The East Syrian Tradition Church of the East Chaldean and Syro Malabar Churches

This Church is descended from those churches and bishops in the regions of Edessa who refused to condemn the fifth-century Bishop of Constantinople, Nestorius. Gathered under a Catholicos, the Church eventually found itself in the Sassanian Empire, and thus somewhat insulated from other Eastern churches. Its missionary endeavours reached China as well as India. Its Catholic offshoots are known as the Chaldean Church, and in India, the Syro-Malabar Church.

Whatever forms may have been used in the areas which were later to become the Church of the East, a move towards standardization was made as early as the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in 410. In Canon 13, that Synod decreed that the eucharistic liturgy should in the future be uniformly celebrated according to 'the western rite that the Bishops Isaac (Seleucia-Ctesiphon) and Marutha (Martyropolis) have taught us' (Macomber 1973: 239). A further standardization and reform of the East Syrian rites is attributed to Catholicos Iso'yahb III (650-9). According to a ninth-century source, 'before the time of Mar Iso'yahb of Adiabene the Catholicos, the orders of the services were performed in a confused manner in every place; but by means of this man the services of all the church acquired connected order' (Jones 1964: 164). According to the Catalogue of 'Abdiso, Iso'yabh 'arranged an order of the Church-Book of the cycle of the year, and Ordination-formularies for all orders, and the Office of Reconciliator' (ibid.). He is reputed to have been responsible for redacting the present baptismal rite, and for prefacing services with a common opening, and for some hymns. The Liturgical Homilies of Narsai and the Commentary on the Divine Liturgy by Gabriel Oatraya give us some information of the rites prior to Iso'yahb III. The manuscript texts which have come down to us - all post-Iso'yahb - show considerable homogeneity.

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