This unit introduces students to the Syriac language as a basis for enhanced study of patristic literature preserved in Syriac, Peshitta (the standard Biblical text in Syriac) and for future study of the Syriac language. The primary focus of this unit is foundational Syriac vocabulary, grammar and syntax. Translation of selected biblical texts into English is an important component of this unit. The focus will be on consonant vocalized text written in Estrangelo and Serto scripts and transliterations will be avoided.

Unit code: AL8700A

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Languages

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Demonstrate knowledge of basic Syriac vocabulary


Identify the fundamentals of Syriac grammar and syntax


Translate basic Syriac texts using lexicographical aids


Form basic sentences in Syriac


Lectures, classroom discussion, guided reading from set texts, additional reading resources and notes

Indicative Bibliography

  • Thackston, Wheeler M. INTRODUCTION TO SYRIAC, An Elementary Grammar with Readings from Syriac Literature, Bethesda, Maryland: IBEX Publishers, 1999. (recommended for purchase)
  • Brock, Sebastian P. "Introduction to Syriac Studies," in: J. H. Eaton (ed.), Horizons in Semitic Studies: Articles for the Student, University Semitics Study Aids 8; Birmingham: Department of Theology University of Birmingham, 1980, 2-8.
  • Brock, Sebastian P. "The Development of Syriac Studies," in: K. J. Cathcart (ed.), The Edward Hincks Bicentenary Lectures, Dublin: University College Dublin, 1994, 94-113.
  • Hallam, Steven C. Basics of Classical Syriac: Complete Grammar, Workbook, and Lexicon, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.
  • Jennings, William. A Lexicon to the Syriac New Testament, Peshitta, Oxford, At the Clarendon Press, 1926.
  • Muraoka, Takamitsu. Classical Syriac: A Basic Grammar with a Chrestomathy, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005.
  • Nöldeke, Theodor. Compendious Syriac Grammar: With a Table of Characters by Julius Eutling, translated from the second and improved German ed. by James A. Crichton, London, 1904.
  • Payne Smith, Robert. A Compendious Syriac Dictionary by Robert Payne Smith, Oxford: Clarendon 1903.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Written Examination

Written Assessment Task – Translation and Grammar analysis 1000 words equiv

1000 20.0
Written Examination

Invigilated Exam 1 hour

0 15.0
Written Examination

Invigilated Exam 1 hour

0 15.0

Written Assessment Task – Weekly exercises 3000 words equiv

3000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 30 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:48 +1000