Religion: Speaking Jesus Language

Only a handful of Middle Eastern communities still speak Aramaic, the language in which Jesus preached. One is the Syrian village of Maloula, most of whose 1,000 inhabitants are Christian. The roots of their everyday speech go back at least to the 10th century B.C.; Aramaic was the language of parts of the Old Testament books of Daniel and Ezra, much of the Jerusalem Talmud and of the common people at the time of Christ, when Hebrew was used principally by the upper classes. Maloula, isolated in the hills, held out for centuries against both the Moslem religion and the Arabic...

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