From the Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani
Sir, - As a fellow Christian from Iran, I warmly welcome the new translation of the Bible into Persian (News, 3 October). In bearing the name "the Michaelian translation", it witnesses to the faithful ministry of one who gave his life for the Christian faith in Iran.
Allow me to correct, however, the reported quotation from Dr Yagnasar, whom I, from the Anglican community in Iran, hold in high regard. In quoting Tertullian, he is right to point to the important witness of the blood of the martyrs, but is mistaken in identifying this as "the seed of the gospel". The reference in Apologeticus, chapter 50, is commonly translated: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
The distinction is important in the context of Christianity in Iran. We hear much about interest in the gospel from Persians today, but those church members (Anglican and others) who have died and suffered are part of a small community of the faithful remnant. All expression of Christian faith is difficult in Iran, but interest in the message of the gospel is easier than identification with a community of fellow believers.
The prayers of many are that the blood of the martyrs will strengthen expression of the gospel message through Christian witness in faithful church communities.
Commissary of the Bishop in Iran
Bouverie Court, 6 The Lakes
Northampton NN4 7YD