Our father was an erring Aramaean

Things need to be developed. Clarified, explained. The medias will not bec. they mix things up and do not have the expertise to describe such “normal and expected new situations”. It is but far more than any propaganda, either side. To begin with, of course, it is easy to show a young if not “attractive” woman, an “Arab”, at least a Semit female soldier. And Mona Liza is best. Now, seriously, Gideon Saar left for a leave from politics and his last action was to confirm the new “Israeli Aramean” nationality for those local citizens of Israel who do not cope or recognize themselves (first of all themselves) as Arabs or Palestinians. She realistically explains that the went to school in ISrael, i.e. she went through her studies in Hebrew, inside of Israeli society that is widely clutching together and all much open-minded, “futurist”. It means that Hebrew standards, economic and social prestige do function. Many are also aware that they share the same destiny (not fate) as the Israelis, while some Israelis would be anxious to defend the Arabs. She defines herself as many today as a full part of Israel, aware that acting is also protecting all “leom/לאום ”, national group as one collectivity. Most of these Christians do not have any word of Aramaic, except those they do hear among the Jews (the traditional prayers as the Kaddish or Hebrew/Yiddish slang).

The “Aramaic eagle” that is present in all the Fertile Crescent region as from Egypt to Iraq and to the East, becomes the evident sign of a “old-new” identity. It should not become a golem/a sorcerer’s apprentice play or an attempt and even a test to open Pandora’s box that may soon break up or get “isolated”. On the other hand, indeed, there is something new: the Church has to take this into account though is is not directly linked with Faith. The Church of Jeruslaem, actually the Greek Roman Church of Jerusalem is Orthodox and the first in the country according to the firmans that always confirmed a basic fact, reality that nobody can change: the Gospel was given in Greek, there is a universal imprint in that – still, from apostolic times, Aramaic has always been used along with Greek, at least in the Early Church. The different schisms that affected and still strongly impact the Church, in particular in Jerusalem, caused a significant theological and linguistic estrangement (Hans Urs von Balthasar). It also drifted to fragmentation of the Christian One Body of Christ.

“Aramaeans” as opposed to “Arabs”? Cautious: the Greek Church has been present till nowadays in all of the Mediterranean areas, as the successor of the initial Pentarchy (the five first Patriarchates of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem). Last year, we celebrated [to be frank commemorated with some discretion compared to the message that went to be worldwide,] the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan taken in 313 A.D. by Emperor Constantine of the East and the West (Roman Empire). It was extending from Spain till Persia. It was the Edict of Tolerance, recognition of the Christian reality inside of the then-Roman society. It was both insightfully political and mixed with a progressive way to faith.

The “Aramaic-speaking” Church was then extending till India and furthermore to Tibet, China, Mongolia. It was present from the very beginning in the Oriental part of the Church.

The Arabs are locally of all possible descents. To begin with, they are Semits. There is an authentified connection with the Jews who remained in the country after the destruction of the Temple. Arabic appeared as a language in the 6th century, mainly due to the Qur’an and Muhammad. But Arabia is multi-faceted: in Israel-Palestinian Territories, we are in the first part of Arabia (Sinai, Israel, Jerusalem), while second Arabia is located in the East (Jordan, Arab Peninsula). In the Acts of the Apostles (2:11), there were Arabs (Jews! from the Arab regions) on the day of Pentecost. They were Jews who came to Jerusalem for the feast of the Giving of the Torah (Shavuot) and there were no “Christians” as such at that time.

Then, Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem who was at the head of all the local Churches in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 636 A.D. was also of Arab descent. He received the Edict of Tolerance or Achitame given by Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, the great Muslim general that allowed the Christians to worship in the Holy Land.

I mean: we all belong to the omophoron of the Church of Jerusalem. Volens, nolens, the Greek Orthodox (Rum = Roman) Church of Jerusalem historically gathers in all the faithful. She will continue her service because things are subtle, but we all have to be faithful to the deposit of the tradition and the way the Lord has been proclaimed.

On the other hand, it is evident that Israel re-deploys in a way that has not been anticipated by the long-age local Churches. Thus, the local believers have to be recognized for who they are. Many of them are now Israeli. They are not Israel ithe way the faithful who came from abroad are. The times of “colonialism” are passing away. The Churches from abroad will find new patterns in Israeli society. It is a long path.

The Jewish tradition can understand that the “Aramaeans” be a part of Israeli society in multi-faceted ways. These do not match with the classical standards of the Churches because of the powerful diachronic estrangement existing and developing between Judaism and Christianity. there is a sort of smoke-screen that, beyond slow discussions, blur the reality of the ongoing theological “dispute”.

The Syrian-Orthodox became “Assyrian-Ashurim/אשורים ” citizens of Israel a decade ago due to the insights of Archbishop Swarios of the Syrian-Orthodox. True, they share the Aramaic language (Turoyo is pronounced the same way as Yiddish and some Yemenite dialects) as present in the Middle-Eastern tradition. This led to juridical and legal rights, not theological agreement or mutual recognition.

The more the Thirteen official Churches of Jerusalem, present in Eretz Canaan and Israel, subsequent in the State of Israel as from 1967 (all the Churches being under the Israeli Law), endeavor to discuss as their top leaders do but maintain their strong identity rules, the more Israel is able to take advantage of the situation. There maybe more and more groups that would join the State of Israel, not becauseo f any spiritual and/or theological recognition of the State of the Jews as defined since 1917 and subsequently 1948 (Declaration of Independence).

Israel is not only a state, even if many citizens of all descents may not agree with a strict definition of a “Jewish identity state”. Israel embodies the “catholicity of Judaism and Jewishness” as declared by French Aimé Pallière in his “Unknown Sanctuary/Le Sanctuaire Inconnu”. Her service of the One God re-deploys, quite strongly in Israel, a natural trend. It may itch. It should not ache too much.

On the other hand, it is attractive for some Christians, first for legal reasons, then maybe because Israel does offer a new way to prophetism, also to the Christians and not only them.

Identity is the major concern in our area, it should not blur or erase the reality of oneness, divine and human unity.

Link to the article of “The Examiner”: “http://www.examiner.com/article/israel-s-arab-christians-get-back-to-their-aramaic-roots

 

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