Middle Eastern Worldviews Impact China Part 1 Entry and Progress of Judeo-Christian Thought

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Warren A. Shipton


Residual knowledge of God and early world events was held by the Chinese in their language from time immemorial. Jewish influences were felt in the countries bordering China since the first diaspora (721 BCE). Jewish thought does not appear to have had a significant influence on the Chinese. Christian influences commenced soon after CE 31. Early contact is reputed to have been through the apostle Thomas, an Ethiopian mission (fourth century) and others, and especially through the Church of the East. All this happened well before the well-known efforts of Alopen in CE 635. The Church of the East held to the apostolic faith. Its witness was interrupted by bouts of persecution. In China, this became intense under the Ming dynasty (commenced 1368) and the emperor’s effects were complemented by the closure of the Silk Road and fierce persecution in Muslim territories under Tamerlane. Essentially, early Christian influence in China ceased by the end of the fourteenth century. Remnant groups persisted in the mountainous regions bordering China and could be regarded as surviving members of the wilderness church. The lessons and failures in contextualization coming from the early experience of Christians in Asia contain valuable information.


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