Dear Joseph: Thanks for your reply. Regarding your comment: …
Comment posted Thomas-Malabar Connection & The Jewish Heritage, A Biblical & Analytical Approach by John Mathew.
Dear Joseph: Thanks for your reply.
Regarding your comment: “the Nasrani prayer books give over due importance to the Patriarchs of Old Testament Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!!!! Why?????????? I found it very strange.”
This, nor the prevalence of Psalms in our prayers, is not evidence for any purported Jewish cultural heritage of the Nasranis. Why? Because our prayer books—for *all* of us, whether Orthodox, Catholic, or Church of the East—we not written by our Nasrani forefathers, but by our Syrian Christian compatriots in West Asia. The liturgies we use were written by them, and also our official prayer books. So why do they overemphasize the OT patriarchs? Because Eastern Christianity is heavy on maintaining a continuous link to the old Rabbinaic Jewish faith. By your arguments all Syrian Christians (whether in Kerala or West Asia) have Jewish origins. And your can extend this to the Byzantine Orthodox Churches (and their factions) as well. None of this is unique to us.
Our use of these prayers is due to our acceptance of Eastern Syriac Christian rites, not because our ancestors were Jews.
And the same for our use of Syriac! We are Syrian Christians — meaning, we subscribe to either East or West Syriac modes of Christianity (and/or their Catholic Uniate schismatic factions). So we use Syriac. And the question may arise — “well why did our ancestors accept Syriac if it was a foreign language?”. Well, that question could be applied to the millions of Catholics who used to worship in Latin (which most didn’t understand) before their reforms — because that was the way it was. Or perhaps our ancestors way back when were descended from West Asian (not necessarily Jewish) immigrants, and so (like us Malayalees who grew up in the West) wanted to maintain a connection to their old culture by using their old language in the liturgy.
It doesn’t imply Jewish (cultural or racial) origin.
Now, just to be clear, I personally believe us Syrian Christians have West Asian origin. I.e., I think our ancestors immigrated from West Asia and intermarried with local peoples, to form our hybrid community. I never bought the myth that Mar Thoma came over and converted Brahmins to Christianity. Why? No offense to Christianity, but Vedism is a very evolved religion, and so were the Brahmins. Hey, the Brahmins in many ways were like the Jews, highly intellectual, concerned with scriptures and law, etc. And I don’t think they would’ve just converted to Christianity like that. It doesn’t make an ounce of sense. Our religion is different from theirs in critical ways. When I look at Catholic propaganda in Kerala in which they build dioramas depicting St. Thomas baptizing Brahmins, it is the height of ridiculousness, and demonstrates a lack of understanding of Vedism.
Now, despite my belief in our West Asian origins, I take exception to loose proofs of Jewish origin. Our use of Old Testament references attest to our East Christian origins only. The Persian Crosses attest to our East Syriac origins. J2 haplogroups — again, West Asian and not necessarily Jewish origins. (Of course, Cohanim-like genes suggest that some of us *might* have Jewish ancestry — “might” because there is no marker that proves Cohen origin; refer to the “some X are Y” does not imply “all Y are X” logical argument).
“There is not the least trace of any tradition either among the Syrians or among the Indians concerning the original introduction of Christianity into South India by the East Syrians. The East Syrian bishops and patriarchs who ruled the Indian Church from the earliest times down to the sixteenth century never claimed that their forefathers were the apostles of South India”.
Ok this is nuts. “There is not the least trace …”??? How about the fact that we were East Syriac Christians prior to the 16th century? Is that not evidence? We obviously accepted the rule of East Syriac bishops — if we had an independent origin then why accept foreign rule? This makes no sense at all.
The east syriacs — the most prolific church in Christianity which only fell due to its own mismanagement and due to the Mongols — most likely established us, bringing their reverence for Thomas over to Malabar. THAT statement has evidence. The claim that Thomas established us is nice, and I’d like to believe it, but it’s been embedded in so many ridiculous myths, that it sounds absurd nowadays. Let’s see real proof. Not just vacuous “consensus by historians”! (“Consensus by historians”??? History ought to be based on fact not “consensus”. Especially when historians carry over their biases, as evidenced by the multiplicity of off-base theories offered by Kerala Church historians). What constitutes real proof? How about this. Let’s see some concrete evidence for a first century church/cross/altar — anything — in Kerala. We never had whole-scale destruction of properties by Mongols or Muslims, so where is the evidence. Where are the graves?
Sorry — but the only hard evidence are the 9th century graves in Manarcad and the old Nestorian churches scattered around India/Ceylon. What does it prove? Our origins in the Church of the East.
I think it’s good to try to prove our pre-Nestorian origins, and our Jewish origins — if they exist. But I’d like to offer my criticisms to temper pure speculation.
I might be wrong, and there might be some evidence I’m missing. (I hope so!) Please tell me what that evidence is.
Related NSC Network Articles
- Letters of St. Thomas the Apostle to Edessa from India
- Mission of Pantaenus in India and Saint Bartholomew, the Apostle in India
- Some of the traditions and rituals among the Syrian Christians of Kerala
- ‘The St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia of India’- Volume II , Chief Editor Prof.George Menachery
- Surviving MSS- Old Testament Manuscripts, Psalms and New Testament Manuscripts of Christians of Saint Thomas
- Palm Sunday ( Kuruthola Perunnal), Maundy Thursday( Pesaha), Good Friday (Dukha Velli) and Easter among Saint Thomas Christians of India
- ‘St. Thomas Christians and Nambudiris, Jews and Sangam Literature – A Historical Appraisal’, Bosco Puthur (Editor)
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