Syriacs stake their claim on 1,500-year old Bible

Syriacs stake their claim on 1,500-year old Bible

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Syriacs stake their claim on 1,500-year old Bible

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The Syriac Universal Alliance penned a letter to Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay for a 1,500-year-old Aramaic Bible that remained in the state’s possession for 12 years to be handed over to them, claiming it belonged to the Syriac Christian community.

“The historic Bible bears great material significance for us. If [authorities] do not turn it over [to us], then let us open a joint museum as Turks and Syriacs in the Midyat district of [the southeastern province of] Mardin to exhibit the Bible there,” Şabo Hanna, the head of the Syriac Universal Alliance’s Culture Union Commission, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Law enforcement officials seized the historic Bible, which was written in the ancient Aramaic language using the Syriac alphabet, in 2000 in Turkey’s Mediterranean region. The Bible was then stored in Ankara’s Justice Hall where it stood in waiting for eight years before it was transferred to the Ethnography Museum. The Vatican also placed an official request to examine the scripture, according to reports.

“Many of our monasteries and churches in the region of Turabdin [Syriacs’ traditional homeland in southeastern Turkey] have been plundered. Nothing is left back. All kinds of seized artifacts [could be] exhibited in the culture museum-to-be,” Hanna said.

A group of 100 people would travel to Turkey to meet with officials, including Günay, and hold a series of talks in Ankara, he added.

Responding to a question about how they knew the Bible originated from the Syriac community, Hanna said they did not get the opportunity to examine the Bible closely but that it was written in the eastern dialect of the Syriac language.

Christian groups across Asia Minor had produced many Greek and Aramaic texts in history.

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