By Wilhelm Baum
The Church of the East is presently the single whole background in English of the East Syriac Church of the East. It covers the classes of the Sassanians, Arabs, Mongols, Ottomans, the 20 th century, and informs in regards to the Syriac, Iranian and chinese language literature of this particular and virtually forgotten a part of Christendom.
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Additional resources for The Church of the East: A Concise History
The establishment of the primacy of the bishop of the imperial capital was based on purely political grounds. In the synodical acts of 410 there is no evidence or mention of an apostolic origin for the see. The letter from the Western fathers was signed by the bishop of Antioch and his suffragans, but he signed in the name of the Church of the Roman Empire. In their letter the Antiochene bishops made no claim of jurisdiction over the Persian church. There is no indication in the synodical acts of a historical dependence upon the patriarchate of Antioch.
During periods of open conﬂict between the Roman and Persian empires, such as the reign of Shapur II but also the ﬁrst half of the ﬁfth century under the shahs Yazdgird I (399–421), Bahram V (421–39), and Yazdgird II (439– 57), the situation of the Christians deteriorated. This means that regarding the synods of the Roman empire, the creeds and canons had signiﬁcance only for the oikoumene of the Roman imperial church, even though the Church of the East – with Western assistance – later adopted some of them.
The aforementioned synod under Mar Aba (544) sought above all to restore the unity of the Church under the patriarchal See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, which had been destroyed by the schism of the preceding ﬁfteen years. Mar Aba settled the patriarchal election in the epistola pragmatica of the 544 synod. It is established therein that the bishops of the patriarchal province would assemble the 33 D I E T M A R W. W I N K L E R metropolitans of Beth Lapat, Prat de Maishan, Arbela, and Karka de Beth Slokh, each of whom would travel to Seleucia-Ctesiphon with three of his bishops, in order to elect an incontestable catholicos-patriarch.