Last modified on January 4, 2023, at 01:51


Aramaic (ܐܪܡܝܐ) was the colloquial language of Jesus, which He continued to use at least informally through the Crucifixion. Its modern form is most commonly known as "Syriac".[1] It is a Semitic language and was spoken by the Aramaeans and spread across the Mesopotamia and became the language of the Persian Empire.[1] It was most closely related to Hebrew and Arabic. The post-biblical Rabbinic commentary on the Bible and application of the Biblical laws (as well as perpetuating of the Biblical lore) to contemporary Jewish life, is known as the Talmud. The first part of the Talmud is primarily in Mishnaic (2nd cent. B.C. to 2nd cent. A.D.) Hebrew and secondarily in Aramaic. The second part of the Talmud, known as the Gemara, is primarily in Aramaic and secondarily in Hebrew. The Babylonian recension of the Talmud - representing Babylonian exilic Judaism - is authoritative for Jews today rather than the Jerusalem Talmud - representing "Land of Israel" Hebrew-speaking Judaism from there.

The Gospel of Mark contains multiple phrases in Aramaic, while other parts of the New Testament occasionally use the colloquial language.[1]

It is spoken today in parts of Lebanon, northern Iraq, Syria in addition to smaller communities in Turkey and Iran.[2]

While many claim that Jesus taught in Aramaic and that the Gospels were originally written in that language, much evidence indicates that Greek was the language used both for Jesus's teachings and the initial drafts of the Gospels. Many terms used in the Gospels, such as "hypocrite" and "Iscariot", have no counterpart in Aramaic.[3]

The "Aramaic" Church

Syriac alphabet, the modern form of Aramaic

The Church of the East, sometimes known as the Nestorian Church or sometimes as the Assyrian Church uses the Aramaic Language in their liturgy.[4] This is true also of the Church of the East in India, also known as the Syro-Chaldean Church, though its people speak an Indian dialect and not Aramaic. The Aramaic translation of the Bible for this Church is the Peshitta, the earliest of the translations for both the Old and New Testament after the Greek Septuagint of the Hebrew original for the Old and after the Greek original for the New. Jesus spoke Aramaic as well as Mishnaic (1st century common) Hebrew and some of his utterances in the Greek New Testament are transliterations of the Aramaic. Examples of these are Talitha Kum(i)-"Get up ,Young girl!", Eloi, Eloi, lama Shvaktani- My God, My God, why have you left Me." In the book of Revelation of the New Testament, the word "Maranatha" appears, as it does in the liturgies of the early church. Maranatha means either (according to its accent), "The Lord has come" or "O Lord, come!"

Church of the East members from the "Assyrian" group still speaking Aramaic, are dispersed to several countries since their World War l persecution and flight from Turkey - along with the Armenians. They are settled today in various countries and in the United States are found in numbers in Flint Michigan, Modesto California, and Yonkers New York.

A few modern Churches such as the Syro-Chaldean Church of North America, now known as the Evangelical Apostolic Church of North America (Syro-Chaldean) derive their Apostolicity and general theological outlook from the Aramaic Church of the East though their membership is not ethnically Assyrian.[5]

The Chaldean Catholic Church represents a part of the Church of the East which has recognized the Pope and the jurisdiction of the Western Catholio Church. This Church also uses the Aramaic language in their liturgy. These are the churches, some under the Pope and some independent (autocephalous - "self heading") that use Aramaic as part of their liturgy nowadays - the Syrian Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East (Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East), the Indian Orthodox Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, the Syro-Malabar Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The New American Desk Encyclopedia, Penguin Group, 1989
  4. [1]
  5. [2]