The Indian Syrian Church as set up by St. Thomas was once part of the Church of the East that was centered in Persia. They used Syriac litury. The beauty of Syriac is that it is a language that is closely related to Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and his apostles.
It was sad that the Portuguese Priests that came with the colonizers and imperialist from the West sought to stop the Indian Christian community in Kerala and elsewhere in India from using the Syriac litutgy. As is the case with the Catholic church of the Europe they were power hungry and sought to bring all Christians under the direct control of the Pope, make Latin the language of Christian prayer and impose their version of the holy story and theology on all good believers. The fact that the good Christians of India knew more about the tongue of Jesus then they did was of no import.
In 1653 things came to a head and Archdeacon Thomas swore never to submit to the Portuguese demands in the Coonan Cross Oath. This split the Indian community. Those who followed Thomas became known today the Malankara Church.
For a while Archdeacon formed an friendship with the Syriac Orthodox Church. The churches united in liturgy and were happy to have the local Catholicos system and the Patriarch system. This ended when the Patriarch Ignatius Peter IV started demanding land rights from the Indian Malankara Church.
The Indian Syrian Church was further divided by a dispute in the line of Patriarchs caused by the Ottoman Empire deposing Ignatius Abdul Masih II. Those who followed the newly appointed Patriarch became known as the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Those who didn’t became the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church. In essence the Malankara retained the local identity and traditions, whereas the Jacobite accepted outside Patriarchal control.
The two groups were briefly united between 1958 and 1975 but have since split again. It is, of course, not an acrimonious split between the two groups of the Indian Syrian Church.
Patriarchs and Theology
The story of the Indian Syrian Church is one of cultural significance. The power politics of the time was helping to obscure the important living resource of a very early group of Christians whose liturgy, language and theology was much closer to the first followers of Jesus than the Western Church.
Since controversial readings of the Dead Sea Scrolls suggest that the New Testament is in fact an esoteric text about taking magic mushrooms to receive divine visions more needs to be done to research this claim by looking at Aramaic, Syriac and the time just after Jesus’s death. It is a trippy Jesus figure that might emerge. Consider how the Patriarchs and other clergy from the Syriac faiths wear bulbous hats and red pointed hats that do indeed suggest the fly agaric.