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Nestorians, or the Lost Tribes
Fascinating book on the Church of the East, by Asahel Grant (thanks to Google Books, and to Akhan Yaaqub for pointing this out)

Lots of relevant material to the history of the CoE, Aramaic primacy, Peshitta canon and preservation, etc.

This is an awesome book and it's very hard to put down.
Fascinating! And Asahel quotes Revelation 7 thru 13 extensively, showing that the Eastern Church and The Jewish church were the servants in their foreheads and the two witnesses in chapter 11. He also cites chapter 9 as a prophecy of the Turkish and Saracen hordes which slaughtered their millions
in Asia and Middle East in the latter part of the first millenium! I happen to agree with that interpretation of Revelation 9, as did the Reformed Protestant
commentators of former centuries.

gbausc Wrote:Fascinating! And Asahel quotes Revelation 7 thru 13 extensively, showing that the Eastern Church and The Jewish church were the servants in their foreheads and the two witnesses in chapter 11. He also cites chapter 9 as a prophecy of the Turkish and Saracen hordes which slaughtered their millions
in Asia and Middle East in the latter part of the first millenium! I happen to agree with that interpretation of Revelation 9, as did the Reformed Protestant
commentators of former centuries.


Man did you read the whole thing already?
Rafa Wrote:I'm enjoying reading on Islam in the 19th century in this book. NOTHING changed. That chapter on how when the Turks were completely defeated they decided to turn on the populace living in Constantinople which was not Muslim and cursed every single Christian as an "infidel" in some sort pogrom then made ear necklaces of the Kurds who fled from the battle was pretty bad. Notice how the city reverted to looting EXACTLY like in Baghdad after the end of the US campaign. Wow, so predictable. Notice how the Yezidee devil worshiper ended up treating this traveler better than the Mohammedans (how ironic). The book is an incredible read, I'm even noting it down to see if I can find when possible a copy in Amazon, I love these sort of travel accounts, love them, in fact I have the book of wonders by Polo in my book case, but this one is even better because you learn the history of the COE while at the same time enjoying an interesting missionary account.

Rafa, I was thinking the same thing years ago when I first read this book in hardcopy. It's phenomenal, it shows just how badly things went down the drain after the advent of the religion of Islam in the middle east. At one time, during the great civilizations of Mesopotamia, the area was the most advanced in the world.

Since then until today it's become the armpit of Satan.
Asahel Grant's book was one of the first books that I checked out from the Inter-Library Loan Program.

I was getting so many obscure and out of print books back in the day, from the ILLP that the head librarian at the North Little Rock (AR) Public Libray asked me if I was "writing a book?" lol

Dave, I think that Grant's thinking that 'The Jewish Church' and the Eastern Church (The Assyrian Church of the East remnant that was then left) perhaps being the Two Witnesses, is interesting, but probably wrong, as the Two Witnesses are actual physical bodies who were murdered, and are left to rot on the streets of Jerusalem, when YHWH literally Revives them from the dead.

I suppose that it MIGHT be more feasible if the Two Witnesses would be today's modern Nazarene/Messianic Jews AND the Modern Assyrian Church of the East........BUT, I still don't think that this would be like two physical bodies of people that were murdered, and then revived, by YHWH IN THE STREETS OF JERUSALEM?

Do you see this, as missing a thing or two, Dave?

I mean if YHWH were going to bring back major players from the Tanakh, to be The Two Witnesses, why NOT Enoch and Eliyah?

Neither of them died, in the way that we think of death.

I can't think of two better ('Old Testament') candidates for the position of The Two Witnesses.

Anyway, I still think that Grant was a genius, who truly LOVED, and had deep Compassion for the Assyrian people that he encountered.

My two pence worth............Shlama, Albion

I've got a friend whose transcribing the book into text so it can go online in html format for easier reading. After he gets it complete, I'll break it up into chapters and maybe have my webmaster put a search engine on it so it can be searchable.

This is a great book!

Here's a quote from the book:

"On the opposite banks of the Haber the whole country to Adiabene and Halah is more or less settled by Nestorians, and they were formerlly even more numerous than at present. In the region of the Habor, a larger portion of the ten tribes appear to have remained unconverted to Christianity than in any other place. Still their number is inconsiderable; perhaps not more than five or six hundred households. But it is remarkable that the greater part of these reside in the Habor, or, rather, on an island in that river, in the ancient town of Zacho."

Ancestors on my father's side of the family were from Zacho and moved into other areas with Assyrian. At some point in time my family took up refuge with Assyrians, namely the Nochiya. Jews from Zacho speak a slightly different Aramaic (Judeo-Aramaic, which is a neo-Aramaic dialect), very similar to Christian Aramaic but some of the words are different to keep them separate, as Jews from Zacho and the general area say. Unfortunately, many Jews from Zacho are referred to as "Kurds" <!-- s:angry: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/angry.gif" alt=":angry:" title="Angry" /><!-- s:angry: --> which is entirely inaccurate. My great grandfather speaks of a certain "qasha" in his journals who never made him "reform our tradition and tongue" (i.e., change his faith and dialect) and "encouraged us to preserve it in whole for generations to come." Amen!
Shlama Akhi Albion,

I view Revelation as a highly symbolic prophecy, as was the book of Daniel and other OT prophecies. Zechariah mentions the two olive trees in chapter 4 as the two anointed ones (Lit. "sons of oil") who stand before The LORD of the whole earth. Oil is a Biblical symbol for the Holy Spirit. There are no two individual men who qualify as the sons of The Holy Spirit, or the only anointed ones.

If you read Rev. chapter nine carefully, you will see a prophetic description of the Muslim Turks with their long hair riding horses, whose teeth were like lions' teeth (Joe 1:6
Quote: For a nation (Goyim) is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion
.) , and are described as locusts -
Quote:4 That which the palmerworm has left has the locust eaten; and that which the locust has left has the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm has left has the caterpillar eaten.
Joel 1:4 & Joel 2:25
Quote: And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
and are yet "a nation" , so called twice. The army wear crowns (probably turbans) and lay waste to the land by fire and pillaging.

The Eastern Church (Assyrian & Syrian & Greek Orthodox) and the Western Latin Church were both witnesses for the Christ and the gospel in the early centuries. Both were attacked by the Muslim Turks and Saracens for centuries. The Assyrians in particular were witnesses to Asia Minor, India an China, building churches as they went. I cannot comment on the entire prophecy, but show here how it conforms to former prophecy language and also to was yet to come events. Yet those churches, though almost annihilated in whole regions, rose again and live today.

Halley's Bible handbook has a good overview of the different views on Revelation, but especially of the historical view, which Halley held, as did most of the Protestant commentators before the 20th century. Barnes' Commentary also espouses the older view of prophecy.

Blessings Albion,

Hey Paul,

No, I skipped! I did read quite a bit though.

I will absorb more of it later. Grant does paint a fairly graphic picture, though, of the Assyrian people. I pray that they in the East will prosper and be blest
with the freedom and opportunity we in the West enjoy, without losing their faith, language and culture which give them their unique identity.

We owe you and them an incalculably great debt for preserving The Peshitta intact for almost 2000 years!

I'm glad to see that their story is being told today. I have the Assyrian News Network on my favorites menu.

Tishbokhtha l'Alaha !

Akhi Dave, the Ishmaelites killed the entire region. Look back to when they were still chasing lizards in the sand dunes of Arabia. The area was alive with science and culture and civilization. Then came the Turks, who made a bad situation worse...and they brought the Kurds with them as henchmen.

We held out for as long as we could in those mountains, but unfortunately the formerly impregnable fortresses met their match with modern artillery in 1915, and since then those mountains and churches have been entirely empty. We fled. Every last person was either killed or made it out to other countries.

Now the area has turned into a proverbial pimple on the-you-know-what of the earth.
yaaqub Wrote:Ancestors on my father's side of the family were from Zacho and moved into other areas with Assyrian. At some point in time my family took up refuge with Assyrians, namely the Nochiya. Jews from Zacho speak a slightly different Aramaic (Judeo-Aramaic, which is a neo-Aramaic dialect), very similar to Christian Aramaic but some of the words are different to keep them separate, as Jews from Zacho and the general area say. Unfortunately, many Jews from Zacho are referred to as "Kurds" <!-- s:angry: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/angry.gif" alt=":angry:" title="Angry" /><!-- s:angry: --> which is entirely inaccurate. My great grandfather speaks of a certain "qasha" in his journals who never made him "reform our tradition and tongue" (i.e., change his faith and dialect) and "encouraged us to preserve it in whole for generations to come." Amen!

Akhi Yaaqub,

Here are some Jewish songs from Zakho in neo-Aramaic: (this one is a lament over the continuing captivity of the Israelites)
Paul Younan Wrote:Akhi Yaaqub,

Here are some Jewish songs from Zakho in neo-Aramaic: (this one is a lament over the continuing captivity of the Israelites)


Thanks for the links, Akhi.

Here are a few extracts from the book. Grant's footnotes are in {stylized brackets} within the main body of the text instead of being moved to the bottom; transcriber's notes for clarification are in [square brackets] which may include notes about spelling such as "Ooroomiah/Urmiah", unknown spelling, or other such notes, author's use of (parenthesis) are retained within the text. My transcriber used the pdf from Google and some of the pages are badly scanned and will need to be compared to a printed edition.


Excerpts from Asahel Grant's
The Nestorians; Or, The Lost Tribes (1841)

"...the Nestorian Christians are indeed the representatives and lineal descendants of the Ten Tribes..."

"a brighter day is about to dawn upon the remnant of Israel which is left from Assyria, and, through them, upon the Gentile world."

"They have the greatest reverence for the Scriptures, and were desirous to have them diffused among the people in a language which all could understand."

"In their feelings towards other sects they are charitable and liberal. In their forms, more simple and scriptural than the papal and the other Oriental church. They abhor image worship, auricular confession, and the doctrine of purgatory."

"But they had, as a people, sunk into the darkness of ignorance and superstition: none but their clergy could read or write; the education of their females was entirely neglected; and they attached great importance to their numerous fasts and feasts, to neglect of purity of heart and life. Still there are some who now appear to lead exemplary lives, and to sigh over the degradation of their people. Indeed, we cannot but hope that something of vital piety may have continued to burn upon their altars from the earliest ages of the Church, and we trust it will again shine forth in a resplendent flame."

"considerable portions of the Scriptures have been translated into the vernacular language of the Nestorians"

"Monday was spent in attendance upon the sick, in general intercourse with the people, and preparations for the continuance of my journey. I gave medicine to forty or fifty of the soldiers, and received the warmest thanks of the governor, who made me his guest. He said it was God who had sent me for their relief, when they had neither physician to prescribe nor medicine to alleviate their sufferings. The Nestorian priest lamented the low state to which their Church had been reduced, and said he feared that the people, in their gross ignorance, would fall a sacrifice to the wiles of the papists; who, he had been told, were about to make more vigorous efforts than ever to convert the whole of his people to Romanism. He told a sad tale of their past efforts and success, stating that his own father was bastinadoed [???] to compel him to become a Roman Catholic! The papists in Mesopotamia have assured me that no effort will be spared to convert the whole of the Nestorian Church to their faith; and this report is confirmed by letters since received from Bagdad, one of which says that three bishops and priests, educated at the Propaganda, were 'about going to Mosul to hold a convention to devise measures to bring over all the Nestorians to the Romish faith!'...

With God and truth on our side, we have nothing to fear, if the Church will come up to her duty. The Nestorians have nobly stood their ground, and they are still upon the watch-tower. As I approached their mountain fastnesses, their first inquiry was to know whether I was a "Catoleek;' declaring that they would not permit these 'wolves in sheep's clothing' to enter their country. Hitherto they have prevented the emissaries of Rome from entering their mountains. But the latter are looking with eagerness to this interesting field; and, while they are extending their labours in the East, no effort will be spared to spread their influence among the mountain tribes. Will Protestant Christians, to whom the Nestorians are stretching out their hands for help, suffer the golden harvest to fall into the garner of the pope?"

"A thin piece of board was struck rapidly with a mallet, to call the villagers to church at the rising of the sun. Each person, on entering the church, put off his shoes, and testified his reverence for the sanctuary of God by kissing the doorposts or threshold, and passed on to kiss the Gospels lying upon the altar, then the cross, and finally the hand of his religious teacher."

"The prayers and the singing or chanting of the psalms were all in the ancient Syriac language, and quite unintelligible to the common people; but one of the priests read a portion of the Gospels, and gave the translation into the vulgar Syriac spoken by the Nestorians; and this constituted the preaching. Sometimes the reading is accompanied by some explanations or legendary stories, of which they have many."

"It was a sacramental occasion; and the bread and wine were consecrated in the sanctuary or 'holy place' of the church, and then brought out by a priest and a deacon, while each member of the church went forward in rotation, and partook of a small piece of the bread from the hand of the priest, who held a napkin to prevent any particles from falling, as he put the morsel into the mouth of the communicant; and then he drank of the wine, which was held with great care by the deacon, so that not a drop should be spilled...

there was almost a scriptural simplicity in the observance of this solemn ordinance."

"The priest who had officiated in the prayers and instruction of the congregation first partook of the sacred elements and then invited me to partake. Hitherto I had never partaken of this ordinance with the Nestorians; but to have declined under present circumstances would have done as much injustice to my own feelings as to theirs."

"God has in great mercy preserved me through many perils and brought me among a people who had received the gospel from the apostles and immediate disciples of our Saviour, and had preserved its doctrines with a great degree of purity."

"There was great stillness and propriety of deportment in the congregation, and all retired without noise or confusion. In passing out, each person received at the door a very thin lead of bread, rolled together, and enclosing a morsel of meat. This was the 'love feat' of the early Christians of the first and second centuries."

"There was a general stillness throughout the village, such as I have noticed in few places in more highly-favoured lands. There was no noisy merriment, no attention to secular business; and the social intercourse of the people was nothing more than what was practised in the ancient Hebrew Church. Formerly they are said to have regarded the Christian Sabbath with so much sacredness, as to put to death persons for travelling on that holy day."

"In the evening many of the people again assembled for worship at the church, and morning and evening prayers are offered there through the whole week. But, unlike what I have seen anywhere else in the East, many of the people say their prayers in their own dwellings, instead of going to the church during the week; and a small wooden cross may be seen hanging from a post for them to kiss before prayers; a practice which they regard as a simple expression fo love to Christ, and faith in his death and atonement. The cross, however, is not considered in any sense as an object of religious worship."

"At Asheetha I became the guest of priest Auraham (Abraham), who is reputed the most learned Nestorian now living. He has spent twenty years of his life in writing and reading books, and has thus done much to supply the waste of, if not to replenish, the Nestorian literature. But even he had not an entire Bible; and thought the Nestorians have preserved the Scriptures in manuscript with great care and purity, so scarce are the copies, that I have not found but a single Nestorian, and that one the patriarch, their spiritual head, who possessed an entire Bible; and even that was in half a dozen different volumes. Thus divided, one man has the Gospels, another the Epistles, the Psalms, the Pentateuch, or the Prophets. Portions of the Scriptures are also contained in their church liturgy or ritual. The book of Revelation, and two or three of the shorter epistles, they did not possess till furnished with them by our mission; and these portions of the Bible appear not to have reached them when their canon was made up."

"The Nestorians attach the greatest value to the Scriptures, and are desirous to have them multiplied among their people, in a language which all understand; and when I told priest Auraham of the power of the press to multiply books, his keen, expressive eye was lighted up with a new brilliancy, and he manifested a strong desire to see it in operation here... His twenty years' toil, in copying the few works of the Nestorian literature, are beyond all commendation, when we think how small was his encouragement, and that he stood almost alone in the work."

"The priest of the village [different than the one mentioned immediately above] often visited us, and expressed a lively interest in our plans and efforts for the improvement of his people. He was trying to live a very holy life, and had therefore taken a vow corresponding to that of the Nazarites among the Jews. He ate no meat or animal food of any kind, not even vegetable oils or milk; so that he might feed his soul by starving the body."

"The patriarch presented me with... one of the ancient manuscripts of his library. It was the New Testament, written on parchment seven hundred and forty years ago, in the old Estrangelo character."

[The following quotes are from the second part of the book]

"...let us bring the traditions of the Nestorian Christians relating to their Hebrew origin. First, then, I remark, the tradition is general, and universally believed by the Nestorians throughout Assyria and Media. they speak of it of their own accord, in all places and in various circumstances. Smith and Dwight, in the course of their short visit to the Nestorian Christians, were struck by their singular assertion that they were the descendants of the ten tribes. they recognise the fact in conversation with each other, as well as with strangers. One of their priests charged upon his people their accumulated guilt and responsibility, on the ground of their relation to those 'to whom pertained the covenant and promises;' and his language was that of rebuke, and not of complaisance. Often have I heard the remark from their ecclesiastics, in allusion to their Hebrew ancestry, that theirs were a stiff-necked people, like their fathers of old. These incidental allusions to their Jewish ancestry prove most conclusively that their tradition is received as a well-known truth. Though it subject him to reproach, no one denies that is is of the children of Israel. The learned and ignorant, old and young, all acknowledge the relation."

"Here, as everywhere, the Jews are the most despised and persecuted class of the people. An odium is consequently attached to all who are allied to them. For fear of this odium, I have seen Nestorians hesitate to give a reply when interrogated respecting their ancestry; yet they finally admitted their Jewish origin."

Concerning the "great temporal blessings promised to the Jews" Grant says that the Nestorian Christians "have no anticipations of such blessings fro the Israelites in particular. They believe in the final triumph of Christianity in the world, but in this they claim for themselves no pre-eminence over other Christians."

"They read the prophets little, and understand them less. Their interpretation of the prophetic writings is generally mystical and confused."

"It may be asked whether the Nestorians have any historical records in proof of their Hebrew origin. I have seen none. {Priest Dunka, who has long been employed as an assistant in this mission, and sustains a character for veracity, and, we hope, for consistent piety, assures me that he saw near Mosul a history in which it was expressly stated that they, the Nestorians, were Beni Israel (the children of Israel)}. Their histories seldom extend beyond a short record of the passing events of the day, occasionally inserted by the writer or the copyist in the margin of some religious book. The patriarch's most ancient manuscripts were destroyed by the water about sixty years ago, when taking them across the river Zab; and, unless future research bring to light authentic records on the subject, we must content ourselves with the answer often given to my inquiries for written documents in support of their tradition. 'For us,' say the Nestorians, 'such a record is unnecessary, as we are well acquainted with the fact of our Israelitish descent, the account of which is handed down from father to son through successive generations. In our early history, certainly such a record could not have been called for; and, had any one made it at a later period, we might have suspected some sinister motive. Moreover, we consider such a tradition, received by all classes of the people, better testimony than written records, which few could read or understand, and which are liable to be corrupted or lost; whereas our tradition no one can dispute or alter, as it is known to all. We are certainly Beni Israel (sons of Israel), there is no doubt of it.'"

"It is the one simple fact, that the Nestorians are what they profess to be, the children of Israel."

"The Jews who dwell among them acknowledge the relationship. they admit that the Nestorians are as truly the descendants of the Israelites as themselves. Do they not know? or is it possible that the great mass of the ten tribes were converted to Christianity without their knowledge? Providentially for our cause, the ten tribes are not all nominally Christian. A remnant seem to have been left as witnesses in this case. Dispersed through the country of the Nestorians, and surrounding them on every side, are some thousands of nominal Jews, still adhering to Judaism, who claim to be a part of the ten tribes carried away captive by the kings of Assyria. These are the witnesses now on the stand. They testify, though sometimes reluctantly, that they and the Nestorians are brethren of the same stock; that they and the Nestorians have a common relation to the house of Israel, a common origin."

"We cannot charge these Jews with interested motives in giving this testimony. They are ashamed to admit that such an apostasy has taken place from the faith of their fathers."

"March 6th, 1840... Received a visit from two learned Jews, Ezekiel and Daniel, of Ooroomiah [Urmiah], who, in the presence of the bishops Mar Yoosuph and Mar Eliyah, two priests and other Nestorians, most explicitly acknowledged that the Nestorians were the sons of Israel, a circumstance with which, as they affirmed, the Jews were well acquainted. Priest Dunka, for my sake, then asked them if they were sure of the fact; and they replied emphatically, that they knew that the Nestorians were children of Israel; but, as the Nestorians had departed from the faith of their fathers, their people were ashamed to own them as brethren. In answer to my inquiries, they said they had records containing an account of the time and circumstances of their conversion to Christianity."

"More recently, other Jews have repeatedly made the same statement to the writer, and to some of his associates in the mission. On one occasion their chief rabbi confirmed the testimony of the Hebrew origin of the Nestorians, while in their synagogue, and in the hearing of Messers [???], Holladay, Stocking, and myself. He said that the Nestorians apostatized from the Jewish faith in the days of Christ or his apostles."

"In his famous speech to the Jews at Jerusalem, reported by Josephus, Agrippa inquires of the Jews whether any of them would extend their hopes beyond the Euphrates, and suppose that their 'fellow tribes' dwelling in Adiabene would come to their assistance. What could be more specific? Let the reader consult Butler's ancient atlas, or any other good authority, and he will find that Adiabene is precisely the region now occupied by the independent tribes of the Nestorian Christians."

"On the opposite banks of the Haber the whole country to Adiabene and Halah is more or less settled by Nestorians, and they were formerly even more numerous than at present. In the region of the Habor, a larger portion of the ten tribes appear to have remained unconverted to Christianity than in any other place. Still their number is inconsiderable; perhaps not more than five or six hundred households. But it is remarkable that the greater part of these reside in the Habor, or, rather, on an island in that river, in the ancient town of Zacho."

"A great part of the independent tribe of Tiyary, and the whole of the tribes of Tehoma, Bass, Jelu, Diss, and other minor tribes, are included in the boundaries of Adiabene, where the great body of the ten tribes were in the first century of the Christian era."

[In reference to Biblical prophecy, Grant says:] "the ten tribes are, at some future time, to be recovered from Assyria, it follows that they are there now."

["they shall come that were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts of the land of Egypt, and shall worship MarYah in the holy mountain of Jerusalem." - Isaiah 27:13]

"...with our knowledge of the present population of Assyria, the inference is unavoidable, that the ten tribes must be identical with the Nestorian Christians. let us see how it appears. The ten tribes were carried into Assyria. The time of their return is still future. They are therefore in Assyria at the present time. Now the Nestorians are the only people in Assyria who can be identified with the ten tribes."

"I have already remarked that a small portion of the descendants of the ten tribes, by a special providence, appear to have been reserved, unconverted from Judaism, as witnesses to the identity of their converted brethren. We have heard their direct testimony that the Nestorians have a common ancestry with themselves. They have also a common language. Not that the Nestorians speak a dialect of the Hebrew; for they do not. The Jews living in the places to which the ten tribes were transplanted, speak a different language from their brethren in other parts of the world. it is a dialect of the Syriac, which indicates for them a different ancestry. This is also the language spoken by the Nestorians. they are radically the same. the Nestorians themselves testify to this, and say there is little or no more difference between the language of their Jewish neighbours and their own, than there is between the several dialects spoken among themselves...

Other members of this mission have noticed the striking similarity of the dialects spoken by the Jews and Nestorians of Ooroomiah; and it is worthy of remark, that one of them, on first conversing with a Jew in his own native Syriac [that is, Aramaic], supposed that the Jew had been learning the language of the Nestorians for the sake of obtaining their custom in trade."

"It is now generally admitted that Syriac [that is, Aramaic] was the language in which our Saviour conversed while upon earth, and the general language of Palestine [that is, Israel] at that day. The Greek, which was somewhat common, was certainly of later growth than the Syriac; while Hebrew was only known as the language of books. It has been thought by some that the Syriac (Aramean) was introduced from Babylon on the return of the captive Jews. But the Chaldaic of that day (the language of Babylonia), of which a sample has come down to us in the Book of Daniel, possesses at least a strong dialectical difference from the Syriac."

"The number of the Jews still professing Judaism, however, is altogether too small to allow of the supposition that they are the only representatives of Israel, to whom such prominence is given in the unaccomplished predictions of the inspired Prophets. Still they are sufficiently numerous to be important witnesses to the identify of the Nestorians with the lost tribes."

"It is well worthy of remark, that only among the Nestorians and nominal Jews of Media and Assyria is the Syriac [Aramaic], at this day, a living language."

"...the unavoidable necessity of our adopting the explanation which has often been given by both the Jews and Nestorians, that their common medium of communication is the consequence of their common ancestry, and, at the same time, affords convincing proof that they are both alike the children of Israel."

"Beni Israel is used generally to designate the lineal origin of the Nestorians. Ask any intelligent Nestorian for information relating to his ancestry, and he replies at once, 'We are sons of Israel.'"

"Nazareans is a term very commonly employed by themselves and others to designate the Nestorians. {I have seen more than one letter written by Nestorians to the patriarch Mar Shimon, in which he was styled 'Patriarch of all the Nazareans.'} It is specific in its application to the Nestorians, and is never applied to the Armenians or other Christian sects. As evidence of their Hebrew origin, it may be, in some respects, even more satisfactory than the expressive appellation, sons of Israel."

"The term Nazareans has been well defined to mean 'Christians converted from Judaism, whose chief error consisted in defending the necessity or expediency of the works of the law, and who obstinately adhered to the practice of the Jewish ceremonies.' In other words, they were 'Jews or Israelites converted to Christianity;' i.e., converted Jews. Dr. Semler, a German writer, says they were 'those who more rigidly maintained the Mosaic observances.' Calmet mentions them as 'descendants of the original Jewish Christians, and, as Jews, were too harshly treated by those who should have been their Gentile brethren.' Jerome speaks of them as Hebrews believing in Christ. Mosheim says, 'those who have the title of Christians among the Greeks, were among the Jews called Nazareans;' and, 'after their separation from their [Jewish] brethren, although they would not discard the ceremonies prescribed by Moses, yet they would not impose them upon the Gentile Christians. they, moreover, reject the additions made to the Mosaic ritual by the doctors of the law and the Pharisees.' The learned Bishop Horsely and other who have examined the subject, appear to have taken similar views, not regarding the Nazareans as a distinct sect, but as Christians converted from Judaism. That the Jewish converts, in the early age of the Church, tenaciously retained many of their ancient rites, is evident from their zeal to impose them upon the Gentiles, teaching 'that it was needful to command them to keep the law of Moses.' But the apostles, after much deliberation upon the subject, in a general council decided against putting this heavy 'yoke' upon their Gentile brethren. We have good reason, therefore, to believe that the latter never adopted the rites of the Jews, nor the name of the Nazarean, to whom these rites were peculiar. It must, then, have been applied exclusively to the Jewish converts. Hence the conclusion that the Nestorians must have been Jews. This conclusion derives important support from their retaining, in connection with this name, very many of the observances of the Jews. Had they the name of Nazarean without these peculiar customs, or any other evidence of Hebrew ancestry, we might be led to think that, in some unaccountable way, it had been incidentally adopted. I am led to this reflection by the fact that the Syrian or St. Thomas Christians of Travancore, in India, have also the name of Nazaranee or Nazareans. And in Syria the term is used in a general sense, probably because that was the land of teh first Hebrew converts, whose name appears to have there survived them. {In Mosul, as mentioned by Mr. Southgate, the term is made to include all the Christians in that vicinity. The reason is obvious from the fact that most, if not all, of them are of Hebrew origin.} But this should obviously be regarded only as an exception to a general rule; since, as we have seen, the term is well defined, and supported by the most abundant testimony. it is more probable, however, that the former, whose case alone calls for particular notice, derived the name from the Nestorians who were driven to seek refuge in India by the bloody persecutions of the fourth and seventh centuries. They may be, therefore, in part at least, a branch fo the present Nestorians of Media and Assyria. We have good evidence that they were formerly of the Nestorian faith, though they have more recently become connected with the Jacobite Syrians. Or they may be converts from some other branch of the Hebrew family. It is worthy of inquiry, whether the Syrian Christians of Travancore have not traditions, rites, customs, or other evidence of a Hebrew origin."

"The following are some of the evidences which have occurred to the writer [concerning the Syrian Christians]: 1. Their name, Nazarean (Nazaranee), denotes a Hebrew origin. 2. They abstain from pork and every other meat prohibited in the law of Moses. 3. They have Hebrew names, as Zacharias, Urias, Joshua or Jesu, Matthew, Luke, Abraham, &c. 4. They appear to have emigrated from the western parts of Asia. 5. They have an ancient inscription on a metallic plate, in a triangular or Babylonish character, with signatures attached to it in an old Hebrew character; both of Western origin: the former denoting great antiquity, and the latter a connexion with the Hebrews. Did Dr. Buchanan transmit a facsimile of this inscription to the learned societies of Europe, as he intended? Its contents, if known, may throw some light on this subject. 6. If Thomas preached in India, he was probably drawn thither by existing Hebrew colonies, as it will be seen that he was an apostle of the circumcision [i.e., a Nazarean] before going to India, where there appear to have been Jews before that day. That the Apostle Thomas preached in India we have the testimony of numerous Greek, Latin, and Syrian authors, quoted by Assemani (Bib. orient., vol. iv., p.5-25, 435); also the Jews of Malabar, who, as we are informed, state that Thomas came there in the year of Christ 52."

"If farther evidence were wanting to show that the name Nazarean is applicable exclusively to converted Jews, it is found in their use of a separate gospel in their own language (Syriac [that is, Aramaic]), which, from its exclusive use by the Jewish converts, was called the gospel of the Nazareans. 'The fathers,' says Buck, 'frequently mention the gospel of the Nazarenes, which differed in nothing from that of St. Matthew, which was either in Hebrew or Syrian, for the first converts, but was afterward corrupted by the Ebionites,' Horne adopts the 'opinion, as that which best harmonizes with the consent of antiquity, that St. Matthew wrote first a Hebrew (or Syriac) gospel [that is, Aramaic in Hebrew characters], for the use of the first Hebrew converts.' 'This was evidently the gospel of the Nazareans,' as he immediately mentions its subsequent corruption by the Ebionites. Why was this gospel written in the language of the Jews? Most obviously, because it was for the use of Jewish converts, i.e., the Nazareans.

Gibbon also adds his testimony as follows, to the received definition of the term: 'the Jewish converts, or, as they were afterward called, the Nazareans.' {As the terms Nazaranee and Nazariya occur in the [Aramaic] gospels, there can be no doubt of their being the same as Nazarean; or of the application of this term to the Nestorians.}"

"Before leaving this subject, I will add the testimony of Mosheim, that, 'as the name Nazarean was never used to designate the Gentile converts, so neither were the rites of Judaism ever introduced among them.' Upon this point he remarks: 'In those churches which were composed, either wholly or principally, of Jews, I can easily believe the Jewish ceremonies were so far retained as the different characters fo the two religions would permit. And this may be evinced by a good many examples. But that the same took place in other churches, in which either no Jews, or only a few, were found, is not merely uncertain, but incredible.' {Moshem, Eccl. Hist., vol. 1, p.103} Farther proof on this point is unnecessary. it is quite clear that the Nazareans were converted Jews; and the Nestorians, being Nazareans, must be converted Jews."

"Chaldean is a name commonly used to designate the papal, but it is seldom applied to the orthodox Nestorians; and, when so applied, it is used to express their relation to Abraham, who was from 'Ur of the Chaldees.' ... 'The present Chaldean Christians,' says a later writer {Researches of Smith and Dwight, vol. ii, p.186}, 'are of recent origin. It was in A.D. 1681 that the Nestorian metropolitan of Diarbekir, having quarrelled with his patriarch, was first consecrated by the pope patriarch of the Chaldeans. The sect was as new as the office, and created for it. Converts to papacy from the Nestorian and Jacobite churches were united in one body, and dignified by the name of the Chaldean church. It means no more than papal Syrians, as we have in other parts papal Armenians and papal Greeks.' {Assemani, Bibl. Orient., vol. iii., p.623} There appears to be no propriety in applying this name to the Nestorians as a Christian sect; and its casual employment among them is circumstance of little importance, except as it may lead to wrong conclusions respecting their origin. If its occasional use proves anything regarding their origin, it indicates their relation to the Father of the Faithful, agreeably to their own explanation."

"Nestorian is a name disliked by the people thus designated. They rarely apply it to themselves, and they are averse to its application by other, lest, as it seems, they should be thought to participate in the reputed heresy of Nestorius, a bishop of Constantinople, who was excommunicated from the general church A.D. 431. But the reason which they assign for objecting to the use of this name is, that they never derived either their doctrines or their rites from Nestorius. They reverence him for raising his voice against the worship of images, and against the prevalent use of the title Mother of God; which, as they affirm, virtually takes away the humanity of our Saviour, and thus leaves us without a Mediator. But having themselves never applied any other title than Mother of Christ to the Virgin Mary, and their worship having never been polluted with images; while, at the same time, they have ever held to the human and Divine nature in one person in Christ, they ask, where is the propriety of calling their ancient church after a bishop who lived in a comparatively late day, and with whom they never had any connexion? It is true, they espoused his cause as the cause of an injured man, whom they regarded as a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus, persecuted for righteousness' sake; and on this account the enemies of Nestorius endeavoured to fasten reproach upon them by calling them after his name."

"...there seems to be no good reason for discarding [the name Nestorian] at this late day, established, as it is, by long conventional usage, and interwoven with the history of the Church and the world."

"But, it may be asked, were all of the Nestorians who were dispersed throughout the East int eh days of the caliphs, descendants of Israel? Probably not. We do not attempt to identify as Israelites all who once bore that name. Nor need we, at this day, trouble ourselves about those who for ages have ceased to have a name or a place beyond the historian's page. those that remain upon the stage, by their peculiar language, customs, and various other circumstances, appear to be a distinct and peculiar people. Nor should we pass by unnoticed the special providence of God, by which they have been preserved, while thousand around them, who once bore the Christian name, have either been cut down by the sword of persecution, or have prolonged their lives at the expense of the character and the name of Christians. Numbers, it may be, fled to India for refuge from the sword of Mohammed, which desolated these lands in the seventh century. But, during those sanguinary wars, and the more relentless persecutions of Tamerland, the chief asylum of God's ancient people has been the almost inaccessible fastness of the Assyrian mountains, which the sword of their enemies has never been able to penetrate."

"This is just the account that the Nestorians now inhabiting the Persian districts give of themselves: 'For a long time...our present abodes were deserted. Driven from their homes by persecutions, which swept off great numbers around them, our fathers sought an asylum among our fellow-tribes in the mountains. When the country became quiet, we gradually returned to our present homes, the mountain valleys being too narrow to furnish us even a scanty subsistence.' This account is confirmed by the fact, that many of their principal families, who are the most likely to have preserved these traditions, are able to show that their ancestors came from particular mountain districts; a fact well attested by the tribes in the mountains, as well as by the people of the plain. Hence the entire separation which has taken place between the descendants of Israel and those Nestorians who had been converted from among the Gentiles. The former, having a common language and common sympathies, which constituted a strong bond of union with their countrymen, were not likely to receive at the point of the cimeter the religion of the Koran, while they could obtain an entrance to the only safe place of retreat among their brethren of a common stock. The upland tribes were able to defend only the strongest part of their mountain; besides, from their scanty resources, they could not have furnished supplies to any but their own brethren, who fled to them from the defenceless parts of the country."

"These circumstances, together with their peculiar language and character, no doubt produced a complete separation of the present Nestorians from those who were not of the posterity of the ten tribes. With these facts before us, there will be no room for confusion in applying alike the names Beni Israel and Nestorians to the same people....Hence, if the Nestorians of this region are Israelites, we may, with all propriety, consider them as the Ten Tribes."

CHAPTER VII [page 205]


Observance of the Mosaic Ritual - Sacrifices - Vows - First-fruits and Tithes - Keeping the Sabbath - Regard for the Sanctuary - Forbidden Food - Ceremonial Impurities - Separation of Women

That the converted Jews ["Nestorians"] continued to observe the ceremonial law, as far as was compatible with their profession of Christianity, there is abundant proof in history; while the evidence is equally clear that these onerous rites were never imposed upon the Gentile converts [Acts, xv.,1-29. Mosheim's Eccles. Hist., vol. i., p. 103,170]. Hence the observance, by the Nestorian Christians, of the peculiar rites and customs of the Jews, furnishes very strong evidence of their Hebrew origin. So peculiar were the demands of the Mosaic ritual on many points, that there is no possibility of their adoption and perpetuation by mere accident or casual coincidence. If some of these rites, as in the case of sacrifices, were practised by other nations, yet there were collateral observances, connected with them by the Jews, so unique in their character as to leave no room for mistake.

Some of the Jewish rites, being obviously incompatible with Christianity, mus not be looked for among the converts from Judaism. But if the reason for their discontinuance, in particular cases, can be clearly indicated, the evidence, as a w hole, will nto be essentially diminished. Let us look at the application of this principle in relation to sacrifices. That Christ has offered himself a sacrifice to atone for the sons of his people; that we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, is the foundation of the Christian's hope; consequently, it is clear that it would be a virtual denial of Christ as 'the propitiation for our sins,' to continue to offer the atoning sacrifice or sin-offering of the Levitical code. But the Jewish ritual prescribed other sacrifices, which were in no way connected with atonement. If, therefore, we find a body of Christians continuing to offer these sacrifices after the manner of the Mosaic ritual, is it not probable that they would have retained the other also, had it not been abrogated by the death of Christ? And would not their continued observance of the only sacrifices compatible with their profession of Christianity, afford as satisfactory evidence in favour of their Jewish origin as though they observed them both?

This is just the case with the Nestorian Christians. While they acknowledge Christ as the final offering for sin, they continue to present the other form of sacrifice - the peace-offerings - in accordance with the customs of the Jews.

'The peace-offering,' says Cruden, 'was offered to return thanks to God for his benefits, or to ask favours from him, or to satisfy any one's private devotion, or for the honour of God only. The Israelites offered them when they pleased, and there was no law that obliged them to do it. It was free to them to present what animals they would, provided they were such as it allowed them to sacrifice. In these sacrifices no distinction was made, either of the age or sex of the victim, as was required in the burnt sacrifices and sacrifice for sin; the law only required that their victim should be without blemish. - Lev., xxxi. He that presented them came to the door of the tabernacle, put his hand upon the head of his victim, and killed it. The breast and the right shoulder belonged tot he priest that performed the service; all the rest of the sacrifice belonged to him that presented it, and he might eat it with his family and friends as any other meat.' But it must be eaten on the first or second day. - Lev., vii., 16.

No general description could better answer to the sacrifices of the Nestorians, both as regards their object and the manner of performing them. they are usually offered to return thanks for God's benefits, or to obtain new favours from him; as, for instance, the recovery of sick friends, or their own restoration to health. {The Syriac [that is, Aramaic] word which denotes these sacrifices is Deukha, in Castelli's Lexicon translated 'victima sacrificium,' - Phil., iv., 19. Heb., x., 12. Ps. xxvii., 6. Heb., xiii., 15. Pet., ii,5.}. The animal is then usually slain before the door of the church, when a little of the blood is often put upon the door or lintels. The right shoulder and breat belong to the officiating preist of the church; though he does not always receive them, either through neglect of the person who offers the sacrifice, or, as some of the priests informed me, from a wish to avoid following the wicked example of Eli's sons, who made the sacrifices of the Temple on occasion of selfish gratification. Few, however, refuse their portion on this account. The skin is also given to the priest, as was required in the burnt-offerings. - Lev., vii., 8.

As all who are present may partake of the sacrifice, it is sometimes spoken of as a charitable offering; but it is often eaten by the person who offers it, together with his more immediate friends. It is regarded by all as an offering acceptable to God. In some cases the animal is slain before the door of the offerer, and a portion is sent to every house in the village; but this is usually in fulfilment of particular vows to that effect. The sacrifice is generally all eaten the same day it is killed; but I saw an instance at the house of the patriarch, in which it was not consumed till the evening of the second day, when they said it was necessary that it should all be eaten. The custom of sprinkling the blood upon the altar, and of burning a part of the victim, is not strictly observed by this people; but it is also omitted by the Jews of Ooroomiah and of other countries.

The Nestorians regard these sacrifices as a remnant of their former Jewish rites; and those Jews, of whom I have inquired on the subject, say that 'they are a part of their own rites, which the Nestorians have retained since their conversion from Judaism, while they have departed from the law in more important matters.' The Nestorians sometimes offer sacrifices on the death of distinguished persons, supporting the practice by reference to 2 Maccabees, xii., 43, as they do their other sacrifices by reference to the Mosaic ritual and the practice of their forefathers.

The very statement that sacrifices are offered by Christians awakens surprise; and we almost voluntarily exclaim, 'What! are they Jews? We thought they were Christians; if they are so, whence these customs of Judaism? they must be either Jews or heathen.' That the use of sacrifices among the Nestorians is not of heathen origin, is clearly evinced by the attending circumstances, and by their abhorrence of idolatry. It can be nothing but a remnant of Judaism retained by the Nazareans.

...But among the Nestorians, such vows, made under the same circumstances, are by no means uncommon. they pray that god would grant them the blessing which (as was the case among the Jews) lies nearest of all others to their hearts, and they solemnly promise to devote the child to the service of the Lord all the days of his life. If a son, they vow to educate him for the Church, that he may serve God in his temple; if a daughter, to give her marriage dowry to the Lord, or more rarely (as there have been cases in the mountains) devote her to celibacy and the service of the Church. When this is the form of the vow, the marriage dowry may be given as the price of her redemption, if she does not consent to the original terms of the vow. {The celibacy of the bishops and their abstinence from meat is regarded as a Nazaritish vow. A sacrifice made on account of a vow does not appear to differ from the peace-offering in its character, but here it is often attended with less formality. - Lev. xxii., 18,21.}

...While vows are made on many and various occasions, the paying of them is regarded as matter of religious obligation.

...First-fruits are to this day presented to the Lord by the independent Nestorians, as they were among the Jews of old. The first ripe fruits of their fields, gardens, and vineyards are presented to God before the harvest is gathered; and, as their flocks comprise their chief wealth, they also set apart the first-fruits of the dairy as an offering to the Lord. A day is appointed as soon as the sheep have brought forth their lambs, when the milk of the whole flock is set apart for the support of the services of the sanctuary, or to feed the poor. Either in the form of milk, butter, or cheese, as suits the offer, it is carried to the most central principal church, and given for the service of the Lord... In other parts of the Nestorian country the first-fruits have ceased to be offered, owing, as it is said, to poverty and oppression. In Tiyary the practice is said to be general, though it may not be universal.

Tithes have ceased, as it is said, for the same reason; nor would their existence be satisfactory testimony in the case, as they have been introduced among many other branches of the Church. But the offering of the first-fruits to the Lord is believed to be a practice so peculiar, as to be identified at once as a remnant of Judaism.

The Sabbath is regarded with sacredness among the mountain tribes which I have seen among no other Christians in the East. I have repeatedly been told by Nestorians of the plain, that their brethren in the mountains would immediately kill a man for travelling or labouring upon the Christian Sabbath; and there is abundant testimony to prove that this was formerly done, though it has ceased since the people have become acquainted with the practice of Christendom on this subject.

While in the mountains I made repeated inquiries concerning the observance of the remarkable statute of the Jews, which required that 'whosever doeth any work on the Sabbath-day, he shall surely be put to death;' and I was everywhere told that this statute had formerly been literally executed. Nor does there appear to be any motive for deception, since the practice [of executing those who profane the Sabbath] is now disapproved of by all. There are said to be Nestorians now in Tiyary who will not kindle a fire upon the Sabbath to cook their food; but their cold winters oblige them to do it for the sake of necessary warmth. On the plain there is much desecration of the Lord's day; but can the execution of the Mosaic ritual regarding the Sabbath, by the independent Nestorians, be accounted for in any other way than as a remnant of Judaism? Where, except among God's ancient people, to whom this peculiar law was immediately promulged, can we find a parallel case?

The Nestorians have also the 'preparation before Sabbath,' commencing about three hours before sunset on Saturday, when all labour should cease except what is necessary to prepare for spending a quiet Sabbath. But the rule has in a measure fallen into disuse.

The Sanctuary, or holy place of the Temple, was guarded among the Jews with no less strictness than the sacredness of the Sabbath; and the sanctuary of the church is regarded with much the same reverence by the Nestorian Christians. In speaking of the Nestorian church, the Rev. Eli Smith remarks: 'I observed that a door conducted into t he sanctuary, and was about to enter. But the bishop commanded me, in an authoritative tone, to stop. I told him that I too was a priest; but he replied that that place can only be entered by fasting, and betrayed, by his manner, such an earnestness that I desisted. {Researches of Smith and Dwight, vol. ii, p. 211}.' None but the consecrated ecclesiastics can enter this holy place; and they mus tnot only abstain from all food and drink from the previous day, but also from sources of uncleanness mentioned in the ceremonial law, particularly from that forbidden by Moses (Exod., xix., 15) when he sanctified the people preparatory to his entering into the presence of God on Mount Sinai. Great care is taken to secure the holy place against the entrance of any unclean person or animal.

When the sanctuary has been polluted by the entrance of any unhallowed person, it must be consecrated anew before it can be used for the service of God. During the interval we have been permitted to enter this 'holy place' of the Nestorian churches, but under no other circumstances. Not long ago a bishop was called to consecrate anew the sanctuary of the church in Ooroomiah, which has been entered by unhallowed feet in the night.

The 'Holy of Holies' still exists among the Nestorians. A small recess in the wall of their church is called by that name. Christ having entered into this most holy place 'once for all,' a figure of the cross is kept there, and no one enters. Other parts of their churches bear the names of corresponding parts of the Jewish Temple. There is no parallel to this state of feeling among the other Christians of the East. I have repeatedly entered the sanctuary of the Armenian, Greek and Jacobite Syrian churches, and that in the presence of their ecclesiastics, who made no objection. Whence is this difference of sentiment?

In the construction of their churches, the Nestorians attach much greater importance than the other Christians to the sanctuary, making it about half the size of the main body of the church or 'temple' (hekla), as they call the place of general congregation. The Nestorians, also, have much the same feeling of strong attachment for their ancient churches that the Jews had for their Temple. I have frequently seen them go out of the way to pay them some mark of reverence; and when I inquired of some of the mountaineers how it was that they had so long preserved their independence, surrounded by enemies on every side, their reply was, 'Our churches have saved us.' {Compare 1 Kings, viii., 29-49}. Their churches, as well as the sanctuary, may not be entered by persons contaminated by any of the ceremonial pollutions of the Levitical code. This singular fact needs no comment; but the mention of it naturally leads to the consideration of some of the peculiar Jewish sentiments or regulations to which allusion is here made.

'Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the Lord: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean.' - Numbers, xix., 13. This is the sentiment of the Nestorians; but, as in many other cases, it is modified by Christianity. Baptism, it is affirmed, purifies our bodies, so that no contamination is received from the dead body of a Christian. But if any person touches the dead body of [a non-Christian], he is considered unclean, and must not touch any clean thing, or enter a church, till he has been duly purified with water. They are also careful to wash themselves after their own burial-service.

A woman may not enter the church until after the expiration of forty days from the birth of a male child, or a longer time if her child be a female. Seven days she is regarded as unclean, and may not touch any food or utensils except what are appropriated to her own separate use. On the eighth day her child may be baptized (an ordinance which, in the estimation of the Nestorians, takes the place of circumcision); and, after a prescribed purification of herself, her bed, and clothing, she may attend to her ordinary domestic duties, if her circumstances require it. But she must not touch any 'hallowed thing,' 'nor come into the sanctuary, until the forty days of her purifying be fulfilled.' Circumstances of poverty may sometimes curtail the period of entire separation. But the last requisition is strictly adhered to; and, in case her child be a female, the period is extended to sixty days. A deduction has been made from the period required by the Jewish law in such cases, on account of the increased consideration given to females under the new dispensation; and in some places there is no difference observed on account of the child's sex. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper takes the place of the sacrifice required of the Hebrew mother, as it does of the atoning sacrifices and sin-offerings in all cases.

Swine's flesh and other meats prohibited by the Levitical code, are regarded by many of the Nestorians with little less abhorrence than they were by the Jews; though intercourse with other Christians is said to have effected quite a change in the sentiments of some on this subject. In the mountains the change is less felt than in Ooroomiah; and, though wild hogs are frequently killed, very few, if any, eat of their flesh. While I was with the patriarch, the change of sentiment on this subject was mentioned more than once as the effect of foreign influence. The innovation is said to have been very recent, as it is also felt only to a limited extent. We have the testimony of their most intelligent men, that formerly their people would not so much as touch, and much less eat the flesh of swine, or other animals regarded as unclean by the ceremonial law. It is one of the accusations which the Nestorians bring against some of their Christian neighbours, that they eat unclean or forbidden food. Those who take more liberal views of the subject, feeling it necessary to justify their conduct in the eyes of their opposing brethren, quote the words of Christ: 'Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; ' and also the command of God to Peter, to 'kill and eat' of animals that were before regarded as unclean. - Acts, x., 10-16.

Their fasts and festivals bear a close analogy to those of the ancient Jews. Like the Pharisees, they 'fast twice in a week,' and they attach great importance to these observances. These attachments the Nestorians themselves refer to a Hebrew origin. 'In one instance,' says my friend Mr. Stocking, 'while I was hearing the bishop and priests read the New Testament, the difference between the Jewish and Gentile converts, arising from the strong attachment of the former to their Jewish customs, was alluded to; and one of the priests remarked to me that the analogy was quite similar between ourselves.' 'We,' said he, 'were formerly Jews, and hold to our fasts; but you are Gentile Christians, and do not wish to adopt our customs.''

The Passover they observe as their principal festival. They call it Pascha, after the original name of that ordinance as observed by the Jews. But the mode of the observance is modified by their faith in Christ. Regarding Him as the final passover, they substitute the emblems of his body and blood for the Paschal Lamb. In other respects they keep the festival much after the manner of the ancient Hebrews; and a like correspondence is observed throughout their fasts and festival occasions.

Circumcision, say the Nestorians, has been superseded by baptism; and they baptize their children on the eight day, or at a subsequent period, but never before; and the ordinance is usually, but not uniformly, performed by immersion.

[From Chapter VIII ]

Their names are as strikingly Israelitish as their physiognomy. I have seen promiscuous circles of ten or twelve Nestorians, in which every individual had a Jewish name. From forty-five members of our seminary who were taken promiscuously, thirty-two had Jewish names found in the Bible. Others had received names of significant import, in accordance with the custom of the Jews, and such as are common among those of Ooroomiah.

...The names of all the patriarchs and prophets, and most, if not all, of the Jewish names mentioned in the Bible, are found among the Nestorians. While some of these names are found among other Christians, many of them appear to be peculiar to the posterity of Israel, or, at least, such as we should not expect to find except among Jews.

...Tribes. Most of the Nestorian Christians, like the ancient Israelites, live in separate tribes. We do not deem it essential to our main position, and shall not attempt to identify each one of the tribes separately. 'The tribes of Israel,' says Dr. Buchanan, 'are no longer to be inquired after by name. The purpose for which they were divided into tribes was accomplished when the genealogy of the Messiah was traced to the stem of David. Neither do the Israelites themselves know certainly from what tribe they are descended.'

...Still, the existence of the Nestorians, from time immemorial, in distinct tribes nearly or quite corresponding in number to those of ancient Israel, is a remarkable fact, and may furnish interesting testimony with regard to their origin. If we are able to identify one of these divisions with any one of the ten tribes, the inference naturally follows that other divisions represent the remaining tribes, especially as there is internal evidence of their common origin. {The names of the tribes appear to be lost in the names of their districts.}

...the patriarch, who of all others are the most likely to have preserved correct information regarding their genealogy, assure us most confidently that they know the particular tribe from which they are descended; and they make the assertion with so much apparent integrity of purpose, and with such attendant circumstances, as leave us no room to doubt their sincerity.

They claim descent from Naphtali; a claim that certainly savours little of vanity. If the assertion be not founded in truth, why do they not claim affinity with the sacerdotal or royal tribes? What possible motive can they have for courting an alliance with the humble son of a handmaid? .... As there is no conceivable motive for attempting such an imposition, we are left to the fair conclusion that the patriarch's family are what they profess to be, the descendants of the tribe of Naphtali. ...their chiefs or nominal heads retain the Hebrew appellation Melek or Malek, which designated the royal head of the nation of Israel.

[from page 275]

The Jews assert very positively that the Nestorians were converted from Judaism to Christianity immediately after the death of Christ.


Transcribed by Marcus Kula

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