1st Edition

The Syriac World

ISBN 9781138899018
Published December 18, 2018 by Routledge
842 Pages

USD $245.00

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Book Description

This volume surveys the 'Syriac world', the culture that grew up among the Syriac-speaking communities from the second century CE and which continues to exist and flourish today, both in its original homeland of Syria and Mesopotamia, and in the worldwide diaspora of Syriac-speaking communities. The five sections examine the religion; the material, visual, and literary cultures; the history and social structures of this diverse community; and Syriac interactions with their neighbours ancient and modern. There are also detailed appendices detailing the patriarchs of the different Syriac denominations, and another appendix listing useful online resources for students.

The Syriac World offers the first complete survey of Syriac culture and fills a significant gap in modern scholarship. This volume will be an invaluable resource to undergraduate and postgraduate students of Syriac and Middle Eastern culture from antiquity to the modern era.

Chapter 26 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 license. https://tandfbis.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/rt-files/docs/Open+Access+Chapters/9781138899018_oachapter26.pdf

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of contributors


Diachronic maps of Syriac cultures and their geographic contexts

Introduction (Daniel King

Part I: Backgrounds
1. The eastern provinces of the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity (Muriel Debié)
2. The Sasanian Empire (Touraj Daryaee)

Part II: The Syriac world in Late Antiquity
3. The pre-Christian religions of the Syriac-speaking regions (John F. Healey)
4. The coming of Christianity to Mesopotamia (David G. K. Taylor)
5. Forms of the religious life and Syriac monasticism (Florence Jullien)
6. The establishment of the Syriac Churches (Volker Menze)
7. The Syriac Church denominations: an overview (Dietmar W. Winkler)
8. The Syriac world in the Persian Empire (Geoffrey Herman)
9. Judaism and Syriac Christianity (Michal Bar-Asher Siegal)
10. Syriac and Syrians in the later Roman Empire: questions of identity (Nathanael Andrade)
11. Early Syriac reactions to the rise of Islam (Michael Penn)
12. The Church of the East in the ʿAbassid Era (David Wilmshurst)

Part III: The Syriac language
13. The Syriac language in the context of the Semitic languages (Holger Gzella)
14. The Classical Syriac language (Aaron Michael Butts)
15. Writing Syriac: manuscripts and inscriptions (Françoise Briquel-Chatonnet)
16. The Neo-Aramaic dialects and their historical background (Gefforey Khan)

Part IV: Syriac literary, artistic, and material culture in Late Antiquity
17. The Syriac Bible and its interpretation (Jonathan Loopstra)
18. The emergence of Syriac literature to AD 400 (Ute Possekel)
19. Later Syriac poetry (Sebastian P. Brock)
20. Syriac hagiographic literature (Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent)
21. The mysticism of the Church of the East (Adrian Pirtea)
22. Theological doctrines and debates within Syriac Christianity (Theresia Hainthaler)
23. The liturgies of the Syriac Churches (Fr. Baby Varghese)
24. Historiography in the Syriac-speaking world, 300-1000 (Philip Wood)
25. Syriac philosophy (John W. Watt)
26. Syriac medicine (Grigory Kessel)
27. The material culture of the Syrian peoples in Late Antiquity and the evidence for Syrian wall paintings (Emma Loosley)
28. Churches in Syriac space: architectural and liturgical context and development (Widad Khoury)
29. Women and children in Syriac Christianity: sounding voices (Susan Ashbrook Harvey)
30. Syriac agriculture 350-1250 (Michael J. Decker)

Part V: Syriac Christianity beyond the ancient world
31. Syriac Christianity in Central Asia (Mark Dickens)
32. Syriac Christianity in China (Hidemi Takahashi)
33.Syriac Christianity in India (Istvan Perczel)
34.The renaissance of Syriac literature in the twelfth-thirteenth centuries (Dorothea Weltecke and Helen Younansardaroud)
35. Syriac in a diverse Middle East: from the Mongol Ilkhanate to Ottoman dominance, 1286-1517 (Thomas A. Carlson)
36. The Maronite Church (Shafiq Abouzayd)
37. The early study of Syriac in Europe (Robert J. Wilkinson)
38. Syriac identity in the modern era (Heleen Murre-van den Berg)
39. Changing demography: Christians in Iraq since 1991 (Erica C. D. Hunter)


I The patriarchs of the Church of the East

II West Syrian patriarchs and maphrians

III Online resources for the study of the Syriac world

Maps Index

Subject Index

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Daniel King (Research Fellow, Cardiff University, UK) is a scholar of Syriac who specialises in the history of Syriac philosophy and its contribution to the progress of knowledge. His research is principally concerned with examining how the Syriac tradition adopted and adapted to its own environment the heritage of Greek Christian thought and ideas, and how it was able to translate large numbers of Greek texts into a new and distinctive idiom. He has a special interest in all aspects of the history of translation and currently works in East Africa advising and consulting on the translation of the Bible into the vernacular languages of the region.


'The Syriac World represents the most marvellous resource, not just for specialists in Syriac studies but also for scholars and students of global history and religion. Covering the broadest possible range of relevant topics, it brings together cutting-edge research by acknowledged experts, and succeeds in being both immensely learned and accessible. There is generous provision of maps, illustrations, and appendices, and the detailed bibliographies allow readers to pursue topics still further. A considerable achievement on the part of the editor, this volume will be an invaluable addition to private libraries as well as a must for institutions.' – Alison G. Salvesen, University of Oxford, UK


"‘The Syriac World’ is a very significant and valuable work, which is certainly recommended to students of Syriac studies, to specialists in related fields, and to all who have genuine interest in this fascinating subject." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Support Material

Open Access Content

  • Chapter 26 (.pdf) Syriac medicine (Grigory Kessel)

    Open Access content has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CCBY-NC-ND) license