With the caveat that a formally trained linguist could probably amplify
and refine the following, Syriac is one of the more important dialects of
Eastern Aramaic, others being Mandaean, Eastern Neo-Assyrian and the Aramaic of
the Babylonian Talmud. According to the Encylopedia Britannica, s.v. "Aramaic
language," East Aramaic is still spoken by a few small groups of Jacobite and
Nestorian Christian in the Middle East. Palestinian-Christian Aramaic belonged
to Western Aramaic. The only extant thing I can think of that is written in
the latter is the Targum of Pseudo Jonathan.
Eusebius reports that Matthew originally circulated in "Hebrew"
(supposedly Aramaic). I don't have the citation handy at the moment and must
finish this up quickly, but any good commentary on Matthew should mention it.
Or maybe someone on the list will supply the quote.
Regards to all,
-- David L. Moore Director Miami, Florida, USA Department of Education firstname.lastname@example.org Southeastern Spanish District http://www.netcom.com/~dvdmoore of the Assemblies of God