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The Nestorians and Their Rituals - I


Éditeur : Darf Date & Lieu : 1987, London
Préface : Pages : 452
Traduction : ISBN : 1 85077 166 9
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 140x215mm
Code FIKP : Liv. Eng. Bad. Nes. N° 2487Thème : Général

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The Nestorians and Their Rituals - I


The Nestorians and Their Rituals

Percy George Badger

Darf

The Nestorian Church is the name given to the ancient Christian community of the Assyrians and their converts, first founded in the fourth century. Though surviving for 800 years, and in that time producing many remarkable theologians and philosophers, the church was practically wiped out by the Tatar hordes at the end of the fourteenth century. Thereafter only a remnant of the western community survived, confined to the area then known as northern Mesopotamia.
By the mid nineteenth century, churchmen in England were anxious to secure what knowledge they could of this religious group, seeking also to prevent its complete demise. It was for this reason that George Percy Badger was sent as delegate to the Eastern Churches in 1842-4, and again in 1850, travelling widely throughout that inhospitable region within the borders of modem day Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
The present work, first published in 1852 in two volumes, and here reproduced in facsimile, contains a unique and detailed account of the rituals and practices of the Nestorian Church and other significant religious groups of that region.



PREFACE TO VOLUME THE FIRST

A considerable part of the information contained in this volume was collected several years ago, and would have been made public then, but for prudential considerations touching the welfare of the Nestorians. The author regrets this delay the less, since circumstances have permitted him to revist the scene of his labours, and to add to the stock of information acquired during his former sojourn in the East. Yet, notwithstanding, it is with some diffidence that he now sends these pages to the press: they were written in Mosul and its vicinity, where he had no opportunity of submitting them to the revision of any learned friend; and, being himself prevented from returning to England for that purpose, they are sent to the publisher with all the inaccuracies of style arising from the author’s limited attainments in this department of literature. He is fully alive to his own backwardness in this respect, and would, therefore, at the outset, candidly apprise his readers, that if they anticipate gratification from the language in which the following researches are narrated, they will most probably be disappointed. Imagery borrowed from fancy sometimes indeed endangers the truthfulness of description, and conveys a wrong impression of the things described; but, when legitimately used, heightens the interest of objects when seen without destroying their reality, and adds a charm to perusal which every writer is bound to afford, to the best of his ability, who solicits the attention of the reading public. As to his own deductions from the facts and events recorded, these he well knows will be canvassed as all other personal opinions are; but if the result shall eventually tend to further the object which he has in view in publishing these researches, he will feel that he has not written in vain, and will be satisfied.

Now, although the author, for the reasons aforesaid, is debarred the pleasure of recognizing an extraneous help in the compilation of this work, yet he is in duty bound to acknowledge the kindly interest which our late venerable Primate and the present Lord Bishop of London took in the personal welfare of the agents engaged in the mission to the Nestorians, and in the progress and success of their labours. It was chiefly owing to their influence that the enterprize was undertaken, and its short duration and untimely end must be referred rather to the unprepared state of the Church at home rightly and adequately to fit her for the pious task of reforming the Christian communities of the East, than to any want of zeal on the part of their Lordships to promote and to support it. Similar acknowledgments are due to the Lord Bishop of Gibraltar, to the Rev. Ernest Hawkins, and to the Committees of the two Societies which provided the funds for the mission, for their uniform kindness and generosity towards those who were commissioned to carry out the benevolent design of their instructions.

The author would furthermore be guilty of unpardonable neglect, were he to omit mentioning his coadjutor, Mr. J. P. Fletcher, now an ordained missionary of the Gospel Propagation Society in India, whose ready co-operation in the work to which both were appointed, and brotherly sympathy in seasons of sickness, weariness, and fatigue, he will ever recall to mind with feelings of lively gratitude.

To the courtesy of Robert Clive, Esq., the author is indebted for the original portrait of Mar Shinioon, and for the two views of an old Nestorian church contained in the second volume of this work. A similar acknowledgment is due to C. F. Barker, Esq., whose long residence in the East enabled him to make a better use of the author’s imperfect sketches than he could have expected with less suitable aid. The task, however, of preparing these illustrations for the press devolved upon F. C. Cooper, Esq., the artist who was associated with Mr. Layard, by the authorities of the British Museum, to perpetuate by his pencil the long-lost relics of the power and skill of the Ancient Assyrians. Mr. Cooper has lately been making a laudable effort to communicate to the public a portion of his Eastern acquirements, in a popular form, by means of a diorama of Nineveh; and, it is to be hoped, that he will ere long publish the contents of a well-assorted portfolio, illustrative of oriental costume and manners, whiclfhe collected during his sojourn in Mesopotamia and Coordistan. The reader will not fail to perceive how much these volumes owe to the talents of the above-named gentlemen; and to Mr. Cooper especially, are the thanks of the author due for his generous and unsolicited offer to undertake a task which has cost him no little time and trouble.

One word on the principal design of this publication. If the researches which it comprises, or the suggestions which the writer ventures to make on the duty of the Anglican Church to promote the spiritual welfare of the ancient Christian communities in the East, and the way in which such a work should he undertaken and carried out, or the expressed goodwill of the clergy and laity of those communities towards us, and their desire to be more closely united to us in brotherly love and in the confession of our common faith, as these favourable manifestations are made known in the following pages ; if these, or any other portions of his work shall tend to rouse in the hearts of British Churchmen a sincere desire to restore the Nestorians to primitive orthodoxy in doctrine, and to the full enjoyment of the great privileges of the Gospel, and further to exert themselves zealously in this charitable work, the author will deem his labour most fully and amply repaid.

Syrian Convent of Mar Mattai,
August, 1850.

P.S. The MS. of these volumes was forwarded to England and offered to several London publishers, who declined publishing it at their own risk, and as the author was not in circumstances to incur the expense of sending it to the press, he had well-nigh abandoned the hope of seeing the work in print. At this juncture, an esteemed friend obtained for him the acquaintance of Mr. J. Masters, who at once submitted the MS. to the perusal of the Rev. J. M. Neale, Warden of Sackville College. The favourable opinion formed of the work by that gentleman induced Mr. Masters to undertake its publication, and the zeal which he has manifested in its eventual success calls for the author’s sincere thanks. The kindness of Mr. Neale led him, moreover, to offer his services to revise the proof sheets, and to supply some notes in illustration of the text. The author most gratefully acknowledges the obligation which this timely and valuable assistance has conferred upon him,—an assistance the more to be appreciated since it was proffered to a stranger.

Aden, Arabia Felix,
October 28th, 1851.



Notice by The Editor

The absence of the Author from England rendered it, of course, impossible for him to revise the proofs of the present Work. But it also did more than this. It deprived him of the opportunity of consulting the great writers, who, like Le Quien and Asseman, have treated on the doctrines and history of the Nestorians, and of verifying or modifying his statements by their’s.

Under these circumstances, he requested me to take charge of the book through the press. I felt it a privilege to be in any way useful in the publication of so very valuable a contribution to the Ecclesiastical History of the East; but the difficulties of the task have not been inconsiderable.

It is no part of my duty, as Editor, to recommend the work. Still, I cannot but observe, that the second volume treats far more satisfactorily of the rituals and theology of the Nestorians than any book yet published in Europe: while the first supplies a desideratum in Ecclesiastical History, the atrocious massacres of Bedr Khan Beg.

Two remarks, however, I must be allowed to make.
The first is, that Mr. Badger is throughout an advocate for the Nestorians, and (naturally, perhaps laudably) takes an advocate’s view of his client’s side. Few, I suppose, would be satisfied with the concordat he proposes, in which the character and sentiments of Nestorius are left an open question. And in the same way, points of resemblance between the Nestorian and English Communions are discovered with amazing ingenuity.

The second is, that while the schismatical interference of Home with the Orthodox Eastern Church cannot be too strongly reprobated, the case is widely different in her dealings with the Nestorians. If the Eastern Church makes no efforts among them, why is Rome, any more than ourselves, to be debarred from that duty?

It is to be hoped, however, that English Churchmen will at length awake to the necessity of having an ecclesiastical agent accredited to the East by the synodal voice of the English Church herself. If the following volumes shall in any respect tend to such a result, they will have done yeoman’s service both to the Nestorians and to ourselves.

J. M. N.

Sackville College,
February 12, 1852.



Introduction

It was during the existence of the Euphrates Expedition sent out by the British Government under the command of Colonel Chesney, R. A., in the year 1835, that the Nestorian tribes inhabiting the mountainous districts of Coordistan, and other Christian sects dwelling between the two great rivers which almost insulate Mesopotamia, were brought into more general notice. The information respecting these communities contained in Rich’s "Notes on Coordistan,” is very brief, and after him, until very lately, there appears to have been no European traveller in those parts, who had made it a primary object of his research to inquire into the condition of the native Christians. Of the Nestorians in central Coordistan, scarcely anything was known beyond their existence; their isolated position amidst lofty and rugged mountains, as well as the temper of the fierce and lawless Coords by whom they were surrounded, having hitherto presented to the most daring adventurer almost insurmountable obstacles to his attempting to penetrate within their secluded boundary.

These impediments were in a measure removed by the partial establishment of the Ottoman jurisdiction over a large portion of Coordistan. This event took place in the year 1834, when the Turks, roused to a sense of the danger which threatened their eastern territory from the confederate Coords, who under the famous Rawandooz Beg, had plundered and destroyed many villages in the plains of the Tigris, sent a strong army against them under Resheed Pasha, who succeeded in capturing the rebel chief, and for a season effectually weakened the strength …




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