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The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity Hardcover – June 27, 2006

5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Christoph Baumer's fine book should take its place at once as much the best available general history of the Church of the East, from its beginnings to the present day. It is especially strong on the expansion of the Church in Central and East Asia, making excellent use of recent finds. Throughout it is splendidly illustrated by photographs, many of which were taken during the author's own extensive travels."--Sebastian Brock, University of Oxford
"This is a stupendous work. Its range – historical, geographical, intellectual – is breathtaking, and it combines presentation of the highest quality via scholarship of the highest order…Dr. Baumer’s text is dense and formidably well-researched…Dr. Baumer’s book sets a new standard for studies of this kind. It looks likely to establish itself as a key work of reference, and should hold the field in the area of oriental Christianity for some time to come." – Christopher Segar, Asian Affairs

'’…Baumer has written a comprehensive and well-researched account…[He] has visited many of the places where the Church of the East exists or has existed, and has an extensive knowledge of the surviving written and archaeological evidence for its history.  [The Church of the East] is splendidly illustrated and attractively presented…’’--Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies

"The historian, Christopher Baumer, has produced a beautiful picture book…The book is a pleasure to just flick through – but it’s also a very able history of this virtually lost Christianity" -- Diarmaid MacCulloch,

About the Author

Christoph Baumer is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and a member of the Explorer's Club, New York.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184511115X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845111151
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1 x 11.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,378,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Labarum VINE VOICE on October 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the most intriguing and in the end most tragic stories in all of Church history is that of the Church of the East. This church, with its roots in those churches existing outside the Roman Empire once had millions of followers stretching from what is now Iraq to China and possibly Japan. Yet by the twentieth century all that was left of this once vast communion were scattered communities of ethnic Assyrians and Indians with the distinct possibility of complete disintegration. The tale of its birth, rise, fall, and recent signs of rebirth is one all of the Church needs to hear.

Christoph Baumer is in a unique position to tell their story to the West. An author who has written books on Asia and traveled extensively in that region of the world, he is one of the few to have written on the topic of the Church of the East to actually have traveled to many of their important historical sites. In The Church of the East, he gives us a history of this ancient church that is not only captivating reading but also is visually breathaking with beautiful photographs accompanying the text in this "coffee table" sized book.

Baumer begins with the beginnings of the Church and how Christianity crossed from the Roman world into Asia. The early traditions of the St. Thomas the Apostle and early evangelists who brought the young faith from the Roman world across the Euphrates into Persia and then into India are recounted as well as the early establishment of local churches througout the region.

Baumer then turns to the Christological battles that ensued after the persecution of the Church ended with the ascension of the Roman emperor Constantine.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Macdonald on August 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book contains a great deal of detailed historical information about Christianity in Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, India and China from the Middle Ages. It also provides descriptions of the situation of these communities today, and being published in 2006 includes the effects of recent events such as the Iraq War and Iranian revolution. There is also information on a number of Eastern Christian writers that are largely unknown in the West, such as the mystic John of Dalyatha. The book also contains many pictures of church remains in the East. In general this is a very valuable book providing a wealth of information on the history and current situation of Christian communities that have received little attention.

However, the history of the Christological dispute that led to the isolation of the Church of the East is sometimes presented in a confusing way due to the Nestorian identification of nature and hypostasis. As a result the controversy is in places described as if the opposition to Nestorianism was due to a rejection of Christ's humanity instead of opposition to the introduction of a second subject (hypostasis) in Christ alongside of the Logos. The book does however describe this aspect of Nestorian theology in some places(as on p. 41 "It is clear...that for Diodore, one suffered death and another rose from it - an idea which runs as a leitmotif through Nestorian Christology."). The importance of this idea in the controversy can be seen in Paul of Nisibis' sixth century Dialogue with Justinian (available on-line).

The history of the Christological controversy is generally presented from a Nestorian viewpoint and some non-Nestorian historians would dispute parts of the account.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Quinn on November 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Enjoyed this book tremendously for it's history of eastern Christianity and it's review of early Christian doctrinal disputes; also associated influences from Mithraism, Zoristrianism and Mancihaeanism. The story about the Toghril Khan and his neice Sorqaqtani-Beki (wife on Genghis's youngest son Tolui, mother of Kublai Kahn and Il-Khan Hulagu) is facinating, expecially for those interested in the history of the Prestor John myth. Only bad thing I can think of is the book's weight, making it difficult to read in bed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alfred J. Andrea on August 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Christoph Baumer does excellent work (see my review of his book on the Southern Silk Road), and this book is no exception. Anyone interested in the rich varieties of Eastern Christianity should own this book, which surveys the complex and fascinating history of a Church mistakenly called Nestorian. I cannot praise this enough. It is "popular history" as it should be--nuanced and based on solid scholarship. And, as we have come to expect from Baumer, the illustrations are first rate. It is also well written, and unless a work of history is written in the clear language of common sense, it does not deserve to be called history.
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9 of 19 people found the following review helpful By AYK on January 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I just received this book yesterday and have only looked at it for about an hour but already I have found many errors. Some of which are major and many of which are minor. A major area of concern has to do with the lines of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and Mar Yohanan (John) Sulaqa. It seems that the author, Baumer, has some of his facts confused. I hope this along with all the other errors are corrected in the next edition.

I still gave the book 3 stars because it is a nice book otherwise. There is a lot of good information in it and there are many photos/illustrations.
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