by Heleen Murre-van den Berg Professor of Global Christianity, director Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (hlmvandenberg.me)
The presence of Christianity in Iran goes back to the early periods of Christian history, although scholars do not know when exactly it first arrived. What we do know, is that Christianity was present in northern Mesopotamia (today’s North-Iraq, which belonged to the Sassanid Empire) in the (late) second and early third century, and that the Armenian people, to the north of what is now Iran and then mostly a buffer state between the Roman and Persian empires, converted to Christianity in the early fourth century, before Constantine’s adoption of Christianity in 312.
East Syriac Christianity, often but historically imprecise indicated as ‘Nestorian’ and today preferring the epithet ‘Assyrian’, over the course of the third to seventh centuries spread through most of the provinces of the Sassanid Empire, to the south and to the east into Central Asia, in the early seventh century reaching as far as China. Though Christians never formed the majority of the population (except perhaps in a few specific locations, such as parts of northern Mesopotamia or among certain tribes in Central Asia), their presence in large parts of Persia and Central Asia made them into an important component of local societies. LIRE LA SUITE