The Syriac Christianity Portal
Syriac or Syrian Christianity (Syriac: ܡܫܝܚܝܘܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ, mšiḥāiūṯā suryāiṯā), the Syriac-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia, comprises multiple Christian traditions of Eastern Christianity. With a history going back to the 1st Century AD, in modern times it is represented by denominations primarily in the Middle East and in Kerala, India. Christianity began in the middle east in Israel among Aramaic speaking Semitic peoples. It quickly spread to Sassanid-ruled Mesopotamia & Assyria, Roman-ruled Syria (ancient Aramea), Phoenicia, India, and Egypt. From there it spread to Asia Minor, Greece, Armenia, Georgia and the Caucasus region.
Services in this tradition tend to feature liturgical use of ancient Syriac, a dialect of Middle Aramaic that is of direct relation to the Aramaic of Jesus.
Syriac Christianity is divided into two major traditions: Eastern Rite, historically centered in Assyria/Mesopotamia, and West Syrian, centered in Antioch. The Eastern Rite tradition was historically associated with the Church of the East, and is currently employed by the Middle Eastern churches that descend from it, the Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, and the Chaldean Catholic Church, (the members of these churches usually consider themselves to be ethnic Assyrians) as well as by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church of India. The West Syrian tradition is used by the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Maronite Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, and churches that descend from them, as well as by the Malankara churches of the Saint Thomas Christian tradition in India.
The Peshitta (Syriac: ܦܫܝܛܬܐ for "simple, common, straight, vulgate", Arabic:"بسيطة", sometimes called the Syriac Vulgate) is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.
The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD. The New Testament of the Peshitta, which originally excluded certain disputed books (2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation), had become the standard by the early 5th century.
Daqin Pagoda, a monastery built in 640 by early Nestorian missionaries to China.
Ephrem the Syrian
B. 306 – d. 9 June 373
Ephrem the Syrian was a Syriac and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century. He is venerated by Christians throughout the world, and especially in the Syriac Orthodox Church, as a saint.
Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as prose biblical exegesis. These were works of practical theology for the edification of the church in troubled times. So popular were his works, that, for centuries after his death, Christian authors wrote hundreds of pseudepigraphous works in his name. Ephrem's works witness to an early form of Christianity in which western ideas take little part. He has been called the most significant of all of the fathers of the Syriac-speaking church tradition.
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