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 unvocalized text written in Estrangelo script. Nevertheless, the students will also become familiar with Serto script.

Unit code: AL1700A

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 1

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


Lectures and tutorials

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

Invigilated exams Two grammar exams – each equivalent to 1000 words (2000 words total)

0 50.0

Written assessment task Weekly written exercises Total of 2000 words

0 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-03-04 11:55:59 +1100