The History of Arab Christianity

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Arab Christianity, a vibrant and diverse branch of Christianity, has a rich and intricate history that often remains lesser-known in the broader Christian narrative. We will embark on a journey through time to explore the unique history of Arab Christianity in a way that's easy to understand for everyone.

The Birth of Arab Christianity

Arab Christianity's roots can be traced back to the early days of the Christian faith. In fact, some of the earliest Christians in the world were Arabs. One crucial figure in the history of Arab Christianity is Saint Mark, who played a significant role in spreading the Christian message in Egypt and other parts of the Arab world.

The Arabic Language and the Bible

One of the distinguishing features of Arab Christianity is its close relationship with the Arabic language. Arab Christians have contributed significantly to the translation and preservation of the Bible in Arabic, a language spoken and understood by many in the Arab world. These translations played a pivotal role in making the Christian message accessible to Arab-speaking populations.

Early Challenges and Persecutions

Arab Christianity, like its counterparts in different parts of the world, encountered a series of formidable challenges and periods of intense persecution that have left an indelible mark on its history. From its inception, Arab Christians faced daunting hurdles, including suspicion from both the Roman and Persian Empires, which often viewed the new Christian faith with skepticism.

The resilience of Arab Christians shone through during these trying times, as they refused to waver in their devotion to their beliefs. In fact, the adversity they faced became a crucible in which their faith was not only tested but also strengthened. The endurance displayed by Arab Christians under these difficult circumstances played a pivotal role in forging their unique Christian traditions that would become integral to the Arab world's religious fabric.

One significant chapter in this history of endurance and perseverance was the Diocletianic Persecution of the early 4th century, one of the most severe and widespread persecutions against Christians in the Roman Empire. Arab Christians, scattered throughout the region, bore the brunt of this persecution, facing martyrdom, torture, and the confiscation of their property for their unwavering commitment to their faith.

The subsequent Council of Nicaea in 325 CE was a turning point. Arab Christians participated in this ecumenical council that sought to address theological disputes within Christianity. Their presence highlighted the enduring faith and theological contributions of Arab Christians in the wider Christian world.

In the face of challenges, Arab Christianity continued to evolve, drawing strength from its tumultuous past. As we delve deeper into the annals of its history, we uncover the stories of individuals who, despite persecution and adversity, contributed to the rich tapestry of Arab Christianity. These early challenges and persecutions, while painful, ultimately laid the foundation for a unique and enduring Christian tradition that continues to thrive in the Arab world today.The Rise of Monasticism

Monasticism, a way of life dedicated to prayer and asceticism, played a vital role in the development of Arab Christianity. Monasteries and monastic communities were established across the Arab world, and they became centers of learning and spirituality.

The Great Schism and Arab Christianity

The year 1054 stands as a pivotal moment in Christian history when a profound and enduring division emerged, leading to the separation of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. This momentous event, known as the Great Schism, had far-reaching implications for the entire Christian world, and Arab Christians were no exception to its impact. The schism, rooted in theological and ecclesiastical differences, ultimately led to a significant branching within Arab Christianity.

As the rift widened between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, Arab Christians found themselves at a crossroads. The choice they made regarding their ecclesiastical allegiance played a defining role in shaping their religious identity. Some Arab Christian communities opted to align with the Eastern Orthodox tradition, while others chose to embrace the Roman Catholic tradition.

For those who embraced Eastern Orthodoxy, they continued their theological and liturgical practices in accordance with the teachings and traditions of the Eastern Church. This affiliation not only reinforced their connection to the broader Orthodox community but also solidified their distinctive identity within the Arab Christian world.

Conversely, those Arab Christian communities that aligned with the Roman Catholic tradition began following the liturgical practices and teachings associated with the Roman Church. This choice not only connected them with the Catholic Church but also set them apart from their Orthodox counterparts.

It's important to note that the schism was not solely a matter of religious doctrine; it was also deeply entwined with political and cultural factors. Arab Christians, situated in the midst of these shifts, navigated a complex landscape where faith, identity, and power dynamics converged. As a result, the history of Arab Christianity became characterized by a diverse tapestry of traditions, practices, and affiliations.

The enduring legacy of the Great Schism in Arab Christianity is a testament to the faith's ability to adapt and evolve within the cultural and religious dynamics of the time. Arab Christians, whether following the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic tradition, continued to shape and define their unique religious identity in a world marked by change and division. The Great Schism was not just a separation but a branching point in the intricate history of Arab Christianity, one that continues to influence the faith and practices of Arab Christian communities to this day.

The Crusades and Arab Christianity

The Crusades, a series of military campaigns between Christians and Muslims, had a profound impact on Arab Christianity. During this period, Arab Christians faced complex challenges as they navigated between different political and religious forces. It's essential to note that the experiences of Arab Christians during this time were diverse, and not all were negatively affected.

Modern Arab Christianity

Today, Arab Christianity continues to thrive, with diverse communities across the Arab world and around the globe. These communities maintain their unique traditions and are an integral part of the broader Christian family.

Arab Christianity in the history of Christianity. From its early beginnings to its modern manifestations, it has played a significant role in shaping the cultural and religious landscape of the Arab world. The history of Arab Christianity is a testament to the enduring strength of faith in the face of challenges and an inspiring story of how a religious tradition can adapt and evolve over time. This journey through history has only scratched the surface, but we hope it encourages further exploration and understanding of this often overlooked branch of Christianity.


Well-known member
Mar 1, 2022
You mentioned that Arab Christianity has influenced the Arab world. How has it done so?
i can give you some examples that a lot of Christians don't know about : Hunayn ibn Ishaq (c. 809–873): Hunayn ibn Ishaq, a Christian scholar in the Abbasid Caliphate, was a pivotal figure in the translation movement. He played a crucial role in translating Greek and Roman medical and scientific texts into Arabic, contributing to the development of Islamic and Arab scholarship.
Yuhanna ibn Masawaih (777–857): Yuhanna ibn Masawaih, an Assyrian Christian, was a physician, philosopher, and translator in the Abbasid Caliphate. He was a key figure in the translation movement, where he played a vital role in translating Greek, Syriac, and Persian medical texts into Arabic. His translations and original works greatly advanced the field of medicine in the Arab world and beyond. He is often referred to as the "Father of Arabic Medicine" and made substantial contributions to medical knowledge, which continue to be studied and appreciated to this day.
Severus ibn al-Muqaffa (d. 987): Severus ibn al-Muqaffa, a Coptic Christian, was a prolific writer and translator. He played a crucial role in preserving and transmitting Greek, Coptic, and Syriac literature to Arabic, making classical knowledge accessible to Arab scholars during the Islamic Golden Age.
Just think that Muslims came from the desert, so how could they have built a civilization that they boast of?
Weren't those who built these civilizations the local residents of the areas occupied by Muslims?


Well-known member
Mar 1, 2022
I appreciate that you have gone to such an extent to share some examples. No doubt these were great people and I don't want to make light of their contributions. And their endeavors and the endeavors of others may well have laid a foundation for future generations. But there has been little success historically for Christianity in the Arab world.
How do you see Christianity developing in these areas and what can the church universal do to help?
We have to understand that the lack of success is due to the violence of Islam, and to Muslims falsifying history, but how can we help? I think we should help Christians living in Arab countries.
Help educate them, encourage them, and pray for them. What is important is to spread the Gospel to Muslims


Well-known member
Mar 18, 2021
We have to understand that the lack of success is due to the violence of Islam, and to Muslims falsifying history, but how can we help? I think we should help Christians living in Arab countries.
Help educate them, encourage them, and pray for them. What is important is to spread the Gospel to Muslims
Agree. I'm hoping and praying that many Muslims will be horrified by the atrocities committed by Hamas and so come to reject Islam. It is hard for Muslims to convert. In some places it means death if they are found out.


Mar 12, 2019
'The Arab World'
- Countries..mainly located in Western Asia & Northern Africa.
- in the '10/40 Window'..the least access/availability for Christian message & resources.
Wikipedia has informative articles on..
- the Arab World & 10/40 Window.


Well-known member
Jan 16, 2021
We have to understand that the lack of success is due to the violence of Islam, and to Muslims falsifying history, but how can we help? I think we should help Christians living in Arab countries.
Help educate them, encourage them, and pray for them. What is important is to spread the Gospel to Muslims
Many of the Egyptian Christians have been trying to get out of Egypt due to increased prejudices and persecution of their communities. I had the pleasure of working with these on their new church building in Nashville TN (an old abandoned church needing renovating)

And as you have said St Mark was a highlighted figure.

These people have several unique features in their worship. I really enjoyed listening to the children recite the Lord's Prayer in 4 different languages successively with the last one being English.

They also practice fasting most of the year. If they follow all the fasts they only get meat 50 days of the year....meaning that they really go to town on meat dishes when they get them. I'm American so they don't judge me for not fasting....they ate some sort of lettuce wraps(yuck) and I ate a cheeseburger while working.

The Egyptian Coptics have grown to the point that they have several congregations in and around Nashville. One of their priests and I became friends. (Someone is always a heretic despite being the same brand of Christian....something I picked up on when speaking with him discussing the various congregations)

Lovely different than Americans in many ways....(language barriers aside) I usually found myself laughing at myself and them simultaneously over many subjects...because of our similarities in and outside of church....and I'm SBC.