Posted by andreas from p3EE3C203.dip.t-dialin.net (184.108.40.206) on Tuesday, October 08, 2002 at 4:40PM :
In Reply to: A Classic: A.Aprim <-> Dr. G. Kiraz posted by andreas from p3EE3C203.dip.t-dialin.net (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, October 08, 2002 at 4:36PM :
Sorry, of course F(FFF!).Aprim <-> Dr. G. Kiraz
: A Classic: A.Aprim <-> Dr. G. Kiraz
: Via Dolorosa
: April 2001, Vol. 3, No. 4, p. 8
: Assyrian or Syriac?
: Letter by Fred Aprim :
: (See reply from Dr. George Kiraz below)
: " Dear publisher and editor,
: I was very disturbed when I read your interview posted in the last month’s
: issue of the Via Dolorosa. The interview in question was with Dr. George
: Kiraz, founder of the Syriac Computing Institute, under the title:
: "Assyrian or Syriac? Common language and heritage, different
: As much as Dr. Kiraz is knowledgable in issues relating to modern Syriac
: language, we have to admit that his knowledge in history in general and
: Assyrian history in particular must be somehow considered inadequate.
: First Dr. Kiraz stated, and I quote: "Aramaic was used by many peoples and
: nations. It was the native tongue of the ancient Chaldeans, a second
: language to the Assyro-Babylonians, an official language of the Persian
: To put a sentence in the above way is very deceptive, for lack of words.
: First, the Aramaic language was the native tongue of the ancient Arameans
: before anything else, and everybody else in the Near East borrowed it from
: them, which Dr. Kiraz failed to mention. Then to mention that the language
: was the native tongue of the ancient Chaldeans, who had a very minor impact
: on the history of Mesopotamia (ruled 87 years only), out of all other
: peoples who used the language, raise many questions. Among historians,
: there are still unanswered questions regarding what the native tongue of
: the ancient Chaldeans was. One theory, only for example, state that the
: ancient Chaldeans were from Elam and they originally spoke the language of
: the Elamites.
: Later, Dr. Kiraz stated, "In the context of Eastern Christianity, the term
: "Assyrian" (its native form in Syriac is aturaya, in Arabic ashuri) has
: been used by the members of the Assyrian Church of the East as an ethnic
: designation since the 19th century, and more so after 1900...."
: The above is absolutely false. Here are two historical accounts and
: testimonies regarding the issue, we hope that Dr. Kiraz would refer to in
: the future before making such claims.
: 1. The Church of the East Patriarchal succession list contain the names of
: patriarchs who identified themselves as Atourayeh (Syriac for Assyrians)
: from the early days of Christianity. Syriac documents lists a Mar Mari
: Atouraya (Assyrian) between 967 and 1000 and an Mar Abd Eshoa’ II (Bar Ars)
: Atouraya (Assyrian) between 1072 and 1090, as Patriarchs. [Patriarchal list
: of the Church of the East]
: 2. The titles Atourayeh and Ashourayeh (Syriac for Assyrian) were in use in
: the 16th century, as the Dominican Fr. John M. Fiey admitted to in the
: publication of the "Eastern Syriac Church" translated by Fr. Kameel H.
: al-Yasoo’ai, Beirut, 1990, pp. 38. The names appeared in addition in a
: Vatican document in connection with the Christians whose Patriarchate had
: its see in Quchanis, Hakkari. [Odisho Malko Giwargis, "We are not but from
: an Assyrian origin" an article in Syriac, Journal of Assyrian Academic
: Studies, Vol. XIV, No. I, 2000, pp. 41]
: There are many accounts attesting to tthe fact that the Assyrian name was
: used, ethnically, continuously from the fall of the Assyrian Empire till
: this very day. The accounts available to us today can fill a whole
: newspaper, but we believe that the above will suffice.
: The national phenomenon in general, and in the way we understand it today,
: is a new concept to all of us, including to the Europeans as you are aware
: of. It is new to the modern Greeks, modern Turks, modern Arabs, and every
: other modern nation out there. Why insinuate that the Assyrians are the
: only ones whose national aspirations are of modern times unless there are
: certain motives behind such unfair claims?
: I would appreciate it if this simple note is published in response to Dr.
: Kiraz's remarks.
: Thank you and God bless you.
: Fred Aprim "
: 2) Questions Answered
: Via Dolorosa requested a response to a letter by Mr. Fred Aprim (VD, April
: 2001, Vol. 3, No. 4, p. 8). Mr. Aprim’s letter in turn is a response to an
: interview I gave to VD (March 2001, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 6-7).
: By Dr. G. Kiraz:
: " Mr. Aprim has two issues with my interview:
: 1. Aramaic and the ancient Chaldeans.
: Mr. Aprim quotes my interview, “[Aramaic] was the native tongue of the
: ancient Chaldeans, a second language to the Assyro-Babylonians, an official
: language of the Persian Achaemenians, and a common language of the Jews
: replacing Hebrew.” He calls this statement “very deceptive, for lack of
: He actually has three objections. According to him, I failed to mention
: that Aramaic was first the native tongue of the Arameans and questions my
: motives behind stating that Aramaic was the native tongue of the Chaldeans,
: who — in Aprim’s words— “had a very minor impact on the history of
: Mesopotamia (ruled 87 years only).”
: He refutes my statement indicating scholars are debating whether Aramaic
: was the original native language of the Chaldeans. He concludes “[Kiraz’s]
: knowledge in history in general and Assyrian history in particular must be
: somehow considered inadequate.”
: Mr. Aprim may have missed the sentences that immediately preceded the one
: he quoted which read, “Syriac is a form of Aramaic, a language in
: continuous use since the 11th century BC. Aramaic is originally the
: language of the Aramean people, but by the 6th century BC it became the
: lingua franca of the Near East.” That is, Aramaic was first the native
: language of the Arameans, and then became the native language of, or used
: by, others. Mr. Aprim should have read the interview with more care.
: Concerning his second objection, Mr. Aprim seems to have devised a quota of
: how many years the ancient Chaldeans should have ruled before qualifying to
: be listed in the context of the interview. Very puzzling indeed!
: As to his third objection, yes, the Chaldeans may have spoken a different
: language before they spoke Aramaic, so did the Assyro-Babylonians, the
: Persian Achaemenians and the Jews. It is implied in my statement. As to why
: Mr. Aprim singled out the ancient Chaldeans, belittling their history, is
: not clear to me.
: 2. Historical usage of the terms “Assyrian” and “Syriac.”
: Mr. Aprim quotes my interview, “In the context of Eastern Christianity, the
: term “Assyrian” (its native form in Syriac is aturaya, in Arabic ashuri)
: has been used by the members of the Assyrian Church of the East as an
: ethnic designation since the 19th century, and more so after 1900.”
: He calls this statement “absolutely false” and goes on listing two sources
: where the term aturaya is used before the 19th century. Mr. Aprim continues
: using the same polemic style to suggest that I “insinuate that the
: Assyrians are the only ones whose national aspirations are of modern
: times,” and that “there are certain motives behind [my] unfair claims.”
: My original statement was in response to a question by Via Dolorosa, “What
: is the difference between Assyrian and Syriac?”
: I gave the concise usage of both terms from a modern perspective, as the
: very nature of the question derives from modern usage. (No one would have
: asked the question 150 years ago.) I did indicate that dwelling
: historically on the matter “would require a great deal of analysis” which
: is neither within the scope of the interview, nor of this response. Indeed,
: there are numerous references to the term aturaya in Syriac literature
: prior to the 19th century and much earlier than the examples Mr. Aprim
: provides, with a rich and wide range of usage and meanings.
: Oversimplifying the historical usage of the term aturaya, in the manner of
: Mr. Aprim’s analysis, does not give the term the justice it deserves. The
: historical usage of terms like “Assyrian,” “Chaldean,” and “Aramean” in
: Syriac literature is quite complex and has been well analyzed by the late
: J. Fiey, whom Mr. Aprim cites from a secondary source, but neglects Fiey’s
: analyses and conclusions.
: J. Fiey produced one study on the terms “Assyrian” and “Aramaean”
: (“Assyriens” ou “Aramaens”? L’Orient Syrien, Vol. 10, 1965), and another on
: the term “Chaldean” (Comment L’Occident en Vint: Parler de “Chaldeans” in
: J. Coakley and K. Parry (eds.), The Church of the East: Life and Thought,
: Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, Vol. 78, No.
: 3, 1996).
: On the modern usage of the term “Assyrian,” one can consult an article by
: Harvard Professor W. Heinrichs, The Modern Assyrians—Name and Nation, in
: Silvio Zaorani (ed.), Festschrift Philologica Constantino Tsereteli Dicta,
: Unlike Mr. Aprim’s pop history-style objections, these works are scholarly
: and devoid of bias. There is nothing for me to add that has not been
: presented by these well-respected scholars.
: Any alleged insinuations against Assyrian national aspiration on my part,
: or any hidden motives behind my statements are the sole imaginative of Mr.
: Aprim. One cannot but admit the benefits of national aspiration, be it
: Assyrian, Chaldean or Syriac: the revival of literary classical Syriac and
: Surith, the renaissance of music and folklore, and the establishment of
: hundreds of cultural organizations. Where would Fr. Akbulut, the Syriac
: Orthodox priest who was lately arrested, then acquitted, by the Turkish
: authorities just because he spoke his mind, be had it not been for the
: appreciated efforts of nationalists?
: Mr. Aprim demonstrated his ability to read in two extremes. In the case of
: the Aramaic language issue, he read a sentence very literally, ignoring its
: immediate context, and in the case of the Assyrian vs. Syriac identity
: issue, he read way too much between the lines where in fact there was
: nothing to be read. In the process, Mr. Aprim managed to belittle the very
: history that his Chaldean brethren keep dear to their hearts.
: Dr. George Kiraz "
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