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Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission to Assyrian Christians
13-04-2007, 09:24 AM
Post: #1
Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission to Assyrian Christians
Could anyone tell me what were a/ the official, and b/ the unofficial reasons for the Archbishop of Canterbury calling the Nestorians of Urmia (Iran) and parts of Turkey Assyrians? No-one, not even the Nestorians, even dreamed of using the term Assyrians before then. Now this term has become a terrible yoke around the neck of many Syriac Christians, blocking not only meaningful ecumenical discussions, but even holding up the prospect of extra violent confrontation in Iraq and Turkey.

Kirk Yacoub
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16-04-2007, 09:39 AM
Post: #2
archbishop of canterbury's mission to assyrian christians
I am not surprised that no-one has tried to give me info about the Anglican mission to so-called Assyrian Christians - for it is part of a very
complex and often cynical polemic that makes Christological disputes seem simple.
The reason why it is important is a/ historical truth, b/ the very real possibilities of bloodshed between different Christian communities, and between Christian communities and Kurds in northern Iraq and Turkey.
Not only do Nestorians claim to be Assyrians (an historical nonsense), they also slap the label "Assyrian" across the history of the Syriac
Orthodox and Chaldean Roman Catholic Churches as well. The most dangerous aspect of this is that they are very active in attempting to influence governments in their policy-making in Iraq. With the Turkish government threatening to intervene in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, the so-called Assyrians are stoking up anti-Kurdish hatred as part of an attempt to create and independent Assyria(!)
What has all this got to do with Orthodox Christianity, you might ask?
Quite simply, the Church is striving to survive in Iraq and, very importantly, is striving to develop positive relations with Kurds. The only way to help them is to talk honestly about history - even about the massacres that took place in Turkey during the First World War. If we counter the language of hatred with the Christian language of love and truth, then we may just help avoid an added twist of violence in the lands occupied by Aramaean Christians.

Kirk Yacoub
Quote
16-04-2007, 09:39 AM
Post: #3
archbishop of canterbury's mission to assyrian christians
I am not surprised that no-one has tried to give me info about the Anglican mission to so-called Assyrian Christians - for it is part of a very
complex and often cynical polemic that makes Christological disputes seem simple.
The reason why it is important is a/ historical truth, b/ the very real possibilities of bloodshed between different Christian communities, and between Christian communities and Kurds in northern Iraq and Turkey.
Not only do Nestorians claim to be Assyrians (an historical nonsense), they also slap the label "Assyrian" across the history of the Syriac
Orthodox and Chaldean Roman Catholic Churches as well. The most dangerous aspect of this is that they are very active in attempting to influence governments in their policy-making in Iraq. With the Turkish government threatening to intervene in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, the so-called Assyrians are stoking up anti-Kurdish hatred as part of an attempt to create and independent Assyria(!)
What has all this got to do with Orthodox Christianity, you might ask?
Quite simply, the Church is striving to survive in Iraq and, very importantly, is striving to develop positive relations with Kurds. The only way to help them is to talk honestly about history - even about the massacres that took place in Turkey during the First World War. If we counter the language of hatred with the Christian language of love and truth, then we may just help avoid an added twist of violence in the lands occupied by Aramaean Christians.

Kirk Yacoub
Quote
17-04-2007, 02:22 PM
Post: #4
Assyrians
Dear Kirk,

Sorry I missed your question first time. I don't know as much about this as I'd like, but I do know a little; I am not sure that the historical truth will help much, because all these 'invented' nationalisms of the nineteenth century that took root are now so inbred into modern readings of history as to be almost impossible to root out. But let's try.

Nineteenth century ethnographers regarded the inhabitants of the eastern parts of the Ottoman Empire as direct descendants of the Assyrians in the Old Testament, and with that supreme racially-inspired confidence of the Victorians, decided to call the inhabitants 'Assyrians'. The American missionary societies, which had sent missions out to that region as early as the 1830s, originally, and more accurately, 'the mission to the Nestorians', but they later changed it to fit in with the Anglican nomenclature - which meant that by the 1880s it had become pretty much the designation used by the English-speaking world; and that is where it comes from.

The situation is complicated by the work of the Protestant evangelicals in the region, and by the Roman Catholics, as well as by the Chalcedonians, who all thought it OK to go about 'sheep stealing', with the results we can see today.

I am not sure that the Church of the East would be very willing to listen to the historical record. But if one has eyes to read, something contemporary such as Oswald Parry's Six Months in a Syrian Monastery gives a sympathetic and accurate account of the situation on the ground in the late nineteenth century. William Taylor's Antioch and Canterbury which is available from Gorgias press also gives an account of Anglican attitudes - which were, alas, entirely predictable.

I shall do a little more digging and get back on this, if I might?

In Christ,

John

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
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