I read your recent article in the Register on the revived use of Aramaic in liturgy ("Demand is Rising for the Language that Jesus Spoke,” Dec. 13-19, 1998), and wish to share a few thoughts on this with your readers.
To begin, I am a recent convert to the Maronite Catholic rite, and prior to conversion, I have been associated with many Aramaic-speaking people, namely Assyrians—that was a big factor in my choice of the Maronite rite of the Church. As this is the case, I am pleased to see your excellent paper focusing on the Syriac traditions and would encourage you to do more in this area, being as the Catholic family has a substantial number of native Syriac speakers in three Eastern rites (Syrian, Maronite, and Chaldean). However, in reading the article, I noted a slight problem. Please let me elaborate.
The problem I speak of involves your use of one Rocco Errico as an expert. It needs to be noted that Errico's Noohra Foundation is an esoteric New Age cult, and not a reliable source of information on Syriac studies.
Read the article on Noohra, found in the current edition of J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions, which classifies Errico as a New Thought proponent who got his inspiration from a Bible “scholar” named George Lamsa who, despite being a native Syriac speaker, was cultic in his theology and soundly rejected by both the Catholic and Orthodox branches of the Syriac Church. Therefore, Errico is not in conformity with sound Catholic belief, and should be anathema-tized, instead of consulted as a so-called “authority.”
In conclusion, to obtain the best sources on Syriac language, why don't you consult the native speakers themselves? For anyone wanting to know how, it is suggested that you ask your parish priest, or consult the local phone directory to find out if there are Maronite, Syrian, or Chaldean parishes in the locality. If so, that would be the best source of information. Also, there are non-Catholic Syrian Orthodox and Assyrian parishes in the U.S. that might be willing to answer your questions. I hope this will be of use to all readers of this fine piece of Catholic journalism. Shlomo Barikhlookh.
St. Petersburg, Florida