Syriac Christianity
Overview
 
Syriac or Syrian Christianity , the Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, comprises multiple Christian traditions
Christian traditions
Christian tradition is a collection of traditions of practices or beliefs associated with Christianity or groups with Christianity. These beliefs have more or less authority based on the group in question....

 of Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

. With a history going back to the 1st Century AD, in modern times it is represented by denominations primarily in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and in Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Christianity began in the middle east in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 among Aramaic speaking Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 peoples. It quickly spread to Sassanid-ruled Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 & Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

-ruled Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 (ancient Aramea), Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

.
Encyclopedia
Syriac or Syrian Christianity , the Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, comprises multiple Christian traditions
Christian traditions
Christian tradition is a collection of traditions of practices or beliefs associated with Christianity or groups with Christianity. These beliefs have more or less authority based on the group in question....

 of Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

. With a history going back to the 1st Century AD, in modern times it is represented by denominations primarily in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and in Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Christianity began in the middle east in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 among Aramaic speaking Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 peoples. It quickly spread to Sassanid-ruled Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 & Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

-ruled Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 (ancient Aramea), Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. From there it spread to Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 and the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 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
Aramaic of Jesus
It is generally agreed that the historical Jesus primarily spoke Aramaic, perhaps along with some Hebrew and Greek . The towns of Nazareth and Capernaum, where Jesus lived, were primarily Aramaic-speaking communities, although Greek was widely spoken in the major cities of the Eastern Mediterranean...

.

Syriac Christianity is divided into two major traditions: Eastern Rite
East Syrian Rite
The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

, historically centered in Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

/Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, and West Syrian, centered in Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

. The Eastern Rite tradition was historically associated with the Church of the East
Church of the East
The Church of the East tāʾ d-Maḏnḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia...

, and is currently employed by the Middle Eastern churches that descend from it, the Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, Ancient Church of the East
Ancient Church of the East
The Ancient Church of the East was established in 1968. It follows the traditions of one of the oldest Christian churches, the Church of the East, whose origins trace back to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in central Mesopotamia...

, and the Chaldean Catholic Church
Chaldean Catholic Church
The Chaldean Catholic Church , is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church...

, (the members of these churches usually consider themselves to be ethnic Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

) as well as by the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India is an East Syrian Rite, Major Archiepiscopal Church in full communion with the Catholic Church. It is one of the 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in the Catholic Church. It is the largest of the Saint Thomas Christian denominations with more than 3.6...

 of India. The West Syrian tradition is used by the Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

, the Maronite Church
Maronite Church
The Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See of Rome . It traces its heritage back to the community founded by Maron, a 4th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. The first Maronite Patriarch, John Maron, was elected in the late 7th...

, the Syriac Catholic Church
Syriac Catholic Church
The Syriac Catholic Church is a Christian church in the Levant having practices and rites in common with the Syriac Orthodox Church. They are one of the Eastern Catholic Churches following the Antiochene rite, the Syriac tradition of Antioch, along with the Maronites and Syro-Malankara Christians...

, and churches that descend from them, as well as by the Malankara
Malankara Church
The Malankara Church is the church of the Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala, India, with particular emphasis on the part of the community that joined Archdeacon Mar Thoma in swearing to resist the authority of the Portuguese Padroado in 1653...

 churches of the Saint Thomas Christian tradition in India.

History

Syriac Christian heritage is transmitted through various Neo Aramaic dialects (particularly the Syriac dialect of Mesopotamia) of old Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

. Unlike the Greek Christian culture, Assyrian culture borrowed much from early Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

 and Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n culture. Whereas Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 Christian cultures became protected by the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 empires respectively, Syriac Christianity often found itself marginalised and persecuted. Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 was the political capital of this culture, and was the seat of the Patriarchs
Patriarch of Antioch
Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title held by the Bishop of Antioch. As the traditional "overseer" of the first gentile Christian community, the position has been of prime importance in the church from its earliest period...

 of the church. However, Antioch was heavily Hellenized, and the Mesopotamian cities of Edessa
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

, Nisibis
Nisibis
Nusaybin Nisêbîn) is a city in Mardin Province, Turkey, populated mainly by Kurds. Earlier Arameans, Arabs, and Armenians lived in the city. The population of the city is 83,832 as of 2009.-Ancient Period:...

 and Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

 became Syriac cultural centres.

The early literature of Syriac Christianity includes the Diatessaron
Diatessaron
The Diatessaron is the most prominent Gospel harmony created by Tatian, an early Christian apologist and ascetic. The term "diatessaron" is from Middle English by way of Latin, diatessarōn , and ultimately Greek, διὰ τεσσάρων The Diatessaron (c 160 - 175) is the most prominent Gospel harmony...

 of Tatian
Tatian
Tatian the Assyrian was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the...

; the Curetonian Gospels
Curetonian Gospels
The Curetonian Gospels, designated by the siglum syrcur, are contained in a manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament in Old Syriac, a translation from the Aramaic originals, according to William Cureton differing considerably from the canonical Greek texts, with which they had been...

 and the Syriac Sinaiticus; the Peshitta
Peshitta
The Peshitta 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...

 Bible; the Doctrine of Addai
Doctrine of Addai
The Doctrine of Addai is a controversial book about Saint Addai.The story of how King Abgar and Jesus had corresponded was first recounted in the 4th century by the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History and it was retold in elaborated form by Ephrem the Syrian.In the...

 and the writings of Aphrahat
Aphrahat
Aphrahat was a Syriac-Christian author of the 4th century from the Adiabene region of Northern Mesopotamia, which was within the Persian Empire, who composed a series of twenty-three expositions or homilies on points of Christian doctrine and practice...

; and the hymns of Ephrem the Syrian
Ephrem the Syrian
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...

.

The first division between Syriac Christians and Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

 occurred in the 5th century, following the First Council of Ephesus in 431, when the Assyrian Christians of the Sassanid Persian Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 were separated from those in the west over the Nestorian Schism
Nestorian Schism
The Nestorian Schism was the split between the Orthodox Church and churches affiliated with Nestorian doctrine in the 5th century. The schism rose out of a Christological dispute, the key figures in which were Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius...

. This split owed just as much to the politics of the day as it did to theological orthodoxy. Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

, which was at the time the Sassanid capital, became the capital of the Church of the East
Church of the East
The Church of the East tāʾ d-Maḏnḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia...

.

After the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 in 451, many Syriac Christians within the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 rebelled against its decisions. The Patriarchate of Antioch was then divided between a Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian
Chalcedonian describes churches and theologians which accept the definition given at the Council of Chalcedon of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus Christ...

 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
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

 (after Jacob Baradaeus
Jacob Baradaeus
Jacob Baradaeus was Bishop of Edessa from 543 until his death. One of the most important figures in the history of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox churches generally, he was a defender of the Monophysite movement in a time when its strength was declining...

). 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
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

.

Over time, some groups within each of these branches have entered into communion with the Church of Rome, becoming Eastern Catholic Churches.

Names and ethnicity

The ancient Syrians (Syriac: ܣܘܪܝܝܐ, Arabic: سُريان), that is, Aramaic-speakers in Mesoptamia in the late 1st millennium BCE, adopted Christianity very early. The Syrian kingdom of Osroene
Osroene
Osroene, also spelled Osrohene and Osrhoene and sometimes known by the name of its capital city, Edessa , was a historic Syriac kingdom located in Mesopotamia, which enjoyed semi-autonomy to complete independence from the years of 132 BC to AD 244.It was a Syriac-speaking kingdom.Osroene, or...

 was the first Christian kingdom in history.

In 431 CE the Council of Ephesus declared Nestorianism
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

 to be a heresy. The Nestorians, who were persecuted in the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, sought refuge in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, then part of the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

, From there they spread Christianity to Persia, India, China, and Mongolia. This was the beginning of the Nestorian Church, the eastern branch of Syrian Christianity. The western branch, the Jacobite Church, appeared after the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 condemend Monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

 in 451 CE.

Most members of the Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, Ancient Church of the East
Ancient Church of the East
The Ancient Church of the East was established in 1968. It follows the traditions of one of the oldest Christian churches, the Church of the East, whose origins trace back to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in central Mesopotamia...

, the Chaldean Catholic church as well as some Syriac Orthodox Christians are ethnic Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

. This ethnic group speak Eastern Aramaic dialects and are indigenous to Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, south eastern Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, north eastern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and north western Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Many Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholics prefer an Aramean national identity while others adhere to a religious Syriac identity. A small number of Chaldeans
Chaldean Christians
Chaldean Christians are ethnic Assyrian adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church, most of whom entered communion with the Catholic Church from the Church of the East, which was already Catholic, but most wanted to stray away from the Catholic Church, causing the split in the 17th and 18th...

 have also adopted a Chaldean national identity. The Maronites
Maronites
Maronites , is an ethnoreligious group in the Middle East that have been historically tied with Lebanon. They derive their name from the Syriac saint Mar Maron whose followers moved to Mount Lebanon from northern Syria establishing the Maronite Church....

 in Lebanon are divided between those who claim Phoenician (see Phoenicianism
Phoenicianism
Phoenicianism is a form of Lebanese nationalism, especially popular from the 1920s through the 1950s. It promotes the theory that Lebanese people are not Arabs and that the Lebanese speak a distinct language and have their own culture, separate from that of the surrounding Middle Eastern countries...

) or Syrian national identity and those who claim Arab national identity (see Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

).

Assyrian
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 has almost completely replaced the word Nestorian (which is seen by Assyrians as pejorative). However, the word Nestorian continues to be used in much Western academic literature.

The use of the word Syriac (which originally referred to the Syrian language, a north Mesopotamian dialect of Middle Aramaic) instead of Syrian became common after the establishment of the modern nation of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The word 'Syrian' has become ambiguous in English since it can refer now to a citizen of Syria regardless of ethnicity. In Arabic, however, the word for a 'citizen of Syria' has a different form (سوري sūrī) from the traditional word for an ethnic Syrian (سُرياني suryānī).

Churches of the Syriac tradition

  • West Syrian Rite
    West Syrian Rite
    The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

    • The Syriac Orthodox Church
      Syriac Orthodox Church
      The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

       (Non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East)
        • The Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church; (Non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox Church of India within the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate)
      • The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Autocephalous; Non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox Church of India)
    • The West Syrian Rite
      West Syrian Rite
      The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

       Churches under the Catholic Church
        • The Syriac Catholic Church
          Syriac Catholic Church
          The Syriac Catholic Church is a Christian church in the Levant having practices and rites in common with the Syriac Orthodox Church. They are one of the Eastern Catholic Churches following the Antiochene rite, the Syriac tradition of Antioch, along with the Maronites and Syro-Malankara Christians...

          , a West Syrian Rite
          West Syrian Rite
          The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

           Eastern Catholic church.
        • The Maronite Church, a West Syrian Rite
          West Syrian Rite
          The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

           Eastern Catholic Church.
        • The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
          Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
          The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See...

          , a West Syrian Rite
          West Syrian Rite
          The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

           Eastern Catholic Church based in Kerala, India.
      • The Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church.(Mar Thoma Church), an Eastern Oriental church based in Kerala, India. Mar Thoma church is in communion with the Anglican Church.
      • The Malabar Independent Syrian Church
        Malabar Independent Syrian Church
        The Malabar Independent Syrian Church, also known as the Thozhiyur Sabah , is a Christian church centred in Kerala, India. It is one of the churches of the Saint Thomas Christian community, which traces its origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.Considered part...

        (Thozhiyur church), an independent church based in Kerala, India. Thozhiyur church is in communion with the Mar Thoma Church
        Mar Thoma Church
        The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church also known as the Mar Thoma Church is a Christian denomination based in the state of Kerala in southwestern India. It has an entirely different identity when compared with other Churches in India. Most Christian churches around the world are divided into...

        .

  • East Syrian Rite
    East Syrian Rite
    The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

    • Church of the East
      Church of the East
      The Church of the East tāʾ d-Maḏnḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia...

      , or Nestorian Church, once widely spread through Asia
      • The Assyrian Church of the East
        Assyrian Church of the East
        The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

        , the continuation of the Church of the East, which emerged from the split with the Chaldean Church in the 16th century
        • The Ancient Church of the East
          Ancient Church of the East
          The Ancient Church of the East was established in 1968. It follows the traditions of one of the oldest Christian churches, the Church of the East, whose origins trace back to the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in central Mesopotamia...

          , split from the Assyrian Church of the East in the 1960s
      • The East Syrian Rite
        East Syrian Rite
        The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

         Churches under the Catholic Church
        • The Chaldean Catholic Church
          Chaldean Catholic Church
          The Chaldean Catholic Church , is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church...

          , an East Syrian Rite
          East Syrian Rite
          The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

           Eastern Catholic Church, emerged from the Church of the East following the split with the Assyrian Church in the 16th century
        • The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
          Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
          The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India is an East Syrian Rite, Major Archiepiscopal Church in full communion with the Catholic Church. It is one of the 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in the Catholic Church. It is the largest of the Saint Thomas Christian denominations with more than 3.6...

          , an East Syrian Rite
          East Syrian Rite
          The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

           Eastern Catholic Church based in Kerala, India


Assyrian Christians were involved in the mission to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and many of the ancient churches of India are in communion with their Syriac cousins. These Indian Christians are known as Saint Thomas Christians
Saint Thomas Christians
The Saint Thomas Christians are an ancient body of Christians from Kerala, India, who trace their origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. They are also known as "Nasranis" because they are followers of "Jesus of Nazareth". The term "Nasrani" is still used by St...

.

In modern times, various Evangelical denominations began to send representatives among the Syriac peoples. As a result, several Evangelical groups, including the "Assyrian Pentecostal Church
Assyrian Pentecostal Church
The Assyrian Pentecostal Church , in , began in villages across the Urmia region in Iran, and spread to the Assyrians living in the adjacent cities. The current church's doctrine and tradition is a continuation of the spiritual revival movements that took place in Western Iran during the 1930s...

" (most in America, Iran, and Iraq) have been established. However, due to their recent historical origin, such groups and others are not normally classified among those Eastern Churches to which the term "Syriac Christianity" is traditionally applied.

See also

  • Assyrian people
    Assyrian people
    The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

  • West Syrian Rite
    West Syrian Rite
    The West Syrian Rite, also known as the Syrian Rite or the Syro-Antiochene Rite, is a Christian liturgical rite chiefly practiced in the Syriac Orthodox Church and churches related to or descended from it. It is part of the liturgical family known as the Antiochene Rite, which originated in the...

  • East Syrian Rite
    East Syrian Rite
    The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

  • Syrian Malabar Nasrani
    Syrian Malabar Nasrani
    The Syrian Malabar Nasrani people, also known as Saint Thomas Christians, "'Nasrani Mappila'" and Nasranis, are an ethnoreligious group from Kerala, India, adhering to the various churches of the Saint Thomas Christian tradition...

  • Saint Thomas Christian tradition

External links

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