Many Middle Eastern Christian groups identify or have been identified with preIslamic peoples in the Middle East: the Copts with Ancient Egypt, the Nestorians with Assyria, the Maronites with Phoenicians and some RumOrthodoxand other Christians with preIslamic Arab tribes. The concern of this study is the Syrian Orthodox Christians or Jacobite(s)(named after the 6th century Monophysite Christian bishop Yacoub Burd‘ono or Jacob Baradaeus of Urfa/Osrohene/Edessa), specifically those whose ancestry stems from the Tur Abdin region of Turkey, Diyarbekir, Mardin, Urfa, and Harput/Elazig. The introduction of the Ottoman milletsystem had divided the Middle East into ethnoreligious communities, the Eastern Christian minorities being a classic example. Of the various groups, the Syrian Orthodox Christians (Suryaniler, Suryani Kadim, Asuriler) are a case in point to identity issues including creation, evolution, fabrication, denial, and assimilation caused by both internal and external influences. The identity of this community is a major point of contention among the laity and the clergy, as well as among nonSyrian Orthodox scholars of Middle Eastern Studies.
Donabed, Sargon and Mako, Shamiran, "Ethno-cultural and Religious Identity of Syrian Orthodox Christians" (2009). Feinstein College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Papers. Paper 53.