Syriac Christianity

Syriac Christianity

Syriac Christianity is a culturally and linguistically distinctive community within Eastern Christianity. It has its roots in the Near East, and is represented by a number of Christian denominations today, mainly in the Middle East and in Kerala, India.


became Syriac cultural centres.

The early literature of Syriac Christianity include the Diatessaron of Tatian (most probably), 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, 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.

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

Some Syriac Christian denominations no longer use the Syriac language in their worship. This is particularly true of the Chalcedonian churches.

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 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 Syriac Catholic Church, an Eastern Rite Catholic church.
** The Maronite Church, an Eastern Rite Catholic church.

* East Syrian Rite
**Churches of the East:
*** The Assyrian Church of the East (sometimes called Nestorian).
*** The Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Rite Catholic church.
** Eastern Catholic Churches in Kerala, India.
*** The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (East Syrian Rite).
*** The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (West Syrian Rite).
** The Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church. [N.M.Mathew, (2006) History of the Mar Thoma church (Malayalam) Volume 1. Page 68-69] (Mar Thoma 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.


ee also

*Aramean-Syriac people
*Assyrian people
*West Syrian Rite
*East Syrian Rite
*Syrian Malabar Nasrani
*Malabar Independent Syrian Church
*Mar Thoma Church

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