[St. Pachomius Library]

Bishop Alopen

Chinese ALOBEN
VII Century
According to the Chinese-language portion of the Xian Fu Inscription, a Persian bishop named "Aloben" (customarily rendered in English by the Wade-Giles transliteration "Alopen") was the first important Nestorian missionary to China. It is unclear to what Syriac name this corresponds; the most common guess has been "Abraham", but "Reuben" has also been frequently suggested. In any case, Alopen was apparently in Xian by 635. Several of the Jesus Sutras have been attributed to him, the argument being that in these particular sutras, which are clearly of early date, the Chinese is clumsy (suggesting a foreign author) and the theology includes blatantly non-Christian elements (presumably the insertions of a translator or assistant). One might think that these two points are contradictory, however.

Norman Hugh Redington

Under construction --- far from complete! Read with caution.


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