Nestorian Christians in Frontier History


Nestorian Christianity; mongols; kereits; onguts; olan sume; Silk Road; Yellow route

How to Cite

1. Obrusánszky B. Nestorian Christians in Frontier History // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2019. № 3. C. 175-193.


Nestorianism is the Christian doctrine that Jesus existed as two characters, the man and the divine or Son of God. Nestorios, the patriarch of Constantinople taught that thesis in the churches, but the synod of Ephesus in 431 declared it as a heretical teaching and exiled Nestorius and his followers from the Byzantine Empire. They established a new church and began to preach the new doctrine along the Silk Road. Gradually reached Central Asia and China, where the emperors supported them and gave privileges, moreover contributed to build churches there. Several relics can be found in China. From Central Asia they arrived in the Mongolian steppe, where lots of small kingdoms – Kereits, Naimans, Onguts, etc- existed. The new faith spread there quickly, thanks to miracles or missionaries with advanced astronomical and medical knowledge. Not only Syrians, but local Christians, e.g. Uighurs or Sogdians preached Christianity around Jungar Basin. For the first time they used Syrian as an ecclesial script, then introduced Uighur scripts, which was widely accepted writing system in the eastern part of the Silk Road. In my present study, based on early records, I have summarized the history of the peoples of Nestorian religion, referring to the Christian roots. Although these kingdoms were defeated by Genghis Khan in the beginning of the 13th century, but their cultural heritage survived them, the Mongolian Empire accepted the Uighur script as official writing system for chancellery and some princess from those kingdoms became queens of Mongols and supported Christians and contributed that kind of Christianity survived for a long time in Inner Asia.


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