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Eutychius of Alexandria (877-940 CE), aka Sa'id b. Batriq, was the Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria. He is known for being one of the first Christian Egyptian writers to use the Arabic language. His writings include the chronicle Row of Jewels (Nazm al-Jauhar) which is also known by its Latin title Eutychii Annales ("The Annals of Eutychius"). It runs from "Creation" to Eutychius' times.


Hoyland (2022:386-387) discussed various manuscripts of "The Annals of Eutychius".

First,it is necessary to dispel the notion of Michel Breydy that there is an earlier, shorter Alexandrian recension of Eutychius’s chronicle and a later, longer Antiochene recension. In 1975 Breydy discovered an Arabic manuscript in the library of St. Catherine’s monastery on Mount Sinai (Sinai Ar. 582, henceforth S) that contained a text consisting of numerous discrete episodes from history recounted in a somewhat disjointed fashion, with little connection made between the episodes. Breydy observed that much of this material appeared, in expanded form, in the chronicle of Eutychius as published by Louis Cheikho in 1909 (henceforth C). There were two obvious ways to make sense of this discovery: either C was an expansion of S, or S was an abridgement of C. For various reasons Breydy opted for the first explanation.11 Indeed, he went further and argued that S was an autograph copy of Eutychius’s chronicle and that C was an expansion of it by the eleventh-century physician Yaḥyā al-Anṭākī. Thus, postulated Breydy, there were two distinct recensions: an Alexandrian one and an Antiochene one. This hypothesis became the prevailing view, and it has tended to put readers off using the text, faced as they are with a choice between a disjointed collection of source extracts or what Breydy has told them is a late reworking of it. There were a few dissenting voices, including Hugh Kennedy, who recognized the value of Eutychius’s chronicle for writing the history of the Melkite church,12 but it is the recent and brilliant study of Maria Conterno that demonstrates the inadequacies of Breydy’s theory. She shows that the second explanation fits the evidence much better (i.e., that S is an abridgement of C). As she puts it: The Sinai manuscript is not the archetype nor a full copy of the Annals [i.e., the chronicle of Eutychius], but an informal copy made for personal use by someone who abbreviated/excerpted the text [of Eutychius], deliberately leaving out or summarising entire portions of it.13

There is one possible alternative explanation. Conterno points out that S “is a paper codex of very small size, literally pocket size (16.5×14cm), that looks more like a notebook than like a book.”14 The handwriting is not easy to date, especially as it is a private hand, not a public one. Breydy maintained that it was very ancient, from around the tenth century, whereas Conterno favors the twelfth–thirteenth century, alleging that it resembles that of Fatimid and Ayyubid documents. It is a fairly unremarkable angular script that could fall anywhere in the range assigned by these two scholars. So it could be that a much later person copied out chunks of C, as Conterno proposes, or, if we wanted to preserve some of Breydy’s theory, we could argue that S is an earlier source book, which Eutychius either made or used, containing excerpts from various texts found in the library at St. Catherine’s or at some monastery in Palestine. In any case, we can take it that C does largely represent Eutychius’s own work, which therefore dates to the early fourth/tenth century and not to the fifth/eleventh. This is supported by another important finding of Conterno, namely that in the 20 or so manuscript copies of C the text is fairly stable, with just occasional omissions and additions (most notably, polemics against Jacobites and Nestorians),15 and so it is also much more cohesive and coherent than Breydy maintained. Here Conterno is talking about the subject matter, but in regard to wording, it is true that there are numerous minor variations in the surviving manuscripts, which reflects the fact that it was a very popular work, copied a great many times.

11 Set out in Breydy, Etudes.

12 Kennedy, Melkite church 329–330, and see ns. 1, 7–9. and 11. See also Griffith, Apologetics and historiography 78–80; Ebied, Saʿīd b. Baṭrīq; Stutz, Constantinus Arabicus 134.

13 Conterno, Recensions 402.

14 Conterno, Recensions 402.

15 See especially the table at Conterno, Recensions 398, which illustrates that all but five of the many passages not in S (identified by Breydy as later interpolations) are present in all the other manuscripts, and four of these are present in most manuscripts.