Lecture 3 – First Hour
Relevant Points for the History of the Chaldean Church
- There is no historic record of any Episcopal ordination, resulting in a dynasty of bishops springing from Thomas. Though, it is historically valid for the Church east of Euphrates to claim Thomas as the primary apostle of the Church of the East, expanding from Mesopotamia through Iran up to India.
- Also, there is no Eucharistic Prayer of Consecration (Qudasha) that has reached us from the personal heritage of St. Thomas.
- Therefore, while indeed the apostolate of Mar Thoma has initiated the introduction of Christianity east of Euphrates, it belonged to his apostolic team companions, Mar Addai and the disciple Mari, to provide the foundation of the hierarchical structure and liturgical basis, for the formation of a distinct and particular apostolic heritage.
- We can justly infer that the 40 year of sustained persecution, during the rule of Shapur II (339-379), erased many Christian memorabilia of earlier times; this is, in my estimate, the main reason why there is no available early record of the apostolate of Mar Toma in Mesopotamia. Edessa, with its active Gnostics and Manicheans, well known among them Bardaisan, would use Thomas’ name and record to promote their own ideology.
- Therefore, the right attitude for the Chaldean Church, at the present time, would be to reclaim fully the blessed memory and apostolate of Mar Toma as the first apostle of their land; meanwhile, in order to attempt a justifiable reconstruction of his endeavor, we must try to retrieve from the Edessenian Acts, as demonstrably as possible, the historic elements of his apostolate, leaving aside the inserted Gnostic segments. The Malabar Church, while validly and proudly claiming the apostolic connection with Mar Toma, needs as well, the ecclesiastic patrimony of Addai and Mari, to appropriate the apostolic succession and liturgical heritage, thus it is paramount the connection with the hierarchy and liturgical patrimony of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
Addai and Mari:
a) Eusebius: (Ch.1:13)
- “A story about the Prince of Edessa”–
- The story about Taddaeus is as follows: … King Abgar, sent a humble request to Him [Jesus] by a letter-carrier, begging for relief from his disease. Jesus did not immediately accede to his request, but honored him with a personal letter, promising to send one of His disciples to cure his disease… After His resurrection and ascent into heaven, Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, was moved by inspiration to send Thaddaeus, himself in the list of the seventy disciples, to Edessa as preacher and evangelist of the teaching about Christ…”
- “Written evidence of these things is available, taken from the Record Office at Edessa, at the time the Royal capital. In the public documents there, embracing early history and also the events of Abgar’s time, this record is found preserved from then till now; and the most satisfactory course is to listen to the actual letters, which I have extracted from the archives and translated word for word from the Syriac as follows:…”
- “… After Jesus was taken up, Judas, also known as Thomas, sent to him [Abgar] as an Apostle Thaddaeus, one of the Seventy, who came and stayed with Tobias, son of Tobias… So summoning Tobias… Abgar replied: Bring him to me… At the moment of his entry, a wonderful vision appeared to Abgar on the face of Thaddaeus. On seeing it Abgar bowed low before the Apostle, and astonishment seized all the bystanders; for they have not seen the vision, which appeared to Abgar alone…” “… All this happened in the year 340 [of the Greeks]. Here we may leave for the present this valuable document literally translated from Syriac. ”
b) The Doctrine of Addai: (See pp. 3-17)
* Hanan the Archivist,as requested by King Abgar, leaves record in Edessa’s archives of a visit to Jesus, and drew a painting for Jesus “with choice pigments”; this information to be put together with a “vision” that Abgar so in the face of Addai. (Compare with Shroud of Turin and John 20:5-8)
* The name of the Edessenian language is “Aramaic”(p. 2-3) not Syriac as in Eusebius.
* Names of the ordained by Addai to succeed him.
* Is it a story written in the third century, reflecting what happened in the first century trying to preserve a memory that a pagan king successor of Abgar attempted to erase.
c)The Anaphora of Addai & Mari
- Our several articles and lectures on the genesis of the Anaphora of Addai & Mari concluded consistently that thisQudasha is apostolic origin, as reflected in its literary structure and liturgical content, being in solid continuity with the scriptural Lord’s Supper. This well known presentation has never been challenged scholarly to the date, providing valid endorsement to the historicity argument of the apostolate of these Gospel heralds East of Euphrates.
- The Church of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, today represented mainly by the Chaldean Church, is the site where this anaphora has been in use continuously up to date; there is no record of the Church of Edessa using this anaphora. We have shown, in our studies and publications, how the Maronite Fathers may have received this anaphora from the Mesopotamian Church in the beginning of 5th century; thus, it is quite consistent for this Church to claim and cherish her proper Apostles and precious heritage.