Thomas of Marga

Chronicle of Seert



Works Cited


Scher (1.1) - Chapters 1-30

A. Scher, Histoire Nestorienne Inédite (Chronique de Séert): Premère partie (I), in Patrologia Orientalis, Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1908, pp. 213-312.

Each link contains the Arabic text with French translation on the same page. If Nau has listed a cross reference with a chapter title, wherever possible, it has also been supplied below with a hyperlink.


Scher (1.2) - Chapters 31-71

A. Scher, Histoire Nestorienne Inédite (Chronique de Séert): Premère partie (II), in Patrologia Orientalis, Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1910, pp. 217-344.

Scher (2.1) - Chapters 1-40 

A. Scher, Histoire Nestorienne Inédite (Chronique de Séert): Seconde partie (I), in Patrologia Orientalis, Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1911, pp. 95-203.

Scher (2.2) - Chapters 41-112 

A. Scher, Histoire Nestorienne Inédite (Chronique de Séert): Seconde partie (II), in Patrologia Orientalis, Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1919, pp. 435-639.

Thomas of Marga

Just a decade or two prior to the work of Isho'dnah in the 9th century,1 Thomas, the East Syrian Bishop of Marga in Adiabene authored a book of monastic histories ca. 850 C.E.2 He became a monk at the monastery of Beth-'Abe in Marga from which he would ascend to the role of secretary to Catholicos Abraham II (837-850). The Catholicos appointed him in the 840s to become the Bishop of Marga. Thomas wrote three books in his lifetime of which only the third (The Book of Governors) survives completely. The first two ("The Histories of Certain Holy Men" and "The History of the Monastery of Rabban Cyprian") were incorporated into The Book of Governors (Syr. ܟܬܒܐ ܕܪ̈ܫܢܐ), which also goes by the names The Book of Abbots and Historia Monastica, adopting the paradigm of 'Enanisho's (ca. 670) Paradise of the Fathers (see vol. 7 of Bedjan, Acta Martyrum).3 This detailed monastic history preserves crucial historical detail for the study of the Christian Near East during the 6th to 9th centuries C.E.4




The following breakdown of Thomas of Marga's 'Book of Governors' is done according to the order found in the work of Budge. Each entry contains the chapter number and heading with links to the texts of Budge and Bedjan. The titles loosely follow those of the translation of Budge.

[Book 1] [Book 2] [Book 3] [Book 4] [Book 5] [Book 6]

Preface (Budge)

Table of Contents (Budge) (Bedjan)

Introduction (Budge)

List of Proper Names (Budge)

List of Syriac Forms of Latin and Greek Words (Budge)

Book 1 [Back to Top]

Book 2 [Back to Top]

Book 3 [Back to Top]

  • Part 1: A History of Rabban Babai

  • Part 2: The History of the Holy Mar Maran-'Ammeh, the Metropolitan Bishop [of Salakh]

    • Chapter 1: The Apology of the Author

    • Chapter 2: Of the Origin of Mar Maran-'Ammeh, [and of how and by whom he was Instructed in Divine Things]

    • Chapter 3: Of the Episcopate of the Land of Selakh which Mar Maran-'Ammeh Received, and of the Miracles which Took Place there by his Hands

    • Chapter 4: In which is set Forth how Mar Maran-'Ammeh was Consecrated Metropolitan Bishop of Arbela, and of the First Wonder which he Wrought in the Country

    • Chapter 5: Of those Provinces Belonging to the Episcopal Thrones of the Diocese which Mar Maran-'Ammeh Took over to the Dominion of the Throne of Adiabene, and of those which he Gave in their Place

    • Chapter 6: Of the Revelation which Mar Maran-'Ammeh Received in a Vision of the Angel of the Lord: to Destroy with his Hands the Seed that Worked Evil, and the Corrupt Children who were in the Country of Marga

    • Chapter 7: Of how the Blessed Man Left his Episcopal Home and Fled, and of the Angelic Agency which Prevented his Flight

    • Chapter 8: Of the Departure of Mar Maran-'Ammeh to the Country of Marga, and of the Signs and Wonders which Took Place by his Hands

    • Chapter 9: Of the Drought and Famine which Took Place in the Days of the Holy Mar Maran-'Ammeh, and of the Sign which Shewed by his Rod

    • Chapter 10: Of the Sickness which Smote the Holy Man, and of his Departure from this Temporal Life to that of Eternity

    • Chapter 11: A Discource upon Mar Maran-'Ammeh

Book 4 [Back to Top]

  • Chapter 1: The Introduction to the Book

  • Chapter 2: Of the Blessed Rabban Isho'yahb, the Head of the Monastery, whence he Came, of what Parents he was Born, and of how he was Brought up

  • Chapter 3: Of Mar Timothy, Bishop of Beth-Behash, and of the Prophecy which was made concerning him by one of the Old Men who Lived in this Monastery

  • Chapter 4: Of how Timothy Artfully Contrived to Obtain Possession of the Patriarchate, after the Manner of Jacob who by Craft Obtained the Blessings of Isaac his Father

  • Chapter 5: Of Rosṭam, Bishop of Ḥenaitha

  • Chapter 6: Of the Going up of our Mar Isho'yahb to Adiabene

  • Chapter 7: Of the Swift Judgment which Overtook Rosṭam, and of how those who were with him were put to Shame and Disgraced

  • Chapter 8: Of the Repentance of the People of Adiabene, and of the Humble Entreaty which they Offered to Mar Isho'yahb to Enter into his Episcopal Seat

  • Chapter 9: Of how Mar Isho'yahb was Moved to Pull Down the Clay Temple which had been Built by Isho'yahb the Catholicos, and to Build Another of Lime in its Stead, and of how the Monks who Lived in his Days Counselled him not do do so on account of the Difficulty of the Work

  • Chapter 10: Of how God, the Lord of all, Stirred up Men to Put Forth their Hands against this Great Work

  • Chapter 11: Of the Satanic Vision which Abba Isho'dad, one of the Old Men of this Congregation Saw, and of the Money which he Found

  • Chapter 12: Of Another Treasure which Christ our Lord Gave him

  • Chapter 13: Of the Miracle which our Lord Wrought by the Hands of Mar Isho'yahb

  • Chapter 14: Of the Finish and Completion of the Temple, and of the Death of Isho'yahb

  • Chapter 15: The History of Rabban Cyriacus of Gebilta, the Head of the Monastery of Beth-'Abe, and Bishop of the City of Balad

  • Chapter 16: Of the Origin of the Blessed Cyriacus, and of his Coming to this Monastery of Beth-'Abe

  • Chapter 17: Of the Call of Abba Cyriacus to the Headship of the Monastery

  • Chapter 18: Of the First Miracle which Christ Wrought by his Hands

  • Chapter 19: Of how that Man Came to this Monastery, and of how he Rewarded it with a Noble Recompense as was Meet, and of the Rest of his Signs

  • Chapter 20: Of the Revelations which that Holy Man Received when he was with the Whole Congregation in the Refectory

  • Chapter 21: Of the Coming in of 'Amran Bar Muḥammad to this Country of Marga, and of how having Seized many Villages and Slain their Owners, he also Wished to Kill the Holy [Cyriacus] and to Inherit this Monastery

  • Chapter 22: Of how after these things 'Amran Sent Five Men to Slay Rabban Cyriacus, and of the Terrible Vision which Appeared to them

  • Chapter 23: Of Another Revelation which he Received of how he must be a Bishop

  • Chapter 24: Of the Coming of the Inhabitants of Balad to this Monastery for the Blessed Man

  • Chapter 25: Of the Mirachle which the Blessed Mar Cyriacus Wrought in Balad, and of the End of his Life

Book 5 [Back to Top]

Book 6 [Back to Top]


Chronicles and Historiography

Works Cited

Guides to the Editions

This classic article is the single best survey of and guide to chronicles and historical writing in Syriac. The article we have linked to is taken directly from the original publication and not from the reprint in one of Brock's Variorum volumes. Brock's article should be the starting point for anyone looking for an orientation to what is available in Syriac in terms of historical writing and also for anyone seeking bibliographic guidance.


Another classic and foundational article by Brock which is useful and important for the student of Syriac historiography as well as the student of seventh-century history. An excellent compliment to Brock's article on the main sources of Syriac historical writing.



Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History, surviving in a manuscript dated to AD 462, is the oldest extant historical work in Syriac.  The Syriac ms of Eusebius is four or five centuries older than the earliest Greek manuscripts of the same work.

The Syriac text was published in the following:

A German translation was done by Eberhard Nestle:



Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History was available in Syriac in the medieval period and was used by authors such as Michael the Syrian.

A portion of Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History survives in Vatican Syriac 145 (ff.22v-65v).  9 folios from Socrates' Ecclesiastical History are also preserved in a Syriac manuscript at the Wellcome Institute in London.  This manuscript apparently once contained a copy of the entire work.

Here is Assemani's description of the portions of Socrates contained in Vatican Syriac 145.



The Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret was also available in the medieval period.

A portion of Theodoret's Ecclesiastical History survives in Vatican Syriac 145 (ff. 65v-78v).

Here is Assemani's description of the portions of Theodoret contained in Vatican Syriac 145.


East Syrian Epitome of Early Church History

There is also an an anonymous East Syrian ("Nestorian") work of early church history, extant in a manuscript dated AD 1703. It draws on earlier material, especially the ecclesiastical histories of Socrates and Theodoret. 

This text was first edited and translated by Emil Goeller in 1901:


West Syrian (Miaphysite, Melkite, Maronite)

Joshua the Stylite (early 6th cent.)

Survives as part of the Zuqnin Chronicle below.


John of Ephesus (c.508–c.588)

Excerpts from Part 2 of John's Ecclesiastical History begin here. For a longer discussion of the preservation of Part 2 and its relationship to the Zuqnin Chronicle, see the John of Ephesus page.


Chronicle of Edessa (mid. 6th cent.)


Other editions and translations:

B. H. Cowper, Selections from the Syriac. No. I: The Chronicle of Edessa, The Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record, vol. 5.9, pp. 28-45, 1864.

The Syriac text was first published by Assemani:

  • J. S. Assemani, Ed., Chronicon Edessenum, in Bibliothecae Orientalis Clementino-Vaticanae, Tomus primum de Scriptoribus Syris Orthodoxis, vol. 1, Rome: Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, 1719, pp. 387-429. 

The text was also edited with German translation and introduction by Ludwig Hallier:


Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor (of Mytilene), Ecclesiastical History (Syr. trans late 6th century)


Melkite Chronicle from Sinai Syriac 10


Fragment on the Arab Invasions


Maronite Chronicle (660s)


Jacob of Edessa, Chronological Canon (d. 708)


Jacob of Edessa, Chronicle (d. 708)


Historical Notices for 712–716


Chronicon ad annum 724


Various Extracts on AD 501/2, 505/6, and 763/4


Chronicon ad annum 775


Zuqnin Chronicle Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysios of Tel Mahre (776)


Chronicon ad annum 813 


Chronicon ad annum 819


Chronicon ad annum 846 


Dionysios of Tel Mahre

Syrian Orthodox Patriarch from 818–845, he recorded an Ecclesiastical History covering 582–842 CE. While longer excerpts have been incorprated into the works of Michael the Syrian, one fragmant is to be found edited with the works of Pseudo-Zecharias Rhetor.


Michael the Syrian (d. 1199)

Drawing on other-lost works (e.g., the chronicles of Dionysios of Tell Mahre, John of Litarba and Jacob of Edessa) and at times confusing to use (there are three columns to navigate, each with a different focus), for medieval historians Michael the Syrian represents the most important of all Syriac chronicles.  The Syriac text was published in volume 4 of Chabot's edition and translation; it was a reproduction of a hand-written copy based on an early modern, complete, copy of Michael that is now held in the Church of the Edessenes in Hayy al-Suryan in Aleppo.  The scribe that Chabot had copy out the work did a remarkable job at reproducing this manuscript, but the Syriac text can nevertheless at times be very difficult to make out.  Recently, HMML, Gorgias Press, and the Bishop of Aleppo joined forces to produce a facsimile edition of the Aleppo copy of Michael, the publication of which was a landmark.  Arabic translations of Michael also exist, most importantly perhaps in the Christian village of Sadad in Syria, and it has been suggested that the Aleppo copy of Michael may or may not actually represent the entirety of Michael's original text--there may be sections which have been omitted or lost; studying the Syriac alongside the Arabic (which remains unpublished, but there are plans to put out a facsimile of the Arabic as well) may be able to help resolve this question.


Chronicon ad annum 1234


Bar Hebraeus (d. 1286)



Ecclesiastical History

This edition has typos in it. The edition in the Oriental Institute in Oxford is the personal copy of Mrs. Margoliouth and you can read her emendations in the side margins if you have access to it. (It would be nice to have a scan of those!) UPenn has Nöldeke’s personal copy and you can similarly read his emendations there if you have access to it; somebody, however, rebound the book and, tragically, cut the margins, so some of Nöldeke’s corrections have been lost.


Earlier Editions:

It is good to have access to these older editions; if you use the Thesaurus Syriacus or certain older works, they will cite these editions rather than the newer ones. They are useful to know about for the purpose of tracking down references.


Tarikh Mukhtasar al-Duwal--Compendious History of the Dynasties 

This is another historical work by Bar Hebraeus which differs from his Syriac ecclesiastical and secular histories and which contains material found in neither of these. (with thanks to Jan van Ginkel).

Earlier edition:


Continuators of Bar Hebraeus

Secular History:

Ecclesiastical History:


Related West Syrian Material:



East Syrian

Barhadbshabba 'Arbaya, Ecclesiastical History (probably late 6th century)


History of Karka d-Beth Slokh (6th cent.)


Chronicle of Arbela / Chronicle of Mshiha Zka

This is a controversial East Syrian Chronicle; with a somewhat obscure and mysterious manuscript history, Fiey accused Mingana (posthumously) of having fabricated the entire text.  More recent research has taken the edge off of some of Fiey's sharp criticisms and suggested that it be seen as a medieval compilation which has earlier material at its core.  See especially the following:


Khuzistan Chronicle (7th cent.)

This is also referred to as "Guidi's Chronicle", or "the Anonymous Chronicle".


John of Phenek, Ktaba d-Rish Melle (late 7th cent.)


History of the Monastery of Beth Qoqa


Thomas of Marga, Book of Abbots or Historia Monastica (840)


Isho‘dnah of Basra, Liber Castitatis (860s)


Chronicle of Seert (1036)

Mukhtasar al-akhbar al-bi'iyya

  • In 2000, Fr. Butrus Haddad published a newly-discovered Arabic chronicle which is related to the Chronicle of Seert


Elias of Nisibis (d. 1046), Opus Chronologicum


Book of the Tower / Kitab al-majdal


Related Chronicles

Severos b. al-Muqaffa', History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria

Though the focus of Severos' history is the leadership of the non-Chalcedonian church of Egypt, it nevertheless contains important information about relations between the Egyptian and Syrian churches and is an important source for students of Syriac literature and history. Roger Pearse has a good overview of Severos' life and work:


John, Bishop of Nikiu, Chronicle

Syriac Sasanian Sources



On Sources




Church Histories


Monastic Histories




Selections in Translation









Further bibliography can be found by consulting the Classified bibliographies for Syriac studies:

Syriac Historical Writing


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

Main West Syriac Chronicles1

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

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

John of Ephesus: Ecclesiastical History (6th cent.)2

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

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

Michael the Great: Chronicle (12th cent.)3

Anonymous: Chronicle ad annum 1234

Barhebraeus: Chronicle4

Barhebraeus: Ecclesiastical History


Shorter West Syriac Chronicles

Chronicle of Edessa (6th cent.)

Maronite Chronicle

Jacob of Edessa (d.708), Chronicle

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

Chronicle of disasters 712–716

Chronicle ad annum 724

Chronicle ad annum 775

Chronicle ad annum 813

Chronicle ad annum 819

Chronicle ad annum 846


East Syriac Chronicles

Fragment in Vatican Syriac 179

Barhadbeshabba `Arbaya: Ecclesiastical History

Chronicle of Arbela

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

John of Phenek, Rish Melle

Elijah of Nisibis: Opus Chronologicum


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

Chronicle of Seert5

Mari, 'Amr and Sliba, De Patriarchis Nestorianorum Commentaria



Short Melkite Chronicle


Seventh-Century Apocalyptic Literature


Edessene fragment

Gospel of the Twelve Apostles


Monastic Histories

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

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

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


Some Secondary Literature on Chronicles in General

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