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0107 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 107 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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Under the patriarchate of Timothy again (778-820) we find the record of the appointment of one David to be metropolitan of China. In the middle of the ninth century we find the metropolitan of China mentioned along with those of India, Persia, llarw, Syria, Arabia, Herat, and Samarkand, as excused on account of the remoteness of their sees from attending the quadrennial synods of the church, but enjoined to send every six years a report of the state of their affairs, and not to neglect the collections for the support of the patriarchate.' There is thus good evidence from the ecclesiastical annals of Western Asia of the existence of the church in China during the eighth and ninth centuries ; and the narrative of the Arab Abu Said, in consistence with this, speaks of Christians as forming one part of a very large foreign population at Khanfu in the year 878.

The institution of a metropolitan for China about the year 720 involves a presumption that Christianity had penetrated to that country some time before. Deguignes thought it had got thither very much earlier, but he seems to have been misled by a theory that some at least of the earlier notices of Buddhism in China alluded to Christianity.'

67. For these extreme ideas there seems to be no evidence, unless we accept the loose statement of Arnobius about the Seres. Cosmas, in the sixth century, was not aware of the existence of any Christians further east than Taprobane, nor in Inner Asia does he speak of any beyond the Huns and the Bactrians, on the banks of the Indus and the Oxus. But that christianity in China was nearly a century older than the date of its first metropolitan bishop is established by more than one Chinese record.

The first of these, which would be obscure without the light reflected on it by the second and more important, is an edict issued in 745 by the Emperor Hiwentsung of the Thang, wherein it is

bishopric in 411-415, and Samarkand in 503-520. We shall see that the existence of any bishopric in China before 635 is highly improbable. Assem., p. 439.

2 He refers, without the condemnation which it may be supposed to merit, to a medal representing the Virgin and Child united to a Chinese copper coin of A.D. 556, of which he says a cut is given in the Lettres Edifiantes, xvi. See Deguignes, i, 50.