Thomas had beer 
taken to Edessa, but had been brought back to Indie 
again. (This view is still held at Milapur (Mylapore) 
and the tomb is shown in the nave of the Romar 
Catholic cathedral there. The more generally ac- 
cepted tradition, however, is that his remains wen 
never returned to Milapur from Edessa, but were taker 
from Edessa to the island of Chios in the JLgean Sea 
and subsequently to Ortone in Italy, where they no\\ 

Reduced though it probably was, the Christiar 
community in India lived on, and when Vasco dz 
Gama visited the Malabar coast in 1498 he founc 
'Christians of St. Thomas' there, ruled by a metro- 
politan at Angamale. They still had some kind o: 
touch with the Nestorian Church, for so late as 150? 
the Patriarch Elias V sent three bishops, who reportec 
that they found 30,000 Christians living mainly in twc 
districts of South- West India. But distance and theii 
pride in St. Thomas had already made these Indiar 
Christians virtually a separate community, and afte] 
the sixteenth century we may reckon that they are nc 
longer part of the Nestorian Church. 

Their subsequent history merges into that of moderr 

INDIA 163 

Christian missions, the earliest of which were the six- 
teenth-century missions of the Roman Catholics, most 
notably under Francis Xavier, who went there in 1541. 
Indeed, for a period after 1599 the Indian Church be- 
came Roman Catholic, but it broke away again later, and 
since the end of the seventeenth century has no longer 
been a unity. It has been divided between Jacobites 
and Uniates, with two further subdivisions dating from 
the latter part of the nineteenth century, when the 
Thomas Christians broke off from the Jacobites (who 
themselves again broke into two sections in 1909), and 
the Syro-Chaldaeans from the Uniates. The Syro- 
Chaldseans represent a return to the Nestorian Church, 
with which they maintain a nominal connexion. Their 
metropolitan, Mar Timotheus, was consecrated by the 
Nestorian patriarch in 1907. But the connexion is a 
slender one, and the Nestorian patriarch's jurisdiction 
over them is purely titular. These various sections of 
the old Indian Church are often called 'Syrian,' as 
indicative of their origin. Thus the Uniates are called 
Romo-Syrians, the Jacobites Orthodox Syrians, the 
Thomas Christians Reformed Syrians, and the Nes- 
'torians Syro-Chaldeeans. Of these the Romo-Syrians 
are the most numerous, numbering perhaps nearly 
half a million, while the other three total about half a 
million altogether. By far the smallest section is the 
Syro-Chaldaean, who number about 8,000. 

In so far as the term is in any way justifiable, these 
South-West Indian Syro-Chaldaeans are the one re- 
maining missionary branch of the Nestorian Church. 


(ii) Turkestan. 

As was seen in the last chapter, there was in the 
twelfth century a considerable Christian element 
among the Tartar and Mongol tribes. Little more than 
the bare fact can be stated with any degree of certainty, 
but an interesting confirmation of the widespread 
distribution of Nestorian Christianity in central Asia 
is provided by the Christian graves which have been 
found in the province of Semiryechensk in Southern 
Siberia, which now forms part of the Union of Soviet 
Socialist Republics, but comes well within the area 
we have been denoting by the term Turkestan. These 
graves were discovered near the villages of Great Tok- 
mak and Pishpek, both of which are at no great distance 
from Lake Issiq Kol. 

They were discovered toward the end of the last 
century, and the inscriptions range from the years 
1249 to 1345. The language used is in most cases 
Syriac, though some of the names are in a Turkish 
dialect. Full particulars of these stones and their 
decipherment are given by Chwolson 1 and Mingana. 2 
There are several hundred of them, but it will be 
sufficient to give a few of the more interesting ones. 
The dates are those on the stones themselves, but 
reduced to years Anno Domini. 

Dated 1255: 'This is the grave of the chorepiscopus 
Ama. He departed from this world in the month of 

1 M&mohes de VAcademie Impe'riale de Sciences de St. Pttersbourg, xxxiv. 4 
and xxxvii. 8. 

2 Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, ix. 334-335. 


July, on the Sabbath. May our Lord unite his spirit 
with those of the pious and upright. 5 A chorepiscopus 
was the bishop of a small town or village whose status 
was reckoned inferior to that of the bishops of larger 
towns and cities. Their powers were progressively 

Dated 1272: 'This is the grave of the priest and 
general Zuma, a blessed old man, a famous Emir, the 
son of general Giwardis. May our Lord unite his 
spirit with the spirits of the fathers and saints in 
eternity.' This shows that, as was often the case in 
early times, the taking of Holy Orders did not preclude 
engagement in some other occupation, even soldiery, 
and that many of these Turkish Christians were men 
of position. 

Dated 1307: 'This is the grave of the charming 
maiden Julia, the betrothed of the chorepiscopus 
Johanan.' A pathetic proof that there was no clerical 
celibacy, at least for orders up to chorepiscopus. 

Dated 1315: 'This is the grave of Sabrisho, the arch- 
deacon, the blessed old man and the perfect priest. He 
worked much in the interests of the Church.' 

Dated 1326: 'This is the grave of Shliha, the cele- 
brated commentator and teacher, who illuminated all 
the monasteries with light. Son of Peter, the august 
commentator of wisdom, his voice rang as high as the 
sound of a trumpet. May our Lord mix his pure soul 
with the just men and the fathers. May he participate 
in all heavenly joys.' 

Dated 1338: 'This is the grave of Pesoha, the re- 
nowned exegetist and preacher, who enlightened all 


cloisters through the light. Extolled for wisdom, and 
may our Lord unite his spirit with the saints.* 

From these inscriptions it is not difficult to conjure 
up a mental picture of these two little Christian com- 
munities in medieval Turkestan. It is hardly to be 
doubted that there were many others very similar to 
them, but of which no trace has remained. 

Thus, at the time of Jenghiz Khan and his successors, 
the Christian religion was not much more unfavour- 
ably placed than any other. We have seen, however, 
that the official Mongol attitude underwent a change, 
until by the end of the thirteenth century the ilkhans 
had gone over to Islam. How this came about in 
Persia has already been traced, and although com- 
parable details are not available, we may conclude 
that Christianity suffered a similar decline, to the 
advantage of Islam, throughout Central Asia. This 
is scarcely to be wondered at, for in addition to the 
other reasons which have been adduced, it is probable 
that Islam is a form of faith having a greater appeal 
to people of the Mongol type than has Christianity, at 
any rate during times of aggressive expansion. 

But in any case, the Turkestan churches were unfor- 
tunately in the track of the terrible Timur i Leng, and 
after his career of devastation, lasting from 1369 till 
1405, hardly a Christian church survived in Central 
Asia. The fate detailed as befalling Christian com- 
munities in the Persian empire was, in all probability, 
shared by the Christians of Turkestan, and accounts 
for the disappearance of the once nourishing churches. 
As in Persia, most of those Christians who were not 

CHINA 167 

killed in Timur's massacres either openly apostatized 
to Islam, or ceased to make open profession of their 
faith. Details of the terrible cruelty of Timur's cam- 
paigns, and of his special cruelty toward Christians, 
may be found in Hue, Christianity in China, or Price, 
History of Muhammadanism. 

Apart from the remnants in Persia and South- West 
India, Timur's death in 1405 practically synchronized 
with the extinction of Nestorian Christianity in Asia. 

(iii) China. 

In spite of the low state to which the Church in 
China was reduced in the tenth and eleventh centuries, 
a recovery undoubtedly took place. In the thirteenth 
century men like Yaballaha and Rabban Sauma were 
labouring there (see pp. 151-153)? and travellers speak 
of a quite strong Christian community. Thus Marco 
Polo testifies to many Christians being in China in 
1271, and some details are given about them by John 
of Monte Corvino, who in 1289 was appointed by 
Pope Nicholas IV as special missionary to China. 
(Had this interest in the Far East any connection with 
Rabban Sauma's visit to this same Pope the previous 
year? See pp. 152-153.) John eventually arrived in 
China in 1294, anc ^ laboured for many years in Cam- 
balu (Pekin). In 1305 he sent a letter 1 to the Pope, 
giving many interesting particulars of his own work, 
and also some remarks about the Nestorians. He says 
that they opposed his work: 'The Nestorians, certain 
folk who profess the name of Christians, but who 

1 The East and the West, April 1 904. 


deviate sadly from the Christian religion, have grown 
so powerful in these parts that they will not allow a 
Christian of another rite to have ever so small a chapel, 
or to proclaim any but the Nestorian doctrine.' He 
claims to have baptized about six thousand converts 
between 1294 and 1305, and says that but for the 
Nestorian opposition the number would have been 
nearer thirty thousand. This information is supple- 
mented by John of Cora, who served in Cambalu for 
a time under John of Monte Corvino. He also tells 1 
of the Nestorian opposition to the Roman mission, and 
adds that the Nestorians somewhat resembled the 
Greek Orthodox. He says that they numbered more 
than thirty thousand, and were a rich community, 
possessing very handsome churches. (It is curious that 
John of Monte Corvino and John of Cora both 
use the number 'thirty thousand.' Did the latter 
misunderstand a reference by the former?) 

The Nestorians and the Roman Catholic mission- 
aries continued their work in opposition to one another 
for nearly a century, when Christians of both persua- 
sions alike were almost completely eradicated by the 
intolerant and persecuting Ming dynasty, which had 
gained control of China by 1369. Unlike the Mongol 
successors of Kublai Khan, who, differing thus from 
the Mongols who had gone westward, had remained 
complacent toward Christianity, the Ming emperors 
disliked all things foreign. Christianity was included in 
this dislike, and the Nestorian Church in China came 
to its end before the close of the fourteenth century. 

1 Yule, Cathay and the Way Thither, i. 238. 


Christianity was almost, if not entirely, absent from 
China from that time until the commencement of 
modern missions, which for China may be reckoned as 
beginning with the Jesuits, who began work there 
towards the end of the sixteenth century. 


Jenghiz Khan, 1162-1227. 

Ogdai, 1227-1241. 

Kuyuk, 1241-1248. 

(Period of dispute, 1248-1251.) 

Mangu, 1251-1260. 

Kublai Khan, 1260-1294. 


Hulagu, governor, 1258-1260. 
Hulagu, ilkhan, 1260-1265. 
Abagha, 1265-1280. 
Ahmad, 1280-1284. 
Arghun, 1284-1291. 
Gaikatu, 1291-1295. 
Ghazan, 1295-1304. 
Uljaitu, 1304-1316. 
Abu Said, 1316-1335. 




DURING the unsettled years when the dynasty of the 
ilkhans was breaking up, and the still more troublous 
times of Timur, the place of residence of the patriarch 
changed frequently. When possible it seems that 
Baghdad was preferred, but when Baghdad was unsafe 
for him, he would take up his abode elsewhere. Thus 
the Patriarch Denha I (1265-1281), becoming danger- 
ously unpopular owing to his severe treatment of a 
Christian who had apostatized to Islam, had -to leave 
Baghdad in 1271 and take up his residence at Ashnu 
(modern Ushnu) in Azerbaijan. His successor Yabal- 
laha III was often at Baghdad, but seems to have spent 
much of his time at Maragha, east of Lake Urmi in 
Azerbaijan. Mosul and Urmi were also frequent 
places of residence, and we find Baghdad being more 
and more forsaken in favour of places in the Kurdistan 
area. There were, however, periods of residence in 
Baghdad as late as the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 
It was only soon after the beginning of the nineteenth 
century that the patriarch again adopted a permanent 
seat, the village of Qudshanis, near the Great Zab, in 

Turkish Kurdistan. 



After the death of Timur, the modern States of 
Turkey and Persia gradually consolidated themselves, 
and Islam has remained the official religion of the 
authorities ever since. Nestorian churches lingered on 
for some time in a few of the towns of Mesopotamia, 
but the region of their real strength tended more and 
more to become restricted to the part of Kurdistan 
between the Tigris and Lakes Van and Urmi, partly 
in Turkey and partly in Persia. Here they remained 
for the next five hundred years. The other centres 
died out at dates which cannot be exactly fixed, but 
an idea may be gained from their last mentions: 
Taiirisium (Tabriz), 1551; Baghdad, 1553; Nisibis, 
1556; Erbil, sixteenth century; Bakerda (Gezira), 
seventeenth century. 

But even in their Kurdistan retreat the Nestorians 
did not remain free from either external or internal 
trouble. There were persecutions from time to time, 
and there have been disputes as to the succession to the 
patriarchate, such disputes sometimes leading to 
schisms. It has already been mentioned that the 
patriarchate tended to become hereditary (p. 158). 
As the patriarch could not marry, the succession passed 
from uncle to nephew. In 1551 this hereditary suc- 
cession was challenged, with the result that the 
Nestorian Church became divided. The Patriarch 
Simon Bar-Mama died in 1551, and in the ordinary- 
way would have been succeeded by his nephew, Simon 
Denha. In fact, a company of bishops duly proceeded 
to elect him; but some other bishops, supported by the 
heads of some of the chief families, wished to elect a 


person whom they considered more suitable, John 
Sulaka, a monk of the Rabban Hurmizd monastery. 
They actually did so, and thus there were two in- 
dependently appointed patriarchs. Sulaka thought 
to strengthen his position by gaining the support of the 
Roman Catholics, whose Franciscan missionaries were 
already at work among the Nestorians. They readily 
befriended him, sent him to Jerusalem, and thence to 
Rome. There Pope Julius III (1550-1555) accepted 
a Catholic profession of faith from him, and then 
ordained him patriarch. This was in 1553, and 
Sulaka thus became a Uniate. He then returned to 
Kurdistan, hoping to gain over all the Nestorians to 
himself. Had he succeeded, the history of the Nestor- 
ian Church would have ended with its reabsorption 
into Rome. Unfortunately for Sulaka, however, two 
years after his return he was imprisoned by the Pasha 
of Diarbekr, and while in prison was murdered, 
supposedly by the machinations of his rival, the 
Nestorian patriarch of the old line. But Sulaka 5 s line 
did not lapse, and the Nestorian Church thus became 
divided into two sections. Those who had re-estab- 
lished communion with Rome are usually described 
as Uniate Chaldees. There were thus two lines of 
patriarchs in Kurdistan, the Nestorian patriarchs of 
the original succession, and the successors of Sulaka, 
the Uniate Chaldaean patriarchs. The history of these 
two lines during the next three hundred years reveals 
that they exchanged roles in a manner which must be 
almost unique in ecclesiastical history. 
The Uniate line, starting with John Sulaka (1551- 


1555), was at first punctilious in retaining its standing 
with Rome. Sulaka's successor, Ebedyeshu (1555- 
1567), received the pallium from Pope Pius IV, and 
the next two, Aitallaha and Denha Shimun, seem also 
to have been truly Uniate. But subsequently touch 
with Rome became somewhat fitful. The people 
themselves were not in favour of any kind of control 
from Rome, and probably felt that it made little 
difference whether their patriarch was recognized by 
the Pope or not. Some of their patriarchs, therefore, 
sent a Catholic profession of faith to Rome, and a 
promise of obedience to the see of St. Peter; in return 
they received the pallium. Others did not trouble to 
do so. This irregular mode of procedure continued 
until 1670, when Mar Shimun XII sent the last such 
profession. (After the first few, all patriarchs of this 
line have adopted the name Mar Shimun.) After Mar 
Shimun XII, all relationship with Rome ceased, except 
that in 1770 the then patriarch wrote to Pope Clement 
XIV expressing a desire to restore the union. But 
nothing was done, and as the great majority of the 
ordinary clergy and laity had never appreciated the 
difference communion with Rome made, the Uniate 
Chaldees drifted back into schism. As theologically 
they had never really changed, except in the matter of 
the patriarchs 5 professions, after Mar Shimun XII the 
patriarchs of the Sulaka line are again Nestorian. 
Indeed, the succession of Nestorian patriarchs from 
Mar Shimun XIII onwards must be reckoned through 
the Sulaka line, as the old line became Uniate. 
This came about during the end of the sixteenth 


and beginning of the seventeenth centuries. The 
patriarchs of the old line had also adopted a uniform 
name. This was done soon after the dispute between 
Simon Denha and John Sulaka, the name chosen 
being Elias. This line began negotiations with Rome 
during the time of Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590), the 
Patriarch Elias V sending him a profession of faith. 
This, however, was rejected on the grounds that it was 
tainted with Nestorianism. But in 1607 Elias VI sent 
a profession which was acceptable, and was received 
into union; so also was his successor Elias VII in 1657. 
It thus came about that both lines were Uniate during 
the middle of the seventeenth century, there being a 
Uniate Chaldaean patriarch of Sulaka's line at Urmi, 
a Mar Shimun, and a Uniate Chaldaean patriarch of 
the old line at Mosul, an Elias. But after Elias VII the 
old line gradually ceased to keep its union with Rome, 
and fell back into schism and Nestorianism, just as 
Sulaka's line had done. In the eighteenth century 
there were, therefore, two rival Nestorian patriarchs, 
one at Urmi and one at Mosul. Yet there was still 
evidently a section which regarded union with Rome 
as desirable, and now that both lines were again in 
schism, Joseph, metropolitan of Diarbekr, felt justified 
in renouncing his allegiance to Elias VIII and applied 
to the Pope for recognition. The Pope received him 
at Rome and appointed him Uniate patriarch of the 
Ghaldees. At the latter part of the eighteenth century 
there were thus three Chaldaean patriarchs: two Nes- 
torians, at Urmi and Mosul respectively, and a Uniate 
at Diarbekr. This state of affairs did not last long. 


because in 1826 the old line at Mosul again became 
Uniate, so that there was no longer any need to 
continue the Uniate patriarchate of the Joseph suc- 
cession. From that date, therefore, the old line has to 
be called Uniate Ghaldaean, the patriarchs of the Elias 
succession being in communion with Rome; whereas 
the newer line, the Mar Shimuns of Urrni, originally 
Uniate, thenceforward must be taken to represent the 
Nestorian patriarchate. 

Fortescue 1 is therefore quite justified in pointing 
out that the present names are not altogether historic- 
ally justifiable: 'Mar Shimun, then, claims to represent 
the old line of the Persian Katholikoi of Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon from Mari and Papa Bar Aggai. His claim 
is not true. Really he represents the line of patriarchs 
founded by Sulaka, originally Uniate. The old line is 
that of the present Uniate patriarch. Logically, then, 
it should be said that the old Nestorian Persian Church 
(represented by her hierarchy) is now Uniate, that 
Mar Shimun is head of a schism from that Church 
which has gone back to Nestorianism. That is 
what anyone would admit, were no controversial 
issue at stake. But since the roles of the lines of 
Sulaka and of Bar-Mama have now become so 
curiously reversed, non-Catholics ignore their origin, 
treat Mar Shimun as head of the old Persian (or 
"Assyrian") Church, and the real old Church as 
schismatic, because it is not in communion with 

The facts are certainly as Fortescue says, though no 

1 Lesser Eastern Churches, p. 129. 


particular 'controversial issue 5 seems to be 'at stake'; 
for it has to be remembered that Sulaka was ordained 
and appointed by Nestorian bishops before he received 
any Papal authority. The succession has, therefore, 
been in an unbroken line; and in any case it is obviously 
desirable to call the present successors of Elias Uniate 
Ghaldees and the Mar Shimuns Nestorians, so that 
their present allegiances and positions may be made 
clear. Soon after 1826 the Nestorian patriarch moved 
from Urmi to Qudshanis, wherejiis seat remained until 
the Great War (1914-1918). 

Apart from this matter of the rival patriarchs, there 
is little to record in the history of the Nestorian Church 
between the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of 
the nineteenth centuries. They simply continued to 
exist, their sphere of influence reduced to a triangle 
whose corners were Lake Van, Lake Urmi, and Mosul, 
with a few scattered churches elsewhere in Kurdistan 
and Mesopotamia. As with all melets under Muslim 
rule, they suffered occasional persecution, their prin- 
cipal oppressors being the savage Kurds of Eastern 
Asia Minor. So far as the official Turkish attitude was 
concerned, such persecutions were not countenanced; 
but unfortunately the Sublime Porte had little control 
over the fierce tribes of its remoter districts, and 
Kurdish incursions were all too frequent, no doubt 
reducing the Nestorian Remnant still further. 

But at the beginning of the nineteenth century 
practical interest in the Nestorian Church was revived 
by the 'rediscovery' of this little Christian community 
by Claud James Rich in 1820. Mr. Rich was an 


official of the East India Company, stationed at 
Baghdad. He was also a keen archaeologist, and it was 
his explorations around Nineveh that brought him into 
touch with the Nestorians. Although the Roman 
Catholics had been at work among them to a greater 
or less extent for centuries, it was only after Mr. Rich's 
contact with them that English and American Pro- 
testant missionary societies took any interest in them. 
They then began to do so with great zeal, partly, no 
doubt, owing to the fascinating nature of the problem. 
Here were Christians speaking Syriac, a language 
closely akin to that spoken by our Lord Himself; 
Christians who had maintained their faith for over a 
thousand years as an island community in a sea of 
Islam; a Christian Church whose history went back 
far before the Reformation, which yet owned no 
allegiance to the Pope; a Christian Church which in 
some superficial ways might even be called an Eastern 

Mission work thereupon began. The honour of 
being the first worker should perhaps be conceded to 
the Rev. Joseph Wolff, who went out from England 
and obtained a copy of the Syriac New Testament. 
He brought it back to England, where a printed edition 
of it was prepared by the British and Foreign Bible 
Society. When this was ready, in 1827, it was distri- 
buted in great numbers round Urmi. Another im- 
mediate advantage of this increased interest in the 
Nestorians was that when another Kurdish attack was 
made upon them in 1830 protests were made to Turkey 
by some of the European governments. The Turks 



sent Rashid Pasha to set things in order, and by 1834 
he had restored some degree of tranquillity. But it 
was unfortunately by no means permanent, as when 
the Turkish troops were withdrawn the hill tribes soon 
tended to revert to their old ways, and there was 
another massacre in 1842. 

~ Meanwhile the American Presbyterians had entered 
the field, sending two missionaries, Messrs. Smith and 
Davies. They sent Dr. Julius Davies to help them in 
1834, and Dr. Asahel Grant in the following year. 
This American Presbyterian Mission continued without 
interruption until the war, having its headquarters 
at Urmi. 

The Church of England next took action through 
the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. They 
sent Mr. Ainsworth in 1842 to make inquiries, and he 
was shortly followed by the Rev. George Percy 
Badger, who was sent out under the auspices of the 
Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Howley) and the 
Bishop of London (Dr. Bloomfield) . Mr. Badger only 
stayed a year, but during that time he created a good 
impression upon the Nestorians. He made it clear to 
them that the wish of the Church of England was 
simply to help them in all possible ways, but not to 
make them give up their old faith or order. For this 
reason the Nestorians have ever since been specially 
favourable towards the Anglicans. While Mr. Badger 
was among them there was another terrible Kurdish 
incursion, the massacre of 1842 referred to above. 
Sweeping down on the Nestorian villages, the Kurds 
carried off many women and children as captives, 


and over ten thousand persons were estimated to have 
been killed. Mr. Badger was able to shelter the 
patriarch, thus probably saving his life. 

The work of Mr. Badger was not followed up for 
some years, until in 1868 the Nestorians sent a request 
to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Tait) for more 
help. In response to this appeal the Rev. E. L. Cutts 
was sent out to investigate, but not until 1876. The 
result of Mr. Cutts's inquiry was the establishment of 
the Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission to Assyrian 
Christians, which began in 1881 with the despatch of 
the Rev. Rudolph Wahl. He served till 1885, but does 
not seem to have been quite suited to the work. In 
1886 three more missionaries were sent, Canon 
Maclean, Mr. Athelstan Riley, and the Rev. W. H. 
Browne. The mission continued from that time 
without interruption until the Great War. Its head- 
quarters were at first at Urmi, but in 1903 they were 
moved to Van, on the Turkish side of the frontier. 
Among their more recent workers one of the best known 
is Canon W. A. Wigram, D.D., 1 who laboured there 
from 1 902 till 1912. It may be remarked that the name 
chosen by the Church of England for its mission has 
tended to come into general use, and the Nestorian 
Christians are usually now referred to as Assyrians. 
No doubt the Anglican intention was to emphasize the 
ancient lineage of this Eastern Church, and perhaps to 
minimize any suggestion of heresy that the word 
Nestorian might involve. As their object was to 

1 To whom I am personally indebted for some of the facts in this 
chapter and the next. 


'reform the Church from within, 5 there is much to be 
said for that point of view. 

Among other missionary societies which also entered 
the field, mention must be made of the Danish Luther- 
ans, the Norwegian Lutherans, the Baptists, and the 
Russian Orthodox. The success of the Russians was 
very fitful. So far back as 1827 quite a number of 
Nestorians fled from Kurdistan to Erivan in Russia, 
and became Orthodox. The Nestorians also sought 
Russian help in 1898, when a Nestorian bishop and 
four other clerics went to St. Petersburg (Leningrad) 
and declared that their Church would become Orth- 
odox in return for Russian help and support. Russia 
accepted the challenge, and by 1900 they had built an 
Orthodox church at Urmi and set up a system of 
parishes and schools. For a little while it seemed as 
though the Nestorian Church was to be absorbed into 
the Russian Orthodox; but either the Nestorians did 
not receive all the advantages they had hoped for, or 
Russian zeal flagged. In any case, the Russian 
ascendancy was shortlived, in a very few years 
things were back where they had been, and Russian 
influence never counted for much again. 

Details of the work of these various missions may be 
found in the publications of the societies concerned. 
But something must be said concerning the nature of 
their common problem: how should one deal with an 
ancient Church whose general condition, administra- 
tive, cultural, and doctrinal, was so unsatisfactory? 
The Roman solution is to make the Church Uniate, 
permitting it to keep its own rites and ceremonies in so 


far as they are doctrinally unexceptionable, but other- 
wise making them conform to Roman canon law. The 
Russian Orthodox solution would have been simply 
to add the Nestorian Christians to their own com- 
munion, so that the Church as a separate entity would 
have ceased to exist. But the attitude of the Anglicans 
and of the other Protestant missionary societies did not 
lead to such a simple solution. Their desire was to 
preserve this ancient Church as an entity, so that it 
might still reckon itself as the continuation of the 
Church of the Persian Empire, and yet to free it from 
ignorance, from erroneous doctrine, from maladminis- 
tration, and from those other defects, major and minor, 
which were the legacy of its stormy history. If the 
Nestorian Church could have been reconstituted on a 
sound basis, with regard to doctrine, administration, 
and general efficiency, no doubt Protestant opinion 
would have been satisfied. But until that could be 
accomplished, it was imperative that they should 
maintain their own organizations. This sometimes 
resulted in a confused allegiance. Should a Nestorian 
who admitted he owed much to, say, Norwegian 
Lutheranism, forsake his historic Church to join the 
Lutherans? On the other hand, he could not fail to 
recognize that Lutheranism had much to offer him 
which Nestorianism could not. Cases therefore some- 
times arose like that of Nestorius George Malech, which 
Fortescue quotes with obvious delight. 1 Malech was 
an archdeacon of the Nestorian Church, and also the 
authorized Norwegian missionary at Urmi, pledged to 

1 Op. cit., p. 121. 


'remain true to the evangelical Lutheran confession.' 
Naturally, granting its premises, the inexorable logic 
of Roman Catholicism could never countenance such a 
quandary; but Protestants will appreciate how difficult, 
with rather different views of the Church, the position 
was bound to be. 

None the less, in spite of the delicacy of some of the 
problems involved, it must be emphasized that all these 
missions, Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant 
alike, wrought great benefit to the Nestorians, both by 
encouraging general education, distributing Bibles and 
other religious books, establishing schools and hospitals, 
and by improving the attitude of the Turkish and 
Persian authorities toward a formerly little considered 
melet; and it is probable that the Nestorian Church 
grew both in numbers and in spiritual strength during 
the latter part of the nineteenth century and the earlier 
years of the twentieth. 

Once more, however, the Nestorian Church was to 
suffer the calamity of ruthless warfare. Just as the wars 
between the Persians and the Arabs, between the 
Caliphate and the Mongols, and between the Mongols 
and the Turks had involved the Nestorian Christians 
in suffering and slaughter, so also did the Great War of 
1914-1918. Again they became victims of circum- 
stances which were completely beyond their control. 
A summary of their fortunes since 1914 will be given 
in the concluding chapter, but it will perhaps be best 
to describe their hierarchy, faith, and practice as they 
existed in Kurdistan just before the war, rather than to 
attempt to describe their present condition in those 


respects. Evidently we cannot describe the settled 
institutions of a people who are not yet certain where 
their future home is to be, nor can we expect a clearly 
defined theology from a people whose primary concern 
is their very existence. If they become safely estab- 
lished in Iraq, or if some other more suitable habitat is 
found for them, in ten years' time it may be possible 
to give an accurate account of their hierarchy, their 
theology, and their general practice. In their present 
unsettled state that is not possible, so it will be best to 
set out what was the state of affairs in the years just 
prior to the Great War. This can most conveniently 
be done under three main headings: 

(i) Extent and administration. 

The ecclesiastical centre of the Nestorian Church in 
Kurdistan in the years immediately preceding the war 
was the little village of Qudshanis, the residence of the 
patriarch. The village is near the Great Zab, just 
inside the Turkish boundary. The only towns of any 
importance where Nestorians were to be found were 
Urmi, Van, and Amadia, but they also inhabited many 
villages in the plain round Lake Urmi, and in the 
mountainous country, the Hakkiari, between Lakes 
Urmi and Van. Some were to be found in Mosul, 
Diarbekr, and even in Urfa (Edessa), but these were 
really out of the real Nestorian area, being districts 
where Christianity was more represented by Jacobites 
and Uniates. As to numbers, an estimate is difficult, 
various investigators giving very different totals. 


Perhaps 100,000 may be somewhere near the truth. 1 
The hierarchy consisted of the patriarch, one 
metropolitan, and ten bishops. An episcopal diocese 
in the neighbourhood of Qudshanis was under the 
direct supervision of the patriarch. The metropolitan, 
now called the matran, controlled a diocese partly in 
Turkey and partly in Persia, and had his seat at Neri. 
Of the ten bishops, seven had dioceses on the Turkish 
and three on the Persian side of the frontier. These 
dioceses were ill defined, and not delimited with any 
precision. Under each bishop were several chorepis- 
copi (cf. p. 165). Each of these was responsible for a 
group of villages, the priests from which he assembled 
twice a year for direction and instruction. The chief 
chorepiscopus of the diocese was called the archpriest, 
and sometimes deputized for the bishop. In the village 
church the priest might be assisted by deacons, sub- 
deacons, and readers. There were thus nine orders: 
patriarch, matran, archpriest, chorepiscopus, priest, 
deacon, sub-deacon, reader. There was an ordination 
ceremony for transition from each of these orders to the 
next. In addition to these nine orders there was for 
each bishop an archdeacon, whose duties were mostly 
secretarial and financial. 

The priests were chosen by the community, subject 
to approval and ordination by the bishop. Normally a 
priest could not rise above the rank of archpriest, as 
the hereditary principal (uncle to nephew) had become 
customary, not only for the patriarch, but also for the 

1 So Fortescue, op. cit., p. 128, following Cuinet. Tozer gives 
18,000, Petermann and Kessler 70,000, Silbernagl 150,000, and 
Yohanan 190,000. 


matran and bishops. The only way in which a priest 
might become a bishop was when a bishop died leaving 
no relative eligible to succeed him. In that case a suit- 
able priest would be chosen for the bishopric. Other- 
wise the episcopate remained in a closed group of 

Since the early part of the seventeenth century the 
patriarch has always assumed the name Mar Shimun 
on accession, the personal name, when used, being 
inserted between Mar and Shimun. Thus the patriarch 
Mar (Reuben) 1 Shimun XVIII, who died in 1903, was 
succeeded by Mar (Benjamin) 2 Shimun XIX, who 
became patriarch at the age of seventeen. Mar Shimun 
XIX came to a tragic end in 1918, when he was mur- 
dered by a Turk named Ismail Agha Shekak, otherwise 
known as Simko. Hereditary names have also become 
customary for the matran and bishops. Thus the 
matran is always Mar Hananyeshu. Owing to the 
youth of Mar Shimun XIX, the matran, the venerable 
and experienced Mar (Isaac) Hananyeshu was con- 
ceded an almost equal respect and power. As to clerical 
celibacy, the patriarch, the matran and the bishops 
have to be celibates, but the other orders may marry. 
In the event of a wife's death, remarriage is permitted. 

(2) The Nestorian Faith. 

The Nestorian Christians call themselves simply 
Christians or Syrians, but if wishing to distinguish 
themselves from members of other Churches, they use 
the term Christians of the East. They do not like the 

ilj RubiJ, 2 Benyamin, 


term Ghaldaean, using that for Uniates, but they do not 
object to being called Nestorians. They hold that 
they represent one of the five ancient patriarchates, 
which they reckon as Rome, Alexandria, Constanti- 
nople, Antioch, and Seleucia-Ctesiphon (but cf. pp. 
46-49). Their attitude toward the other ancient 
Christian Churches is therefore independent but not 
hostile. The Pope regards them as heretics and schis- 
matics; but they regard him simply as the patriarch of 
another section of the Church, entitled to rank with 
their own patriarch, but to whom they are not willing 
to concede either obedience or the headship of the 
whole of Christendom. 

Theologically, their ideas are vague. They re- 
cognize the first two (Ecumenical Councils, Nicaea 
(325) and Constantinople (381), and also certain 
decisions of later Councils. In addition to this they 
acknowledge the decisions of the Eastern Synods, the 
various councils held under their own ancient Catholici 
and Patriarchs. The generally recognized collection 
of this body of canon law is that made by Ebedyeshu, 
metropolitan of Nisibis (ob. 1318); but while probably 
admitting its authority, it is doubtful whether there is 
a modern Nestorian who has a real grasp of this body 
of canon law and its implications. But they are clear 
that they are committed to the teaching of Nestorius, 
whatever that may have been, and that the Council 
of Ephesus, Cyril of Alexandria, and the word Theo- 
tokos are three things utterly execrable. Thus on the 
feast of the Greek Doctors (Diodorus, Theodore, and 
Nestorius), which is on the fifth Friday after Epiphany, 


they repeat these anathemas: 'Woe and woe again to 
all who say that God died, who say that Mary is the 
mother of God, who do not confess Christ in two 
natures, two persons, and one parsufa of filiation. Woe 
and woe again to the wicked Cyril and Severus.' 1 
Apart from this formal and verbal adherence to 
Nestorius, which is probably more a loyalty to a per- 
son and a tradition than to an idea, their general 
belief is not greatly different from that of the rest of 
Christendom. With regard to this specific anathema, 
it is of interest to notice that Mar (Isaac) Hananyeshu 
expressed himself as willing to consider its suspension. 
That would have been a big advance. 

For the rest, they believe in grace, free-will, and the 
value of good works. They pray for the dead, and 
honour relics and dust from the tombs of the saints; 
but they do not approve of sacred pictures or images, 
and make no use of crucifixes. They use crosses, how- 
ever, respecting this symbol greatly. They consider 
that there are seven Sacraments, but it is not quite 
clear what they are. The Patriarch Timothy II 
(1318-1360) gave the following: (i) Holy Orders. 
(2) The Consecration of a church and altar. (3) 
Baptism and Holy Oil (Confirmation). (4) The Holy 
Sacrament of the Body and Blood. (5) The blessing 
of monks. (6) The Office for the dead. (7) Marriage. 
But he adds as a supplement, 'Indulgence, or penance 
and the forgiving of sins. 5 It seems that in addition 
I to these they regard also as Sacraments: (i) The Oil 

) 1 Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals, ii. 80. On the Christo- 
\ logical terms, see p. 54 above. 


of Unction (Extreme Unction). (2) The Holy Leaven. 
(3) The Sign of the Cross. Although their liturgical 
books contain a form for confession, it is hardly ever 
used. It is said to have become obsolete because the 
priests could not maintain sufficient secrecy. Their 
creed is practically the Nicene Greed, of course without 
the 'filioque 5 addition. 

As to the Bible, under missionary influence they 
were tending to accept and use the canon of Western 
Christendom, 1 though the true Syriac canon is some- 
what smaller. Ebedyeshu, metropolitan of Nisibis, 
gives: the Four Gospels, Acts, the Epistle of James, 
i Peter, i John, fourteen Epistles of Paul (inclusive of 
Hebrews). He also adds the Diatessaron of Tatian. 2 
The most significant omission is the Apocalypse. 
Ebedyeshu's list, apart from his apparent re- 
authorization of the Diatessaron, is the same as the 
canon of the Syriac Peshitta, which dates from about 

(3) Services, rites, and ceremonies. 

The Nestorian churches of Kurdistan were un- 
interesting from the architectural standpoint, being 
mostly small plain structures. Probably the best 
building was that at Mosul. Many of them were, 
however, of considerable antiquity, and thus attractive 

1 That is, for private reading and study. Lectionaries and liturgies 
draw only from the Syriac canon. 

2 A composite gospel compiled from the canonical four, which was 
prepared by Tatian, an Assyrian Christian, towards the end of the 
second century. It remained in general use in Edessa and West Persia; 
till about the beginning of the fifth century, when it was superseded by 
Syriac versions of the usual four. 


archaeologically. They were presumably intentionally 
plain in order to be inconspicuous, and so less likely 
to attract Muslim attention. The only indication of 
their nature was usually a plain cross above the door, 
which the worshippers kissed as they entered. The 
doors were generally very low, so, it was said, that all 
who entered should be obliged to bow in reverence. 
Fortescue suggests that a more probable reason was to 
prevent Kurds desecrating the churches by driving 
their cattle into them. 1 

The churches were more interesting inside than out. 
The nave was divided from the sanctuary by a wall, 
which had an arched opening in it about five feet wide. 
This opening could be closed, either by a curtain or, in 
some cases, by doors. The part of the nave in front of 
the sanctuary was separated off by a low wall broken in 
the middle, and was raised above the level of the rest of 
the nave, as was also the sanctuary itself. Against this 
dividing wall were placed tables for the service books, 
and on one of them stood a large cross. The ordinary 
services were conducted entirely in the nave, the choir 
standing just in front of the dividing wall. Inside the 
sanctuary was a raised platform under a canopy, and 
on this platform stood the altar, usually furnished with 
a plain cross, two candles, and the gospel book. As a 
link with very ancient history, it is of interest to remark 
that the sanctuary was called the Holy of Holies, in 
Syriac 'qdush qdushe, 5 which is not far from the 
original Hebrew 'qodesh haqqodoshim.' The bap- 
tistery was a separate room opening out of the nave, with 

1 Op. cit., p. 145. 


sometimes another door into the sanctuary. It was 
also used as a vestry, and often contained the oven for 
baking the bread to be used in the Eucharist. The 
churches usually bore the name of an apostle, saint, or 
martyr, and not infrequently of the Virgin Mary 
(Mart Mary am, 'Lady Mary'). 

The clergy did not wear distinctive dress, apart from 
a black turban, nor did they wear a tonsure. But they 
were always bearded; to be clean shaven was a sign of 
disgrace, sometimes inflicted by the bishop as a punish- 
ment on an erring priest. When officiating, however, 
vestments were used, similar in general to those of the 
Roman and Greek Churches, but simpler and less 
systematized. They included items corresponding to 
the alb, stole, cope, and amice. They had no chasuble, 
the cope serving the double purpose. Bishops carried a 
staff and a small cross. 

As to services, every day there was morning and 
evening prayer, to which the worshippers were sum- 
moned by striking a kind of wooden gong with a 
hammer, though under missionary influence bells were 
increasingly coming into use. The worshippers 
removed their shoes on entering the church, but the 
turban or tarbush was only removed during the actual 
time of service. Their orders of service were not well 
defined, as quite a number of different service books 
were in use. It seemed to be left very largely to the 
priest's discretion. But in any case morning and 
evening prayer would include, not only psalms, collects 
and responsive prayers, but also hymns and anthems 
As with service books, they had quite a variety of hymi 


and anthem books. The services throughout were in 
classical Syriac. 

The Eucharist was not celebrated every Sunday, but 
only on the chief feast days. Usually it took place in 
the morning, but sometimes in the afternoon. Com- 
municants should have fasted since midnight. Here 
again there was no fixed order, as at least three rites 
were in use. The most general was one which they 
called the rite of the Apostles. Most liturgiologists 
consider that this rite is a much modified form of the 
Antiochene rite, passing into the Nestorian Church 
via Edessa. Some, however, think it should be classed 
by itself, considering that it contains too many other 
elements to be reckoned in any real sense Antiochene. 1 

The rite began with the making of the bread, which 
had to be mixed with Holy Leaven. This was supposed 
to trace back to the Last Supper, and to have originally 
been prepared from a loaf given by our Lord to St. 
John, who mixed it with some blood from the Gross 
and some water which had been saved from Christ's 
baptism. This was then ground up, mixed with flour 
and salt, and divided among the apostles. A little of it 
was used with each baking of bread for the Eucharist, 
and once a year, on Maundy Thursday, what was left 
was renewed by the admixture of fresh flour, salt and 
oil. The Nestorians believed that they alone had kept 
up this continuity. 2 When all was ready the service 
began. There was usually the Gloria in Excelsis, the 

1 So Baumstark, Renaudot, and Brightman. 

2 The Holy Leaven has not been lost despite the catastrophes of 
recent years. 


Lord's Prayer, some psalms, and an anthem. Then 
two lessons were read, one from the Old Testament and 
one from the Acts. After another psalm, a portion was 
read from the Apostle (i.e. from a Pauline epistle). 
Then there was another anthem, a reading from the 
Gospels followed by a short sermon or homily, another 
anthem, the Nicene Greed (without 'filioque'), and 
some responsive prayers. Then followed the act of 
communion. It was administered in both kinds, the 
priest giving the bread and a deacon the chalice. The 
service ended with the blessing. 1 The Eucharist was 
not reserved, and there was no provision for communion 
of the sick. 

The baptismal service was a long one, and like the 
Eucharist was only conducted on feast days. Many 
children were therefore baptized at the same service, 
private baptism not being allowed. But as a mitigation 
of the often long period between birth and the next 
general baptism, soon after birth the child was washed 
in water that had been blessed by the priest. This cere- 
mony was called 'signing,' and at it the child was given 
its name. At the actual baptism the child was anointed 
all over with olive oil, and was dipped three times in the 
font, being held so that it faced east. The priest said: 
'[Name] is baptized in the name of the Father, in the 
name of the Son, in the name of the Holy Ghost, for 
ever.' Confirmation followed at once, by the laying on 
of the right hand. 

The marriage and burial services were also long, in 

1 For a more detailed description see Fortescue, op. cit., pp. 149-156, 
or Maclean and Browne, The Catholicos of the East, pp. 247-265. 


some ways resembling the Greek Orthodox. In mar- 
riage the bride and bridegroom had threads of red, 
blue and white placed on their heads, corresponding 
to the Greek crowns. The burial service differed for 
clergy and laity, and special anthems were provided 
to cover all kinds of cases. 

Their Church Calendar included many feasts and 
fasts. The most important feasts were Easter, Christmas, 
and Epiphany. They had a Great Fast corresponding 
to Lent, a fast before Christmas, one in honour of the 
Virgin Mary in August, and a three days' fast in the 
early spring to commemorate Jonah preaching to the 
Ninevites. There were numerous saints' days, with 
orders of service modified appropriately. Most saints' 
days fell on Fridays. 



ONCE again the Nestorians have been the victims of an 
international upheaval for which they were in no way 
responsible. In 1914 the outlook seemed encouraging. 
The various missionary societies, notably the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury's Mission to Assyrian Christians, 
were doing valuable work, so that the standard of 
education among the clergy was being raised, general 
conditions were being improved, and it might have 
been hoped that better days and increased spiritual 
power were before this ancient Church. But the 
Sarajevo assassination, which shattered the peace of 
Europe, led also to the uprooting of the Nestorians 
from Kurdistan. 

Turkey became involved in the Great War in 
November 1914, and, as with the wars between the 
Persian and Roman empires, between the Caliphate 
and the Roman Empire, and between Yaman and 
Najran, religious differences increased the bitterness of 
the struggle; Christian minorities in the Turkish 
Empire had a terrible ten years before them. Ortho- 
dox, Uniate, Armenian, Jacobite, and Nestorian all alike 

endured privation, contumely, and periodic outbursts 



of violence. Massacres occurred in various parts of 
the Turkish Empire in which hundreds of Christians 
were slaughtered at a time, and the total death roll 
must have aggregated tens of thousands. The Nes- 
torians were in as unfortunate a position as any, 
because their country was in the theatre of war between 
the Russians and Turks. Not unnaturally, the Nes- 
torians helped the Russians when opportunity offered, 
and as a community declared war on Turkey in 1915. 
The immediate result was a ruthless ravaging of their 
territory by the Turks. First they tried to take refuge 
in their higher mountains, but eventually they had to 
flee across the border to Urmi in Persia, where a 
Russian garrison was in control. But the Urmi 
region afforded them sanctuary for only a short time, 
for soon after the Revolution of 1917 the Russians had 
to leave both Turkey and Persia, and by 1918 were in 
final retreat. A period of great hardship followed for 
the Nestorians, during which, as already mentioned, 
they suffered the loss of their patriarch, Mar (Benjamin) 1 
Shimun XIX, who was murdered by a Turk, Ismail 
Agha Shekak, on March i6th, 1918. He was succeeded 
by his younger brother, Mar (Paul) 2 Shimun XX. 
As it became clear that it was unsafe to remain any 
longer in Persia, the Nestorians undertook a desperate 
trek to join with the British force in Mesopotamia. 

For meanwhile the British advance up the Tigris 
valley had been progressing, though with depressing 
slowness. By September 1915 General Townshend had 
captured Kut al Imara. He was able to continue his 

1 Benyamin. 2 Polus. 




advance as far as Ctesiphon, but owing to shortage of 
men and supplies he had to fall back again on Kut. 
There he was cut off, and after an ineffective attempt 
by General Gorringe to break through with relief, Kut 
had to surrender on December 2gth, 1915. In Decem- 
ber 1916, however, General Maude, with better re- 
sources, began the advance again. By the end of 
February 1917 he had recaptured Kut, and Ctesiphon 
by the beginning of March. He went straight on to 
Baghdad, which he captured on March i ith. General 
Maude established himself for the summer at Baghdad, 
planning his advance for the autumn, the next great 
objective being Mosul. That advance was commenced 
in September 1917, but unfortunately General Maude 
succumbed to cholera on November loth. Sir William 
Raine Marshall succeeded him, but the change in 
command inevitably meant a retardation of progress, 
and Marshall was not able to get beyond Kirkuk (the 
ancient Karkha in Garamaea) before the next summer 
was upon him. His difficulties were increased by the 
fact that more troops were available for the Turks now 
that the Russians had been finally routed in Kurdistan 
and Transcaucasia. Nevertheless, Marshall began his 
advance on Mosul in October 1918. The advance was 
conducted with masterly strategy, one section of his 
force going by way of Kirkuk and a more mobile 
section following the Tigris. The Turks had to fall 
rapidly back, and Mosul was captured just before the 
Armistice was signed. 

It was this British campaign in Mesopotamia which 
made escape possible for the Nestorians. They set out 


from the Urmi region to make for the British lines, 
which they knew were by then (1918) beyond Baghdad. 
It was a terrible journey for the little community to 
make, for it had to be made by the women and children 
as well as by the men, and they had to take also their 
livestock and scanty possessions. They were con- 
stantly harassed by warlike tribesmen along their 
route, and shortage of food and water caused grave 
hardship. It is estimated that by the time they left 
Urmi they had been reduced from the pre-war 
100,000 to about 70,000, and that of these not more 
than 50,000 arrived in Mesopotamia. Those figures 
are themselves eloquent of their privations and 

When they at last reached the British, a camp was 
established for them at Bukuka on the River Diala, 
about 33 miles north-east of Baghdad. Even after the 
Armistice, conditions for Christians in Turkey con- 
tinued to be intolerable, largely because its internal 
state was so uncertain and unstable, and it soon 
became evident that there was no immediate hope of 
resettling the Nestorians, or the Assyrians as they are 
now generally called, 1 in the Hakkiari mountains of 
Kurdistan. It thus came about that for the time being 
they had to settle as refugees in Iraq. (Iraq was the 

1 See p. 1 79. Now that the Nestorians have developed from a melet 
into a virtually separate little nation, there is still more to be said for 
reviving some such distinctive name as Assyrian, to indicate that the 
bond of the community is social and racial as well as religious. The 
term has in fact been adopted to such an extent that references to them 
in The Times, Hansard, Keesing's Contemporary Archives, Headway, Great 
Britain and the East and other current literature must be looked for under 
the heading 'Assyrian' rather than 'Nestorian.' The present patriarch 
has no objection to either name. 


name given to that part of the Tigris-Euphrates area 
which was detached from the Turkish Empire and 
made into a separate State.) At this time Iraq was 
under British control, and the Assyrians were mostly 
settled in the neighbourhoods of Mosul and Kirkuk. 
Owing to the privations and difficulties of the march 
from Urmi, and to the hardships of the first months in 
Iraq, the health of the young patriarch had become 
undermined, and he died in May 1920, being only 
about thirty years old. He was succeeded by the 
present Mar (Jesse) 1 Shimun XXI, who was con- 
secrated on June soth, 1920, when not quite thirteen 
years old. He is reckoned as ngth in the episcopal 
succession of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. At about the same 
time (1919) the aged matran, Mar Isaac Hananyeshu, 
died, and was succeeded by his nephew, Mar Joseph 
Hananyeshu, who was then thirty- two. 

For over twelve years after the war Iraq was a 
mandated territory under British control, and unwit- 
tingly a course of action was pursued which created a 
most undesirable tension between the Assyrians and the 
inhabitants of Iraq. The Assyrian men were enrolled 
in various British forces, and thus became identified by 
the Muslim Arabs of Iraq with both Christianity and 
foreign control. In such circumstances, and in such 
unsettled times, it was inevitable that incidents would 
occur which would not soon be forgotten. Thus at a 
brawl at Kirkuk in 1924, Assyrian soldiery killed a 
hundred Muslims. The ill-feeling between the natives 

1 Issai, Ishai, Eshai. Of these transliterations Mar Shimun person- 
ally prefers the form Eshai, as may be seen in his signature (in English 
and Syriac) to the Foreword of this book. 


of Iraq and the Assyrian refugees made it evident that 
when the mandate expired and Iraq became an 
autonomous State it would be unwise to leave these- 
Nestorian Christians there. All kinds of plans were 
considered, but in every case there were difficulties. 
Thus settlement in Persia was mooted; or in Brazil; or 
in British Guiana. But in each case there were insuper- 
able objections. Resettlement in Kurdistan was also 
discussed, perhaps giving them independence as a 
little Christian State; but it was soon realized that any 
such idea was quite out of the question. Finally, it was 
generally agreed that the best solution would be settle- 
ment in Syria, which was under French mandate and 
seemed likely to remain so. 

Still, little was actually done. The time for expiry of 
the Iraq mandate drew nearer, and the Assyrians 
began to consider they were being badly treated. So 
many false hopes had been raised that they became 
suspicious of the honesty of intention of Britain and 
the League of Nations. As one of them said to an 
English missionary in Mosul, 'Do you think we believe 
anything you say?' 1 Unfortunately, faction also devel- 
oped among themselves, and only about half of them 
were satisfied with the leadership of Mar Shimun XXI. 
He, no doubt, was doing the best he could for his 
people, but he was very young for such responsibilities, 
even by 1933 being only twenty-six. But there were 
some who thought he was not insistent enough in his 
demands. It is not probable that a stronger leader 
could have accomplished much more, because the 

1 Quoted in The Times, July 25th, 1935. 


British authorities were as helpful to Mar Shimun as 
they could be, and for a time he was at Canterbury 
receiving both shelter and education under the imme- 
diate superintendence of the Archbishop of Canterbury 
(the late Dr. Davidson) . For the principal obstacle to 
settlement in Syria was not policy, but finance. The 
Iraq government promised 125,000 toward the cost, 
but that would not nearly cover the total. The British 
government could not see its way to accepting the full 
responsibility, and the League of Nations evidently had 
no fund to draw on for such a purpose. 

Most regrettably, the matter was not settled so soon 
as it should have been, and as the end of the mandate 
drew nearer tension increased. Much trouble was 
caused by an Assyrian extremist party headed by 
Yacu, and matters came to a head when in August 1933 
the Muslims massacred six hundred Assyrians in the 
villages of Dohuk and Simmel, just north of Mosul. 
When such a state of tension has developed, blame is 
not easily apportioned; and though the British public 
naturally sympathized with the Assyrians, there may 
have been provocation. Ata Amin, charge d'affaires 
at the Iraqi legation in London, in a letter to The 
Times of July 2Oth, 1935, refers back to this massacre, 
and urges that fair consideration should be given to the 
Arab point of view. Be that as it may, Britain had 
certainly been unwise in using the Nestorian Christian 
minority as her agents for restoring order in a Muslim 
country. Alternatively, as she had done so, she should 
have accepted definite responsibility for their future. 
Mr. L. S. Amery, Secretary for the Colonies, wrote a 


strong letter to The Times to that effect on July 1 8th, 
1935 - commendable, but a little belated. 

At the time of the Simmel massacre the Iraqi 
government decided to expel the patriarch, presumably i 
hoping to demoralize the Assyrians by removing their 
natural leader. As Iraq was still under the mandate, 
the British Embassy had to give consent before this 
could be done. The consent was given, possibly under 
the impression that the patriarch's life would be 
endangered if he remained in Iraq. Accordingly, on 
August 1 8th, 1933, Mar Shimun XXI left Baghdad in 
a British Royal Air Force aeroplane, and was taken to 
Cyprus via Palestine. In October he was allowed to 
proceed to Geneva to plead his people's cause before 
the League of Nations. Since 1933 he has not been 
allowed to return to Iraq, and has spent his time in 
Geneva, Paris, London, and elsewhere, doing what he 
can to help his people. But for diplomatic reasons his 
freedom of activity has to be considerably circum- 
scribed, and while the European nations are so 
anxiously concerned about their own problems it is 
unlikely that the Assyrian question will receive the 
attention it merits. 

However, the 1933 massacre certainly drew atten- 
tion to the urgency of the matter, and the correspond- 
ence columns of The Times reflected the fact that British 
public opinion was disturbed. Lord Hugh Cecil wrote 
saying that he had hoped the Assyrians would have 
settled happily in Iraq; but others with experience of 
the actual conditions replied expressing their convic- 
tion that no such hope was practical. It was generally 


recognized that settlement elsewhere was the only 
solution, and a Committee of the League Council was 
appointed to attend to the subject. Plans for settlement 
in Syria then began to be advanced a little more 
rapidly, and small detachments were drafted across 
the border. Arrangements were made to settle them 
temporarily in the Khabur valley, with hopes that they 
might eventually be transferred to the Ghab region, 
the Orontes valley, which was said to be a very suitable 
region for their permanent habitation. By the time 
that the independence of Iraq was symbolized by the 
accession of King Ghazi I on September 8th, 1933, 
quite a number of Assyrians had taken up their abode 
in the Khabur valley. Altogether about 4,000! settled 
there, and it was possible to close the camp at Mosul 
which had to be established after the Dohuk and 
Simmel massacres; for after that disaster the Assyrians 
were afraid to continue living in scattered villages. It 
was hoped that the Ghab region would provide a home 
for the remaining thirty or forty thousand, and that 
when those in the Khabur valley were transplanted 
there also, they would soon become a settled and 
unified community. 

But when the League of Nations Committee started 
to work out the details of the scheme, unexpected 
difficulties began to arise. It was found that the 
scheme would cost far more than had been supposed. 
Much of the Ghab region was marsh land, which would 
need draining; reservoirs would have to be made; the 
Orontes would have to be deepened; public offices 

1 The number has since risen to 8,500. 



and other buildings would have to be erected. It was 
finally estimated that the settlement would cost at 
least 1,146,000. An effort was made to raise this 
amount. The Iraq government promised to be respon- 
sible for 250,000 instead of 125,000, the British 
government promised 250,000, the French govern- 
ment 380,000, and the League of Nations 86,000. 
These offers left an additional 186,000 to be raised 
if the scheme was to be completed. Early in April 
1936 a national appeal fund was inaugurated at the 
Mansion House, London, to endeavour to raise Britain's 
share of this additional capital. The Lord Mayor 
presided, and among those urging that the fund should 
be supported were the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. 
Cosmo Lang), Sir Samuel Hoare (former Foreign 
Secretary), Mr. Anthony Eden (Foreign Secretary), 
and Mr. L. S. Amery (Colonial Secretary). 

But this appeal had hardly been launched when 
further grave difficulties arose. It was felt that the 
cost of the settlement was out of all proportion to its 
advantages, and it began to be doubted whether the 
region was so desirable as had been supposed. It was 
discovered that the Syrian authorities contemplated 
recovering 100,000 acres, but only 37,500 of these 
would go to the Assyrians; it was represented that the 
Arabs already in the region were unfavourably disposed 
toward any such settlement; and France intimated 
that her mandate would in all probability be termin- 
ated within three or four years. For these reasons, on 
July 5th, 1936, the Council of the League of Nations 
decided that the Ghab settlement plan must be 


abandoned. This was a grave disappointment to those 
who had been so anxious to see this scheme succeed. 
On July 28th, the Archbishop of Canterbury raised 
the matter in the House of Lords, and inquired whether 
settlement in some part of the British Empire might 
not be reconsidered. Lord Stanhope, on behalf of 
the government, said that the problem was not being 
overlooked, but added that settlement in a tropical or 
sub-tropical region would be unsuitable for the Assyr- 
ians, who had been used to the Kurdistan highlands. 

Meanwhile, time had been blunting some of the 
sharp feeling which had arisen between Assyrians and 
Iraqi Arabs in the earlier post-war years, and hope 
revived that they might yet settle in Iraq. On Novem- 
ber 1 6th, 1936, Mr. Anthony Eden was able to report 
to the House of Commons that 8,500 Assyrians were 
then in the upper part of the Khabur valley in Syria, 
but that the majority, who were still in Iraq, seemed to 
show signs of being willing to settle there finally, and 
that he thought the problem was moving towards its 
own settlement. This hope was reaffirmed a few weeks 
later (December yth, 1936), when, in reply to a 
question from Colonel Wedgwood, Mr. Eden said: 
'The Iraqi government have formally declared that it 
is their intention to ensure the welfare and protection 
of all minorities in Iraq, and such information as I 
have received shows that this declaration is being fully 
carried out. 3 

While this may be true, the fact remains that the 
patriarch is still unable to return to his people, to take 
up his rightful position as spiritual leader and head of 


the melet. Recently he graciously granted the present 
writer an interview in London, 1 and although he 
speaks with deliberate caution, it is clear that he does 
not think settlement in Iraq provides a final solution. 
He still hopes that it will be possible for his people to 
be provided with a territory where they may live in 
peace and confidence. After all, there are only about 
30,000 of them (apart from some in south Russia, 
whose fortunes seem to have diverged from those of the 
main sections), so the problem should not be impossibly 
formidable. Of these 30,000, Mar Shimun estimates 
that about 22,000 are in Iraq and 8,500 in Syria, in 
the Khabur valley. Those in Iraq live mostly in and 
around Baghdad and Mosul, while some are in the 
regions of Kirkuk and Erbil. In the absence of the 
patriarch, they are led by the matran, Mar Joseph 
Hananyeshu, who resides at Harir, near Erbil. Beside 
the matran, there is only one other bishop, so that the 
Nestorian episcopate now comprises only the patriarch, 
Mar (Jesse) 2 Shimun XXI; two metropolitans, Mar 
Joseph Hananyeshu and Mar Timotheus (see p. 163); 
and one bishop. 

Here, then, hopeful for a brighter future, we must 
leave the Nestorian Church, the twentieth century 
Assyrians, a remnant some thirty thousand strong which 
in our own time has endured hardships as great as any 
in its history. It may yet be that we shall see them 
happily resettled in the localities where their historic 
Church gained its primal strength, and that Baghdad, 
Mosul, and Kirkuk may once again become centres of 

1 February I3th, 1937. 2 Eshai. 


Nestorian Christianity. If these hopes are fulfilled, 
they may revive again to some measure of strength and 
prosperity; and even if their patriarch will never again 
be the head of a great Church stretching right across 
Asia, he may at least be the respected head of an 
autocephalous Christian Church in Iraq, justly proud 
of its long history, yet not unwilling to accept help and 
counsel from their Christian brethren of the West. 
Alternatively, perhaps even preferably, it may be that 
the patriarch's hopes will be fulfilled, and that a home 
will be provided for them in a land where they will be 
free to work out their destiny according to their own 
faith and culture. No one who knows their history 
would deny that this is their due. 

Apart from such hopes, which at their best fulfilment 
could reproduce no more than a meagre vestige of the 
extent and power of the medieval Nestorian Church, 
is there nothing to show as the result of this Church's 
long and chequered history, nothing but a reduced 
minority in Iraq? In reply to such a question two 
things may be said: 

First, that no cross-section made in time gives data 
for valuations in terms of eternity. Our imagination 
must visualize the whole company of Christians brought 
into the fold of Christ during the course of the cen- 
turies. If the Christian faith is true, the total Nestorian 
Church is not a remnant in Iraq: it is a great multitude, 
including in its numbers martyrs and missionaries who 
gave their all for Christ; a great company of Christians 
who, even though on earth attached to a Church not 
in communion with the rest of Christendom, will none 


the less be surely accorded their place in the Church 

Second, and finally, the fact that this Church has 
survived at all gives courage and example to modern 
Christians. From the very start the Nestorian 
Christians have always been a minority in lands of 
other faiths; throughout their history they have been 
subject to persecution and oppression; there has never 
been a time, except for a while under the ilkhans, 
when it would not have profited them to renounce their 
faith. Such steadfastness is an example for all time, 
and an eternal testimony to the glory of a faith for the 
sake of which all else is counted well lost. 


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AMANN, ABBE: The Church of the Early Centuries. 

ARNOLD, T.: The Preaching of Islam. 

ASSEMANI, J. S.: Bibliotheca Orientalis. 

BADGER, G. P.: The Nestorians and their Rituals. 

BARTLET, J. V., & CARLYLE, A. J.: Christianity in History. 

BETHUNE-BAKER, J. F.: Introduction to the Early History of Christian Doctrine. 

BETHUNE-BAKER, J. F. : Nestorius and his Teaching. 

BROWNE, E. G.: Literary History of Persia. 

BROWNE, L. E.: The Eclipse of Christianity in Asia. 

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library (Manchester) : articles by Dr. A. 
Mingana in Vols. IX.-XI. 

BURKITT, F. G. : Early Christianity outside the Roman Empire. 

Cambridge Medieval History. 

CHABOT: Histoire de Jab-Alaha, Patriarche, et de Raban Sauma. 

GHEIKHO, L.: Le Christianisme et la litter ature chretienne en Arable avant 
V Islam. 

CHWOLSON: see Memoir es de I' Academic Imperiale de Sciences de St Petersbourg. 

CLAVIJO: Embassy to Tamerlane. (English translation by Guy Le Strange.) 

COSMAS INDICOPLEUSTES: Topographia Christiana. (In Migne, Patrologia 
Graca, LXXXVIII.) 

COWPER, B. H.: Syriac Grammar. 

Encyclopaedia Britannica: relevant articles (fourteenth edition unless 
otherwise stated). 

Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (editor, J. Hastings) : relevant articles. 

FOAKES-JACKSON, F. J.: History of the Christian Church to A.D. 461. 

FORTESCUE, ADRIAN: Lesser Eastern Churches. 

FORTESCUE, ADRIAN: Uniate Eastern Churches. 

GIESELER, J. G. L.: Compendium of Ecclesiastical History. (English trans- 
lation by Samuel Davidson.) 

HARNACK, ADOLF: The Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries. 
(English translation by James MofFatt.) 

HOWORTH, H. H.: History of the Mongols. 

Hue: Christianity in China. 

KIDD, B. J.: Churches of Eastern Christendom. 
Oc 209 


LABOURT, J. : De Timotheo I Nestorianorum Patriarcha et Christianorum condi- 
tions sub Caliphis. 

LABOURT, J. : Le Christianisme dans I' empire perse. 

LEAGUE OF NATIONS UNION: Refugees and the League. (Author not named.) 
LE QUIEN: Oriens Christianus. 
LOOPS, FRIEDRICH: Nestoriana. 
MACARTNEY, G. A.: Refugees. 
MACKINTOSH, H. R.: The Person of Jesus Christ. 
MACLEAN & BROWNE: The Catholicos of the East. 
MARGA, THOMAS OF: Historia Monastica. (In W. Budge, The Book of 

Memoir es de V Academic Imperiale de Sciences de St. PJtersbourg: articles by 

Chwolson in Vols. XXXIV. and XXXVII. 
MINGANA, A.: see Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. 
MOBERG, A.: The Book of the Himyarites. 
MUIR, WILLIAM: The Goran, its Composition and Teaching. 
NAU, F. : U expansion Nestorienne en Asie. 
NEALE: History of the Holy Eastern Church. 
NESTORIUS: The Bazaar of Her aclides. (EditionsbyP. F. Bedjan (German), 

F. Nau (French), and Driver & Hodgson (English).) 
PALMER, E. H. : Arabic Grammar. (In Trubner's series.) 
PALMER, E. H.: The Quran. (Translation, being Vols. VI. and IX. of 

Sacred Books of the East.} 
PRICE: History of Muhammadanism. 
RAVEN, G. E.: Apollinarianism. 
ROBINSON, G. H. : History of Christian Missions. 
RODWELL, J. M. : The Koran. (Translation.) 
STAFFORD, COLONEL: The Tragedy of the Assyrians. 
STANLEY, A. P. : The Eastern Church. 
STEWART, JOHN: Nestorian Missionary Enterprise. 
The Assyrian Tragedy. (Author not named. Only mark 'Imp. 

Granchamp, Annemasse.') 

TOZER, H. F. : The Church and the Eastern Empire. 
WIGRAM, W. A. : History of the Assyrian Church. 
WILTSCH, J. E. T.: Handbook of the Geography and Statistics of the Church. 

(English translation by John Leitch.) 
YULE, H.: Cathay and the Way Thither. 
ZWEMER, S.: Islam. 


(The positions of places marked on the maps are given to the 
nearest degree, together with the page numbers of the maps 
on which they appear.) 

ABAGHA, 147 

Abbasid caliphs, 83-84 

list of, 140 
Abdalmalik, 92, 107 
Abraha Ashram, 77 
Abraham of Kaskar, 7374 
Abraham III, 106 
Abul Faraj, 1347-135 
Abu Mansur, 97 
Abu Said, 157 
Abu Uthman, 103 
Abyssinians, 77 
Acacius, 5152 
Achlat, 1 1 8, 124, 159 
Acre, 153 
Adam, 132 
Addai, 117, 152 
Aden (13 N. 45 E. : 58), 59 
Adiabene, 57, 72, 90, 115, 123 
Aggai, Papa Bar, 44, 117 
Ahmad, 147 
Ahmad ben Tulun, 96 
Ahura Mazda, 65, 69 
Ahwaz (31 N. 49 E. : 58, 121, 136), 

57, 113, 123 
Am Jalut, 149 
Ainsworth, Mr., 1 78 
Aitallaha, 173 
Akhtal, 92 
Aleppo, 94 

And see Berrhoea 
Alexander IV, 148 
Alexandria, 29-33, 37, 40 

school of, 24-26 

synod at, 30 
Alfred, King, 126 
Ali, 78, 90 
Allah, 69 


Al-Madain. See Madain. 

Alopen, 131, 133 

Amadia (37 N. 43 E. : 196), 159 

Amery, L. S., 201, 204 

Amida (mod. Diarbekr), 114, 123, 

And see Diarbekr 

Amrus, 76, 112 
Anastasius, 28 

Anbar (33 N. 44 E. : 121, 136), 72, 
74, 112, 123 

Christian governor at, 103 
Angamale, 162 

Antioch (36 N. 36 E. : 58, 196), 
28, 29, 67 

patriarch of, 46, 94 

patriarchate of, 44, 49 

school of, 24, 26-27, 33 

synod at, 41 
Apollinarius, 23 
Arab expansion, 68, 83 
Arabia, 59-60, 63, 76-78, 88, 


Arabian Empire, extent of, 83 
Arbela. See Erbil 
Archbishop, meaning of title, 46 
Archbishop of Canterbury's Mis- 
sion to Assyrian Christians, 

179, 194 
Ardashir I, 14 
Ardashir II, 82 
Arghun, 147, 152 
Arianism, 22-23, 35 
Armistice, 197198 
Arran, 62, 118, 124 
Artaxerxes. See Ardashir 
Arzun, 75, 114, 123, 156 
Arzuna, 115 




Ashnu, 170 
Askelon, 97 
Assyrians (as name for modern 

Nestorians), 175, 179, 198 
Astachar, 116, 124 
Ata Amin, 201 
Athanasius, 29 
Athelstan, 126 

Atropatene, 57, 67, 113, 117, 124 
Avesta, 65, 69 
Azerbaijan, 170 
And see Atropatene 

BABAI (patriarch), 21, 52-53, 56, 
635 70, no, 112, 116 

Babai the Great. See Mar Babai 

Babowai, 43-44, 49-50 

Babylon, Patriarch of, 49 

Badger, G. P., 178 

Badraia, 75, 112, 123 

Baghdad (33 N. 44 E. : 121, 122, 
136, 196), 84, 93, 96-98, 
104-106, 123, 144, i54-i55 5 
170-171, 177, 197-198, 202, 
becomes seat of patriarch, 104 

Bahira, Sergius, 70, 89 

Bahra, 60 

Bahram Cobin, 66 

Bahrain IV, 82 

Baidu, 154 

Baith Katraye (22 N. 58 E.: 58), 

Bakerda (38 N. 42 E. : 58, 121, 

122, 196), 57, 114, 123, 159, 


Balada, 75, 114, 123, 159 
Balash, 50 
Banu Salih, 125 
Bar Aggai, Papa, 44, 117 
Bardaa (40 N. 47 E. : 121, 136), 

118, 124 

Barhebraeus, 51, 76, 116, 134 
Bar-Mama, Simon, 171 
Barsumas, 42-44, 49-53 
Basrah (30 N. 48 E. : 58, 121, 136, 

. J 96), 57> 94> "4> 123 
Batimena, 127 

Baxaja, 74 

Bazaar of Heraclides, 34 

Beni Harith, 60 

Berbera, 119 

Berrhoea (mod. Aleppo), (36 N. 

37 E. : 121), 126 
Beth Adrai, synod at, 51 
Beth-Bagas, 115, 123, 159 
Beth-Daron, 75 
Beth Lapat, 15 

synod at, 50-52 

And see Jundishapur 
Beth Raman, 59 
Beth-Zabda, 74 
Bible, 69 

Bistam, Prince, 66 
Book of the Himyarites, 60, 76 
Book of the Union, 75 
Book, people of the, 69-70, 85-86 
Bribery by Nestorian patriarchs, 

1 02, 105-106 
Browne, W. H., 179 
Buazicha (Garamaea), (35 N. 

43 E.: 121, 122), 115, 123 
Buazicha (Patriarchalis), 112, 123 
Buddhism, 132, 134 
Bukhara (40 N. 64 E.: 121, 136), 

61, 128, 130 

Bukuka (34 N. 35 E. : 196), 198 
Bulgai, 146 


Cadne, 119 

Caesarea, 97 

Gaftoun, 115, 123 

Caliph, meaning of word, 83 

Caliphs, list of, 139-140 

Caliphate, definition of, 83 

extent of, 83 

Calliana (19 N. 73 E. : 58, 136), 61 
Cambalu (40 N. 117 E.: 136), 

Camula, 74 
Candidian, Count, 31 
Canon, Nestorian, 133, 188 
Cardinals, 152-153 
Cartute, 127 
Catara, island of, 1 16, 124 



Catholic, meaning of word, 45 

Catholics, 109 

Catholics, Roman, 149, 161-162, 

167-169, 172-176 
Catholicus, origin of title, 45-47 
Cecil, Lord Hugh, 202 
Celestine, 29 
Celibacy, 50-52, 73-74, 109, 165, 


Cemetery inscriptions at Semirye- 
chensk, 164165 

Ceremonies, Nestorian, 190-193 

Ceylon, 61 

Chalcedon, 32, 66 
Council of (fourth oecumenical), 
34, 41-42, 46, 75 

Chaldaeans. See Uniate Chal- 

Chanigiara, 115 

Chengtu (31 N. 104 E.: 136), 135 

China, 62, 76, 79, 119-120, 130- 
135, 141, 145, 151, 161, 167- 

Chios, island of, 162 

Chorepiscopus, 165, 184 

Chosroes I, 65-66, 72, 82, 89 

Chosroes II, 66-68, 82 
Christian wife of, 68 

Christotokos, 28 

Chrysostom, 39, 75 

Chuchta, 74 

Church of the East, 2 1 

Churches : 

building of, 91-94, 102 
destruction of, 92, 94~95> 97 
modern Nestorian, 188-190 

Cilicia (37 N. 33 E.: 136), 125 

Clement XIV, 173 

Cochin China (10 N. 106 E. : 58, 
136), 61 

Comar, 119 

Communicatio idiomatum, 25, 35 

Constantinople, 15, 28-29, 32, 35, 

bishops of. See Flavian, Maxi- 

miari, Nestorius, Sisinnius 
Council of (second oecumenical), 

22-23, 46 
Council of (fifth oecumenical), 


Cortale, 127 

Councils, oecumenical, 22, 30, 49 

list of, 22 

And see separately under place 

Cranganora (10 N. 76 E. : 136), 


Crusades, 129, 152-153 
Ctesiphon (33 N. 45 E. : 58, 196), 
15, 44, 68, 104, 197 

And see Seleucia-Ctesiphon 
Cutts, E. L., 179 
Cyprian of Nisibis, 102 
Cyprus (35 N. 33 E.: 136), 125 
Cyril of Alexandria, 24, 29-38, 54 

anathemas against Nestorius, 

30, 33 
Christology of, 24-26 

DADYESHU (abbot), 74-75 
Dadyeshu (patriarch), 48 
Dailam, 118, 124 
Dakuka (36 N. 45 E. : 58, 121, 

122), 57, 115, 123 
Dalmatius, 28 
Damascus (34 N. 36 E. : 58, 121, 

*3 6 > 196), 67, 84, 97, 120, 

126, 149 
Danes, 127 

Dasena, 115, 123, 159 
Dastagerd, 68 
Decline of the Nestorian churches, 

factors in, 100-108 
Denha I, 151, 170 
Denha Shimun, 173 
Denha, Simon, 171, 174 
Destesana (31 N. 48 E. : 58, 121, 

122), 57, 114, 123, 156 
Dhafar (18 N. 55 E. : 58), 59, 77 
Dhimmi (dimmi), 47 
Diala, river (35 N. 46 E. : 196), 


Diamper, 127 
Diarbekr (38 N. 40 E. : 121, 122, 

136, 196), 54> "4 


And see Amida 
Dinar, value of, 91 
Diocese, origin of term, 45 

214 INDEX 

Diodorus of Tarsus, 26, 53, 75 

Dioscorus of Alexandria, 3941 

Dir, 119 

Dirin, island of, 1 16, 124 

Djamasp, 62 

Doctors. See Physicians 

Doctors, the Three, 53, 75, 186 

Dohuk (37 N. 43 E. : 196), 201, 


Dokuz Khatun, 145, 147 
Dorkena, school at, 59 
monastery at, 74, 113 
Drangerda (29 N. 54 E.: 58), 57, 

Dress, Christian distinctive, 89, 

9i, 95> 9&-99 5 103, 157 

EAST, Church of the, 2 1 
Patriarch of the, 49, 52 
Ebedyeshu (Nestorian bishop of 

Nisibis), 186, 188 
Ebedyeshu (Uniate patriarch), 

Ecumenical Councils. See Coun- 

cils, oecumenical 
Eden, Anthony, 204, 205 
Edessa (37 N. 39 E.: 58, 196), 38, 

41-43, 162, 
school of, 33, 37-38, 42 
Nestorian church at, 72 
Education, level of Nestorian, 62, 

Edward I, 152 
Egypt (30 N. 32 E.: 136), 24, 33, 

67> 73, 97, 126 
Elesbaan, 77 
Elias Damascenus, 112 
Elias III, 113 
Elias V (Nestorian), 162 
Elias V (Uniate), 174 
Elias VI, 174 
Elias VII, 174 
Elias VIII, 174 
Emigrations, Nestorian, 93-94 
Ephesus, Council of (third oecu- 

menical), 31-33, 37~3 8 
Robber Council of (Latro- 

cinium), 39-41 

Ephraim of Jundishapur, 108 
Ephthalite Huns (43 N. 62 E. : 58), 

Erbil (36 N. 44 E.: 58, 121, 122, 

136, 196), 57> ii5, 123, 155, 

*57, i59> 1713 206 
school at, 59 
Eshai Shimun. See Mar Shimun 


Euphrates, 55, 56, 63, 199 
Euprepius, monastery of, 27, 32 
Eutyches, 39-41 

FARS (often, confusingly, called 

Persia), metropolitan of, 1 16 

117, 124, 127 

province of, 72, 116-117, 

threatened secession of, 117 

Flavian, 34, 39-40 

Franciscans, 172 

GABRIEL, Nestorian physician, 94, 

1 02 

Gaikhatu, 153 
Ganges valley, 61 
Garamaea, province of, 57, 75, 


Georgius, Nestorian patriarch, 125 
Georgius, Nestorian physician, 102 
Gesluna, 114, 123, 159 
Gezira, 159, 171 


Ghab (35 N. 36 E. : 196), 203-204 
Ghassan, 60 
Ghazan, 154-156 
Ghazi I, 203 
Ghuzz, 84 
Gnostics, 23, 62 
Gorringe, General, 197 
Great Khans. See Khans, Great 
Great Schism, 106 
Great Tokmak. See Tokmak, 


Great War, 183, 194 
Greek Doctors, the. See Three 

Doctors, the 

Gregory of Nazianzus, 23 
Gregory, patriarch, 67, 75 



HADITHA (34 N. 42 E. : 121, 122, 

136), 115, 123, 156 
Hadramaut (16 N. 52 E. : 58), 59, 


Haigla, 74 

Haithon, 146, 147, 155 
Halwan (35 N. 45 E.: 121), 115, 

Hamadan (35 N. 48 E. : 121, 136), 

116, 123 
Hamdun, 94 
Hamyar, 60 
Hanana, 75 

Hananyeshu II, 105, 132 
Hananyeshu (matran). See Mar 

Harir, 206 
Harith, Beni, 60 
Harran (37 N. 39 E. : 121), 114, 

Harun ar-Rashid (Harun al- 

Rashid), 93-94, 102-103, 109, 


Hegira, 78 
Henanians, 75, 109 
Henda (person), 76 
Henda (place), 74 
Hephthalite Huns. See Ephtha- 

lite Huns 

Heraclides, Bazaar of, 34 
Heraclius, 67-68 
Herat (34 N. 62 E. .-58, 121, 136), 

Heresy, 52, 54~55> 1 49> J 53 
connotation of term, 15 
Hermits, 74 
Hesna, 118 
Himyarites, 60, 77 
Himyarites, Book of the, 60, 76-77 
Hira (32 N. 44 E. : 58, 121, 136), 

57, 59, 76, 112, 123 
Hisham, 92, 107 
Hoare, Sir Samuel, 204 
Holy Cross of Jerusalem, 67-68 
Holy Leaven, 191 
Horns (Emesa), 95 
Honita, 57, 115 
Honorius IV, 152 
Hormizd IV, 82 
Hsianfu. See Sianfu 

Hsingtung, 132 

Hulagu, 84, 123, 141-142, 144- 

150, 154 . 
Christian wife of, 145-147 

IBAS, 37-42 

letter to Maris, 38 
Ibrahim ben Nuh, 95 
Ilkhans, 147, 153, 159, 166, 170, 


list of, 169 

meaning of name, 142 
Incest, 72 
India, 60-6 1, 69, 78, 116-117, 

119, 126, 135, 161-163 
name loosely used, 61 
Influence, Nestorian, at Court, 

1 02 

Innocent III, 137 
Iraq, 125, 198-207 
Isaac, bishop of Seleucia-Ctesi- 

phon, 44, 48 
Ishudad of Merv, 95 
Islam, 70, 78, 84, 86, 88, 99, no, 

125, 147, 149, 154, 170 
meaning of word, 78 
reasons for tolerating Christians, 

7, 89 
Ispahan (33 N. 52 E.: 58, 121, 

JS^), 57, n8, 124, 160 
Issiq K61 (42 N. 77 E. : 136), 164 
Izala, Mount, monastery on, 67, 



Jacobites, 54, 75-76, 97, 106, 109, 

i55> 163, 183 
note on, 54 
Java, 1 20 
Jaxartes (44 N. 68 E. : 58, 121, 122, 

136), 61 

Jazedbouzid, 132 
Jemana, 59 
Jenghiz Khan, 117, 129, 141, 143, 

145, 160, 166 
Jerusalem (32 N. 35 E. : 58, 121, 

122, 136, 196), 49, 67, 120, 

126, 172 
Holy Cross of, 67-68 



Jesuits, 131 

Jews, 69, 76-77, 89, 93, 96, 162 

Muhammad's attitude to, 85-87 
Jizyah (jizya), 90, 92, 97, 103 
John, Count, 31 
John of Antioch, 31, 33-34, 37 
John of Cora, 168 
John of Monte Corvino, 161, 167 
John, Prester, 129 
John Sulaka, 172-176 
John IV, 125 
John V, 97 
John VI, 98 
Joseph (metropolitan of Diarbekr), 


Joseph (patriarch), 72 
Julius III, 1 72 
Jundishapur (Beth Lapat), (32 N. 

48 E.: 58, 121, 122, 136), 15, 

50,57>9i 5 "3, 123,159 
medical school at, 103 
And see Beth Lapat 

KADDAK, 146 

Kadisiya, 68 

Kaleb, 77 

Kao-tsung, 132 

Karakoram (47 N. 102 E. : 136), 

Karkha (in Babylonia), (34 N. 

44 E.: 121), 72, 123 
Karkha (in Garamsea), (36 N. 

44 E.: 58, 121, 122, 136), 57, 

82, 115,123,159,197 
Kaskar (33 N. 45 E. : 58), 57, 59, 

113, 123 

Katholikos. See Catholicus 
Kavadh I, 62, 82 
Kavadh II, 68 

Keraits (50 N. 105 E. : 136), 129 
Kerman, 69 
Khabur, river (36 N. 41 E. : 196), 

203, 205-206 

Khakhan. See Khan, Great 
Khalid, 92 
Khans, Great, 141-142, 145 

list of, 140, 169 
Kharaj, 90, 92, 157 
Kharbanda Khan, 1 56 
Khurasan, 57, 117, 124, 143, 160 

Kirkuk (36 N. 44 E. : 196), 197, 

200, 206 
Kodaa, 60 

Koran, 69, 77, 85-88, 99 
Koreish Arabs, 77 
Kosra, 112, 123 
Kotayam, 79 
Kublai Khan, 150, 168 
Kufa (32 N. 44 E.: 58, 121, 136), 

59-60, 125 
Kuph, 74 
Kurdistan, 113, 114, 161, 170-172, 

Kurds, 177-178 
Kut al Imara, 195-197 
Kuyuk, 145-146 

LAPETA, 113 
Latrocinium, 39-41 
League of Nations, 200-204 
Leaven, Holy, 191 
Leo of Rome, 34, 3940 
Leo, Tome of, 39, 41 
Lingpao, 132 
Logos, 23-27, 30 

MAALTA (36 N. 43 E. : 58, 121, 

122), 57, 115, 123, 156 
Maclean, Canon, 179 
Madain, 15, 44, 104 

And see Seleucia-Ctesiphon 
Madras, 79 
Magians (Magi), 47, 65, 71 

And see Zoroastrianism 
Magnates, 68 
Mahdi, 93, 125 

Mahomet, Mahommed. See Mu- 

Mahuza, school at, 112 
Maiperkat (38 N. 41 E. : 58, 121, 
122, 136), 48, 57, 114, 123, 

Maishan. See Teredon 

Malabar (n N. 76 E.: 58, 136), 

61, 127, 162 
Male, 6 1 

Malea (23 N. 96 E. : 136), 127 
Mambeg (36 N. 38 E. : 121), 126 
Mamun, 94, 125 
Mangu, 141-142, 145 



Manichaeans, 62, 93 

note on, 93 
Mansur, 93, 102, 104 
Maota, 127 
Maps, list of, 20 

Mar, Syriac title of respect, 
'Lord,' 38 

derivatives : Mari, 'My Lord,' 

Mart, 'Lady' 
Mar Aba I, 65, 71-72 

conversion of, 71 
Maragha (37 N. 46 E. : 121, 122, 

136, I9 6 )> Il8 > *24> i55> *59> 

1 70 

monastery at, 155 
Marangerd, 75, 115 
Mar Babai the Great, 67, 7475 
Marcian, 40 
Mardin, 54 

And see Mardis 
Mardis (mod. Mardin), (37 N. 

41 E. : 121, 122), 114, 123, 


Marga. See Maragha 
Mar Hananyeshu (Isaac), 185, 

Mar Hananyeshu (Joseph), 199, 


Mari, 97-100 
Maris, 38, 117, 152 
Ibas' letter to, 38 
Markabta, synod at, 48, 54 
Maronites, 109 
Marshall, Sir W. R., 197 
Mar Shimun XII, 1 73 
Mar Shimun XIII, 173 
Mar Shimun XVIII (Reuben), 

Mar Shimun XIX (Benjamin), 

1 85, 1 95 

Mar Shimun XX (Paul), 195, 199 
Mar Shimun XXI (Jesse, Eshai), 

7, 199-200, 202, 205-206 
Mar Timotheus (of India), 163, 

Mart Maryam ('Lady Mary'), 97, 


Marutha, 48 
Marwan I, 139 
Marwan II, 140 

Masalians, 109 

Masamig, island of, 116, 124 

Masruq, 76-77 

Mathota, 59 

Matran, 184185, 199 

Maude, General, 197 

Maurice, 66 

Ma wardi, 99-100 

Maximian, 32 

Mecca (21 N. 40 E. : 58), 77-78, 

Medina (25 N. 40 E. : 58), 60, 78. 

Melet (millah, millet) , 47, 88-89, 

92, 97, 99, 146, 176 
Melkites, 106 

Memnon of Ephesus, 31-32 
Merkites (55 N. 115 E.: 136), 128 
Merv (38 N. 62 E. : 58, 121, 136), 

57, 69, 84, 91, 117, 124, 141, 


Mesopotamia, 176, 195-198 
Metropolitans, place of in hier- 

archy, 46, 55 
Metropolitan provinces, lists of, 

Metropolitan system, development 

of, no 

Milapur, 79, 161-162 
Ming dynasty, 168 
Missions to the Nestorians, mo- 

dern, 177182 
Mohammed, -an, -ism. See Mu- 

hammad, -an, -ism 
Monasteries, monasticism, 59, 73- 

74, 131, 133-135, 155 
Mongolia, 143, 145 
Mongols, in, 128-130, 140-150, 

I 53~ I 54j 164, 166, 168 
expansion, 84, 1 1 1 , 113 
terror caused by, 142-144 
persecutions by. See Persecu- 

tions, Mongol 
Monophysitism, 25, 51, 54, 75, 


definition of, 40 
Monothelites, 109 
Mopsuestia (37 N. 36 E. : 121), 126 
And see Theodore of Mopsuestia 
Moslem. See Muslim 



Mosul (town), (36 N. 43 E. : 121, 
122, 136, 196), 54, go, 114, 
115, 123, 124, 150, 155, 159, 
170, 174-176, 1 88, 197, 199, 
200, 203, 206 
(province), 114, 120, 123 
Mount Izala. See Izala, Mount 
Muhammad, 6970, 78, 83, 85- 

89, 99> "0 H7 

attitude to Christians, 85-88 

attitude to Jews, 85-87 

Nestorian teacher of, 70, 89 

note on orthography, 13 
Muhammadanism, 88 

And see Islam 

Muhammadans, note on use of 
word, 13, 78 

And see Muslims 
Mukar (43 N. 48 E. : 121, 136), 

118, 124 
Mundhar, 76 
Muqtadir, 97 

Muslims, 69, 84-100, 134, 146- 
150, 199,201 

meaning of word, 78 
Mustasim, 84, 140, 144 
Mutadid, 103 
Mutasim, 140 
Mutawakkil, 84, 95-96, 107 

NAAMANIA (33 N. 45 E. : 121), 72, 

112, 123 

Nahar-al-Marah, 57, 123 
Nahz, 119 

Naimans (54 N. 90 E. : 136), 128 
Najran (18 N. 45 E.: 58), 59-60, 

76-77, 125 
Naphara, 112, 123 
Narses, 53-54 
Nauraz, 154-156 
Nayan, 150 
Nehavend, 69 
Nejd (27N. 44 E.: 58), 60 
Neri (37 N. 45 E. : 196), 184 
Nestorian Church, decline of, 

greatest extent of, 135-136 
Nestorian churches, definition of, 
21, 55 

lists of, 57-61, 112-124, 159 

Nestorian formula, 36, 54 
Nestorian patriarch, 52 

And see Patriarch 
Nestorian Stone, 130-133 
Nestorianism, use of term, 21,38 
Nestorians, flight from Kurdistan, 


flight from Persia, 195, 198 
Nestorius : 

earlier days, 27 

at Constantinople, 2831 

at Ephesus, 3132 

banishment, 33 

last years, 34 

estimate, 35-36 

one of the 'Three Doctors,' 53, 

75, 186 
Nicaea, Council of (first oecu- 

menical), 22, 45 
Creed of. See Nicene Creed 
Nicene Creed, 22, 23, 30, 45, 152, 

1 88, 192 

Nicholas IV, 153, 161, 167 
Nil, 119 
Nineveh (36 N. 43 E.: 58, 121, 

122), 57, 115, 123 
Nishapur (36 N. 59 E. : 58, 121, 

136), 57, 117, 124, 141, 143 
Nisibis (town), (37 N. 41 E. : 58, 
121, 136, 196), 42, 57, 91, 
114, 123, 159, 171 
school of, 42, 53, 59, 71, 73, 75 
Nisibis (province), 57, 75, 1 13, 123 
Nuhadra (34 N. 42 E. : 121, 122), 
, 123, 156 

OASIS, 33-34 

Ocbara (34 N. 44 E. : 121), 112- 

(Ecumenical Councils. See Coun- 

cils, oecumenical 
Ogdai, 145 

Oman (22 N. 57 E.: 58), 59 
Omar. See Umar 
Omayyads. See Umayyads 
Origen, 23, 29 
Ormia (mod. Urmi), (38 N. 45 E. : 

121, 122, 136, 196), 115, 123, 

And see Urmi 



Ormuz, island of (27 N. 56 E. : 
121, 136), 72, 116, 124 

Orontes (35 N. 37 E. : 196), 203 

Ortone, 162 

Otrar, 161 

Owang Khans, 1 29 

Oxus (40 N. 65 E. : 58, 121, 122, 
136), 62, 83 

PALESTINE, 97, 120, 125 

Papa Bar Aggai, 44, 1 1 7 

Para, 127 

Parsees, 69 

Parvez, 67 

Patna (26 N. 85 E. : 136), 127 

Patriarch, use of title, 46, 48 

title claimed by bishop of 
Seleucia-Ctesiphon, 48, 52 

influential position of, 104106 

moves to Baghdad, 104 
Patriarchs of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, 
lists of, 

(315-660), 80-81 

(650-1317), 137-139 
Patriarchates, the, 46, 153, 186 
Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, 
becomes hereditary, 158, 171 

vacancies in, 107, 158 
Patriarchalis, province of, 57, 72, 

75, 112, 123 

Pegu (i 7 N. 96 E.: 58, 136), 61 
Pekin, 167 

And see Cambalu 

People of the Book, 69-70, 85-86 
Perath Messenes, 59 
Peroz, 43, 50, 82 
Persecutions : 

Mongol, 154-157 

Muslim, 93-98, 107-108 

Persian, 37, 43, 59, 64-68, 81-82 

reasons for, 64-65, 67 

And see Restrictions and Taxa- 

Persia (province). See Fars 
Persian Church, 43-50, 59 
Persian clergy, training of, 37, 42 
Persian Patriarch, 43 
Persian secession. See Fars 
Philip IV, 152 

Phocas, 66 

Physicians, Nestorian, 62, 91, 94, 

102-103, 145 
Pimenta, 127 

Pishpek (43 N. 75 E. : 136), 164 
Pius IV, 1 73 
Pope, 30, 109, 177 
Porea, 127 
Prester John, 129 
Pulcheria, 32, 40 


Qudshanis (38 N. 44 E. : 196), 

170, 176, 183, 184 
Quilon, 161 
Quran. See Koran 

RABBAN SAUMA, 152-153, 167 

Rabbulas, 37-38, 42 

Rabia, 60 

Radan, 112, 123 

Rai (36 N. 51 E.: 58, 121, 136), 

57, 118, 124 
Ramleh, 97 
Raqqa (36 N. 39 E.: 121), 114, 

Rawardshir (29 N. 52 E. : 58, 121, 

136), 57, n6, 124 
Rayah (raiyah), 47 
Reformed Syrians, 163 
Restrictions on Christians, 88-92, 

95, 98-100, 103 
Rhesen, 119 
Rich, C.J., 176 
Riley, Athelstan, 179 
Rites, modern Nestorian, 188-193 
Ritual, modern Nestorian, 188 


Robber Council, 39-41 
Roman Catholics. See Catholics, 

Roman Empire, connotation of 

term, 15 

emigrations into, 93-94 
Muslim wars with, 93-94 
Persian wars with, 64-68 
Rome, 29-31, 1 06, 172-175 

synod at, 30 
Romo-Syrians, 163 



Rostaca, 119 
Rum, 1 06 


Sabeites (Sabians, Sabasans), 87 

Sabranishu, 132 

Saharzur, 119 

St. Thomas's Mount, 79 

Salach, 119 

Salibazacha, 133 

Salmas, 118 

Samarqand (40 N. 67 E. : 121, 
136), 61, 1 19, 128, 130, 160 

Sana (16 N. 44 E. : 58), 59, 77, 125 

Sapor. See Shapur 

Saracens, 147-148, 161 

Sarchesa, 119 

Sarkutti, Bagi, 146 

Sassanid kings, 47, 64, 68-69, 83, 

89, 100, 107 
list of, 81-82 
persecutions by, 81-82 
And see Persecutions, Persian 

Sauma, Rabban, 152-153, 167 

Schism, 149, 153, 162-163, 171, 

connotation of term, 1 5 
Persian Church in, 48, 52, 55 
Schism, the Great, 106 
Schools, Nestorian, 59, 109 
And see Dorkena, Nisibis 
Sciaarchadata, 57, 115 
Segestan (31 N. 63 E. : 58, 121, 

136), 57> n8, 124 
Seleucia (33 N. 45 E. : 58), 14, 44, 


school at, 59 
synods at, 44, 51, 89 
And see Seleucia-Ctesiphon 
Seleucia-Ctesiphon (33 N. 45 E. : 

58), 21,55, 57, 105 
bishop of: 
primacy of, 43-45 
becomes Catholicus, 45 
becomes Patriarch, 48 
bishops, catholici, and patri- 
archs, lists of (315-660), 
80-8 1 

(650-1317), 137-139 
Seljuk, 84 

Semiryechensk, 164 

Sena (35 N. 43 E.: 121, 136), 75, 

112, 123 

Sergius Bahira, 70, 89 
Shabhalisho, 128 
Shamanism, 145 
Shapur II, 47, 59, 81, 89 
Shapur III, 82 
Shapur (town) (30 N. 52 E. : 121 , 

136), 116, 124 
Shimun. See Mar Shimun 
Shiraz (30 N. 52 E. : 121, 136), 

116, 124 

Siam (16 N. 102 E.: 58, 136), 61 
Sianfu (34 N. 109 E. : 136), 119, 

130-132, 135, 151 
Nestorian Stone at, 130-133 
Sielediva, island of (8 N.-8i E.: 

58, 136), 6 1 
Sigatsy, 146 
Sighelm, 126 
Simmel (37 N., 43 E. : 196), 201, 


Simon Bar-Mama, 171, 175 
Simon, bishop of Hira, 76 
Simon Denha, 171, 174 
Singara (36 N. 42 E.: 58), 57 
Sinope, 94 
Sisinnius, 28 
Sixtus V, 1 74 
Socotra, island of (12 N. 54 E.: 

136), 116, 124, 156 
Sulayman, 139 
Sulaka, John, 1 72-1 76 
Suras (Koran), 77, 85-88 
Susa (32 N. 48 E.: 58, 121), 57, 

.123, 156 
Susiana, 57 
Suster (32 N. 49 E. : 58, 121, 122), 

57, 113, 123 
Syria, 125, 200-204, 206 
Syriac, 177, 189, 191, 199 
Syriac Canon. See Canon, Nes- 

Syrians, 163, 185 
Syro-Chaldaeans, 185 

TABRIZ, 159, 171 
And see Taurisium 



Taghlib, 60 

Tahal, 115 

Tai-tsung, 131 

Takrit, 147 

Tamerlane. See Timur i Leng 

Tang dynasty, 131 

Taprobana, 61 

Tarsus (37 N. 35 E. : 121, 122, 

136), 126 

Tartars, 128-129, 164 
Tashkent (41 N. 69 E. : 121, 136), 

128, 130 
Taurisium (38 N. 46 E. : 58, 121, 

Tirhana (34 N. 44 E. : 121, 122), 

112-113, 123, 159 
Tokmak, Great (43 N. 75 E.: 

136), 164 
Tomarsa, 80 
Tome of Leo, 39, 41 
Tonquin (22 N. 106 E. : 58, 136), 


Tonuch, 60 

Townshend, General, 195 
Transoxiana, 61 
Travancore (9 N. 77 E. : 136), 79, 

127, 161 

122, 196), 57, 118, 124, 159, Tule (Tuli), 117-119, 130, 143 

Taxation, 87, 88-92, 103 

Andseejizyah, Kharaj, Zakat 
Tay, 60 
Tela, 74 
Telach, 115 
Teredon, 57, 114, 123 
Tetan, 127 
Themanon, 119 
Theodore of Mopsuestia, 26, 27, 

33>3&>4:' i >42>5>53>7 1 >'75 
Theodoret of Cyrus, 39-41 

Theodosius I (emperor), 23 
Theodosius II (emperor), 30-34, 


Theodosius (patriarch), 95 
Theology, modern Nestorian, 185, 

1 88 

Theotokos, 25, 28-30, 75 
The Times, 201-202 
Thomas, St. (Apostle), 60-6 1, 

127, 152, 161-162 
Thomas Christians, 117, 163 
Thomas Cross, 79 
Thomas of Jerusalem (Thomas 

Cannaneo), 61 
'Three Chapters,' the, 38 
'Three Doctors,' the, 53, 75, 186 
Tibet, 120 
Tih-tsung, 132 
Timothy I, 79, 105, 107-110, 

116-118, 125, 127-128, 132, 


Timothy II, 187 
Timur i Leng, 159-161, 166-167, 


Turkestan, 61-62, 79, 96, 1 19-120, 
127-130, 135, 145, 164-167 

Turkey, 171, 176-178, 194-195, 

Turks, 61-62, 84, 96, 195-197 

Turubuli, 127 

Tyre, synod at, 41 

UBULLAH (30 N. 48 E. : 121), 94, 

114, 123 

Uighurs (47 N. 88 E. : 136), 129 
Uljaitu, 156-158 
Umar (Omar) I, 89-90, 92, 125 
Umar (Omar) II, 92 
Umayyads (Omayyads), 83 

list of, 139-140 
Uniates, 163, 172-176, 180 

note on, 109 

Uniate Chaldasans, 172-176 
Unk (Unc) Khans, 129 
Urfa, 183 

And see Edessa 

Urmi, 115, 123, 159, 170, 174- 

And see Ormia 

Urmi, Lake (38 N. 46 E. : 121, 
122, 136, 196), 170-171, 176, 
Ushnu (37 N. 45 E. : 196), 170 

VAN, LAKE (39 N. 43 E. : 121, 122, 
136, 196), 171, 176 

War, Great, 183, 194 



Wash (33 N. 46 E.: 121, 136), Yazdegerd III, 68-69 

112, 113, 123 
Wealth of Nestorians, 101102, 


Wedgwood, Colonel, 205 
West, the, 24, 33, 37, 51 
West, Nestorian churches in the, 

120, 125 

Wigram, Canon W. A., 179 
Wolff, Joseph, 177 
Wu-tsung, 134 

YABALLAHA III, 151-153, 155- 

158, 167, 170 
Yacu, 20 1 
Yaman (14 N. 45 E. : 58), 59, 76, 

77, 125 

Yazdegerd I, 46-48, 64, 89 
Yazdegerd II, 82 

Yazdin, 68 

Yeshuyab II, 75, 79, 89, 130 

Yeshuyab III, 116 

Yeshuyab V, 106 

Yezd, 69 

Yuen-tsung, 132 

ZAB, GREAT (37 N. 44 E. : 196), 


Zakat, 90, 92 
Zarnucha, 74 
Zeno, 42, 49 
Zoroastrianism, 50, 65, 69-71, 89, 

note on, 05 

And see Magians 
Zuabia, 72, 115, 123 
Zubaidah, 109, 115, 123 


If the variants are given without comment, the first form is that 
which will be found in the general index. Where necessary, 
'anc.' and 'mod.' will be used to indicate ancient and modern 
forms respectively. Many names have easily recognized 
English, Latin, and Greek forms, such as Timothy, Timotheus, 
Timotheos; Gregory, Gregorius, Gregorios. These will not 
usually be listed, nor will easily recognizable Latinized forms 
of oriental names, such as Abdalmalecus for Abdalmalik. 

ABAGHA, Abaga, Abaka 
Abdishu, Abdiso. See Ebedyeshu 
Abul Faraj, Aboul Faradj, Abul- 

Acacius, Akak 
Acbara. See Ocbara 
Acre, Akka, Accho, Acco, St. Jean 

d'Acre, Ptolemais 
Adorbigana, Adharbaijan. See 

Ahai, Achaeus 
A1-, the Arabic article 

(For names beginning with 

this, hyphened or directly joined 

see without this prefix.) 
Alamundar. See Mundhar 
Aleppo. See Berrhoea 
Al-Madain. See Madain 
Almansor. See Mansur 
Al-Mundhar. See Mundhar 
Alopen, Alopu, Olopun, Olopwen 
Amadia, Amadiyah 
Amida, Amid, mod. Diarbekr, 


Amrus, Amr 

Ananjesu. See Hananyeshu 
Anbar, Anbara, Enbar, el-Anbar 
Arbela, Arbil. See Erbil 
Ardashir (person), Artaxerxes 
Ardashir (place). See Seleucia 
Arghun, Argon 
Aria. See Herat 

Atropatene, Adorbigana, Athro- 
patakan, Adharbaijan, Azer- 
badegan, mod. Azerbaijan, 

BABAI, Babhai, Babwai, Babaeus, 
bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, 

Babowai, Babwai, Babai, Ba- 
buaeus, Babaeus, bishop of Seleu- 
cia-Ctesiphon, 457-484 
(There is considerable confusion 
between these two sets of names, 
some considering them different, 
others considering them the 
same. Those who consider them 
the same name distinguish them 
as Babwai, Babai, Babeeus II 
and I respectively.) 

Barbasemin, Bar Bashmin, Bar- 
basemen, Barbaseminus 

Baghdad, Bagdad 

Bajarmai, Beth Garma, Beth 
Garmai. See Garamaea 

Bakerda, Beth Zabda, Gezira, 
Gozarta, mod. Jezireh 

Barsumas, Bar Sauma 

Basrah, Basra, Bassora, Bassara, 

Berrhoea, Beroea, Berea, Beria, 
Chalybon-Beroea, Khalep- 
Beroea, Khalep, Halep, mod. 
Aleppo, Haleb, Halab. 




Beth Arbaye. See Nisibis (pro- 

Beth Ardashir. See Seleucia 

Beth-Daron, Darum 

Beth Lapat, Beit Lapat. See 

Beth-Seluc, Beth-Seleucia. See 

Buazicha, Beth Vasich 

Bukhara, Bokhara 

Byzantium. See Constantinople 

CADESIA. See Kadisiya 
Cajuma. See Qayoma 
Caliph, Khalif, Khalifah 
Caliphate, Khalifate 
Calliana, Kalliana, Kaliana, mod. 

Cambalu, Cambalac, Cambaluc, 

Camballe, Kambalu , Khan 

Balig, Khan Balik, Daitu, Taitu, 

Tatu, mod. Pekin, Peking, 


Carcha. See Karkha 
Cardialabed. See Sena 
Cascar, Cascara. See Kaskar 
Catholicus, Catholicos, Katho- 


Chingiz Khan. See Jenghiz Khan. 
Chorasania. See Khurasan. 
Chosroes, Khosroes, Khosrau, 

Constantinople, Byzantium, mod. 


Goran. See Koran 
Cottayam. See Kotayam 
Cranganora, mod. Kranganur 

DADYESHU, Dadiso, Dadhisho, 

Dailam, Dilema 
Daitu. See Cambalu 
Dakuka, Dokuka 
Darum. See Beth-Daron 
Destesana, Desemsana 
Dhafar, Zafar 
Diala, Diyala 

Diarbekr, Diarbekir, Diyarbakr, 

anc. Amida, Amid 
Diodorus, Diodore 
Dioscorus, Dioscor 
Dohuk, Dehak 
Drangerda, Darabgerd, Darbe- 

ged, mod. Darab. 

EBEDYESHU, Ebedjesus, Abdishu, 


Edessa, mod. Urfa, Urfah 
Elias, Elijah, Eliyya 
Elsen. See Sena 
Enbar, el-Anbar. See Anbar 
Erbil, Arbela, Arbil, Irbil 
Ephthalite, Hephthalite 

FIRUZ. See Piroz 

GARAMSA, Garmasa, Barjarmai, 
Beth Garma, Beth Garmai 

Genghis Khan. See Jenghiz Khan 

Gezira, Gozarta. See Bakerda 

Ghab, Gharb 

Gondisapor, Gundeshapur, Gun- 
deshabhor. See Jundishapur 

Guyuk. See Kuyuk 

HADRAMAUT, Hadramut 

Haleb. See Berrhoea 

Halwan, Halwana, Holwan, Hul- 


Hamadan, Hamian 
Hanana, Hnana, Hannana 
Hananyeshu, Hnanyeshu, Hanan- 

ishu, Hananjesus, Ananjesu, 

John Joshua (!) 
Hephthalite. See Ephthalite 
Herat, Hara, Hari, Aria 
Hira, Hirta, Hirtha 
Horns, Hums, anc. Emesa 
Hormizd, Hormuzd 
Hormuz. See Ormuz 
Hsianfu, Hsinganfu, Hsignanfu. 

See Sianfu 

Hulagu, Hulaku, Hulach 
Husrau. See Chosroes 



IAHBALAHA. See Yaballaha 
lazdegerd. See Yazdegerd 
Irbil. See Erbil 
Isoyabh, Ishoyabh, Ishuyab. 


Ispahan, mod. Isfahan 
Issiq Kol, Issik Kul 
Izala, Izla 

Kirkuk, Kerkuk. See Karkha 
Koran, Quran, Goran 
Kotayam, Kottayam, Cottayam 
See Kranganur. See Cranganora 
Kublai Khan, Khublai, Kubilai 
Kudshanis, Kochannes. See 

Kuyuk, Guyuk 

JAB-ALAHA. See Yaballaha 
Jenghiz Khan, Chingiz Khan, 

Genghis Khan, Tinkiz Khan 
Jesujabus. See Yeshuyab 
Jezireh. See Bakerda 
John, Johannes, Johanna, Yu- 

hanna, Hovhannes, Joannes 
Johanna ben Bazuk. See John VI 
Johanna ben Isa. See John IV 
Jundishapur, Jundaisabur, Gon- 

disapor, Gundeshapur, Gun- 

deshabhor, Beth Lapat, Beit 


KAAN. See Khan 

Kadisiya, Qadisiya, Kadessia, 

Kalliana, Kaliana, Kalyan. See 

Kambalu. See Cambalu 

Karakoram, Karakorum 

Karkha, Karkha dhe Beth Selokh, 
Karka de Beth Selokh, Karka 
d'Beit-Sluk, Karka of Beit 
Slokh, Karkuk, Carcha, Beth- 
Seluc, Beth-Seleucia, mod. Kir- 
kuk, Kerkuk 

Kaskar, Cascar, Cascara, Kashkar 

Katholikos. See Catholicus 

Kavadh, Kawad, Kobad, Kubad 

Khalep. See Berrhoea 

Khalif, Khalifah. See Caliph 

Khalifate. See Caliphate 

Khan, Kaan 

Khan Balig, Khan Balik. See 

Khosroes, Khosrau. See Chosroes 

Khurasan, Khorasan, Chorasania 

Khuzistan. See Susiana 

MADAIN, al-Madain. And see 

Mahomet, Mahommed, -an, -ism. 
See Muhammad, -an, -ism 

Maiperkat, Maiferkat, Maiphera- 
kin, mod. Meiafarakin 

Maishan. See Teredon 

Mambeg, mod. Membij 

Mansur, Almansor 

Mar Aba, Maraba, Marabas, Mar 

Maragha, Maraga, Marga, Mara- 

Marwan, Merwan 

Melkite, Melchite 

Merv, Merw, Marw, Maru- 

Milapur, Mailapur 

Mo-. For many Arabic words 
beginning thus, e.g. Moqtadir, 
Motasim, Motawakkil, see in the 
main index under Mu- 

Mohammed, -an, -ism. See Mu- 
hammad, -an, -ism 

Mopsuestia, mod. Missis 

Mosul, Mosoul, Mausil 

Muhammad, variants and deriva- 
tives. See p. 13 

Mundhar, al-Mundhar, Alamun- 
dar, Mundhir, Mondhir, Mon- 

NAJRAN, Nejran, Nagran 
Narses, Narsai, Narse 
Nehavend, Nehawend 
Nejd, En Negd 
Nestorius, Nestor 
Nishapur, Nischabour 
Nisibis (province), Beth Arbayc 



Nisibis (town), Nasibin, Nusay- 

bin, Nisibin 
Nuhadra, Naarda 

OCBARA, Acbara 
Ogdai, Ogotai 

Olopun, Olopwen. See Alopen 
Omar. See Umar 
Omayyad. See Umayyad 
Ormazd, Ormuzd 
Ormia, mod. Urmi, q.v. 
Ormuz, Hormuz 

PATNA, Patena, Ultima, Ulna 
Pekin, Peking, Peiping. See Cam- 

Peroz, Piroz, Piruz, Firuz, Phe- 

Ptolemais. See Acre 

Seleucia, Selucia, Ardashir, Beth 

Ardashir, Veh-Ardashir. And 

see Seleucia-Gtesiphon 
Seleucia-Gtesiphon, Mada'in, al- 


Seljuk, Seljuq, Saljuq 
Semiryechensk, Semirechinsk 
Sena, Elsen, Cardialabed 
Shapur, Sapor, Sapur, Shahpoor 
Shabhalisho, Shubhalishu 
Sianfu, Sian, Segin, Siganfu, 

Sighanfu, Singanfu, Hsianfu, 

Hsinganfu, Hsignanfu, Gansi, 

Kenjanfu, Kwannui 
Silas, Sila 

Simmelj Simel, Semel 
Simon, Simeon, Shimun 
Singara, mod. Sinjar 
Sulayman, Sulaiman, Suleiman 
Susiana, Khuzistan 
Suster, Tostar, Testra, Tesra, 

mod. Shushtar 

QADISIYA. See Kadisiya 
Q,ayoma, Kayuma, Cajuma 
Qudshanis, Kudshanis, Kochannes 
Quran. See Koran 

RABBULAS, Rabbula 
Rai, Rayy, Rei, Rhe 
Raqqa, Rakkah, Racca 
Rawardshir, Riwardshir, Rew- 

Ardashir, Revardashir, Revard- 

Rizaiyeh, L. See Urmi, L. 

SABARYESHU, Sbaryeshu, Sabariso, 
Sabriso, Sabarishu, Sabarjesus, 

Sahdost, Shahdost, Sciaadostus 

Salibazacha, Slibazka 

Samarqand, Samarkand, Samar- 

Sapor. See Shapur 

Sassanid, Sasanid 

Segestan, Sigistan, Seistan 

TAITU, Tatu. See Cambalu 
Takrit, Tacrit, mod. Tikrit, Tekrit 
Taurisium, Thavrez, mod. Tabriz 
Teredon, Maishan 
Timur i Leng, Timur Lang, 

Timour^ Tamerlane 
Tinkiz Khan. See Jenghiz Khan 
Tomarsa, Tamusa, Tamuza 
Tonquin, Tong-king 
Tostar, Testra, Tesra. See Suster 

ULTIMA, Ulna. See Patna' 

Umar, Omar 

Umayyad, Omayyad 

Urfa, Urfah, anc. Edessa 

Urmi, Urmia, Urumia, Urmiyah, 

Urumiyeh, anc. Ormia 
Urmi, L., Rizaiyeh, L. 
Ushnu, Ushnuiyeh, anc. Ashnu 

VASETH. See Wasit 
Veh-Ardashir. See Seleucia 

INDEX 227 

WASIT, Waseth, Wasitha, Vaseth, Yazdegerd, Yazdgerd, Yazdagird, 
mod. Al Owasa Yazdashir, Yezdegerd, lazde- 


Yeshuyab, Isoyabh, Ishoyabh, 

YABALLAHA,Yabalaha,Iahbalaha, Jesujabus, Ishuyab 
Jab-Alaha Yuhanna. See John 

Yacu, Yaco 
Yaman, Yemen ZAFAR. See Dhafar 


20 567 835