Is anybody here familiar with the early church in South India?

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  • Is anybody here familiar with the early church in South India?

    Christianity is known to have existed in South India since the first or second century AD. It was supposedly brought there by Thomas, Jesus' disciple. They are called Syrian Christians. I was wondering how many of you knew about this? And if there are any of you who are well acquainted with the topic, could you please tell me a bit more about these Christians?

  • #2
    Originally posted by rootle View Post
    Christianity is known to have existed in South India since the first or second century AD. It was supposedly brought there by Thomas, Jesus' disciple. They are called Syrian Christians. I was wondering how many of you knew about this? And if there are any of you who are well acquainted with the topic, could you please tell me a bit more about these Christians?
    I know a little something about it. While I knew the story about Thomas, Philip Jenkins' book The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died was a real eye opener for me. The problem is there are few (if any) early reliable sources. However there is one dated to the 6th century A.D., the Byzantine geographer Cosmas Indicopleustes. According to Cosmas:

    For the Christians who were at one time persecuted by the Greeks and Jews have conquered, and drawn their persecutors over to their own side. In like manner we see that the Church has never been destroyed, but that its adherents have been greatly multiplied, and that similarly the whole earth has been filled with the doctrine of the Lord Christ, and is still being filled, and that the gospel is preached throughout all the world. This I avouch to be the veritable fact, from what I have seen and heard in the many places which I have visited.

    Even in Taprobanê, an island in Further India, where the Indian sea is, there is a Church of Christians, with clergy and a body of believers, but I know not whether there be any Christians in the parts beyond it. In the country called Malê, where the pepper grows, there is also a church, and at another place called Calliana there is moreover a bishop, who is appointed from Persia. In the island, again, called the Island of Dioscoridês, which is situated in the same Indian sea, and where the inhabitants speak Greek, having been originally colonists sent thither by the Ptolemies who succeeded Alexander the Macedonian, there are clergy who receive their ordination in Persia, and are sent on to the island, and there is also a multitude of Christians.
    "The Early Spread of Christianity in India" (1926) by Alphonse Mingana can be found online and it covers the Syriac and Arabic literature on the topic.
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    • #3
      I wish I knew more about this topic as well. The spread of Christianity throughout the world was not covered in my New Testament religious studies class at my university. I will be looking into the book you've mentioned, thank you!
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      • #4
        Originally posted by AnnaBanana View Post
        I wish I knew more about this topic as well. The spread of Christianity throughout the world was not covered in my New Testament religious studies class at my university. I will be looking into the book you've mentioned, thank you!
        I believe you find it very informative and enlightening. Let me know what you think when you get to it.

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        • #5
          In addition to what Origen has said, if someone wants to learn more about the topic I recently discovered a pretty great article.

          The incredible journey | Books | The Guardian

          The general conclusion it comes to is that St. Thomas could certainly have gone to South India, all the historic sources seem to allow that to be a possibility, but we can't know for sure. Anyway I think it's interesting because Christianity has to become almost synonymous with European culture and it shouldn't be.
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