In 635, a Syrian monk named Alopen arrived in the Chinese capital. A monument was placed in 781, called the Nestorian Stele was a nine-foot limestone covered with inscription. It details the teachings of the Christian community as well as describes Alopen and his students. Nearly 150 years after his arrival, it is impossible to know what was originally in Alopen’s message and what was elaborated by the Chinese who became Christians. These inscriptions present a fairly orthodox understanding of Jesus, yet express that orthodoxy in distinctive ways that would resonate with the religious plurality of Asia at this time. Besides the text, there is the imagery of a cross emerging from a lotus blossom, demonstrating how the Christian message can grow from the existence of ancient Eastern religions.
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