Syriac Christianity (Syriac: ܡܫܝܚܝܘܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ / mšiḥāyuṯā suryāyṯā) refers to Eastern Christian traditions that employ Syriac language in their liturgical rites. The Syriac language is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that emerged in Edessa, Upper Mesopotamia, in the early first century AD, and is considered to be closely related to the Jewish Palestinian Aramaic spoken by Jesus. Tracing back their historical heritage to the 1st century, Syriac Christianity is today represented in the Middle East by the Maronite Church, Syriac Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Ancient Church of the East, as well as by the Saint Thomas Christians of respective communions centered in Kerala, India.
Christianity began in the Middle East in Jerusalem among Aramaic-speaking Jews. It quickly spread to other Aramaic-speaking Semitic peoples, in Parthian-ruled Asōristān (modern Iraq), Roman Syria. Syriac Christianity is divided into two major liturgical rite traditions: the East Syrian Rite, historically centered in Upper Mesopotamia and the West Syrian Rite, centered in Antioch in the Levant by the Mediterranean coast.
The East Syrian Rite tradition was historically associated with the Assyrian founded Church of the East, and it is currently employed by the Middle Eastern churches that descend from it: the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, and the Chaldean Catholic Church (the members of such churches are Eastern Aramaic-speaking ethnic Assyrians). As well as by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church of India, and the Chaldean Syrian Church of India which is an archbishopric of the Assyrian Church of the East.
The West Syrian Rite tradition is used by the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Maronite Church as well as by the Malankara Church of India, which follow the Malankara Rite tradition of the Saint Thomas Christian community. Adherents sometimes identify as "Syriacs" or "Assyrians".