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Nestorian priests in a procession on Palm Sunday, in a 7th–8th century wall painting from a Nestorian church in China

The Church of the East, also known as the Nestorian Church,[note 1] is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. With its roots in Mesopotamia and Persia, it grew independently of the Christian traditions of the Roman Empire.[1] From its base in the Persian Sassanid Empire, it spread widely through Asia, becoming between the ninth and fourteenth centuries the largest Christian church in the world in terms of geographical extent, with dioceses stretching from the Mediterranean to China and India.

The Church of the East was headed by the Patriarch of the East, continuing a line of patriarchs which, according to tradition, stretched back to the time of the apostles. Liturgically, the church adhered to the East Syrian Rite. Theologically, it is associated with the doctrine of Nestorianism, which emphasizes the distinctness of the divine and human natures of Jesus. In the 5th century, the church of the Roman Empire had deemed the teaching heretical, and at the First Council of Ephesus in 431, condemned both the doctrine and its chief proponent, Nestorius (386–451). This led to the Nestorian Schism and a subsequent exodus of Nestorius' supporters to Persia. The existing Christians in Persia welcomed these refugees and gradually adopted Nestorian doctrine, leading the Church of Persia to be known alternately as the Nestorian Church.

The church grew rapidly under the Sassanids and also, following the Islamic conquest of Persia, flourished as a protected dhimmi community under Islamic rule. From the 6th century it underwent a great period of expansion, establishing communities in India (the Saint Thomas Christians), and Central Asia, where they had great evangelical success among the Mongol tribes. China became home to a thriving Nestorian community under the Tang Dynasty from the 7th to 9th centuries, and again in the 13th and 14th centuries, when the church experienced a final period of expansion under the Mongol Empire, which had influential Nestorian Christians in the Mongol court.

From its peak of geographical extent, the church experienced a rapid period of decline starting in the 14th century, due in large part to outside influences. The Mongol Empire dissolved into civil war, the Chinese Ming Dynasty overthrew the Mongols and ejected Christians and other foreign influences from China, and many Mongols in Central Asia converted to Islam. The Muslim Mongol leader Timur (1336–1405) nearly eradicated the remaining Christians in Persia; thereafter, Nestorian Christianity was largely confined to Kurdistan and the Malabar Coast of India. In the 16th century, the Church of the East split into two groups, with one becoming the modern Assyrian Church of the East and the other entering into communion with the Holy See as the Chaldean Catholic Church.


Organization and structure

The head of the church was the Patriarch of the Church of the East, who also bore the title of Catholicos. Like the churches from which it developed, the Church of the East had an ordained clergy divided into the three traditional orders of deacon, priest (or presbyter), and bishop. Also like other churches, it had an episcopal polity, meaning it was organized into dioceses, each headed by a bishop and made up of several individual parish communities overseen by priests. Dioceses were organized into provinces under the authority of a metropolitan bishop. The office of metropolitan bishop was an important one, and came with additional duties and powers; canonically, only metropolitans could consecrate a patriarch.[2] The Patriarch himself was also in charge of a province, the Province of the Patriarch.

For most of its history the church had six or so Interior Provinces in its heartland in Mesopotamia and western Persia, and an increasing number of Exterior Provinces elsewhere. Most of these latter were located farther afield within the territory of the Sassanids (and later of the Caliphate), but very early on provinces were formed beyond the empire's borders as well. By the 10th century it had somewhere between 20[3] and 30[4][5] metropolitan provinces, including in China and India.[3] The Chinese provinces were lost in the 11th century, and in the subsequent centuries other of the exterior provinces went into decline as well. In the 13th century, during the Mongol Empire, two new metropolitan provinces were added in northern China, Tangut and Katai and Ong.[4]


In the Nestorian view, the human and divine essences of Christ are separate

The Church of the East is associated with Nestorianism, a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 – 431, which emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus.[6]

Nestorius's doctrine was the culmination of a philosophical current developed by scholars at the School of Antioch, most notably Nestorius' mentor Theodore of Mopsuestia. This became became a root of controversy when Nestorius publicly challenged usage of the title Theotokos (literally, "Bearer of God") for the Virgin Mary.[7] He suggested that the title denied Christ's full humanity, arguing instead that Jesus had two loosely joined natures, the divine Logos and the human Jesus, and proposed Christotokos (literally, "Bearer of the Christ") as a more suitable alternative. These statements drew criticism from other prominent churchmen, particularly Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, leading to the First Council of Ephesus in 431, at which Nestorius was condemned for heresy and deposed as patriarch.[8] Nestorianism was officially anathematized, a ruling reiterated at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. However, a number of churches, particularly those associated with the School of Edessa in Mesopotamia, supported Nestorius – though not necessarily his doctrine – and broke with the churches of the Roman Empire. Many of Nestorius' supporters relocated to Sassanid Persia.[3][9] These events are known as the Nestorian Schism.

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Christians were already forming communities in Mesopotamia as early as the first century, when it was part of the Parthian Empire. By the third century, the area had been conquered by the Persian Sassanid Empire, and there were significant Christian communities in northern Mesopotamia, Elam, and Fars.[1] The Church of the East traced its origins ultimately to the evangelical activity of Addai and Mari, disciples of Thomas the Apostle, but leadership and structure was disorganized until the establishment of the the diocese of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the bishop of which came to be recognized as Catholicos, or universal leader, of the church. This position received an additional title later, Patriarch of the East.[10]

These early Christian communities were reinforced in the fourth and fifth centuries by large-scale deportations of Christians from the eastern Roman Empire.[11] However, the Persian Church faced several severe persecutions, notably during the reign of Shapur II (339–79), from the Zoroastrian majority who accused it of Roman leanings.[12] The church grew considerably during the Sassanid period, but the pressure of persecution led to the Persian Church declaring itself independent of all other Christian churches in 424.[3]

Meanwhile, in the Roman Empire, the Nestorian Schism had led many of Nestorius' supporters to relocate to Persia. The Persian Church increasingly aligned itself with the Nestorian schismatics, a measure encouraged by the Zoroastrian ruling class. The church became increasingly Nestorian in doctrine over the next decades, furthering the divide between Roman Christendom and the Nestorians. In 486 the Metropolitan of Nisibis, Barsauma, publicly accepted Nestorius' mentor, Theodore of Mopsuestia, as a spiritual authority. In 489, when the School of Edessa in Mesopotamia was closed by Byzantine Emperor Zeno for its Nestorian teachings, the school relocated to its original home of Nisibis, becoming again the School of Nisibis, leading to a wave of Nestorian immigration into Persia. The Persian patriarch Mar Babai I (497–502) reiterated and expanded upon his predecessors' esteem for Theodore, solidifying the church's adoption of Nestorianism.[3]

Now firmly established in Persia, with centers in Nisibis, Ctesiphon, and Gundeshapur, and several metropolitan sees, the Church of the East began to branch out beyond the Persian Sassanid Empire. However, through the 6th century the church was frequently beset with internal strife and persecution from the Zoroastrians. The infighting led to a schism, which lasted from 521 until around 539, when the issues were resolved. However, immediately afterward Roman-Persian conflict led to a renewed persecution of the church by the Sassanid King Khosrau I; this ended in 545. The church survived these trials under the guidance of Patriarch Mar Abba I, who had converted to Christianity from Zoroastrianism.[3] By the end of the 5th century and the middle of the 6th, the area occupied by Nestorians included "all the countries to the east and those immediately to the west of the Euphrates", including Persia, Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Socotra, Mesopotamia, Chaldea, Media, Bactria, Hyrcania, and India; and possibly also Calliana, Male, and Sielediva (Ceylon).[13] Beneath the Patriarch in the hierarchy were nine metropolitans, and clergy were recorded among the Huns, in Persarmenia, Media, and the island of Dioscoris in the Indian Ocean.[13]

Islamic rule

After the Sassanid Empire was conquered by Muslim Arabs in 644, the Church of the East enjoyed a period of rapid expansion. Syrian and Persian Christians were tolerated by the Muslim rulers of the Rashidun Caliphate, and organized into an official dhimmi minority group headed by the Patriarch of the East.

Although the Nestorians were not permitted to proselytize or attempt to convert Muslims, Nestorian missionaries were otherwise given a free hand, and they increased missionary efforts farther afield. Missionaries established dioceses in the Arabian Peninsula and India (the Saint Thomas Christians). They made some advances in Egypt, despite the strong Monophysite presence there. They entered Central Asia and had significant success converting local Tartar tribes. Nestorian missionaries were firmly established in China during the early part of the Tang Dynasty (618–907); the Chinese source known as the Nestorian Stele describes a mission under a Persian proselyte named Alopen as introducing Nestorian Christianity to China in 635. In the 7th century, the Church had grown to have two Nestorian archbishops, and over 20 bishops east of the Iranian border of the Oxus River.[14]

In 780, under Mar Timothee I, the patriarchate moved to Baghdad.[15] The church and its communities abroad flourished under the Caliphate; by the 10th century it had a number of dioceses stretching from across the Caliphate's territories to India and China.[3]


The Nestorian Stele, created in 781, describes the introduction of Nestorian Christianity to China

The Church of the East had a vigorous corps of missionaries, who proceeded eastward from their base in Persia, having particular success in India, among the Mongols, and reaching as far as China and Korea.



Nestorianism reached India at a very early date, becoming the religion of the Saint Thomas Christians of the Malabar Coast probably by the 6th century. Whether or not Christianity in India predated the Nestorian missions (the Saint Thomas Christians attribute their Christianization to Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century), in later times Southern India's Christian community maintained strong ties with the Nestorian Church in Persia. These ties were strengthened through a series of mass migrations by Syriac Christians to the Malabar Coast in the 9th century.[16]

In the 12th century Indian Nestorianism engaged the Western imagination in the figure of Prester John, supposedly a Nestorian ruler of India who held the offices of both king and priest. The geographically remote Malabar church survived the decay of the Nestorian hierarchy elsewhere, enduring until the 16th century when the Portuguese arrived in India. The Portuguese at first accepted the Nestorian sect, but by the end of the century they had determined to actively bring the Saint Thomas Christians into full communion with Rome under the Latin Rite. They installed Portuguese bishops over the local sees and made liturgical changes to accord with the Latin practice. In 1599 the Synod of Diamper, overseen by Aleixo de Menezes, Archbishop of Goa, led to a revolt among the Saint Thomas Christians; the majority of them broke with the Catholic Church and vowed never to submit to the Portuguese in the Coonan Cross Oath of 1653. In 1661 Pope Alexander VII responded by sending a delegation of Carmelites headed by Syriac Catholics to re-establish the East Syrian rites under an Eastern Catholic hierarchy; by the next year, 84 of the 116 communities returned, forming the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. The rest entered into communion with the Jacobite Syrian Church (Syrian Orthodox Church) of Jerusalem, forming the Jacobite Syrian Church.[16]


Christianity reached China by 635, and its relics can still be seen in Chinese cities such as Xi'an. The Nestorian Stele, set up on 7 January 781 at the then-capital of Chang'an, attributes the introduction of Christianity to a mission under a Persian cleric named Alopen in 635, in the reign of Tang Taizong during the Tang Dynasty.[17][18] The inscription on the Nestorian Stele, whose dating formula mentions the patriarch Hnanishoʿ II (773–80), gives the names of several prominent Christians in China, including the metropolitan Adam, the bishop Yohannan, the 'country-bishops' Yazdbuzid and Sargis and the archdeacons Gigoi of Khumdan (Chang'an) and Gabriel of Sarag (Loyang). The names of around seventy monks are also listed.[19]

Nestorian Christianity thrived in China for approximately 200 years, but then faced persecution from Emperor Wuzong of Tang (reigned 840–846). He suppressed all foreign religions, including Buddhism and Christianity, causing it to decline sharply in China. A Syrian monk visiting China a few decades later described many churches in ruin. The Church disappeared from China in the early 10th century, coinciding with the collapse of the the Tang Dynasty and the tumult of the next years (the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period).[20]

Christianity in China experienced a significant revival during the Mongol-created Yuan Dynasty, established after the Mongols had conquered China in the 13th century. Marco Polo in the 13th century and other medieval Western writers described many Nestorian communities remaining in China and Mongolia; however, they clearly were not as vibrant as they had been during Tang times.


The Church of the East enjoyed a final period of expansion under the Mongols. Several Mongol tribes had already been converted by Nestorian missionaries in the 7th century, and Christianity was therefore a major influence in the Mongol Empire.[21] Genghis Khan was a shamanist, but his sons took Christian wives from the powerful Kerait clan, as did their sons in turn. During the rule of Genghis's grandson, the Great Khan Mongke, Nestorian Christianity was the primary religious influence in the Empire, and this also carried over to Mongol-conquered China, during the Yuan Dynasty. It was at this point, in the late 13th century, that the Church of the East reached its greatest geographical extent. But Mongol power was already waning, as the Empire dissolved into civil war, and it reached a turning point in 1295, when Ghazan, the Mongol ruler of the Ilkhanate, made a formal conversion to Islam when he took the throne.

Later history

Collapse of the exterior provinces

The 'exterior provinces' of the Church of the East, with the important exception of India, collapsed during the second half of the fourteenth century. Although little is known of the circumstances of the demise of the Nestorian dioceses in Central Asia (which may never have fully recovered from the destruction caused by the Mongols a century earlier), it was probably due to a combination of persecution, disease, and isolation.

The blame for the destruction of the Nestorian communities east of Iraq has often been thrown upon the Turco-Mongol leader Timur, whose campaigns during the 1390s spread havoc throughout Persia and Central Asia, but in many parts of Central Asia Christianity had died out decades before Timur's campaigns. The surviving evidence from Central Asia, including a large number of dated graves, indicates that the crisis for the Church of the East occurred in the 1340s rather than the 1390s. Several contemporary observers, including the papal envoy Giovanni de' Marignolli, mention the murder of a Latin bishop in 1339 or 1340 by a Muslim mob in Almaliq, the chief city of Tangut, and the forcible conversion of the city's Christians to Islam. The last tombstones in two East Syrian cemeteries discovered in Mongolia around the end of the nineteenth century date from 1342, and several commemorate deaths during a plague in 1338. In China, the last references to Nestorian and Latin Christians date from the 1350s, and it is likely that all foreign Christians were expelled from China soon after the revolution of 1368, which replaced the Mongol Yuan dynasty with the xenophobic Ming dynasty.

By the fifteenth century Nestorian Christianity was largely confined to northern Mesopotamia, in the rough triangle formed by Mosul and Lakes Van and Urmia. There were small Nestorian communities further west, notably in Jerusalem and Cyprus, but the Malabar Christians of India represented the only significant survival of the once-thriving exterior provinces of the Church of the East.[22]

Schism of 1552

Around the middle of the 15th century the patriarch Shemʿon IV Basidi (died 1497) made the patriarchal succession hereditary, normally from uncle to nephew.[23] This practice, which tended to result in a shortage of eligible heirs, eventually led to a schism in the Church. The patriarch Shemʿon VII Ishoʿyahb (1539–58) caused great offense at the beginning of his reign by designating his twelve-year-old nephew Hnanishoʿ as his successor, presumably because no older relatives were available. Several years later, probably because Hnanishoʿ had died in the interim, he transferred the succession to his fifteen-year-old brother Eliya, the future patriarch Eliya VII (1558–91). These appointments caused discontent throughout the church, and by 1552 Shemʿon VII Ishoʿyahb had become so unpopular that his opponents revolted against him. The rebels, headed by three bishops, went so far as to choose a new patriarch, electing Sulaqa, the superior of Rabban Hormizd Monastery near Alqosh. However, no bishop of metropolitan rank was available to consecrate him, as canonically required. A solution presented itself via Franciscan missionaries who were already at work among the Nestorians. The Franciscans persuaded Sulaqa's supporters to legitimize their position and obtain their candidate's consecration by taking the unusual step of seeking out the (Western) pontiff, Pope Julius III (1550–5).[2]

Sulaqa went to Rome to put his case in person. There, he made a satisfactory Catholic profession of faith and presented a letter, drafted by his supporters in Mosul, which set out his claims to be recognized as patriarch. However this letter, which has survived in the Vatican archives, distorted the truth. The rebels falsely claimed that the Nestorian patriarch Shemʿon had died in 1551 and that Sulaqa had been legitimately elected after his death. The Vatican did not discover that Shemʿon VII Ishoʿyahb was still alive until several years later. In the meantime, on April 9, 1553, having satisfied the Vatican that he was a good Catholic, Sulaqa was consecrated bishop and archbishop in St. Peter's Basilica.[23] On April 28 he was recognized as "patriarch of Mosul" by Pope Julius in the papal bull Divina disponente clementia and received the pallium vestment from the pope's hands at a secret consistory in the Vatican. These events, which marked the birth of the Chaldean Catholic Church, created a permanent schism in the Church of the East.[2]

20th century

The Assyrian Church of the East faced a further split in 1898, when a bishop and a number of followers from the Urmia area in Iran entered communion with the Russian Orthodox Church, and again in 1964 when some traditionalists responded to ecclesiastical reforms brought on by Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII (1908 – 1975) by forming the independent Ancient Church of the East. Today the Assyrian Church has about 170,000 members, mostly living in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.[3] The Patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East is in exile in Chicago, and that of the Ancient Church of the East is in Baghdad.

In the Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East in 1994, the two churches recognized the legitimacy and rightness of each others' titles for Mary.[24]

Relations with the Catholic Church

The Catholic Pope John XXIII invited many other Christian denominations, including the Assyrian Church of the East, to send "observers" to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). These observers, graciously received and seated as honored guests right in front of the podium on the floor of the council chamber, did not formally take part in the Council's debate, but they mingled freely with the Catholic bishops and theologians who constituted the council, and with the other observers as well, in the break area where cordial conversations began a rapproachment that has blossomed into expanding relations among the Catholic Church, the churches of the Orthodox Communion lead by the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the other ancient churches of the east.

In the decades since the Second Vatican Council, several patriarchs of the Assyrian Church of the East have met with the respective popes as teams of theologicans from both churches have labored to bridge the theological gaps of division. These efforts have borne fruit in the Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East signed by Pope John Paul II and the Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV in 1994, whereby the two churches established that they in fact share full doctrinal agreement on the person and nature of the Christ. Through extensive historical and theological research, the theologians of both churches were able to show that differing understanding of the words employed by Nestorius were at the heart of the condemnations of the Council of Ephesus, and the Assyrian Church of the East understood the words of Nestorius in a way that was not within the meaning assumed in that council's condemnation, making this joint declaration possible.

Recognizing that many of their members are part of a diaspora that does not have convenient access to ministers of their own denomination, the hierarchy of the Chaldean Catholic Church and of the Assyrian Church of the East also have undertaken several initiatives to collaborate in ministering to the diaspora of both bodies. Following a determination by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Church that the Anaphora of Addai and Mari of the Assyrian liturgy, which dates to the first century, is in fact valid as a prayer of consecration of holy communion, the hierarchies of both churche jointly promulgated the present Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East on 20 July 2001. These guidelines permit liberal sharing in sacraments of communion (qurbana), reconciliation, and annointing of the sick.


The Church of the East is perhaps more commonly known as the Nestorian Church, due to its historical associations with Nestorianism. The "Nestorian" label was initially a theological one, applied to followers of the Nestorian doctrine, but it was soon applied to all associated churches with little regard for theological consideration. While often used disparagingly in the West to emphasize the Church of the East's connections to a heretical doctrine, many writers of the Middle Ages and since have simply used the label descriptively, as a neutral and conventional term for the church.[4] Other names for the church include "Persian Church", "Syriac" or "Syrian" (often distinguished as East Syriac/Syrian),[4] and, more recently, "Assyrian".[4]

In modern times some scholars have sought to avoid the Nestorian label, preferring "Church of the East" or one of the other alternatives. This is due both to the term's derogatory connotations, and because it implies a stronger connection to Nestorian doctrine than may have historically existed. Even from the beginning, not all churches called "Nestorian" adhered to the Nestorian doctrine; in China, it has been noted that none of the various sources for the local Nestorian church refer to Christ as having two natures. As such, in 2006 an academic conference changed its name from "Research on Nestorianism in China", explaining in the Preface, " was decided not to keep the term "Nestorianism" in the title of the future conferences and the present book, but to use the term Church of the East, which is correct and wide enough to cover the whole field of the research."[25]

The 2000 work, The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318-1913, offers an explanation in the first chapter: "The terminology used in this study deserves a word of explanation. Until recently the Church of the East was usually called the 'Nestorian' church, and East Syrian Christians were either 'Nestorians' or (for the Catholic group after the schism of 1552) 'Chaldeans'. During the period covered in this study the word 'Nestorian' was used both as a term of abuse by those who disapproved of the traditional East Syrian theology, as a term of pride by many of its defenders (including Abdisho of Nisibis in 1318, the Mosul patriarch Eliya X Yohannan Marogin in 1672, and the Qudshanis patriarch Shem'on XVII Abraham in 1842), and as a neutral and convenient descriptive term by others. Nowadays it is generally felt that the term carries a stigma, and students of the Church of the East are advised to avoid its use. In this thesis the theologically neutral adjective 'East Syrian' has been used wherever possible, and the term 'traditionalist' to distinguish the non-Catholic branch of the Church of the East after the schism of 1552. The modern term 'Assyrian', often used in the same sense, was unknown for most of the period covered in this study, and has been avoided."[4]

The modern Assyrian Church of the East has shunned the "Nestorian" label. The church's present head, Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, explicitly rejected the term on the occasion of his consecration in 1976.[26]


  1. ^ Though the "Nestorian" label is well established, it has been contentious. See the Terminology section for the naming issue and alternate designations for the church.


  1. ^ a b Winkler, Church of the East: a concise history, p. 1
  2. ^ a b c Wilmshurst, Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 21–2
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Nestorian". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Wilmshurst, p. 4
  5. ^ According to John Foster, Church of the Tang Dynasty, p. 34, in the 9th century there were 25 metropolitans
  6. ^ Silverberg, Robert (1972). The Realm of Prester John. Doubleday. p. 20–23. 
  7. ^ Foltz, p. 63
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Nestorius". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  10. ^ Roberson, Ronald (1999) [1986]. The Eastern Christian Churches: a brief survey. Edizioni Orientalia Christiana. ISBN 8872103215. 
  11. ^ Culture and customs of Iran, p. 61
  12. ^ Foster, pp. 26-27
  13. ^ a b Stewart, pp. 13–14
  14. ^ Foster, p. 33
  15. ^ Cambridge History, p. 378
  16. ^ a b "Christians of Saint Thomas". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  17. ^ Ding, Wang (2006). "Renmants of Christianity from Chinese Central Asia in Medieval ages". in Malek, Roman; Hofrichter, Peter (editors). Jingjiao: the Church of the East in China and Central Asia. Steyler Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH. ISBN 9783805005340. 
  18. ^ Stewart, p. 169
  19. ^ Stewart, p. 183
  20. ^ Moffett, pp. 14–15.
  21. ^ Jackson, Mongols and the West, p. 97
  22. ^ Wilmshurst, Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318-1913, 345-7
  23. ^ a b Cambridge History of Christianity, Vol. 5, pp. 526-530
  24. ^ "Common Christological declaration between the Catholic church and the Assyrian Church of the East". The Holy See. November 11, 1994. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  25. ^ Hofrichter, Peter L. (2006). "Preface". in Malek, Roman; Hofrichter, Peter (editors). Jingjiao: the Church of the East in China and Central Asia. Steyler Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH. ISBN 9783805005340. 
  26. ^ Hill, p. 107


  • Angold, Michael, ed (2006). The Cambridge History of Christianity. Volume 5, Eastern Christianity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521811132. 
  • Baum, Wilhelm; Winkler, Dietmar W (1 January 2003). The Church of the East: A Concise History, London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-29770-2. Google Print, retrieved 16 July 2005.
  • Daniel, Elton L. (2006). Culture and customs of Iran. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313320538. 
  • "Nestorius and Nestorianism". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  • Foltz, Richard (2000). Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-23338-8. 
  • Foster, John (1939). The Church of the T'ang Dynasty. Great Britain: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 
  • Gumilev, Lev N. (2003) (in Russian). Poiski vymyshlennogo tsarstva [Looking for the mythical kingdom]. Moscow: Onyx Publishers. ISBN 5-9503-0041-6. 
  • Hill, Henry, ed (1988). Light from the East: A Symposium on the Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian Churches. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre. 
  • Jackson, Peter (2005). The Mongols and the West: 1221-1410. Longman. ISBN 978-0582368965. 
  • Jenkins, Philip. The Lost History of Christianity. HarperOne. ISBN 0061472816. 
  • Moffett, Samuel Hugh (1999). "Alopen". Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions: 14–15. </ref>
  • Morgan, David (2007). The Mongols (2nd ed.). Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 9781405135399. 
  • Rossabi, Morris (1992). Voyager from Xanadu: Rabban Sauma and the first journey from China to the West. Kodansha International Ltd.. ISBN 4770016506. 
  • Stewart, John (1928). Nestorian missionary enterprise, the story of a church on fire. Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark. 
  • Wilmshurst, David (2000). The ecclesiastical organisation of the Church of the East, 1318-1913. Peeters Publishers. p. 4. ISBN 9789042908765. 


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