The Catholic University of America

   Dr. Aaron M. Butts

Aaron Michael Butts (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2013) joined the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at The Catholic University of America in the fall of 2014 as an assistant professor. His research is focused on the languages, literatures, and history of Christianity in the Near East, especially Syriac as well as Arabic and Ethiopic. He has wide-ranging interests in ancient Christianity, spanning across a vast time period (from the New Testament to the early Islamic period), traversing an extensive geographic expanse (from Rome to Mesopotamia and beyond), and crossing diverse languages (including Greek, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Coptic). At CUA, he serves on the Executive Committee for the Center for the Study of Early Christianity. Dr. Butts' research is grounded in a linguistically-informed reading of texts. His principal linguistic approach is that of historical and comparative linguistics, including contact linguistics. Dr. Butts serves on the editorial board of Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies, and he is associate editor, as well as a member of the editorial board, for Aramaic Studies.



  • HSHU 101: Jesus to Muhammad: The Early Christians in the Mediterranean World
  • SEM 503/703: History of the Christian Near East (with J. Timbie)
  • SEM 631-632: Syriac Literature
  • SEM 642: Survey of Christian Arabic
  • SEM 551: Introduction to Classical Ethiopic
  • SEM 552: Readings in Classical Ethiopic
  • SEM 709: Introduction to Comparative Semitics


•    “The ‘Hellenization’ of Syriac Christianity: Evidence from Language,” Harvard Semitic Philology Workshop, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, March 4, 2015.
•    “Jews and Judaism in Syriac Literature,” Ancient Judaism Workshop, Yale University, New Haven, CT, March 5, 2015.
•    (with Simcha Gross), “Intersections between Syriac Christianity and (Babylonian) Judaism,” Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins (PSCO) on “Beyond ‘Greco-Roman Context’: Persian & Other Perspectives on Judaism & Christianity,” The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 1, 2015.
•    “Christian Arabic Translations of Syriac: The Case of Jacob of Serugh,” Symposium on Christian Arabic Literature, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto and the Canadian Society of Syriac Studies (CSSS), Toronto, Canada, Nov. 14, 2015.


Jacob of Sarug’s Homily on the Tower of Babel (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2009). vii + 64 pp.
Co-editor with Sebastian P. Brock, George A. Kiraz, and Lucas Van Rompay, Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2011). xl + 539 pp.
Editor, Semitic Languages in Contact (Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 82; Leiden: Brill, 2015). xxvi + 427 pp.
Language Change in the Wake of Empire: Syriac in its Greco-Roman Context (Linguistic Studies in Ancient West Semitic 11; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2016). ca. xvi + 280 pp.

Contributions to Reference Works
1-16. Entries in Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz, and Lucas Van Rompay (eds.), Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2011).
David Puniqoyo (117); Syriac contacts with Ethiopic Christianity (148-153); Gabriel bar Bokhtisho‘ (169-170); Hunayn b. Ishaq (205-206); Ibn al-Tayyib (206-207); Isho‘ bar ‘Ali (53-54), Isho‘ of Merv (215-216); Julian Romance (236-238); Old Syriac documents (314-317); Syriac Papyri (320-322); Apocryphal Psalms (341-342); (with S. P. Brock) Syriac Conferences (389-390); Syriac Language (390-391); Theodoros Abu Qurra (403-405); Theodoros bar Koni (405-406); Yahya b. ‘Adi (429-430).
17. “Ahiqar,” in S. Uhlig (ed.), Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag), vol. 5, 225-226.
18.-19. “Greek and Syriac” and “Greek Loanwords in Syriac,” in G. Giannakis (ed.), Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics (Leiden: Brill, 2014).
20-23. “Abgar,” “Harran,” “School of Nisibis,” and “Theodore of Mopsuestia,” in in Eric Orlin (ed.) (in collaboration with Lisbeth Fried, Jennifer Knust, Michael Satlow, and Michael Pregill), The Routledge Encyclopedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religions (New York: Routledge, 2015).
24-26. “Inscriptions, Semitic (general),” “Inscriptions, Semitic, Old South Arabian,” and “Writing, Semitic (pre-Islamic),” in Oliver Nicholson and Mark Humphries (eds.), The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Forthcoming.
27. “Old Syriac,” in Paul J.J. van Geest and Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte (eds.), Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (Leiden: Brill).



Journal Articles and Book Chapters
1.    “P.Duk.inv. 797 (U) – I Kingdoms 14:24-50 in Sahidic,” Le Muséon 118 (2005): 7-20.
2.    “Observations on the Verbless Clause in the Language of Neophyti I,” Aramaic Studies 4 (2006): 53-67.
3.    “A Sahidic Fragment of Matthew 17:20-18:22: P.Duk.inv. 241,” Journal of Coptic Studies 8 (2006): 43-48.
4.    “The Afflictions of Exile. A Syriac Memra by David Puniqaya,” Le Muséon 122 (2009): 53-80.
5.    “The Biography of the Lexicographer Isho bar Ali (Isa  b. Ali),” Oriens Christianus 93 (2009): 60-71.                             
6.    “A Note on nedarî?  in Ex 15:6,” Vetus Testamentum 60 (2010): 167-171.
7.    “The Etymology and Derivation of the Syriac Adverbial Ending ,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 69 (2010): 79-86.
8.    (with Humphrey Hill Hardy II), “A Revised Reading of a Nabataean Inscription from Umm al Jimal,” Journal of Semitic Studies 55 (2010): 385-389.
9.    “Reduplicated Nominal Patterns in Semitic,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 131 (2011): 83-108.
10.    “Greek μéν in Early Syriac,” Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 16 (2013): 211-223.
11.    “A Note on hbrk b‘l in the Phoenician Inscription from Karatepe,” MAARAV 20 (2013).
12.    “Embellished with Gold: The Ethiopic Reception of Syriac Biblical Exegesis,” Oriens Christianus 97 (2013/2014): 137-159.
13.    “In Search of Sources for Ibn al-Tayyib’s The Paradise of Christianity: Theodore Bar Koni’s Scholion,” Journal of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies 14 (2014): 3-29.   14.    “The Use of Syriac Derivational Suffixes with Greek Loanwords,” Orientalia 83 (2014): 207-237.
15.    “The Use of syame as a Phonological Marker in Syriac,” Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 18 (2015): 93-109.
16.    “The Integration of Consonants in Greek Loanwords in Syriac,” Aramaic Studies. Forthcoming.
17.    “Between Aramaic *´iðayn and Greek δé: The Linguistic History of Syriac den,” in H. Teule, E. Keser-Kayaalp, K. Akalln, N. Doru, M. S. Toprak  (eds.), Syriac in its Multi-Cultural Context (Eastern Christian Studies; Louvain: Peeters, 2015). 13-30. Forthcoming.
18.    “Latin Words in Classical Syriac,” Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 19 (2016). Forthcoming.
19.    “The Question-and-Answer Part of Ibn al Tayyib’s The Paradise of Christianity: An Ethiopic Translation (EMML 1839),” in Adam McCollum (ed.), Studies in Ethiopian Languages, Literature, and History, Presented to Getatchew Haile by his Friends and Colleagues (Äthiopistische Forschungen; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz). Forthcoming.
20.    “The Etymology of Aramaic (and Hebrew) √prns ‘to distribute, supply’,” Journal of the American Oriental Society. Forthcoming.
21.    “A Syriac Dialogue Poem between the Vine and Cedar by Dawid bar Pawlos,” in Enrique Jiménez, The Babylonian Disputation Poems. Palm and Vine and the Series of the Poplar (Culture and History of the Ancient Near East; Leiden: Brill). Forthcoming.
22.    “Assyrian Christians,” in Eckart Frahm (ed.), Companion to Assyria (Malden: Wiley Blackwell). Forthcoming.
23.    “A Note on Loanverbs in Semitic,” Journal of Semitic Studies. Forthcoming.
24.    (with Enrique Jiménez), “Good News (šimûtu)!,” Journal of the American Oriental Society. Forthcoming.
25.    “An Aramaic Cognate to Akkadian -iš, Hebrew , and Ugaritic -h,” in a forthcoming Festschrift.