By the Power of the Spirit: Stories of Iranian Christians Kenneth J Thomas
Kenneth J Thomas
Published by the Association of Iranian Presbyterian Churches and Fellowships in North America; 2015 and in the UK available from Elam Publications – PO Box 75, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 6YP – or email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reviewed by John Clark, JEMT Chairman
Dr Kenneth Thomas, a Bible scholar, Presbyterian theological teacher in Iran for seventeen years and a translation consultant to the United Bible Societies, has produced this short (110 pages) and very readable account of twenty-seven figures he has selected from the history of Christian faith in Iran – a by-product of his recently published major study of Persian language Bible translation.
Starting with Tatian and concluding with Bishop Hassan Dehqani-Tafti he ranges through eight different eras of the last two thousand years of Iranian history to highlight significant figures ‘whose birthplace was within the bounds of Persian domination at the time they lived. They can be described as Armenians, Assyrians, Persians or Kurds.’
The book is divided into two sections - Christians in Apostolic Churches and Christians in Newer Churches. Then through the lives of people like Aphrahat, Mar Aba 1, Ivanis ‘Izz al-Din, Yuhannan Gavilani, Jonathan Marzaki, Behravesh Pakizegi and Seth Yeghnazar we gain insights into Christian faith in Iran at different stages in its history.
And those connected with the Diocese of Iran are well represented – Carapet Yohannes, Benyamin Badal, Norollah Hakim (highlighting the Jewish tradition within the diocese) Jalil Qazzaq and Bishop Hassan are all included.
Further value is added to the book by the brief Scene setting introductions to the history of Iran at the beginning of the eight eras that he has identified.
The Book of Hebrews speaks of the 'great crowd of witnesses' cheering us on as we follow Christ - and among them are these Christians in Iran. Iranian Christians of today and those who associate with them are part of a great tradition of faith stretching back to the time of the Apostles and on into the future and this book sheds light on some who today may be lesser known figures of that chain of faith – and for bringing them back to our awareness we should be grateful to Kenneth Thomas.
At £3.00 a copy (plus postage) this is a bargain.
Featured in Bible Lands, Summer 2016