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The claims of Fr. Sarhad Jammo and Ghassan Hanna

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The claims of Fr. Sarhad Jammo and Ghassan Hanna

Jul-05-2000 at 01:46 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

Fr. Sarhad Jammo of the Chaldean Catholic Church claims that the members of his Church are ethnically Chaldeans based on a theory which is built basically on the following: The Chaldeans of antiquity were the last native political power which ruled in Bet Nahren (626-539 B.C.), and because the Chaldeans of antiquity spoke Aramaic and today's members of the Chaldean Catholic Church do too!

What kind of an argument is this?! The Chaldeans of antiquity moved to southern Bet Nahren from the Sealand region (south of Basrah) or Elam (southwest Persia) and settled in around the 10th century B.C. and since their political power came to an end in 539 B.C., accordingly, they existed in southern Bet Nahren for 400 years. The Chaldeans of antiquity with the Persians, Greek, and Arameans assimilated in the Babylonian society later on. This cosmopolitan society was the first to accept Islam in the middle of the 7th century when Islam moved across Mesopotamia and lost its language, heritage and culture. Christianity in that region lost very quickly to the Arab Muslims because of the high taxes applied on the non-Muslims (ahil al-dimma or al-nasarah) living in southern Bet Nahren. So Christians were converting in mass numbers to get rid of those heavy taxes. Church records indicate clearly that Bishoprics in southern Bet Nahren were lost at a fast rate, contrary to those in the Assyrian region, where centers of Christianity resisted and continued to exist to this present day, one example of such center is Arbil.
Many other civilizations are known to have settled in southern Bet Nahren and from much earlier times, why insist on the Chaldeans of antiquity to have survived alone? Why not the Sumerians, the Amorites, the Babylonians, the Kassites, or others? all of whom settled in southern Bet Nahren and some for a longer time. Just because the Pope called the Nestorian Assyrians who followed Rome Chaldeans does not mean that they are descendents of the Chaldeans of antiquity! Just because the Chaldeans were the last native power, as Fr. Jammo puts it, in Bet Nahren does not prove anything.
Based on such theory, Arab Muslims came to Bet Nahren around AD 630 and they ruled politically until the collapse of the house of the Caliphate in AD 1258 (ruling for 600 years and not 87 only as the Chaldeans) at the hands of the Mongols, so according to this theory of Fr. Sarhad Jammo we should call ourselves Arabs!! (much later than the Chaldeans)
The Ottoman Turks moved in Bet Nahren in AD 1534 and ruled it till World War I, and officially until 1921 when Amir Faisal was proclaimed king of Iraq, hence ruling for about 400 years, so according to Fr. Sarhad Jammo we must call ourselves Turks!! (more recent history)

The language theory of Fr. Sarhad Jammo is weaker than the previous claim. It is a known fact that everybody in the entire Middle East region spoke Aramaic around 750 BC. The Arab tribes around Babylon, the Arameans of course, the Babylonians, and even the Persians in power in Babylon in 539 BC, they spoke Aramaic too. So what does that prove?!

How did the Chaldeans of antiquity, who lived in southern Bet Nahren, end up in Nineveh and the surrounding villages and towns? Two points we need to shed the lights on at this stage: -

A) The Chaldeans of antiquity NEVER lived in Assyria. Here are only few quotes to prove that, many more accounts are available.
1. It is also interesting to note that the name Kaldu or Chaldeans has not been mentioned in any of the tablets left during the neo Babylonian periode. For example throughout the tablets concerning the fall of Assyria Nebupolassar and Nebuchadnezzar are called " the King of Akkad" (shar Akkad) rather than the "Chaldean King" however the English translator has labled these records as the "Chronicles of the Chaldean Kings". Read D.J. Wisemans "Chronicles of the Chaldean Kings"
2. In The Conquest of Civilization , by James Henry Breasted, we read;
"When the Medes, in 614 BC marched down the Tigris and captured Assur, Nebuchadnezzar II arrived too late to share in the assault. He did establish an alliance with Cyaxares, the Median king, and together they attacked Nineveh but the Medes were left in possession of the northern mountains of Assyria."
(Breasted is telling us that Chaldean kings of Babylon did not settle in Nineveh)
3. Arab historians too support this fact, here is what Dr. Zubair Bilal Ismael in his study Arbil and its Historical Periods wrote in regards to the Medes march to Nineveh in 614 BC ;
Arbil fell to the Medes. Asia Minor and the Assyrian Empire was split between the Medes and the Babylonians, the Medes took the upper parts of Mesopotamia, including the Land of Ashur and the Babylonians controlled the southern parts of Bet Nahrain, Syria and Palestine......
(Translated from Arabic by the author of this article)
4. Georges Roux in his book Ancient Iraq wrote about the events of the fall of the city of Assur in 614 BC, he stated ; The Babylonians arrived too late to take part in the action. Then he attest to the fact that the Babylonians did not live in Assyria, by what he wrote next;
The Babylonians remained in full possession of Assyria, but did not occupy it and made no attempt to repair the damage they had caused. All their efforts were devoted to the religious and cultural revival of southern Mesopotamia, and in the field of foreign policy to the protection of the Taurus frontier and the subjection of Syria-Palestine.

B) There have been no records, whatsoever, of any massive migration from southern Bet Nahren to Nineveh at any time. Moreover, it is a well known fact that southern Bet Nahren (Babylonia) was a very cosmopolitan region, unlike Assyria. Accordingly, to single out that the Chaldeans of antiquity, alone, migrated from southern Bet Nahren to Assyria and ignoring other groups like the Sumerians, Babylonians, Amorites, Kassites, Persians, and many others, this shatters any migration argument. The only migration we know of in history and theology books is that of the Nestorian Patriarchal See from Seleucia-Ctesiphon (al-mada-in) to the new capital Baghdad in 762 (only 15 miles to the north). A large percentage of the inhabitants of the southern parts of Babylonia at this time had become Muslim. We know too of the move of the Nestorian See to Rabban Hurmiz near Mosul as Baghdad fell in 1258 to Hulago which marked the end of the Caliphate era, and from there to Kochanes/Hakkari to escape the Tamerlane destruction in 1400. During these two moves only the Patriarch, his immediate family living with him, and a bishop or two moved along with whatever valuable books they could carry with them.

So, if the Chaldeans of antiquity never settled in Assyria, and if there is no evidence of any massive migration of the Chaldeans of antiquity from southern Bet Nahren to Assyria, the question which will rise accordingly should read: Who then are these Chaldeans living in Nineveh and the surrounding towns?

The only truth about this whole issue is the fact that it was the Pope, in 1681, who created this title, Chaldean, for those Nestorians in the Mosul region who became Catholics and followed Rome.


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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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