Publication by Dr Martin Zammit Zammit, Martin. `Enbe men Karmo Suryoyo (Bunches of Grapes from the Syriac Vineyard) - A Syriac Chrestomathy.  New Jersey: Gorgias Press LLC.

Syriac is a form of Aramaic, a language whose many dialects have been in continuous use since the 11th century BC. Originally the language of the Aramaeans, by the 6th century BC Aramaic became the lingua franca of the Near East. Jesus Christ and his Apostles spoke and preached in a Palestinian (Galilean) variety of Aramaic. Syriac is the Aramaic dialect of Edessa (present-day Urfa in southeast Turkey), a center of early intellectual activity. It became an important literary language around the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The oldest of the Syriac scripts, known as Estrangelo (meaning 'rounded'), was fully developed by the 5th century. Later, two other geographic scripts were derived from it. During the 7th century, Syriac script lent its vocalization system to Hebrew and Arabic. By the time of Genghis Khan (12th century), the Mongolian script was derived from Syriac. The spread of Christianity in the Semitic-speaking world as well as commerce on the Silk Road acted as catalysts in the diffusion of the Syriac language and literature.  

`Enbe men Karmo Suryoyo is a chrestomathy intended primarily for students who have covered the essentials of Syriac morphology and syntax, but it should also interest anyone who cherishes Syriac literature in general. The twenty-six selections consist of examples of Syriac prose and poetry from the second until the thirteenth centuries AD. The readings reflect as much a varied range of subject matters as possible. Inevitably, selections of a religious nature predominate, but historical, ethnographic, chemical, astronomical, and linguistic excerpts produced by the most famous Syriac authors, as well as less familiar ones, have been included. All three varieties of the Syriac alphabet, namely Estrangelo, Serto, and East Syriac are used.

The readings are presented in chronological order. Although one may start from any passage of his or her choice, it is advisable to start from the vocalized ones. The grammatical notes following each selection are linked by cross references to other selections, where a related grammatical or syntactic feature is encountered. The Syriac-English glossary of approximately two thousand entries covers the vocabulary attested in the readings, and an English-Syriac glossary is also available. Moreover, the index of grammatical points helps the reader to identify grammatical and syntactic features attested in the selections. It is hoped that the present work, apart from consolidating one’s knowledge of the Syriac language, could also fire the interest of Syriacists at large, inducing them to build on the readings dealt with in this book.


“… an eminently useful work ….”


Prof. Sebastian Brock,


Oriental Institute, Oxford.

Martin R. Zammit obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Malta with the thesis: A Comparative Lexical Study of Qur’anic Arabic published in Brill’s Handbuch Der Orientalistik series. Dr Zammit’s research covers various Semitic languages, with specialization in Arabic and Syriac. He is a senior lecturer at the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Malta.