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Author Topic: Syriac ethnicity?  (Read 1158 times) Average Rating: 0
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deusveritasest
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« on: August 11, 2010, 10:26:43 PM »

I'm trying to figure out what is the most appropriate name for the Aramaic speaking ethnic group that is traditionally found in the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, etc. It seems that there are highly divergent usages on this. I have heard "Syrian", "Assyrian", "Chaldean", and "Aramaean". I want to know what is the most mutually agreed upon among these, or what is the least generally offensive, or what is the most common usage of the Syriac Orthodox particularly.
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2010, 01:07:06 AM »

Our youngest daughter's godfather calls himself Assyrian. Officially he is Lebanese. But he prefers to be called Assyrian.
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Leb Aryo
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2010, 02:43:59 AM »

I'm trying to figure out what is the most appropriate name for the Aramaic speaking ethnic group that is traditionally found in the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, etc. It seems that there are highly divergent usages on this. I have heard "Syrian", "Assyrian", "Chaldean", and "Aramaean". I want to know what is the most mutually agreed upon among these, or what is the least generally offensive, or what is the most common usage of the Syriac Orthodox particularly.

I think, the main issue is how to translate what we call ourselves into foreign languages.  All members of these churches name themselves "Suraya" "Suroyo" "Suryoyo".  The only difference being the dialect.  As for the language they speak; Syriac, it's oldest appellation would be "Sureyt".  The divergent names only come to play when trying to use a language other than Syriac to identify ourselves.  You can also count the Lebanese Maronite church among this group as the church's official name is "Idto Suryeyto Moraneyto" or "Syriac Maronite Church".  To sum it up, Assyrian, Aramean, Syrian are all correct.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 02:44:34 AM by Leb Aryo » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2010, 09:58:21 AM »

Do the West Syriac speakers (down to about 5k in a few villages in Syria) consider themselves to be the same ethnicity as the East Syriac speakers (a couple million?) located in Baghdad, Tehran, and Chicago, USA?  I attended Nestorian liturgies on several occasions, where the liturgy was in ancient Syriac and the sermon was in modern East Syriac (seemed like a mix between Arabic and Hebrew to my untrained ears, but pleasant to listen to) but I couldn't communicate with the people there well enough to ascertain whether they considered themselves the same ethnicity as the West Syriacs (or even the Chaldean Catholics; while ethnolinguists would say they are the same thing, anyone who has read a book like Lewis's "Multiple Identities of the Middle East" soon discovers that western categories of ethnicity, language, culture, and religion fall short to describe this complex situation).

I really enjoyed my experience in the Nestorian liturgies back in the day and wish they were Orthodox.  The fact that they are not was made perfectly clear when one gentleman approached me, and when finding out that I was an Eastern Rite Catholic at the time, proceeded to tell me that the term Theotokos is heresy, the Virgin Mary is Christotokos, yada yada.  I asked him why their patriarch signed a concordant with the Vatican then, at which point the conversation trailed off.  This was in Yonkers, NY about 2004.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 09:59:09 AM by Fr. Anastasios » Logged

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Leb Aryo
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2010, 10:53:03 AM »

The ethnicity is the same throughout these churches.  Some might say no, but that would depend on their level of education I surmise.  The churches also played a role unfortunately in accentuating the differences between these groups because of spiritual differences.  Chaldeans for example, even though are from the Assyrian Church of the East, took on the name Chaldean from the Vatican and slowly began calling their language Chaldaya.  Even though they speak modern Aramaic.  In the ME groups tend to consider their religious affiliation their ethnicity.  Large percentage of the Greek Orthodox Church in Syria are\were Syriacs as well.
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2010, 12:19:56 PM »

Would Syriacs simply be the non-Jewish, non-Greek, non-Persian and possibly non-Arab (Nabattean) residents of the area prior to the Mohammedan invasions?
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2010, 12:50:50 PM »

Would Syriacs simply be the non-Jewish, non-Greek, non-Persian and possibly non-Arab (Nabattean) residents of the area prior to the Mohammedan invasions?

You could just say they're a native Semitic population, Greeks, Persians are not Semitic.  As a Semitic group they're related to Jews, Arabs (Ethiopians etc.).  Their language (Aramaic) though being from the North Western Semitic language group like the Cananite language group (Hebrew, Ugaritic etc.) would be closer to Hebrew rather than Arabic.  Actually, large Arab tribes also converted to Christianity and joined various Syriac churches in the early centuries of Christianity as well in Southern Syria, so there were ethnic Arabs in Syriac churches since the early centuries.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 12:57:36 PM by Leb Aryo » Logged
deusveritasest
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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2010, 11:38:03 PM »

Our youngest daughter's godfather calls himself Assyrian. Officially he is Lebanese. But he prefers to be called Assyrian.

Are you meaning that he is nationally Lebanese but ethnically Assyrian?
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« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2010, 11:38:04 PM »

I asked him why their patriarch signed a concordant with the Vatican then

False ecumenism and hypocrisy as usual, most likely.
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« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2010, 11:38:04 PM »

Would Syriacs simply be the non-Jewish, non-Greek, non-Persian and possibly non-Arab (Nabattean) residents of the area prior to the Mohammedan invasions?

They're the Semitic people who have historically had Aramaic as their first language. (Someone correct me if my description is at all off.)
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« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2010, 11:38:04 PM »

So it sounds like none of these terms are particularly objected to to describe the ethnicity? Then could someone tell me if perhaps the Syriac Orthodox tend to prefer one or another of them?
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