The language of Jesus and Abraham is shared by only about 400,000 Arab Christians and 20,000 Jews today. Yona Tzabar, who teaches Semitic languages at UCLA, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Aramaic may disappear completely within four decades. "This is a world plague," he said. But many are working for preservation. Syria, for example, is giving incentives to residents of a Christian village to learn and speak the language. The U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities is funding a Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon. But the biggest boost may come from Hollywood: Mel Gibson is planning a film of Christ's Passion that will use only Aramaic and Greek—with no subtitles.

Related Elsewhere

Related articles include:

Groups try to revive Aramaic, language of both Abraham, Jesus—Jews, Christians, Arabs and others are trying to preserve the language of our sages and of Jesus. (JTA News, Aug. 25, 2002)
My vision of Jesus Christ, by Mel GibsonThe Times, London (Aug. 3, 2002)

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