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Syrian Malabar Nasrani
This group has caught my attention for obvious reasons. I was curious to find out if anyone knows of a good book or books that discusses their origins, history, and/or literature?


I've also recently become quite interested in the different groups of "Nasranis" in India. Here's what I've found on Wikipedia so far:

Knanaya (Heb:??????????, Malayalam: ?????????????????????, Ar:??????????), literally meaning "Knai people", are an endogamous Jewish people from Kerala, India.[2] Their heritage and culture is syriac-Keralite, origin and descent Jewish, their language Malayalam. [2] Their loyalties are with the Nasrani community of Syriac Christians from Kerala. [2]

Syrian Malabar Nasrani
The Syrian Malabar Nasrani people are an ethnoreligious group from Kerala, India. It refers to those who became Christians in the Malabar coast in the earliest days of Christianity, including the natives and the Jewish diaspora in Kerala.[2][3] It has been suggested that the term Nasrani derives from the name Nazarenes used by ancient Jewish Christians in the Near-East who believed in the divinity of Jesus but clung to many of the Mosaic ceremonies.[4] They follow a unique Hebrew-Syriac Christian tradition which includes several Jewish elements although they have absorbed some Hindu customs. Their heritage is Assyrian-Keralite, their culture South Indian, their faith St. Thomas Christian, and their language Malayalam.[2] Much of their Jewish tradition has been forgotten, especially after the Portuguese invasion of Kerala in the early 1500s.[2] They are popularly known as Syrian Christians in view of the Syriac (classical form of Aramaic) liturgy used in church services since the early days of Christianity in India.

The Nasrani people are also called Syrian-Malabar Christians, Saint Thomas Christians , Suriyani Christians or even as Syrian Christians. They are also called as Nasrani Mapillas. According to Hermann Gundert (who wrote the first Malayalam dictionary), the term 'mapilla' was a title used to denote semitic immigrants from West Asia. Thus the term Mapilla was used to denote both Arab and Christian-Jewish descendants in Kerala. The descendants of Arabs are called Muslim Mappila, while the descendants of Syrian-Jewish Christians are called Nasrani Mappilas.[5] and the descendants of the Cochin Jews who have traditionally followed Halakhic Judaism are known as Juda Mappila. [6]

Saint Thomas Christians
The Saint Thomas Christians are a group of Christians based on the Malabar coast (now Kerala) in Southern India, who belong to different denominations of Syriac Christianity. [1] The different denominations within fold of St Thomas Christians together come under the common appellate of Nasrani people. [1] Their traditions go back to the very beginnings of first century Christian thought and the seven churches that are believed to have been established by St. Thomas the Apostle during his mission in Malabar. [1] They are popularly known as Syrian Christians in view of the Syriac (classical form of Aramaic) liturgy used in church services from the early days of Christianity in India.

Chaldean Syrian Church
Chaldean Syrian Church is the name used for the Assyrian Church of the East in India. It is one of several groups of Saint Thomas Christians tracing their origins to St. Thomas the Apostle who, according to tradition, came to India in AD 52.

For many generations until the 16th century, the Christians of India were accustomed to receive their bishops from the Church of the East. Following the Portuguese colonization of several coastal regions of India, Christians in Malabar were allied with the Roman Catholic Church. Beginning in the 17th century, ecclesiastically conservative groups began to seek leadership from the Syrian Orthodox Church.

The modern history of the Church of the East in India dates to the decades after 1814 when leading Christians in Thrissur, failing in their own attempt to gain a bishop from the Syrian Orthodox Church began to seek to have a bishop ordained by the Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East in Qochanis. The priest Anthony Thondonatta was consecrated bishop as Mar Abdisho in 1862 in Qochanis, though he did not begin functioning as Metropolitan in India until 1882. Their publishing arm, Mar Narsai Press, prints several liturgcal books used throughout the Assyrian (often considered "Nestorian") Church of the East. The present Metropolitan, Mar Aprem Mooken (ordained in 1968), is headquartered in Trichur and is a noted author. Marth Mariyam Cathedral 10??31???6???N, 76??13???2???E is the seat of the Metropolitan.

Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is a Chaldean Rite, Major Archiepiscopal Church in Full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. It is one of the 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in the Roman Catholic Church. It is the largest group among the Saint Thomas Christians and trace its origins to St. Thomas the Apostle who is believed to have come to India in AD 52. The Syro Malabar Church is the largest St. Thomas Christian community in India.[2] The Church was earlier referred to as the Syro- Chaldean Church. They are also referred to as Syrian Catholics in Kerala.

Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (also known as Malankara Syrian Catholic Church, Malankara Syriac Catholic Church) is an Antiochian Rite, Major Archiepiscopal sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church in the Catholic Communion in union with the Pope of Rome, historically linked to the Syrian Church. It is one of several groups of Saint Thomas Christians tracing their origin to St. Thomas the Apostle who came to India in AD 52 according to tradition. In course of time due to the latinization policy of the Portuguese Indian Church was divided in two. One group stood away from the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical authorities and eventually came under the Antiochean Jacobite Church.

From this group Archbishop Mar Ivanios, in an effort to preserve the autonomy of the Apostolic Church, regained the communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 1930. Thus the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church had a humble beginning with only 5 members on the day of reunion on 20 September 1930. Today, it has a total number of around 500,000. Pope John Paul II qualified it as a "fast-growing church".

On February 10, 2005, the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church was elevated by Pope John Paul II to a Major Archiepiscopal Church, elevating the Archbishop to Major Archbishop (called Catholicos by Syro-Malankara Catholics). As a major archiepiscopal church, the Syro-Malankaras are granted the greatest level of autonomy under the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, governed by the major archbishop and the general synod of all bishops of the church, subject to papal oversight.

The current Major Archbishop and Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis (Thottunkal), who was elected by the Holy Synod as the successor of the late Moran Mor Cyril Baselious on February 8, 2007, and was confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI on February 10, 2007. He was installed on March 5, 2007.

The liturgy of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is West Syrian in character. The Bethany order male and female and Daughters of Mary religious work in the Syro-Malankara Church.

Jacobite Syrian Christian Church
The Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, is a Malankara Archdiocese in Kerala, India. It is affiliated to the Syriac Orthodox Church, with the Patriarch of Antioch, Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, as its supreme head. The local head of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church in Malankara is the Catholicos, Mor Baselios Thomas I, ordained by and accountable to the Patriarch of Antioch. Some estimate that the church has about 2.5 million members globally.

The Church has dioceses in most parts of India as well as in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Western Europe, and the Persian Gulf nations.

Malankara is one of the churches that are part of Saint Thomas Christians, tracing their origins to St. Thomas the Apostle who, according to tradition, came to India in AD 52.

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (also known as the Malankara Orthodox Church, Orthodox Church of the East, Orthodox Syrian Church of the East,The Indian Orthodox Church) is an autocephalous church and a prominent member of the Oriental Orthodox Church family in Christianity, founded by St. Thomas, the Disciple of Christ in A.D. 52.

Malabar Independent Syriac Church
Malabar Independent Syriac Church is also known as Thozhyur Sabah (church) and Anjoor church. It had grown from the tears, prayers and fasting of a God fearing man who spent years in exile, lived incognito and faced troubles and persecutions from those whom he loved. The church itself grew from a simple hut in a jungle to a completely independent Christian church. In a court case, in 1862, Madras High court declared that the church was an Independent Syrian church in Malabar. From then on this church was given the name Malabar Independent Syrian Church. It is a small church with a great heart.

It maintained a very good relation with the Malankara Church. Three Metropolitans of the Malankara Church were consecrated by this church. It continued this relation with Mar Thoma church even after Malankara Church was split into two, Jacobite church and Mar Thoma church.

Mar Thoma Church
Mar Thoma Church, is Apostolic in origin, Universal in nature, Biblical in faith, Evangelical in principle, Ecumenical in outlook, Oriental in worship, Democratic in function, and Episcopal in character.[2]

On the South Western coast of India lies a small state known as Kerala. It was here in the first century, Thomas the Apostle arrived to preach the gospel to the Jewish community. Some of the Jews and locals became followers of Jesus of Nazareth. The remnant of that Church, still independent and under local leadership is called Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church. also known as Marthoma Church.

The Church presently has around one million members. The majority of the membership of the Church is in the southern Indian state of Kerala but it has spread with the 20th century Indian diaspora to North America, Europe, the Middle East, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, this in addition to a sizeable population in the rest of India.

St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India
St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India (STECI) is an Evangelical, Episcopal denomination based in Kerala, India. It derives from a schism in the Mar Thoma Church in 1961, and traces its ancestry before then back almost 2,000 years. STECI firmly affirms that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God. All that is necessary for man's salvation and living in righteousness is given in the Bible. It further affirms that the Church has a responsibility to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations of the world, especially to India. The headquarters of this church is at Tiruvalla, a town in the state of Kerala which is the part of South India.
Christina, it may help if I state my specific reasons for looking for a book. I've found them on Wiki, but I'm hoping to include some information about them in an essay. So I need a more reliable source than Wiki. I've started going through the bibliography on one of the wiki articles, though, and that is helping. I'm currently reading "The Nestorians; Or, the Lost Tribes" by Asahel Grant.
In that case, nothing in particular I can recommend except the usual: visit their websites/online communities or try to find a Nasrani parish in your area.
Shlama Dawid

If I had the opportunity, I???d grab ???The Indian Christians of St. Thomas??? by Leslie Brown, though it???s nearly impossible to find, or very expensive (1 available at Amazon). The Rev. P. J. Podipara, CMI was an eminent expert in this field of study, but finding his works available are even worse.

There???s a very, very interesting article at <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""> ... -approach/</a><!-- m --> which anyone can participate in. I haven???t read through every single comment posted, so for all I know, someone else might have asked this question in there somewhere and got a good answer.

My ???A History of India, vol. 1??? by Thapar, which is otherwise excellent (covering 2,500 years), serves to be worthless on this topic other than the briefest mention. She at least found it interesting enough to on p.134 mention that the place where St. Thomas began to preach, after having established many churches along the Malabarian coast, was ???subsequently called Beth Thuma. Beth Thuma = ???House of Thomas??? in Hebrew.???

The best source that I can think of, from both an eminent in this field, as well as a part of their community, would have to be Dr. A. M. Mundadan, CMI. Be looking for a ???History of Christianity in India, vol. 1??? and ???Indian Christians: Search for Identity and Struggle for Autonomy???, 2nd Ed. (2003).

Otherwise, perhaps this will assist you?
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Listen to Mar Aprem, the Metropolitan of India, read the original Aramaic scriptures to the congregation in Moscow:
Thanks all three of you. These sources are looking most promising. I'm going to search Google books for them as soon as I get the chance.
Rafa Wrote:Hey Dawid, how things going? I don't know if this will be of ANY help, but I was reading a few months ago Marco Polo's "Book of wonders" and there were several very interesting chapters on the Nestorians in India every time Polo encountered their cities. Of course it was all written from a very distorted perspective (Khan Og of central Asia became "Prestor John" for instance, my fave) but I loved it. It's an easy to find public domain text though.

Polo really loved us, didn't he? <!-- sConfusedarcasm: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/sarcasm.gif" alt="Confusedarcasm:" title="Sarcasm" /><!-- sConfusedarcasm: -->

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