This class is more than meeting my expectations. The progress of Syriac I is more than I expected; the amount and depth of the language that we’ve come across is more than I was expecting. George adjusts the class to our progress, we have many interactions during class, and everyone gets a chance to ask questions and practice speaking.

Matthew Ng

Research Assistant, The Education University of Hong Kong

I completed Syriac I last summer and decided to return for Syriac II since I am currently doing fieldwork on the Syriac Orthodox church. It has been quite challenging, but it has been very rewarding to be able to read Ephrem and Aphrahat after only five weeks! In addition to the number of talks on topics related to Syriac, Syriac-English, and Syriac translations, it has been particularly fun to compose poetry in Syriac.

Anna Hagar, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher, Radboud University

Syriac I: Introduction to Syriac

Instructor: George A. Kiraz

July 29 – August 16, 2019

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 29- August 16, 2019

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)

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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