Syriac Gravestones from Central Asia

[from: Alphonse Mingana, The Early Spread of Christianity in Central Asia and the Far East: A New Document (Reprinted from The Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, Vol. 9, No. 2, 1925), 41-42 and John Stewart, Nestorian Missionary Enterprise: The Story of a Church on Fire (Edinburgh: T &T Clark, 1928), 204-213]

1 The Syriac term used for a visitator, similar to an archdeacon, a bishop's assistant. The Syriac word sa'ora and the Greek word periodeutes were also used to describe this office. "The duty of the bearer of these titles was to visit the churches and see that all was well with them and to build up congregations that had fallen off. It was also part of his duty to visit villages and smaller congregations, to gather elders around him, to admonish them, and remind them of their duties, to read the scriptures, to gather the children together, pray with them and arrange for their education. The person appointed to this office was chosen because of his piety, his uprightness and his incorruptibility." (Stewart, 205-206).

2 Many of the dates given on these grave inscriptions follow the Syriac custom of dating events according to the Seleucid Era (i.e. beginning with the inauguration of Seleucid rule in Syria and Palestine in 312/311 BC). Dates using AD are in parentheses.

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