Theodoret's chief importance is as a dogmatic theologian, it having fallen to his lot to take part in the Nestorian controversy and to be the most considerable opponent of the views of Cyril and Dioscurus of Alexandria.
The emperor Justinian (483-565), in whose reign the greatness of the Eastern empire culminated, sent two Nestorian monks to China, who returned with eggs of the silkworm concealed in a hollow cane, and thus silk manufactures were established in the Peloponnesus and the Greek islands.
In the east Syrian, the Armenian and the Georgian churches, respectively Nestorian, Monophysite and Greek Orthodox in their tenets, the agape was from the first a survival, under Christian and Jewish forms, of the old sacrificial systems of a pre-Christian age.
Neither system completely differentiates long and short vowels; the Nestorian scheme is the more satisfactory, though more cumbrous.
But the second syllable of the same word shows Syriac siding with Hebrew against Arabic. Again the primitive a of Arabic is in the older (Nestorian) pronunciation of Syriac maintained, while in Jacobite Syriac and in Hebrew it passes into o: thus Ar.
Qatil Nestorian gatel = Jacobite and Hebrew gotel.
Nisibis early became the seat of a Jacobite bishop and of a Nestorian metropolitan, and under the Arabs (when it continued to flourish and became the centre of the district of Diya`r Rebi`a) the population of the town and neighbourhood was still mostly Christian, and included numerous monasteries.
In the second place, the Mongols of the 13th century were not as yet, in any great numbers, Mahommedans; the official religion was "Shamanism," but in the Mongol army there were many Christians, the results of early Nestorian missions to the far East.
The synod of Chalcedon in 451, following the lines of Pope Leo I.'s famous letter, endeavoured to steer a middle course between the so-called Nestorian and Eutychian positions.
But the followers of Cyril of Alexandria, and with them those of Eutyches, saw in the Chalcedon decree of two natures only another form of the "Nestorian" duality of persons in Christ, and rose everywhere in opposition.
The bishops of the Coptic, Syrian and Nestorian Uniate Churches have adopted the Roman pastoral staff.
The sticharion answers to the Armenian shabik, the Nestorian kutina, the Coptic tuniah or stoicharion; the epimanikia to the Arm.
Pasban (which, however, resembles rather the Latin maniple), the Nestorian zando, and the Coptic kiman; the epitrachelion to the Arm.
Kodi, Nestorian zunro; the phainolion to the Nestorian phaino and Arm.
Thus both Abelard and Peter Lombard, in the interest of the immutability of the divine :substance (holding that God could not "become" anything), gravitated towards a Nestorian position.
About the 5th century, during the rule of the Persian Sassanian dynasty, Mery was the seat of a Christian archbishopric of the Nestorian Church.
East of the old Seljuk capital is Giaur Kalah, the Mer y of the Nestorian era and the capital of the Arab princes.
With such Mesopotamian cities as Nisibis, Amid, Mardin, Taghrith and Seleucia-Ctesiphon, as well as west of the Euphrates at such centres as Mabbogh (Hierapolis, and Aleppo, northwards at Malatiah and Maiperkat and in the districts of Lake Van and Lake Urmia, and to the east and south-east of the Tigris in many places which from the 5th century onwards were centres of Nestorian Christianity within the Sasanian Empire.
Probably (as Duval suggests) the use of Syriac in these regions went hand in hand with the spread of the monophysite doctrine, for the liturgies and formulas of the Jacobite Church were composed in Syriac. Similarly the spread of Nestorian doctrines throughout the western and southwestern regions of the Persian Empire was accompanied by the ecclesiastical use of a form of Syriac which differed very slightly indeed from that employed farther west by the Jacobites.
Pp. 13-17, and for the single Nestorian attempt at revision, ibid.
When Rabbula, the fierce anti-Nestorian and friend of Cyril, died in 435, he was succeeded in the bishopric by Ibas, who as head of the famous " Persian Book of Chastity, par.
But the feeling against the Nestorian party grew in strength, till on the death of Ibas in 457 the leading Nestorian teachers were driven out of Edessa.
The Nestorian teachers then started a great school at Nisibis (which had been under Persian rule since Jovian's humiliating treaty of 363).
To the Nestorian movement in Persia he rendered useful service by his letter to Mari of Beth Hardasher, in which he maintained the tenets of Diodore and Theodore, while allowing that Nestorius had erred.
His death in 457 was followed by a strong anti-Nestorian reaction at Edessa, which led to the expulsion of many of the leading teachers.
A Nestorian contemporary of Isaac, Dadhisho`, who was catholicus of Seleucia from 421 to 456, composed commentaries on Daniel, Kings and Ecclesiasticus.
Born probably between 415 and 420 he imbibed Nestorian doctrine from Ibas at the Persian school of Edessa, but was driven out in 457 on the death of his master, and went to be bishop of Nisibis.
One of his great aims was to secure for the Nestorian clergy freedom to marry, and this was finally sanctioned by a council at Seleucia in 486 (Labourt, op. cit., chap. vi.).
Barsauma appointed him head of the new school, where he taught rigidly Nestorian doctrine.
It was after a successful disputation in presence of the Nestorian catholicus Babhai (497-502/3) that Simeon was made bishop of Beth Arsham, a town near Seleucia.
A latter (probably Nestorian) recension is contained in a Paris MS., which was used along with the other by Bruns and Sachau in their exhaustive edition (Syrisch-romisches, Rechtsbuch, Leipzig, 1880).
The Nestorian writers of the 6th century were numerous, but as yet we know little of their.
Marutha, who was Nestorian catholicus of Seleucia from about 540 to 552 1 and a man of exceptional energy, made the only known attempt, which was, however, unsuccessful, to provide the Nestorians with a Bible version of their own.
His translation, which was edited by Bickell with an introduction by Benfey, must be distinguished from the much later Syriac translation made from the secondary Arabic version and edited by Wright in 1884.2 Ilannana of I.Iedhaiyabh, who nearly produced a disruption of the Nestorian Church by his attempt to bridge over the interval which separated the Nestorians from Catholic orthodoxy, was the author of many commentaries and other writings, in some of which he attacked the teaching of Theodore of Mopsuestia.
4 Babhai the Elder, a leading Nestorian 1 See a full account of his career in Labourt, Le Christianisme dans l'empire perse, pp. 163-191.
Isho`yabh III., Nestorian catholicus from 647 to 657/8, wrote controversial tracts, religious discourses and liturgical works.
Other important contributors to this sphere of literature were Isho' bar Nan (t827/8), John bar Zo`bi (beginning of the 13th century), Jacob bar Shakko (f1241), and the great Nestorian scholar `Abadisho' (f 1318).
Elias bar Shinaya, who in 1008 became Nestorian bishop of Nisibis, was the author of a valuable Chronicle, to which are prefixed numerous chronological tables, lists of popes, patriarchs, &c., and which covers by its narrative the period from A.D.
Sahdona, who was a monk in the Nestorian monastery of Beth `Abhe (the same to which Thomas of Marga belonged two centuries later) and afterwards a bishop early in the 7th century, wrote a biography of and a funeral sermon on his superior Mar Jacob who founded the monastery, and also a long treatise in two parts on the monastic life, of which all that survives has been edited by P. Bedjan (Paris, 1902).
8 Another, Nestorian who, a few years later, wrote ecclesiastical biographies and other theological works was Sabhrisho` Rustam, who lived at Mount Izla and other monasteries.
In the beginning of the 8th century David of Beth Rabban, also a Nestorian monk, wrote, besides a geographical work, " a monastic history, called The Little Paradise, which is frequently cited by Thomas of Marga."
Among other interesting features it contains information about the Nestorian Church of China in the 13th century - Yabhalaha was a native of Peking - an account of a journey through Central Asia, and a description of a visit to Europe by Rabban Sauma, the friend of the catholicus."
In the north-east corner of the city is the Nestorian church which was noted by Marco Polo, the façade being " elaborately carved and the gates covered with elegantly wrought iron."
In 435 he became bishop of Edessa and under his influence the Nestorian teaching made considerable progress.
Meanwhile one of his pupils, Barsumas, had settled at Nisibis in Persian territory where he became bishop in 435 and established a Nestorian school.
The liberty here granted to bishops was enjoyed as late as the 12th century, but since then the Nestorian Church has assimilated its custom to that of the Greek Church.
That the ascetic ideal was by no means wholly extinct is evident from the Book of Governors written by Thomas, bishop of Marga, in 840 which bears witness to a Syrian monasticism founded by one Awgin of Egyptian descent, who settled in Nisibis about 3 50, and lasting uninterruptedly until the time of Thomas, though it had long been absorbed in the great Nestorian movement that had annexed the church in Mesopotamia.
The Nestorian Church in Eastern Syria and Persia was under the jurisdiction of an archbishop (catholikos), who in 498 assumed the title "Patriarch of the East" and had his seat at SeleuciaCtesiphon on the Tigris, a busy trading city and a fitting centre for the great area over which the evangelizing activity of the Nestorians now extended.
The Nestorian Missionary Enterprise.
The theology of the Indian Syrian Christians is of a Nestorian type, and Cosmas Indicopleustes (6th century) puts us on the right track when he says that the Christians whom he found in Ceylon and Malabar had come from Persia (probably as refugees from persecution, like the Huguenots in England and the Pilgrim Fathers in America).
Pahlavi inscriptions' found on crosses at St Thomas's Mount near Madras and at Kottayam in Travancore, are evidence both of the antiquity of Christianity in these places (7th or 8th century), and for the semi-patripassianism (the apparent identification of all three persons of the Trinity in the sufferer on the cross) which marked the Nestorian teaching.
Thus the Nestorian Church in India, voluntarily and with perfect indifference to theological dogmas, passed under Jacobite rule, and when early in the 18th century, Mar Gabriel, a Nestorian bishop, came to Malabar, he had a cool reception, and could only detach a small following of Syrians whom he brought back to the old Nestorianism.
On the death of the bishop Mar Athanasius Matthew in 1877, litigation began as to his successor; it lasted ten years, and the decision (since reversed) was given against the party that held by the Nestorian connexion and the habitual autonomy of the Malabar church in favour of the supremacy of the Jacobite patriarch of Antioch.
Early evidence of Nestorian missions in China is extant in the tablet found in 1625 at Chang`an in the district of Hsi`en-fu, province of Shensi.
Marco Polo is witness that there were Nestorian churches all along the trade routes from Bagdad to Pekin.
The first is quite free from Nestorian influence, dates from some remote period, perhaps prior to 431, and is certainly the most ancient of those now in use in Christendom; the other two, though early, are undoubtedly of later date.
The Nestorian canon of Scripture seems never to have been fully determined, nor is the sacramental system rigidly defined.
The 400,000 Syrian Christians ("Christians of St Thomas," see Thomas, St) who live in Malabar no doubt owe their origin to Nestorian missionaries, the stories of the evangelization of India by the Apostles Thomas and Bartholomew having no real historical foundation, and the Indian activity of Pantaenus of Alexandria having proved fruitless, in whatever part of India it may have been exercised.