The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement in Iran
History and Narration
Keywords:Iran, Urmia, Pentecostal origins, Assyrians, personal narratives, Andrew Urshan, Benjamin Alexander, Thomas Nasseri
This article aims at providing an analysis of the roots and the early development of the Pentecostal movement among the Assyrians in Iran. It is focused on the autobiographical narratives delivered by Andrew Urshan, Benjamin Alexander and Thomas Nasseri. Although produced in different times and for different purposes, their narratives refer to the beginnings of Pentecostalism on the Iranian soil. The description of the spread of the Pentecostal ideas provided in the narratives has been contextualized in reference to the social and political changes occurring in Iran at the beginning of the twentieth century, before and during the First World War. Special attention has been paid to the migratory experiences of the early Assyrian Pentecostals as well as to the transformation of the Church of the East tradition. The article discusses the problem of cultural adaptation of Pentecostalism among Assyrians and emphasizes the fact that the movement was perceived as a factor for unifying the whole Assyrian community. This is mainly due to the fact that the movement was initiated and narrated by native Assyrian Christians rather than American missionaries. This makes Iranian Pentecostalism a rather special case in the Pentecostal history of the non-Western world.
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