At Arab World Institute, 2,000 years of eastern Christianity

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Starting 26/9, IMA in Paris displays 3rd century artifacts
PARIS – At the Arab World Institute in Paris, a new exhibition titled ”Chrétiens d’Orient: Deux mille ans d’histoire” (Eastern Christians: Two thousand years of history” will put precious artifacts on display, including the 6th-century illuminated Syriac gospel book known as the Rabbula Gospels on loan from the Laurentian Library in Florence.

The show will also display the first frescoes of the Christian era, dating to the 3rd century, from the ancient church of Dura Europos in Syria, a historic stronghold on the Euphrates River and a crossroads of Hellenic, Roman, and Eastern cultures.

The show opens September 26 and runs through January 14 and has been organised in collaboration with the l’Oeuvre d’Orient, a French association that supports Christians in the Middle East.

It highlights the kaleidoscopic Christian community of the Near and Far East, a community that has made and continues to make a significant contribution to political, cultural, social and religious development in the Arab world.

The show puts 300 objects on display in all, including artifacts, mosaics, icons, maps, models, diplomatic documents, and portraits such as those from the Coptic monastery of Bawit in the western Egyptian desert.

The show’s itinerary develops through critical moments in the history of the Coptic, Greek, Assyrian-Chaldean, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, Latin and Protestant churches of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

It examines the adoption of Christianity in the Roman Empire as the official state religion, the founding councils, the Muslim conquest, the development of Catholic and Protestant missions, the contribution of Christians to the Nahda (the Arab Renaissance), and the changes of the 20th and 21st centuries, without forgetting the current persecution in the name of Islamic fundamentalism.