Nestorianism finds a refuge in the Persian Empire

Nestorius was not entirely to fail. When once he was safely out of the way and John and Cyril were reconciled, the latter sought to bring about the condemnation of Dio-dorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia (now dead) whom he charged as authors of the Nestorian heresy. In this he was aided by the Bishop of Edessa. Moreover, Armenian monks with Monophysite tendencies came out vigorously against Theodore. John of An-

tioch, as might have been expected, rose to the defense of Theodore, and the Emperor, presumably at his instance, ordered that no one should be calumniated who had died in the communion of the Catholic Church — thus supporting John.

There were some, including bishops, who held views akin to those of Theodore and Nestorius who refused to subscribe to the creed through which Cyril and John had composed their differences. Because they were regarded by the imperial authorities as disturbers of the peace of the Church and thus of the realm, they were exiled. A number of them sought refuge in the Persian Empire. Among them were several who found a home at Nisibis, the chief training school for the clergy in the Persian domains. Eventually many of the leading ecclesiastical posts in that realm were filled by their students and, after something of a struggle, their doctrines became the accepted teaching of the Mesopotamian-Persian Church. That church now tended to regard the Catholic Church as heretical. This was of advantage to it, for ever since Constantine had espoused Christianity it had been looked at askance by the Persian monarchs as a possible supporter of their chronic enemies, the Roman Emperors. The Mesopotamian-Persian Church could now affirm that, since its ties with the church of the Roman Empire had been dissolved, that fear was baseless. It is said that on this ground one of the Sassanian monarchs of Persia decreed that Nestorian Christianity should be the only form of the faith granted official recognition in his possessions.

How far the teachers at Nisibis dissented from what was endorsed by the Catholic Church is debatable. The variation may not have been as great as has sometimes been said. Whatever the degree of the difference, the Mesopotamian-Persian Church came to be known as the Nestorian Church. As we have seen and are to see in later chapters, it was the means of an extensive eastward spread of the Christianity which in subsequent centuries carried the faith to the shores of the China Sea, The influence of Nestorius, therefore, did not disappear with his pitiful death, but was felt across the vast reaches of Asia.

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