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A branch of Aramaic which was spoken in Edessa and its neighbourhood from shortly before the beginning of the Christian era. It was used extensively in the early Church because of the active Christian communities in these parts. Most of the surviving literature is Christian and a number of Greek patristic works survive only in Syriac translation. It has remained the language of the liturgy in the Church of the East and the Syrian Orthodox Church. When Arabic became the current vernacular, Syriac increasingly became an artificial language, though it continues in restricted use. See also the following entry.

Subjects: Religion — History by Period.

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