Christ on the Silk Road The Evidences of Nestorian Christianity in Ancient China / Glen L. Thompson

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Library | Comments Off on Christ on the Silk Road The Evidences of Nestorian Christianity in Ancient China / Glen L. Thompson

In 2001, the author, ecumenist, and BBC broadcaster Martin Palmer

announced the discovery of a seventh- or eighth-century Christian

pagoda in central China. Palmer’s claims were reported in Christianity

Today and U.S. News and World Report.

I was teaching in Hong Kong that year and had been planning a ten-day

trip into China when I first heard the news. As a church historian, I

was intrigued. I was able to get a rough idea of the location and

added an extra day to my itinerary in the hope of visiting the site.

It lies about thirty miles southwest of the ancient Tang Dynasty

capital that today is called Xi’an, in the famous area of Lou Guan

Tai, now a national park.

The Da Qin Pagoda

Lou Guan Tai sits at the base of a pass leading westward through the

Qingling Mountains. Something about its location—its feng shui—made

the site revered as a spiritual place, and in the sixth century B.C.,

the scholar Laozi (or Lao-Tzu) is said to have settled there to pursue

the Tao after leaving the royal court in disgust at its worldliness.

Here he wrote Tao Te Ching, “The Book of the Way and Its Power,”

founding the philosophy known today as Taoism.

Lou Guan Tai later grew into an important Taoist center, and it was

just a mile or two to the west, either just inside or outside the

Taoist complex, that twelve centuries later the Da Qin monastery was

built by Christian monks. Only one tower of the monastery remains, a

seven-story pagoda that Palmer says was near to falling.

Since Palmer’s announcement, repairs have been made, and the tower now

seems in rather good shape for a 1,300-year-old structure. It is

octagonal and looks exactly like other ancient Chinese pagodas. In a

Chinese book of 1563, the pagoda is clearly named and described, and

at that time had even more extensive ruins visible.

Palmer cites four strands of evidence that point to this as a

Christian structure: (1) Its name, Da Qin, links it with an earlier

Christian mission (more on this below); (2) the pagoda was cut into

the hillside so as to face east, whereas all Chinese temples face

north and south; (3) several lines of Syriac graffiti were found in or

near the structure; and (4) several pieces of Christian statuary were

found on the second and third floors of the pagoda. By the time of my

visit, the statuary had been moved for safekeeping until a new museum

could be built, so the description I give here is based solely on that

of Palmer and the photographs reproduced in his book.

The statue that dominated the second floor of the pagoda was a

10-foot-high and 5-foot-wide mountain scene. In the mountain was a

cave, and in the cave a remnant of a nativity scene. The only parts

surviving are a bent right leg and an extended left leg. Such a

posture, Palmer says, is unknown in Chinese art, but is common in

Eastern Orthodox renditions of Mary in nativity scenes.

The third-floor statue, 6 feet high and 4 feet wide, is also in poor

condition. The background here, however, can clearly be identified as

a city wall (with Chinese-style bell and drum towers). Also visible is

a tree with the remnants of a human figure seated beneath it. Palmer

has identified the scene as Jonah beneath the gourd tree outside


Although these identifications should be accepted with much caution,

when its features are taken as a whole, there seems good reason to

identify the pagoda as an ancient Christian structure. It had, after

all, been identified as such—back in 1933. As Palmer admits in The

Jesus Sutras (2001), “the pagoda was believed by Saeki and other China

scholars who had visited the site in 1933 to be associated with the

early Christian Church.” Indeed, Peter Yoshiro Saeki, a Japanese

religious scholar, had asked some local Chinese scholars to visit the

site, and they confirmed that it was the remnant of a Nestorian

building complex; they saw the same statuary Palmer discovered 65

years later.

Dr. Saeki, author of The Nestorian Documents and Relics in China

(1937), had long been on the trail of Christianity in China. Back in

1916, the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge published

his The Nestorian Monument, a book about a well-known Chinese

Nestorian stele.

When I visited the pagoda in 2001, I was also able to see this even

more important early Christian monument, the Nestorian Stele. These

two monuments, along with a third discovery, the Chinese equivalent of

the Dead Sea Scrolls, confirm that there was a significant Christian

presence in seventh- and eighth-century China. An examination of these

artifacts also highlights some of the problems missionaries encounter

when presenting the gospel to a new and alien culture.

The Nestorian Stele

In 1623 an ancient stele was discovered near Xi’an, just thirty miles

from the Christian pagoda. By 1625, the stele’s inscriptions had been

published by the Jesuit Father Trigault. In the early twentieth

century the stele stood near a Buddhist temple, a mile outside the

western gate of Xi’an. In 1907 it was moved to its present location

among the Xi’an historical museum’s famous collection of ancient


The tablet stands about eight feet high, is just over three feet wide,

and about a foot thick. It weighs nearly two tons. It contains 32

vertical lines with approximately 1,800 beautiful and well-preserved

Chinese characters. Setting this inscription apart from similar

ancient inscriptions are the words in its bottom margin—23 short lines

in ancient Syriac script. On the narrow sides of the stone are an

additional 70 lines in Chinese and Syriac.

Atop the stone is a heading of nine characters. Two characters— Da

Qin—mean “from the West” and could refer to anything arriving in China

from the West. In other documents from the period, they refer to the

Roman Empire, Palestine, or another Middle Eastern country. The

heading can be translated “The Monument That Commemorates the Spread

of the Western Religion of Light in China.”

The stele dates itself to Sunday, February 4, 781, and was composed by

a Christian priest whose name is given in Chinese as Jingjing and in

Persian as Adam. He is a “priest of a Da Qin monastery,” and “priest

and rural bishop and Papash of Chinestan.” He is probably the same

Adam who is mentioned in one of the Christian manuscripts we will

mention later as translator of more than 30 Christian books into


The main text begins with an extended eulogy to “the One who is true

and firm, the Uncreated, the Origin of Origins . . . our Aloha

[Elohim], the Triune, the mysterious Person, the unbegotten and true

Lord.” This long passage also describes “the Messiah,” who in “his

true majesty appeared on earth as a man. . . . A virgin gave birth to

the Holy One in Da Qin. A bright star announced the blessed event.”

It also states that “27 standard works of his sutras (or scriptures)

were preserved,” a clear reference to the New Testament. “His law is

to bathe with water and with the Spirit and thus to cleanse from all

vain delusions and to purify men until they regain the purity of their

nature.” “[His ministers] carry the cross with them as a sign, and

travel about wherever the sun shines and try to re-unite those that

are outside the kingdom.” This religion is referred to as “The

Way”—“but its meritorious workings are shown so brilliantly that we .

. . call it by the name of ‘the Luminous Religion’” (adaptation of

Saeki’s translation).

The text then recounts the arrival of Christian missionaries at Xi’an,

the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. The mission team was led by “a

highly virtuous man named Alopen in the kingdom of Da Qin,” who

“arrived in Xi’an in the ninth year of the period named Zhenguan”

(A.D. 635). “The Emperor dispatched his Minister of State, Fang

Xuanling, with an imperial guard, to the western suburb to meet the

visitor and conduct him to the palace. The sutras were translated in

the Imperial Library. [The Emperor] studied The Way in his own

Forbidden apartments, and being deeply convinced of its correctness

and truth, he gave special orders for its propagation.”

The text then quotes the imperial decree about this new religion,

issued by the emperor in 638, which concludes, “This teaching is

helpful to all creatures and beneficial to all men; so let it have

free course throughout the Empire.”

We are then told that a monastery was built in the capital, a portrait

of the emperor was hung in it, and 21 priests were ordained to serve

there. When the Emperor Tai Zong died, he was succeeded by Gao Zong

(650–683) who “allowed monasteries of the Luminous Religion to be

founded in every prefecture . . . and the law spread throughout the

ten provinces. . . . Monasteries were built in many cities while every

family enjoyed great blessings.”

The text goes on to describe how, between 698 and 712, first Buddhists

in the East, then Taoists in the West slandered the new religion. But

Christian leaders rose up to strengthen the church; under Emperors

Xuan Zong (712–756), Su Zong (756–762) and Dai Zong (763–779) the

church again flourished with royal favor. This section of the text

then concludes with praise for the present emperor, De Zong (780–805).

The blessings of that time are then enumerated, closing with “all

these are the meritorious fruits of the power and working of our

Luminous Religion.”

This is followed by a eulogy for the Christian dignitary who likely

paid for the stele, Yi Si. He is described as a highly decorated court

official and general in the Chinese army of the three emperors, but

also as a priest and rural bishop of Khumdan.

The last major part of the inscription is a lengthy poem honoring God

and the emperors who championed his church. The concluding lines give

the imperial date, name the ruling patriarch of the “Luminous

Communities of the East,” and name the artist who inscribed the text

on the stele. The Syriac sections give a list of names of over 70

bishops, priests, and monks.

The story told in the inscription was so amazing that, after the

inscription’s publication in the early seventeenth century, its

authenticity began to be questioned. Debate and study continued

periodically until, by the late nineteenth century, numerous scholars

had personally examined the stone and vouched for its authenticity.

However, it took a second great archaeological event to lay any final

doubts to rest—the discovery of the scrolls of Dunhuang.

The Scrolls from Dunhuang

In 1908 the French archaeologist and explorer Paul Pelliot came upon a

cave at Dunhuang, 800 miles northwest of Xi’an (1,350 miles due east

of Samarkand), that had been sealed in 1036. Inside was a treasure

trove of ancient art and manuscripts. While many of the precious

scrolls were taken to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, others

found their way onto the black market. Among those that surfaced in

private collections during the following decades were a number of

Christian texts.

One set of four texts may have been authored by Alopen himself, the

leader of the mission journey in 635. The oldest of the texts is the

Jesus the Messiah sutra, purchased in 1922 by Dr. Takakusu. Prof.

Saeki dates the text between 635 and 638, declaring it the first

Nestorian sutra ever composed in China. A second manuscript contains

three other early sutras attributed to Alopen—a Discourse on

Monotheism, a Parable, Part 2, and a Lord of the Universe’s Discourse

on Almsgiving. These were purchased in 1916 by another Japanese

collector, Mr. Tomeoka. All four of the documents were published in

1931 by the Kyoto Institute of the Oriental Culture Academy with an

introduction by Prof. Haneda, and dated to c. 641.

A second series of documents also supposedly came from the caves at

Dunhuang but are held to be of later date. A hymn, On the Adoration of

the Trinity, a work, On Mysterious Rest and Joy, and an excerpt of a

work, On the Origin of Origins, are usually dated to the late eighth

century, about the same time as the stele was erected. Two other

documents—a hymn, On Penetrating Reality and Taking Refuge in the Law,

and a second work, On the Origin of Origins—are now considered by most

scholars to be modern forgeries (the Dunhuang discoveries spawned an

active market for forgers). A final tenth-century work is entitled The

Book of Praise and seems to be equivalent to the diptychs and

triptychs used in the early Greek and Latin churches, a set series of

prayers and thanksgiving to God for various living and departed

Christian saints and leaders.

While additional archaeological evidence came to light in the early

twentieth century confirming that the Nestorian branch of Christianity

spread in many areas along the Silk Road, it was not widely noted by

scholars. Except for Dr. Saeki’s excellent and thorough 1951 book in

English, the story of the Nestorian church in China fell into almost

total obscurity among English-speaking scholars until Martin Palmer

made his announcement of the Christian pagoda that still stands in

central China, not far from the Nestorian stele.

Christians on the Move

The dramatic story of the arrival of Alopen at the imperial court

captures the imagination, perhaps too easily. The church historian

immediately thinks of parallel stories in which the ruler is converted

and the people quickly follow—Abgar of Syria and Vladimir of Kiev,

among others. Is this what happened?

A closer look gives a slightly different picture. While Alopen

certainly played an important role in the spread of Christianity in

China, he was not the first to do so. Christian traders had

undoubtedly shared their faith in China in the first centuries of the

Church, since there is much evidence of trade between China and the

Roman Empire.

In 431 the Council of Ephesus excommunicated Nestorius together with

his followers for holding that there were two separate persons in the

incarnate Christ (one divine and the other human). Nestorius’s

teachings, however, had a strong following in the East that gradually

coalesced into a separate “Church of the East.” When the Western

church, with its imperial backing, began physically enforcing the

council’s decisions, many Nestorians moved across the border into

Persia, where they soon dominated the growing church.

In 424 what was to become the Nestorian church had bishoprics as far

east as Merv (in what is now Turkmenistan). Back in Persia, by the

mid-sixth century the local magi and other leaders of Zoroastrianism

had gained enough political influence to begin a severe persecution of

Christians. About the same time, Monophysite Christians were steadily

gaining influence in Persia as well. By the early seventh century,

persecution became a normal part of life for all Persian Christians,

and many opted to leave. Since the West still did not allow freedom of

worship, and Islam was beginning to foment in the south, and the north

was barred by mountains, east was the natural direction to go.

Only occasionally do historical sources give us details of this

migration. One example is from a Chinese record of 578, telling how a

large Nestorian family from Mar Sagis emigrated from the western lands

to Lintao (Gansu Province). Another involves the upheaval caused by

fighting between the eastern Turks and the Chinese around 630. In the

aftermath, about 1.5 million people migrated into China, 10,000

families settling in Xi’an alone. These immigrants would have brought

their religion with them—Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Nestorian

and Monophysite Christianity.

So the gospel did not first penetrate China with Alopen’s mission. The

faith had spread through China at the grassroots level for some time

before. What Alopen did achieve, however, was bringing the visible

church and its organizational structure to China. Before his arrival,

Christians may have worshiped at home, may have had only limited

access to the sacraments, and probably had few if any trained clergy.

Alopen, under official patronage, was able to set up a series of

churches and monasteries that could provide what had been missing,

with the monasteries, as in the West, serving as theological schools.

Royal Patronage

Imperial patronage did not necessarily mean imperial conversion. The

Nestorian Stele commends Emperor Gao Zong for “giving the True

Religion (Christianity) the proper elegance and finish, causing

monasteries of the Luminous Religion to be founded in every

prefecture, and honoring Alopen as great Patron and Spiritual Lord of

the Empire.” But we also know from other historical sources that in a

decree of 666, the same emperor honored Laozi with the title “Most

High Emperor of Mystic Origin” (placing him above even Buddha and

Confucius), ordering temples to be built to him, and ordering high

officials to study his writings.

Chinese tradition and culture did not make it necessary to choose one

religion over another. A wise person might well hedge his bets by

extolling and supporting several religions simultaneously. While the

royal patronage was real and was highly significant and useful, it was

not exclusive.

What imperial patronage did provide was legality and backing. The

statements about building churches and monasteries in every province

were not mere hyperbole. The geographical spread of surviving evidence

confirms that Christianity did spread significantly during this

period. Yet it probably never became more than one of the many

minority religions. The famous monk Kukai stayed from 804 to 806 in

the Buddhist monastery of Xi Ming in the Yining Ward of Xi’an, within

a few blocks of the Nestorian monastery, yet he never mentions the

Christians once in his 50-volume literary output.

Patronage also came at a price. The stele tells how the emperor had

Alopen’s books translated in the Imperial Library. Was there a check

on the accuracy of the translation? Missionaries today would not trust

Buddhists to produce an accurate translation of the New Testament, but

that seems to be what happened at Xi’an.

Was the title “Great Patron and Spiritual Lord of the Empire”

conferred upon Alopen just an honorary title, or did it require

certain actions of its holder? Did he now have to attend court

functions and take part in traditional courtly religious observances?

The experience of Jesuit missionaries a millennium later would suggest

that some accommodation might have been required. Patronage by the

mighty is always a two-edged sword.

Syncretism & the Savior

When missionaries enter a new culture, they have to translate the Word

into a new language and dress it in local clothing without

compromising the gospel by fitting it to local customs and beliefs.

How well did Alopen and his successors walk this tightrope?

The stele begins with a summary confession of the doctrines of God,

the Trinity, creation, original sin, the Incarnation, and redemption.

Dauvillier comments: “The attributes of God—his eternity, being a

spirit, transcendence, infiniteness and impassibility, existing before

all, and being without end—these correspond to the most rigorous

Christian orthodoxy.” Pelliot and others have noted that the actual

terminology used was popular among Taoists of the time, but Taoism has

no creation ex nihilo nor a personal God. In other words, familiar

terms were used to express new teaching. This is standard missionary


The sutras clearly do, however, interact with Buddhism and Taoism in a

way that some have seen as syncretistic. The Jesus-Messiah sutra says,

“All Buddhas as well as Kimnaras and the Superintending-Devas and

Arhans can see the Lord of Heaven, but no human being has ever seen

the Lord of Heaven” (verses 4–5). Or later, “All Buddhas flow and flux

. . . but the Lord of Heaven remains always in a place of comfortable

joy and peace” (13–14). The Discourse on the Oneness of the Ruler of

the Universe seems to inject a dualistic passage based either on the

Chinese concept of Yin and Yang or on Persian dualism. It also refers

to the Buddhist concepts of the “four elements” (4–5), the “five

attributes” (68), the “three wicked ways,” rebirth, the Kalpa of

formation, and “the law of the myriad Kalpa” (210–213).

On the other hand, one repeatedly finds accurate statements of

Christian doctrine in these same documents. The Jesus-Messiah sutra

states that “the Messiah gave up his body to these wicked men to be

sacrificed for the sake of all mankind” (198). The Monotheism text

states that “all things are made by the one God” (5), and that “the

one Godhead begot the other one [Jesus] out of one and the same

substance” (42). In The Oneness of the Ruler of the Universe we read

that “when heaven and earth shall pass away . . . all the dead shall

rise again” (68), and that the Messiah “bore all the sins of mankind,

and for them he suffered the punishment himself; no meritorious deed

is necessary [for salvation]” (136–137). The Almsgiving text gives an

extensive description of Christ’s death and resurrection and quotes

several complete verses from Isaiah 53. And the stele says “the true

Lord . . . took human form, and through him, salvation was made free

to all; the Sun arising, the darkness ending.” This is far from the

wonderful “Taoist Christianity” that Palmer seeks to find in the


A Fruitful Path

The path of Christianity was not smooth even under the imperial

patronage of the seventh and eighth centuries. A resurgence of

pro-Buddhist ideologies in the ninth century led to growing problems

for Christians. An imperial edict of Emperor Wu Zong in 845 ordered

Christian monks and nuns to “return to their secular life and cease to

confuse our national customs and manners.”

Christianity began to wane, but we do not know at what rate. The

Arabic writer Abu Sayd states that Christians were among the 120,000

people massacred at Canton (modern Guangzhou) in 878. As we have seen,

the Book of Praise sutra was composed in the tenth century, and when

manuscripts were being gathered for preservation in the cave at

Dunhuang in 1036, some Christian scrolls were still to be found and

thought worth preserving. (Someone also painted a Christian figure on

one of the cave walls.)

Farther north, near the present border of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,

two Nestorian graveyards were discovered in 1885. Six hundred ten

Nestorian tombs with crosses and Syriac inscriptions were discovered

there, with dates ranging from 858 to 1342.

Saeki accumulates archaeological evidence from other parts of China as

well. The presence of an influential Nestorian church in late

thirteenth-century China is confirmed by numerous literary sources,

including the journal of Bar Sauma (a Nestorian monk from northern

China), the writings of the Western monk John of Montecorvino, and

those of Marco Polo. It is now clear that between the tenth and

fourteenth centuries, several Turkish tribes along the Silk Road and

in northern China became predominantly Nestorian Christian, but it is

uncertain whether this was due to the influence of Chinese

missionaries or new missionary endeavors from the Middle East.

This story, however, is more than an arcane piece for mission

historians. Martin Palmer, the most recent “discoverer” of

Christianity in ancient China, can be credited with bringing the

pagoda, and the forgotten story of early Chinese mission work, back to

our attention.

The pagoda, the stele, and the sutras remind us that Christianity is

not just a Western phenomenon. The Church spread eastward as well, and

took root and prospered there. Alopen, from the modern Chinese

viewpoint, might be viewed as one Asian coming to another. He did not

come in Western dress, nor did he carry all the imperialistic baggage

of more modern missionaries. To the extent this early history can be

known in China today, perhaps it can help Chinese take a second look

at Christianity and see that it is not just a “Western religion,” but

really is universal.

Perhaps the teachings of the Nestorians clouded the gospel message,

but the texts suggest that they did not totally obscure it. In fact,

historians now believe that while the Church of the East continued to

honor Nestorius among its founding fathers, it did not follow his

Christology. This gives us even more reason to believe that many Tang

Dynasty Chinese came to faith in the one true God, and that many came

to know their Savior Jesus Christ.

We should never sell short the work of the Holy Spirit. It has been

said that the Chinese church today is the fastest growing church in

history. Perhaps the seeds sown along the Yellow River and Yangtze

River so long ago are even now bearing fruit.


• Malek, Roman, ed. The Chinese Face of Jesus Christ, vol. 1

(Monumenta Serica Monograph Series L/1). Sankt Augustin, Germany,


• Malek, Roman, ed. Jingjiao: The Church of the East in China and

Central Asia (Collectanea Serica). Sankt Augustin, Germany, 2006.

• Palmer, Martin. The Jesus Sutras: Rediscovering the Lost Scrolls of

Taoist Christianity. New York, 2001.

• Pelliot, Paul. Recherches sur les Chretiens d’Asie Centrale et

d’Extreme-Orient, 2.1: La Stele de Si-Ngan-Fou (Oeuvres Posthumes de

Paul Pelliot, Jean Dauvillier ed.). Paris, 1983.

• Pelliot, Paul. L’Inscription Nestorienne de Si-Ngan-Fou (Oeuvres

Posthumes, Antonio Forte ed.). Paris, 1996.

• Saeki, P. Y. The Nestorian Documents and Relics in China. Tokyo, 1951.

Still Lost

Since Martin Palmer’s The Jesus Sutras gives a very slanted view of

the scrolls, it would seem a happy event that a second book on the

subject has appeared even more recently: The Lost Sutras of Jesus:

Unlocking the Ancient Wisdom of the Xian Monks (Ulysses Press,

2003/2006). But before rushing to find a copy, let’s look a bit


The 140-page volume is divided into three parts. In the first 40

pages, “Wisdom from a Cave,” we find a rather straightforward (if

fanciful) story of the discovery of the Dunhuang manuscripts, the

Nestorian Stele and the Da Qin Pagoda. This is followed by the heart

of the book—about 75 pages of topically organized excerpts from the

scrolls and stele in a new translation. The book concludes with “The

Soul of the Scrolls: Guidance for Today,” 25 pages of spiritual

observations and applications for modern man.

Who is responsible for this attractive little volume? The cover gives

no author but says that the editors are Ray Rieger and Thomas Moore,

and the title page lists Jon Babcock as the translator. While the

volume does not specify which man was responsible for which part, it

appears that the two “editors” are responsible for everything except

the actual excerpts from the Sutras.

Ray Rieger is best known as the author of over a dozen guidebooks to

the islands of Hawaii and other American tourist destinations. He also

appears to be the driving force behind Ulysses Press, which began as

the publisher of Rieger’s travel guides and then branched out into

works on alternative health, fitness, and spirituality. In the

Foreword Rieger calls himself “a lapsed Christian with a passion for

biblical history and Eastern thought.”

Thomas Moore’s website states that he is a Catholic who went to

seminary, but then left before ordination. After earning a Ph.D. in

religion from Syracuse University and doing a brief stint in academia,

he became a freelance psychotherapist, lecturer, musician, and author

of a bestseller entitled Care of the Soul. On his website he states,

“My theological work has to do with observing and reverencing the

awesome depth of the smallest and most ordinary of things.”

And what about the man responsible “for capturing the passion and

poetry of the Sutras in a brilliant translation” (cited from the

Acknowledgments)? What are Jon Babcock’s credentials for translating

Tang Dynasty Chinese texts? We are not told, and the volume never

mentions him again.

Untrustworthy Resource

The bottom line is that we have no reason to trust the qualifications

of any of these writers on a complicated subject that involves the

mastery of two ancient languages (Chinese and Syriac) and the history

of Nestorian Christianity, the Tang Dynasty, and Chinese Buddhism and

Taoism. The lapsed Christian with a passion for Eastern thought and

the author on psychotherapy appear neither qualified nor unbiased in

their approach to the subject. And although Moore still pays lip

service to his “birthright as a Catholic,” his affinity for Eastern

religious practices is evident.

So the volume gives us what we should expect—an even less careful and

equally slanted presentation of the sutras as works that “combine

religions in a way that brings out the best in each of them and the

best in all of us” (from the Foreword).

This volume fits well in Ulysses Press’s series of “spiritual” works.

These include books on the “Lost Words of Jesus” in the Gospel of

Thomas, the “Lost Gospel Q,” and the parallel sayings of Jesus and

Buddha—all “edited” by Rieger along with names such as Marcus Borg and

Dominic Crossan. And don’t miss the latest addition, Caesar’s Messiah,

which proves that the four Gospels “were actually written under the

direction of first-century Roman emperors”! Alas, this is not a place

to look for any objective study of history, and especially for the

true story behind the Christians of Tang Dynasty China.

— Glen L. Thompson

Glen L. Thompson is Associate Professor of History at Wisconsin

Lutheran College. ?Christ on the Silk Road? is an updated version of

his presentation at the 2003 Evangelical Theological Society meeting

in Atlanta, Georgia.

Christ on the Silk Road

The Evidences of Nestorian Christianity in Ancient China /

Glen L. Thompson