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Christ and Christianity in Persian Poetry


A conversation with Bishop Hassan Dehghani Tafti and his wife Margaret

Introduction:

'Christ and Christianity in Persian Poetry' is a very vast subject, covering almost the whole history of Iran with its relationship with Christianity.

According to the Book of Acts of the Apostles, there were Parthians and Medes present in Jeruslem when Christianity started. By the 2nd century, Christianity was well-established in Iran. About 20 bishoprics were established about the 3rd century, and the Church in Iran even sent missionaries of its own to distant countries of the Far East, such as China.

Professor Girshman has discovered the ruins of an ancient monastery belonging to the 2nd and 3rd centuries, on Kharg Islands, revealing the fact of the existence of Christians in that area.

The relationship between Christianity and Iran throughout its history is a fascinating subject, and is beyond the scope of this talk. It is sufficient to say that there is hardly any period in the long history of Iran when one can say Christianity was non-existent at that time. Of course, Persian poets got most of their information about Christianity from the Quran and Muslim sources, but the existence of Christians in Iran was also influential in this way.

Collecting poems about Christ and Christianity from among Persians poets is of great interest, particularly to Persian Christians. One of the pioneers in this field is Revd. Norman Sharp, lover of Persian Poetry and Persian art. About 50 years ago he produced a small Anthology in Persian called "Golchin-i-Massihi". He was a great help to me in translating some of the poems I am going to quote.


I have divided the subject into three main-parts:

i. Classical Poets from Ferdowsi onwards. Classical poetry can itself be divided into two groups:

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'Christ and Christianity in Persian Poetry - Dehghani Tafti
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