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Volume VIII
Issue 6
March 18, 2002
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo
cover photo

  Zinda Magazine Adopts A New Assyrian Calendar
  12 Days of Akitu: A Time For National Atonement
  Assyrians to Participate at U.S.-Organized Conference in May
KDP Premier Discusses Assyrians & Iraqi Federalism

Sensational Discovery of Assyrian Tombs
Sami Jihad Resigns, Chooses His Chaldean Community

  With A Name Like Eshoo

New Book From Gorgias Press: The Old Syriac Gospels, Studies…

  From Ishtar To Easter
  William Daniel Remembered in San Jose
  To Breath & To Blow
  Fig Beer & The Assyrian General
  Waw Allap's Akitu Festival



Zinda Says


In the years before the advent of Christianity the Assyrians in Bet-Nahrian used a calendar based on the new moons nearest to the vernal (spring) and autumn equinoxes. Each year the vernal equinox occurs around March 20-21. The 12 months in the Assyrian calendar were (modern names in parenthesis)

1. Nisanu (Nisan)
2. Aiaru (Yaar)
3. Simanu (Khzeeran)
4. Duzu (Tammuz)
5. Abu (Ab / Tdabbakh)
6. Ululu (Elool)
7. Tashritu (Tishrin I)
8. Arahasamnu (Tishrin II)
9. Kislimu (Kanoon I)
10. Tebetu (Kanoon II)
11. Shabatu (Shvadt)
12. Addaru (Adaar)

The months in the ancient calendar did not have fixed days. Each month began at the first visibility of the new crescent at sunset. Sometimes a thirteenth month was inserted (Addaru II) to compensate for the lost days in a 360-day calendar. This calendar was later adopted by the Jews and Persians. The former group kept the lunar attributes of the calendar, whereas the latter people fixed the days of each month to ensure consistency between two equinoxes.

Today Assyrians are accustomed to using the months of the western Christian calendar and beginning the first day of their new year with the first day of April. This was perhaps an attempt to simplify the conversion of the dates in related to modern Assyrian history and church with those of Christian churches and countries. For instance, if the month of April has 30 days, then the first month of Nisan is arbitrarily given 30 days and so on. Until now Zinda Magazine has been using this method of calculating the months in the Assyrian calendar also.

Beginning with the new Assyrian Year 6752 which commences on Wednesday, 20 March 2002 at 10:16 PM Nineveh Time, Zinda Magazine will begin using a new calendar based on 12 months, each with a set number of days and each year beginning on the first day of spring.

At one point in their history Assyrians celebrated their first day of year with the beginning of autumn, therefore the exact dates of the spring and autumn equinox must remain significant in any new Assyrian calendar. Consequently the number of days for the first six months of this new national calendar are 31. This is so that the distance in time between the vernal and autumn equinox can remain 186 days and the first day of Tishrin I can be fixed as the first day of autumn. The three months of autumn and the first two months of winter have 30 days. The last month of the year has 29 days and in a leap year it will consist of 30 days. The names of the months remain the same as in the calendar currently used.

Zinda Magazine expects much debate surrounding the adoption of this new calendar and anticipates comments and suggestions from many readers. We also invite our readers to send their suggestion for a name: what should the new Assyrian "national" calendar be called? Some suggestions to date include the Akitu Calendar, Shamash Calendar, and the Esagila Calendar. Send us your own suggestion and tell us why! A final decision based on the responses of our readers will be announced on April 15.

On a different note, we are taking the entire first week of Nisan off of our working calendar and giving our team in California a break. Zinda Magazine will be back on 12 Nisan with our first annual "Person of the Year" and "Event of the Year" selections for the Assyrian year 6751. Be sure to check our home page for more information in the next few days.

At Zinda Magazine the first day of spring is an official vacation day and we ask that all our reporters, researchers, and readers to take this day off also and observe the first day of the Assyrian new year rejoicing with their loved ones.

Happy 6752 from all of us at Zinda Magazine! Have a safe and fun Kha b'Nisan!



The Lighthouse


The rituals of the ancient Assyrian New Year celebrations signified renewal - renewal of life, nature, and of the inhabitants of Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia). For 12 days, beginning with the first day of Nisan, different enactments performed by the public, the priests, and even the king conveyed this important message: death is conquered; life has once again risen from the cold and dark days of winter; spring has returned and good has won over the evil. Assyrians from different cities brought the statues of their gods and goddesses in a sacred procession to the holy city of Babylon. There were mock battles, sacred marriage of the king (the divine bridegroom) and the High Priestess, and the now-famous slapping of the king's face for the atonement of the land and his people.

To better understand and appreciate the complexity and fascinating rituals of the Akitu or the New Year Festival in ancient Bet-Nahrian we present the following chronology of the 12-day celebrations adopted partially from the writings of Henri Frankfort in his book "Kingship and the Gods":

First day of Nisan coincided with the first day of spring.

Nisan 1-4 Preparations and purifications.

Nisan 5: Day of Atonement for the king; the populace "descends" to the suffering
god. Increasing commotion in the city during the "search" for Marduk.

Nisan 6: Several gods arrive by barge at Babylon, among them Nabu, the son and
avenger of Marduk, who takes up residence in Ezida, his chapel in the
Marduk temple.

Nisan 7: Nabu, assisted by other gods, liberates Marduk by force from the "moun-
tain" of the Netherworld.

Nisan 8: First Determination of Destiny. The gods assemble and bestow their
combined power on Marduk who thus obtains a "destiny beyond com-

Nisan 9: Triumphal procession to the Bit Akitu under the king's guidance. This
represents the participation of the community in the victory which is
taking place in nature and renews Marduk's destruction of Chaos.

Nisan 10: Marduk celebrates his victory with the gods of the Upper- and Nether.
worlds at a banquet in the Bit-Akitu and returns to Babylon for the con-
summation of his marriage that same night.

Nisan 11: The Second Determination of Destiny. The gods assemble to determine
the destiny of society in the ensuing year.

Nisan 12: The gods return to their temples.

During the first five days, the rites within Esagila (Marduk's temple in Babylon) reflected the somber mood of the holy season. Each morning before sunrise the high priest, after a ritual washing, entered the temple alone and prayed to Marduk and to other gods. Afterward the other priests commenced their daily tasks. On the dawn of the second day they sang "The Secret of Esagila":

Lord without peer in thy wrath;
Lord, gracious king, lord of the lands;
Who made salvation for the great gods;
Lord, who throwest down the strong by his glance;
Lord of kings, light of men, who dost apportion destinies!
O Lord, Babylon is thy seat, Borsippa thy crown;
The wide heavens are thy body.
O Lord, with thine eyes thou piercest the Universe;

With thine arms thou takest the strong;
With thy glance thou grantest them grace,
Makest them see light so that they proclaim the power.

Lord of the lands, light of the Igigi, who pronounces blessings;
Who would not proclaim thy, yea, thy power?
Would not speak of thy majesty, praise thy dominion?
Lord of the lands, who livest in Eudul, who takest the fallen by the hand:

Have pity upon thy city, Babylon;
Turn thy face towards lsagila, thy temple;
Give freedom to them that dwell in Babylon, thy wards.

On the evening of the fourth day, the Epic of Creation or Enuma Elish in its entirety was recited in the temple, for each New Year shared something essential with the first day when the world was created and the cycle of the seasons started. A recital of that triumphant achievement increased the power of all favorable forces to overcome the hazards that had led to the incarceration of the god of natural life.

Then the temple was purified. Offerings and incantations continued. Craftsmen equipped the chapel of Nabu (Marduk's son who was to arrive on the next day) with an offering-table and a gold canopy from the treasury of his father. While these preparations were going on, the king entered Marduk's shrine. He was escorted into the chapel by priests who left him there alone. The high priest emerged from the Holy of Holies where the statue of Marduk stood. He took the king's scepter, ring, scimitar, and crown and put them upon a "seat" before the statue of the god. Again he approached the ruler, who was standing deprived of the signs of royalty, and struck his face; then he made him kneel down to pronounce a declaration of innocence:

I have not sinned, 0 lord of the lands,
I have not been negligent regarding thy divinity,
I have not destroyed Babylon

The high priest replied in Marduk's name:

Do not fear..., what Marduk has spoken
He [will hear] thy prayer. He wilt increase thy dominion.... heighten thy royalty

The high priest then took up the insignia and gave them back to the king, striking his face once more in the hope of drawing tears-which were counted a favorable omen and proof of the god's good will.

What is the meaning of this painful scene? It is clear that by his penance and confession the king cleansed himself of the taint of past sins and thus became fit to officiate in the succeeding rites. It is also clear that his renewed investiture with the insignia of royalty signified a renewal of kingship. At the coronation, too, the insignia had been placed upon seats in front of the god before the king had received them together with the power of royalty. But, in addition, the humiliation of the king brought him into harmony with the conditions under which the great ceremony of renewal started.

Though communication with Marduk was still possible in Esagila, in the outer world the god had "disappeared". The people were disturbed; nature appeared lifeless. Now the king, too, was robbed of his splendor, of the protection of the royal insignia, and reduced to a minimum of power which corresponded to the low ebb in the life of nature, to the "captivity" of the god and also to the state of chaos preceding creation. Five days of sacrifice, atonement, and purification culminated in the king's degradation and reinstatement. The preparatory rites were completed; the scene was set for the arrival of the avenging son, Nabu, who would defeat the powers of death.

While the measured rites which we have described occupied the priests at the great shrine of Marduk, the people entered upon a different kind of performance which ultimately filled the town with commotion.

The story of Ishtar and Tammuz relates how goddess lshtar had decided to descend into the Netherworld to bring her lover Tammuz back to earth. There she was held captive by the forces of death- as Marduk was- and was wounded and struck with illness. Although she was entirely powerless, her life was not taken.

Like the human dead, Marduk suffers thirst; and he is in the dust, bereaved of light and exposed to hostile demons. Yet he lives, although he is temporarily overcome by the miseries of the Land of the dead.

The ritual of the New Year's festival effected the resuscitation of the god by bringing him the assistance of which he stood in need. Just as Ishtar "descended" to Tammuz, so the people "descended" to the imprisoned god. They could not go to him where he was, in the Netherworld; but they evoked a mood of despair by their wailings and laments. When the people had "descended" in this way, the ritual effected a reversal of mood, and the god was brought forth triumphantly to the world of the living.

The thought that death is vanquished at the beginning of the New Year survives in the religions that originated in the Near East, because it carries conviction through the harmony which it establishes between the visible and invisible worlds. A hymn of the Eastern Church contains the words "The Almighty awakens the bodies (at Epiphany) together with the spirits"; and it is said that Christ writes our names in the Book of Life. In the Talmud, too, the raising of the dead is linked with the rainstorms, which, in turn, are connected with the New Year. In Moslem theology the same relation is acknowledged: "Then rain will come down from heaven and mankind will germinate, just as the grains germinate." It is clear, therefore, that the complexities of the New Year's festival in Babylonia are due not to syncretism, but to a chain of connections which were suggested to early man by the natural conditions under which he lived and which consequently retained their validity for his descendants. The seasons of spring and autumn bring rain and the victory over death. The god is liberated from the mountain.

An interesting ritual, signifying the connection of water and the New Year, is still observed by modern Assyrians in the splashing of the water during the Noosard-eil festival. The act signifies the safe return of Tammuz from the underworld.

The people, in the meantime, wanted to have a more active part in the tragedy which concerned them so vitally: "After Marduk went into the mountain the city fell into a tumult because of him, and they made fighting within it. We do not know whether the fights of the populace took place in the night of the fifth of Nisan or whether they accompanied Nabu's triumphal entry into Babylon and his battle with the enemies of Marduk on the sixth or seventh. But we know that on the sixth many barges with statues of the gods from Nippur and Erech, Cutha and Kish converged upon Babylon; and Nabu arrived from neighboring Borsippa that same day.

In Assur the role of the king was more impressive than it was in Babylon. In the north, the protagonist of the gods was not Nabu but Ninurta; and the king himself represented the divine hero, standing in the royal chariot in the procession or being carried out of the Assur temple with a golden tiara as 'Ninurta who has avenged his father."

After Marduk's liberation, the statues of the gods were brought together in the Chamber of Destinies, to "determine destiny." This ceremony took place on the eighth of Nisan and again on the eleventh. The two gatherings differed in significance, but both took place in part of the temple called Ubshu-ukkinna, a name designating the place of assembly of the gods in the Epic of Creation and elsewhere.

The king acted as chief chamberlain or master of ceremonies. Carrying a shining wand or staff, he summoned each god in succession to leave his chapel and, "taking his hand," guided the deity to the appropriate position in the great hail where the gods faced their leader.

The gods put all the power of which they dispose in the hands of Marduk. In the manner of the ancients we must conceive this transfer of power as concretely affecting the god's nature, and, since one's nature is one's destiny, Marduk's destiny is now declared to be unequaled; he actually commands the consolidated power of all the gods.

This, then, was the meaning of the assembly of the gods on the eighth of Nisan: they were to confer upon Marduk their combined power so that the liberated god, thus strengthened, was ready to lead the battle against the powers of chaos and of death.

We know that a hush of reverence dominated the city while the gods assembled, in order that evil influences caused by thoughtless acts or words could be avoided.

Victory over Tiamat was achieved on the ninth of Nisan; the great banquet was celebrated on the tenth.

We should repeat here that we are best informed about the festival at Babylon but that it was celebrated in all or most of the cities in the land; and we know of a number where a Bit Akitu existed. This building was always situated a little outside the city.

The union of a god and goddess was in the last instance neither an act of the cult nor a symbol, but an event in nature the immediate consequence of which was the restoration of the fertility of fields, flocks, and men, after the stagnancy of winter or summer. The feeling of the objective reality of this restoration was probably never lost

It is likely that the sacred marriage took place in Esagila and not in the Bit Akitu. There was a "room of the bed" in Esagila. There is a great shrine; and in it a great and well-covered couch is laid, and a golden table set hard by. But no image has been set up in the shrine, nor does any human creature lie therein for the night, except one native woman, chosen from all women by the god, as say the priests of this god.

The sacred wedding with the goddess took place in a room or building called gigunu. Ninlil, as the spouse of Enlil, is called "(she) who embellishes the gigunu." The most likely date for the sacred marriage would then be the evening of the tenth, after the return from the banquet at the Bit Akitu.

The sacred marriage signified the end of the period during which life in nature had been suspended. Now god and goddess united; the male forces, awakened, fertilized the Great Mother from whom all life came forth.

On the twelfth of Nisan the gods assembled once more in the Chamber of Destinies.
We have described the rites of atonement with which the Babylonian New Year's festival opened. But if it could be hoped that failures, errors, and defilement could be robbed of their evil consequences, it yet remained for the gods to decide whether the renewal of society, coinciding with nature's rejuvenation, would be blessed.

The anxiety which finds expression in this as in so many other details of the New Year's festival is characteristic for the Mesopotamians. The creation of man was the result of the wish of the gods that some being should serve them. This, then, was man's destiny, and happiness was possible only if he lived out his destiny. We may assume that the gods, when they met on the twelfth of Nisan, determined the fate of society during the ensuing year with reference to the service which it had rendered the gods in the past; even so, the gods were not bound by any obligation toward their creatures.

The determination of destiny was the last act of the gods at the New Year's festival. On the next day, the twelfth of Nisan, the visiting deities returned to their cities; and the business of plowing and sowing and trading for the new crop was taken in hand.





Courtesy of South China Morning Post (Mar 14)

(ZNDA: Beijing) Reports from China indicated last week that Washington is orchestrating secret contacts between Iraqi opposition factions with the aim of deciding on a new leadership to replace Saddam Hussein. Among the groups contacted are the Assyrians from North Iraq and the leadership of the Assyrian Democratic Movement.

A grand opposition conference is being scheduled for May in Bonn, Germany, symbolically echoing the Bonn meeting that set up the Afghan interim Government.

A May meeting would increase pressure on Baghdad just as the UN Security Council starts its six-monthly review of sanctions, which is widely expected to be the trigger for a confrontation between the United States and Iraq.

US Vice-President Dick Cheney is touring Arab states to test the waters for a military attack on Iraq. Britain has offered its support to the latest arm of Washington's war on terrorism, but Middle Eastern leaders are wary of the instability any invasion could cause.

The four main opposition groups known as the Group of Four -- the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Supreme Islamic Council for Revolution in Iraq and the Iraqi National Accord - have been meeting regularly in London for several months. They are attempting to create a very united front which is to include the Assyrians among other smaller minority groups.

Reliable sources to Zinda Magazine indicated last Friday that a list of "Assyrian Delegation" was presented to the British Foreign Minister Ben Bradshaw as early as last week in London.

The purpose of this conference is three-folds: 1) to marginilize the role of Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress who is now loathed in the U.S. State Department 2) to include and unite all factions - including the Assyrians - and determine their military capabilities in case of ground attacks from north and south 3) to determine the future of Iraq after Saddam, and the appointment of an alternative leader who may emerge from these talks.



Courtesy of BBC Monitoring (Mar 17)

(ZNDA: Moscow) Head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party-led government Nechirvan Barzani has said that KDP has no intentions of establishing an independent state, rather a federation within Iraq. On the US-led war on terror, he said that if the US decides to attack, "the decision is Washington's to make, and neither we nor our neighbouring countries can change anything." The following is an excerpt from an interview with KDP Premier Nechirvan Barzani by Aleksey Andreyev published by Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta on 15 March.

Q: What do you think, can the activities of your government be considered an attempt to create modern Kurdish statehood?

Barzani: In creating our government, we were trying to lay a foundation not for an independent state but for a federative entity. We hope in the future to reach a federal agreement with the central authorities of Iraq. We want Iraq to become a democratic and parliamentarian country based on a multi-party system. The main difference between us and the central authorities in the political respect is that we have been consistently guided by the principles of freedom and democracy. We have various political parties functioning, as well as cultural and public organizations, and there is complete freedom of speech. All this is reinforced and guaranteed by legislation. We respect the cultural and political rights of ethnic and religious minorities - Turkmen, Christians, as well as Yezidis. We hope that our political program is a prototype for the future of all Iraq.

News Digest


Courtesy of the Canadian Press (Mar 12)

(ZNDA: London) Last week a few Iraqi archeologists went to the British Museum to share details of 2,800-year-old Assyrian tomb artifacts discovered shortly before the Persian Gulf War and still little known in the West.

The artifacts, including large quantities of gold and jewelry, are from what archeologists believe are two 9th- and 8th-century B.C. tombs of princesses or consorts _ possibly of the court of the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II, who reigned from 883 to 859 B.C.

They were found at Nimrud on the river Tigris in northern Iraq in 1988 and 1989, the British Museum said and were stored in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Because of the 1991 war and the breakdown in relations between Iraq and much of the West, details of the discovery have not been widely known.
"In my opinion, showing the artifacts in the West would cause as big a sensation as the museum's 1972 exhibition of Tutankhamen," said John Curtis, head of British Museum's Ancient Near East department.

"But I am afraid that with the current political situation it would be out of the question showing them outside Iraq in the foreseeable future."

Six Iraqis, led by Muayad Damerji, the government's adviser on archeology and heritage, brought their own research papers, photographs and a video of the discovery to a three-day Nimrud Conference at the British Museum, which began Monday.

The conference is an opportunity to discuss the Iraqi research, the British Museum said.

The artifacts include hundreds of gold objects including earrings, finer and toe rings, necklaces, diadems, plates, bowls and flasks, many elaborately engraved and set with semi-precious stones or enamel.

The two tombs are among four discovered in sealed chambers beneath the floors of vaults below the remains of a temple at Nimrud.

European archeologists had conducted excavations but the tombs remained hidden until excavated by the Iraqis.

An article published by the British School of Archeology in Iraq last year said one tomb held three bronze coffins containing the remains of at least 13 people. In one coffin, a woman in her 20s was buried with a fetus and four children, it said.

The tomb contained 449 objects and inscriptions indicated they came from different decades and reigns, making it difficult to identify those buried, the article said. The gold and silver alone weighed 23 kilograms, it said.

Another tomb contained a stone sarcophagus with the remains of two women who died at about the same age - 30 to 35 - but 20 to 50 years apart, it said. The sarcophagus held 157 items, including a gold crown, 30 finger rings and 79 earrings.

Inscriptions on items include the names of at least three queens, adding to the difficulty of identifying the bodies.

Assyria was the centre of one of the great empires of the ancient Middle East. From the 9th to 7th centuries, Assyrian kings united much of the region, from Egypt to the Persian Gulf.

Nimrud, whose ancient name was Calah, was founded in the 13th century B.C. but it was not important until Ashurnasirpal II made it his royal seat and military capital of the Assyrian Empire. It declined in the 7th century B.C. when rulers began to reside at Ninevah.



Courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Mar 12); article by Matthew T. Hall

(ZNDA: San Diego) Accused by colleagues of trying to influence votes, and under investigation by the City Attorney's Office, El Cajon Planning Commissioner Sami Jihad resigned last Tuesday.

Staff attorney Sue Ryan said Jihad was emotional but relieved when he handed her a copy of a resignation letter soon after City Hall opened. In his letter to the mayor, Jihad said he wanted to serve the city's Chaldean community while avoiding "any misinterpretation of conflict of interest." City Manager Bill Garrett said Jihad's departure was appropriate.

"You cannot be an advocate for any group and be on the Planning Commission, and Sami has chosen to be an advocate," he said.

City Attorney Morgan Foley was investigating Jihad for ethics violations involving a Jack In The Box restaurant the commission had approved in January. A local merchant said Jihad urged him to drop his opposition to the fast-food restaurant on behalf of businessmen in the deal.

Jihad, 67, denied the allegations. Later, he refused to respond to accusations that he tried to influence three votes of his colleagues in November and January, or that he took an active role at City Hall with some applicants (see complete story in last week's issue).

Surfs Up!


"I am very happy to see Congresswoman Anna Eshoo asking her colleagues in the United States Congress to urge the President to affirm the Armenian genocide. And hopefully, by doing so, then he can pressure Turkey to acknowledge the 1915 genocide. With this call, she is certainly fulfilling her moral obligation to her Armenian heritage. However, I am disappointed that she failed to include in her letter the fact that during the same period 300,000 Assyrians were massacred in Turkey and driven out of their ancestral homes. With a name like Eshoo, she cannot ignore her Assyrian heritage and she should do more than what she has done so far."

Youel A Baaba

Surfers Corner


Wilson, Jan. The Old Syriac Gospels, Studies and Comparative Translations

ISBN: 1-931956-17-0
Price: $85.00
Subtitle: With Syriac Transcriptions by George A. Kiraz, and a Foreword by Mar Bawai Soro
Series: Eastern Christian Studies I, II
Format: Cloth
Volumes: 2
Pages: llxv + 850
Publication Year: 2002


Hardback edition ships in April 2002. An eBook version will be made available shortly; for further info on the eBook edition, email info@gorgiaspress.com.


The Old Syriac Gospels, Studies and Translations is a comparative translation into English of the two earliest versions of the Syriac (or Aramaic) Gospels (codex Sinaiticus and codex Curetonianus), with some interesting differences between the Aramaic and traditional Greek texts. This work is useful for theologians, interested laymen and students of Syriac. The edition gives the full text of the Sinaiticus and Curetonianus manuscripts in Syriac (based on transcriptions by George A. Kiraz), with an English translation by E. Jan Wilson.

Considerable mystery still surrounds the origin of the four Gospels, with much arguing about the language of the original texts. Did the first disciples write in Greek, as has been long assumed in the West? Or did they in fact write to their fellow believers in the language which they all spoke natively, viz. Aramaic? That question is only one of the topics treated in this work, which offers to scholars and laymen alike the opportunity to examine the earliest known Aramaic versions of the four Gospels.

Dr. Wilson has written books and articles on various aspects of the Ancient Near East, including articles on Babylonian religious practices, articles on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a translation of some of the world's oldest literature - the Sumerian cylinders of Gudea from southern Mesopotamia. The current work is the result of a long and intense interest in the origins of Christianity and of the Christian scriptures.


Volume I
Series Preface by Fr. Boutron Tarabay
Foreword by Mar Bawai Soro
Introduction (General Remarks, A Brief History of the Aramaic Speaking Christians, The New Testament Text of Aramaic Christianity, Remarks on the Translation Techniques)
Notes on the Old Syriac Gospels (Orthography, Vocabulary, Syntactical Differences Between S and C, Treatment of Old Testament Passages, Doctrinal Peculiarities of S and C, The Background and Authorship of the Old Syriac Gospels)
The Gospel Matthew
The Gospel of Mark

Volume II
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John

Order Information

Online orders: www.gorgiaspress.com
Fax orders: +1 732 699 0342
Phone Orders: +1 732 699 0343

Gorgias Press, 46 Orris Ave, Piscataway, NJ 08854 USA. Email: orders@gorgiaspress.com




On 1 April this year, Christians churches around the world will celebrate "Eida Gowra" or the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the west this is called Easter. What most Christians do not know is the Mesopotamian origin of the name Easter from the goddess of fertility and war, Ishtar. The name Easter is a transliteration of the word Ishtar, the goddess who descended to the underworld and brought her lover Tammuz back to life.

The festival to honor Ishtar was held on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. This is the same date Christians celebrate Easter. Here's an interesting article written for a Pennsylvania newspaper, Intelligencer, last April which shows the history of the transition of the word Ishtar to Eostre and finally Easter in Europe.

"Egg, bunny, dawn service Today's Easter traditions started eons before Christ"
by Douglas Harper

Christian, Jewish and pagan traditions have intertwined for a thousand years to form the modern celebration of Easter.

Neopagans, Jews and Christians all celebrate religious rituals at this time of year. Wiccans hold one of their eight yearly Sabbats (holy days of celebration) on the day or eve of the equinox, which happens about the third week of March. Christians, following Jewish/ Babylonian calendar customs, wait until after the next full moon to mark Easter.

Near the Mediterranean, this is the time when the summer crops sprout; north of the Alps, it is the time for seeding. The pagan rituals of the spring equinox are meant to ensure the fertility of the crops and animals in the coming summer.

Even the name given to the Christian holiday in English-speaking nations seems to be derived directly from "Eostre," a Saxon fertility goddess.

Some scholars have been skeptical that the core Christian holiday would blatantly bear the name of a pagan deity. But authority for this comes from The Venerable Bede, a deeply pious Christian scholar of 8th-century England.

Alternate explanations of the name have been suggested in modern times, but most are implausible.

The name of the goddess varied slightly in the Germanic tongues, and can be spelled Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos.

Her name was rooted in a word-nexus that included the proto-Germanic words for spring, the east and sunrise.

Not much is known about her. Some say she is just an alternate name for one of the more important Germanic goddesses, like Frigg or Freya, with whom she shares the overlordship of spring and the resurrection of life. But her particular association with fertility suggests her as a maiden aspect of the old, universal goddess Eostre.

The Saxons who conquered England in the 5th century seem to have kept her name for the spring holiday when they were converted by missionaries from Rome and Scotland. When they in turn evangelized their brethren on the mainland, they evidently took the holiday name with them. English and German are the only languages to use a word like "Easter" for this holiday.

Eostre's symbols were the hare and the egg, both representing fertility. From them spring the customs and symbols of the Easter egg and Easter rabbit.

Of course, other civilizations -- from Egypt to China -- have taken the same symbols to stand for life and regeneration. Dyed eggs played in rituals of the Babylonian mystery religions and they were hung in Egyptian temples.

Pagan Anglo-Saxons apparently offered colored eggs to Eostre at the spring equinox, placing them especially at graves, probably as a charm of rebirth (a custom shared by Egyptians and Greeks, among others). The Goddess of Fertility was also the Goddess of Grain, so offerings of bread and cakes were also made to her.

Rabbits, especially white ones, are sacred to Eostre, and she was said to sometimes take the form of a rabbit. One myth says she found a bird dying from the cold. She changed it to a rabbit so it could stay warm. German children are told that the Easter hare doesn't merely deliver the Easter eggs, it lays them.

Eostre is almost certainly to be identified with Eos, the dawn goddess of ancient Greece. As such, the importance of sunrise services in her cult becomes clear.

Some commentators connect the candles lit in churches on the eve of Easter Sunday to the pagan bonfires at this time of year that welcomed the rebirth of the sun god. These Easter eve bonfires continued in rural Germany well into the 1800s.

Spring fertility goddesses were known in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, goddesses such as Aphrodite, Astarte, Hathor and Ishtar. The Roman form of "Aphrodite" gives her name to our month April.

But one of the most interesting and controversial pagan traditions of ancient Mediterranea was of the young god who died and was resurrected at the spring equinox.

Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess, had a consort who was said to have been conceived by a god, born to a virgin. He was Attis, whom mythographers identify as a localized form of Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus or Orpheus. The myths told of how he died and was resurrected each year during the spring equinox.

Though this cult originated in what is now Turkey, it enjoyed a vogue throughout the Roman Empire around the time of Christ. The Cybele cult in Rome was centered on Vatican hill.

Attis' festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over his resurrection.

Wherever Christian and pagan lived in the same community in the ancient world, the coincidental celebrations sparked bitter quarrels.

Similarities between the death and resurrection of Attis and that of Christ led to pagans and Christians accusing each other of spurious imitation. The heathens pointed out that their god was many centuries older, and therefore couldn't be the counterfeit.



Pump Up the Volume

To breath NSHAM-TA
FEM I am breathing: Ana bin shama wen.
To blow (air) NPA-KHA MASC She was blowing the candles: Ay bin pakha wa l'poondeh



(ZNDA: San Jose) Assyrian poet, music composer, grammarian, and social activist - William Daniel (1903-1988) - was remembered last night in San Jose, California on the occasion of his birthday. Every year Rabbie Daniel's students mark 17 March with performances of his music, poetry readings, and analysis of his work. Rabbie Daniel passed away in December 1988 when he was struck by an automobile while crossing a street in San Jose.

The evening's program was sponsored by the Assyrian American Association of San Jose and held at the social hall of this organization. An audience of 75 people enjoyed Mr. Johnny Khangaldi and Bobby Danielzadeh's live performances of "Tide of Life" (Lappa d'Khayih) and "Doolaby" (Spinning Wheel). Four segments of Rabbie Daniel's epic poem "Katinee Gabbarah" were analyzed by his students - Dr. Arianne Ishaya, Mr. Ramin Daniels, and Mr. Wilfred Bet-Alkhas - followed by Rabbie Daniel's previously-recorded readings of these same segments. A 15-minute video montage of several past commemoration events, produced by Zinda Magazine, was shown to highlight the literary and musical achievements of this Assyrian genius.

Mr. Wilfred Bet-Alkhas, Editor of Zinda Magazine and this evening's Master of Ceremony, invited every Assyrian to help with next year's centennial celebrations of William Daniel's birth in San Jose. The program is expected to draw Assyrian and non-Assyrian literary scholars, musicologists and Rabbie Daniel's past students from around the world.

At the end of the program the 10-year-old Shamina Khangaldi captivated the audience with her passionate piano and vocal performance of William Daniel's classic song "Nineveh".

Back to the Future

(4000 B.C.)

British researcher Richard Rudgley suggests that alcohol was first made in Mesopotamia, probably from figs. A clay tablet held in the University Museum in Philadelphia notes explicitly that Sumerian apothecaries used beer and a wine known as ``kushumma'' to mask the taste of herb-derived medicines. The choice of alcohol for the world's prehistoric boozers was considerably more limited than the selection available in even the direst suburban bottle shop. There was wine, made from grapes; mead, made from honey; beer, made from barley (in Mesopotamia, drunk through a straw to avoid all the husky bits floating in it); and ``koumish'', made from fermented horse milk.

(A.D. 1921)

General Philip Bet-Oshana is born in Urmia, Iran. While his brother, Sargon , pursued medical education he enrolled in the Iranian Army. After many years of steadfast dedication the late Shah of Iran conferred upon him the rank of General. General Bet-Oshana passed away in 1976 in Tehran, Iran.



Calendar of Events


 Share your local events with Zinda readers.    Email us or send fax to:  408-918-9201


Dance Party





Los Angeles:                        11:16 AM
New York:                            2:16 PM
London:                                7:16 PM
Paris, Berlin & Stockholm:     8:16 PM
Nineveh:                             10:16 PM
Tehran:                               10:46 PM


Tokoy:                                 4:16 AM                
Sydney:                                5:16 AM

March 22

Assyrian American Association

March 23

Presented by Waw Allap

Celebate the Assyrian New Year with Friends at the Museum Store
Presenting Mixed Media on Paper by ODET TOMIK

1:00 - 7:00 PM

1452 West 9th Street, #B

25% off on all Waw Allap Collections
Every Family will receive a free limited edition gift

Good food, good artwork, and plenty of good friends.

Don't Miss This Annual Event!

March 23

Assyrian American Association of San Jose Proudly Presents
6752 Kha b'Nisan Celebration with 

Evin Aghassi  &  Ramsen Sheeno

8:30 PM
Starlight Banquet Hall
680 Minnesota Avenue

Ticket Prices:  $25 pre-purchased / $30 at the door
Tickets may be purchased at:

AAA of San Jose
20000 Almaden Road 
Wednesdays,  8 to 10 p.m.
(408) 927-9100 

Etminan Market 
5754 Santa Teresa Blvd.

Setareh Market
4644 Meridian Ave.

March 23

Bet Nahrain Organization

March 23

Organized by the Assyrian American Association of Houston, Inc.

Unforgettable Night of music, dancing and fun with Juliana Jando

8:00 PM to 2:00 AM
Dinner will be served from 9:00 to 10:00 PM 

Sheraton Suites Houston (near the Galleria)
2400 West Loop South

Tickets: VIP Tickets: $75 
General Admission: adults $65, Children $30 

Contact: Samir Khamou at           (832) 473-3363
              Sargon Youhannazad at (713) 972-1637 

All proceeds benefit the St. Mary's Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of East 

March 24

212th American Oriental Society Annual Meeting
"Religion and Historical Record: the Process of Forgetting Assyrian History" 
by Dr. Eden  Naby

The J. W. Marriott
5150 Westheimer Road

Visit the following website for further topics in ancient Assyrian & Near Eastern studies:  http://www.umich.edu/%7Eaos/2002/program2002.html

March 31

The Assyrian Universal Alliance & the Assyrian National Center are celebrating the 
Assyrian New Year  6752 & the 34th Anniversary of Founding AUA

Come and join us in this amazing and memorable night. 
Entertainment by the talented band of "Eshtar" &the famous Assyrian singers: 
Geliana Esho (from Melbourne) and Wilson Eshay (from Sydney).

7:00 PM (Sharp)
Venue:  Edessa Reception Hall - St Hurmizd's Cathedral 
5-9 Greenfield Road, Greenfield Park
Tickets  $15:00 for adults and $10 for children under 12 years

To obtain your ticket call either at the office of the church or speak to 
David Ismail David    0413 052371
Ben Jabro                 9610 2506
Hermiz Shahen         0407 235349

April 6

Assyrian Aid Society of Arizona Presents For the First Time in the Desert:

Walter Aziz;  Music by Haroot

Dinner at 8:00 PM (served promptly)
Crowne Plaza Hotel
2532 West Peoria Avenue
(I-17 & Peoria Avenue)

Tickets (includes dinner):  $35.00 per Person / $25.00 for children under 14
Babysitting Services Available
Deadline to purchase tickets:  Tuesday, April 2
    After deadline tickets are $45/$35.

For Reservation Call:
   Yousif Aziz               602-799-5636
   Nahrain Lazar           480-857-0939
   Youkie Khaninia       480-963-2121
   Steve Enwia             602-722-9670

April 15-19
Third International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East

Sponsored by Université de Paris 1
Panthon Sorbonne
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (UMR 7041) and 
the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Études (IVe section).

Purpose: To promote cooperation and information exchange between archaeologists working in the ancient Near East, from the eastern Medi-terranean to Iran and from Anatolia to Arabia, and from prehistoric times to Alexander the Great.

Contact: Victoria de Caste, Secretariat,
email: 3icaane@mae.u-paris10.fr

May 1
La Societe Canadienne des Etudes Syriaques

"Bar-Hebraeus & His Time:  The Syriac Renaissance & the Challenge of a New Reality"
Lecturer:  Prof. Herman G.B. Teule, University of Nijmegen

University of Toronto
St. George Campus
8:00 PM

[Zinda Magazine is a proud Corporate Sponsor of CSSS.]

May 10-11

The Editorial Board of “Melta” Bulletin and a committed group of Assyrians in Russia plan to hold a two-day International Scholarly Conference “The Assyrians Today: Issues and Perspectives.”  The Conference program will highlight the following aspects:
- Issues facing Assyrians in the Middle East.
- Assyrian communities in Diaspora.
- Perspectives on future development of the Assyrian community.
- Ways of rapprochement among the different tribal and confessional groups.
Twelve prominent international Assyrian scholars and political commentators have been invited.  The official Conference languages are English, Russian and, first of all, Assyrian.  Simultaneous translation will be provided.  Anyone who wishes to join in this Conference should complete and send in the form below as soon as possible so that the hosts may know how much space to reserve.


Family name: _________________________  First name(s): _____________________
Title/ Profession: _________________Company/ Institution: _____________________
Address: _______________________________________________________________
Postal code: ___________   City: _______________   Country: ___________________
Fax: _________________________   E-mail: _________________________________

Hotel accommodation: Hotel Rossiya (about 2 blocks from the Kremlin).  Per day costs are given in US dollars at the conference rate, include breakfast, and are as follows: 
Single room: $50,  Double room: $70.  Registration for the Two-day Conference (per person):  $20,   Tickets to the Bolshoi Theatre: $50, Banquet: $50 .
Total amount: _____________________________
Special trips to St. Petersburg, Vladimir (Golden Ring), and the Republic of Georgia may be organized at an additional cost.  Indicate if you are interested. No ____  Yes ____  If yes, where? ______________
Date: ___________________________    Signature: _________________________________________

Send this information to: 

Melta Bulletin: P.O. Box 18, Moscow, 129642, Russia
Telephone:    (7-095)-935-0155, -233-5387 (S.Osipov) 
                    (7-095)-131-2575 (R.Bidjamov)
                    (7-095)-163-9418 (E.Badalov). 
             Fax: (7-095)-935-0155.
         E-mail:  melta@aport2000.ru

Roundtrip fares – New York/Newark to Moscow - are available on all major airlines.  Mid-week fare structures for the period of the conference begin at $625 (Alitalia) and range to $660 (Swissair).  Weekend fares are about $20 more. These fares do not include taxes and are based on availability. They are available now through Rafih Hayek (Service Plus Travel) at 800-256-2865. Mr. Hayek’s travel service will be able to make similar special fares available to Moscow from all major US gateways.

Roundtrip fares - Chicago to Moscow - are available on Delta at $793 and on Luftanza at $814. The Chicago information comes from Shlimon Khamo of Bablyon Travel (773-478-9000). Cheaper group fares may be available also if a club or group of friends wish to make joint arrangements.

[Travel & Conference information courtesy of Melta Magazine and the Assyrian Star Magazine.]

May 21

4:00 PM
Assyrian Hall
5901 Cahuenga Blvd.
North Hollywood 

Meeting Agenda:
-Report of the activities since installation
-Financial report
-Programs of the Executive Board for the remainder of the year

May 24-26

"Identity and Institutions Among Assyrian-Iranians in the United States"
An illustrated lecture by Dr. Eden Naby-Frye
Harvard University

An examination of the patterns of departure and arrival from Iran, the discovery of an expanded Assyrian identity in a milieu that began to include refugee Assyrians from other parts of the Middle East, tied by religion but not language, to Iranian Assyrians. 

Due to special efforts exerted over the past twenty years at Harvard University and at the Ashurbanipal Library in Chicago, a record of printed materials and photographs affords an opportunity to study the issues facing the Assyrians from Iran as they settled in New York, New England, Chicago, and California.

The conference will be held at the Bethesda Hyatt Regency.  Arrangements have been made for reduced rates.  To make hotel reservations, contact Hyatt Regency Hotel directly at 1-800-233-1234 or the conference site at the following address:

Bethesda Hyatt Regency
One Bethesda Metro Center
Bethesda, MD 20814, USA
Phone  (301) 657-1234
Fax      (301) 657-6478 

July 1-4, 2002

"Ethnicity in Ancient Mesopotamia"
Leiden University
Dept of Assyriology & Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten

Registration Form:  http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/rencontre/mailform.html 
Registration Fee:  Euro 70 by April 1, 2002

Nov 23-26

Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
2660 Woodley Road, NW

202/328-2000 phone
800/228-9290 toll free
202/234-0015 fax



Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Martin Mirza

Michael Benjamin


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