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CATECHETICAL INSTRUCTION IN THE EASTERN CHURCHES III. Catechetical Instruction in the Lesser Oriental Churches The Christian Religion was introduced during the First century into Syria, Egypt, Northern Africa and Asia Minor. In aU these countries the catechumenate was also established to spread Christianity. In the seventh century the Church was completely destroyed in Northern Africa but the Greek church and Greek liturgy was maintained up to our times in Palestine, Syria, Northern Egypt and Asia Minor. i. The Syrian Churches At the end of the second century Christianity had its beginning in Mesopotamia among the Syrians of the East and from there its spread into Persia and other eastern countries as far as China. In Syria the Monophysites separated from the orthodox Greek church in the fifth century and organized an indépendant church commonly called after their founder Jacob al-Baradai the Jacobite church. From that time on there were two churches in Syria: the Orthodox Greek and the Jacobite. The latter spread to India, where the Jacobite Church on the Malabar Coast is stiU existing. CREED. — The Eastern Syrians accept the creed of the Council of Nice (325) and the synod of Constantinople (381) but reject the creed of the Council of Ephesus (431) which condemned Nestorius for teaching two natures in Christ and for refusing to caU Mary the Mother of Christ. These Syrians go by the name of Nestorians. The Western Syrians accept the creed of Nice, Constantinople and Ephesus but reject the creed of the council of Chalcedon (451) teaching that Christ has one composite nature and His humanity is a mere accident of the divine nature. These heretical churches preserved the catechumenal method of the primitive church up to our times: the catechetical instruction was oral and without the aid of a booklet like our catechism. 181 l82JOHN M. LENHART The Nestorians were rather unanimous in the interpretation of their creed and only in rare cases leaned towards the Orthodox or Monophysite side. The Monophysites, however, were divided on many points and torn into many warring parties. Accordingly we find among them frequent revisions of creed and varying professions of faith. The theologians of the two churches wrote extensively in defence of their particular creed as well as against each other and their common enemies: Orthodox Greeks, pagans, Gnostics, Parsees, Mohammedans among whom they lived. They agree with Catholics and Orthodox on accepting Bible and Tradition as co-ordinate sources of Revelation and Rules of Faith. The civil language of the Nestorians is Syriac up to our time. The Monophysites began to speak Arabic in the eighth century and to write also in that language. In the twelfth century most of the Syriac speaking Nestorians wrote in Arabic. The official teaching of the Nestorian Church was composed at the beginning of the seventh century by the monk Babai (died 628). His contemporary Hannana of Adiabene wrote a profession of faith which leans towards Monophysitism and for this reason was attacked by Babai. Jesuyab L, Patriarch of the Nestorians (d. 650), wrote a profession of faith addressed to emperor Maurice (582—602), a treatise on thesacraments in catechetical form of twenty-two questions and answers, a refutation of Monophysitism and was engaged in many debates with Monophysites. The Nestorian Paul addressed a profession of faith to emperor Justinian (d. 565). We mention of other Nestorian theologians Acacius (d. 496) who wrote controversies against Monophysites. Honein ibn Ishak (d. 873) wrote in Syriac on the fear of God and in Arabic on the marks of the true ReUgion, Elias bar Schinaya (d. after 1049) wrote six treatises in defence of his creed in Arabic and a defence of the Christian Religion in Syriac. Joseph bar Melkom (d. about 1250) wrote in Arabic on faith and homilies. Barsahde (about 740) wrote against the Persian fireworshippers , Abraham bar Daschantal (VIIIth century) wrote against Judaism and Abu Nuh D'Anbar (d. 805) against Muslimism. The greatest theologian of the Nestorians is Ebedjesu (d. 1318) who in his celebrated work, entitled PEARL, both published in Syriac and Arabic, systematized the creed of his church. The Monophysites wrote likewise a number of books in defense of their faith. Professions of faith...


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