Syriac Christianity

Past and present
One of the earliest translations of the Bible was a Syriac version, the Peshitta. Ever since, as well as generating a wealth of exegetical literature, a biblical perspective has permeated all aspects of Syriac culture and tradition. To this day its influence pervades Syriac linguistics, historiography, narrative literature, poetry and philosophy.
Course levelAdvanced Bachelor/Master/PhD
Recommended course combinationBlock 1: Buddhism and Psychology, Laws in Antiquity
Block 3: The Gentle Art of Helping, Responsible Research and Innovation Boot Camp
Block 2
22 July to 5 August
Co-ordinating lecturerProf. Wido van Peursen
Other lecturersProf. Wido van Peursen, HE Mor Polycarpus, Prof. Luk Van Rompay (Duke University), Prof. Alessandro Mengozzi (University of Turin), Prof. Heleen Murre-van den Berg (IVOC, Nijmegen) Dr. Dirk Bakker, Dr. Jan van Ginkel and others
Form(s) of tuitionLectures, interactive seminars, excursion
Form(s) of assessmentCourse portfolio
ECTS3 credits
Contact hours45
Tuition fee€1000
Students of Religious Studies, Theology, Divinity, Biblical Studies, Classics, Philosophy, History and Social Sciences. Also for professionals and people involved in NGOs and GOs. Knowledge of the Syriac language is not required. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students with a wide variety of backgrounds.

One of the earliest translations of the Bible was a Syriac version, the Peshitta. Ever since, as well as generating a wealth of exegetical literature, a biblical perspective has permeated all aspects of Syriac culture and tradition. To this day its influence pervades Syriac linguistics, historiography, narrative literature, poetry and philosophy.

But whilst its importance has remained constant down the centuries, the Bible’s reception and interpretation has been reshaped continuously by the ever-changing challenges facing Syriac Christianity – from the dogmatic controversies in the early church, through the dramatic social and religious transformations in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab conquest to the growth of a diaspora community in Western countries in modern times.

This course introduces you to this fascinating biblical tradition under the guidance of top specialists from the Faculty of Theology at VU Amsterdam and guest lecturers. One of the highlights is the lecture by His Eminence Mor Polycarpus, Metropolitan and Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese of the Netherlands of the Syriac Orthodox Church. VU Amsterdam is a leading research centre on Syriac Christianity, and on related topics like Arabic literature, Christian-Muslim relations and ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. It also hosts the Peshitta Institute, an internationally renowned centre of expertise on Syriac Bible translations. Syriac Christians occupy their own unique place in the multicultural, multireligious society of Amsterdam and the Netherlands.

  • You will gain a broad understanding of the most significant characteristics of Syriac Christianity, its history and theology.
  • You will learn about the relationships between Syriac Christianity and other forms of Christianity and Islam.
  • You will understand the complex interaction between continuity and transformation in the process of identity-formation in the case of Syriac Christianity.

This course does not require any knowledge of the Syriac language. All texts will be read in English translation.

Visit to the Mor Sharbil Syriac Orthodox Church in Amsterdam (first week) and to the Syriac Orthodox Monastery in Glane (second week).
Facebook-icoon   linkedin-icoon   Instagram-icoon