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Introduction to Syriac: Key to Exercises & English-Syriac Vocabulary [Paperback]

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Item Number 434712  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   114
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 0.29"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2006
Publisher   Ibex Publishers, Inc.
ISBN  1588140458  
EAN  9781588140456  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Syriac is the Aramaic dialect of Edessa in Mesopotamia. Today, it is the classical tongue of the Nestorians and Chaldeans of Iran and Iraq and the liturgical language of the Jacobites of Eastern Anatolia and the Maronites of Greater Syria. Syriac is also the language of the Church of St. Thomas on the Malabar Coast of India. Syriac belongs to the Levantine group of the central branch of the West Semitic languages. Syriac literature flourished from the third century on and boasts of writers like Ephraem Syrus, Aphraates, Jacob of Sarug, John of Ephesus, Jacob of Edessa, and Barhebraeus. After the Arab conquests, Syriac became the language of a tolerated but disenfranchised and diminishing community and began a long, slow decline both as a spoken tongue and as a literary medium in favour of Arabic. Syriac played an important role as the intermediary through which Greek learning passed to the Islamic world. Syriac translations also preserve much Middle Iranian wisdom literature that has been lost in the original. Here, the language is presented both in the Syriac script and in transcription, which is given so that the pronunciation of individual words and the structure of the language may be represented as clearly as possible. The majority of the sentences in the exercises - and all of the readings in later lessons - are taken directly from the P'itta, the Syriac translation of the Bible. Most students learn Syriac as an adjunct to biblical or theological studies and will be interested primarily in this text. Biblical passages also have the advantage of being familiar, to some degree or other, to most English-speaking students. For many of those whose interest in Syriac stems from Biblical studies or from the history of Eastern Christianity, Syriac may be their first Semitic language. Every effort has been made in the presentation of the grammar to keep the Semitic structure of the language in the forefront and as clear as possible for those who have no previous experience with languages of that family. Syriac is structurally perhaps the simplest of all the Semitic languages. A chart of correspondences among Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac is given.

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More About Daniel M. Gurtner

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Daniel M. Gurtner is Associate Professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary (St Paul, MN USA). Among his publications are The Torn Veil: Matthew's Exposition of the Death of Jesus (SNTSMS 139; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Daniel M. Gurtner was born in 1973 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Bethel College and Seminary, Minnesota.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Disappointing  Apr 30, 2008
This book is very disappointing. Aside from many errors in the "Key" section, which have already been mentioned by other reviewers, the final page of the book contains two very brief listings of corrigenda and addenda. Each of _these_ contains errors too. The most egregious is the last one: "p. 220: sh-l-m-y, see sh-l-m." The root referred to should be m-l-' ("fill"). Many more words than those listed need to be added to the Syriac-English vocabulary.

One very annoying formatting issue pervades the entire "Key" section, the bulk of the book. It is that only italics are used throughout, whether for transcriptions or for translations. Plain, non-italic Roman type should be used for translations. As is, transcriptions and translations flow into one another instead of clearly standing out from each other. So this is yet another matter to be fixed in a hoped-for revision of this key.

Until this key is thoroughly revised and corrected, beginners should take nothing in it for granted. They should verify every transliteration and translation by comparing them with the rules given by Thackston in his textbook. The textbook has a few problems, but nothing too serious and certainly nothing like the quantity and quality of errors in this key.
Better than nothing ... maybe  Jul 21, 2007
There is a dearth of helpful, reliable beginning grammars of Syriac published for native English speakers/readers. This answer key to Thackston's helpful beginner's grammar would be a boon for the beginning student--except that it is so riddled with both typographical and grammatical errors that only the most patient of students will benefit from it. Hopefully this problem will be corrected with subsequent printings of this key.
Useful, but not entirely as intended  Mar 19, 2007
I'm independantly studying Syriac by working through Thackston's grammar, which, while it could use some improvements, does a decent enough job of providing the basics of Syriac grammar. In working through Thackston having a key against which I could check my answers was an entirely desireable thing, however, (and I'm not sure if this is due to a discrepancy in version or not)I found that many times throughout the translations either a section of text would not be translated or a different one not there would be inserted, this understandably caused me a fair amount of consternation. Also, there were moments in which from everything I can determine from Thackston that the answer key was just plain wrong. This was a bit of a problem when dealing with a sticky piece of grammar to not have it be answered correctly, but at the same time the answer key did usually provide the general sense of a translation which helped me at least get the right idea, also not being able to trust the key kept me on my toes when double checking my own work, which is not entirely a bad thing. On the whole I've found the answer key to be somewhat useful, as the main part of it is correct, but a revised edition would be a desireable thing.
Waiting for the Revised Edition  Feb 5, 2007
Many people who study a language like Syriac are self-taught. Hence, it would be great to be able to check your translations against someone else's translations. Unfortunately, this answer key contains many typographical errors. Most of these are easy to ignore. Yet, some are not.

For example, a student of Syriac must learn the "Begad Kepat" rules, which govern the spiritization of stops. Eventually, as the student progresses in Syriac, these spiritization rules become second nature. However, the beginning student will want to double check his work against a reliable source. Also, the beginning student of a Semetic language needs to learn how to correctly vocalize a text that has been written without any vowels. Again, this is a skill that will eventually become second nature. Yet, the beginning student could benefit greatly from a guide such as this one.

Unfortunately, this answer key is not the reliable guide that the beginning student needs. Hopefully, a revised edition will be published so that future students of Syriac can benefit from this much needed resource.

My recommendation:
Buy Thackston's Grammar (it is an excellent introduction to Syriac).
Do not buy the key to the exercises until a revised edition comes out.

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