Hidden Genius in an Arab Christian Text
- Hidden Genius in an Arab Christian Text
by Father Dale A. Johnson
Syriac speaking Christians of Lebanon like many Christians in the Middle East struggled for a thousand years to resist the use of the Arabic language. At first they wrote their prayers with Syriac letters to represent the sounds and meanings of Arabic. This was called Kharshuni. Then Syriac speaking Christians began to use dual language books written in Arabic and Syriac. Bishops and Patriarches forbid Syriac Christians to use Arabic in worship. Finally, Christians of the Levant submitted to writing their prayers and their liturgy in Arabic. The influence of Arabic brought few positive contributions to Christian culture of the Middle East. The prohibition of Islam against images of people or animals was generally adopted by Arab Christians. For the most part Christians east of the Euphrates avoided the iconoclastic controversies of the 9th and 10th centuries. The Arab mind was often focused on nature and geometry. Both of these themes found their way into Syriac art.
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