George makes intensively learning an ancient Semitic language in under a month surprisingly rejuvenating. Studying Syriac at Beth Mardutho has been life-giving, both intellectually and relationally. I’m incredibly grateful for getting to study this language under one of the top scholars in the field and for the friendship and camaraderie that Beth Mardutho instills!

Emily Chesley

PhD Student, Princeton Theological Seminary

Beth Mardutho is a great place to learn, study, and work. The passion of the organization is to further Syriac studies and supply Syriac communities throughout the world with linguistic and historical resources. Learning Syriac in this environment helped me reach academic goals and also gave me glimpses into the greater Syriac community. This is not just Syriac in a vacuum; this is a place where Syriac lives and breathes.

Jillian Marcantonio

PhD Student, Duke University

Syriac I: Introduction to Syriac

Instructor: George A. Kiraz

July 30 – August 17, 2018

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Students with no prior experience in Syriac will learn introductory reading, writing, and grammar and should be able to translate introductory texts by the end of the course using a dictionary.

First week: Students will learn the alphabet, basic reading, and gender and number distinctions.

Second week: Students will be introduced to verbs, prefixes, and suffixes and will be able to analyze texts.

Third week: Students will focus on reading, comprehension, and translation of texts from the Church Fathers and the Peshitta. Texts read in previous years include extracts from the Doctrine of Addai, the Story of Ahiqar, and the writings of Philoxenus of Mabboug. This course includes team translation activities.

Syriac culture will also be introduced using modern recitations of liturgical and secular songs, and students can meet members of the Syriac community on a field trip to a local monastery.

Classes will be held Monday–Friday, 3 hours per day. Students are expected to spend the rest of the day doing homework and preparing for the next day’s lesson.

Syriac II: Intermediate-Advanced Syriac

Instructor: George A. Kiraz

July 30- August 17, 2018

2:00 PM – 5:00 PM 

This course is geared towards students who have already learned Syriac and would like to dig deeper into the grammar and nuances of the language.

Each day we read texts, work through the grammar of Coakley-Robinson, and translate between Syriac and English. The Syriac writings that we translate differ from year to year; the instructor sets them for the first week, but for the rest of the course, students pick texts of interest to the group.

Previous readings have included extracts from the Peshitta, Acts of Addai, Kalilah and Dimnah, and poems by Ephrem, Isaac of Nineveh, and Michael the Great. Students will also be exposed to West Syriac, East Syriac, and Estrangelo manuscripts.

The Beth Mardutho library, one of the largest private libraries in the world on Syriac material, is at the disposal of the class.

Classes will be held Monday–Friday, 3 hours per day. Students are expected to spend the rest of the day doing homework and preparing for the next day’s lesson.

Visiting Lecturers

Every week, a visiting scholar gives a lecture in their field of expertise within the Syriac tradition. The students are given the opportunity to interact with our visiting scholars and gain from their vast knowledge.

Previous lectures include:

Mandaic Aramaic and the Mandaeans

The Importance of Syriac Studies to Other Fields

Early Syriac Literature

How to Research a Dissertation

Simion the Stylite and the Importance of Manuscripts in Research

Monastic Life

Syriac Liturgy

Charles Häberl (Rutgers University)

Jack Tannous (Princeton University)

James Walters (Princeton Theological Seminary)

Adam Becker (New York University)

Dina Boero (The College of New Jersey and Princeton University)

Joseph Bali (St. Ephrem Seminary)

Ephrem Ishac (Graz University)






Upon completion of a course, each student is granted a certification of completion on behalf of the Beth Mardutho director and board of trustees

Local Information

Classes will be held at the Beth Mardutho campus in Piscataway, NJ, near New Brunswick. There is easy train access to New York (1 hr), Philadelphia (ca. 2.5 hours), and Washington DC (ca. 4.5 hours). The closest airport is Newark International Airport which has direct train service to New Brunswick (ca. 45 minutes).

The NJ/NY area is a hub for many different churches from the Syriac traditions. We usually organize a field trip to a local church, and students can choose to attend Syriac liturgy in order to interact with Syriac communities and see their traditions alive.

Tuition and Housing

Class fees for the 2018 year are $875 per student per course.

Students may register for more than one course as long as there is no time conflict. Students may also arrange their own accommodations. We pick up and drop off individuals who do not have modes of transportation from the New Brunswick Train Station daily.

Use the form below to express interest and we will contact you with more information on registration and directions!


Do you have previous experience in the Syriac language?*

Do you have previous experience in Semitic languages?*

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