Ma’loula or Maaloula (Aramaic: ܡܥܠܘܠܐ, Arabic: معلولا), is a village in the Rif Dimashq Governorate in Syria. The town is located 56 km to the northeast of Damascus, and built into the rugged mountainside, at an altitude of more than 1500 meters. It is known as the last surviving place where Western Aramaic (Aramaic of Jesus) is still spoken.
With two other nearby towns Bakh’a (Arabic: بخعة) and Jubba’din (Arabic: جبّعدين), it is the only place where a dialect of the Western branch of the Aramaic language is still spoken. Scholars have determined that the Aramaic of Jesus belonged to this particular branch as well, however, as many media coverage has erroneously stated, it isn’t the exact dialect Jesus of Nazareth spoke during the first century. Ma’loula represents, therefore, an important source for anthropological linguistic studies regarding first century Aramaic, hence, Jesus’ own Aramaic dialect. The distance from other major cities and its isolating geological features only aided the longevity of this linguistic oasis for over one and a half thousand years. However, modern roads and transportation, as well as accessibility to Arabic-language television and print media – and for some time until recently, also state policy – have eroded that linguistic heritage .
You may know Aramaic as the language of Jesus, but did you know that Aramaic is actually a 3,000 year old language that evolved in the Middle East alongside .
Aramaic has been the lingua franca of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, has been the language not only of books of the Old Testament/Tanakh and the New Testament, but Buddhist epistles and even written out in Chinese characters! We can even thank Aramaic language for the Hebrew alphabet, which was originally written in Phoenician characters, but adopted the Aramaic writing system during the Babylonian exile. There are even numerous modern dialects of Aramaic still spoken today in the only place in Ma`loula .
now common knowledge that Jesus spoke Aramaic, specifically 1st Century
Aramaic appeared in the 10th century BCE and by the 5th century, it had become the major language in the Near East, spoken and written from Egypt to India. spoken in a late dialect which would survive until approximately the end of the 2nd century CE. However, the language that was spoken by most of the population was a dialect of Aramaic known as Western Aramaic.
Pilgrims to Palestine can become better acquainted with this ancient language by visiting masses celebrated by the the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syrian Catholic Church and the Maronites.
Ma`aloula main charch.
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