Translation of Bar Hebraeus “Chronicon Ecclesiasticum” to appear later this year

David Wilmshurst writes to tell me that he has reached agreement with Gorgias Press and that his translation of the Chronicon Ecclesiasticum of Bar Hebraeus will appear in print before the end of 2014.

This is excellent news.  All our knowledge of Syriac literature – who wrote what, and when – is based on this work.  It is a scandal that it has remained untranslated for so long.

6 Responses to “Translation of Bar Hebraeus “Chronicon Ecclesiasticum” to appear later this year”


  1. Dan King

    it’s very far from true that all our knowledge of Syriac literature derives from this work. Abdisho’s catalogue (of about the same date) is far more fact-filled than the Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, though of course that doesn’t decrease the importance of having the latter too!

  2. Roger Pearse

    The catalogue is a list of works. It is in the CE that we learn who these people are.

  3. David Wilmshurst

    True, though Michael the Syrian, the prime crib for the Jacobite half of the ‘Chronicon Ecclesiasticum’, provides rather more information than Bar Hebraeus in this respect. Having also translated more than half of Michael the Syrian’s ‘Chronicle’, I have developed a profound admiration for Bar Hebraeus’s ability to abridge Michael’s ponderous and sprawling narrative, so I can’t really bring myself to wish that he had made the CE longer.

    Except in one respect: if only the continuators had kept up Bar Hebraeus’s interest in the Nestorian patriarchs. Bar Hebraeus, who died in 1286, took his account of the Nestorian patriarchs right up to the reign of his friend and contemporary Yahballaha III, who died in 1317. The next two centuries are a resounding silence as far as the Church of the East is concerned. The continuators took the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church up to the end of the fifteenth century; if only they had deigned to notice the Nestorians as well! We can’t even put dates to their patriarchs, let alone write a coherent history of the Church of the East during these ‘Dark Centuries’.

    If I ever go to heaven, I do hope that Saint Peter will indulge my academic curiosity by filling in the many gaps in the patriarchal succession of the Church of the East between 1318 and 1537.

  4. Roger Pearse

    Interesting – thank you!

  5. zimriel

    I had the notion that Ibn al-Nadim also included Syriac authors in his Fihrist. I concede that this would not have extended beyond Ibn al-Nadim’s own day.

  6. Roger Pearse

    Interesting… I wish I had access to that.



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