I had the opportunity to meet members of one of the world’s oldest and most heroic churches recently when I spoke to the national youth conference of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East. The meeting was held, of all places, in San Jose, California.
Now there is no reason why Assyrians—as they call themselves—should not meet in San Jose or any of the other American cities where they have a presence. San Jose, though, is so associated with the technological cutting edge that it was slightly jarring to be there engaging a church that harks back to the earliest years of the Jesus movement and to eras when the church still had a powerfully Semitic character.
Philip Jenkins is professor of history at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion and author of The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade and The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand-Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels.