Friday, October 6, 2017

The Last Christians by Andreas Knapp

book cover
The Last Christians
by Andreas Knapp

ISBN-13: 9780874860627
Paperback: 233 pages
Publisher: Plough Publishing House
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Amazon:
Andreas Knapp, a priest who works with refugees in Germany, travelled to camps for displaced people in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq to collect stories of survivors – and to seek answers to troubling questions about the link between religion and violence. He found Christians who today still speak Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The uprooted remnant of ancient churches, they doggedly continue to practice their faith despite the odds. Their devastating eyewitness reports make it clear why millions are fleeing the Middle East. Yet, remarkably, though these last Christians hold little hope of ever returning to their homes, they also harbor no thirst for revenge.

Inside Syria and Iraq, and even along the refugee trail, they’re a religious minority persecuted for their Christian faith. Outside the Middle East, they’re suspect because of their nationality.

The kidnapping, enslavement, torture, and murder of Christians by the Islamic State, or ISIS, have been detailed by journalists, as have the jihadists' deliberate efforts to destroy the cultural heritage of a region that is the cradle of Christianity. But some stories run deep, and without a better understanding of the religious and historical roots of the present conflict, history will keep repeating itself century after century.

My Review:
The Last Christians is about Syriac Orthodox Christians and other Christian groups that have existed in the Middle East long before Islam. The author is a German priest who came in contact with Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria. In 2015, he traveled to the Kurdish region of northern Iraq and collected the stories of those he met (most of whom fled Mosul when Islamic State fighters took over). He also helps Christian refugees in Germany. He relates their stories, plus stories about similar events in 1915 when the Ottoman Empire (specifically, Turkey and Kurds) carried out a holocaust against the Christians living there.

The author wants to inform people about the history and persecution of these Christians and to ask people to help them even though they're not Protestant or Roman Catholic. His suggestions on how to help included ways to reach out to Christian refugees (which seemed more aimed at European countries) and trying to get Muslims to condemn violence in the name of religion. Syriac Orthodox Christians are dedicated to nonviolence and forgiving their enemies, and the author feels that the rest of the world has a lot to learn from their example.

While it's rather depressing reading, overall, I'd recommend this book--especially to those who are in a position to help these refugees.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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