The Syriac text also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin
is now thought to have been composed
by a monk from the Zuqnin monastery rather than
Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the cognomen Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. The chronicle consists of four parts.
There apparently is (or was) a debate over its date of composition with some scholars suggesting it was composed
in the 9th century CE rather than the late 8th century CE as the text would indicate - it ends in 775 CE.
Harrak (1999) opines on the opening page of his translation
that it was composed in 775 CE by a West Syrian Monk - probably
Joshua (the Stylite) of the monastery of Zuqnin.
The work is preserved in a single handwritten manuscript and is not known to have been copied or disseminated. It was transferred to
the Monastery of the Syrians in
Wadi El Natrun in Egypt
sometime in the 9th century CE where it was found and bought for the Vatican
(Neuhäuser et al., 2021:4).
Neuhäuser et al. (2021:4) notes that
the text survived in one manuscript of 173 folios located as Codex Zugninensis at the Vatican Library
(shelf mark Vat. Syriac 162 or Cod. Vat. 162), and the
remaining six folios are found in the British Library (Add. 14.665 folio 2-7); in Codex Zugninensis, 129 folios are palimpsest,
one even a double-palimpsest (Harrak, 1999).
Some of the folios in the British Library which cover the last years are partly worm-eaten
and very fragmentary. Its first and last folios are lost together with the name of the author (Harrak, 1999).
The Chronicle is divided into four parts, all translated to English (Harrak,
French (Chabot, 1895).
Neuhauser et al (2021:4) noted that
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre
used a used a variety of sources, some of them otherwise lost
knew that some of his sources did not provide a perfect chronology.
Neuhauser et al (2021:4) suggested that, for
Pseudo-Dionysius, it was more important to convey his message gleaned from history than it was to give a
perfect chronology. Neuhauser et al (2021:5) also
reports that Pseudo-Dionysius systematically used the West Syrian version of the Seleucid
(A.G.) Calendar which had an annual
start date of 1 October; something which was standard for Syriac writers of this time
(Sebastian Brock, personal communication, 2021).