Perspectief 2019-44

Perspectief 4 The Dispersion of the Syriac-Orthodox Throughout the World in the Diaspora: Challenges and Opportunities Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin PhD In the course of the last seventy years or so there has been a truly remarkable growth of interest in the Christian East. And the recent political events in the Middle East have brought Oriental Christianity to the global attention. In the course of my talk today, I shall give a brief account of the Syriac Orthodox Church and tradition, and then consider the contemporary situation of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the Western Diaspora by looking at the challenges facing the Church and the opportunities and new possibilities available to her. 1. The Syriac Orthodox Church and tradition “The Syriac churches are among the most intriguing and fascinating sections of eastern churches” says Prof. Heleen Murre-van den Berg of the Institute of Eastern Christian Stud- ies at Radboud University, The Netherlands. In the rich heritage of the Syriac churches there is to be found not only Mesopotamian, but also Jewish and Greek, Roman and Per- sian, western and eastern elements. This diversity and multiplicity of sources forged a number of different churches, each with its distinctive features. The Syriac-speaking churches are those which trace back their origin to the apostolic times, and attach them- selves to two important centers such as Antioch and Edessa in the East. The former being the city where the followers of Christ were called Christians for the first time, and the latter is considered the birthplace of Syriac culture and Christianity. The Syriac Christian com- munities are to be found in the region now covered by Syria, the Holy Land, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. There are two branches within the Syriac Church, namely, the Eastern and Western. The West-Syrian tradition covers the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and