What does Eutychius’ Annals contain?

Arabic Christian literature is little known.  There is no English-language handbook, and even the “big histories”, the works in which Arabic-speaking Christians recount their own history, are mostly not translated into English; or, indeed, sometimes even edited.

Eutychius – also known as Sa`īd al-Bitrik -, Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria between 877-940 AD, wrote one of the five histories; and indeed was one of the first Christians to adopt Arabic, the language of the conquerors.  This is commonly known by its 17th c. Latin title, the Annals.  A partial German translation exists – of value to that tiny part of the world who speak German – and a full Italian translation by Bartolomeo Pirone.  The latter was published in Cairo in 1987 by the Franciscan Centre, thereby ensuring that few copies were distributed.  My own copy came over the internet from the Franciscan bookshop in Jerusalem and is, to the best of my knowledge, the only copy in England.

I thought that it might be useful to give the table of contents here.  Note what was known in the 10th century, as passed down by (mainly ecclesiastical) writers.

Note that Pirone has decided to give proper names as transliterated from the Arabic, except in exceptional cases, so I have done likewise.

Part I – From the Creation to Heraclius

Cap. I.  The Creation of Adam and Eve Cain, Abel and their sisters The descendants of Shīt and those of Cain Noah, his descendants, and the Flood Noah leaves the Ark The calling of Malshīsādāq – The commencement of the spread of the cult of images – The confusion of tongues in Bābil and the division of territories among the peoples of the earth  The origin of magic – Abraham came out from Harran and went to live in Kan’ān  More on Malshīsādāq Ishmael and Isaac Jacob and his sons Joseph in Egypt (p.33)

Ch. II.   The Israelites become slaves of the Egyptians The killing of every newborn Jew Moses is forced to leave Egypt and goes to Midian Pharaoh allows the children of Israel to leave  Moses on Mount Sinai – Death of Moses, Aaron and Maryam Joshua becomes leader of the people Joshua’s battles and alliances with nations and cities Partition of the conquered territories among the children of Israel (p.63)

Chap. III.   Israel gives itself to the worship of idols Judges appear The prophetess Deborah Judge Gideon Abimelech rules the nation three years Israel returns to the worship of the idols Baalim, Ashtarot and Bael Yefte, judge of Israel – Samson frees the people from the slavery of foreign tribes Samson gives himself to Delilah, is taken, blinded, killed. (p.73)

Chap. IV   The priest Ali governs the people The Prophet Samuel in the Temple in Shīlūn The Ark and the misadventures of foreign tribes Samuel governs the people of Israel The people demand a king Saul is made ​​king over the children of Israel Samuel anoints the young David King David fights, by order of Saul, against foreign tribes Death of Saul and his sons Gloriata, Abbiadati and Malhīsh (p.83)

Chap. V    David, king of Israel, faces various types of opposition and civil unrest – The ark in the house of Abinadab David wars against the enemies of IsraelSolomon succeeds David Hiram, king of Tyre, and the origin of purple – Measurements of the Temple built by Solomon – Two women ask for the judgment of Solomon the Queen of Sheba in Jerusalem Kingdom of Jeroboam and Rehoboam the kings of Judah and Israel Akhab and the prophet Elijah Akhab and Yosafat. (p.91)

Chap. VI    King Ocozia and the prophet Elijah – Reign of Yoram, son of Akhab Yoram fights against the king of Damascus – Prophecies of Elisha Ocozia and his mother Athaliah reigned over Judah – Elisha sent to anoint king Yehu Yehu becomes King of Israel Yoash reigns over Judah Akhaz returns to worship of idols Yoash king of Israel – was followed by the kings of Judah: Amaziah, Azariah, Yotam, Akhaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amori, Josiah, Yoakhaz, Yoakim, Yahunakim Sennacherib invades Judah the pharaoh Necho fights against the king of Mosul (p.111)

Chap. VII    Nebuchadnezzar and the three young men in the furnace Daniel interprets and explains the king’s dream Prophets in Babylon Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Egypt, then he dies – Reign of his successors Daniel explains to King Belshazzar the meaning of the three words on the wall the reign of Darius and the appearance of the Persians Daniel and the idols of Babil Daniel in the den Sequence of Persian kings Ezra rebuilds the Temple – War between Darius and Alexander the Great: exchange of Letters – Death of Darius and campaigns of Alexander – Death of Alexander and panegyrics of the sages of the time, before the body of the hero, humbled by death Dismemberment of the empire: the Ptolemies Simeon the Just receives the grace of seeing the Messiah (p.127)

Chap. VIII   Caesar and Augustus rule Rome – Death of Cleopatra – Herod terrorizes Jerusalem and the region  Augustus orders a census in the territories of the Empire The Birth of Christ The Magi looking for Jesus Jesus is baptized by John – Death of John and death of Christ Joseph of Arimathea places the body in a tomb the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ (p.147)

Chap. IX      Reign of Tiberius and Herod Agrippa Arcadius first Patriarch of Antioch – Death of Agrippa The apostle Mark in Alexandria: founding of the Patriarchate of Alexandria – Nero, the persecutor of Christians Luke writes the Gospel and the Acts The Crucifixion of Peter head down Vespasian, Titus and the destruction of Jerusalem in Rome Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian succeed one another Hadrian destroys Jerusalem and builds a new city called Aelia  Successions of popes, patriarchs and emperors – question of the calculation of Easter, when it should be celebrated (p.157)

Chap. X    Under the rule of Ardashir the Persians reappear In Rome Pertinax, Julian, Severus follow one another: new persecutions against Christians Sequence of kings of Persia: rule of Sapor  Maximinus Caesar persecutes the Christians The persecution of Decius Legend of the Seven Sleepers Sequence of Persian kings and Roman emperors (p.173)

Chap. XI   Reign and persecution of Diocletian – Arian heresy arises Phenomenon of the Tetrarchy persecution suffered by Christians at the hands of Maximian and Galen Constantine becomes emperor and took over the command of his father Constantius Galerius contracts a nasty disease Sapor secretly visits the Roman lands  Constantine‘s vision of the Cross – the Martyrs of Sebastia  Schism caused in the church by Arius and Meletius the Council of 318 – Helena in the Holy Land: the discovery of the Cross – Constantine gives instructions to rebuild the churches of Jerusalem Synod of Tyre and consecration of the church of Jerusalem Constantine persecutes the Jews (p.187)

Chap. XII    Murder of Constantine Apparition of the Cross on the Mount of Olives Cyril of Jerusalem interprets the meaning – Dissemination of the doctrine of Arius Heresy of Macedonius – Reign of Julian the Apostate: persecution of Christians and attempt to re-establish the worship of gods the monastic movement in Egypt and Palestine  Reigns of Valentinian and Valens – Cycle of Theophilus and Theodosius (p.209)

Chap. XIII Reign of Theodosius the Great Still more Arianism  Council of 150 on the teaching of Macedonius, Apollinaris and of Sabellius – Of the Manichaeans: their habits and customs Theophilus, former friend of Theodosius, became patriarch of Alexandria – Arsenius, tutor of Arcadius and Honorius, emperors, one of the East , the other in the West Still more on Arsenius  Disagreement between John Chrysostom and Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria – The Queen Eudoxia Epiphanius and John Chrysostom – Third ecumenical Council Nestorius and his heresy (p.223)

Chap. XIV   Refutation of Nestorius and Nestorianism by Sa`id ibn Batrīq – Against Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, Severus, Jacob Baradaeus and their followers On the various types of union – The person, two natures, two wills of Christ (p.239)

Chap. XV    End of Yazdagard and reign of Bahram Gor Heresy of Eutyches The Synod of 8 November 448 against Eutyches The robber-synod of Ephesus: August 449 – Eudoxia, wife of Theodosius Marcian reigns in Constantinople – the Council of Chalcedon in 451 against the heretic Eutyches and Dioscorus Repercussions within the realm (p.259)

Chap. XVI    Reign of Firuz over the Persians The coming to the throne of Leo the Great – Rioting in Alexandriathe murder of the patriarch Proterius Basilicus usurps the throne Succession of Patriarchs in the various locations The figure of Patriarch Elias I – Firuz at war with the king of Hephthalites – Death of Firuz and the kingdom of Qabād Anastasius, king of the Byzantines, abandons the doctrine of the Melkites and embraces that of the Jacobites Opposition of the monks of Laurium, supported by Elias and guided by their superiors Theodosius, Chariton, Saba the heresy of Severus and the support given to it by the king Anastasius the monks of Palestine against the king Eutychius refutes the doctrine of the Jacobites A famine at Jerusalem Justin becomes emperor of Constantinople (p.269)

Chap. XVII   Justinian vanquishes the Jacobite heresy using Apollinaris and monitors the Samaritans of Nablus. St. Saba at the court of Constantinople – Construction of the Basilica of the Nativity of the monastery of Sinai, and the houses for the keepers of the monastery – The heresy of Origen and the synod of Constantinople II on May 5 553 – Mazdak preaches in Persia and implements the equal distribution of property The coming to the throne of Anūshirwān Anastasius, Patriarch of Antioch Doctrine of Maron The robber of the city of Ifrīqiyah War between the Persians and Khaqan Kisra Abarwīz, king of Persia Kisra marries the daughter of Maurice and becomes a Christian  Phocas Emperor of Constantinople – the Persians invade Palestine and Egypt John the Almoner The Jews of Tyre plot to annihilate the Christians Heraclius becomes Emperor of Constantinople (p.291)

Part II – From Heraclius to ar-Rādī  (p.317)

Cap. XVIII    Heraclius break the siege of Constantinople, Heraclius and kisra Heraclius to Jerusalem Heraclius and Maronites – Death of Muhammad the Caliphate of Abū Bakr — Caliphate of ‘Umar — Caliphate of ‘Uthman — Caliphate of ‘Alī— Caliphate of Mu‘āwiya — Caliphate of Yazīd b. Mu‘āwiya — Caliphate of Marwān b. al-Hakam — Caliphate of ‘Abd al’Malik b. Marwān — Caliphate of al-Walīd b. ‘Abd al-Malik — Caliphate of Sulaymān b. ‘Abdal-Malik — Caliphate of ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz — Caliphate of Yazīd b. ‘Abd al-Malik — Caliphate of Hishām b. ‘Abd al-Malik — Caliphate of al-Walīd b. Yazīd — Caliphate of Yazīd b. al-Walīd — Caliphate of Marwān b. Muhammad al-Gā‘dī  (p.319)

Cap. XIX    The Abbasid Caliphs.   Caliphate of Abū l-Abbās as-Saffāh — Caliphate of Ga‘far al-Mansūr — Caliphate of al-Mahdī — Caliphate of Mūsa al-Hādī — Caliphate of Hārūn ar-Rashīd — Caliphate of Muhammad al-Amīn —Caliphate of al-Ma’mūn — Caliphate of al-Mu‘tasim — Caliphate of al-Wāthiq — Caliphate of al-Mutawakkil — Caliphate of al-Muntasir bi’llāh — Caliphate of al-Musta‘īn — Caliphate of al-Mu‘tazz — Caliphate of al-Muhtadī — Caliphate of al-Mu‘tamid e nascita di Sa‘īd Ibn Batrīq — Caliphate of al-Mu‘tadid — Caliphate of al-Muktafī — Caliphate of al-Muqtadir — Caliphate of al-Qāhir: Sa‘īd Ibn Batrīq is made Patriarch of Alexandria — Caliphate of ar-Rādī  (p.391)

It might be interesting to translate some of this material.


13 thoughts on “What does Eutychius’ Annals contain?

  1. Ah, this is where I come in!

    Much of the Kitab al-Unwan was also translated into French by Alexandre A Vasiliev. This is in the Patrologia Orientalis 5 (here) and 8 (here). It was done 1910 and 1912 respectively.

    When Vasiliev looked at the manuscript, the physical ambience was humid and so a few of the pages were stuck together. VERY recently, Robert Hoyland went back to the manuscript, by which point the pages had come loose. So Hoyland was able to read more of it.

    Hoyland (Theophilus of Edessa’s Chronicle and the Circulation of Historical Knowledge in Late Antiquity and Early Islam) however comes with his own baggage – he wasn’t using Agapius for his own sake, but was using Agapius to aid a synopsis with other historians of early Islam. This synopsis is the so-called “Syriac Common Source” usually attributed to Theophilus of Edessa.

    Still, Hoyland *has* managed to translate quite a bit of Agapius into English for 630-770ish.

  2. Oh @#$%. You said Eutychius, not Agapius… ignore everything I just said above.

    Eutychius also has an ancient Latin translation by Pococke, here. The Arabic may be had in the 1906 edition here. Be warned – it’s not that great for Islam. It seems Eutychius mostly just used the conventional Muslim histories of his day, like Waqidi. The “histories of the Coptic patriarchs” (biographies really) are a lot better as contemporary to events.

  3. Lieber Herr Pearse,
    dies werden Sie kennen. Ich schuicke es sicherheitshalber aber doch.
    Mit freundlichen Grüßen
    Dr. Jürgen Schmidt
    • M. Breydy, Études sur Said ibn Batriq et ses sources, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 450, Louvain, 1983.
    • M. Breydy, Das Annalenwerk des Eutychios von Alexandrien; ausgewählte Geschichten und Legenden kompiliert von Said ibn Batriq um 935 AD, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 471-72, 2 vols., Louvain, (1985). Arabic text, German translation. The first edition based on the author’s autograph manuscript.
    • P. Cachia and W. M. Watt, Eutychius of Alexandria: The Book of the Demonstration (Kitab al-burhan), Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium192-93 (Scriptores arabici 20, 23), 2 vols., Louvain, 1960-61. Arabic text, English translation; an apologetic text not in fact by Eutychius.
    • L. Cheikho, B. Carra de Vaux, and H. Zayyat, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 50-51 (Scriptores Arabici ser. 3 nos. 6-7), 2 vols., Paris, 1906-9. Arabic text only, based on inferior copies.
    • G. Graf, Geschichte der arabischen christlichen Literatur, volume 2. Article on Eutychius, and lists of editions and manuscripts of his works.
    • B. Pirone, Eutichio, Patriarcha di Alessandria: Gli Annali, Studia Orientalia Christiana Monographiae 1, Cairo and Jerusalem, 1987. Italian translation, no Arabic text.
    • J. Selden and E. Pococke, Contextia Gemmarum sive Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales, 2 vols., Oxford, 1658-59. Arabic text, Latin translation. The Latin translation was reprinted by Migne in the Patrologia Graeca vol. 111, cols. 889-1232.

  4. Thank you so much for making this information available. Besides finalising my translation of the Chronicon Ecclesiasticum of Bar Hebraeus for publication by Gorgias Press in the near future, I am doing my best to establish the history of the Chalcedonian dioceses of Egypt after the Arab Conquest, and a work of this kind will be of enormous importance. My German is sketchy, but luckily I can read Italian.

    On a wider point, it is amazing how much information on the Eastern Christian Churches is out there, but still waits to be exploited by Western scholars. When I was doing my PhD in the 1990s, some of my colleagues were engaged in making minute comparisons between the Syriac and Arabic versions of recondite works of Aristotle, arguably of slight importance and which we already possess in the original Greek. They would have been far better employed, in my humble opinion, in translating the many unedited Coptic, Syriac, Armenian and Georgian histories of Christianity into English. I know scholars enjoy making minute examinations of texts (I do myself), but that should come after all the significant primary texts have been translated. I was delighted, for example, to see that an English translation of the Chronicle of Seert is now available. About time too!

  5. Hi Zimriel,

    Much appreciated, but Agapius I have dealt with, and indeed created an English translation for here:


    There are in fact two more parts in the PO. But it never hurts to talk about Agapius. What you say about Hoyland is most interesting! He didn’t publish the additions, did he?

  6. Dear Dr Schmidt,

    Thank you very much for the additional bibliography! That is very useful to me!

    All the best,

    Roger Pearse

  7. Dear David,

    I agree entirely – better access to the sources is the first desideratum. But we mustn’t blame those who do the minute stuff; the nature of funding for research (defined as excluding translation and the production of handbooks) is to blame, I think.

    All the best,

    Roger Pearse

  8. Roger P: Hoyland cites your translation, in page 35 f 117. I’d assumed you knew!

    Hoyland transliterates the Arabic of one of those stuck Agapius dual-pages in Appendix 3. That’s the second one, dealing with Abd al-Malik. The earlier one, for Muawiya, isn’t transliterated (frustratingly). Still, both missing pieces do contribute to the Theophilus translations.

  9. Really? No, I hadn’t known. How flattering! What does he say?

    Very interesting that he’s working on the ms – good for him! I bet multi-spectral imaging would help too!

  10. Hoyland: “An English translation is given in http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pearse/morefathers/files/morefathers.html, but it is made from Vasiliev’s French translation by Google machine translation, and is intended just as a rough guide for those who do not read French.”

    Er… perhaps Dr Hoyland should have eased up on that passive voice, now that I read it again.

    To clarify my own comment, Appendix 3 does have part of the Muawiya section: the Shabur pericope. But the appendix doesn’t go further. It is clear that Hoyland has read more of the MS’s Arabic than Vasiliev had read, but Hoyland hasn’t given us that. Multi-spectral imaging would help a lot. Agapius BADLY needs to be reedited.

  11. Thank you very much! That is a little negative, isn’t it? It’s better than just a raw google translate output, that’s for sure. But he’s right about the key point – it is intended for the (vast) audience that can’t use the French version.

    It’s good that Hoyland is working on it. As you say, Agapius badly needs attention!

  12. Hi, Roger. Probably the wrong place for this comment, but I thought I should thank you for putting the English translation of John of Nikiu online. I am presently going through it for references to late Egyptian bishops, and am enjoying his narrative immensely.

    The ecclesiastical history of the two centuries following the Council of Chalcedon in 451 is fiendishly complicated, and John of Nikiu has some splendid stuff on the power struggle between Chalcedonians, Jacobites and Nestorians. He also has one of the most interesting accounts I have yet read on the Arab Conquest as it affected Egypt. It is salutary to be reminded that Egypt had been wrecked once by the Persian invasion at the start of the seventh century, and then a second time by the struggle between Phocas and Heraclius. By the time the Muslims subjected the country to a third wave of terror and destruction, the fabric of Roman civilisation had probably already been fatally undermined.

    Interestingly, there seems to have been little enthusiasm for the Muslim invaders among the Copts, compared with the ‘Semitic solidarity’ occasionally in evidence in Syria and Iraq. No Muslim leader ever said to the Copts, as they did to the Syrian Christians, ‘You are ours; what have you to do with the Greeks?’

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