Syriac Historical Writing


  • ET = English translation
  • FT = French translation
  • GT = German translation
  • LT = Latin translation


Main West Syriac Chronicles

Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor:Ecclesiastical History (6th cent.)

also includes Joseph and Aseneth7 Sleepers of EphesusSilvester, and Baptism of Constantine.

Text: E.W. Brooks, CSCO 83–4/38–39 (replaces Land, Anecdota Syriaca 3).

LT: Brooks, CSCO 87–88/41–2.

ET: F.J. Hamilton and E.W. Brooks (1899).

Study: E. Honigmann, Patristic Studies (SeT 173, 1952), 194–204.

John of Ephesus: Ecclesiastical History (6th cent.)

Text: E.W. Brooks, CSCO 105/54 (= Part III; Fragments of Parts I–II: CSCO 104/53).

LT: Brooks, CSCO 106/55 (= Part III; Fragments of Parts I–II: cp J-B. Chabot in ROC 2; much of Part II is preserved in Pseduo-Dionysius).

ET: R. Payne Smith (1860) (Part III). J. van Ginkel (in preparation, Part III).

GT: J.M. Schonfelder (1862).

Study: J. van Ginkel, diss.Groningen (1995).

Pseduo-Dionysius of Tellmahre: Chronicle (`Zuqnin Chronicle') (8th cent.)

Text: J-B. Chabot, CSCO 91/43 and 104/53.

LT of vol.I: Chabot, CSCO 121/66.

FT of vol.II: R. Hespel, CSCO 507/213.

ET of vol.I, pp.235–317 ("Joshua the Stylite", AD 495–507): W. Wright, 1882; J. Watt and F. Trombley, TTH 2000; German translation A. Luther (1997).

FT of vol.I, pp.235–317: P. Martin (1876).

ET of vol.II: A. Harrak (Toronto, 1999).

ET of vol. II, pp.2–145 (Derived mostly from John of Ephesus, Book II): W. Witakowksi, TTH (1995).

ET of vol.II, pp.147–60: A.N. Palmer, The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles [=SCWSC] (1993), 53–70.

FT of vol.II, pp.145–376: Chabot, 1895.

Studies: W. Witakowski, The Syriac Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius (Uppsala, 1987).

A.N. Palmer, "Who Wrote the Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite", Festgabe fur J. Assfalg (1990), 272–84.

J.W. Watt, "Greek historiography and the Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite", After Bardaisan: Studies in Honour of H.J.W. Driijvers (1999), 317–27.

W. Witakowski, "The Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius for the Third Part of his Chronicle", Orientalia Suecana 40 (1991), 252–75

———, "The Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre for the Second Part of his Chronicle", in J.O. Rosenqvist (ed.), Leimon: Studies Pres. to L. Ryden (1996), 181–210.

———, "The Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre for the Christian Epoch of the First Part of his Chronicle", After Bardaisan: Studies in Honour of H.J.W. Drijvers(1999), 329–66.

M. Whitby, "The Era of Philip and the Chronicle of Zuqnin", Classica et Mediaevalia 43 (1992), 179–85.

Dionysius of Tellmahre: Ecclesiastical and Secular History (9th cent.)

Text (fragment only): Brooks, CSCO 84/39, pp.219–24.

LT: Brooks, CSCO 88/42.

ET (reconstruction, on basis of (5) and (6), of material on 7th century): A.N. Palmer, SCWSC, pp.85–221.

Study: R. Abramowski, Dionysius von Tellmahre (1940).

Michael the Great: Chronicle (12th cent.)

Text and FT: J-B. Chabot (1899–1910).

Studies: M. Morony, "Michael the Syrian as a Source for Economic History", Hugoye 3:2 (2000).

J. van Ginkel, "Making History: Michael the Syrian and his Sixth-Century Sources", Symposium Syriacum VII (1998), 351–8.

D. Weltecke, "The World Chronicle by Patriarch Michael the Great: Some Reflections", Journal of the Assyrian Academic Society 11:2 (1997), 6–29.

———, "Originality and Function of Formal Structures in the Chronicle of Michael the Great", Hugoye 3:2 (2000).

Bibliography: W. Hage, TRE 22 (1992), 710–12.

Anonymous: Chronicle ad annum 1234

Text: Chabot, CSCO 81/36 and 82/37.

LT of vol.I: Chabot, CSCO 109/56.

FT of vol.II: A. Abouna and J-M. Fiey, CSCO 354/144 [including index].

Barhebraeus: Chronicle

Text: P. Bedjan (1890); Bar Hebraeus Verlag (1987).

Text and ET: E.A.W. Budge (1932).

Study: S.R. Todt, Der Islam 65 (1986), 60–80 [compares his Syriac and Arabic chronicles].

Barhebraeus: Ecclesiastical History

Text and LT: J.B. Abbeloos and T.J. Lamy (1872–7).

Bibliography on Bar Hebraeus: J-M. Fiey, Parole de l'Orient 13 (1986), 279–312.


Shorter West Syriac Chronicles

Chronicle of Edessa (6th cent.)

Text and LT: I. Guidi, Chronica Minora I, CSCO 1/1 and 2/2.

Text and GT: L. Hallier, TuU 9,1 (1892).

ET: B.H. Cowper, Journal of Sacred Literature 5 (1865), 28–45.

Study: W. Witakowski, "Chronicles of Edessa", Orientalia Suecana 33/5 (1984/6), 487–98.

Maronite Chronicle

Text and LT: Brooks, Chronica Minora II, CSCO 3/3 and 4/4.

ET of pp. 69–74: Palmer, SCWSC, pp. 29–35.

GT: T. Noldeke, ZDMG 29 (1875), 82–98 [with commentary].

FT: F. Nau, ROC 4 (1899), 322–8.

Jacob of Edessa (d.708), Chronicle

Text and LT (fragments only): Brooks, Chronica Minora III, CSCO 5/5 and 6/6.

ET: Brooks, ZDMG 53 (1899), 261–327, and 54 (1900), 100–102.

ET of 324–7: Palmer, SCWSC, pp. 36–42.

Anonymous fragments in Berlin, Sachau 315 (on AD 501–6, 763–4)

Text and LT: Brooks, Chronica Minora III, CSCO 5/5 and 6/6.

Chronicle of disasters 712–716

Text and FT: Nau, Journal Asiatique XI.5 (1915), pp. 253–6, 264–7.

ET: Palmer, SCWSC, pp. 45–8.

Chronicle ad annum 724

Text and LT: Brooks, Chronica Minora II, pp. 76–155, CSCO 3/3 and 4/4.

ET of pp.138–154, 155: Palmer, SCWSC, pp. 5–24, 49–50.

Study: Palmer, in P. Canivet and J-P. Rey-Coquais, La Syrie de Byzance a l'Islam (Damascus, 1992), 31–46.

Chronicle ad annum 775

Text and LT: Brooks, Chronica Minora III, pp. 337–49, CSCO 5/5 and 6/6.

ET p. 348: Palmer SCWSC, pp. 51–2.

Chronicle ad annum 813

Text and LT: Brooks, Chronica Minora III, CSCO 5/5 and 6/6.

ET: Brooks, ZDMG 54 (1900), 195–230.

Chronicle ad annum 819

Text: E. Barsaum, CSCO 81/36

LT: Chabot, CSCO 109/56.

ET pp. 10–15: Palmer, SCWSC, pp. 75–80.

Chronicle ad annum 846

Text and LT: Brooks, Chronica Minora II, CSCO 3/3 and 4/4.

ET: Brooks, ZDMG 51 (1897), 569–88.

ET pp. 230–32: Palmer SCWSC, pp. 80–84.


East Syriac Chronicles

Fragment in Vatican Syriac 179

Text and LT: Brooks, Chronica Minora II, CSCO 3/3 and 4/4.

Barhadbeshabba `Arbaya: Ecclesiastical History

Text and FT: Nau, PO 9 (Part II), and PO 23 (Part I).

Chronicle of Arbela

Text and FT: A. Mingana, Sources syriaques I (1907).

Text and GT: P. Kawerau, CSCO 467/199 and 468/200.

LT: F. Zorell, Orientalia Christiana 8 (1927), 144–204.

GT: E. Sachau, Die Chronik von Arbela (AbhKglPreussAkWiss, 1915), phil.-hist.Kl. nr 6.

Studies: P. Peeters, Analecta Bollandiana 43 (1925), 263– ; I. Ortiz de Urbina, OCP 2 (1936), 5–33; J. Assfalg, Oriens Christianus 50 (1966), 19–36; J-M. Fiey, L'Orient Syrien 12 (1967), 265–302; W. Hage, The Harp 1:2/3 (1988), 39–46.

Anonymous Chronicle (`Guidi's Chronicle/Khuzistan Chronicle')

Text and LT: I. Guidi, Chronica Minora I, CSCO 1/1 and 2/2.

Text and Arabic Translation: P. Haddad (Baghdad, 1976).

GT: Noldeke, SbAkWissWien B.128 (1893) [with commentary].

ET: S.P. Brock (forthcoming).

Study: P. Nautin, RHR (1982), 303–14 [suggests Elia of Merv as author].

John of Phenek, Rish Melle

Text and FT of Book XV: Mingana, Sources syriaques I (1907).

ET of Book XV: Brock, in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 9 (1987), 51–75 [reprinted in Studies in Syriac Christianity (1992), ch.II].

Elijah of Nisibis: Opus Chronologicum

Text and LT: Brooks and Chabot, CSCO 62/21–22 and 63/23–24.

FT: L. Delaporte (1910).

GT (excerpts): F. Baethgen (1884).


East Syriac Sources in Arabic (Including Translations of Lost Syriac Originals)

Chronicle of Seert

Text and FT: A. Scher, PO 4, 5 7, 13.

Index to Part I: PO 5, pp. 335–42.

Index to Part II: Fiey, in MUSJ 42 (1966), 201–18.

Studies: P. Nautin, RHR 186 (1974), 113–26 [Isho`dnah as possible author]; J-M. Fiey, Parole de l'Orient 6/7 (1975/6, 449–59 [on Nautin's suggestion]; L. Sako, Parole de l'Orient 14 (1987), 155–66 [on sources].

Mari, 'Amr and Sliba, De Patriarchis Nestorianorum Commentaria

Text and LT: H. Gismondi, 1896–9.

B. Holmberg, "A Reconsideration of the Kitab al-Magdal", Parole de l'Orient 18 (1993), 255–73.



Short Melkite Chronicle

Text and FT: A. de Halleux, Le Muséon 91 (1978), 5–44.


Seventh-Century Apocalyptic Literature


Text and GT: G. Reinink, CSCO 540/220 and 541/221 (1993), with bibliography. [Replaces earlier edition by Suermann (1985)].

Text and ET: F.J. Martinez, diss. Catholic University (Washington, DC, 1985).

Text and GT: H. Suermann, Die geschichtstheologische Reaktion... (1985).

ET: P. Alexander, The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition (Berkeley, 1985), 36–51.

ET of excerpt on seventh century: Brock, in Palmer, SCWSC, 222–42.

Edessene fragment

Text and FT: Nau, Journal Asiatique XI.9 (1917), 415–71.

Text and ET: Martinez [see (28)], 206–46.

Text and GT: Suermann [see (28)], 86–97.

Studies: G. Reinink, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 83 (1990), 31–45; and in A. Cameron and L.I. Conrad (eds), The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East: I. Problems in the Literary Source Material (Princeton, 1992), 149–88.

Gospel of the Twelve Apostles

Text and ET: J. Rendel Harris (1900).

Study: H.J.W. Drijvers, in A. Cameron and L.I. Conrad (eds), The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East, I. Problems in the Literary Source Material, 189–213.


Monastic Histories

History of the Monastery of Beth Qoqa (early 9th cent.)

Text and FT: A. Mingana, Sources syriaques (1907), 171–220 (text), 221–71 (translation).

Isho`dnah, Liber Castitatis (9th cent.)

Text and FT: J.B. Chabot, "Livre de chastete compose par Jesusdenah", Melanges d'archeologie et d'histoire 16 (1896), 1–79. [Text also in P. Bedjan, Liber Superiorum(1901), 437–517].

Thomas of Marga, Liber Superiorum (9th cent.)

Text and ET: E.A.W. Budge, The Book of Governors (1893). [Text also in P. Bedjan, Liber Superiorum (1901)].


Some Secondary Literature on Chronicles in General

F. Haase, Altchristliche Kirchengeschichte nach orientalischen Quellen (1925).

J.B. Segal, "Syriac Chronicles as Source Material for the History of Islamic Peoples", in B.Lewis and P.M.Holt (eds), Historians of the Middle East (1962), 246–58.

N. Pigulevskaya, "Theophanes' Chronographia and the Syriac Chronicles", Jahrbuch der Osterr.Byz.Ges. 16 (1967), 55–60.

I. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca (2nd ed. 1965), 206–12, 220–23.

E. Degen, "Daniel bar Maryam: Ein nestorianische Kirchenhistoriker", OC 52 (1968), 45–80. Cp also in ZDMG Suppl.1 (1969), 511–16.

A.S. Proudfoot, "The Sources of Theophanes for the Heraclian Dynasty", Byzantion 44 (1974), 367–439.

S.P. Brock, "Syriac Sources for Seventh-Century History", Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 2 (1976), 17–36 [reprinted in Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity (1984), ch. VII].

———, "Syriac Historical Writing: A Survey of the Main Sources", Journal of the Iraqi Academy (Syriac Corporation) 5 (1979/80), 297–326 [reprinted in Studies in Syriac Christianity (1992), ch.I].

J-M. Fiey, "Les chroniqueurs syriaques avaient-ils le sens critique?", Parole de l'Orient 12 (1984/5), 253–64.

W. Witakowski, "Malalas in Syriac", in E. Jeffreys and others (eds), Studies in Malalas (Sydney, 1990), 299–310.

P. Nagel, "Grundzüge syrischer Geschichtsschreibung", Berliner Byzantinische Arbeiten 55 (1990), 245–59.

L. Conrad, "Syriac Perspectives on Bilad al-Sham during the Abbasid Period", in M.A. Al-Bakhit and R. Schick (eds), Bilad al-Sham during the Abbasid Period: Proceedings, 5th International Conference (Amman, 1991), 1–44.

R. Hoyland, "Arabic, Syriac, and Greek Historiography in the First Abbasid Century: An Inquiry into Inter-Cultural Traffic", Aram 3 (1991), 211–33.

D. Olster, "Syriac sources, Greek sources, and Theophanes' lost year", Byzantinische Forschungen 19 (1993), 215–28.

L. Conrad, "The Conquest of Arwad: A Source-Critical Study in the Historiography of the Early Medieval Near East", in A. Cameron and L. Conrad (eds), The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East: I. Problems in the Literary Source Material (Princeton 1992), 317–401.

R. Hoyland, Seeling Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam (Princeton, 1997).

W. Witakowski, "L'horizon geographique de l'historiographie syriaque: Apercu preliminaire", Des Sumeriens aux Romains d'Orient: La perception geographique du monde(Paris, 1997), 199–209.

M. Debié, "Temps linéaire, temps circulaire: Chronologie et histoire dans les chroniques syriaques", in F. Briquel-Chatonnet and H. Lozachmeur (eds), Proche orient ancien: Temps vecu, temps pense (Paris, 1998), 177–96.

———, "Record Keeping and Chronicle Writing in Antioch and Edessa", Aram 11/12 (1999/2000), 409–17.

W. Witakowski, "The Chroncle of Eusebius: Its Type and Continuation in Syriac Historiography", Aram 11/12 (1999/2000), 419–37.

———, "Syriac Historical Writing", in S.P. Brock, D.G.K. Taylor and W. Witakowski, The Hidden Pearl: The Syrian Orthodox Church and its Ancient Aramaic Heritage, III (Rome, 2001), 167–94.