A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Iraq's Assyrian Christians Under (and Near) ISIS

It's well known that Iraq's Christians suffered heavily during the sectarian wars of the past decade, and that large numbers have fled the country. Now, with ISIS in control of Nineveh province, the heartland of Assyrian and Chaldean Christians in Iraq, the news is even worse. Jamie Dettmer at The Daily Beast visits Bartilla, which ISIS hasn't yet reached and is under Kurdish control, but with ISIS a 10-minute drive away, the Christians are getting nervous.

Edessa (now Şanlıurfa just over the Syrian border) was one of the first cities in Upper Mesopotamia to convert to Christianity, and the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, still the Eucharistic liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East, is considered by liturgical experts to be the oldest Christian liturgy still in use. Because the Church of the East flourished in the lands of the Persian rather than the Roman Empire, and were dismissed as "Nestorians" and heretical by the Western churches, this very ancient history is largely forgotten. Sadly, its modern adherents (and their Chaldean Catholic neighbors) may be feeling forgotten as well.

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