1800-1899 A.D. Assyrian History

1850s: Memoir of Rev. David Tappan Stoddard
by Joseph P. Thompson, D.D.
Posted: Friday, September 22, 2000 01:52 pm CST

Here are some passages from the book: "Memoir of Rev. David Tappan Stoddard: Missionary to the Nestorians".

Rev. Stoddard writes in a letter: My feelings have been gradually interested, until it seem to me that I can leave my friends and my country, and joyfully live among the Nestorians. Page 93

In that section of the report, which covered the visit to Persia, Dr. Smith thus addressed the corresponding Secretary of the American Board: “To the Nestorians of Oroomiah we would specially direct your attention.... We can not but refer you to their extreme liberality toward other sects, their ideas of open communion, and their entire rejection of auricular confession (that efficient police system of the other old churches), as considerations which have produced in our minds a firm conviction, that a mission to the Nestorians would meet with far fewer obstacles than among any other of the old churches. The week that we passed among them was among the most intensely interesting of our lives.” Page 99

The committee of the Malta Protestant College--a Church of England institution-- who visited Oroomiah in 1849, in their journal (page 730 published in London in 1855, by James Nesbit & Co.) they say: “The praiseworthy Christian enterprise of the American missionaries for the religious reformation of the Nestorians was much impeded in 1844 by the invasion of the Koords into their mountain retreat, which was followed by the horrible massacre of above four thousand of those most interesting people....” Page 193

“After a year’s experience I can truly say that I do not desire to deal with a people who are naturally more promising than this (speaking about the Nestorians); and I can readily believe what history records, that in the early ages their fathers were the most intrepid, enterprising, and successful missionaries of the cross. And should they be again converted (he means from Nestorians to born again), we might hope that they would plant a second time the Gospel banner on the Himalayan mountains, in the depths of Tartary, and among the millions of China.” Page 194

“With Turkey on the West, Arabia on the south, India, China, Tartary, encircling it on the east and north, this must always be a center of great influence. It was from here, that in the early days of the Nestorian Church, the light shone forth with such brilliancy, illuminating vast regions throughout this continent. It was then that the cross of Christ was erected in Tibet and China, and the religion of the Nazarene bade fair to become the only religion of the East.” Page 205

“The missionary to the Nestorians found them in possession of the Scriptures in manuscript copies, in the ancient Syriac. This language, however, through the changes of time, had ceased to be vernacular; and hence the Scriptures, though more or less intelligible to the ecclesiastics, were not understood by the common people. It was, therefore, proposed to translate the New Testament into modern Syriac from the ancient, instead of making a new version from the Greek. The ancient Syriac version was, probably, made as early as the latter part of the second century, and in the earlier part of the fourth century it was in general use in churches where the Syriac tongue was spoken. Its origin is ascribed to the scholars of Edessa. It is commonly known as the Peshito, a term meaning “simple”, with reference probably to the fact that it consists of the bare text, without note or comment. De Wette (Historico-Critical Introduction to the New Testament) describes it as “an immediate, faithful, free, but seldom paraphrastic, translation” from one of the oldest Greek texts. Tregelles (in Horne’s introduction, tenth edition, vol. iv, chap. 24) does not estimate it quite so highly, though he concedes to it a great antiquity.” Page 340-341

In December 6, 1856, Dr. Wright and Rev. Stoddard traveled to Tabreez, to procure from the Qaim-maqam, a superior officer of the Persian government, a letter designed to restrain somewhat the imperious demands of Askar Khan. While they received some assurances, counter orders were secretly issued to Asker Khan repudiated the written orders brought by the missionaries. Under date of December 18, 1856, Stoddard writes; “I am very sorry to say that the papers we brought from Tabreez proved of no service, and things are worse than ever. Our helpers (means Nestorians) are now beaten because they are our helpers; and some of them thrown into prison, and threatened with being sent to Tehran in irons! Our village schools are nearly all broken up, and we are daily expecting an attack on our seminaries....” Page 398

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