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The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity [Hardcover]

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Item Number 333638  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   328
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 9.5" Height: 12"
Weight:   4 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 27, 2006
Publisher   I. B. Tauris
ISBN  184511115X  
EAN  9781845111151  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Christoph Baumer is one of the very few Westerners to have visited many of the most important Assyrian sites, and has written the only comprehensive history of the "Nestorian" (or Apostolic Assyrian) Church, which now fights for survival in its country of origin, Iraq. He traces its apostolic beginnings to the present day, and discusses the Church's theology, christology and uniquely vigorous spirituality. He analyzes the Church's turbulent relationship with other Christian chuches and its dialogue with neighboring world religions such as Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism. Richly illustrated with maps and over 150 full-color photographs, the book will be essential reading for those interested in a fascinating but neglected Christian community which has profoundly shaped the history of civilization in both East and West.

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More About Christoph Baumer

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Christoph Baumer is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and a member of the Explorer's Club, New York.

Christoph Baumer has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Odyssey Illustrated Guides

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > Assyria, Babylonia & Sumer   [737  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > General   [1927  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General   [4109  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Decent book with many errors  Jan 17, 2008
I just received this book yesterday and have only looked at it for about an hour but already I have found many errors. Some of which are major and many of which are minor. A major area of concern has to do with the lines of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and Mar Yohanan (John) Sulaqa. It seems that the author, Baumer, has some of his facts confused. I hope this along with all the other errors are corrected in the next edition.

I still gave the book 3 stars because it is a nice book otherwise. There is a lot of good information in it and there are many photos/illustrations.
Valuable survey, Nestorian viewpoint   Aug 4, 2007
This book contains a great deal of detailed historical information about Christianity in Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, India and China from the Middle Ages. It also provides descriptions of the situation of these communities today, and being published in 2006 includes the effects of recent events such as the Iraq War and Iranian revolution. There is also information on a number of Eastern Christian writers that are largely unknown in the West, such as the mystic John of Dalyatha. The book also contains many pictures of church remains in the East. In general this is a very valuable book providing a wealth of information on the history and current situation of Christian communities that have received little attention.

However, the history of the Christological dispute that led to the isolation of the Church of the East is sometimes presented in a confusing way due to the Nestorian identification of nature and hypostasis. As a result the controversy is in places described as if the opposition to Nestorianism was due to a rejection of Christ's humanity instead of opposition to the introduction of a second subject (hypostasis) in Christ alongside of the Logos. The book does however describe this aspect of Nestorian theology in some places(as on p. 41 "It is clear...that for Diodore, one suffered death and another rose from it - an idea which runs as a leitmotif through Nestorian Christology."). The importance of this idea in the controversy can be seen in Paul of Nisibis' sixth century Dialogue with Justinian (available on-line).

The history of the Christological controversy is generally presented from a Nestorian viewpoint and some non-Nestorian historians would dispute parts of the account. An alternative viewpoint can be found in John McGuckin's Cyril of AlexandriaSt. Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy : Its History, Theology, and Texts which contains a number of primary texts including writings of Nestorius.
Triumph and Tragedy in the Christian East  Oct 11, 2006
One of the most intriguing and in the end most tragic stories in all of Church history is that of the Church of the East. This church, with its roots in those churches existing outside the Roman Empire once had millions of followers stretching from what is now Iraq to China and possibly Japan. Yet by the twentieth century all that was left of this once vast communion were scattered communities of ethnic Assyrians and Indians with the distinct possibility of complete disintegration. The tale of its birth, rise, fall, and recent signs of rebirth is one all of the Church needs to hear.

Christoph Baumer is in a unique position to tell their story to the West. An author who has written books on Asia and traveled extensively in that region of the world, he is one of the few to have written on the topic of the Church of the East to actually have traveled to many of their important historical sites. In The Church of the East, he gives us a history of this ancient church that is not only captivating reading but also is visually breathaking with beautiful photographs accompanying the text in this "coffee table" sized book.

Baumer begins with the beginnings of the Church and how Christianity crossed from the Roman world into Asia. The early traditions of the St. Thomas the Apostle and early evangelists who brought the young faith from the Roman world across the Euphrates into Persia and then into India are recounted as well as the early establishment of local churches througout the region.

Baumer then turns to the Christological battles that ensued after the persecution of the Church ended with the ascension of the Roman emperor Constantine. Even as the battles with the Arian heretics had not yet ended in a complete victory for Trinitarian Christology, new disputes were brewing between the Alexandrian and Antiochean theological schools. Complicating the matter was the spectre of imperial politics as patriarchs jostled for ecclesial influence and resentment against attempts at ecclesial hegemony from Constantinople grew.

As Baumer rightly points out, these disputes would have a tragic effect for the Church and leave it torn between the Church of the Roman Empire, the miaphysite Churches in Egypt, Armenia, and Ethiopia, and the "Nestorian" Church of the East. The "Nestorian" moniker that has long been applied to the Church of the East is a bit of a misnomer since Nestorius was the Bishop of Constantinople and the position of "Nestorianism" that the Council of Ephesus denounced has never been held by the Church of the East.

Baumer presents a strong case that differences in language, culture, theological presuppositions and personal ambition all played a role in forming the division of Christendom that flowed out of the disputes behind the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. Also, the geopolitical situation of the time also played a major role as Christians in Persia came under suspicion as members of what was now the official religion of Persia's enemy on the world stage.

Baumer then turns to the period following when the Church of the East declared its independance from the Church in the Roman Empire. Faced with persecution from the ruling Sassanians and internal squabbles, the Church of the East still managed to produce some great leaders capable of reforming what ailed the church. During times when persecution abated, there developed a rich theology and spirituality that would guide them in the coming centuries.

Even the conquest of Persia by the Muslim Arabs did not hinder the Church of the East and they opened many monastaries and sent missionaries to foreign lands. Baumer gives an extensive account of the mission to the East that spread the faith throughout Asia. The Church of the East built on its earlier successes in India and spread througout the rest of Asia. For a time won many adherents in China and were tolerated and even given favors by the Mongol rulers.

Of course, their fall would then come from a series of factors that weakened this great church. Baumer give the sad end of the story as the Church of the East was not only weakened by internal struggles, but also was attacked by a new wave of persecution that all but destroyed the gains made in the previous centuries. Cut off from each other, the few remaining communities would struggle to maintain their identities to the present day.

Baumer finishes with the recent history of the Church of the East including the move of the patriarch to Chicago following the genocide against the Assyrians (and other Christians) in the early twentieth century. The author believes a move of the patriarch back to the Assyrian homeland is important to its survival, but one wonders how likely this is with recent events in Iraq.

Overall, Christoph Baumer has written the greatest book available on this misunderstood church. For students of both Eastern Chrisitianity and Church history, it is not to be missed. Both informative and accessible, it fills in an important gap in the Church's knowledge of its own history. It also underscores the fact that Christianity is truly a universal faith.

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