John Chrysostom. More radically, he accepted the creed of Chalcedon, which was anathema to the East Syrian church. However, his interpretation of that creed remained independent: he argued that there were two natures in Jesus Christ, but one person and one hypostasis in Jesus Christ. The opposition of faculty, administrators and students led to his firing by Bishop Paul of Nisibis.

Despite the controversy, in 572 he was named director of the theological school at Nisibis and survived the efforts of two synods called (585, 596) in attempts to remove him. His most severe critic, Babai the Great, wrote a volume entitled The union in the incarnation to counteract the ideas of Henana. His appointment eventually led to a split in the school of Nisibis. More than 300 students left the institution, which never recovered its status.21

The religious geography of Persia became more complicated because of the sixth-century Byzantine imperial pogroms against the West Syrian (Miaphysite) church. Monasteries were founded in the northern mountains and some villages and cities became primarily Miaphysite.22

The experiences of many nations

The resources documenting the history of Christian communities in other areas of Asia and East Africa vary significantly. Here, because of space limitations, the discussion is restricted to major geographical, political or ethnic units that can be reasonably defended as definable areas during the period being discussed. Attention is given to Adiabene, Armenia, Georgia, India, Egypt (Coptic Christians), Nubia, Ethiopia, South Arabia, Soqotra, Central Asia and China.


Adiabene was sometimes an independent buffer state between the Persian and Roman empires. It was south and east of the kingdom of Osrohoene. Its capital was Irbil (= Arbela). Adiabene had a large Jewish population and at times Jewish monarchs. The Jewish monarchs were removed by the emperor Trajan, who took the area in 115-16. Adiabene was an early centre of Christian activity. Tradition ascribes the evangelisation of the area to Addai. It was

21 On the theological academy at Nisibis, see Arthur Voobus, The statutes of the school of Nisibis; Voobus, History of the school of Nisibis; Fiey, Nisibe.

22 For more detail on this period, see Synodicon Orientale, ed. and trans. Chabot; Labourt, Le christianisme dans l'empire perse; Voobus, History of the school of Nisibis; Fiey, Jalons pour une histoire de l'église en Iraq; Fiey Nisibe.

23 N. Pigulevskaia, Les villes de l'état iranien; J.-M. Fiey, 'Vers la réhabilitation de l'histoire de Karka Bet Slôh'.

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