Nazarani verses Christian

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Writing in Persian in the 4th Century, Aphraates records that the followers of Yeshue in Persia were divided into two groups, the foreign krishitani who spoke Greek, and the indigenous nazarani who spoke Aramaic. These two groups shared much together, often even the same churches, but they had different liturgical lives and different spiritual beliefs, which arose as the result of their different languages understanding of the Gospel.

וכד אשׁכחה איתיה עמה לאנטיכיא ושׁנתא כלה אכחדא כנישׁין הוו בעדתא ואלפו עמא סגיאא מן הידין קדמית אתקריו באנטיוכי תלמידא כרסטינא
And after he found him, he returned with him to Antioki, where they gathered together as one assembly, and taught the people much. From then on, the students in Antioki were known as 'Krystina'. (Acts 11:26 [1])

As you can see from the above, these students were known as תלמידא כרסטינא ("Talmida Krstyna"), or student-initiates. This is a mixture of both Aramaic and Greek meaning literally “students of the lesser anointing”. And so the meaning of Talmida Krstyna is student initiates, or more specifically converts from paganism, and doesn’t refer to all followers of Yeshue, but only to those who converted from paganism.

We know that this is the “lesser anointing”, because we can compare it to χρίσματος (“chrismation”), which is the “higher anointing” that follows baptism.

This word Krstyna isn’t even Aramaic it’s a transliteration of the Greek word Χριστιανούς (from Chrestos, Strong’s 5543) which refers to those who are “virtuous, good, manageable, mild, pleasant”. This congregation then at Antioch may have been the first to embrace the Greeks and their philosophy, but other congregations and ideas did exist which were the prevalent force in the early church.

This is why we are called Nazarani, because our tradition, the transmission of Jesus’ teachings from which we come was given in Aramaic and transmitted in that language through His Apostles to the countries of the east.

Saint Thomas visited India, China and Korea, Mark Egypt, Addaï (Thaddeus in the west) went to Oserone (modern day Edessa), and the wise men who had attended Jesus’ birth returned to their native Persia with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

References

  1. The Bible Translated by Hadrian Mar Elijah Bar Israel