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Nestorian Christianity Koralija, Srecko


Nestorian Christianity as a distinguished Christian group came into existence after the Christological movement that held the theological position initially developed by Nestorius (4/5 CE). Nestorius considered Christ the Son of God and Christ the son of Mary as two separate persons with two natures rather than one person having human and divine nature. That Christological teaching was officially condemned by the Council of Ephesus in 431. The Council of Ephesus anathema led to the separation of the early Church, development of the Nestorian doctrine and ultimately initiated the process of creating the so-called Church of the East. The teaching of the Church of the East as it developed throughout history should be distinguished from the initial Nestorian teaching. Theological differences quickly had political and socio-cultural implications at the global level (relationship with the Western Church as well as other Christian communities in the East). Historically speaking, Nestorian Christians played an important role in bringing Christianity to China as well as other regions like Mongolia and India. The historical timeline of Nestorian Christianity depends on the region, socio-cultural setting and date of missionary penetration. The bilingual (Chinese-Syriac) Nestorian stele (8th ct) from Xian witnesses to the early 7th century presence of Christians in the area. Nestorian Christians also reached India, and interacted with many other groups as Mongols, Turks, and Uigurs. Members of the Nestorian community played an important role during the Islamic period when they translated many works by Aristotle into Arabic (e.g. Timothy I). Modern Assyrian Church of the East is the successor of medieval Nestorian Christians, but its doctrine today should not be identified with Nestorius. After the disintegration of the Mongolian Empire during the 14th century, the Church of the East faced rapid decline. In the aftermath of these events, the presence of Nestorian Christianity was mainly reduced to India and Mesopotamia. During the 16th century, some members of the community united with the Roman Catholic Church and were named Chaldeans, whereas those who did not united with the RCC became known as Assyrians. Nestorian Christians faced persecutions in Persia during the 6th century, but flourished in China (7-10th ct), and was also well received during the medieval Mongolian period.

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