Christianity / Orientations /
Also called: Assyrian Church of the East
Christian church located to Iraq with about 300,000 adherents, plus about 450,000 Iraqis in foreign exile.
Main church in Baghdad, Iraq.
Inside the church in Baghdad, Iraq.
|Nextorians by country
Last column: % Nestorians of the population
*) Calculated for the total population of North Africa and the Middle East, approx. 460,000,000.
Icon of Babai the Great.
Head of the church, Patriarch Khanania Dinkha 4.
Patriarch Dinkha 4 during a visit to Nestorians of India.
The official name of the church is Assyrian Church of the East, and their members are called "Assyrians", even if many of Assyrian decent are not Nestorian Christians. There are historical ties with the Chaldean Catholics in Iraq, Syria and Iran but they joined the Catholic Church 450 years ago.
The core of the teaching of Nestorius, was that there was a clear division between Jesus' qualities as god and human. These 2 natures were morally united through their will. The opposing view, which came to be adopted by the Catholic Church, was that these 2 qualities were unified in the same character of Jesus.
Babai the Great would in the early 7th century redefine the Christology, stating that that Christ has two qnome (essences), unmingled and eternally united in one personality. While this deviates somewhat from Nestorianism, it has survived as the core theology of the Nestorian church until modern times.
431: The patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, is declared a heretic by the Council of Ephesus.
489: A large group of supporters of Nestorius's theology flees the areas under control of the Roman Empire (and hence the Catholic Church), and comes to Persia. From this time on, they develop into their own church. But even in this new country, they face persecution from the Zoroastrian majority of the country.
Ca. 611: Its Christology and monastic regulations are redefined by Babai the Great.
622-628: The church loses many of its congregations in Persia, due to Persian favouring of the Chalcedonians and especially the Monophysites.
7th century: The Nestorians are granted protection by the Muslim rulers when they take control over Persia. Over the next 7 centuries, the Nestorians conduct a huge missionary campaign reaching as far east as China.
14th century: Invasions by Timurlane destroys most of the Nestorian Church's infrastructure, leaving only smaller pockets of believers, often without contact with Christians in other regions.
16th century: The Nestorian community of India joins the Roman Catholic Church, after influence of the Portuguese traders and colonists.
1551: Many Nestorian congregations rejoin with the Roman Catholic Church, and became called Chaldean, or Chaldean Catholic, or East Syriac (referring to Nestor would not have been acceptable for the Catholic Church). The congregations not joining with the Catholic Church became known as Assyrian Christians or Nestorians.
1912: Many Nestorians of Iran join the Russian Orthodox Church.