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Thomas Christians

Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xiii.d ] India, according to the apocryphal Acts of the Apostle Judas Thomas ( c. 200 ce ), was the field of mission of Thomas, one of the twelve; accordingly, the Christians of the Malabar coast (Kerala State in south-west India) regard him as their founder and honour his tomb at Maylapur, near Madras. Kosmas Indikopleustes found Christians in this area in the 6th century and there is nothing improbable about the suggestion that Christianity spread quickly in the wake of the Jewish traders in southern Asia. The Thomas Christians originally belonged to the C hurch of the east ; for this reason Syriac, the Aramaic dialect of Mesopotamian Edessa, was their liturgical language. The majority of them now use Malayalam. Syriac liturgy and theology (both poetical and literalist) are still studied in the seminaries of Kerala, especially at the Ecumenical Research Institute, SEERI, which organizes international conferences in the subject. The Indian Christians who are reunited at such conferences are divided in their ecclesiastical allegiance, some ‘Nestorian’, others ‘Jacobite’, others R oman catholic and others independent, with further subdivisions; for example, the ‘Jacobites’ are divided into those obedient to the S yrian orthodox patriarch of Antioch and those who insist on regional autonomy. The bone of contention between these latter two groups is alleged to be the gift, by ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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