Early History, Early Prelates, Medieval History, Nasrani History, Persian Church, Thomas the Apostle - Saturday, June 21, 2008 0:36 - 50 Comments
Both history and tradition testify that St. Thomas one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ came to India, preached the Gospel and founded a Church here. The origin of the Indian Church is an apostolic one. There are lot of opinions, views coupled with lack of documentary evidences which creates confusion about the early Nasrani Prelates proceeding the Apostle. This article focus on the prelates and missionaries of Nasranis continuing the Apostle, till the Syond of Diamper (Udayamperoor) convened on June 20, 1599 citing a number of sources.1
1. St. Thomas Christians & Church of East
“Doctrine of the Apostles” states that, “India and all its countries . . . received the Apostle’s hand of priesthood from Judas Thomas….”
Due to the common Apostolic origin and a number of socio cultural factors, from a very early period the Church of St. Thomas Christians came in to a life long relationship with the Church of Persia. According to early Christian writings Church of Persia was also established by St. Thomas the apostle. Primate or Metropolitan of Persia consecrated bishops for the Indian Church of St. Thomas Christians.
Church of the East traces its origins to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, said to be founded by Saint Thomas the Apostle. Other founding figures of Seleucia-Ctesiphon are Saint Mari and Saint Addai as evidenced in the Doctrine of Addai and the Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari. Church of Persia traces its origin to the missionary activities of St.Thomas the Apostle.
There are documents which indicate that the Syrian Church of Malabar was dependent on the Church of Seleucia or better Seleucia-Ctesiphon, later on called the church of Babylon or Church of East. We do not know for certain when and how this dependence began. It appears that, through the Church of Persia, the Malabar Church was subject to Seleucia, which was under Antioch, which in turn was under Rome. (( Please note that primacy, hierarchies dependence are different from the point of view of Church of East, different Patriarchs of Antioch and Bishop of Rome.
Church of East declares Mar Thoma Shilkha, (Saint Thomas) (c. 33-c. 77) as the first Patriarch and claims to have an independent existence. Patriarchs of Antioch were considered as the most senior of the various Patriarchs of Christendom. When the early organization of the Church was developed, the Church of Antioch, owing to its origin and influence, could not fail to become a centre of special higher jurisdiction.
- This has been collected from a number of sources with the emphasis for a list of earlier prelates. Any error can be corrected if notified with sources. Questions like whether these Christians were Nestorians etc were not considered in detail. Online link to some of the books referred is included in Resources Section.
Most of the contents are quotations from different sources and authors.The Syrian Church of Malabar, Fr. Placid, Christianity in Travancore, Mackenzie, The Nazranis, Prof George Menachery, Different works of Asseman etc as quoted.
For further reading please refer The Nazranis by Prof George Menachery, Volume I of Indian Church History Classic series which is a collection of most oftquoted books.
Note- This is not a conclusive list but a compiled collection from different books on the topic. [↩]
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