Syriac I
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleFTR-OTR704
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies; Opleiding Religiestudies;
dr. S.A. Bledsoe
Other course modules lecturer
dr. S.A. Bledsoe
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. S.A. Bledsoe
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
SEM2  (29/01/2024 to 01/09/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
By the end of this course you will:
    1. Have a basic familiarity with the grammar and syntax of Classical Syriac;
    2. Be able to recognize and read aloud the Enstrangela and Western (Serto) scripts, with vowel pointing;
    3. Be able to translate a variety of Syriac texts, especially from the New Testament;
    4. Become familiar with the standard tools used in the analysis of Classical Syriac literature, including lexica, grammars, and electronic/online tools;
    5. Have a general understanding of the history and literature of the Syria-speaking church and its importance;
Syriac is a Semitic language with ancient origins that continues to be used by different Christian communities of for their liturgy and as a means of literary expression. This course introduces the basic grammar of Classical Syriac, a dialect of literary Aramaic prominent in the 4th-7th c. CE. The course focuses on syntax and morphology but also comprises an audio-oral learning component. With a basic knowledge of Syriac grammar and scripts, students will be able to read and translate narrative texts, especially the Syriac New Testament (Peshitta), with the help of a dictionary.

Knowledge of Syriac gives access to a rich spiritual, historiographical and theological literature. Thus, alongside language instruction, the course includes a cultural/religious component that focuses on significant aspects of Syriac literature and history. Students will become familiar with: important genres & styles of Syriac literature; historically impactful  writers & theologians of the early Syriac Church; the significance of Syriac for theological and philosophical exchanges among medieval Christians and Muslims; and some basic knowledge of current Syriac-speaking communities. The course can be taken on its own, without previous knowledge of other Semitic languages.
Presumed foreknowledge
The course can be taken on its own, without previous knowledge of other Semitic languages.
Test information
Final exam; weekly homework assignments; occasional quizzess (in-class)

Required materials
Assigned materials (grammer & dictionary) will be announced before the first course meeting

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Written translation test
Test weight1
Test typeWritten exam
OpportunitiesBlock SEM2, Block SEM2