Church of the East

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Church of the East. The Syrian Church, more popularly known as Nestorian, or Assyrian, which descends from the ancient church in the Persian Empire. Its foundation is traditionally associated with Mari, a disciple of Addai, or with St Thomas himself. It adopted a strongly dyophysite (Antiochene) christology which by the 7th cent. hardened into Nestorianism.

The church undertook very extensive missionary work, and even had outposts in China from 635 until ‘foreign’ religions were expelled in 845 (see HSI-AN FU). At present, the Nestorians form a very small community in Iraq (the patriarchate was restored to Baghdād in 1976 with the election of Mar Denḥa IV), together with other small populations in the Middle E., N. and S. America, and S. India (this being a dissident body from the Syro-Malabar Church).