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However, it is not common knowledge that the message of Christ also moved eastward at a very early date and indeed there was a thriving church in Asia until the late Middle Ages, long before Catholic (and later, Protestant) missionaries arrived from the West.
There are also ancient traditions, recorded in Foxe's Book of Martyrs, that, of the apostles, "Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Carmanians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians and Magians... Andrew preached to the Scythians, [and] Sogdians." and the Assyrian Church of the East, both of which have used Syriac (a Semitic dialect similar to the Aramaic spoken by Jesus) as their liturgical language throughout their long history as independent ecclesiastical bodies.During this time, Edessa also seems to have become home to a number of heretical groups, including the Gnostics.The two most prominent Syriac Christian scholars of this era were Tatian (c.After several centuries of being in a vassal relationship with either Rome or Persia, the city became first a Roman colony in 214 and then part of the Persian Empire in 258.While the Roman Empire eventually adopted Christianity, the Persian Empire remained solidly Zoroastrian until the Arab conquest of the seventh century.All of these Jews, in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost, were residents of the Persian Empire, the future home of the Church of the East.
It is not unlikely that some of them were amongst the three thousand who responded to Peter's message that day, possibly carrying the gospel back to their homes when they returned from Jerusalem.
The church that Thomas supposedly founded is still known as the Mar Thoma Church and continues to use a Syriac liturgy to this day. Thomas Christians have by and large remained a relatively small minority in the sea of Hinduism that is southern India, however, and for most of their history have been treated as a separate caste by the Indian rulers, thus hindering their efforts to evangelize those around them.
By the time that Edessa was incorporated into the Persian Empire, the city of Arbela (modern-day Erbil, in Iraq), located on the Tigris in the Persian province of Adiabene, had taken on more and more the role that Edessa had played in the early years, as a centre from which Christianity spread to the rest of the Persian Empire.
At around the same time, Christian influence spread to Yemen.
The king of the Himyarites in Yemen was apparently converted in 356 by Theophilus, mentioned above (although the Himyarite monarchs later converted to Judaism).
110-180) and Bardaisan (154-222), both of whom appear to have come under the influence of Gnosticism.