The Modern Assyrians of the Middle East: Encounters with Western Christian Missions, Archaeologists, and Colonial Power

The Modern Assyrians of the Middle East: Encounters with Western Christian Missions, Archaeologists, and Colonial Power

The Modern Assyrians of the Middle East: Encounters with Western Christian Missions, Archaeologists, and Colonial Power

The Modern Assyrians of the Middle East: Encounters with Western Christian Missions, Archaeologists, and Colonial Power

Synopsis

This is a revised edition of the authors The Nestorians and Their Muslim Neighbors (Princeton University Press, 1961). Early in the nineteenth century, the Aramaic-speaking Nestorian" Christians received special attention when American Protestant missions decided to educate and reform them to help meet the challenge that Islam presented to the growing missionary movements. When archaeologist Layard further publicized the historic minority as "Assyrians", the name acquired a new connotation when other forces at work in the region - religious, nationalistic, imperialistic - entangled these modern Assyrians in vagaries and manipulations in which they were outnumbered and outclassed. The study examines Western Christendoms current position on Islam, with emphasis on the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. The revision draws on a wide variety of sources not used in the original."

Excerpt

This is a revision of my The Nestorians and Their Muslim Neighbors, a study of Western influence on their relations, originally published by Princeton University Press in 1961. There were a number of reasons why I undertook the task at this time: there seemed to be an interest in the book which had been out-of-print for almost thirty years; a great deal had transpired during the rapidly-moving events of the postWorld War II period; our knowledge on the various aspects of this history had greatly expanded; my retirement from teaching gave me the needed time; and finally, Brill's "Studies in Christian Mission" series afforded the possibility to publish when its General Editor, Dr. Marc R. Spindler, responded favorably to my proposal that the projected revision be evaluated for inclusion in the series. I was delighted when my work was accepted for that honor two months ago.

I am grateful to Dr. Spindler for accepting also a revised title for the book. The reasons for choosing the name Nestorians in the past are given in the original preface, reproduced below. The more controversial name "Modern Assyrians" is now used because of its greater unambiguity. To my surprise, there were a number of people, among them specialists on modern Middle Eastern history, who, while familiar with the "Nestorians" and with the modern "Assyrians," were still unaware that "Nestorians" of my original title referred to the very same people who since the turn of the century came to be commonly called "Assyrians" in English.

This history is intended for the well-informed laymen but, hopefully, Middle Eastern scholars, in various disciplines, will also find it useful on areas and periods that are beyond their range of specialization. The monograph is written partly also with the modern Assyrian readers in mind, specifically those among them who through the years have expressed interest in obtaining a copy of the original. More than ever before, members of the new Assyrian generation realize that they have to be knowledgeable about the past as well as the present, and that a partisan history of their people, in the

See below, p. 196n.72.

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