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The Resurgence of the Gospel, Part One: The Medieval Prologue and the Remapping of the World

From the day the Church began during a celebration of Pentecost in Jerusalem, followers of the Jesus Way represented Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The Feast of First Fruits, or Pentecost re-mapped the Christian world as those who were present in Jerusalem represented Asia, Africa, and Europe. A Jewish treasurer for the Candace of Ethiopia who heard the gospel from Philip represents, the continent of Africa. Mark, the associate of Paul and Barnabas, the writer of the gospel which bears his name, represents the Latin World of the Western Mediterranean. Tradition and historical data associate the Syrian coastal city of Antioch and Damascus of inland Syria both of which share in the life and ministry of Paul, and later the Syrian Christian Tatian with the prominence of the Peshitta across the face of Asia north of the Persian Gulf to the headwaters of the Indus River and down to its mouth at the Arabian Sea and along the northwestern coast of India which came to have a significant number of Syriac speaking Chris-tian believers who attribute their origin to the ministry of the apostle Thomas. There is no reason to doubt this tradition on the basis of northwestern India’s connection with the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the second century’s apocryphal book of Thomas. With this begins the rest of the story of the resurgence of the Gospel across the trade routes and waterways connecting the Turkic-Mongol Steppe lands and Mongol China with Asia Minor, the Euxine (Black) Sea, and the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. The story begins with the role of the Caucasian, Kurdistan, and Caspian Christians and the Christians in that swath of mountain country in charting the way East and North. It will also define the relation of the Christians of Mesopotamia with the Umayyad and Abbasid Moslems and how Baghdad became the prominent Christian “patriarchate” from which all evangelism flowed toward the Mongol-Turkic domains.

Hence, when Luke writes of devout men from every country under heaven, he is also explaining how they return to the lands from whence they came. These diverse listeners would become the carriers of the Gospel into the far reaches of the world.

Then came the armies of Rome and the entry of Pompey into Syria and what would become known as Palestine. Rome followed much the same policies of the Macedonians and Greeks.

 

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Coming next in Fall 2018: Recharting the Christian World Mission

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Category: Church History, Summer 2018

About the Author: Woodrow E. Walton, D.Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions), B.A. (Texas Christian University), B.D. [M.Div.] (Duke Divinity School), M.A. (University of Oklahoma), is a retired Seminary Dean and Professor of biblical, theological and historical studies. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he and his wife live in Fort Worth, Texas. Walton retains membership with the Evangelical Theological Society, American Association of Christian Counselors, American Society of Church History, American Academy of Political Science, and The International Society of Frontier Missiology.

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