The Historian Poseidonios from Apamea (ca. 135 BC - 51 BC), was a Greek Stoic philosopher, politician, astronomer, geographer, historian, and teacher. He says: "
"The people we Greek call Syrians, they call themselves Arameans"
From: See J.G. Kidd, Posidonius (Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, 1988), vol. 2, pt. 2, pp. 955-956)
Strabo (born 63 BC or 64 BC, died ca. 24 AD), a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher is mostly famous for his Geographika ("Geography")
He says: "Poseidonius conjectures that the names of these nations also are akin; for, says he, the people whom we call Syrians are by the Syrians themselves called Arameans."
(From: The Geography of Strabo, translated by Horace Leonard Jones and published in Vol. I of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1917, Book I, Chapt. 2, 34)
Flavius Josephus (c. 37 – c. 100 AD (or CE)) was a 1st century Jewish historian and apologist of priestly and royal ancestry who survived and recorded the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 and later settled in Rome. He says: ""Aram had the Arameans, which the Greeks called Syrians.""
(From: Antiquities of the Jews, translated by William Whiston in 1737, Book I, Chapt. 6)
Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 275 – May 30, 339), was a bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and is often referred to as the father of church history because of his work in recording the history of the early Christian church. He says: ""and from Aram the Arameans, which are also called Syrians"
(From: Sebastian Brock, "Eusebius and Syriac Christianity," in Harold W. Attridge and Gohei Hata, eds., Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism (Leiden 1992), p. 226)
Abu Al-husayn 'ali Ibn Al-husayn Al-mas'udi, born 895 in Baghdad [Iraq] and died 957 in al- Fustat [Egypt], was a historian and traveler, known as "the Herodotus of the Arabs.” He was the first Arab to combine history and scientific geography in a large-scale work. On Tur Abdin he says: "Tur Abdin is the mountain where remnants of the Aramean Syrians still survive."
(From: Michael Jan de Goeje: Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum III, Leiden 1906, 54, I)
Prof. Dietrich Hermann Hegewisch born Dec. 15, 1746 in Quakenbrück [Germany] and died April 4, 1812 in Kiel, was a prolific german historian at the University of Kiel with a wide span of interests. He says: "Do not the Syrians, as they are usually called, or the Arameans, as they in fact are termed, deserve more attention in world history than they are usually given?"
(From: D.H. Hegewisch: Die Aramäer oder Syrer; ein kleiner Beitrag zur allgemeinen Weltgeschichte, Berlinische Monatschrift, 2, 1794, p. 193)
On Page 197 he says: "The names Syria, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylon, etc. stem from the Greeks, who were not familiar with the true geography of these lands when the names first started to be used. Later, partly because of continuing ignorance and partly because of convenience despite having accurate knowledge, they persisted in using them since it would have required something of an effort to give up the old, familiar names and divisions of the countries and switch to the new ones, even if they were more accurate. The old, true, and single name of these lands is Aram; it is mentioned numerous times in the Bible of the Old Testament, and Greek scholars were also familiar with it and probably described the population of these areas as Arameans, though seldom, as they usually continued to use the term Syrian, which had been familiar to the Greeks."
On page 307 he says: "The Syrians or Arameans were not merely a numerous and large people, they were also a much cultivated people."
Prof. Theodor Mommsen born Nov. 30, 1817, Garding, Schleswig [now in Germany] died Nov. 1, 1903, Charlottenburg, near Berlin, was a German historian and writer, famous for his masterpiece about the History of Rome. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1902. He says: "the history of the Aramaean or Syrian nation which occupied the east coast and extended into the interior of Asia as far as the Euphrates and Tigris"
(From: The History of Rome, written between 1854 and 1856, Leipzig, by Theodor Mommsen, Book First, Chapter One)
"the Arameans defended their nationality with the weapons of intellect as well as with their blood against all the allurements of Greek civilization and all the coercive measures of eastern and western despots, and that with an obstinacy which no Indo- Germanic people has ever equalled, and which to us who are Occidentals seems to be sometimes more, sometimes less, than human."
(ibid, Book Third, Chapter One)
Prof. Theodor Nöldeke born March 2, 1836 in Harburg near Hamburg, died December 25, 1930 in Karlsruhe, was the leading german semitic scholar, who studied at Göttingen, Vienna, Leiden and Berlin. He says: "The main body of the population of all these wide landscapes from the Mediterranean Sea to beyond the Tigris belonged to a certain nationality, that of the Arameans."
(From: Th. Nöldeke: Assyrios Syrios Syros, in Zeitschrift für klassische Philologie, Hermes 5, Berlin 1871, p. 460)
On page 461 he says: "It is well understandable that people have started to transfer the name of the country to the most important nationality and so the name 'syrian' was apprehended ethnological and was equated with 'aramaic'."
On page 468 he says: "Since the times of Alexander [the Great], if not already somewhat earlier, people have started to transfer the name of the Syrians exclusively over the prevailing in Syria nationality, and in this way this originally political-geographical term became an ethnological one that was identified with the local Arameans."
"From the time the Greeks came to have a more intimate acquaintance with Asia, they designated by the name of Syrians, the people who called themselves ´Arameans’.” (From: Th. Nöldeke, Kurzgefasste Syrische Grammatik (Leipzig, 1880), p. XXIX)
"Regarding the name of this nation and its language is the original 'Aramean’ in essence also the only one [sic], that for the employment of the present-day scholarship as yet strongly fits.” (From: Th. Nöldeke, "Die Namen der aramäischen Nation und Sprache,” in Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 25 (1871), p. 131)
Karl Eduard Sachau born 20 July 1845 and died 1930 was a German orientalist. He was 1872 professor at the University of Vienna, and in 1876, professor at the University of Berlin, where he was appointed director of the new Seminar of Oriental languages in 1887. He is especially noteworthy for his work on Syriac and other Aramaic dialects. He says: "The nation of the Arameans: This national name later, mainly in consequence of Jewish-Christian literature influences, gave way to the Greek designation Syrians."
(From: Verzeichnis der Syrischen Handschriften der königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin von Eduard Sachau 1. Abteilung, Berlin 1899, Vorrede I)
Aramean people: Aramean people (not to be confused with ‘Armenians’) speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Abraham, Moses and Jesus. They are the indigenous people of what was called in ancient times Aram- Nahrin, in our days it is called ‘Mesopotamia’.
Some Arameans today identify themselves with “Assyrians”, because of the spiritual colonial hate generating activities of the Western missionaries and diplomats in the Middle-East in 16th and 19th centuries. Other Arameans became known as “Chaldeans”. However all of them are Arameans.
A commendable and historical landmark: Israel recognizes as the first country in the world the Arameans of Aram-Nahrin as distinct ethnic minority.
The various Israeli media outlets report that on Tuesday 16th of September 2014 the Israeli minister of interior affairs decided to recognize the Arameans living in Israel as distinct ethnic minority.
Jewish Press reported on 17-9-2014 in an article entitled “Israel Officially Recognizes Nationality of ‘Aramean”: “The subset of Middle Eastern Christians who define themselves as “Aramaic” will now be able to register as belonging to that nationality in legal documents in Israel, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced on Wednesday, Sept. 17”
“The Interior Ministry received a number of requests from Israeli Christians who sought recognition as Aramaic. Those who seek to register as such must be able to prove several factors. They must be able to prove that they come from the Middle East, that they are conversant in the language and a member of one of the following Christian denominations: Maronite, Orthodox Aramaic, Syriac Catholic, Greek Orthodox or Greek Catholic.”
Side note: the term “Greek” is ecclesial only, it has nothing to do with nationality, see our summary on the various Aramean denominations.
The reason that the Aramean Chaldeans and Aramean Nestorian “Assyrians” are not mentioned here is because there are no members of these Aramean denominations in Israel.
Israel today reported on 18-9-2014 in an article entitled “Israeli Christians Officially Recognized as Arameans, Not Arabs”: “The existence of the Aramean nationality is clear and obvious,” wrote Interior Minister Gideon Saar in his official directive to the PIBA”
The Aramean Greek orthodox Priest Gabriel Naddaf wrote on his Facebook page: “This decision “corrects a historic injustice that wrongly defined Israel’s citizens of eastern-Christian descent as ‘Christian Arabs,’ although other than their spoken language, they have absolutely no connection to the Arab nationality,…….”
The driving power behind the project of recognition is the Aramean Maronite Shadi Khalloul who served in the Israeli army. Khalloul and other Aramean Maronites are active in preserving the Aramean heritage. In Gush Halav in Galilee, they run the Aramean Maronite Centre to progress Aramaic. The historic landmark was achieved in close cooperation with the Aramean Democratic Organization (ArDO).
As international Human Rights/ Cultural Organization we welcome this unprecedented and joyful news and we hope that many will follow the example of Israel in recognizing the Arameans of Aram-Nahrin as distinct ethnic minority.
17-9-2014: 'Aramean' officially recognized as nationality in Israel (http://www.israelhayom.com)
17-9-2014: Israel recognizes Aramean minority in Israel as separate nationality (http://www.haaretz.com)
17-9-2014: Israel Officially Recognizes Nationality of ‘Aramean’ (http://www.jewishpress.com)
18-9-2014: Israel Recognizes 'Arameans' as Nationality (http://www.cbn.com)
18-9-2014: Israeli Christians Officially Recognized as Arameans, Not Arabs (http://www.israeltoday.co.il)
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Jacob of Urhoy (Urfa, in Turkey)
Professor Dr. John Joseph.
5-7-2008: Assyria and Syria: Synonyms?
In a letter to the author (John Joseph), dated June 11, 1997, Patricia Crone wrote that she and Cook “do not argue that the Nestorians of pre-Islamic Iraq saw themselves as Assyrians or that this is what they called themselves. They called themselves Suryane, which had no greater connotation of Assyrian in their usage than it did in anyone else…. We take it for granted that they got the modern Assyrian label from the West and proceeded to reinvent themselves… Of course the Nestorians were Arameans.”
(Page 27, footnote 94)
Professor Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
The deep and hidden reason of the tyrannical oppression practiced throughout the Middle East is the imposition by France and England of pan-Arabic nationalist cliques that intend to dictatorially arabize the various peoples of the Middle East, who are – all – not Arabs
The basic fact is that all these populations are only Arabic – speaking; they are not Arabs. Their ethnic historical identity is Aramaic. Aramaeans are Semitic, but as distant from the Arabs as the Ancient Hebrews were from the Babylonians. For reasons we are going to explain, these Aramaean populations got gradually arabized, but the arabization phenomenon took place at the linguistic level only, not at the ethnic, national, cultural levels
Out of it, colonial missionaries, political agents, and diplomats made a huge lie (namely that these Aramaeans are not Aramaeans but 'Assyrians') with which they disconnected the Nestorian Aramaeans from their Aramaic identity
What is the correct national name of the Modern Aramaeans? Why are there Aramaeans, who despite the fact that they speak Aramaic, insist on calling themselves 'Assyrians'? Why other Aramaeans stick to a third name, 'Chaldaeans'? Is it proper to use the name 'Syriac' that usually describes a late form of Aramaic language and scripture (from which Arabic derived) as national name of the Aramaeans?
Contrarily to the farfetched – and well financed – inaccuracies of Simo Parpola, there is not a single element in the defunct before 2600 years Assyrian Cultural and National Heritage to resemble in anything with the genuinely Aramaean culture of today’s Aramaeans, irrespective of the appellation that they use to designate themselves, Aramaeans, Chaldaeans, Assyrians or Zulu.............
Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly
But this claim has been researched by historians, and concluded that people in middle East mostly refer to people to their region, like someone from Kirkuk, was named Kirkuki whether he was , Kurd, Turkmen or Aramean. So is the case with Assyrians or actually the “Athuris” that is how they are called in the region. That name is been used to label the Nestorian Arameans of Athur(Asur) region at the suburbs of Mosul. The term has no any relation with the ancient Assyrians and the modern Assyrians
As for the terms "Assyrians" and "Chaldaeans," which are used to describe non-Arab Christians (other than Armenians), there is absolutely no historical reference of their association with the Assyrians and Chaldaeans of ancient Mesopotamia
“The Church of the East and the Church of England: A History of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Assyrian Mission “ is the title of the book written by J.F. Coakley and published in 1992.
On page 147 Coackly reports about a dispute between Arthur Maclean, head of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Assyrian Mission from 1886 to 1891, and Hormuzed Rassam, the brother of Christian Antun (Isa) Rassam; a Chaldean family from Mosul. We read: “As he (Maclean) insisted, the ‘Syrians’ called themselves that, never ‘Assyrians’; …… to apply the name ‘Assyrians’ to these Eastern Syrian Christians appears to me either an error, or else pedantry. There is really as far as I know no proof that they had any connection with the Old Assyrians. ....... ..... Why should we invent a name when we have such a very convenient one, used for centuries, at our hand? I can understand that one living close to the ruins of Nineve should have a fit enthusiasm of Old Assyria; but is it common sense to cast aside a name used by the people themselves, and to invent another for them of very doubtful applicability? “