Who Are the Christians in the Middle East?

By Betty Jane Bailey; J. Martin Bailey | Go to book overview

Our Love Affair with the Middle East:
An Introduction

In 1969, Everett Parker, the director of the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, concluded that the Middle East would soon be the most newsworthy place in the world. He organized a trip for journalists of Catholic and Protestant journals and magazines to several countries in the region, to meet church and government officials, media experts, and the leaders of various special interest groups. We went on that trip; it opened our eyes to the churches and politics of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, and Turkey. (At the time, the Red Crescent society — the Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross — considered it unsafe for us to visit Syria.) On that journey, the walled Old City of Jerusalem worked its way into our hearts, and we vowed to go back.

It wasn’t until 1982 that the opportunity arose again. In the midst of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, we traveled to the Middle East. Unlike the first time, our relatives were dubious and worried about our safety, and we had to assure them we would not go to Beirut by boat from Cyprus — the only practical way at the time. We again visited Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel-Palestine, and that time we also went to Syria. The trip resulted in continuing friendships as well as in stories and pictures of people who were involved in interfaith relations. Our work was published as a special issue of A.D. magazine called “The Bible Lands Today.” The Old City of Jerusalem again claimed our hearts.

Then in 1990, Betty enjoyed a sabbatical leave at Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem. Mart was able to join her for ten days. By then she considered the Old City a second home; she knew the narrow streets and she forged friendships with clergy in the churches, shop-

-xi-

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Who Are the Christians in the Middle East?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • More Praise for This Book i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the Second Edition ix
  • Our Love Affair with the Middle East- An Introduction xi
  • Part I - The Churches of the Middle East 1
  • A Western Christian Appreciation of Eastern Christianity 3
  • The Future of Christians in the Arab World 12
  • The Churches of the Middle East Now Work Together 22
  • The Importance of Jerusalem to Christians 32
  • A Timeline of Christianity in the Middle East 37
  • A Word about Numbers 44
  • Part II - Profiles of the Churches 47
  • The Origins of the Diversity of Christianity in the Middle East 49
  • The Eastern Orthodox Family 56
  • The Oriental Orthodox Family 69
  • The Catholic Family 82
  • The Evangelical (Protestant) Family 101
  • The Assyrian Church of the East 134
  • Part III - Church and State in the Middle East 139
  • A Brief History 141
  • Cyprus 145
  • Egypt 148
  • The Holy Land- Israel and Palestine 154
  • Iran 164
  • Iraq 168
  • Jordan 173
  • Lebanon 178
  • The Maghreb (North Africa) 185
  • The Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia 189
  • Sudan 195
  • Syria 199
  • Turkey 204
  • Annotated Bibliography 210
  • Index 214
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