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Eastern Christianity Portal
Syriac Christianity is an ancient near Eastern Christian group represented by denominations primarily in the Middle East and in Kerala, India. Particularly notable is the liturgical use of ancient Syriac, a dialect related to the Aramaic of Jesus.
Syriac Christian heritage is transmitted through the Syriac language, a dialect of Aramaic. Unlike the Greek Christian culture, Syriac culture borrowed much from early Rabbinic Judaism and Mesopotamian culture. Whereas Latin and Greek Christian cultures became protected by the Roman and Byzantine empires respectively, Syriac Christianity often found itself marginalised and persecuted. Antioch was the political capital of this culture, and was the seat of the patriarchs of the church. However, Antioch was heavily Hellenized, and the Mesopotamian cities of Edessa, Nisibis and Ctesiphon became Syriac cultural centres. Undoubtedly, Syrian Christians of India are amongst the oldest Christians on our globe.
The early literature of Syriac Christianity include the Diatessaron of Tatian (most probably), the Curetonian Gospels and the Syriac Sinaiticus, the Peshitta Bible, the Doctrine of Addai and the writings of Aphrahat and the hymns of Ephrem the Syrian.
The first division between Syriac Christians occurred in the 5th century, following the Council of Ephesus in 431, when Christians of the Sassanid Persian Empire were separated from those in the west over the Nestorian Schism. This split owed just as much to the politics of the day as it did to theological orthodoxy. Ctesiphon, which was at the time the Sassanid capital, became the capital of the Church of the East.
After the Council of Chalcedon in 451, many Syriac Christians within the Roman Empire rebelled against its decisions. The Patriarchate of Antioch was then divided between a Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian communion. The Chalcedonians were often labelled 'Melkites' (Emperor's Party), while their opponents were labelled as Monophysites (those who believe in the one rather than two natures of Christ) and Jacobites (after Jacob Baradaeus). The Maronite Church found itself caught between the two, but claims to have always remained faithful to the Catholic Church and in communion with the bishop of Rome, the Pope.
Churches of the Syriac tradition
- West Syrian Rite
- The Syriac Orthodox Church (Non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East)
- The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Autocephalous; Non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox Church of India)
- The West Syrian Rite Churches under the Catholic Church
- The Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church.(Mar Thoma Church), a reformed church based in Kerala, India. Mar Thoma church is in communion with the Anglican Church.
- The Malabar Independent Syrian Church(Thozhiyur church), an independent church based in Kerala, India. Thozhiyur church is in communion with the Mar Thoma Church.
- East Syrian Rite
- The Assyrian Church of the East (sometimes incorrectly called Nestorian).
- The Ancient Church of the East
- The East Syrian Rite Churches under the Catholic Church
Syriac Christians were involved in the mission to India, and many of the ancient churches of India are in communion with their Syriac cousins. These Indian Christians are known as Saint Thomas Christians.
In modern times, various Protestant denominations began to send representatives among the Syriac peoples. As a result, several Protestant groups, including the "Assyrian Pentecostal Church" have been established. However, such groups are not normally classified among those Eastern Churches to which the term "Syriac Christianity" is traditionally applied.
- Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac people
- West Syrian Rite
- East Syrian Rite
- Syrian Malabar Nasrani
- Saint Thomas Christian tradition
- ↑ Allen C. Myers, ed (1987). "Aramaic". The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans. p. 72. ISBN 0-8028-2402-1. "It is generally agreed that Aramaic was the common language of Palestine in the first century A.D. Jesus and his disciples spoke the Galilean dialect, which was distinguished from that of Jerusalem (Matt. 26:73).". Israeli scholars have established that Hebrew was also in popular use. Most Jewish teaching from the first century is recorded in Hebrew.
- Jacobite Syrian Church
- (fr) - Translation into English Syriac Christianity on WikiSyr
- (fr) - Translation into English Syriac Catholic Circle
- Qambel Maran- Syriac chants from South India- a review and liturgical music tradition of Syriac Christians revisited
- Traditions and rituals among the Syrian Christians of Kerala