The Syriac World


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In Search of a Forgotten Christianity

Francoise Briquel Chatonnet and Muriel Debie; Translated by Jeffrey Haines

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A comprehensive survey of Syriac Christianity from its origins in Hellenistic and ancient Near Eastern cultures to the present
Often referred to as the third main language of Christianity after Latin and Greek, Syriac remains a foundational classical, literary, and religious language throughout the world. Originating in Mesopotamia along the Roman and Parthian frontiers, it was never the language of a powerful state or ethnic group, but with the coming of Christianity it developed into a rich religious and cultural tradition. At the same time that Christianity was making its way through Europe, Syriac missionaries were founding churches from the Mediterranean coast to Persia, converting the Turkic tribes of Central Asia, and building communities in India and China.
This comprehensive work tells the underexplored story of the Syriac world over three thousand years, from its pre-Christian roots in the Aramaic tribes and the ancient Near East to its vibrant expressions in modern diaspora churches. Enhanced with beautiful images, songs, poems, and important primary source texts, this book shows the importance of Syriac history, theology, and literature in the twenty-first century.

Françoise Briquel Chatonnet is a French historian and director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research. Muriel Debié is director of studies specializing in Eastern Christianity at the École Pratique des Hautes Études.

“This is a marvelous gem of a book. In one short volume, we are given three thousand years of history. Readers will learn an enormous amount about Syriac literature and the history of Middle Eastern Christianity. This book is a small classic.”—Jack Tannous, author of The Making of the Medieval Middle East

“Françoise Briquel Chatonnet and Muriel Debié have provided a wonderfully readable, and beautifully illustrated, guide to the various aspects of the Syriac world: the narrative is exceptionally well informed, and the attention paid to material culture is particularly welcome. This is a book that every self-respecting library ought to have.”—Sebastian Brock, author of An Introduction to Syriac Studies

The Syriac World is a fine piece of scholarship, and a truly valuable contribution to the literature on Christian history. The authors present a picture of the Syriac world that is at once authoritative and attractive to the non-specialist reader.”—Philip Jenkins, author of Crucible of Faith: The Ancient Revolution That Made Our Modern Religious World

“In this extraordinarily learned and wide-ranging book, an entire lost world is brought into the light. The Syriac World reminds us of the vigor and diversity that made up the culture and religion of the Middle East from Late Antiquity until today.”—Peter Brown, author of Through the Eye of a Needle
ISBN: 9780300253535
Publication Date: June 20, 2023
296 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
68 b/w illus.