Syriac Christianity

Syriac Christianity (Syriac: ܡܫܝܚܝܘܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ / Mšiḥoyuṯo Suryoyto or Mšiḥāyūṯā Suryāytā) is a distinctive branch of Eastern Christianity, whose formative theological writings and traditional liturgies are expressed in the Classical Syriac language, a variation of the old Aramaic language.[1][2][3] In a wider sense, the term can also refer to Aramaic Christianity in general, thus encompassing all Christian traditions that are based on liturgical uses of Aramaic language and its variations, both historical and modern.[4][5][6]

Along with Greek and Latin, Classical Syriac was one of the three most important languages of Early Christianity.[7] It became a vessel for the development of a distinctive Syriac form of Christianity which flourished throughout the Near East and other parts of Asia during Late Antiquity and the Early Medieval period, giving rise to various liturgical and denominational traditions, represented in modern times by several Churches which continue to uphold the religious and cultural heritage of Syriac Christianity.[8][9]

Syriac Christianity comprises two liturgical traditions.[10] The East Syriac Rite (also known variably as the Chaldean, Assyrian, Sassanid, Babylonian or Persian Rite),[11] whose main anaphora is the Holy Qurbana of Saints Addai and Mari, is that of the Iraq-based Chaldean Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East and Ancient Church of the East, and the Indian Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and Chaldean Syrian Church (the latter being part of the Assyrian Church of the East).

The West Syriac Rite (also called Antiochian Syriac Rite or St. James Rite), which has the Divine Liturgy of Saint James as its anaphora, is that of the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Lebanon-based Maronite Church and Syriac Catholic Church, and the Indian Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church (part of the Syriac Orthodox Church), Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, and Malabar Independent Syrian Church. Reformed versions of this rite are used by the Eastern Protestant Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church[12][13][14] and the more strongly reformed St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India.

In India, indigenous Eastern Christians (Saint Thomas Christians) of both liturgical traditions (eastern and western) are called "Syrian" Christians. The traditional East Syriac community is represented by the Syro-Malabar Church and the Chaldean Syrian Church of India (a part of the Assyrian Church of the East). The West Syriac liturgical tradition was introduced after 1665, and the community associated with it is represented by the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church (a part of the Syriac Orthodox Church), the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (both of them belonging to the Oriental Orthodoxy), the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (an Eastern Catholic Church), the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church (part of the Anglican Communion)and the Malabar Independent Syrian Church (an independent Oriental Orthodox Church not part of the Oriental Orthodox Communion). [15]

The Syriac language is a variety of Aramaic language, that emerged in Edessa, Upper Mesopotamia during the first centuries AD.[16] It is related to the Aramaic of Jesus, a Galilean dialect.[17] This relationship added to its prestige for Christians.[18] The form of the language in use in Edessa predominated in Christian writings and was accepted as the standard form, "a convenient vehicle for the spread of Christianity wherever there was a substrate of spoken Aramaic".[1] The area where Syriac or Aramaic was spoken, an area of contact and conflict between the Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire, extended from around Antioch in the west to Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the Sasanian capital (in Iraq), in the east and comprised the whole or parts of present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, and parts of Turkey and Iran.[2][1]

Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Syriac Christianity, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.