Distance Education Programs in Aramaic Studies

Essential Information

While there are few online programs focusing on Aramaic studies, students interested in the language have several options for study through non-credit classes or master's degree programs in theology, religion or linguistics that include courses in Aramaic.

Non-credit courses in Aramaic may cover the language itself, teaching vocabulary words and grammar. Familiarity with the Hebrew alphabet may be required. These courses often look at the use of Aramaic in the Bible. Non-credit courses cannot be applied to a degree program and are usually designed for people simply seeking knowledge about a subject. They take only a few weeks to complete.

Master's programs in linguistics, religion or theology require several years of work. Linguistics programs may allow for a few courses that examine the Aramaic language regarding its origins and relations to other languages. Religion or theology master's degree programs also may include courses that involve Aramaic. Courses may cover the Old Testament, including the books of Daniel and Ezra, which were written in Aramaic.

Options for Aramaic Studies

Because Aramaic is a rare language, there are few online programs devoted specifically to its study. However, the language has a rich and significant history, so courses in several disciplines include discussions of Aramaic to varying extents. Some programs in theology and linguistics include courses that address the cultural, historical, literary and religious significance of Aramaic.

Program Information and Requirements

The characteristics and requirements of an online Aramaic study program will vary widely depending on a student's intentions and approach. Those with a strong interest in the linguistic or religious significance of Aramaic might pursue an online master's degree program in linguistics or theology, which would require several years' worth of coursework and a written thesis. On the other hand, a student with an amateur interest in the language might enroll in one or two non-credit online classes that would provide an introduction to the language and its cultural significance without requiring an entire degree program.

Online Aramaic courses will generally combine readings from a textbook or primary text with audio or video lectures delivered via the Internet. These courses allow students to view lessons and download course materials as needed, or they may require students to participate in real time. Any assignments must be turned in electronically before the stated due dates. Students should have access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection.

List of Aramaic Courses

In general, courses in Aramaic will fall under the category of either linguistics or theology. Some examples are given below, though the extent to which a given class of each type focuses on Aramaic, in particular, may vary widely.

Old Testament

A general course on the Old Testament might not focus exclusively on the study of Aramaic. However, it will give the interested student an introduction to what are perhaps the most famous Aramaic texts, the Biblical books of Daniel and Ezra. Studying these texts, even in translation, will offer a beginning familiarity with the cultural, literary and religious significance of the Aramaic language.

World Linguistics

An online world linguistics course introduces the basic world language families, including the Semitic branch to which Aramaic belongs. A comprehensive overview of global linguistics will give students an outline of how Aramaic is similar to languages such as Arabic and Hebrew, and of its unique qualities.

Biblical Aramaic

A course in biblical Aramaic provides a theological approach to the Aramaic language. Discussion generally focuses on the Old Testament, sometimes with supplementary coverage of Aramaic texts from the Talmud.

Continuing Education Information

A background in Aramaic studies can be useful for scholars in several fields. Students might consider graduate programs in history or linguistics. Knowledge of Aramaic is also useful in divinity schools, where speakers can read parts of the Old Testament and the Talmud in the original.

Students who are looking to study Aramaic online can find standalone courses that provide education in the structure and history of this ancient language. Classes may also be taken for credit toward a master's degree in religion or linguistics.

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