Monday, September 3, 2007

Syriac Tools and Resources

UPDATE 2008.07.03 - Instead of trying to keep this blog entry current, I have an updated version of these resources listed HERE. Please consult this page which supercedes the info below.

A compilation of stuff you need to work with the Syriac biblical texts.

Some old TrueType fonts are still available at the SBL site (SPEdessa) and at (Estrangelo). What you really want, however, are the Unicode Syriac fonts such as TITUS Cyberbit or the wonderful collection of Meltho OpenType, Syriac scripts at Beth Mardutho. If you want to see what the fonts look like, go to this gallery page. (This page indicates that Syriac is not supported by TITUS Cyberbit, but the latest version I have linked above does indeed include it.)

Here's your best guide to getting your system set up for Syriac and registering the keyboards. For biblical text work, I recommend that you install the Syriac Phonetic keyboard. Do you forget where all the accent and such are located on the keyboard? Then try the free UniqTitus Keyboard layout addin for MS Word. It's Unicode compliant and works well for Greek, Hebrew, and transliteration.

The Peshitta is the primary text of interest for biblical scholars. (The linked Wikipedia article looks quite accurate and is worth checking.)
Old Testament

  • A digital version of the Old Testament is available at the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon project (CAL). If you start at this page, you can invoke the Masoretic text, Targumim, and the Peshitta (be sure to check the "display Peshitta" box) all in parallel. Very nice! (Note, however, that for the Syriac to appear in a Syriac font, you need to be using IE7 or at least Firefox using an IE rendering.) Alternatively, you can start at this page and get the full Peshitta OT text (after a quick and free acceptance of terms). An outstanding feature of this display is that you can click on the verse number to get a full analysis of every word in the text. Be sure to select the viewing font (in the upper left corner; the Meltho-Unicode is recommended if you've installed the Meltho fonts listed above) before you select the text.
  • Images of the Ceriani edition of Codex Ambrosiano of the Syriac Peshitta OT are available here.
New Testament
  • For texts of the Peshitta NT, you can get them here or here (under Tools > Word Docs) as MS Word DOCS using the Estrangelo font from listed above. (The files appear to be the same at both sites.) There are beautiful PDFs of the Peshitta NT available for download at the Beth Sapra project. Also a part of the Beth Sapra Library, you can download PDFs of Tetraeuangelium Sanctum (The Four Holy Gospels) by Philip Edward Pusey and George Henry Gwilliam, 1901. Read the notes on the page about this critical edition.
  • The Four Gospels in Syriac Transcribed from the Sinaitic Palimpsest by Bensly, Harris, and Burkitt is available here.
  • This page of Syriac NT resources has four versions of the Peshitta NT: ones using Serto, Estrangella, Unicode (Serto Batnan, but any of the Unicode Meltho fonts can be used), and a Romanized text version.
  • Want some images of actual manuscripts? Try here or here (PDFs with image, transcription, translation) or here.
Other Syriac Texts
For English translations of the Peshitta, you have a number of options in the public domain.
  • Of course the standard lexicon for the Syriac is the Payne Smith Compendious Syriac Dictionary. It is available online for free here, and it is broken down by initial letter, but it is basically a collection of image files which makes it rather cumbersome to find a desired entry. You can, however, buy a "Syriac Lexicons" CD of the book as a PDF scan for only $18. I'm not sure if it is the same PDF collection, but an explicitly "searchable and bookmarked" edition of it is available for download for $45 here. If you want the original Latin volumes, the Internet Archive has it here for free. (BTW, if you do want a hardcopy, I want to commend Wipf & Stock for producing a paperback version priced at a mere $36. )
  • An excellent online lexicon is available at the Dukhrana site. Lots of options for searching (English, Syriac, Lexeme, Root, Word ID), choice of fonts, and results allow for further research such as showing all inflected forms with analysis.
  • Similarly, the site (under Tools > Lexicon) offers a nice Lexicon / Concordance searchable by English, Word Number, Aramaic, Lexeme, or Root.
  • There is a free, downloadable "Syriac Lexicon and Parser for the NT" based on the Kiraz' Sedra 3 data available on this page.
  • The CAL site provides a lexicon, but it is somewhat more awkward to use.
  • For a downloadable Syriac dictionary you can run independent of the web, use the Beth Mardutho one based on the SEDRA database.
  • For a free, online grammar of "Assyrian Aramaic," this appears to be a very nice site.
  • At the Beth Sapra Online Library, you can download PDFs of a bibliography, the 1906 The Elements of Syriac, and Eberhard Nestle's 1900 Syriac Grammar.
  • BibleWorks7 comes with the Aramaic New Testament (Peshitta), with the Etheridge (1849), Lewis (1896), Murdock (1851), Norton (1881), and Magiera (2005) English translations. The OT is not included, and the Syriac text is not analyzed or linked to any lexicon.
  • Logos3 includes the Syriac Peshitta NT with Morphology along with editions of Codices Curetonianus and Sinaiticus in their Original Language, Silver, and Gold libraries. (The Peshitta NT can also be purchased separately for a list price of $19.95.) The Silver and Gold libraries (why not the Original Languages one??) also include the Analytical Lexicon of the Syriac NT. (Also available separately.) In Logos3, therefore, one can double click on any word in the Syriac text, and it will invoke the correct lexicon entry. There are not, however, any English translations available unless you buy the rather expensive ($179.95 list on pre-pub) Gorgias Press Syriac Collection which includes the Murdock translation along with 8 other books.
  • Accordance for the MAC, like Logos3, offers the Syriac Peshitta NT with Morphology along with editions of Codices Curetonianus and Sinaiticus. (But unlike Logos3, it will cost you $100.) Murdock's translation is also included, but I can't find that any Syriac lexicon is.
  • The NT Peshitta in Hebrew letters is available in the Online Bible.
  • The Murdoch translation of Peshitta NT is available for e-Sword.
For Further Study
  • The Aramaic Peshitta Bible Repository offers quite a bit of information and access to tools for studying the Aramaic NT.
  • There are numerous resources at Under the Introduction heading is background information and links to fonts. There are a number of articles, tools (links to a grammar [cached page], lexicon, font encoding, Word DOCS), an interlinear NT (Matthew-Acts), a forum, music, and more links.
  • Also check out the Beith Morounoye site which provides a history of the Syriac language and lessons in Syriac along with other devotional resources.
  • The Syriac Orthodox Church has helpful background information on the Syriac Bible and various editions and commentaries.
  • Additionally, use this Google Books search link to find all the books with full views with Syriac in their titles. (The 29 hits that were returned on 2007.10.04 are mostly old grammars and catalogue listings, but there are some interesting texts and other reference works in the mix.)


  1. Don't suppose you could comment on the Bibleworks add-on module APNT (Aramaic Peshitta New Testament Database; Magiera)? There is a positive review of it on the Bibleworks forums which has encouraged me to consider purchasing it. (
    PS It's not included in your BW7 Texts Excel file either.

  2. Hi, Joel. I don't have the APNT add-on module. I do actually have it on the Excel list, however. Note that BW7 does come with the Magiera Peshitta NT English translation (MGI) and with the Peshitta NT in Syriac (PES) and Hebrew (PEH) script. What the APNT module adds is the morphological coding linked in the matching PEM and PMH texts.

  3. I thought I'd mention a couple of new resources from Logos Bible Software, released on the Pre-Pub page within the past few weeks.

    First, we're hoping to gather enough interest to move forward with a massive collection of Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Syriac grammars and lexicons. In particular: Nöldeke's Compendious Syriac Grammar, R. Payne Smith's Compendious Syriac Dictionary, and Eberhard Nestle's Syriac Grammar. Here's the collection: Biblical Languages: Reference Grammars and Introductions (19 Vols.)

    The other project we're working on is the Leiden Peshitta. This will include the entire running text of the OT and NT, plus deutero-canonical works, along with a limited critical apparatus. (This also underlies the Brill edition.)

  4. Thank you very much for this comprehensive list of Aramaic/Syriac resources which are available on the Internet. It's great to see these collected together into one place. The number of Aramaic-related resources are steadily growing as more people become interested in Aramaic.

  5. Thanks. BTW, be sure to check the page I keep updated here:
    I've added your to the list of resources.