MĀLIK, Qaššīšāʾ NISṬŌRĪS GĪWARGĪS (Nestorius George Malech), Assyrian priest, educator, and writer (1864-1927; Figure 1). Qaššīšāʾ (priest) Nisṭōrīs was born in the village of Sipūrḡān (Per. Sopurḡān) in the Urmia plain, Azerbaijan. He was the younger son of Šamāšāʾ (deacon) Gīwargīs Dāwīd Mālik. Nisṭōrīs graduated from Urmia College in 1888 and traveled to Norway to pursue theological studies in a Lutheran seminary. He succeeded in persuading Norwegian Lutherans to sponsor missionary work among the Assyrians of Urmia aimed at supporting, rather than converting, the Church of the East (Malech, pp. 378-81). He returned to Urmia and established primary schools for girls and boys in the villages of Sopurḡān, Delgusha, Sangar, Mushava, Mar Sargis, Balav, and Koragos (Malech, pp. 390-95). In 1895 he traveled to Europe and the United States to raise funds among Lutheran churches to continue these educational efforts.

In 1898 Nisṭōrīs was ordained an archdeacon in the Church of the East by the Metropolitan Mār ʾĪsḫāq Ḫnanīšōʿ. In 1900, he co-founded the Patriarchal Church Committee (Figure 2), which worked to preserve the Church of the East in Urmia in the face of the recent success of the Russian Orthodox Mission, which had attracted the majority of the Assyrians from all denominations. The work of the committee continued to support schools and attempted to reclaim church property that had been confiscated by the Russians (Malech, pp. 351-73; Coakley, pp. 283-87).

In 1906, during a visit to the United States, Nisṭōrīs organized a non-denominational group among the growing Assyrian community of Chicago under the name of the Persian Christian Benevolent Society. The society sponsored religious activities and organized assistance for new immigrants in finding jobs and places to live as well as financial aid for needy members of the community (Malech, pp. 402-3). In 1909 Nisṭōrīs returned to the United States and organized the English translation and publication of his father’s Tāšʿtāʾ d-ʿēdtāʾ d-madenḫāʾ (History of the Church of the East) under the title of History of the Syrian Nation and the Old Evangelical-Apostolic Church of the East (Macuch, p. 211).

Nisṭōrīs survived the genocide of the Assyrians of 1915-18 (which is most thoroughly described for 1915-16; see Gaunt, Yonan), which took the lives of many of his family members, including his wife and children. He remarried and spent the years of 1919-24 as a refugee in the Middle East and Europe, where he organized relief for Assyrian refugees in Marseilles (Coakley, p. 347). He made his way to the United States in 1924, where he served as a priest of the Church of the East in Chicago and later in Turlock, California. He left behind an unpublished manuscript in modern Assyrian entitled Tāʿtāʾ d-spar rdūpyēʾ wad-maḫwātēʾ d-ʾūmtāʾ ʾĀšōraytāʾ wad-plāšōh dimānēʾ w-mārēʾ d-ʿājībūtāʾ d-ʿḇēdlāh l-darqūl dižminēʾ l-gēbāʾ d-barqyāmtāʾ b-ša(n)tāʾ 1914-1918 (The history of the persecutions and calamities that befell the Assyrian nation and the bloody and miraculous battles that she fought against her enemies on the side of the Allies between 1914 and 1918).


J. F. Coakley, The Church of the East and the Church of England, Oxford, 1992, pp. 283-87, 347.

David Gaunt, Massacres, Resistance, Protectors: Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia During World War I, Piscataway, N.J., 2006.

R. Macuch, Geschichte der spät- und neusyrischen Literatur, Berlin, 1976, p. 211.

G. D. Malech, History of the Syrian Nation and the Old Evangelical-Apostolic Church of the East, Minneapolis, 1910, pp. 351-373, 378-381, 390-395, 402-403.

Gabriele Yonan, Ein vergessener Holocaust: die Vernichtung deer christlicen Assyrer in der Türkei, Göttingen, 1989; tr., as Lest We Perish. A Forgotten Holocaust: The Extermination of the Christian Assyrians in Turkey and Persia (www.aina.org/books/lwp.pdf), 1996.

(David G. Malick)

Originally Published: October 4, 2016

Last Updated: October 4, 2016

Cite this entry:

David G. Malick, “MĀLIK, NISṬŌRĪS GĪWARGĪS,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/malik-nistoris-giwargis (accessed on 20 September 2016).