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Virginia Baptists arrive for 2002 SEP, Shanghai - Nanjing

Part 2: in Jining, the program begins

Inner Mongolia's grasslands

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Abby and Sarah in Xi'an

Discovering the Nestorian Pagoda

Eating Zongzi June, 2002

Mary Washington comes to China, Part 1
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Xi'an May 2002
   
Update
  
Church
  
Terracotta soldiers
   The Nestorian tablet

 

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The Nestorian Tablet

This is the top of the Nestorian Tablet, which is housed in the Forest of Steles Museum in Xi'an. I'll start with the word "stele." This is a word applied to the tall marble or granite stone tablets on which Chinese have for centuries carved records of happenings, poems, philosophies, and whatnot. In Xi'an, there is a museum which houses what must be hundreds of these things. Since the tall tablets are often mounted on the backs of marble tortoises, making them even taller, they have been likened to a "forest" of tablets, or "steles." You could call it the Xi'an Library of Congress. There are records here from several early dynasties, including the Tang. According to this tablet, in 635 AD, during the Tang Dynasty, Nestorian Christian missionaries arrived in Xi'an, this being the first organized effort to bring the gospel to China. Nestorius was a controversial figure and church leader who was declared a heretic by contemporaries about 200 years earlier. The issue was over his view of Christology, but there were also some power politics involved in the controversy as well. 

Nestorian Christianity flourished for a little over 100 years, but in 845, when the emperor banned all religions other than Confucianism, it faded. It had a brief revival during the Yuan Dynasty when the Mongols controlled China, but when that dynasty fell, Nestorianism withered away. The reason sometimes given was that it had not developed strong Chinese roots, a problem that existed up until recent times. Recent discoveries have revealed that perhaps the Nestorian churches were more widespread and persistent than had been previously thought, but in any case, they did not survive into modern times.

The tablet was discovered only in recent years, having been buried for hundreds of years.

This man is making rubbings, presumably to sell, and also to demonstrate how they are done. There is a counter nearby where you can buy rubbings from many of the tablets. I bought a rubbing of the top part, really just the title. I could have bought a rubbing of the whole thing, but I thought it would be too big to mount.