Institute of Semitic Studies

Syriac

History Of The Language

The language of the Eastern Christians, Syriac united large parts of the ancient world, from Cyprus to China, from southern Russia to southern India.

Syriac Script

Many documents of early Judaism are extant in Syriac (and sometimes only in Syriac), hence its importance for the study of the Hebrew Bible and the development of Christianity. In addition, Syriac literature includes hagiographies, chronicles, prose works (often translated from Arabic), and numerous theological works.

Some dialects of Aramaic, usually called “Neo-Aramaic”, “Neo-Syriac”, or “Assyrian” are still spoken today, primarily in villages in southern Russia, Lebanon, and Iraq, and now in Israel (by immigrant Jews from Iraq). Theses dialects are rapidly disappearing under pressure from the surrounding local languages.