History and Geography
This book is an introduction to the history and geography of the Church of the East, the two subjects being incapable of separation. On the one hand, the history cannot be understood without the places; on the other, without the history, it is impossible to understand the situation as it exists today.
The missionary journeys of the apostle Paul at the beginning of Christian history, starting from Antioch (today the town of Antakia in south-east Turkey), continuing into Greece, and ending up in Rome (Acts 13: 1–4), are well known. But the history of Christianity in the East, not only in the Middle East but beyond it in Asia, is often ignored. It is also from Antioch that Christianity spread eastwards to Edessa (the modern town of Urfa in south-east Turkey, 350 km north-east of Antioch) and in consequence to the whole of the Persian Empire. It was in Mesopotamia (between the Tigris and the Euphrates) that the first centre of the Church of the East developed, at Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the capital of the great Persian Empire (today to the south of Baghdad), and it was from there that this Church played a very important role in the spread of Christianity towards Eastern Asia.
The name ‘the Church of the East’ suits it very well, as it is situated to the east of the other Middle-Eastern Churches. From the beginning of Christianity until the fourteenth century, this Church experienced an extraordinary missionary drive and...
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