Hidden in Plain Sight For Almost 1400 Years, Part 1

Trying to piece together ancient history, in this case evidence of Christianity in ancient China, is quite a challenge and does pose some provocative questions!

Encounters of Faith in Asia: Past, Present and Future

It was hidden in plain sight. For almost 1400 years, a leaning, frail looking tower-like structure had existed on a wind-swept hill. Fifty miles outside the Chinese city of Xian, the Da Qin pagoda is another living testament to the existence of Christianity in China in the 7th century. (For more on Xian and the Church of the East in China, see my two posts from November, Buried For 700 Years and What Else Lies Buried?)

A few weeks ago I trudged up a muddy path with a few colleagues, amazed that I was finally going to see the structure that many scholars believe was built by a group of Persian Church of the East missionaries. Led by a monk named Alopen, they had come to China along the Silk Road, arriving in the Xian (then called Chang’an) area in 635 C.E, the capital of the T’ang dynasty. (The…

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