Who Are the Christians in the Middle East?

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

The Holy Land: Israel and Palestine

For several reasons, the Holy Land is unique. Bethlehem was where Jesus was born; Jerusalem the city of his trial, his death, and his resurrection. Jerusalem also was the city in which, at Pentecost, the church was born, and from which it spread around the globe. For nearly two thousand years there has been a worshiping Christian community in the Holy Land. Perhaps nowhere in the world are so many parts of the Christian Church represented — even though some are very small expatriate groups. Palestine and Israel are also, however, home to two other world religions: Judaism and Islam. Today in the Holy Land, Christianity is a “double minority,” existing with varying degrees of discomfort alongside two much larger religious communities.

Christian pilgrims visit the Holy Land, eager to walk in the footsteps of Christ, to see the places about which they have studied, and to encounter the “living stones” — those women and men who find their hometowns when they open Scripture. Israel and Palestine are not only central to the biblical faith; they are at the center of the world’s attention as two peoples (Israelis and Palestinians) and three faiths struggle to discover the necessary elements of a just peace. Despite the fact that Israel and Palestine are discrete entities, separated from each other by a high wall and barbed wire, difficult checkpoints, and deep emotions, nearly all of the traditional and nonconciliar churches function in both areas with single, unified ecclesiastical structures. For that reason, the churches of Israel and Palestine are treated together in the paragraphs that follow.

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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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