Course Overview

Module 1: Syro-Aramaic Language and Literature

Contact Hours

Type of course ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
Syriac Language 5 Language course 10 10
Introduction to Syro-Aramaic Studies 1 Lecture 2 2
(Targum-)Aramaic 1 Lecture/Tutorial 1.5 1.5
Neo-Aramaic/-Syriac 1 Lecture/Tutorial 1.5 1.5
Subtotal Module 1 8 15 12 3
Module 2: The Bible and Exegesis in the Syriac Tradition

Contact Hours

Type of course ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
The Bible in the Syriac Tradition 1 Proseminar 2 2
Syriac Exegesis: Old Testament 2 Lecture 3 3
Syriac Exegesis: New Testament 2 Lecture 3 3
Advanced Seminar: Syriac Biblical Exegesis 1 Seminar 3 3
Subtotal Module 2 6 11 2 3 6
Module 3: History of Syriac Christianity

Contact Hours

Type of course ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
Beginnings of Syriac Christianity until the Umayyad Period (1st-7th century) 2 Lecture 3 3
From the Umayyad Period until the End of the Ottoman Empire (7th-20th century) 2 Lecture 3 3
Syriac Christianity in the 20th and 21st Century 2 Seminar 5 5
Subtotal Module 3 6 11 3 3 5
Module 4: Liturgical Science

Contact Hours

Type of course ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
Introduction to the Liturgical Year, Feasts and Liturgical Literature 1 Lecture 3 3
Prosody and Liturgical Music 1 Lecture/Tutorial 2 2
Syriac Commentaries on the Liturgy 1 Lecture/Tutorial 2 2
Specialisation in Liturgical Science: Sacramental Theology (roze) and Eucharistic Prayers (Anaphoras) in an Ecumenical Context 2 Lecture 3 3
Subtotal Module 4 5 10 7 3
Module 5: Spirituality and Monasticism

Contact Hours

Type of course ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
Development and Theology of Syriac Spirituality and Syriac Monasticism 2 Lecture 4 4
Saints and Martyrs 1 Seminar 3 3
Subtotal Module 5 3 7 4 3
Module 6: Patristic Studies and Systematic Theology

Contact Hours

Type of course ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
Early Syriac Authors (1st – 5th century): Semitic-Poetic and Symbolic Theology 1 Lecture/Tutorial 2 2
The Great Theologians in the Golden Age (5th-9th century): Christology and Ecclesiology 2 Lecture/Tutorial 3 3
Selected Theological Topics of the Syriac Renaissance (11th-13th century) 1 Lecture/Tutorial 2 2
Philosophy and Natural Sciences in the Works of Syriac Ecclesiastical Writers 2 Seminar 6 6
Subtotal Module 6 6 13 2 3 8
Module 7: Canon Law and Practical Theology

Contact Hours

Course ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
History and Development of Canon Law in Syriac Christianity 2 Lecture/Tutorial 3 3
Specialisation in Canon Law: e.g. Current Synodal Decisions, Matrimonial Law, Ecumenical Agreements 1 Lecture/Tutorial 2 2
Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care 2 Seminar/Proseminar 5 5
Introduction to the Pedagogy and Didactics of Religious Education 2 Seminar/Proseminar 5 5
Subtotal Module 7 7 15 8 7
Contact Hours ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
Total compulsory modules 41 82 30 26 26
Master’s Thesis and Examination

Contact Hours

Course ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
Master Thesis Seminar 1 Seminar 2 2
Master Thesis 22 22
Master’s Examination 6 6
Total Master’s Thesis and Examination 1 30 30
Elective Module:

Contact Hours

Course ECTS Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4
Elective Course 1 2 Seminar/Excursion/Proseminar 4 4
Elective Course 2 2 Seminar/Excursion/Proseminar 4 4
Total Elective Modules 4 8 4 4

Module 1

  1. Syriac Language (10 ECTS)  5 hours
    Intermediate and advanced language course. Aim to master the Syriac language for Syriac literature.
  2. Introduction to Syro-Aramaic studies (2 ECTS) 1 hour
    Research methodology, catalogues of Syriac manuscripts and printed works as well as related literature, codicology, grammar, lexica, series, periodicals, journals, bibliographic tools and manuscripts. Aim to be able to deal independently and scientifically with the sources of the Syriac tradition.
  3. (Targum-)Aramaic (1.5 ECTS) 1 hour Introduction to old Aramaic language and its dialects.
  4. Neo-Aramaic/-Syriac (1.5 ECTS) 1 hour Introduction to contemporary spoken Aramaic/Syriac dialects and languages. Aim: Learning Neo-Syro-Aramaic Language with old Aramaic dialects.

Module 2

  1. The Bible in the Syriac Tradition (2 ECTS) 1 hour
    The Peshitta, Syro Hexapla, Diatessaron, Syriac Curetonian, Sinaiticus, Philoxenus, Harclensis;
    Biblical manuscripts, lectionaries and their usage in the liturgy, printed editions and translations. Aim to become familiar with the fundamental contents of the Bible and how they were passed on in the Syriac Tradition.
  2. Syriac Exegesis: Old Testament (3 ECTS) 2 hours Classical exegesis (Old Testament) in the context of modern hermeneutics. Aim to learn classical exegesis, e.g. literary-historic, allegorical, topological and anagogic interpretation.
  3. Syriac Exegesis: New Testament (3 ECTS) 2 hours The Bible in the Syriac tradition: Peshitta, Diatessaron, Philoxenian, Harclensis. Examination of the sources of New Testament exegesis: Biblical manuscripts, lectionaries and their use in liturgy, patristic writings, translations.
    Classical methods of Biblical exegesis:literary-historical, allegorical, typological. Principal Syriac Biblical exegetes and their methods: Aphrahat, Ephrem, Book of Steps, Jacob of Sarug, Philoxenos of Mabbug, Jacob of Edessa, Moses bar Kepha, Dionysius bar Salibi, Ishodad of Merv. Aim for students to gain knowledge of history and types of Syriac New Testament exegesis, the principal Syriac New Testament versions, especially the Peshitta, as well as the distinctive methods of major Syriac authors and Biblical exegetes.
  4. Advanced Seminar: Syriac Biblical Exegesis (3 ECTS) 1 hour Group reading of a selection of exegetical texts representative of the various stages and areas of the Syriac Tradition. Aim: to familiarise students with several important Syriac authors and their ways of reading the Bible; familiarity with various methods of biblical interpretation within the context of theological hermeneutics.

Module 3

  1. Beginnings of Syriac Christianity until the Umayyad Period (7th to 20th century) (3 ECTS) 2 hours
    Syriac Christianity in the Roman and Persian Empire in late antiquity, synods and councils in the area of tension between reception and opposition, the historico-political context. The dissemination of Syriac churches in Central Asia, China and India, in particular the Saint Thomas Christians. Understanding the development of Syriac christianity and the Christian churches within the wider framework of general historic development and understanding the interconnectedness of other areas of religion and culture. Being aware of the central aspects of the historic journey of the Syriac churches from the beginning until the present time.
  2. From the Umayyad Period until the end of the Ottoman Empire (7th to 20th century) (3ECTS)  2 hours Christians in the context of Islam and the Mongols. Encounters with the West: crusaders, Catholic and Protestant missions. Aim to understand the development of Syriac christianity and the Christian churches within the wider framework of general historic development and understanding the interconnectedness of other areas of religion and culture. Being aware of the central aspects of the historic journey of the Syriac churches from the beginning until the present time
  3. Syriac Christianity in the 20th and 21st Century (5 ECTS) 2 hours Christians in the area of tension between the Ottoman Empire and colonial powers, ramifications of World War I on the contemporary situation of Syriac christianity worldwide.
    The role of the Syriac-Orthodox Church in ecumenism. Aim to understand and reflect upon the complex historical and contemporary developments of Syriac christianity in its countries of origin and in the pluralistic contexts in the diaspora.

Module 4

  1. Introduction to the Liturgical Year, Feasts and Liturgical Literature (3 ECTS)  5 hours
    This course will introduce the main Syriac liturgical books (lectionaries, Shḥimo, Penqitho, Ḥusoyo, Ma’d’dono, Shbitho, etc.), in addition to key terminology in order to study these books and how they are used during the Syriac liturgical year. Aim is to understand the main concepts of Syriac Liturgical Theology in addition to acquiring the ability to analyse a few Syriac rites in the daily office hours and feasts.
  2. Prosody and Liturgical Music (2 ECTS) 1 hour West and east Syriac hymns (Mimre, Madrashe, Qola, Onitha etc.), metre, verses, rhyme, rhythm, acrostics. Musical terminology and hymns. Introduction to modes of thinking for an intellectual and practical engagement with Syriac hymnody as a living tradition. Theoretical and methodical approaches from music and cultural studies, and combines critical thinking with practice-based observation.
  3. Syriac Liturgical Commentaries (2 ECTS) 1 hour
    This course will cover the main Syriac commentators on Liturgy: Jacob of Edessa, George Bishop of the Arabs, Moses bar Kepha and Dionysius Bar Salibi, among others. Analyzing these commentaries is necessary to understand the shape of Syriac Liturgy and its development historically. Aim to achieve comparative knowledge about how the Syriac Fathers developed their understanding of the meaning of Liturgy in their various liturgical commentaries.
  4. Specialisation in Liturgical Science: Sacramental Theology (roze) and Eucharistic Prayers (Anaphoras) in an Ecumenical Context (3 ECTS) 2 hours Syriac sacramental theology and its ecumenical context. Aim: critical analysis of ecclesiastical practices and being able to contribute to their further development according to the standards of the church.

Module 5

  1. Development and Theology of Syriac Spirituality and Syriac Monasticism (4 ECTS) 2 hours History of Monasticism in the Syriac East and types of asceticism in Syriac monastic life. Reading and interpretation of spiritual texts of Syriac theologians (i. a. Isaac of Niniveh, Joseph Hazzaya).
    Sons and daughters of the covenant, hermites, stylites, cenobites, Tur Abdin.
  2. Saints and Martyrs (3 ECTS) 1 hour Through the centuries stories about saints have played – and continue to play – a crucial role in the religious imagination of many cultures. A formative period for the development of Christian traditions about holy men and women was Late Antiquity. In early Christianity, literature about women martyrs, desert monks and pillar saints was created in close alliance with biblical examples and classical rhetorical ideals. Understanding the hagiographic discourse is therefore a key to Christian spirituality and its dialogue with education and learning in the society.

Module 7

  1. History and Development of Canon Law in Syriac Christianity (3ECTS) 2 hours Canon law: East Syriac and West Syriac. Aim: Understanding the development and history of Canon Law in the East and West Syriac Tradition; critically questioning canonical and synodal decisions as regards their feasibility in practice and contributing to their further development.
  2. Specialisation in Canon Law: e.g. Current Synodal Decisions, Matrimonial Law, Ecumenical Agreements (2ECTS) 1 hour Adopting ecumenical agreements (e.g. marriage law, baptism) and canonical decisions in the contexts of todays pluralistic society, and putting them into practice. Aim: students should become familiar with synodal decisions and ecumenical agreements.
  3. Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care (5 ECTS) 2 hours The module will look at a range of biblical themes such as the ministry of Moses and other prophets in the Old Testament with a particular focus on the ministry of Jesus as a “Shepherd” and this will be followed by the ministry of the Apostles, Peter and Paul and other Apostles. It will also include a critical analysis on the selected Church Fathers ministry and contemporary issues in pastoral care in the Middle East and diaspora. Aim: Upon successful completion of the module, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the themes studied in the module, analyse and evaluate biblical and apostolic concepts of the ministry and pastoral understanding, analyse and evaluate the concept of the “Shepherd” in the ecclesiastical field and pastoral care, identify a pastoral identity and develop a personal profile.
  4. Introduction to the Pedagogy and Didactics of Religious Education (5 ECTS) 2 hours Principles of interdenominational and interreligious learning; didactic concepts in general and didactic approaches for religious education, teaching methods, syllabi, teaching models and analysis of school books;- religious education teachers in the area of tension between church and state. Aim: developing methods of religious education and religious teaching in the context of a religious environment and intercultural formation;- designing religious education classes on the basis of curricula, teaching material and media in a way that is didactically and methodically suited to the target group and putting it into practice; contributing to and reflecting upon interdenominational and interreligious projects.

Module 6

  1. Early Syriac Authors (1st- 5th century): Semitic-Poetic and Symbolic Theology (2 ECTS) 1 hour  In hymns, memre and madrashe (among others Ephrem, Aphrahat, Jacob of Serugh, Narsai). Aim to become familiar with the specific development concerning the history of dogma in the Syriac language and culture and analysing it in context, being familiar with the main features of systematic theology of the Syriac churches, classification and portrayal; identifying current issues within Syriac theology and independently reflecting upon them; qualification for independent analysis and representation of central beliefs und ethical norms; qualification for theological discourse in the area of tension between reason and faith.
  2. The Great Theologians in the Golden Age (5th to 9th century) Ecclesiology and Christology (3 ECTS) 2 hours  Christological and ecclesiological developments in East and West Syriac theology (among others Philoxenus of Mabbug, Severus of Antioch, Babai the Great). Aim: Being familiar with the specific development concerning the history of dogma in the Syriac language and culture and contextually analysing it;
    – being familiar with the main features of systematic theology of the Syriac churches, classification and portrayal;
    – identifying current issues within Syriac theology and independently reflecting upon them;
    – qualification for independent analysis and representation of central beliefs und ethical norms;
    – qualification for theological discourse in the area of tension between reason and faith.
  3. Selected Theological Topics of the Syriac Renaissance (11th – 13th century) (2 ECTS) 1 hour This seminar begins with a temporal delineation of the Syriac Renaissance, explaining why this period is different from the previous and the following times. One important intellectual orientation of some writers of this period is the growing awareness of the relative insignificance of the former Christological discussions which determined the theological agenda for many centuries, and the development of some forms of ‘ecumenical’ thinking. Another important characteristic is the openness to the “Islamicate” world, which lead to the creation of some new forms of Syriac literature, and in the case of some authors, to new strategies of interaction with the religious world of Islam. In this course we will read some selected fragments of important authors of this period such as Bar Brikha or Bar ‘Ebroyo. Aim: Being familiar with the specific development concerning the history of dogma in the Syriac language and culture and contextuality analysing it.
    Being familiar with the main features of systematic theology of the Syriac churches, classification and portrayal.
  4. Philosophy and Natural Sciences in the Works of Syriac Ecclesiastical Writers (6 ECTS) 2 hours To familiarise the student with the corpus of philosophical and scientific literature in Syriac, along with the historical circumstances of its development, including its relationship to the germane literature in Greek and Arabic, and the relationship of this kind of literature to the theological literature in Syriac. Texts will include early Syriac translations of Greek works and the philosophical/scientific writings of authors such as Sergius of Resh‘aina and Severus Sebokht, as well as later authors, often influenced by contemporary Arabic works, such as Severus bar Shakko and Bar ‘Ebroyo (Barhebraeus). Aim: familiarisation with the basic vocabulary and writing style used in Syriac philosophical and scientific literature, outline knowledge of the corpus of philosophical and scientific literature in Syriac, understanding of how the corpus relates to earlier Greek literature on the same subjects, understanding of the complex relationship between the philosophical/scientific literature in Syriac and Arabic.