Michael the Syrian References Open this page in a new tab

Michael the Syrian's work is extant in a single manuscript written in 1598 CE in Syriac in Serto script. This was copied from an earlier manuscript, itself copied from Michael's autograph. The manuscript is today held in a locked box in a church in Aleppo, and recently became accessible to scholarship (wikipedia). J.B. Chabot had an imperfect facsimile copied from this manuscript in Edessa between 1897 and 1899 CE. He used this to create his translation to French.
Translations and Original Texts
Description of Existing Manuscript

Dorothea Weltecke

The text is not preserved in its entirety, and the layout of Michael’s chronicle was distorted through the process of copying. Chabot’s edition is a facsimile of a documentary copy written for him in Edessa (Urfa) from 1897 to 1899. While the scribes tried to imitate the layout, a number of mistakes were introduced. Its Vorlage, the only extant ms., was written in 1598 by a very competent scribe. It is kept by the community of the Edessenians in Aleppo. In view of the loss of the original, this beautiful manuscript is the best witness for the layout of the chronicle. Fortunately it will soon be made available in print. This ms. was probably the Vorlage for an Arabic translation, which also sought to preserve some of the visual features, while changing others. The Arabic translation has much the same lacunae as the Syriac text. By comparing his version with the Arabic translation preserved in ms. London, Brit. Libr. Or. 4402 (which is one of several Arabic copies), Chabot detected some details lost in the Syriac text. No further research has been done so far on this problem.

The historical material was originally organized in four columns, the first being designated as the ‘succession of the patriarchs’, the second as ‘succession of the kings’, the chronological canon as ‘computation of the years’. No title of the additional column, which contains mixed material, is now known. Chapters with excursus were inserted, which interrupted the system of columns. After an open and abrupt end, six appendices follow. The first appendix is a monumental synopsis of all the kings and patriarchs mentioned. It was supposed to function as a directory. The second appendix is a treatise on the historical identity of the Syrians, who are connected to the Ancient Oriental Empires, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Arameans. When the chronicle was translated into Armenian, in two different translations, in 1246 and 1247, it was transformed according to Armenian interests.

Brock (1976)

A manuscript, dated 1598, of the Syriac text of this massive work was only discovered in 1889 in Urfa (Edessa). It is a transcript of this in facsimile that Chabot published, along with a French translation and index of names.

Other translations/copies - unsorted
Articles and Books
References from Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition

Primary Sources

Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, I–V. (Syr. with FT)

G.Kiraz (ed.), Texts and translations of the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian (2009–). (a multi-volume series that includes a repr. of Chabot’s edition and translation, and a facsimile edition of the Aleppo ms.)

Secondary Sources

R. Abramowski, Dionysius von Tellmahre. Jakobitischer Patriarch von 818–845. Zur Geschichte der Kirche unter dem Islam (1940).

L.P. Bernhard, ‘Die Universalgeschichtsschreibung des christlichen Orients’, in Mensch und Weltgeschichte. Zur Geschichte der Universalgeschichtsschreibung, ed. A. Randa (1969), 111–141.

S. P. Brock, ‘Syriac historical writing: A survey of the main sources’, Journal of the Iraqi Academy. Syriac Corporation 5 (1978–80), 1–30. (repr. in Studies in Syriac Christianity [1992], ch. I)

J. van Ginkel, ‘Michael the Syrian and his sources’, JCSSS 6 (2006), 53–60.

A. Schmidt, ‘Die zweifache armenische Rezension der syrischen Chronik Michaels des Großen’, LM 109 (1996), 299–319.

Weltecke, Die «Beschreibung der Zeiten».

W. Witakowski, The Syriac Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Maḥrē. A Study in the History of Historiography (1987).

W. Witakowski, ‘The Chronicle of Eusebius: Its Type and Continuation in Syriac Historiography’, ARAM 11–12 (1999–2000), 419–37.