Tishrin I 14, 6746 Volume II Issue 34 October 14, 1996
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STAFF OF ZENDA
THE L I G H T H O U S E
NOTES ON THE 7TH SYRIAC SYMPOSIUM
AUGUST 11-14, 1996
The University of Uppsala, just a few miles from Stockholm,
was the site of
the Syriac Symposium which I attended recently. Well over 100 scholars
participated, some of them came from as far away as India and Australia.
The conference featured 78 presentations. All of these
were half an hour in
duration, except for the one-hour opening lecture (which included
slides),delivered by Dr. J.F. Coakley of Harvard University, on the topic
"Syriac Printing Types 1840-1960".
Since the conference was crammed into 2 1/2 days, the
usually offered simultaneously in separate rooms, sometimes even three at
the same time.
Four of the presentations were organized by George Kiraz,
West Syrian Christian who has established "The Syriac Computing Institute".
Kiraz has collated the four computer presentations into a pamphlet which
can be purchased from him (Fax (818) 919-7511 for further information). In
addition to his program for the nerds, Kiraz also lectured on the academic
side, on the topic "Syriac Morphology: from a linguistic model to a
I cannot adequately cover the 74 academic presentations, not even all the
ones I attended, and therefore I will just mention a couple.
Heleen Murre-van den Berg spoke on "A Syrian Awakening:
Alqosh and Urmia as
centers of Neo-Syriac writing". Those who want the full text of her
remarks will have to await the publication of the Symposium's proceedings,
to be published later this year by Orientalia Christiana (Rome, Italy).
Suffice it to say it was most interesting. Her remarks addressed a
selection of 19th century Iranian texts, and other writings dating to the
16th Century. She provided the participants with a one-page list of these
references. I can send a photocopy of this to anyone interested.
Though barely over 30 years old, Dr. van den Berg is in
my opinion an
important new scholar to be observed by Assyrians. Last year, she made a
lecture appearance at the Chicago-based Assyrian Academic Society, where no
doubt she must have impressed her audience. More recently, she has
completed her doctorate. Her dissertation is titled "From a Spoken to a
Written Language: The Introduction and Development of Literary Urmia
Aramaic in the Nineteenth Century". I was fortunate enough to take a close
look at this work. I am eager to purchase a copy as soon as it is published
commercially (expected within the year).
van den Berg's participation in the Symposium raised the
question in my
mind: "Why are there not some Assyrian scholars in that league?"
A second professional I will mention is Dr. Andrew Palmer, of the School of
Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Dr. Palmer
reported on the "Tur Abdin Oral History" project which he heads. This is
financed by the British Academy, and it focuses on the Turoyo or Kurmanji
language, and particularly on Syrian Christians in Tur Abdin.
Dr. Palmer's project involves getting oral testimony from
residents of Tur
Abdin (both men and women). This is easier said than done. He said that
while he gets adequate testimony from Turoyos and Yezidis, his field
workers have had a hard time getting much from the Muslims, especially
Dr. Palmer's presentation emphasized the importance of
oral history, which
records the traditional culture for future use. The Armenians have gathered
such history for some time now, and the Jews of course have done it for a
long time. Unfortunately, the Assyrians have hardly done it at all. In the
absence of oral history, one must rely on books, and they are not always an
accurate reflection of real life.
Participation at the Symposium was not limited to scholars
per se. In fact,
there were perhaps well over 100 attendees who came as observers, such as
myself. For the most part, these were members of the Syrian Orthodox Church
since, by coincidence, a very large number of them are settled in Sweden.
The Syrian Orthodox community was well-prepared to greet
the scholars from
this conference. One evening, they hosted all of the conference people by
ferrying them to Sodertalje on three chartered buses. There, the scholars
and other participants were greeted in an impressive Church, then they were
feted at a dinner-dance-entertainment evening in the cultural hall.
This event is held quadrennially. This was the 7th meeting,
and the next
one (in the year 2000) is tentatively scheduled for Sydney, Australia. Most
of us are aware that near Sydney, in the community of Fairfield, there is a
very significant Assyrian population. Hopefully, that community will do us
proud by staging an appropriate welcome for these scholars four years from
There were some 74 papers presented at this conference.
Except for a couple
of them in French, and one in German, all of the presentations were done in
Let me mention a few of the subjects which were discussed:
-Dr. J.F. Coakley,
of Harvard University, presented "Syriac Printing
Murre van den Berg, of Leiden, Holland, presented "Alqosh and
Urmia as Centers of Neo-Syriac Writing"
Winkley, of Graz University, Austria, offered
the Contemporary Theological Dialogue with the Assyrian Church of the
East" Professor Knudsen, Oslo University, presented "Lexical Innovations
in Modern Literary Syriac: The Norwegian Tur Abdin Project"
Aleppo, Syria, spoke of "Four Pioneers of Modern
Palmer, SOAS, London University, discussed "The Tur
Oral History Project"
I mention the above topics because they may well be of
interest to many of
us. But most of the discussions at the conference were on subjects about
which I know very little, and I suspect that most of you would also know
very little about them.
Yet almost all of these subjects touch on one aspect of
our culture or
another, and therefore they are all the kinds of subjects about which JAAS
should be concerned.
I might add that, unfortunately, none of these conference
will be appearing in JAAS, because these conference papers are routinely
assembled and published in a single volume by Edizioni "Orientalia
Christiana". For further information about purchasing this, write to:
Pontificio Istitute Orientale
Piazza S. Maria Maggiore,
Santa Barbara, California
G O O D M O R N I N G B E T - N A H R A I N
SADDAM GOES ON THE OFFENSIVE AGAINST KURDS
(ZNTM: Baghdad) Some 40,000 of Saddam Hussein's best-trained
and most loyal
soldiers took up positions late last week 12 miles south of the city of
Erbil in northern Bet-Nahrain and the center of a conflict between rival
Kurdish factions. And then, despite warnings from Washington, Saddam's
forces rolled north toward Erbil. After heavy artillery pounded the city,
the Iraqis quickly took control on Saturday.
Under the umbrella of Western protection, two rival Kurd
Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, began
fighting two years ago over who would control the area. Last year the
U.S. brokered a cease-fire between the groups, but that collapsed in
late July. On Aug. 17, the P.U.K., with military hardware allegedly
supplied by Iran, began a serious assault on the K.D.P. Iranian forces
joined the action by shelling K.D.P. positions from Iranian bases.
While the range of options includes military action either
Bet-Nahrain or in the whole country, the White House prefers for the
present to work on the diplomatic front. Saddam has been lobbying the
international community, with some success, to loosen the U.N.'s economic
sanctions against Iraq. The U.S. and other Western powers, though, are
likely now to press even harder to maintain the sanctions. Being on the
offensive is important in both diplomacy and warfare, and for now Saddam
Hussein is on the offensive.
S U R F S U P !
"This is in regard to the statement Doris Babassi made in regard to the
fact that most Assyrians identify themselves first as Assyrian and second
To Doris Babassi, let me first convey to you my warmest
to you and to your family. I must say you have strength and drive of a true
Christian to come out and tell our fellow Assyrians the truth about their
false ways of worshiping The Almighty God.
You should not regret of bringing this matter up. What
you have done is
what Jesus would want you to do. Remember what Jesus said, " John 15:18 If
the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you."
Therefore, take courage and keep this good work up.
We cannot as Christians buckle under the influence of
the corrupt and
devious minds who think the way of this world. We seek Kingdom of God. To
be with God and Jesus in His second coming Assyrians must adopt Christian
way of life. True Christianity is a way of life. You either follow that way
or you follow the way of this world; and the way of this world is Satan the
devil himself and you better believe that. As Christians we must worship
one master only and that master is the Almighty God our ultimate King and
His Son Christ Jesus.
Assyrians nowadays are living in a world of dreams about
powerful past. The majority of them I believe are holding tight on this
empty pride of approx. 3000 years old heritage. What a shame for they have
been wasting many long years of their life living in vain. I am afraid our
nation has gone the way of no return. When some Waco like Ashur Simon Malek
uses his scientific background to prove there is no God; what does that
tell you about our youth, who are the building blocks of our society, when
their minds are corrupted by so called intelligentsia of this world. Mr.
Ashur Simon Malek eliminates the existence of God just like, that by his
ridiculous theory of definitions.
I for one put the blame on the leaders of the Assyrian
churches for they
have mislead our people. Church leaders have gone the way of this world and
abandoned the Word of God. The Assyrian churches are in conflict with the
bible's teachings. We have false religious people that have been deviously
mislead by the powerful Satan the devil himself. If the Assyrian church
leaders think they are serving God the Almighty, they are sadly mistaken.
Finally, I would like to encourage any Assyrian that have
God's truth in
him to come out and speak his mind about our nation Assyria. The truth is
the only way to help our lost nation. Also yes Miss Babassi, I am first and
foremost a Christian, a humble slave of Jesus Christ and second a faithful
S U R F E R S C O R N E R
A new Assyrian directory for Assyrians living in Canada will come out
by the end of October 1996. To include the name of your business
in the directory, please forward the information to:
Ashur Simon Malek
1380 Upper Ottawa street
L8M 3G6 CANADA
All advertisements are free of charge. Bet-Nahrian
(Canada Branch) with a
donation of $1000.00, is sponsoring this year's production.
The Directory will be the first ever printed in Canada,
and will include
most of the Canadian cities where Assyrian communities are flourishing
(Windsor, London, Hamilton, etc.....)
Please note that the Assyrian Directory of Canada is published
only for the
Assyrians living in Canada.
Ashur Malek Simon
N E W S D I G E S T
-A 9-years-old Assyrian girl, resident of Los Angeles-California,
killed as a result of a bullet wound. Unconfirmed reports indicate that as
her family's car was passing through a street a gang-fight began and the
victim's family car was caught in the crossfire. The identity of the
Assyrian girl was not known at press time.
-A Christian priest of Persian descent was slain in Iran.
Ravanbakhsh was possibly serving the church of the Assembly of God in the
northern city of Gorgan, Iran. His body was found hanging from an orchard
D I R E C T O R Y OF THE N E W S S O U R C E S
ZNAD (Assyrian Democratic Organization)
ZNBN (Bet-Nahrian Inc/ KBSV-TV "AssyriaVision")
ZNDA (Zenda: firstname.lastname@example.org)
ZNSJ (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNTM (Time Magazine)
ZNUP (United Press International)
ZNUS (US News & World Report)
W E L C O M E T O Z E N D A
Zenda welcomes our new on-line subscribers from:
The University of Melbourne, Australia
San Jose, California
A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S
Zenda wishes to thank the following individuals & organizations
whose contributions appear in this issue:
Ashur Simon Malek Ontario, Canada
Our Next Issue will appear on Monday, October 21, 1996.